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Old 01-23-2017, 11:20 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Washington State
Posts: 14
Question What type of school bus for me?

Sorry if this thread or one like it has been done before. I have not yet purchased my school bus. I would appreciate any and all advice on this topic. Here is what I plan for my skoolie. Total solar for my power(shore power for those grey skys in the winter of Washington state). Wood stove for heat in winter. Composting toilet(no black water tank). Electric on demand tankless hot water heater. Washer dryer combo(for clothes of course). Multi voltage fridge/freezer. One computer. Several flat screens. Shower. Gas stove(three burner). Plus I will need to haul a 2016 Jeep Patriot.

Now for my question: What type of school bus would be best for a project like mine? Rear engine or front? Flat face or full face bus?

Please help....
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Old 01-24-2017, 12:26 AM   #2
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You still have too many variables to make a reasonable opinion on what might be best for you.

Just as there is no one bus that is the best bus, there is no one bus that will make the best conversion bus.

Size matters. The larger the bus is the more important the power package is appropriate for a bus that large. The vast majority of school buses spend 95% of their service life at 35 MPH or less. The need to climb hills quickly or travel down the highway at highway speeds is an expensive option that is usually not taken when the buses are built. A but that has 190-210 HP might be a great bus for a daily route but a terrible bus for taking a trip. And the larger the bus is, the more important the power package becomes. A 5-row bus with a 190 HP engine is going to move along fairly quickly. The same engine in a bus with 14-rows is going to be a slug. Swapping stuff around after the fact can cost well in excess of 3x of what you paid for the bus originally.

If you intend to urban camp, or camp off pavement, or spend a lot of time cruising across the country the choice of bus will be vastly different.

A bus that is appropriate for one person and one significant other is not going to be appropriate if there are going to be four other people and a couple of dogs.

Once you determine where you intend to take your bus, how long you plan to be out on the road, and how many will be going along with you will all have an impact on what sort of bus would be best for you.

You have given a few clues but just not enough to make an informed opinion.

Good luck and happy trails to you!
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Old 01-24-2017, 04:41 AM   #3
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I plan on living and traveling the whole west coast year round.
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Old 01-24-2017, 10:05 AM   #4
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Rear engine Cummins 8.3...35ft-40ft for National forest. you have more room underneath to install tanks water ect..in the west big hills: engine brake be my #1 ,you can do it without but is nice.
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Old 01-24-2017, 01:28 PM   #5
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If your intention is to travel the west coast having a big HP power package is going to be helpful.

Where you intend to travel will dictate which type of bus would be the best choice for you.

If you intend to spend a lot of time off pavement and spending time in National Forests or BLM land a Type 'C' conventional might be a better choice. The Type 'C' bus tends to not weigh as much as a Type 'D' and they tend to have higher ground clearance. A 215 HP engine is going to move a bus like this to cruising speeds of around 60 MPH without any problems.

If you are serious about going off grid and getting into the back country this bus is about as good as it gets: International 1997 AMTRAN

If you intend to spend a lot of time on pavement traveling lots of highways then a Type 'D' RE bus might be a better choice. The RE buses have the noise and heat of the engine a long way away from the driver's compartment which can reduce fatigue on a long run. RE trip buses tend to come from the factory with the largest HP options with the heaviest transmission. With the big HP option comes the largest cooling system. They also typically have the highest head room and pass through luggage compartments under the floor. The long wheelbase and under floor storage compartments translates to very low ground clearance. RE location requires extra caution when climbing curbs or entering/exiting curb cuts--you really do not want to scrape the oil pan on anything. Service door in front of the front axle allows for low entrance height but also shallow entry angles.

If you want a good RE bus that isn't like every other bus out there here is a bus you may want to consider: GILLIG 1968 C190-12
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Old 01-24-2017, 10:40 PM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Good looking out

Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
If your intention is to travel the west coast having a big HP power package is going to be helpful.

Where you intend to travel will dictate which type of bus would be the best choice for you.

If you intend to spend a lot of time off pavement and spending time in National Forests or BLM land a Type 'C' conventional might be a better choice. The Type 'C' bus tends to not weigh as much as a Type 'D' and they tend to have higher ground clearance. A 215 HP engine is going to move a bus like this to cruising speeds of around 60 MPH without any problems.

If you are serious about going off grid and getting into the back country this bus is about as good as it gets: International 1997 AMTRAN

If you intend to spend a lot of time on pavement traveling lots of highways then a Type 'D' RE bus might be a better choice. The RE buses have the noise and heat of the engine a long way away from the driver's compartment which can reduce fatigue on a long run. RE trip buses tend to come from the factory with the largest HP options with the heaviest transmission. With the big HP option comes the largest cooling system. They also typically have the highest head room and pass through luggage compartments under the floor. The long wheelbase and under floor storage compartments translates to very low ground clearance. RE location requires extra caution when climbing curbs or entering/exiting curb cuts--you really do not want to scrape the oil pan on anything. Service door in front of the front axle allows for low entrance height but also shallow entry angles.

