Getting a school bus Wednesday (1 Viewer)

Dirtbaguette

Newbie
Joined
Jul 3, 2011
Messages
42
Location
Colorado & Washington
Will know Wednesday if I'm getting it. Not sure of the year but it's an International Thomas with a Diesel motor. Sadly I never paid much attention to all the busses I've been in until I decided to get one. It drives but has a pricey motor issue so I'm just putting it on my land before I take off traveling for winter. Converting it by gutting a motorhome in Spring then tackling motor issue. So all my hippie friends have given me their bus stories/advice etc
image-jpg.17519
image-jpg.17520
now I wanna hear from folks here especially Matt. So go.......
 
We sell all kinds of other stuff in our Etsy store!

Matt Derrick

Semi-retired traveler
Staff member
Admin
Joined
Aug 4, 2006
Messages
10,040
Location
Austin, TX
Website
youtube.com
yeah, how much are you paying? have you paid for it yet? what's the mileage on the motor? lastly, what's the 'pricey repair issue'?

it's important to realize that when it comes to school buses (much like sailboats) it's a buyers market. meaning that there's way more buses trying to be sold than people buying them. so you as the buyer have most of the power. you can afford to be picky, so my first advice is to be patient. it's entirely likely that this isn't the bus for you.

for comparison, i got my school bus for $1,800. 116k on a cummins diesel engine, 35ft long with a rebuilt allison automatic transmission. now, i was extremely lucky, so on your litmus test of school buses, you're not going to get a better deal than that considering everything was perfect (tires, electronics, everything worked) and i didn't have to repair a single thing on it in over 2 years of driving it around the country.

now, the 'performance tours' logo on it makes me think this bus wasn't in a school district recently. the great thing about school buses, is that they carry children so parents, the department of transportation, and the state in general are all really paranoid about keeping their buses up to immaculate standards of maintenance. this is great, because if you buy a bus that's recently out of service, it's going to be in great shape and you'll go a long time without repairs.

unfortunately, i'm guessing this bus has already been running around as a tour bus after it's time as a school bus, so the mileage is probably going to be no less than 200,000 miles if you're lucky (more likely 250-300k). the cost goes way down after 200k. personally, i wouldn't pay more than $2,000 maximum on any bus with more than 200k in miles on it. if it has 300k, the price (for me) would go down to $1,000.

generally, if a bus is in perfect condition, and has not much more than 100,000 miles on it, i would be comfortable paying up to $5,000 for a full size (30-35 ft) bus. keep in mind that's the maximum price i would pay. if you pay any more than that on any bus, you're getting screwed.

i really can't reiterate enough how insane of a buyer's market it is for school buses. my dad is a teacher in washington, and they just sold their 2005 diesel short bus at auction for $1,000. it was a nice bus, in really good shape. there was only one bidder. the only reason i'm not rocking that shorty right now is cause my idiot dad forgot to put in my bid on it.

now, all this so far has been keeping in mind that the theoretical bus we're looking at is in mint condition. if the bus you're looking at is in need of some kind of major repair, then the price of the bus needs to be insanely cheap to justify the expense of the repair.

school buses, especially those larger than short buses are pretty difficult to get repaired in a shop. first, because if the damn thing isn't running in the first place, you need a special tow truck to get to the shop. even if you're working on it yourself, it's gonna be a pain cause it's basically a fucking semi-truck in smaller shell. so, if you're going to spend all this time and money on a school bus, it better damn well be in perfect shape right out the gate. there's no sense in cheating yourself just because it's right in front of you.

take a look around, call school districts, look on ebay, look on craigslist, and make sure to look far and wide. you WILL find some unbelievable deals out there if for no other reason than no one else is looking to buy what you're looking to buy.
 

