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Old 11-01-2017, 09:18 PM   #1
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What do you think about this bus?

Looked at one today at an auction lot. Here are the specs as far as I can tell:

2007 Thomas (does that make it an EPA/emissions control nightmare? It was built in June 2006 as a 2007 model.)
Front engine (Cummins 5.9 ISB215)
Allison AD2500 transmission (I know nothing about this transmission, but the shifter showed RN(D)D321)
Couldn't figure out mileage - batteries were dead and odometer is digital
Full size
Seating for 8 plus driver (it was spec'd as a handicap transport bus)
Handicap lift doesn't work
Two overhead climate control units (looked like air conditioners, working condition unknown)
High headroom
Owner's manual appears to be included
Spent its life in western New York, so the usual rust (nothing LOOKED major when I checked the undercarriage, but who knows if looks are deceiving...)
Coach windows
Seat belts
Bus is already painted white due to not having been an actual school bus
All tires look to be at least in "fair" condition with no visible dry-rot and seemingly decent tread depth, with DOT date codes showing 0214 through 2814
No apparent evidence of water leaks

It was driven to the auction lot under its own power but the condition sheet states "dead batteries"

It's being auctioned off because it didn't pass the NY State safety inspection in February 2017, though the desk guy at the auction house didn't know why, beyond the inoperable handicap lift.

I don't know what it'll go for at auction. The company wants $2,500. The desk guy said that it had been offered at their last auction and the highest bid was $1,750... they didn't sell. He said that when vehicles stay around for a while, sellers start to break down and accept lower amounts of money... but the truth is that we really don't know what it'd sell for. We know they'd take $2,500. We have reason to believe they won't take $1,750.

I know that the mileage will be a variable... but beyond that, any thoughts? (I know that a lot of y'all don't like rust. Okay, fine, but have you heard horror stories of buses rusting out while on the road? I don't have much money and I don't know yet how long I will want to keep a bus once I get it. If I love having one, I can always "trade up" to something nicer later on. If it sits around after a while like my RV did, I'm not going to have to take a huge bath on the sale of the bus like I did with the sale of my RV. At least that's how I feel right now.)
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Old 11-01-2017, 09:27 PM   #2
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Chassis: International CE 300
Engine: DT466E
Rated Cap: 71 passenger / 12 window
Pictures here:

Vehicle | Detail | Greater Erie Auto Auction

It has air brakes - forgot to mention that.
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Old 11-01-2017, 09:34 PM   #3
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I'm betting they'd take $2000.

Even at a bit more, the real question is "Does it meet your requirements?"

If it does, then it's worth it. Once you get into fixing it the way you want, the purchase price will be long forgotten.

Also, auctions are variable. It depends who is there. It may go for over $2500. If you can get hold of the seller, try a $2k offer before the auction. Auction fees would still apply.
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Old 11-01-2017, 09:55 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Twigg View Post
I'm betting they'd take $2000.

Even at a bit more, the real question is "Does it meet your requirements?"
From my aforestated list, yes it does... assuming the mileage is low enough and the transmission is held in high enough esteem, and it's in good enough operating condition (which I guess an auction house wouldn't be able to tell). It's tall enough, it's already set for a good amount of seating, and the side entrance door provided by the fact that it's a handicap bus could free up the rear for me to do something else with it in the future, such as tow a trailer or add a rear carrier for the generator.

It's big, but not huge. Looks like 35 feet or so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Twigg View Post
If it does, then it's worth it. Once you get into fixing it the way you want, the purchase price will be long forgotten.
I really don't intend to do much. One king size bed, bathroom fixtures such as tub, toilet and sink, and something simple for cooking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Twigg View Post
Also, auctions are variable. It depends who is there. It may go for over $2500. If you can get hold of the seller, try a $2k offer before the auction. Auction fees would still apply.
Is that kosher? As in, would anyone frown upon it?

