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Author Topic: New to the Board - Searching for 1rst Bus  (Read 7993 times)
PDXGREENBUS
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« Reply #15 on: November 25, 2008, 08:12:27 AM »

MCI and Prevos are great buses but don't rule out eagles entirely, the torslastic suspension is well worth taking a look at, we've had ours for 6 years now and the bus has performed flawlessly with the minor exceptin of a gasket that was a whopping 10 bucks to buy.

Tell me more about eagles!  I love them.  They have a classic sexy rock star look to them.  I have read the stories about rust and tough parts availability.  If I found a coach that hid little or no rust and had no been operated much in salty conditions would I be fine seeing as I live in oregon where salt is not used on the roads?  I will not be driving my coach in salty conditions either.  Parts?  What are the specific ones that can prove to be a problem.  I want reliability and in the event it does have a breakdown want to be able to find a mechanic easily.
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cody
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« Reply #16 on: November 25, 2008, 09:08:41 AM »

What little I know about eagles is just from my own, as far as parts availability, a detroit diesel is still a detroit diesel, whether it's in an eagle or an mci, same with an allison, the main thing about eagles is that you do have to watch for a good one with little or no rust, I was very fortunate in finding one wth minimal rust, some arn't so lucky but I have seen a lot of MCI's with far more rust than mine had.  Another thing to check is the adjustment left on the torslastic suspension, make sure that their is enough left, the torsion bars are expensive to replace if all the adjustment threads are used. One thing you'll never have to worry about that is a concern with MCI is the air bags or air beam leaking, doesn't have them.  Eagles also have taller bays than both the MCI and Prevo, mine are 36 inches tall and 5ft wide by the entire width of the bus, lots of storage.  I haven't had to replace any parts yet that I couldn't find at NAPA or the other parts stores, any parts supplier for heavy trucks can normally get what you may need, if not a quick post here will usually locate what you need.  One of the biggest things I find important is the strength of the eagle body, it is built like a truss, you can actually drive down the road with no skin on it, with MCI the skin is an important part of the structural strength, I have heard of people buying eagles and driving them home without a skin, the thigns are built like a tank.  With eagles, it seems that you either love them or you hate them, but like anything else, it's good to do the research and then have a qualified mechanic check it over, even if your a good mechanic an unbiased opinion really helps, when I checked over mine I brought with me a mechanic from a charter company, he knew what to look for and had a good idea what would be fatal or not and when he gave me the thumbs up on my bus after crawling around under and thru it for what seemed like an eternity I knew I had found the one I wanted.  All buses have their good points and bad points, the biggest thing is that any bus on it's worse day is far better than a S&S on it's best day, doesn't matter if it's an Eagle or a Prevo, MCI, GM or any other one, the main thing is that it is what you want, and suits your lifestyle, there is plenty of help and suggestions here on the board to iron out any problem areas, just ask and somebody will help, lots of very knowledgeable people here, also lots of opinions, but all good people.
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PDXGREENBUS
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« Reply #17 on: November 25, 2008, 09:34:11 AM »

What little I know about eagles is just from my own, as far as parts availability, a detroit diesel is still a detroit diesel, whether it's in an eagle or an mci, same with an allison, the main thing about eagles is that you do have to watch for a good one with little or no rust, I was very fortunate in finding one wth minimal rust, some arn't so lucky but I have seen a lot of MCI's with far more rust than mine had.  Another thing to check is the adjustment left on the torslastic suspension, make sure that their is enough left, the torsion bars are expensive to replace if all the adjustment threads are used. One thing you'll never have to worry about that is a concern with MCI is the air bags or air beam leaking, doesn't have them.  Eagles also have taller bays than both the MCI and Prevo, mine are 36 inches tall and 5ft wide by the entire width of the bus, lots of storage.  I haven't had to replace any parts yet that I couldn't find at NAPA or the other parts stores, any parts supplier for heavy trucks can normally get what you may need, if not a quick post here will usually locate what you need.  One of the biggest things I find important is the strength of the eagle body, it is built like a truss, you can actually drive down the road with no skin on it, with MCI the skin is an important part of the structural strength, I have heard of people buying eagles and driving them home without a skin, the thigns are built like a tank.  With eagles, it seems that you either love them or you hate them, but like anything else, it's good to do the research and then have a qualified mechanic check it over, even if your a good mechanic an unbiased opinion really helps, when I checked over mine I brought with me a mechanic from a charter company, he knew what to look for and had a good idea what would be fatal or not and when he gave me the thumbs up on my bus after crawling around under and thru it for what seemed like an eternity I knew I had found the one I wanted.  All buses have their good points and bad points, the biggest thing is that any bus on it's worse day is far better than a S&S on it's best day, doesn't matter if it's an Eagle or a Prevo, MCI, GM or any other one, the main thing is that it is what you want, and suits your lifestyle, there is plenty of help and suggestions here on the board to iron out any problem areas, just ask and somebody will help, lots of very knowledgeable people here, also lots of opinions, but all good people.

