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Old 02-05-2012, 10:48 PM   #1
New Member
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 3
Hello, new here, many questions!

What a great community this seems to be! I'm junglebrad and I'm from Dallas, TX. My wife and I do a lot of road trips and have talked about doing a bus conversion for several years. This year, we are going to finally tackle it. So I have some questions and want to make sure I'm asking the right questions. A little about me: I make a living with carpentry and I know how to weld. We will be attending Burning Man this year as well as a few other long road trips towards the end of the summer, and I'd like to have something ready for us by then. The plan is to gut the bus, install a swamp/water cooler for a/c, raise the roof, and design and build the layout. So, on with the questions.

1. Does anyone know of a good online or local source for buying a used bus? Our budget is about $3000-$3500 and I've been looking at the following:

All have a few good listings but nothing local.

2. What size should I be looking at? I do want the largest possible but I do not have any experience driving something so large. I would like to find a class if necessary. The street my house is located on ends at the freeway access road so that is convenient. There is a driveway directly across the street from mine so that should make parking in my driveway easier. We don't plan on doing much in-town driving at all. I do plan on raising the roof to at least 8ft and ideally 10ft. What other questions should I be asking myself in regards to size?

3. What condition can I expect to find a used bus in my budget? The bus will be taken camping a lot, so tires must be dirt-road friendly. I've noticed that tires are quite expensive. I've several years experience working on cars, but never diesel. I am however reading a book on diesel engine repair for this project as well as marine diesel engines. I plan on doing all the work myself so if there are common things I should look for as far as engine problems, what do you guys think?

If there are any other big questions I should be asking myself before making a buy, please throw 'em at me! I hope I'm not asking too much for a first post! Thanks a lot and I look forward to getting to know you guys!
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Old 02-06-2012, 02:54 AM   #2
Bus Crazy
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Oregon/Philippines
Posts: 1,660
Re: Hello, new here, many questions!

You can probably get a good running 1990's bus in that price range. Even a diesel pusher like my 1991 thomas. also, there are some old greyhound type busses that you can get for that price as well.

I would look on craigslist, or and type in things like bluebird, thomas, carpenter, am trans, etc in the search bar. there are a lot of busses for sale, and with the bad economic times, the prices are very negotiable. For example, last year, i offered the school district less than half of what they wanted for the bus i have now - less than scrap value of it , and after a month they took my offer.

Try to get one in good mechanical condition as that is the most important part. Tires, brakes, batteries are all cheap compared to getting an injector pump or something like that.
Jesus Christ... Conversion in progress.
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Old 02-08-2012, 04:27 PM   #3
New Member
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 3
Re: Hello, new here, many questions!

Thanks for the input. has quite a bit to choose from! I've never heard of it before so thanks for showing me that!
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Old 03-03-2012, 10:08 PM   #4
Bus Crazy
Elliot Naess's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Clearlake, Northern California
Posts: 2,329
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TC-2000 Frt Eng, Tranny:MT643
Engine: 5,9 Cummins
Rated Cap: 84
Re: Hello, new here, many questions!

If at all possible, buy from a school district (or the contractor that operates the buses for them). Avoid second hand buses -- projects that somebody gave up on.
Avoid flat-front front-engine. That is, where the engine is under a "dog house" next to the driver. It's too difficult to work on the engine in there.
You get the most bus for the buck with a bus that's around 35 feet long, bumper to bumper. This because they are the most common, but difficult to find parking for in cities. Shorties bring a premium because they fit in a suburban driveway. And 40-footers bring a bit extra for the maximum space. Buses are narrow inside, so a lot of space is wasted on "hallways". Therefore, if you buy a shorter bus, you may find yourself running out of room rather soon.
Millicent The Bus - roof raised two feet, toy-hauler tailgate.
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