If you want a good RE bus that isn't like every other bus out there here is a bus you may want to consider: GILLIG 1968 C190-12


I like the fact that the International has 4WD its perfect. The other bus just dose not have the power that I am looking for. Huge thanks and good looking out for a newbie like me. I see you are from Winlock. That is where I will be building my bus. My uncle owns a chunk of land just off Ferrier RD. Maybe I will run into you around town. I will be moving up that way from Longview this upcoming November to help him with his farm and build my new to me skoolie off grid self sustainable home.
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Old 01-24-2017, 10:42 PM   #7
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It will just be me my dog and cat maybe my son if he comes to live with me(not sure if he will)
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Old 01-25-2017, 05:58 AM   #8
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that bus has 4WD!? man that'd be sweet. wish mine did.
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Old 01-25-2017, 11:26 AM   #9
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the pics were so small I couldnt get a good look... I didnt realize they made conventionals in 4WD... how cool is that.

hopefully they dont just mean a POSI rear and so the 4 rear wheels drive!
-Christopher
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Old 01-26-2017, 08:52 AM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Smile Made my bus choice.

My choice of bus is as follows:

Bluebird TC2000 FE 5.9L Cummins 72 passenger.

Reason for my choice:

(1) I am on walkabout(Will be until I die)
(2) I am going to live off-grid.
(3) The size is what I need.
(4) I can put 2.5 ton military 6x6 or 5 ton 6x6 assembly on the bus.
(5) I want to travel and go places in my bus that no one has taken a bus before.
(6) Most important my son wants nothing to do with me so it will be just one dog just one cat and just one man.
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Old 01-26-2017, 09:53 AM   #11
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I was stoked to see the 1997 International Amtran recommended, because I've got a 1999 International Amtran...very different buses in many ways, exactly the same in others. That said:

The DT466 is not a fast engine. Everyone I've talked to who has one agrees with my experience: it's a dog at acceleration. It takes me at least a quarter-mile to get up to 25 mph, and if there are hills along the way you'll be lucky to keep it at 35. For highway driving, they're great once you get them up to 65, and will happily motor along at 70 mph for days as long as you don't come to a mountain pass (or even a large hill).

I would have loved to get 4WD, but didn't know such a thing existed when I bought Velda - instead, I opted for buying a bus from a snowy, mountainous region which came equipped with an electromagnetic brake retarder and automatic chains. Unfortunately, since I bought it sight-unseen, I took the seller's word that these features worked. And they don't. (I recommend NOT buying a bus from the Adams 12 5-Star School District, just north of Denver, CO) The moral of that story is to verify that any features you want actually exist on the vehicle, and that they work, before you hand over the money.

As for navigating twisty-turny roads along the Pacific coast, I'd recommend that you look for something no longer than 35'. Velda is 39.5' long, and she's not particularly agile when it comes to driving in confined spaces. Heaven forbid you have to do a three-point turn with a vehicle that big in just about any forest setting (it's nerve-wracking).

All of your criteria regarding electrical power and usage are moot when you're looking at what type of bus to buy, as you're going to be adding those features (with the obvious exception of storage space for your batteries and other equipment). I would recommend NOT going with an electric on-demand water heater, as it is going to use more power than you can probably store or generate with solar, unless you're looking to invest some serious money in your electrical system (Batterie$$$$).

Good luck!
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Old 01-26-2017, 11:11 AM   #12
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I have a TC1000 with a 5.9 Cummins. My bus is 10ft shorter than a full-length TC2000. I wish I had more power, don't get me wrong, I love the engine, its just not winning any races. I agree with much advice given here. For our western canyons and mountains, the longer buses are tougher. My bus has a wheelbase that is only a foot of so longer than my ford F350, so it is very maneuverable. Also, I vote NAY to the electric on demand water heater. I have one in my garage, and it takes ALOT of power, the LP on demand heaters are very inexpensive and efficient.

-sorry your kid is distancing himself, Im sure its a phase, I have one like that as well....
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Old 01-26-2017, 12:26 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Just one man View Post
My choice of bus is as follows:

Bluebird TC2000 FE 5.9L Cummins 72 passenger.