I do intend to contact them to figure out why that bus was retired... so maybe I could make an offer.
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Old 11-01-2017, 10:04 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RomaniGypsy View Post
From my aforestated list, yes it does... assuming the mileage is low enough and the transmission is held in high enough esteem, and it's in good enough operating condition (which I guess an auction house wouldn't be able to tell). It's tall enough, it's already set for a good amount of seating, and the side entrance door provided by the fact that it's a handicap bus could free up the rear for me to do something else with it in the future, such as tow a trailer or add a rear carrier for the generator.

It's big, but not huge. Looks like 35 feet or so.



I really don't intend to do much. One king size bed, bathroom fixtures such as tub, toilet and sink, and something simple for cooking.



Is that kosher? As in, would anyone frown upon it?

I do intend to contact them to figure out why that bus was retired... so maybe I could make an offer.
The transmission is a good one.

Do you really care if anyone "frowns" on it? Seller wants to sell, buyer wants to buy, auction house wants the fees.

If you all agree, who is harmed? The worst they can say is "No".
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Old 11-01-2017, 10:17 PM   #6
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I gotta say that if it fills your needs, and you can get it for an amt. you're happy with, Go for it. What you end up, on the interior, should only matter to you. I have found that most, on this sight, are happy to see people do their bus however they choose. To enjoy your bus, just get 'er done, and be happy.
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Old 11-01-2017, 11:15 PM   #7
Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Twigg View Post
The transmission is a good one.
Do you really care if anyone "frowns" on it? Seller wants to sell, buyer wants to buy, auction house wants the fees.

If you all agree, who is harmed? The worst they can say is "No".[/QUOTE]

I don't care if anyone outside of the transaction frowns upon it. But would it be kosher for an auction? I'd essentially be preventing others from having the chance to bid on the bus.

I suppose another question I should ask is this: How would I know if the bus has undesirable emissions control stuff on it? (I didn't notice a DEF filler hole, if that helps...)
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Old 11-01-2017, 11:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RomaniGypsy View Post
Do you really care if anyone "frowns" on it? Seller wants to sell, buyer wants to buy, auction house wants the fees.

If you all agree, who is harmed? The worst they can say is "No".
I don't care if anyone outside of the transaction frowns upon it. But would it be kosher for an auction? I'd essentially be preventing others from having the chance to bid on the bus.

I suppose another question I should ask is this: How would I know if the bus has undesirable emissions control stuff on it? (I didn't notice a DEF filler hole, if that helps...)[/QUOTE]

The auction house is an agent for the seller. They don't have an opinion, just a right to their contractual fees.

Other auction goers aren't bothered about your feelings when they are bidding against you
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Old 11-02-2017, 12:42 PM   #9
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What do you think about this bus?

Itís a great looking bus, but IMHO thereís a lot of red flags there.

- NY buses seem to have some of the worst rust Iíve seen. Rust can be mostly a cosmetic thing. Or it can cause the frame to brake the next time you hit a big pothole, and the bus is basically scrap. Having owned / worked on rusty old cars when I lived in the northeast, the more likely problem is that repairs that should be small jobs become much bigger jobs because things donít come apart like they should. Bolts are seized and snap off, and thereís not enough good material there to repair, so now youíre replacing a whole major component instead of a cheap part. That sort of thing. If you have the time, inclination and the skills, itís usually all stuff you can deal with. If not, it can quickly become a money pit. Or you could get lucky. But with rust the odds are not usually in your favor.

- Failed state safety inspection. Iíd say that is a pretty bad sign. If it was something minor they probably just would have fixed it. Since they didnít, it was likely deemed not worth the cost of fixing.

- Dead battery. Not a big deal in of itself, but bear in mind the standard auction language of driven to the lot means almost nothing. The transmission could be hosed, engine could have major issues, all they are saying is it was capable of moving under its own power. You are buying as-is and taking on all that risk yourself.



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Old 11-02-2017, 09:12 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by miscrms View Post
Itís a great looking bus, but IMHO thereís a lot of red flags there.

