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Old 05-29-2019, 09:25 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Would you drive cross country for a bus

So I live in Oregon, and Iím looking for a pre 2004, 4-5 window, dognose bus with a mountain ready transmission ie. Anything but the Allison 454. I donít see these coming up on the surplus sights very frequently, and the few I have seen are in Virginia or someplace equally far. I know that there are lots of mountain school districts that are closer, but I canít really wait forever. I want to hit the road by early September. Should I be bidding on faraway busses? Itís hard to win them at prices within my budget when I have to add plane tickets and diesel costs, and missed work to my purchase price. And, I obviously canít do an in-person inspection. I guess Iím wondering how often busses like the ones Iím after come up. Will the increase as school lets out?
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Old 05-29-2019, 09:32 PM   #2
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my 11 window w/ at545 rocked the cascades all summer did crater lake, logging road boondocking, everything - no problems at all.

yes there are def. better Trans's out there, but I figured i'd share just in case it was helpful.


just put a trans temp sensor in if you do go that route, and don't be afraid to drop it into 3 for a grade.


also, I found searchtempest.com to be very helpful in my bus search, just does all craigslist sites within a specified area in one list.
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Old 05-30-2019, 01:30 AM   #3
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If the price is low enough, but for a bus that small the 545 would work fine - I'd be more concerned about the rear end gearing.

Being close to the mountainous region though, you should have to travel too far to find something other than a 545.
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Old 05-30-2019, 02:08 AM   #4
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I'm looking at a 1,200 mile trip, one-way. (Being in the rust belt doesn't help, I'm wary of anything within 500 miles.)

There's not that much out there, especially when the lower-spec engines usually work
fine for the shorter buses.

Even then, I haven't found much (of anything) in short buses lately.
I have a theory that with the T444 going out of production around 2004, many districts either switched to full-size buses, or the cutaway vans to avoid the emission controls on the engines - which is why there's a TON of cheap VT365s out there. (But they're VT365, which no one wants.) Now we're at the point where they're all starting to age out en mass.
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Old 05-30-2019, 05:26 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tawdbb View Post
So I live in Oregon, and Iím looking for a pre 2004, 4-5 window, dognose bus with a mountain ready transmission ie. Anything but the Allison 454. I donít see these coming up on the surplus sights very frequently, and the few I have seen are in Virginia or someplace equally far. I know that there are lots of mountain school districts that are closer, but I canít really wait forever. I want to hit the road by early September. Should I be bidding on faraway busses? Itís hard to win them at prices within my budget when I have to add plane tickets and diesel costs, and missed work to my purchase price. And, I obviously canít do an in-person inspection. I guess Iím wondering how often busses like the ones Iím after come up. Will the increase as school lets out?
Oregon is a really great place to bus shop. If you buy one in VA you'll be getting less quality, IMO.
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Old 05-30-2019, 07:47 AM   #6
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... I haven't found much (of anything) in short buses lately.

Nor have I. Been wanting one of those 5- or 6-window shorties as an SUV replacement. I'm slowly resigning myself to the concept that the money'd bus flippers will get any that come up (already out bid four times).
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Old 05-30-2019, 08:44 AM   #7
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Oregon is where some really nice busses live.. I travelled across the country TO oregon last summer to drive a 40 year old gasser with an AT540 back to ohio... more desirable drivetrains are going to command higher prices.. but in general as marky mentioned ALL busses are going for a premium with the tiny-home movement in full swing..
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Old 05-30-2019, 09:03 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark_In_MA View Post
I'm looking at a 1,200 mile trip, one-way. (Being in the rust belt doesn't help, I'm wary of anything within 500 miles.)

There's not that much out there, especially when the lower-spec engines usually work
fine for the shorter buses.

Even then, I haven't found much (of anything) in short buses lately.
I have a theory that with the T444 going out of production around 2004, many districts either switched to full-size buses, or the cutaway vans to avoid the emission controls on the engines - which is why there's a TON of cheap VT365s out there. (But they're VT365, which no one wants.) Now we're at the point where they're all starting to age out en mass.

the VT365 isnt as bad as its ford counter-part.. an EGR cooler and oil cooler update and they will run for a good long time.. most people want something cheap to just hop in and drive forever... the VT365 takes a bit of updating when you first get it.. and it requires you to be more vigilant about never getting it hot and keeping the fluids maintained correctly.. like any of the other Diesel V8s.. in a full sized bus the VT365 is going to struggle on the big hills.. thats where you start running up coolant and oil temperatures.. oil temp on the VT365 is what destroys them.. a less efficient oil cooler.. a fully loaded skoolie pulling a long grade foot to the floor.. coolant temp hanging in there at 215-220 (warm but OK )... no oil temp gauge... older engine = more blow by means higher crankcase temps.. next thing you know the oil temp is off the scale and ruins the engine...



