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Old 08-26-2019, 06:32 PM   #1
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‘04 Thomas Saf-T-Liner Short:What’s it worth?

I am going to look at a 2004 Thomas saf-t-liner FE, 28’. It has a Cummins 5.9 and a 2000 series Allison transmission. The bus has 240,000 miles on it. The transmission was replaced recently by the school district with a used transmission that had 60,000 miles on it. This is all according to the school district maintenance records which the seller has on hand. The bus originated in the southwestern United States and appears to be free of corrosion. The seats are out and the walls and ceiling of the bus are gutted, a new roof air conditioner has been installed and the bus has been painted with rustoleum tractor paint, In what appears to be well executed job and in a tasteful color. There is air ride suspension at the front and rear axles and an air ride driver seat along with air brakes. The seller says that the differential gear ratio is 4.11 and that the bus easily cruises it at 70 miles an hour with the engine turning 2000 rpm, while delivering 9 - 9.5 mpg. The Cummins is said to be tuned for 205hp.All exterior lights have been upgraded to LED. The bus is titled, registered (current) and insured as an RV. The seller says that the bus is insured with Allstate and that he will put me together with his agent. He is asking $8000.
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Old 08-27-2019, 02:20 AM   #2
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This is an update to my preceding message.

I have a friend who is a really good negotiator.It always amazes me and how he is able to bring sellers down on their prices. I am not a good negotiator. And so I’m worried that I might pay too much for this bus and regret it later on the other hand I’m telling myself that there are good reasons for why the price is what it is. They are as follows:

I live in the rust belt. The bus is from the south west and is immaculate as far as corrosion is concerned. If I didn’t find such a bus here locally, I probably would’ve made a trip to the southwest to buy one. If I buy this bus I will be spared the expense of traveling a thousand or more miles each way and the stress of getting it back home.

My home state requires the bus to be painted. This bus is already repainted in what I consider to be a good color. That is a good thing that may be somewhat offset by the fact that the paint is rustoleum tractor paint.

It has a brand new Dometic rooftop A/C unit.

It has air ride at both the front and rear axles. I have looked at many buses and this is the first I have seen that is equipped like that.

It is a 2004 model with a 5.9 Cummins with common rail injection. A lot of people warn against buses with electronics systems, but I think the common rail 5.9 Cummins is a pretty tried and true package.

The transmission has been replaced with a unit with significantly less miles.

The seller has all the service records from the school district, which appears to indicate that they were quite thorough and took the responsibility seriously.

The only drawback I know about so far is the tires, and of course that could be a big deal. The seller says they have lots of tread and surely have much life ahead of them, but he also admits that the sidewalls are kind of dry with fine cracking, which he attributes to having been exposed to the strong rays of the desert sun before the bus arrived in the Midwest. Just based on that description, I think the tires are a real issue.

So, any thoughts?
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Old 08-27-2019, 06:21 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by wrenchtech View Post
I am going to look at a 2004 Thomas saf-t-liner FE, 28’. It has a Cummins 5.9 and a 2000 series Allison transmission. The bus has 240,000 miles on it. The transmission was replaced recently by the school district with a used transmission that had 60,000 miles on it. This is all according to the school district maintenance records which the seller has on hand. The bus originated in the southwestern United States and appears to be free of corrosion. The seats are out and the walls and ceiling of the bus are gutted, a new roof air conditioner has been installed and the bus has been painted with rustoleum tractor paint, In what appears to be well executed job and in a tasteful color. There is air ride suspension at the front and rear axles and an air ride driver seat along with air brakes. The seller says that the differential gear ratio is 4.11 and that the bus easily cruises it at 70 miles an hour with the engine turning 2000 rpm, while delivering 9 - 9.5 mpg. The Cummins is said to be tuned for 205hp.All exterior lights have been upgraded to LED. The bus is titled, registered (current) and insured as an RV. The seller says that the bus is insured with Allstate and that he will put me together with his agent. He is asking $8000.
Sounds decent if it all checks out.
Use the tires as a negotiation point.
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Old 08-27-2019, 09:01 AM   #4
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So it wouldn’t be completely crazy to buy this bus at somewhere near the price that the owner is asking?

Also, since I am not a proper heavy vehicle mechanic, I think I should bring a professional into the picture at some point to do a pre-purchase inspection.
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Old 08-27-2019, 10:11 AM   #5
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So it wouldn’t be completely crazy to buy this bus at somewhere near the price that the owner is asking?

