Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 08-28-2017, 06:18 AM   #21
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 2,212
Welcome to the insanity!

I won't rehash what has been said before because I agree with most of what has been said before. What I don't agree with is mostly personal preference and bias. A Ford vs. Chevy vs. Dodge sort of preference and bias which is not helpful to you at this time.

As far as power source is concerned, diesel is about the only fuel that medium and full sized buses have had since the late '80's. Yes there have been a few gasoline, propane, and CNG buses built but for your purposes the alternative fueled buses are just not appropriate for what you want to do. Gas powered buses are underpowered and thirsty. Propane is even more underpowered and has the issues of fuel availability ( it is getting better but is not available at every freeway interchange in the country) and range. CNG is even worse as far as fuel availability is concerned.

Since you are wanting to move a lot of equipment finding a bus with a lift will make schlepping stuff in and out of the bus much easier. You could load all of your stuff into bins or onto carts with wheels and move them on and off of the bus as easily as a wheelchair.

Look for buses with the 12" windows and not the 9" windows. They are easily picked out of a crowd. The 9" window buses have the top of the side windows even with the top of the driver's window and the top of the service door. The 12" window buses have the top of the windows above the top of the driver's window and the top of the service door.

Even if you don't plan on staying anywhere with ambient temps below freezing the insulation that keeps you warm in those locales will also keep you cooler when you are staying somewhere with ambient temps approaching triple digits.

IMHO the ideal bus is built sometime in the late '90's to early '00's as the engines will not be electronically controlled but will have overdrive automatic transmissions.

The issues you have had with diesels in the past are typical of the sorts of problems electronically controlled engines have. The V-8 diesel you had in the Ford is pretty much identical to the ones available in IHC chassis buses and is known as the T444E. If you get the older non-electronic version it is the T444 and is known to go 300K+ miles with nothing more than regular oil and filter changes and the occasional glow plug replacement. Even more reliable is the Cummins 5.9L/6BT which can be found in Dodge trucks. But the most preferred of the reliable engines are the IHC DT360/466/530 and the Cummins 8.3L/6CT. The IHC I-6 and bigger Cummins are preferred because as every hot rodder will tell you "you can't beat cubic inches". The bigger engines will have more HP/torque and will almost always come paired with heavier duty transmissions with lock up torque convertors--the Allison MT640 or MD3000 series transmissions.

Engines you want to avoid are V-type engines as they generally have less HP, use more fuel, and do not pull hills as well as inline engines.

Engines to avoid are any made by Cat, Mercedes-Benz, and Brazilian Fords. They aren't bad engines but parts, pieces, and service for them are always harder to find and more expensive. Almost any truck stop in the country will have a tech who can work on an IHC or Cummins engine. About the only place you will find someone who will work on a Cat engine is a Cat dealer. Even Freightliner dealers don't like to work on M-B engines. And when you have to go to a Ford/New Holland tractor dealer to get parts and pieces for a Brazilian Ford you can imagine what sort of parts and service you will get.

The vast majority of lift equipped buses are not RE (rear engine) buses and very few of the lift equipped buses are 40' long.

As far as brakes are concerned, air brakes are preferred for various reasons. They are preferred by at least me anyway! Most air brake equipped buses have greater braking surface and all air brake equipped buses have automatic spring brakes that apply if you should lose air pressure and will stop the bus. Those same spring brakes are used as parking brakes and will secure a bus better than any hand brake that is applied to the driveline.

If you plan on driving a lot of miles the preferred bus is the RE bus. With the engine almost 40' away from where you are sitting while driving you will have very little heat or noise from the engine. RE buses also tend to have the bigger HP engines and if they have luggage compartments usually also have highway gearing.

Almost no school buses will have A/C. If they do the systems rarely work when found in a used bus. They usually take up a lot of space and do little to cool the driver's compartment. But there are some out there and the price is usually elevated by quite a bit over a bus without A/C.

This one does not have a lift but it does have the 12" windows: International 1993 AMTRAN

This one has the 12" windows, the big Cummins, and luggage compartments: 1999 Bluebird All American 75 Passenger - B75518-Used1999Blue BirdAll American



This one does not have a lift but it does have high headroom and pass through under the floor luggage compartments: GILLIG 1968 C190-12

This one will have the 12" windows, a lift, the DT466, the OD transmission, and air brakes: Used 2004 IC CE - Kankakee IL Near Nixa MO - Midwest Transit

This one will have the 12" windows, the DT530, the OD transmission, it is most likely geared to travel at highway speeds, and it has luggage compartments: Used 2004 IC RE - Kankakee IL Near Nixa MO - Midwest Transit

This one will have the 12" windows, the big Cummins, and A/C: Used 2000 Thomas Saf-T-Liner School Bus B85529-Used2000ThomasSaf T Liner HDX

This one will have the 12" windows, a lift, a flat floor, intergrated child seats, the small Cummins, and air brakes: Vehicle Image

This one will have the 9" windows, a lift, track seating, the MT643 transmission, and tinted glass: 1997 BLUEBIRD TC-2000 FE - USED BUS

I hope all of this helps.