Matt Derrick

Semi-retired traveler
Staff member
Admin
Joined
Aug 4, 2006
Messages
10,040
Location
Austin, TX
Website
youtube.com
unfortunately, i'm guessing this bus has already been running around as a tour bus after it's time as a school bus, so the mileage is probably going to be no less than 200,000 miles if you're lucky (more likely 250-300k). the cost goes way down after 200k. personally, i wouldn't pay more than $2,000 maximum on any bus with more than 200k in miles on it. if it has 300k, the price (for me) would go down to $1,000.
oh, i think it's important to note here that diesel engines can last up to 500,000 miles or more. Hell, I saw one for sale that had 650k on it. But if you're going to spend all this time and money on something that you're going to live in, quite possibly for a long time, you have to look at it as an investment. a new bus in great shape with 100k on the engine will last you 20 years if you take care of it.

school buses, especially those larger than short buses are pretty difficult to get repaired in a shop. first, because if the damn thing isn't running in the first place, you need a special tow truck to get to the shop. even if you're working on it yourself, it's gonna be a pain cause it's basically a fucking semi-truck in smaller shell. so, if you're going to spend all this time and money on a school bus, it better damn well be in perfect shape right out the gate. there's no sense in cheating yourself just because it's right in front of you.
speaking of expenses, the other thing you should look out for is how much tread is left on the tires. bus tires are expensive. you're basically looking at around 250-300 dollars to replace one tire. the last thing in the world you want is a bus with bald tires. imagine a semi-truck in the rain with bald tires, and that's basically what you get with a school bus (if you have bald tires).

you should be able to stick your fingers pretty deep in the tread of each tire. if any of the tires have less than 80% of their tread, you need to replace them or look at another bus.
 

Matt Derrick

Semi-retired traveler
Staff member
Admin
Joined
Aug 4, 2006
Messages
10,040
Location
Austin, TX
Website
youtube.com
oh, and sorry if it sounds like i'm trying to dissuade you so much, but i'd rather you have a good deal with something that's going to last you a long time and you'll be happy with, ya know?
 
OP
Dirtbaguette

Dirtbaguette

Newbie
Joined
Jul 3, 2011
Messages
42
Location
Colorado & Washington
Wow lots to read....on an old smartphone w limited reception......they are driving it to my land for $1k....unsure on mileage.......plan is keep it running but stationary.......forget what's wrong but it doesn't want to restart for hours if it's shut off after driving awhile......and it is SLOW as fuck especially over the CO passes here.....my main goal is stationary winter worthy home on my land.......I'm jugging for fuel tomorrow but the deal is it's driven to my land then I pay for it.......not getting stuck w an $800 tow......I've done the RV movie for years......just dragged a Jeep up from NM.......I'm too old now to full time travel.....lived in my truck last winter in -19 deg as lowest temp......I'm Jeep Wrangler dwelling this winter somewhere........want a bus up here before winter because roads won't be bus passable until May........oh it has current DOT inspection too......I know I missed some of your posts wanted to reply briefly while I had service....ha
 
OP
Dirtbaguette

Dirtbaguette

Newbie
Joined
Jul 3, 2011
Messages
42
Location
Colorado & Washington
Oh & I can get $1200 just to scrap it if I took it to CO Springs an hour drive away from here........unlike many rafting company busses it has never had raft racks on the roof so no drill holes......in dealing with an irreparable motor home roof these last 4 years......
 
OP
Dirtbaguette

Dirtbaguette

Newbie
Joined
Jul 3, 2011
Messages
42
Location
Colorado & Washington
**I'm dealing with** sorry I'm having huge anxiety & reception issues haha my neighbor lives in a buried shipping container awesome smart old hippie & he says do the bus & woodstove.....I got a buddy who may do motor work but my main goal is stationary bus with wood heat & room to store food/water as you get snowed in out here a month or more in deep winter.......it gets -40 deg before wind chill here.......cars don't start.......12 ft snow drifts.......I leave mid Dec-April.......no room in my motor home for wood stove & propane trucks can't get in to fill my tank.......
 