the real sparse time for busses is going to come when everything out there is in that 07-10 range for used busses... the first years of full on emissions.. and before the cummins 6.7 stuff starts showing up on the market.. some of that stuff is already starting to show up and gets bid up in price because they are "newer" busses with "newer" features..
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Old 05-30-2019, 01:49 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by MarkyDee View Post
Nor have I. Been wanting one of those 5- or 6-window shorties as an SUV replacement. I'm slowly resigning myself to the concept that the money'd bus flippers will get any that come up (already out bid four times).
They probably build/sell 100 regular full length buses for every one shorty.
BUT- the short buses go for MUCH cheaper when they do pop up. As long as they don't pop up at a dealership. I've probably bid on a dozen shorties since buying this lifted 5 window monster. I could have won most of em if I'd been serious.
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Old 05-30-2019, 01:54 PM   #10
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I’ve been watching govdeals.com and publicaurplus.com for about 2 months now. Seen three busses that match my description. All have sold for more than 5k, am I looking at the wrong sites?
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Old 05-30-2019, 01:57 PM   #11
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Nov-Feb seems to be when I've gotten most of my bus deals.
Summer break is upon us, though, and surely buses will get sold off soon due to that.
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Old 05-30-2019, 03:40 PM   #12
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I think EC is on to something.. buying a bus in the fall months.. most people, esp thopse in the northern half of the country arent in the "lets start a camper project" when it gets to sept to october and beyond.. but in spring and early summer everyone is out and about... people are thinking about camping, travelling, etc.. and my guess is are on the auctions more for such a project... unlike classic car projects that I often bought in fall so i would have something to wrench on in the garage over the winter, busses are in most cases an outdoor project.. who wants to be out working on a bus in the sloptastic winter of tennessee and north...



there are a lot of places to buy busses... govdeals and publicsurplus are two of them..


there is also
purplewave
onlinepros.com (texas)
422sales.com
ritchie brothers
facebook marketplace
craigslist
ebay
north carolina has their own sales system ive seen things about online..

plus other regiional auction listings.. search the internet intensely for auction houses and such all over.. many have online auctions but arent the well known national ones.. just have to seek them out..



shortie busses also become the eye of urban bus enthusiasts(like myself) as well.. im in several such facebook groups for vintage busses and often those looking to have a bus of their own who may not be converting to RV.. find that the under 26,000 lbs GVWR and easily re-seating a shortie to 15 and under adult capacity makes it possible to register them as standard passenger vehicles .. parking shortie busses is much easier than 35 ft long units..
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Old 05-30-2019, 05:53 PM   #13
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Schools will start liquidating when the school year ends, so we should start seeing more in the auctions. I flew to OKC from Atl. to turn down a purchase. I then flew to Butte,Mt. picked up the new bus, visited my brother in Seattle before heading back to north Ga. I would do it again in a heartbeat if equal buses were here and there. Pretty sfae getting a bus from the PNW.
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Old 05-30-2019, 10:56 PM   #14
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I would cross the country for the right bus, but I'm looking for pre-1960, without a lot of rust. I wouldn't hesitate to hop on a plane for a 1956 White shortie, or even a late 50s Chevy. Heck, I'd be willing to go to another planet for a 40s Ford or Studebaker COE bus!

I have a friend who just bought a Crown and a Gillig in the Seattle area and took them to southern California
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Old 07-15-2019, 12:12 AM   #15
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Flew to San Fran in January and Uber'd about 90 miles to pickup my Crown. We drove it back 1800 miles to KC area with only minor issues like speedo and temp gauge not working correctly. In the process of converting it.
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Old 07-15-2019, 04:07 AM   #16
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EC's note of Nov-Feb actually makes a lot of sense. What most don't realize is that many government vehicles sit for several months waiting to be auctioned. It takes time for appointments to be scheduled for equipment to be removed, condition reports have to be made, and if the agency elects, for service records to be made available. Then there is the issue of logistics in moving said vehicles to a suitable place for storage, pre-sale inspection, etc. prior to the sale.

No government vehicle I've bought was decommissioned within 6-12 months prior to the actual sale. State inspection stickers usually expired by 8 or more months. Most any kind of government vehicle, including a bus, has radio and DVR equipment that must be removed. So if a bus were to be retired at the end of the school year in June, it could very well be November to February before it is actually sold.

And these buses would be much more likely to be in serviceable condition when retired, as they had to make it to the end of the school year. Otherwise, you pays your money and you takes your chances. And chances are, with the time between decommissioning and actual sale, any bus for sale around June likely wore out its welcome with the maintenance budget for its locale before the end of the school year. I'm sure there are exceptions to both trends, however, which is one of many reasons I say go inspect in person.

Hell, the county I live in still has their last 80s GMC, a bus that I know well -- my mother drove it and I rode it to school. I doubt it will ever be sold, it has been used as a storage shed for parts for years. And I can almost guarantee it does not run, because it was around before I turned 10, and I'm in my 40s now. Would be cool to do a complete teardown and re-power with a modern DD15 / 10-speed if I could get it though. Always liked the 80s GM chassis.

Personally, I think that since government agencies typically are selling off enough vehicles in a certain period of time, they should be held to the same standard they hold the citizenry to -- including a dealer's license and legal requirement to certify the vehicle's roadworthiness through any applicable state inspections.

In VA, for example, no one can sell more than six vehicles a year without a dealer's license, and AFAIK, dealers are required to have a state safety inspection done on all vehicles before sale. Typical government -- "do as I say, not as I do."

For the OP (since you want a shorty)...

Butt-Head - Short Bus.png
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