Good luck and happy trails to you!
cowlitzcoach is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-28-2017, 06:20 AM   #22
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 2,212
This is what an integrated child restraint school bus seat is:
cowlitzcoach is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2017, 09:56 AM   #23
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Conneaut, Ohio
Posts: 189
Year: 2004
Chassis: International CE 300
Engine: DT466E
Rated Cap: 71 passenger / 12 window
How are people adding air conditioning to a bus that doesn't have a full-body A/C system? Is it as easy as installing a window unit somewhere (wouldn't that be a safety hazard?) or do they put in the rooftop A/C units common to RVs?

I can honestly say that I don't want to spend a lot of money on this... I don't want to be buying something that'll turn out to be a money pit. I'm reasonably handy and would be willing to repurpose used stuff like cabinets from "parts" RVs, lumber, maybe stuff that people swap out from their houses, etc. When a decent RV can sell for only a few grand, I'm not going to see much logic in spending more than a few grand on a school bus conversion. It doesn't have to look pretty - it just has to be functional. If I can get the bus itself for two or three grand, I think I can outfit it for only a grand or two because I'm handy and simple. (Or am I frighteningly naive?)

It seems that the various states have differing standards for what constitutes a vehicle that requires a CDL. The cutoff weight appears to be 26,000 pounds GVWR - if you have anything over that, you need some form of CDL. Is it reasonable to figure that a mid-sized (~8 window) bus will come in below 26,000 pounds GVWR? (Or does GVWR not matter if the bus is going to be used privately?)

I also have to figure that we may transport people at some point. I don't intend to use the bus for hire, but... we are hippies... someday we may find a hitchhiker to whom we can give a ride. Someday friends or relatives may want to ride with us. I never anticipate having more than 15 people on the bus, but I do want to be able to transport people if need be.

Is there a good resource online, which could tell me the buses that are equipped with the various different engines? (As in, if I want to find a bus that has a Cummins 8.3, these are the ones that do.)

Y'all who are experienced with buses, tell me: What is the one biggest warning you would give to any newbie considering turning a used school bus into a motorhome?
RomaniGypsy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2017, 11:46 AM   #24
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Texas
Posts: 61
YouTube. You need to get there fast. All your questions will be answered.
Look at what other people are doing. And then think about if you want to do this. No one is saying it is easy. You have to go all in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RomaniGypsy View Post
How are people adding air conditioning to a bus that doesn't have a full-body A/C system? Is it as easy as installing a window unit somewhere (wouldn't that be a safety hazard?) or do they put in the rooftop A/C units common to RVs?

I can honestly say that I don't want to spend a lot of money on this... I don't want to be buying something that'll turn out to be a money pit. I'm reasonably handy and would be willing to repurpose used stuff like cabinets from "parts" RVs, lumber, maybe stuff that people swap out from their houses, etc. When a decent RV can sell for only a few grand, I'm not going to see much logic in spending more than a few grand on a school bus conversion. It doesn't have to look pretty - it just has to be functional. If I can get the bus itself for two or three grand, I think I can outfit it for only a grand or two because I'm handy and simple. (Or am I frighteningly naive?)

It seems that the various states have differing standards for what constitutes a vehicle that requires a CDL. The cutoff weight appears to be 26,000 pounds GVWR - if you have anything over that, you need some form of CDL. Is it reasonable to figure that a mid-sized (~8 window) bus will come in below 26,000 pounds GVWR? (Or does GVWR not matter if the bus is going to be used privately?)

I also have to figure that we may transport people at some point. I don't intend to use the bus for hire, but... we are hippies... someday we may find a hitchhiker to whom we can give a ride. Someday friends or relatives may want to ride with us. I never anticipate having more than 15 people on the bus, but I do want to be able to transport people if need be.

Is there a good resource online, which could tell me the buses that are equipped with the various different engines? (As in, if I want to find a bus that has a Cummins 8.3, these are the ones that do.)

Y'all who are experienced with buses, tell me: What is the one biggest warning you would give to any newbie considering turning a used school bus into a motorhome?
45acp is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2017, 11:49 AM   #25
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 2,212
The biggest issue in regards to a used bus is don't purchase one that has any rust. Once the tin worm has attacked a rig it is virtually impossible to stop it completely. It can also require many, many $$$ and hours to repair. Spending more for a bus without rust is well worth the investment.