Matt Derrick

Semi-retired traveler
Staff member
Admin
Joined
Aug 4, 2006
Messages
10,040
Location
Austin, TX
Website
youtube.com
That's cool. Given that situation and what you're using it for I'd say 1k is a decent deal.

If you're just going to park it and live in it for the winter, I'd maybe think about putting it up on some blocks and just selling the wheels, hell might as well part out the engine too.

At least that way you'll get a decent amount of money back on your investment and you can use that to get a wood stove, insulate the walls, run electric, etc.
 
OP
Dirtbaguette

Dirtbaguette

Newbie
Joined
Jul 3, 2011
Messages
42
Location
Colorado & Washington
As per my county rules it must be on wheels, self contained & able to start......I want to keep it a running bus if I can......turns out I'm only yanking the fridge from my RV & it's low miles/new tires/runs great......gonna make it a flatbed truck & sell it maybe.....at least bus has a solid body, good tires/ brakes & the DOT inspection......but I do want a running bus & maybe will get another one another year if this one's mechanical issues become too much to fix......tomorrow I will know more at 10am mountain time......
 
OP
Dirtbaguette

Dirtbaguette

Newbie
Joined
Jul 3, 2011
Messages
42
Location
Colorado & Washington
So I fucking got it......talked to the mechanic & it's just clogged fuel delivery issue.......intermittent issue......ran great & tires are awesome.......had it up to 65 mph & it was smooth, straight & awesome.....1990 with only 177k miles......plus it came w $300 fuel in it!!! Gonna keep it a runner......DT466 motor.....um.....will post pics later I'm wiped out
 
OP
Dirtbaguette

Dirtbaguette

Newbie
Joined
Jul 3, 2011
Messages
42
Location
Colorado & Washington
Runs great, pulled seats today no rust, came w $300 fuel in it, my diesel mechanic looked at it & said it is solid good deal.......I've already been offered $2k for it........so criticize all you want :)
 

adaline

Lurker
Joined
Oct 22, 2014
Messages
4
Location
Greenville sc
Will know Wednesday if I'm getting it. Not sure of the year but it's an International Thomas with a Diesel motor. Sadly I never paid much attention to all the busses I've been in until I decided to get one. It drives but has a pricey motor issue so I'm just putting it on my land before I take off traveling for winter. Converting it by gutting a motorhome in Spring then tackling motor issue. So all my hippie friends have given me their bus stories/advice etc View attachment 17519 View attachment 17520 now I wanna hear from folks here especially Matt. So go.......
We converted a school bus to a Mobile living space! The hardest thing is a toilet...other than mechanical issues. Holla if you have any questions!
 

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

About us

  • Squat the Planet is the world's largest social network for misfit travelers. Join our community of do-it-yourself nomads and learn how to explore the world by any means necessary.

    More Info

Support StP!

Donations go towards paying our monthly server fees, adding new features to the website, and occasionally putting a burrito in Matt's mouth.

Total amount
$115.00
Goal
$100.00

Monthly Goals

  1. Paying the Bills
    $50.00 of $50.00 - reached!
    The first $50 in donations go towards paying our monthly server fees and adding new features to the website. Once this goal is reached, we'll see about feeding Matt that burrito.
  2. Buy Matt a Beer
    $75.00 of $75.00 - reached!
    Now that we have the bills paid for this month, let's give Matt a hearty thank you by buying him a drink for all the hard work he's done for StP. Hopefully his will help keep him from going insane after a long day of squishing website bugs.
  3. Feed Matt a Burrito
    $100.00 of $100.00 - reached!
    Now that the bills are paid and Matt has a beer in his hand, how about showing him your love by rewarding all his hard work with a big fat burrito to put in his mouth. This will keep him alive while programming new features for the website.
  4. Finance the Shopping Cart
    $115.00 of $200.00
    Now that the bills are paid and Matt is fed, perhaps it's time to start planning for those twilight years under the bridge... if only he had that golden shopping cart all the oogles are bragging about these days.