Also, since I am not a proper heavy vehicle mechanic, I think I should bring a professional into the picture at some point to do a pre-purchase inspection.
I don't think it would be completely crazy.....esp. if you can wangle the price down a bit. Our bus was 5K at auction and we paid someone to do the demo and painting. Wouldn't be a bad idea to get a PPI done, and have him assess the tires too. Check the date codes stamped on the tires. Our tires ran us around $2500 for the full set of 6, so it's not inconsequential. As CB said, use the tires as a way to wriggle down the price. Having the demo and painting done is worth a few grand markup (at least it was for us) since that's the point where many people throw in the towel and decide to sell it unfinished. That's a LOT of work that you won't have to do yourself....you can get right to the fun stuff. I don't know how many buses you've looked at or how long you've been looking but eventually the right bus comes along and you just have to take a leap of faith!
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Old 08-27-2019, 10:34 AM   #6
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If I understand the situation they got the bus, gutted the insides, and painted it. These types of buses go for about $4000 to $6000 usually depending on condition. I'm not sure the work that has been done on this bus warrants a $8000 price tag. I think there are buses just as good or better out there for a lot less.
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Old 08-27-2019, 11:44 AM   #7
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This bus has many plusses.
28'
2000 trans low mile
From the SW
New roof air
Air ride all around
4.11 rear
205 hp
Painted

Tires would be suspect.

A lot of good to this unit. If seller would mount a new set of US brand tires, $8,000 would not be out of line. Plus, you can start on the inside immediately.

My $.02
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Old 08-28-2019, 01:27 AM   #8
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Notice the title says motorhome. The word bus doesn’t appear anywhere. That’s got to be worth something.
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Old 08-28-2019, 05:33 AM   #9
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Changing the title is free. It is in FL anyhow.

It is a low headroom model, so there's another bargaining point.
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Old 08-28-2019, 06:46 AM   #10
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that roof A/C looks like a camper unit.. it might sort of keep you cool when parked. but if thats all it has you will be sweatin while you drive.
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Old 08-28-2019, 08:15 AM   #11
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Changing the title is free. It is in FL anyhow.

It is a low headroom model, so there's another bargaining point.
I was thinking that if I can just walk into my Wisconsin DMV and get my new “motorhome“ registered without having to undergo any school bus conversion inspection process, it would be saving me quite a bit of time and effort.
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Old 08-28-2019, 04:52 PM   #12
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I was thinking that if I can just walk into my Wisconsin DMV and get my new “motorhome“ registered without having to undergo any school bus conversion inspection process, it would be saving me quite a bit of time and effort.
Right on.
I can't speak to your local regs but here I can just hand the clerk at the dmv a piece of paper saying I converted it and they print me out the new title. Its free and easy.
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Old 08-29-2019, 10:05 AM   #13
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Well, I walked away from this deal. I am adamant about avoiding mold.The seller had pulled the inner surfaces off the walls. There were insulation batts in the lower section of the walls that seemed to be black with mold. And this from a bus fresh from the southwestern US! I am hyper-sensitive to mold so it was a deal killer. The seller was also inflexible on every issue we discussed. I was also put off by the lack of A/C for the driver and not impressed with the ride.Too much noise, and it seemed like I was driving a boat not a quality truck. It may not be anything specific to this bus and could be more due to the fact that I am coming from class 8 trucks, which are pretty refined theses days. One thing I learned is that I don't want a front engine flat front. If I get a bus it will have to carry the engine out in front of a firewall, or it will be a pusher.

I might as well ask; is there such a thing as a mid-length pusher? Actually I know the answer. In my several months of searching I have see exactly one, and it was powered by a 7.3 Navistar, which would not be my first choice.
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Old 08-29-2019, 11:27 AM   #14
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school busses arent as refined as class 8's.. although the thomas HDX is about as close to refined and coach-bus like as you can get with a school bus..



friend of mine has one and its a Joy to ride in (other than he doesnt have A/C)
the HDX is rear engine with air-ride suspension all the way around... his is an 04 with a CAT-3126 (230 HP)...


im Not fan of front engine flat-nose.. not just because of the noise and heat. but they seem to be a royal pain to work on if you ask me..





Driver-specific A/C is a tough find in a school bus. ive seen a few IC CE conventionals and some thomas Safe-t-liner C2's (tough bus to convert) with dash A/C..



if you have A/C at all its often ceiling mounted units that free blow air into the space.. some have one up front that is directable to the driver more..



I ended up custom building dashboard A/C into one of my busses.. and am glad i did..

-Christopher
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