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Old 05-24-2018, 09:14 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Talking Total Newbie to buses.

Hello! I am new to this whole bus thing. I have been interested in tiny houses for many years now but the whole idea of turning a bus into a house sounds like a much more all in one package that doesn't require a massive pickup truck to tow. I have no idea where to start, I don't have a bus, but I do like to make things. All I know is that I have access to just about any tool imaginable, I have experience in aircraft body work (which may be useful if I raise the roof of the bus???), and I can build anything.

Any recommendations on where to start and where to buy a bus would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

~Camden

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Old 05-24-2018, 09:34 AM   #2
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Howdy Camden...and welcome! --- I would suggest you complete the info in your profile so we know where you are located. Will make a big difference regarding suggestions and help.
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Old 05-24-2018, 09:52 AM   #3
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Welcome Camden,

You are definitely in the right place to learn about skoolie builds. I personally purchased my bus on a government auction site. the 2 most popular are https://www.govdeals.com/ and https://www.publicsurplus.com/ . Like Tango said fill out where you are from and we can suggest local places.
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Old 05-24-2018, 11:00 AM   #4
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Use the search bar above to find the threads on "Places to buy a bus" and "What kind of bus should I buy. That'll be a big step in getting started.
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Old 05-24-2018, 11:34 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tango View Post
Howdy Camden...and welcome! --- I would suggest you complete the info in your profile so we know where you are located. Will make a big difference regarding suggestions and help.
Thanks for the quick response! I live in Central Florida. I wouldn't mind driving anywhere in the state but the closer the better obviously!
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Old 05-24-2018, 11:45 AM   #6
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Asking questions is the best thing you can do to help you make a decision.


Among the questions you need to ask:
  • How many will be going along with you and sleeping in the bus
  • How do you plan to use it--rarely move it, move it occasionally, move it a lot
  • Where do you plan to use it--mountains in the winter and deserts in the summer, or mountains in the summer and deserts in the winter
  • How many miles do you plan to drive it in a year--1000 miles per year or 1000 miles per week
  • What roads do you plan on traveling--always on the interstate system, sometimes on the interstate system, or never on the interstate system
  • Will you always be on pavement, mostly on the pavement, or off pavement a lot out at the ends of roads
Once you have nailed down the parameters of what your bus will need to accomplish for you the next thing you will then need to decide on is what size will work the best for you.

At that point we will be better able to suggest what buses to consider.

Regardless of what you decide will work the best there are two caveats to always keep in mind.

First, do NOT fall in love with any one particular bus. There are some unicorn buses out there that are pretty special. But new buses are delivered every day of the week all year long which means old buses are being retired every day of the week all year long. If you miss one that you really wanted another one will come along.

And second, no matter how attractive the price might be, do NOT purchase a bus with rust. The cost of rust repair will eat up any savings in original purchase price very quickly. And like cancer rust is virtually impossible to eliminate.

Good luck and happy trails to you!
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Old 05-24-2018, 11:52 AM   #7
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Thanks for the things to thing about! This is really helpful. The reason I am considering a bus is because I am planning on becoming essentially a traveling tradesman. Likely doing work on power plants and the like. So I could safely say that 90 percent of driving would be interstate driving on pavement obviously, and that a high end estimate would be 9000 miles a year.
I am still considering the feasibility of this and have no idea if buses are capable of this.
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Old 05-24-2018, 12:23 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoobTheGreat View Post
Thanks for the things to thing about! This is really helpful. The reason I am considering a bus is because I am planning on becoming essentially a traveling tradesman. Likely doing work on power plants and the like. So I could safely say that 90 percent of driving would be interstate driving on pavement obviously, and that a high end estimate would be 9000 miles a year.
I am still considering the feasibility of this and have no idea if buses are capable of this.
Buses are capable of this if you find one with the correct motor and transmission. The most popular drive train in buses are the Cummins 5.9 with an Allison AT545 transmission. This is a school bus route drive train and not conducive to mountain passes or sustained high highway speeds. You would want a sort of Transit bus, Ideally with an Allison 3060 that has an optional open 6th gear for keep cruising RPM down and lockable converters with overdrive.
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Old 05-24-2018, 12:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoobTheGreat View Post
Hello! I am new to this whole bus thing. I have been interested in tiny houses for many years now but the whole idea of turning a bus into a house sounds like a much more all in one package that doesn't require a massive pickup truck to tow. I have no idea where to start, I don't have a bus, but I do like to make things. All I know is that I have access to just about any tool imaginable, I have experience in aircraft body work (which may be useful if I raise the roof of the bus???), and I can build anything.