Reason for my choice:

(1) I am on walkabout(Will be until I die)
(2) I am going to live off-grid.
(3) The size is what I need.
(4) I can put 2.5 ton military 6x6 or 5 ton 6x6 assembly on the bus.
(5) I want to travel and go places in my bus that no one has taken a bus before.
(6) Most important my son wants nothing to do with me so it will be just one dog just one cat and just one man.
Why not go for an All American? the TC lineup are the cheaper, lower-spec line of BB's.
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Old 01-26-2017, 12:30 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VeldatheWonderbus View Post
I was stoked to see the 1997 International Amtran recommended, because I've got a 1999 International Amtran...very different buses in many ways, exactly the same in others. That said:

The DT466 is not a fast engine. Everyone I've talked to who has one agrees with my experience: it's a dog at acceleration. It takes me at least a quarter-mile to get up to 25 mph, and if there are hills along the way you'll be lucky to keep it at 35. For highway driving, they're great once you get them up to 65, and will happily motor along at 70 mph for days as long as you don't come to a mountain pass (or even a large hill).

I would have loved to get 4WD, but didn't know such a thing existed when I bought Velda - instead, I opted for buying a bus from a snowy, mountainous region which came equipped with an electromagnetic brake retarder and automatic chains. Unfortunately, since I bought it sight-unseen, I took the seller's word that these features worked. And they don't. (I recommend NOT buying a bus from the Adams 12 5-Star School District, just north of Denver, CO) The moral of that story is to verify that any features you want actually exist on the vehicle, and that they work, before you hand over the money.

As for navigating twisty-turny roads along the Pacific coast, I'd recommend that you look for something no longer than 35'. Velda is 39.5' long, and she's not particularly agile when it comes to driving in confined spaces. Heaven forbid you have to do a three-point turn with a vehicle that big in just about any forest setting (it's nerve-wracking).

All of your criteria regarding electrical power and usage are moot when you're looking at what type of bus to buy, as you're going to be adding those features (with the obvious exception of storage space for your batteries and other equipment). I would recommend NOT going with an electric on-demand water heater, as it is going to use more power than you can probably store or generate with solar, unless you're looking to invest some serious money in your electrical system (Batterie$$$$).

Good luck!
In regards to the 466 being a "dog"- That's more to do with your gearing/transmission combo. If you think the 466 takes a long time to accelerate just be glad its not a 5.9 or an 8.2 Detroit.
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Old 01-26-2017, 03:26 PM   #15
Mini-Skoolie
 
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thank you for your input on the on demand water heater. I might have enough batteries on board. I am going to put 16 225ah 6 volt deep cycle batteries in my bus. I just might go with the LP on demand water heater.
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Old 01-26-2017, 09:24 PM   #16
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school busses are heavy.. they arent supposed ot be speed demons.. DT-466E's are good low end torque engines.. if you pair them with Higher-numerical rear ends and 6 speed MD3060 or Allison 2500 transmissions you'll get a good take off and still maintain a good highway top speed..

Most school busses pair the 466E with an MT-643 which is only a 4 speed.. and for highway use they have a lower numerical ratio rear end which is good for top speed but not as good for giddy-up

and a few are paired with AT545 which results in even more "dogginess" due to no lockup.. these will reallty slow down on hills..
-Christopher
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Old 01-26-2017, 11:01 PM   #17
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Speaking of the 5.9 Cummins. Any 24 valve after 1998 can be "turned up" with a simple electronic controller. About $600. 10 power levels above stock, each offering 15 hp and 40 lb/ft of torque. So from 210 to 360 hp. and 500 to 900 lb. ft. You will need to beef the trans if you drive around in the upper levels! TST products Power Max. No dog this one!
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Old 01-27-2017, 05:54 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
school busses are heavy.. they arent supposed ot be speed demons.. DT-466E's are good low end torque engines.. if you pair them with Higher-numerical rear ends and 6 speed MD3060 or Allison 2500 transmissions you'll get a good take off and still maintain a good highway top speed..

Most school busses pair the 466E with an MT-643 which is only a 4 speed.. and for highway use they have a lower numerical ratio rear end which is good for top speed but not as good for giddy-up

and a few are paired with AT545 which results in even more "dogginess" due to no lockup.. these will reallty slow down on hills..
-Christopher
I'd say its more than a "few" that have 545's.
https://www.govdeals.com/index.cfm?f...137&acctid=136
This one is pretty typical.
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Old 01-27-2017, 06:03 AM   #19
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wow 545 in 2003 i didnt even know they were still made that late.. i was thinking 00 / 01 was about it for the 545
-Christopher
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Old 01-27-2017, 06:13 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
wow 545 in 2003 i didnt even know they were still made that late.. i was thinking 00 / 01 was about it for the 545
-Christopher
There's another 05' listed as having a 545, too. And there was a nice one I can't find now that wasn't a FL turd. Maybe it was in OK, I can't remember now. I almost put a bid on that one it was so clean!
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