INTRO: New Full Timer - Please Help Me Choose The Bus
Hello all. Thank you for the great information I have been reading on here.
I am ready to pull the trigger on a Skoolie and would greatly appreciate some guidance from the forum.
1 year full time journey with a family of 4. Kids are 13 and 15. Everyone is on board.
Not ideal but targeting early October (yes this year) as a departure. I gotta get moving on this conversion.
Whats reliable (I know I need to make the ultimate decision here and have looked at by local mechanic, but looking for opinions as to known issues or strengths of the listed choices). I just want something that is safe and will last a year.
What works best for all around driving (Highway, hot weather, cold weather, mountains and flats). Not looking for a single bus that is best for all these things, but one that would not be a total non starter for any one of those scenarios. Will spend most time following temperate climate but do want to spend some time in snow and well we are from the desert.
I have been pouring over the internet looking at auctions and dealers. I understand that a dealer will greatly increase the price, but I also have limited time and need to get started like yesterday. I am ok paying a premium for something available now and near me but I dont want to get totally hosed. I will walk if I cant get a deal I am happy with.
The following are buses available at a local dealer (Las Vegas Bus Sales-let me know if you have any experience with them good or bad). I know they are very high in listed price so I am looking for some specific advice.
1. Given the mechanical details, mileage and condition, what do you think a good price to offer would be?
2. Any thoughts/advice on the specific engine/trans combo of the buses I am looking at. I know DT466/MT643 is the mantra, but I am looking for thoughts on what I have available here (unless you have a bus to offer for sale then let me know).
AGAIN- If you have a bus for sale that meets my needs please let me know.
2004 Thomas Saf-T-Liner
CAT 3126 (pusher)
Auto Trans (manual shifting as opposed to push button)
AC/Heat ducted throughout
More RVish style windows
Under storage compartment
Size (but smallest I would consider)
2006 Blue Bird All American
CAT C7 ACERT
AC/Heat ducted 2 units
More RVish style windows
luggage racks inside
fresh white paint
Already painted (but I wonder why this one was painted are they hiding something)?
Possibly keep some of those inside racks for storage
some soft spots in the center of the floor when walking through
2003 Thomas Saf-T-Liner HDX (they have about 12 of these to pick from with identical specs and mostly the same mileage)
8.3 Cummins turbo diesel ISC (pusher)
Allison 5spd push button
220,000 miles (average for all of them)
AC and heat Ducted
UP Down school bus windows
Big 90 pass (kids) size
Desert bus from Clark County School District (Las Vegas) no rust
Size big boy
Those goofy big mirrors
In rougher condition then the other ones on this list. But, its mostly cosmetic (cracked mirror housings, torn seats, bumper damage). I think it is mostly stuff that I would expect in a school bus but not sure if it indicates rough treatment.
Mileage is higher than most others I have seen. Is this too much mileage?
Desert bus (operated in hot hot conditions, I am not sure if this has a negative effect on Diesel engines to be ran and idled in the brutal heat of Las Vegas)
Size, is this too big?
No under storage
Bus 4: (not sure about this one. Not a skoolie and I think its too much work for me but I looked at it today). Instead of the above format Im just going to cut paste his listing. Nice guy had a motor coach conversion company for like 30 years, got kicked out of his building and just decided he was done in this biz.
1986 Eagle Model 10 Bus for sale.
Cummins motor (I think he said it was a 350 or 400) with 740 Allison, 40 ft., raised roof, custom built water and waste tanks, Webasto heater, water heater, slide out tray, custom front step. new dash, custom battery pack, 3000 watt inverter, LED clearance lights, custom stair well, set up for side by side seating, water manifold, driver and passenger seat, custom engine door, custom engine hatch, RV windows, 1 roof mount AC unit, custom tail lights,polished bumpers, electric wipers, RV refrigerator, rear view camera. No rust, engine installed but not running. Needs tires but is towable.
tons of under storage
tons of stuff
not sure about this thing mechanically and need to find someone to help me finish those parts. He did guarantee that if purchased it would be running and ready to drive off.
The work was stopped a long time ago and much of the wood and interior stuff is weathered. Might have to strip it and start over.
Too much work for me.
1) those are really expensive compared to auction buses.
2) leaving in October is an incredibly aggressive schedule. Do you have about 80 hours a week to work on it?
about all I can add
If I had it to do all over...
I'd go PUSHER!!!
Op you must have extremely deep pockets.
Just buy a nice coach conversion and hit the road with your family.
the buses you're looking at are worth about 1/5 what they're asking. On a good day.
Yes 80 hours a week should be doable as long as my the amazon clone I ordered really comes with 2 day prime delivery. Kidding aside I can devour full time to the project right now.
All that being said, I figure for 30k I should be able to build a nice skoolie that’s just the way I want it. All I need is the right bus to start with. So, maybe someone has the perfect bus for me that is looking for someone to overpay for it (just a little).
Or if you know of a reliable safe coach conversion that doesn’t look like 1980-2000 rv style inside for 30k, well that would be imteresting too.
I really want a skoolie though :)
Iím glad I posted all that even though I feel silly now. You guys gave me the wake up call I needed. What do you think of this one on eBay?