Are there any years of the eagle to stay away from?  I am one as previously mentioned that loves the look. Is it necesssary to raise the roof as with the MCI?  Do eagles have the sloping floor like the mci does?  I do like the idea of not having air bags to worry about.  the less things that can fail the better.  i know what you mean about the rust and that is one of the main things people like to say when the topic of an eagle is brought up but I have looked at several MCi and prevost that as you mentioned have the same amount of rust or more.  It's all about where they have been operated and how they have been cared for I suppose.
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cody
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« Reply #18 on: November 25, 2008, 09:54:41 AM »

Mine is a 1981 model 10, I looked at a model 15 but didn't care for the taller windshield, seemed to me to be a major source of heat gain in the summer, on mine the floor is flat and my ceiling height is 75 inches, it's more than enought for me, I'm 5ft11in.  The model 10 seems to be the more abundant eagle, not sure if it's the most popular but it's the one I see the most of. Another thing I liked about eagle was the 12 volt power system, in this area finding the 24 volt items that MCI requires can be hard to do and I didn't want to go to the trouble of putting in a duel power system that would be 24 for the bus and 12 volt for what I wanted, so it made sence to me to start with a bus that was already 12 volt. I'm putting a pic of mine here, same as my avatar pic but biggered up a little.
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cody
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« Reply #19 on: November 25, 2008, 10:00:13 AM »

This gives you a little idea of the ceiling height, just another pic from the mess.
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PDXGREENBUS
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« Reply #20 on: November 25, 2008, 10:00:49 AM »

Mine is a 1981 model 10, I looked at a model 15 but didn't care for the taller windshield, seemed to me to be a major source of heat gain in the summer, on mine the floor is flat and my ceiling height is 75 inches, it's more than enought for me, I'm 5ft11in.  The model 10 seems to be the more abundant eagle, not sure if it's the most popular but it's the one I see the most of. Another thing I liked about eagle was the 12 volt power system, in this area finding the 24 volt items that MCI requires can be hard to do and I didn't want to go to the trouble of putting in a duel power system that would be 24 for the bus and 12 volt for what I wanted, so it made sence to me to start with a bus that was already 12 volt. I'm putting a pic of mine here, same as my avatar pic but biggered up a little.

wow that is one gorgeous machine to say the least.  I am a huge fan of the color white and that is pretty much exactly what I want.  One question i was going to ask was about flexsteel furniture.  is that pretty top notch stuff?  
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cody
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« Reply #21 on: November 25, 2008, 10:10:45 AM »

Flexsteel has been an industry standard for a long time, it's good stuff, there are many good brands of furniture for a bus, flexsteel being one of the top choices tho.  Some of the conciderations being if you can get it into the bus lol, a good friend of mine bought a really nice couch and it wouldn't go thru the door, so he tryed a window, nope, lol, rather than feed it in thru a removed windshield he took it back, this time with measurements lol.  For the most part our decor is described as Early Goodwill, or American Yard Sale lol.
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PDXGREENBUS
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« Reply #22 on: November 25, 2008, 11:02:55 AM »

Newbie question here but are these built like a bus or are they considered S&S?

http://portland.craigslist.org/wsc/rvs/927875713.html
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RJ
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« Reply #23 on: November 25, 2008, 11:12:38 AM »


I want reliability and in the event it does have a breakdown want to be able to find a mechanic easily.