- NY buses seem to have some of the worst rust Iíve seen. Rust can be mostly a cosmetic thing. Or it can cause the frame to brake the next time you hit a big pothole, and the bus is basically scrap.
I know that rust is quite a variable in any equation. I examined everything and didn't see major rust. I would define "major rust" as what I saw when someone who wanted to buy my minivan this summer put it up on a lift. (Like a moron, I didn't examine it thoroughly when I bought it in January in the middle of a snowstorm. I knew that those sellers seemed too anxious to get rid of it. It seemed to run and drive fine, though on certain bumps it did feel as though the body momentarily leapt off of the frame in the back. Turns out - that's exactly what was happening! Yet, it had no rust on the door bottoms or hatch bottom. I figured that usually those are the second things to go, after the rockers, when rust gets bad.) Really rusty metal starts to deform and look like it's coming apart in layers. I didn't see that with this bus. Does that mean there's no significant rust? Not at all. I don't know everything there is to know about rust.

But what I do know is that I don't have the time nor the desire to spend the money to make a trip to a place like Phoenix where I could get a zero-rust bus. (After all, those zero-rust buses seem to have really high mileage. If I'm going to pick my poison, I'll stay away from mechanical nightmares.)

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Originally Posted by miscrms View Post
- Failed state safety inspection. Iíd say that is a pretty bad sign. If it was something minor they probably just would have fixed it. Since they didnít, it was likely deemed not worth the cost of fixing.
The guy at the auction house said that it failed inspection because of the nonfunctional wheelchair lift. The seller wanted to offload it because the cost of replacing the busted components of the wheelchair lift (he specifically mentioned the motor) was deemed too high for that bus. So, you're right, but it may not be anything beyond that lift. I'm sure that any state would fail a bus for safety when it's set up as a handicapped person hauler, and the wheelchair lift doesn't work. I know that NY State is REALLY lenient with rust, on passenger vehicles. If it is assumed that a bus is held to comparative standards, I highly doubt that it would have failed safety for rust.

Quote:
Originally Posted by miscrms View Post
- Dead battery. Not a big deal in of itself, but bear in mind the standard auction language of driven to the lot means almost nothing. The transmission could be hosed, engine could have major issues, all they are saying is it was capable of moving under its own power. You are buying as-is and taking on all that risk yourself.
I know... and I recognize that there'd be risk. But if this bus was operated in western NY (which the registration sticker and body decals suggest), it would be at bare minimum 30 miles to get from any location in western NY to where that auction house was located. My guess is that if it had really bad mechanical issues, that 30-mile trip would have been difficult if not impossible. (I could be wrong. People have all kinds of ways of covering this stuff up. Maybe it was towed to a place only a few miles away and then driven to the lot, limping under its own power.)

Plus, it came with a condition report, which made no mention of mechanical problems beyond the dead batteries. Does that mean that the report is necessarily 100% complete and honest? No, this stuff can never be trusted completely. But, you can get a bad vehicle from anyone, and you can get a good vehicle from anyone. My first car was the second most expensive car I've ever owned, and the first day I took it out, it blew its starter and had to be towed home. And, I've bought really cheap cars from private sellers that gave me next to no trouble for as long as I had them. I bought a brand-new Subaru in 2009 which always had a loose driver's seat (they said there was nothing wrong with it... okay, yeah right)... and a $490 Cadillac that gave me almost 20,000 trouble-free miles (save for having to get a new muffler) before I sold it for $700. Nobody ever gives you any guarantees that are worth much.

