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Old 11-30-2017, 12:05 PM   #1
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Which deal to take?

Hey guys, new to this site in the sense of posting, but have been using this as a great resource for my search in buying a bus to convert. I have two buses I'm currently looking at buying and really need an opinion on which sounds like the better deal. The first is over 500 miles away from me and the second is just 1-2 hour drive.

Bus #1: 2000 BlueBird
Cummings 5.9 ISB
Allison AT545 tranny
179k miles
It was ready for this school year but taken off due to route reduction. Guy said recently inspected by state patrol. Because of inspection, new stair well installed, new brakes front and rear, drums and rear chambers. New radiator and charge air cooler all this year.
He wants minimum $5,000 (already talked him down from 6k), good price?

Bus #2: 1998 International AmTram
Engine TBD
Tranny TBD
192k miles
This is from a dealer I'm pretty sure, and has passed "pre-purchase and inspection". Going to look at the bus today to get rest of specs because guy on phone didn't know what engine or tranny. I'm pretty sure I can get this one $2k less than 1st option. Will post rest of specs when I get them.

Thanks a lot in advance guys I'm really excited about all of this.
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Old 11-30-2017, 12:37 PM   #2
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In what state are these buses listed? Do they have any rust?
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Old 11-30-2017, 12:39 PM   #3
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Congrats on your impending purchase.

There is certainly some extra value in the 2000 with all that work done. I'm assuming the tires are good on both vehicles. Assuming often costs a lot in the end.

You sound like you know what you're doing mechanically. I am questioning why you're buying at fixed prices instead of at auction. Both seem a little high priced, but then again it depends on what you value. Personally speaking, that much money could get you a bookmobile.
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Old 11-30-2017, 01:04 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bharcey View Post
Hey guys, new to this site in the sense of posting, but have been using this as a great resource for my search in buying a bus to convert. I have two buses I'm currently looking at buying and really need an opinion on which sounds like the better deal.
Too many missing details to determine. Need more data.

BE PATIENT !!! This is like buying a wife ! Be picky. MANY buses out in the sea.

I choose: D) None of the above.

As Robin said, way too pricey. read my build, i list prices paid.
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Old 11-30-2017, 01:16 PM   #5
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In what state are these buses listed? Do they have any rust?
1st in Ohio 2nd in Georgia. I'll know about body condition on 2nd today and will post.
The guy i've been talking to says the body is in good condition and I don't see any rust from pics.
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Old 11-30-2017, 01:30 PM   #6
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Congrats on your impending purchase.

There is certainly some extra value in the 2000 with all that work done. I'm assuming the tires are good on both vehicles. Assuming often costs a lot in the end.

You sound like you know what you're doing mechanically. I am questioning why you're buying at fixed prices instead of at auction. Both seem a little high priced, but then again it depends on what you value. Personally speaking, that much money could get you a bookmobile.
I know some mechanics from what my dad has taught me and my bus knowledge is from research, but not an expert by far. I've been searching for awhile now and just can't seem to find much. Also, I can rarely find detailed specs on the online auctions. These two were found on eBay, and when I talked the guy down I just messaged him about his starting bid being too high and he lowered it to 5k. He said all the work it's had is over $2000 this year and it was by the school system, inspected by OH state patrol.
I've found mixed reviews of Cummins 5.9.
If body is in good condition, what might you offer for the Blue Bird?
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Old 11-30-2017, 01:30 PM   #7
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Edit: the note about good body condition is on the Blue Bird.
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Old 11-30-2017, 01:43 PM   #8
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If body is in good condition, what might you offer for the Blue Bird?
$1500- and that is because I would pull the motor and put it in my Ram pickup.

You do not want that bus. I own a Blue Bird. With a 5.9L Cummins engine. I have a real transmission, that one does not. You do not want that combo.
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Old 11-30-2017, 01:52 PM   #9
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$1500- and that is because I would pull the motor and put it in my Ram pickup.

You do not want that bus. I own a Blue Bird. With a 5.9L Cummins engine. I have a real transmission, that one does not. You do not want that combo.
That's really helpful. Thanks for the advice, I figured that would be the case with the Cummins
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Old 11-30-2017, 03:45 PM   #10
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It's very tempting to want to buy the bus in front of you, but should you?

Here is the spec of the bus I just bought, and the price:

Cummins 8.3L engine
Allison MD3060 transmission.
Air-Ride seat
Rear Engine, 40 foot
Thomas Built (78" interior height)
Pass through luggage storage
Decent tires
No visible rust anywhere
Air Brakes

Price: $3960 with all fees.

Two very similar buses sold at identical prices, but I waited months for them to come along and looked at many hundreds of average buses at lower (and some higher) prices.

I saw the one on eBay that initially had an opening bid price of 7k, later reduced to 5k. I barely glanced at it. Either the guy didn't know what he had, or was simply trying to profiteer, either way it wasn't going to end well.

Make a list of "Your Ideal Bus", then a second version speccing the bus you could live with. For example, you might want an MD3060 Transmission but could live with an MT643 ... and you'll pass on anything with an AT545 ... that would be my list, make your own.

The start looking at the auction sites (and dealers for comparison) for any buses that fall between your ideal spec and what you can live with.