PDX -

Consider this:  MCI dominates the charter and tour bus industry.  Nearly every charter outfit in the country has shop technicians familiar with them.  Whether or not they take in "outside work" is another issue, but in this slack economy, income from an outside repair is better than no income from the fleet sitting in the yard.  Which leads to:

You (and every other busnut on this bbs, too, for that matter) need to get a copy of "The Bus Garage Index", published annually by Bus Ride magazine, one of the industry's trade journals.  Lists every bus company in the country, with contact info.  Well worth the $40 or so you'll spend for a copy, especially at Oh Dark Thirty.  Available directly from the publisher @ www.busride.com.  (I have no connection with them, other than knowledge of it based on my years of working in the industry, and my copy in the bookcase.) 

Prevost is the leader in terms of conversion coach shells from the factory, but they also are pretty common in the tour bus industry, followed by Van Hools.  VH's aren't used much for conversions, MCI & Prevost now dominate the market, but some charter outfits like them.  Since they're imported from Europe, some parts may be an issue, just like BK's Setras or Brian's Dina.

Eagles dominated the entertainer coach industry for years, due to their torsilastic suspension.  They tend to gently porpoise front to rear while running down the highway, as opposed to the side-to-side movement of an air suspended coach.  Supposedly much more comfortable to sleep in while traveling at 70+ mph on the interstate between gigs - something most RV folk don't do, unless Mama wants to take a nap.  (Of course it's different sleeping in a bunk along a wall as opposed to a big queen in the center of the back.)  One caveat about the Eagle suspension, however:  They are very sensitive to shock absorber condition.  That gentle porpoising I mentioned earlier can literally buck the driver out of his seat if the highway undulations are severe and the shocks are bad - BTDT.

Prevost is now the coach of choice for most entertainer cars.  For years, Prevost has mounted their air bellows for the suspension outboard, just inside the exterior skin, as opposed to inboard of the tires, like GM & MCI.  Because of this, their vehicles tend to sway less than the others, especially MCI 8's & 9's.  (The running joke in the industry when 8s & 9s were prevalent was that MCI's cornered on the rub rails. . .)  GMCs, starting with the 4106, have hefty sway bars underneath to control the sway, and they work well.  The point here is that the entertainer cars have switched to Prevost due to their ride at speed, but again, it's sort of a moot point for RV use.

Corrosion is an issue with all buses, not just Eagles, and it doesn't have to be from salt, either.  Water in any form is a great solvent. . . even if it's just off the bus wash rack in Phoenix.  Obviously, certain areas of the country are more prone than others, but you get my point.

Quick note:  Starting with the 102C3 models, MCI raised the roof 3+ inches over previous models.  So if headroom is an issue, a "C" or later doesn't require a roof raise.  OTOH, if you're under six feet tall, a roof raise may be an unnecessary expense.  The sloping floor of an MCI, btw, is really a non-issue, it's really not even noticeable, except for the short ramp in front.  Most converters remove the ramp, a minor project.  Another consideration - MCI drivers sit up almost at the same level as the passengers - a slight safety margin.

35-foot coaches can be driven almost anywhere, like a giant mini-van.  40-footers are also pretty maneuverable (and the most popular), but sometimes you cannot get into the older state parks and recreation areas.  45-footers, like John316 has, can be a challenge in campgrounds.  Here in CA, they are even restricted from certain highways, and you have to get a special license to drive them if you live here.  Something else to take into consideration.

Buy a coach already equipped with an automatic transmission.  You and the family will be much happier in the long run.

Budget for 6 mpg, and you're actual will be pretty darned close to your budget, regardless of powertrain combo.  (Obviously, if you want to make your coach exhaust smell like french fries from a veggie-oil fuel system, you'll need to make sure you've got a baggage bay available for processing.)

