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Old 08-30-2021, 11:17 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 10
Year: 2004
Coachwork: Thomas Built Freightliner. Allison 2000 tranny
Chassis: Freightliner FS-65 (dognose)
Engine: Mercedes MBE 906 six cylinder diesel
Rated Cap: 35 feet long
I'm (finally) looking to buy a bus

I could use your advice about where to buy a bus. I resolved last October to buy one and convert it to a skoolie, but lockdowns and travel restrictions got in the way. In the last 10 months Iíve acquired a generator, a power station, solar panels and various other doodads Ė even a domain name. But Iíve been ďall hat and no horseĒ for long enough.

Skoolie forums stress that I shouldnít buy a rusty bus. I figure that means buying one from a jurisdiction uses little or no road salt Ė like Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas and Oklahoma.

I live in Ontario, Canada, near the bridge to Buffalo New York. (Iím a dual citizen, so I can cross the border in both directions.) Itís going to be a long drive home. So last week I got my CDL. Iím licensed to drive a bus of any size or weight, with or without air brakes.

The Canadian federal government limits what models of bus I can import. Iím looking for a 35 foot dog-nose Bluebird or Thomas bus (not a pusher or a puller) built 2000-2006. It must still be configured as a school bus. It cannot already be converted to an RV.

Some people swear by auctions as the place to shop. But they list so little information about the state of repair of those buses. Iím worried Iíd put money down on a bus I never set eyes on, that turns out to need an engine or transmission rebuild.

Iíve read entries in this forum. Iíve bought and read Michael Fuehrerís book ďBuslife Guide Ė Choosing and Buying Your Bus.Ē Iíd be grateful for any specific recommendations you may have about e.g. bus dealers or other sources in those warm states.

Thanks for your help.

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Old 08-30-2021, 12:31 PM   #2
Bus Geek
 
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Dawsonville, Ga.
Posts: 10,419
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Genesis
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466/3060
Rated Cap: 77
The Government auctions are usually the best source as they are mostly just retired buses from a school system that has meticulously maintained them. The lowest prices are going to be found at auctions. There's always contact info for asking questions. The seller is not selling to make money, they are just liquidating them due to age., so they will most likely not hide and issues that a private seller may not mention. The dealers buy their buses from the same auctions, clean them up, throw it on the lot at double what they paid for it. The PNW and many heavy snow areas don't use salt as it's not effective in deep snow. Some of the best equipped buses come from those areas. Mountains and snow means they may have better drive trains and automatic snow chains.
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Old 08-31-2021, 12:03 AM   #3
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: Auburn, WA
Posts: 779
Year: 2000
Coachwork: IC / Amtran
Chassis: 3000 / 33' Flat Nose
Engine: IC T444E / Allison MT643
Rated Cap: 72 Kids / 48 Adults
Does it absolutely have to be a school bus?

The reason I ask is, as previously mentioned, the Gov sites are a good source for all sorts of vehicles.

Honestly, if I were to do it again, I would not do a school bus, due to all the integrated safety electrical systems. But, a bus of the same year, model and such without all the safety electrical, that would be a cleaner way to go. If they were used by the military, even better, because not only have they been maintained, they usually have lower miles.

Just something to consider.
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Old 08-31-2021, 11:37 AM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 10
Year: 2004
Coachwork: Thomas Built Freightliner. Allison 2000 tranny
Chassis: Freightliner FS-65 (dognose)
Engine: Mercedes MBE 906 six cylinder diesel
Rated Cap: 35 feet long
Quote:
Originally Posted by Simplicity View Post
Does it absolutely have to be a school bus?

The reason I ask is, as previously mentioned, the Gov sites are a good source for all sorts of vehicles.

Honestly, if I were to do it again, I would not do a school bus, due to all the integrated safety electrical systems. But, a bus of the same year, model and such without all the safety electrical, that would be a cleaner way to go. If they were used by the military, even better, because not only have they been maintained, they usually have lower miles.

Just something to consider.
Thanks. Wise suggestion. Also, in Ontario a skoolie cannot be school bus "chrome yellow." It would be a huge saving of time and money to not have to repaint. I'll need to check our federal import rules to see what make of non-school buses I can import.
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