And for me, it's a risk because I have never owned a bus. I'm not the type to "luck out" on my first trigger-pull. I'm sure that whatever bus I choose, there will be something wrong with it or something I don't like about it which at some later time will make me say "if I'd only known then what I know now"... but that's how we all learn. There's only so much that people can tell you online. If I get a cheap bus and decide that I really like "bus life", I might just offload it at some point and get something a bit nicer. I just feel better about buying a $2,000 bus than a $10,000+ motorhome. They can both break down and cost lots of money to fix, but at least if I had to scrap the bus, I could probably get that two grand back. I couldn't get even that for scrapping the more expensive motorhome.
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Old 11-03-2017, 08:58 AM   #11
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And tell me again - the emissions control stuff... is a 2007-model bus that was built in 2006, without a visible DEF filler spout, going to have undesirable emissions control equipment? If yes, what? (Extra credit if you know what this specific bus with its powertrain might have on it.)
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Old 11-03-2017, 11:15 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RomaniGypsy View Post
And tell me again - the emissions control stuff... is a 2007-model bus that was built in 2006, without a visible DEF filler spout, going to have undesirable emissions control equipment? If yes, what? (Extra credit if you know what this specific bus with its powertrain might have on it.)
Most of the early problems with emissions equipment have been ironed out now.

Many were caused by school buses never running long enough at operating temperature, to make the emissions controls work correctly. Trucks that run all day have far fewer problems.

CAT dropped out of the bus market because of this, but they remain a big supplier for medium-duty trucks.

The need for specialist diagnostic equipment makes it harder for home mechanics, but not impossible. The problem is that the tools are expensive, and some of them are dealer-only.
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Old 11-03-2017, 03:51 PM   #13
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Twigg has it right... my Local international garage even states the same thing.. even on the new busses.. that columbus city schools has a lot of short routes because of high density neighborhoods.. a bus may never reach 45 MPH on a route.. the mechanics clean out the DPF's and tell the fleet managers to take their busses out and drive em like they stole em every now and then..

when a skoolie gets a hold of a used bus chances are its a road trip vehicle and gets run on the highway fairly often and is fully warmed up..

if these busses are in western NY and you are in NE ohio, can you arrange for an inspection and take a run up to give a look? see how much rust and how it runs?

the transmission and engine are electronic.. the allison TCM will set a code and issue a Check trans light if it even as much as slips a little.... my guess is the cummins ISB is similar that if it doesnt think something is right the check engine light illuminates..

-Christopher
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Old 11-03-2017, 10:13 PM   #14
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Most of the early problems with emissions equipment have been ironed out now.
Does that mean that a 2007-model bus with emissions components installed new in, say, 2016 would have less trouble than the bus had when brand new?

Or that buses from an even newer model year have fewer emissions system problems than 2007 model buses?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Twigg View Post
Many were caused by school buses never running long enough at operating temperature, to make the emissions controls work correctly. Trucks that run all day have far fewer problems.
I don't know if this bus was run on short routes. It is not a school bus - it is shown as a "transit bus" although it looks like a school bus just with coach windows, no flashy lights at the top, and white paint. Hopefully tomorrow when I hit the auction, I will be able to check its mileage and hours. (Hopefully these digital odometers can show hours.)

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The need for specialist diagnostic equipment makes it harder for home mechanics, but not impossible. The problem is that the tools are expensive, and some of them are dealer-only.
I'm not a home mechanic, so it might just be a wash...

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Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
the mechanics clean out the DPF's and tell the fleet managers to take their busses out and drive em like they stole em every now and then..
Am I allowed to admit that I've never understood this phrase? If I stole a car, the last thing I'd do is drive it at record-breaking speed so as to attract the attention of every cop I pass. I'd try to blend in, and just drive as far as I could. (Then again, what do I know? Worst run-in with the law that I've ever had is for... heeheehee... speeding. )

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Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
if these busses are in western NY and you are in NE ohio, can you arrange for an inspection and take a run up to give a look? see how much rust and how it runs?
I've already looked at it. The rust didn't look terrible, at least compared to the minivan I had earlier this year. (And it sure beats the rust on a lot of the vehicles I see on the road in this area... some of them, I don't know how they're still held together.) I don't know how anal I can be about rust, when anything I buy within a 400-mile radius is likely to have rust. Given that I don't have the time to make a long trip to a rust-free zone, nor the desire to spend even more money to get a bus with 250,000+ miles from a rust-free zone, if I have to pick my poison, I'll choose the cheap bus nearby which has rust. As I've said, it should last at least long enough for me to decide if I like having and using a bus. If I do like it, nothing says I can't upgrade at some point if it "rusts out"... though I'd probably aim to get under it, wire-wheel off as much rust as I could, hit it with some sort of rust converter, and then paint over it with Rust-Oleum or whatever the automotive equivalent is for undercoating.
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Old 11-03-2017, 10:30 PM   #15
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Engines with Diesel Particulate Filters are problematic on school buses.