Sounds better then the hdx I was looking at with less miles DT466 and asking half the one local. Still too high price but do you think this is a good bus? Comparable or better than the hdx I posted?
Thanks again for the wisdom.
Here are some more resources:
Here is a Vehicle VIN Search website:
Ideal RV Length for Fitting into National Park Campsites:
It would help if we knew where you live. If you're willing to travel for the right one you're going to have more great options.
Colorado buses are typically ideal for mountain climbing situations. Anything out west is probably safe regarding rust. There's a lot of decent ones in Texas as well.
Avoid Florida, Georgia, Michigan and most everything out east for this reason.
If you have your bedroom in the back you can easily find places for two others to sleep whether it's a foldout couch, bunk beds or hammocks. A 30 foot bus will be a lot easier to find camping and parking spots for compared to the full size 40 foot. It just depends on your needs.
Anything before 2004 won't have the electrical and emissions problems that can be costly.
Here are some with good drive trains:
Good engine for this size vehicle. You can find parts for it anywhere.
This engine is highly sought after for full size buses:
All I'm going to chime in is that I got my bus for 2000, and most purchase for under or around 4000. Run away from the buses you're looking at. If you like spending money, just send some my way for my build, lol.
I can't really comment on the prices other than to say that you often get what you pay for. It appears you are looking at much newer models than many folks here.
Re: Las Vegas Bus Sales. I bought mine there. It was a positive experience. However; it is critical to note that they are salesmen of used vehicles. Apologies to those that I offend but those are a group of folks that I do not trust and very rarely find to tell the truth. At a minimum, they do not have the information about the vehicle to answer the necessary questions. DO NOT expect the best. Unless you ask & confirm, you should expect the tires are shot/recaps, the wheels are bent, the batteries are old/shot, the rig needs service, there are leaks, etc.
If you plan a VERY crude existence, your schedule might work. By that, I mean a bucket for poo, a ice chest for cooler, and BBQ for stove. Otherwise; you won't get it done. Apologies again... Given your schedule and budget, you would be far ahead to purchase a used RV.
Thanks for the great resources. The Roller auction, VIN search and National Parks article I had not seen before.
I am in Las Vegas, NV. Part of reason I liked the ones from our school district. Very Dry out here.
I planned on rear master bed and then a bunk setup for the kids, just like you said. 30-35 foot does sound like a good size.
I am willing to travel to get a bus but not too far. I dont fly sooooo makes traveling more than 500-1000 miles a bit of a stretch.
Those 2 on purplewave look interesting with the 5.9 cummins. Am I correct in thinking Kansas bus would be the opposite of a Colorado bus (as in never seen a hill in its life let alone a mountain)?
Those are at $1450 now so really cheap. Is there anyone that delivers buses? Someone want to drive one out to Las Vegas for $500 + a ticket home?
Anyone know of an upcoming auction in Nevada, Arizona, Ca, Utah?
Thanks again for the great tips. I really hope I can find one and truly join this community.
I might want to send money your way....... you wanna sell your bus and drive it out to Las Vegas?:whistling:
Just checked out "Missy". You are going all in for sure. I would not attempt this in my timeframe, the transit, coach MCI style buses look WAY more complicated then the Skoolies. I think I can get a reasonable, livable school bus conversion done in my timeframe (with a lil slipage). Something less than what you have done but a bit more then a poo bucket. Its aggressive but that makes it fun.
Are you out in Vegas as well? There is a nice 91 MCI 102 A3 for sale on Craigslist today. Conversion already started and its gutted. 10k. As a "Missy" owner yourself, what are your thoughts on this one? It wont let me post links because Im a new member but if you go to lasvegas.craigslist and search Bus in for sale, it comes up on first page. " 1991 MCI 102 A3 BUS with WHEELCHAIR LIFT - $10000"
Your bus looks amazing. Love those kitchen cabinets and really impressed with your wet interface area (water filters look awesome in there).
East Coast Auction Question
Just saw the 422 auction coming up June 23. @thomas1985 and others have mentioned I might want to stay away from East Coast buses. The Auction is in Pittsburgh, PA but doesn't indicate where the buses come from. Is it safe to assume they are all from PA and surrounding areas, or do they bring buses in from all over?
Excuse my ignorance, but this is all new to me. Appreciate you guys so much, you already saved me THOUSANDS. Like a Bus CPA you folks showed me how to avoid the Stupid Tax!
This would be the route I'd go if I were you-
Used 1975 MCI MC-5B Conversion Coach - C11426-Used1975MCIMC 5B
I just want to reiterate how nuts those prices are.. Even for a dealer. I appreciate that they are a little newer and some have pretty low miles, but they also have negatives like CAT engines and EGR etc.
If you're seriously looking in that price range, buy a wanderlodge. It's a RV built from a school bus made by Bluebird and is arguably the best pre-manufactured RV you can buy. They hold their value way better than other RVs because they're durable and built to last... But if you're looking at 20k+, stop looking at school buses!
When ECCB says they're listed at 5x their auction value, he's not exaggerating. They're also not particularly desirable models except for maybe #3, which should sell for maybe 4-5k if everything works (including the AC!)
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