As far as engines are concerned, until the last two or three years you could not get a Cummins in an IC bus or IHC chassis bus. On the other hand, the DT466/530 is just as strong and dependable as the Cummins 8.3L/6CT/ISC.

About the only buses that will have the 8.3L will be Type 'D' Thomas and Blue Bird buses. In the early '00's a lot of the Thomas and BB buses came with the 3116/3126/C7 engine. That is not nearly as good of a choice as the Cummins or DT engines. Some of the Thomas also came with a Mercedes-Benz engine which when it runs is a very good engine.

There is no one place to discover which bus has which engine. The only way to know for sure is to see what is in the engine compartment. I once sold a bus I was told repeatedly that it had a 5.9L under the hood. Later when the customer got it home he told me it had the 8.3L.

In regards to a CDL, if your bus has been re-titled as an RV you will not need a CDL in any jurisdiction in the US that I know of. The only caveat is by definition any vehicle that can transport more than 15 passengers in addition to the driver is a bus which will require a CDL. So if you want to take along 14 or fewer other people you will be fine as an RV. If you want to take along 15 or more other people your bus won't be able to be licensed and titled as an RV which will then require you to have a CDL. In some states, like WA state, if your vehicle is over 16,000 GVWR or more than 15 passengers including the driver in order to renew the vehicle license you will have to prove you have a USDOT number before they will issue you a renewal.
cowlitzcoach is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2017, 03:28 PM   #26
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Georgia
Posts: 2,069
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: IH
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by RomaniGypsy View Post
It seems that the various states have differing standards for what constitutes a vehicle that requires a CDL. The cutoff weight appears to be 26,000 pounds GVWR - if you have anything over that, you need some form of CDL. Is it reasonable to figure that a mid-sized (~8 window) bus will come in below 26,000 pounds GVWR? (Or does GVWR not matter if the bus is going to be used privately?)

I also have to figure that we may transport people at some point. I don't intend to use the bus for hire, but... we are hippies... someday we may find a hitchhiker to whom we can give a ride. Someday friends or relatives may want to ride with us. I never anticipate having more than 15 people on the bus, but I do want to be able to transport people if need be.
A CDL is for COMMERCIAL DRIVER'S LICENSE. If you are not, in any way, shape, form or fashion using a vehicle for any form of commerce, then you are not subject to CDL rules.

In most states there is such thing as a Class A/B non-CDL, these are typically intended for farmers hauling goods to market and some oilfield operations (the exemptions vary from state-to-state).

Your use is essentially an oversized personal van. Picking up a couple friends and having them chip in for fuel is not a commercial use. (Think Greyhound and Megabus, that run scheduled stops and sell tickets by-the-seat).

Federal law dictates the 26,000 Class B cutoff and for the most part states follow that. Since federal law doesn't really address motorhomes (not to the same extent it does commercial vehicles), it's generally left to the states. Buses are weight rated based on what axles, springs, frame, expected load, engine, transmission, and cooling capacity. I have seen buses with 12K front axles, 20K rear axles (which theoretically could gross 32K), but rated at 25900 (presumably specifically to exempt the Class B rule). If I were in your position, I'd get it registered as a motorhome and call it good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
There is no one place to discover which bus has which engine.
If you have a VIN, try this tool: Gates VIN Decoder
Brad_SwiftFur is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2017, 04:36 PM   #27
Bus Crazy
 
CaptSquid's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Billings, MT
Posts: 1,266
Year: 2003
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: HDX
Engine: Cat C7
Rated Cap: 84 passenger
That decoder says I have an MBE 900 under the hood. Funny, but I have a Caterpiggle engine back there.
CaptSquid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2017, 04:38 PM   #28
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Georgia
Posts: 2,069
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: IH
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 14
What the bus originally came with, and what is has now, may *NOT* necessarily be the same!
Brad_SwiftFur is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2017, 04:39 PM   #29
Bus Crazy
 
CaptSquid's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Billings, MT
Posts: 1,266
Year: 2003
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: HDX
Engine: Cat C7
Rated Cap: 84 passenger
It came WITH the Caterpiggle.
CaptSquid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2017, 08:06 PM   #30
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Georgia
Posts: 2,069
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: IH
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 14
I'm not sure about the Thomas bodies, but the BlueBird panels with the VIN's (above the driver's seat and controls) are simply screwed in place and would be fairly easy to swap. It's possible this has happened. Or, just as possible, the info in the database is wrong (it does happen).
Brad_SwiftFur is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2017, 03:43 PM   #31
Bus Crazy
 
CaptSquid's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Billings, MT
Posts: 1,266
Year: 2003
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: HDX
Engine: Cat C7
Rated Cap: 84 passenger
The VIN, engine number, chassis number, etc, are all above the driver's seat on a Thomas, covered in plastic. It's on the order of a decal.
CaptSquid is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:03 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
×