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Old 08-10-2019, 03:27 PM   #1
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Bennington, NH
Posts: 47
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466E Navistar
Rated Cap: 28,900
So the search is on......

Although I'm not a new member, this is my 1st post. I recently got the green light from my wife Heidi to find us a schoolie, or more accurately, a school bus to convert. I have been watching plenty of on going as well as completed conversions on Instagram and have been build our Schoolie in my head for roughly a year. We live in Southern NH, and I am just beginning to put some things together to raise the funds for the original bus. This will be a long term project that will get done in stages. The first stage will basically be the bus with a new floor down and some basics like a blow up mattress and some seating, along with the camping gear we already have. The end game is our home on wheels and checking out wherever we decide to go.
I took a look at a couple busses today just to wrap my head around what I need to pay attention to. I looked at at 04 FE Thomas, an 02 International standard style, and an 08 Freightliner C2 Safteyliner. That Freightliner was pretty much exactly what I want, just have to do some research on the drivetrain, which is Mercedes I believe. It was also my first time being able to really get a good look around a flat nose bus. I took some measurements for furniture spacing and fitting a bed, as well as just eyeballing the layout I have in my head on a real floor. It did still have seats in it but I got the general idea.
Being in New England the tough part will be finding a bus that does not have excessive rust. Unfortunately here in New Hampshire and in the surrounding states there is always salt on the road for the winter which eats up bodies and frames quicker than most other places in the country. So that will be the primary challenge once I figure out exactly what body style I want to use.

If anyone has a suggestion as to where to look it would be greatly appreciated, the buses I looked at today are owned by a husband and wife who have 80 plus buses available. They seem like cool people but you never can tell.
thanks to all of you who post here and share your experiences I will do the same as I move along on this project. 🤘 Smitty

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Old 08-10-2019, 04:13 PM   #2
Bus Geek
o1marc's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Dawsonville, Ga.
Posts: 9,800
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Genesis
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466/3060
Rated Cap: 77
In a nut shell, IIWM, I would draw a 500 mile radius circle around where you are and not buy anything in that circle. It pays to travel for a rust free bus. Anything inside the circle is almost guaranteed to have rust issues. The 08 Freightliner would be one most of us would turn and run from. Mercedes is not highly regarded, expensive and few mechanics to work on them. 08 falls into the later than 04 EPA gremlin issue. Do a search here for "places to buy a bus" and there will be several threads with lists of auction house we frequent for deals. West Coast, PNW, Colo. and any place south west are good places to look for a bus with vfew issues. Good luck on your search
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Old 08-10-2019, 05:40 PM   #3
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Bennington, NH
Posts: 47
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466E Navistar
Rated Cap: 28,900
Thank you for the insight on the Mercedes, I was afraid that would be the case. Looks like I'll stick with my original plan and keep looking for something w a DT466, maybe a flat nose, maybe conventional. It would be nice to swap a 466 into that chassis, because I'm really find of the flat roof those C2's have. Easier said than done.
Thanks again, Smitty
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Old 08-10-2019, 06:18 PM   #4
Bus Crazy
Johnny Mullet's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Ashtabula, Ohio
Posts: 1,494
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International
Engine: T444E 7.3L
Go look at the 02 and see how rusty it is then test drive if possible.
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Old 08-10-2019, 09:31 PM   #5
Bus Crazy
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 1,165
Year: 1990
Coachwork: Thomas 4 window w/lift
Chassis: G30~Chevy cutaway
Engine: 5.7/350 Chevy Vortec
Rated Cap: Just me and my "stuff"?
I looked for nearly a year for a bus in NH without finding any truly rust free units. It got really frustrating, as I looked at no less than 25 busses. Every one had rust. The conversion process is difficult enough to have to add an unacceptable level of more work in rust remediation on top of everything else.

As Marc said, if you really want a low/no rust bus, get out of New England.
I had luck finding mine in North Carolina, on here: .
Good luck in your search...
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Old 08-10-2019, 09:55 PM   #6
Bus Crazy
WIbluebird's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 1,172
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American
Engine: 8.3 Cummins ISC
Rated Cap: 75
I just journeyed to Colorado for my bus and drove it 1015 miles back to Wisconsin. It pays big time to travel, I got a western activity bus with the big 8.3 cummins, factory AC and not a speck of rust.

Trust me, the buses are so much better in the western half of the country. School districts out west seem to spec them with more options and better drivetrains since they last longer. Also you tend to have less mechanical issues since not everything underneath the bus is rusted to hell.
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