You'll find quite a bit of choice, and even more as we get into the spring and summer.
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Old 11-30-2017, 03:58 PM   #11
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where in ohio and what school system is the blue-bird coming out of?

whethewr tha AT545 trans will work for you is a buig question of where you plan to go in it. if its going to be mainly a bee bop around on mainly flat ground and no super long trips exploring all over then the 545 is just fine.. biut it definitely will big down on hills and is inefficient but the 545 is reliable.. the 5.9 is a solid engine but wont be a speed demon.. you also need to ask what rear-end ratio is in the bus. some schools order busses that may hav ed a maximum speed of 50 MPH.. the rear end ratio and tire sizes can let you calculate your bus's estimated top speed..

-Christopher
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Old 11-30-2017, 03:59 PM   #12
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The part about the stairwell would make me question the rest of the chassis/frame for rust that's not visible on the outside but could be almost eaten through on the underside if the issue was rust/rot?
If it was the stairwell bottomed out in a pothole,speed bump type damage then I would question the longevity of the suspension,steering parts?
With all that done on a 2000 model it sounds like it has had a rough life?
And I have the 545 tranny and although very reliable in the right conditions I would pass on it alone if I had to choose again?
Good luck
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Old 11-30-2017, 04:05 PM   #13
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on ohio Busses the stairwell is the first place to rust.. it gets a double whemmy of being the low point right behind the front wheel to get salt sprayed.. and then all the kids salty boots getting the bus.. ive even seen the drivers salt the steps to melt the snow quicker.. the heater vents are usually pointed at the windows and not the steps..

-Christopher
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Old 11-30-2017, 04:12 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Twigg View Post
It's very tempting to want to buy the bus in front of you, but should you?

Here is the spec of the bus I just bought, and the price:

Cummins 8.3L engine
Allison MD3060 transmission.
Air-Ride seat
Rear Engine, 40 foot
Thomas Built (78" interior height)
Pass through luggage storage
Decent tires
No visible rust anywhere
Air Brakes

Price: $3960 with all fees.

Two very similar buses sold at identical prices, but I waited months for them to come along and looked at many hundreds of average buses at lower (and some higher) prices.

I saw the one on eBay that initially had an opening bid price of 7k, later reduced to 5k. I barely glanced at it. Either the guy didn't know what he had, or was simply trying to profiteer, either way it wasn't going to end well.

Make a list of "Your Ideal Bus", then a second version speccing the bus you could live with. For example, you might want an MD3060 Transmission but could live with an MT643 ... and you'll pass on anything with an AT545 ... that would be my list, make your own.

The start looking at the auction sites (and dealers for comparison) for any buses that fall between your ideal spec and what you can live with.

You'll find quite a bit of choice, and even more as we get into the spring and summer.
Okay, I'm checking out the one near me today but I'll try to be a bit more patient. Thanks for the encouragement!
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Old 11-30-2017, 04:24 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by bharcey View Post
1st in Ohio 2nd in Georgia. I'll know about body condition on 2nd today and will post.
The guy i've been talking to says the body is in good condition and I don't see any rust from pics.
Neither are GREAT states for buses. I'd pass at those prices and watch the auctions.
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Old 11-30-2017, 04:38 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by bharcey View Post
Okay, I'm checking out the one near me today but I'll try to be a bit more patient. Thanks for the encouragement!
I know you are super excited to get started, but trust me- you will be better served being patient. You will thank us later.

Buses for sale are weird- you never see them...until you look-- then they are everywhere. They all gotta go somewhere to die....sometimes just too many years old despite plenty of life, sometimes they retire buses for emissions.

Get one direct from school district or auction seems best route, albeit a bit scary at first.

Tell us what you want and we will find your Unicorn !!!
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Old 11-30-2017, 07:52 PM   #17
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What Rusty said.

Be patient. Be picky.
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Old 12-01-2017, 12:21 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Twigg View Post
It's very tempting to want to buy the bus in front of you, but should you?

Here is the spec of the bus I just bought, and the price:

Cummins 8.3L engine
Allison MD3060 transmission.
Air-Ride seat
Rear Engine, 40 foot
Thomas Built (78" interior height)
Pass through luggage storage
Decent tires
No visible rust anywhere
Air Brakes

Price: $3960 with all fees.

Two very similar buses sold at identical prices, but I waited months for them to come along and looked at many hundreds of average buses at lower (and some higher) prices.

I saw the one on eBay that initially had an opening bid price of 7k, later reduced to 5k. I barely glanced at it. Either the guy didn't know what he had, or was simply trying to profiteer, either way it wasn't going to end well.

Make a list of "Your Ideal Bus", then a second version speccing the bus you could live with. For example, you might want an MD3060 Transmission but could live with an MT643 ... and you'll pass on anything with an AT545 ... that would be my list, make your own.

The start looking at the auction sites (and dealers for comparison) for any buses that fall between your ideal spec and what you can live with.

You'll find quite a bit of choice, and even more as we get into the spring and summer.
Thanks a ton for the suggestions. I'll keep an eye out.
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Old 12-01-2017, 01:35 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Rusty View Post
I know you are super excited to get started, but trust me- you will be better served being patient. You will thank us later.

Buses for sale are weird- you never see them...until you look-- then they are everywhere. They all gotta go somewhere to die....sometimes just too many years old despite plenty of life, sometimes they retire buses for emissions.

Get one direct from school district or auction seems best route, albeit a bit scary at first.

Tell us what you want and we will find your Unicorn !!!
I'm going to admit it here, impatience is my problem. It's settled now, though, because I can see what problems can arise from impatience. I'll keep an eye on surplus sites. Only thing that scares me with those is a lot of the time there's way too many details missing for me to even feel comfortable with a bid.
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Old 12-01-2017, 01:37 PM   #20
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Thanks to all for advice, etc. It's a huge help
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