Speaking of powertrains:

The venerable 71-series may have the least power, but they're also virtually unbreakable, and far more forgiving than the 92-series.  (At the transit agency I worked at for awhile, the 8V71's would go approximately 30% longer before overhaul compared to the 6V92TAs - and you cannot get a harsher environment for an engine than transit service.)  The S-60's are the modern-day 6-71s - they'll literally run forever with decent care & feeding - better fuel mileage, too.  The older MUI engines (Mechanical Unit Injector) will often get you home if there's a problem, whereas a DDEC parks you till it's fixed.  However, like today's automobiles, the electronics on the diesels are far more reliable than they used to be.

Right down I-5 from you in Coburg, OR, is the home of Marathon Coach - the epitome of ostentatious rolling brothel interiors.  Take a drive down and have a look around, there's always a few used units on their lot.  Since Marathon specializes in snooty snobbery, their prices reflect that attitude.  Look for the oldest coach on the lot, if it's not trashed and has a floorplan you can live with, offer them 1/3 of what they're asking for it and see what happens. . . it's a buyer's market right now, and you may be surprised. (But don't offer any more than half - that's too much for their "blue sky".)

I'm aware of a fellow who recently picked up an '89 Prevost XL with a Liberty Coach conversion that had been on the market for over a year at $150K.  This fellow picked it up for $75K - half of what it was listed at - and it is gorgeous, inside and out.  Point here is that this soft market means deals can be had, and don't be afraid to look at units in the $150 - $175K range.

The website leads kd5kfl gave you thru his Backflip link should provide hours of entertainment searching for a rig. . .

I've prattled on enough for now.  If I can be of any further help, feel free to send me a pm, either here or to my private email, which is in my profile.  I spent 25+ years in the industry, primarily in Operations Management and Training, so my perspective is slightly different than many busnuts on this and other forums.  Whether or not you'd find that helpful is up to you.

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink


PS: The craigslist RV is a fiberglass & twigs S&S.  Here are the most common "real bus chassis" manufacturers for conversions of highway coaches:  GMC, MCI, Prevost, Eagle, Flxible, Setra, & Van Hool.  Similar names for transit manufacturers, but most folk agree that transits aren't normally the best choice for RV conversions.  Main exception being the GMC/TMC RTS.  Most anything else claiming to be "bus-like" is a twig rig.
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RJ Long
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« Reply #24 on: November 25, 2008, 11:16:51 AM »

I bought a MCI for my conversion and find it a great coach. mines not complete if they ever are. I live in Hermiston and have used it to go to AZ last winter and it worked very well Jerry
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1988 MCI 102A3 8V92TA 740
cody
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« Reply #25 on: November 25, 2008, 11:24:17 AM »

Very pretty and very much S&S.  The advantage to a bus is the commercial grade of all the components, the monaco won't hold up over the long term like a bus will.  To give you an idea of the commercial grade of a bus, my air dryer has a service interval of every 300,000 miles, thats just for servicing it, thats longer than the life expectancy of the monaco.  The problem with an S&S unit is they start to shake apart as they leave the factory, they are intended to be used for weekends now and then and for that purpose they work just fine, but like a lot of other things they have a determined life expectancy that isn't very long.  A bus is designed to go from point A to point B and back, then do it again, over and over, all day long, every day, to be ran until a drivers shift is up, then ran again as the next driver puts in his shift, this continuous duty requires a unit that is built to standards far beyond what the S&S factories would even approach, another concideration that weighs heavily on me is what happens in the event of an accident. In a relatively minor incident that monaco would do what 99% of the other factory units would do, disintergrate., it's basically a shoebox on a set of rails, when the rails stop suddenly, the shoebox continues causing the unit to destroy itself, buses are structurally much more solid and designed around a completely different idea.
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PDXGREENBUS
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« Reply #26 on: November 25, 2008, 11:45:13 AM »