Any recommendations on where to start and where to buy a bus would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

~Camden

There are lots of good deals if you watch the auction sites. I'd avoid ANYTHING built after 2003/2004 due to the emissions complexity and general lower quality of build.
While bus shopping you'll find these low mileage, late model buses for what seem like great prices. Don't let those entice you. They're crap.
Just my opinions.

You're local. Come on out to Apopka/Sorrento sometime and we'll have a beer or two or three.
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Old 05-24-2018, 12:52 PM   #10
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By transit bus you means something like a Ford Econoline with the weird bubble shaped passenger area on the back and not a city bus correct?
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Old 05-24-2018, 01:27 PM   #11
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By transit bus you means something like a Ford Econoline with the weird bubble shaped passenger area on the back and not a city bus correct?
No, the total opposite. A transit bus, Type D, is the larger road going bus not set up for bus routes. What you are referring to is a Type A bus.
This will explain the different types of buses:
http://www.scapt.org/files/download/...us%20types.pdf
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Old 05-24-2018, 01:29 PM   #12
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No, the total opposite. A transit bus, Type D, is the larger road going bus not set up for bus routes. What you are referring to is a Type A bus.
This will explain the different types of buses:
http://www.scapt.org/files/download/...us%20types.pdf
Dude- Type D buses are used on routes all the time. "trip buses" can be any kind of bus.
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Old 05-24-2018, 01:36 PM   #13
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So what I have learned from this advice and disagreement as well is that apart from the types of buses I just want something with higher gears in the transmission for better cruising. Correct or incorrect? Thanks again for all of the assistance!
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Old 05-24-2018, 01:43 PM   #14
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If you intend to drive on highways and want to travel at highway speeds you need to find a bus with a big engine with big HP and a big transmission.

That usually means a DT466/530 or a Cummins 8.3L/6CT/ISC engine of at least 285 HP and an Allison 3000 series transmission. 300+ HP is even better.

Sometimes that power package can be found in a Type 'C' bus, sometimes in a Type 'D' FE bus, but more commonly found in a Type 'D' RE bus.

The unicorn bus is the Crown or Gillig mid-mount engine Type 'D' bus with the Cummins 855 Big Cam engine. I have seen some with HP ratings of well in excess of 300 HP.
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Old 05-24-2018, 01:50 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
If you intend to drive on highways and want to travel at highway speeds you need to find a bus with a big engine with big HP and a big transmission.

That usually means a DT466/530 or a Cummins 8.3L/6CT/ISC engine of at least 285 HP and an Allison 3000 series transmission. 300+ HP is even better.

Sometimes that power package can be found in a Type 'C' bus, sometimes in a Type 'D' FE bus, but more commonly found in a Type 'D' RE bus.

The unicorn bus is the Crown or Gillig mid-mount engine Type 'D' bus with the Cummins 855 Big Cam engine. I have seen some with HP ratings of well in excess of 300 HP.
great advice as always. But I think most of us would be lucky to find a decent deal on a decent bus with anything rated much higher than 210-230. The buses with 250hp or more are definitely not very common.
My shorty feels like a hot rod, and its got a DT466 rated at 215. We're thinking of swapping in a 530 for the fun of it, though. Torque is king.
BTW- before anyone chimes in with "horsepower is meaningless its the torque blah blah" ... yeah that is sure but the engines come in different trim/hp ratings so its an easy way to reference the state of tune on a particular engine.
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Old 05-24-2018, 01:50 PM   #16
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This one isn't a total unicorn with a DD 6-71 and 5-speed but it is a real bargain price.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/WAYN...group_activity
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Old 05-24-2018, 01:57 PM   #17
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https://orlando.craigslist.org/cto/d...593438626.html

I found this one. It doesn't list HP but from what I am reading about it the engine is supposed to output "Up to 300hp".
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Old 05-24-2018, 02:00 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by GoobTheGreat View Post
https://orlando.craigslist.org/cto/d...593438626.html

I found this one. It doesn't list HP but from what I am reading about it the engine is supposed to output "Up to 300hp".
That's almost surely an allison 545. Definitely won't be a high hp engine if that's the case.

FL buses are so expensive and low spec. Go for a Texas, Colorado, or bus from any non-rustbucket state. Their schools are all better funded than ours, thus so are their buses.
I've gotten all mine from out of state and will continue to do so. ymmv.
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Old 05-24-2018, 02:06 PM   #19
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Hmmm. I might be flying to Colorado for a visit with friends soon. I may be driving back a bus.....
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Old 05-24-2018, 02:50 PM   #20
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Hmmm. I might be flying to Colorado for a visit with friends soon. I may be driving back a bus.....
Second hand buses in CO can be a bit pricey and hard to find, but start looking. Their mountain buses have retarders, high hp, and usually come with all the bells and whistles.
Oregon and Washington also have excellent buses.

The buses out west are so much better its honestly not worth buying the "swill" here in the southeast.
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