The filters require a self-cleaning drive cycle which involves getting the engine warm. The schedule should be in the service manual. This doesn't just apply to trucks and buses. They are being fitted to cars too. The manual will tell you to dive on the highway for a certain distance, at a set speed or close to it.

If you don't do this the filter will need to be cleaned at a service centre, costing maybe $100.

If you don't do that it can plug, and require replacement at circa $3000.

It depends on how good the owners are at keeping those things clean, but running around neighborhoods doesn't get it done.
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Old 11-04-2017, 09:15 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RomaniGypsy View Post
Does that mean that a 2007-model bus with emissions components installed new in, say, 2016 would have less trouble than the bus had when brand new?

Or that buses from an even newer model year have fewer emissions system problems than 2007 model buses?



I don't know if this bus was run on short routes. It is not a school bus - it is shown as a "transit bus" although it looks like a school bus just with coach windows, no flashy lights at the top, and white paint. Hopefully tomorrow when I hit the auction, I will be able to check its mileage and hours. (Hopefully these digital odometers can show hours.)



I'm not a home mechanic, so it might just be a wash...



Am I allowed to admit that I've never understood this phrase? If I stole a car, the last thing I'd do is drive it at record-breaking speed so as to attract the attention of every cop I pass. I'd try to blend in, and just drive as far as I could. (Then again, what do I know? Worst run-in with the law that I've ever had is for... heeheehee... speeding. )



I've already looked at it. The rust didn't look terrible, at least compared to the minivan I had earlier this year. (And it sure beats the rust on a lot of the vehicles I see on the road in this area... some of them, I don't know how they're still held together.) I don't know how anal I can be about rust, when anything I buy within a 400-mile radius is likely to have rust. Given that I don't have the time to make a long trip to a rust-free zone, nor the desire to spend even more money to get a bus with 250,000+ miles from a rust-free zone, if I have to pick my poison, I'll choose the cheap bus nearby which has rust. As I've said, it should last at least long enough for me to decide if I like having and using a bus. If I do like it, nothing says I can't upgrade at some point if it "rusts out"... though I'd probably aim to get under it, wire-wheel off as much rust as I could, hit it with some sort of rust converter, and then paint over it with Rust-Oleum or whatever the automotive equivalent is for undercoating.
rust is exactly that relative!.. my Ohio carpenter bus would likely be considered "Rusty!" by many folk here.. well at least if you look at iot first site.. but no panels have rust bubbling out.. the fram has a few spots of surface rust but no rust layering.. is there rust on the floor ribs? yep.. but I havent felt like my foot is gonna go through anywhere.. is there rust on the bottoms of the wheel-well tubs? yep but I cant poke a hole in it.. I had to fix a mudflap bracket that was pretty rusty.. seems kinda normal to me.. but nevertheless ive driven close to 18,000 miles on that bus now and had a heck of a lot of fun in it.. and its still goiong strong.. so to me its perfectly fine..

deep rist in the frame? id consider as a deal killer.. if you are going to gut and re-skin parts of a bus anyway then I wouldnt consider a rusty corner panel a big deal.. or even a few rusty floor ribs..

if things are rusting through and components look crazily caked like im sure your van was then yeah id walk...

otherwise it comes down to nothing more than does the bus fit your needs,wants and price for right now? if so then id say go for it...

theres's one of those IC transit-window style busses down here in columbus.. green and white.. it looks like a mid 00's, is in the same storage place I keep mine.. they look like nice busses..