Very pretty and very much S&S.  The advantage to a bus is the commercial grade of all the components, the monaco won't hold up over the long term like a bus will.  To give you an idea of the commercial grade of a bus, my air dryer has a service interval of every 300,000 miles, thats just for servicing it, thats longer than the life expectancy of the monaco.  The problem with an S&S unit is they start to shake apart as they leave the factory, they are intended to be used for weekends now and then and for that purpose they work just fine, but like a lot of other things they have a determined life expectancy that isn't very long.  A bus is designed to go from point A to point B and back, then do it again, over and over, all day long, every day, to be ran until a drivers shift is up, then ran again as the next driver puts in his shift, this continuous duty requires a unit that is built to standards far beyond what the S&S factories would even approach, another concideration that weighs heavily on me is what happens in the event of an accident. In a relatively minor incident that monaco would do what 99% of the other factory units would do, disintergrate., it's basically a shoebox on a set of rails, when the rails stop suddenly, the shoebox continues causing the unit to destroy itself, buses are structurally much more solid and designed around a completely different idea.

great info as always.  I wasn't sure as to where a monaco fell as far as a classicfication went.  I without question want a bus conversion.
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PDXGREENBUS
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« Reply #27 on: November 25, 2008, 11:46:30 AM »


I want reliability and in the event it does have a breakdown want to be able to find a mechanic easily.



PDX -

Consider this:  MCI dominates the charter and tour bus industry.  Nearly every charter outfit in the country has shop technicians familiar with them.  Whether or not they take in "outside work" is another issue, but in this slack economy, income from an outside repair is better than no income from the fleet sitting in the yard.  Which leads to:

You (and every other busnut on this bbs, too, for that matter) need to get a copy of "The Bus Garage Index", published annually by Bus Ride magazine, one of the industry's trade journals.  Lists every bus company in the country, with contact info.  Well worth the $40 or so you'll spend for a copy, especially at Oh Dark Thirty.  Available directly from the publisher @ www.busride.com.  (I have no connection with them, other than knowledge of it based on my years of working in the industry, and my copy in the bookcase.) 

Prevost is the leader in terms of conversion coach shells from the factory, but they also are pretty common in the tour bus industry, followed by Van Hools.  VH's aren't used much for conversions, MCI & Prevost now dominate the market, but some charter outfits like them.  Since they're imported from Europe, some parts may be an issue, just like BK's Setras or Brian's Dina.

Eagles dominated the entertainer coach industry for years, due to their torsilastic suspension.  They tend to gently porpoise front to rear while running down the highway, as opposed to the side-to-side movement of an air suspended coach.  Supposedly much more comfortable to sleep in while traveling at 70+ mph on the interstate between gigs - something most RV folk don't do, unless Mama wants to take a nap.  (Of course it's different sleeping in a bunk along a wall as opposed to a big queen in the center of the back.)  One caveat about the Eagle suspension, however:  They are very sensitive to shock absorber condition.  That gentle porpoising I mentioned earlier can literally buck the driver out of his seat if the highway undulations are severe and the shocks are bad - BTDT.

Prevost is now the coach of choice for most entertainer cars.  For years, Prevost has mounted their air bellows for the suspension outboard, just inside the exterior skin, as opposed to inboard of the tires, like GM & MCI.  Because of this, their vehicles tend to sway less than the others, especially MCI 8's & 9's.  (The running joke in the industry when 8s & 9s were prevalent was that MCI's cornered on the rub rails. . .)  GMCs, starting with the 4106, have hefty sway bars underneath to control the sway, and they work well.  The point here is that the entertainer cars have switched to Prevost due to their ride at speed, but again, it's sort of a moot point for RV use.

Corrosion is an issue with all buses, not just Eagles, and it doesn't have to be from salt, either.  Water in any form is a great solvent. . . even if it's just off the bus wash rack in Phoenix.  Obviously, certain areas of the country are more prone than others, but you get my point.

Quick note:  Starting with the 102C3 models, MCI raised the roof 3+ inches over previous models.  So if headroom is an issue, a "C" or later doesn't require a roof raise.  OTOH, if you're under six feet tall, a roof raise may be an unnecessary expense.  The sloping floor of an MCI, btw, is really a non-issue, it's really not even noticeable, except for the short ramp in front.  Most converters remove the ramp, a minor project.  Another consideration - MCI drivers sit up almost at the same level as the passengers - a slight safety margin.

