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Old 01-31-2018, 03:49 PM   #1
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Checking out first bus, opinions please?

Hello forum! There's a local school bus from a private buyer that I'm checking out right now. It's 20 minutes away and was used as a party bus on the highways. It was bought to be used for mobile storage and moving but hasn't really been used. I took a friend with me and she gives it her cautious approval, pending a test drive. We didn't take one when we saw it because someone has stolen the gas out of it, also a brake line broke when we got it going.

Guys, it made a beautiful VROOOOM!!!! Like the roar of a dragon... it sounded like it will run GOOD once we sort out some minor mechanical kinks. The guy said he's gonna get a mechanic to take care of it and get back to me for a test drive later.

So here's pics of my first potential bus! Don't sugar coat it!
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Old 01-31-2018, 03:55 PM   #2
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More pics... there are some rust pics I'd like advice on...
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Old 01-31-2018, 03:56 PM   #3
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How much driving you plan on doing?
That's a pretty low end bus, really. Gas engine, low headroom, crappy flaking paint over the yellow, already has obvious mechanical flaws.
Unless its free or nearly free I'd pass. If its free, I'd resell it on CL and look for a nicer bus.
Just my opinion on it and only because you said don't sugarcoat it.
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Old 01-31-2018, 04:00 PM   #4
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There is nothing more expensive than a free bus. Gas engine, expect about 3-5mpg, did you plan on driving it much? Rust is a not good thing and can be quite extensive to repair. That bus is not worth but $1k if there is enough useable left in it. Get under it and inspect for rust from below, inside the rust will be hidden under the flooring system, you will want to remove the old flooring to see the rust on the base metal floor.
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Old 01-31-2018, 04:02 PM   #5
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Underbus pics...
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Old 01-31-2018, 04:04 PM   #6
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Gas 366 tonowanda engine, hydraulic brakes.
I asked for maintenence records, he doesn't have any.
I asked what the transmission is, he doesn't know. (He's not a mechanic)
Tank has been plundered of gas.
Last driven a year ago.
Needs new antifreeze cap, exhaust manifold hose, and a new brake line. Will be seen by a mechanic soon, hopefully any other problems will be discovered and addressed.
He's asking 3500. He's not gonna get it, but I was hoping to get two new front tires out of it.

So far looks like everyone is saying nay. Sad to hear but less sad than buying a big bucket with an engine...
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Old 01-31-2018, 04:05 PM   #7
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The most important question is "How much are they asking for it?"


The seller is too far off on that price for me to try and insult him with a legitimate offer.
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Old 01-31-2018, 04:08 PM   #8
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for 3500, you could get on 10X better. Run away!! Too much rust, underpowered, low roof, etc.

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Old 01-31-2018, 04:11 PM   #9
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Can someone tell me exactly why these are problem rust areas? I don't yet know the difference between tolerable rust and NO WAI rust...
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Old 01-31-2018, 04:12 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
The most important question is "How much are they asking for it?"


The seller is too far off on that price for me to try and insult him with a legitimate offer.
I wouldn't even make an offer.
That thing looks like a money pit and even if it were in tip top shape it isn't anything worth spending the time and money to convert.
Just getting a decent paint job on it after someone put that crappy paint on it would be so much work I'd pass. Let alone the rust and the fact it looks like it hasn't been used in years.

My first bus was identical to this except it was an 85 with a ford gas engine.
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Old 01-31-2018, 04:20 PM   #11
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I wouldn't even make an offer.
That thing looks like a money pit and even if it were in tip top shape it isn't anything worth spending the time and money to convert.
Just getting a decent paint job on it after someone put that crappy paint on it would be so much work I'd pass. Let alone the rust and the fact it looks like it hasn't been used in years.

My first bus was identical to this except it was an 85 with a ford gas engine.
Yeah it looks like they used housepaint on it. And I'm not happy that the bumpers were painted either.

Was your first bus a pain in the rear?
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Old 01-31-2018, 04:27 PM   #12
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If I planned to park it forever and build a tiny home out of it, I might go as high as 1000. For any amount of driving, I'd pass and find a diesel.

Chop the roof off and it might make a good farm vehicle for hauling hay or watermelons.
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Old 01-31-2018, 04:43 PM   #13
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I of course agree with the general tone of the other responses. It's a big old bus with a bunch of negatives, and even in the best of shape it wouldn't be a great platform for starting a skoolie build.

I know a few people who are doing just fine with gas engines. I think they are all Type A buses though.
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Old 01-31-2018, 04:56 PM   #14
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Nooooooo

Please for the love of all that is mechanical, pass.

Tires. That alone is a deal-breaker.

Tell us EXACTLY what your ideal bus would look like and someone here will find it. Don't fall in love with "potential".
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Old 01-31-2018, 05:06 PM   #15
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I say pass. An empty fuel tank can get a lot of moisture in it and you just jumped into the fire with filter and carb problems etc. A 1985 WITH A BAD BRAKE HOSE MIGHT JUST TURN OUT TO BE A BUS NEEDING ALL THE STEEL LINES REPLACED ( sorry about those darn caps)You can buy a excellent bus with new tires. diesel, automatic, and Air Brakes for about $3k. You just have to be patient and look at a lot of buses. READ READ READ these forums they are your friend and loaded with free knowledge from the experiences,money,time,blood, sweat, tears and grief from others. You can go through the school of hard knocks cheaper or very expensive.Read and find the engine you like 1st.imo. A great place to start and then keep reading and it will come to you in your mind as you read and learn. Why do you want an International DT466? Why would you want a CAT Engine? Are CAT parts expensive? See what i mean? Very basic stuff that the old salts around here can tell you in just a moment. A bus just down the street can easily turn into the bus from hell a 1/2 mile away.