-Christopher
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Old 11-04-2017, 09:31 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
rust is exactly that relative!.. my Ohio carpenter bus would likely be considered "Rusty!" by many folk here.. well at least if you look at iot first site.. but no panels have rust bubbling out.. the fram has a few spots of surface rust but no rust layering.. is there rust on the floor ribs? yep.. but I havent felt like my foot is gonna go through anywhere.. is there rust on the bottoms of the wheel-well tubs? yep but I cant poke a hole in it.. I had to fix a mudflap bracket that was pretty rusty.. seems kinda normal to me.. but nevertheless ive driven close to 18,000 miles on that bus now and had a heck of a lot of fun in it.. and its still goiong strong.. so to me its perfectly fine..

deep rist in the frame? id consider as a deal killer.. if you are going to gut and re-skin parts of a bus anyway then I wouldnt consider a rusty corner panel a big deal.. or even a few rusty floor ribs..

if things are rusting through and components look crazily caked like im sure your van was then yeah id walk...

otherwise it comes down to nothing more than does the bus fit your needs,wants and price for right now? if so then id say go for it...

theres's one of those IC transit-window style busses down here in columbus.. green and white.. it looks like a mid 00's, is in the same storage place I keep mine.. they look like nice busses..

-Christopher
Rusty buses are a tremendous opportunity for those who live in dry states, and can fix them. Bringing a Michigan bus to Oklahoma means that once you fix the rust, it isn't coming back for a long time.

Even surface rust has become an inspection failure point in some places, and those buses, unlike the Arizona examples, sell for bottom dollar, if they sell at all.

If you are handy with a mig, then all you are out is consumables and time to bring them back to excellent condition. The metalwork is much simpler than a car body, and vehicle rust gained its notoriety from monocoque car shells that can be very difficult to repair. A bus is big, flat with a few simple curves.

So providing there is no significant rust in structural areas (frame, supension mounting points, etc), and you are prepared to do the work, then you can have a very nice vehicle for a lot less money.
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Old 11-04-2017, 04:52 PM   #18
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Rated Cap: 71 passenger / 12 window
Okay y'all, here's the scoop. I went to the auction in person today, and they weren't able to get the bus running. (The auction house guy told me that it needs a jump, and they couldn't get to it with a semi-truck tractor being parked to the left of the bus, largely blocking the battery door. It's not like the door was fully blocked, but they'd have needed some seriously long jumper cables to get to it from another running vehicle parked where a vehicle could be parked.)

So I didn't bid on it. I didn't know the miles, I couldn't hear it run... and the setup of this auction was that each vehicle that could run was driven into the house down a "lane", and people bid on it as it sat there. If I could have heard it run and seen it drive, I'd have bid on it.

The maximum bid today was $400. The auction house guy told me yesterday that the seller had previously rejected $1,750. I'm fairly certain, therefore, that they wouldn't take the $400 offer. I went to the guy afterward and told him that if they get it running and driving to the point where I can see it do what all of the other vehicles did - run down the lot to the distance that would get it through the lane as all of the other vehicles did today - I would put forth a much higher offer.

The problem is that I'm not a mechanic. Could it have been a good risk, just that it needed a jump? Only if all it needed was a jump. If it needed more than that, I'd be out a huge amount of money for perhaps major engine work and I wouldn't want that. (I couldn't even see how many miles were on it. They auctioned it by placing its picture on a TV screen.)

Would you have done anything differently if you were me?
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Old 11-04-2017, 04:58 PM   #19
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 228
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: AARE 3903
Engine: Cummins 8.3L 12v
Rated Cap: 78
It think it was a very smart move. Way too risky unless youíre super handy and looking for a fixer upper.


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Old 11-04-2017, 05:00 PM   #20
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Owasso, OK
Posts: 2,627
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner MVP ER
Engine: Cummins 6CTA8.3 Mechanical MD3060
Rated Cap: 46 Coach Seats, 40 foot
It was $400 .... and the chances are the bid would not have been accepted.

You know it starts, because they drove it there.

I would have bid, and when the bid was rejected talked to the seller to find out what the real condition was, and what they would accept.

It's failed at two auctions now, I'm thinking the price is going down, not up.
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