35-foot coaches can be driven almost anywhere, like a giant mini-van.  40-footers are also pretty maneuverable (and the most popular), but sometimes you cannot get into the older state parks and recreation areas.  45-footers, like John316 has, can be a challenge in campgrounds.  Here in CA, they are even restricted from certain highways, and you have to get a special license to drive them if you live here.  Something else to take into consideration.

Buy a coach already equipped with an automatic transmission.  You and the family will be much happier in the long run.

Budget for 6 mpg, and you're actual will be pretty darned close to your budget, regardless of powertrain combo.  (Obviously, if you want to make your coach exhaust smell like french fries from a veggie-oil fuel system, you'll need to make sure you've got a baggage bay available for processing.)

Speaking of powertrains:

The venerable 71-series may have the least power, but they're also virtually unbreakable, and far more forgiving than the 92-series.  (At the transit agency I worked at for awhile, the 8V71's would go approximately 30% longer before overhaul compared to the 6V92TAs - and you cannot get a harsher environment for an engine than transit service.)  The S-60's are the modern-day 6-71s - they'll literally run forever with decent care & feeding - better fuel mileage, too.  The older MUI engines (Mechanical Unit Injector) will often get you home if there's a problem, whereas a DDEC parks you till it's fixed.  However, like today's automobiles, the electronics on the diesels are far more reliable than they used to be.

Right down I-5 from you in Coburg, OR, is the home of Marathon Coach - the epitome of ostentatious rolling brothel interiors.  Take a drive down and have a look around, there's always a few used units on their lot.  Since Marathon specializes in snooty snobbery, their prices reflect that attitude.  Look for the oldest coach on the lot, if it's not trashed and has a floorplan you can live with, offer them 1/3 of what they're asking for it and see what happens. . . it's a buyer's market right now, and you may be surprised. (But don't offer any more than half - that's too much for their "blue sky".)

I'm aware of a fellow who recently picked up an '89 Prevost XL with a Liberty Coach conversion that had been on the market for over a year at $150K.  This fellow picked it up for $75K - half of what it was listed at - and it is gorgeous, inside and out.  Point here is that this soft market means deals can be had, and don't be afraid to look at units in the $150 - $175K range.

The website leads kd5kfl gave you thru his Backflip link should provide hours of entertainment searching for a rig. . .

I've prattled on enough for now.  If I can be of any further help, feel free to send me a pm, either here or to my private email, which is in my profile.  I spent 25+ years in the industry, primarily in Operations Management and Training, so my perspective is slightly different than many busnuts on this and other forums.  Whether or not you'd find that helpful is up to you.

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink


PS: The craigslist RV is a fiberglass & twigs S&S.  Here are the most common "real bus chassis" manufacturers for conversions of highway coaches:  GMC, MCI, Prevost, Eagle, Flxible, Setra, & Van Hool.  Similar names for transit manufacturers, but most folk agree that transits aren't normally the best choice for RV conversions.  Main exception being the GMC/TMC RTS.  Most anything else claiming to be "bus-like" is a twig rig.

wow, thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed and informative post.  That explains a ton and the insight into the pricing situation gives a whole new perspective on things.
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PDXGREENBUS
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« Reply #28 on: November 25, 2008, 01:09:33 PM »

Here is one that I found that I really like the interior layout of.  Not too hot on the exterior but where I am planning a vinyl wrap isn't much of an issue.  Any feedback on reputation of seller and or what a realistic price point might be on this rig?

http://www.bargainbusnews.com/Buses/626-1987PreovstLeMirageXL/
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« Reply #29 on: November 25, 2008, 02:46:55 PM »

There is a 1990 Country Coach Preovst here in Lakeland FL for sale for under $50,000.
Jack
« Last Edit: November 25, 2008, 02:48:59 PM by blue_goose » Logged

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