After all the negatives don't forget that Buses are a BLAST!
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Old 01-31-2018, 05:08 PM   #16
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Please for the love of all that is mechanical, pass.

Tires. That alone is a deal-breaker.

Tell us EXACTLY what your ideal bus would look like and someone here will find it. Don't fall in love with "potential".
Yall have convinced me, I'm gonna call him sometime and tell him no thanks. I'll trust the wisdom of experience, especially when I can sense something like ALARM in all your tones... lol

I guess my ideal bus is 10/11 windows long, flat nose RE or conventional dog nose, full mechanical order, good tires, zero to workable rust.

Trying to keep my expectations simple and prioritized. From what I've been reading, the things above are pretty much non-negotiable, (except for body type. I refuse a front engine because I already have tinnitus, not gonna sit right next to the engine.)

I'd LIKE underbus storage, especially all the way across, but I can live without it or build my own. Everyone seems to prefer diesel engines unequivocally, but I have heard some people praise gassers. My friend prefers air brakes, but for a while there I'd been reading preferences in favor of hydraulics.

I just checked Midwest transits website and it's down for maintenance, lol
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Old 01-31-2018, 05:13 PM   #17
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I say pass. An empty fuel tank can get a lot of moisture in it and you just jumped into the fire with filter and carb problems etc. A 1985 WITH A BAD BRAKE HOSE MIGHT JUST TURN OUT TO BE A BUS NEEDING ALL THE STEEL LINES REPLACED ( sorry about those darn caps)You can buy a excellent bus with new tires. diesel, automatic, and Air Brakes for about $3k. You just have to be patient and look at a lot of buses. READ READ READ these forums they are your friend and loaded with free knowledge from the experiences,money,time,blood, sweat, tears and grief from others. You can go through the school of hard knocks cheaper or very expensive.Read and find the engine you like 1st.imo. A great place to start and then keep reading and it will come to you in your mind as you read and learn. Why do you want an International DT466? Why would you want a CAT Engine? Are CAT parts expensive? See what i mean? Very basic stuff that the old salts around here can tell you in just a moment. A bus just down the street can easily turn into the bus from hell a 1/2 mile away.

After all the negatives don't forget that Buses are a BLAST!
The caps gave me some understanding of specifically WHY I shouldn't buy the bus, so thank you very much. Yeah I've seen busses muuuuch better for the same or less, I wasn't gonna give him his asking price but clearly people's instincts here say this bus will ruin me. So, don't worry, I'm not gonna buy this bus just because it's local. I will pass. I've been reading on this forum a LOT, and some other forums too, for the better part of two years now. I have a lot of respect for the people who share their knowledge for free here on such forums. My problem is I have no mechanical knowledge. I can't look at an engine and tell you anything about it. I can read and read but mechanics isn't something you learn from books, you learn by doing. And I'd like to learn by doing on a bus that starts out right.
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Old 01-31-2018, 05:15 PM   #18
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Yeah it looks like they used housepaint on it. And I'm not happy that the bumpers were painted either.

Was your first bus a pain in the rear?
My first bus was just a well-used gasser Thomas like this one, with one foot in the grave. Not a good foundation for a home, so to speak. Had horrible MPG's and no power due to the gas engine and allison 545. Rust everywhere, old 20" tires. I was just happy to get a bus. Then I learned quickly how much an old gas bus sucks.
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Old 01-31-2018, 05:19 PM   #19
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I have tinnitus also. My FE didn't bother me. Its silence that bothers me. When everything is quiet I can hear the ringing. With a diesel purring next me, not so much.
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Old 01-31-2018, 05:20 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by DreamWeaverBus View Post
Yall have convinced me, I'm gonna call him sometime and tell him no thanks. I'll trust the wisdom of experience, especially when I can sense something like ALARM in all your tones... lol

I guess my ideal bus is 10/11 windows long, flat nose RE or conventional dog nose, full mechanical order, good tires, zero to workable rust.

Trying to keep my expectations simple and prioritized. From what I've been reading, the things above are pretty much non-negotiable, (except for body type. I refuse a front engine because I already have tinnitus, not gonna sit right next to the engine.)

I'd LIKE underbus storage, especially all the way across, but I can live without it or build my own. Everyone seems to prefer diesel engines unequivocally, but I have heard some people praise gassers. My friend prefers air brakes, but for a while there I'd been reading preferences in favor of hydraulics.

I just checked Midwest transits website and it's down for maintenance, lol
Phew !!! If you change your mind and want that old gas bus in 3 years, it will still be there- For Sale.

Glad you committed your goals to paper. Keep fine-tuning those goals out-loud on the forum, so we can chime-in. Sometimes you have to defend what you want- like No Loud Engine because it is higher on YOUR priority list than someone else. Nothing personal, just debate.

And we know you are willing to spend $3500, so we have a budget. Fill in your profile so we know where you are.

PLEASE let us know what he says- how low did he go???? Still RUN away.
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