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Author Topic: Need help for newbie considering first conversion purchase.  (Read 3477 times)
MtLaw
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« on: April 27, 2009, 06:18:46 AM »

Hello,

I am considering my first bus conversion purchase.  Here is the situation.  My parents are 90 years old and still going pretty well.  However, my mom doesnít do well with airline travel.  We all live in Montana and my folks want to visit relatives in Michigan and Wisconsin in the summers.  My wife and I are happy to take them but think maybe a bus conversion would be best for them, w/ bed and bathroom available at any time (getting old ainít for cowards).  Anyway, I was thinking with the unfortunate economy, now might be the time to try to find a steal on a bus conversion.  (I have always found the idea of traveling in a bus conversion appealing but never had an excuse before to pursue it.) These are my thoughts:  I am 6'5" in my boots so headroom is a must.  I would like a 102" wide if possible.  I strongly prefer an older, very lightly used, high end professional conversion.  I hope to buy something and try it for a time and if it doesnít work out w/ the folks maybe I could re-sell at only a small loss.  I do have a friend who did professional conversions for many years and he is willing to perform a complete pre-buy.  I donít really care whether MCI, Prevost, or Eagle, but think I want to stick to one of these due to availability of mechanics and parts.  My top price is 50k, unless an absolute steal can be had for a little more.  I donít expect to find anything local and am willing to travel anywhere in US or CAN to get a great deal.  On top of all else, I can barely turn a screw driver.

Ok, these are my questions:
Am I nuts or does all this fine thinking make some sense?
What should I look for and look to stay away from?
Does anyone know of a rig that I should look at?
Is there anything else I should know that I donít even know enough to ask?

Thanks for all your knowledgeable input.

Lee
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Melbo
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« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2009, 06:34:35 AM »

You will get a lot of input here

Most of it opinionated

Most of it accurate

Much of it diverse

Everything you said makes sense and will work

My only concern is your admitted lack of mechanical ablility -- Most buses are old and need someone to be aware of their condition. ALL are expensive to fix when something goes wrong -- they don't have to be but can be VERY expensive to fix.

Talk to your friend who did conversions about this

HTH

Melbo
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« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2009, 06:52:35 AM »


 Welcomne aboard Lee Smiley

  Another Montana Bnut how wonderful.
 
   I have answers but they are for simpler set of questions.  Grin
 
    Good luck

 Skip
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« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2009, 07:06:12 AM »

Be careful this hobby is addicting and fun. Your primary concern is safety via a sound chassis and running gear. What is above it well you will find a thousand different views here that are valid. Have the bus inspected by a good bus mechanic. Hopefully your friend knows what to look for.

http://busforsaleguide.com/bus_prepurchase_checklist.htm
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« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2009, 07:10:02 AM »

Lee, as I was reading your posts I kept thinking, "Here in a minute he is going to say 'I don't want to spend more than $5,000,00 for it'"!
I would seriously look it to renting a motorhome for a trip or so to see if it is what you want.  Some folks don't like the camping life!  It would be expensive to rent.  But cheaper than the $50-K or so to purchase one and find out it's not what you had in mind.
Above all...do NOT fall in love with the first one that catches you eye! (Goes for women too...I learned that quarter million dallar lesson too!)
You are smart to have someone that can look at it for you.
If it's not near you ask here, usually there is someone near enough to go look at it for you.
That's just a start.
Jack
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« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2009, 07:17:59 AM »

Definitely look at a few both in and out of your price range to get a feel for them.  $50 K should get you something pretty nice these days.
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bobofthenorth
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« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2009, 07:30:25 AM »

In your budget range you are either going to have to learn to do a lot more than turn a screwdriver or else you are going to need a large budget for on the road repairs.
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« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2009, 07:38:30 AM »

In your budget range you are either going to have to learn to do a lot more than turn a screwdriver or else you are going to need a large budget for on the road repairs.


Now you are going to scare him into a stick and staple. I paid almost 20K less than his budget and drove mine clear across the US with zero problems. With the right pre-buy he should be OK.
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NewbeeMC9
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« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2009, 07:51:29 AM »

Don't for get here,  I highly recommend the Magazine just because it is a fun way to learn about buses.  Stuff pops up all the time.

http://www.busconversions.com




Also here is questions and classified
http://www.busnut.com


Since you do not plan on servicing your bus yourself, go ahead and start looking for bus mechanics at tour places and such.



In Nashville there is a big lease company for the stars that you might could try one out for a while.


GET it checked out!!!!  Read and research!!!!,  also a lot of your questions may have been answered so the search button on this site is quite useful.  Also just browsing back to past threads will reveal a lot.


Also, It is a good idea because you could get to your destination,  Most likely quicker, and much more comfortable and cheaper than 4 tickets, and you can be on your own schedule.  And you have a place to stay when you visit. Wink

If you look, you should be able to find a good bus that will just need regular maintenece and you can educate yourself to prevent the major or semi major issues.  Remember buses are made to go a long time and 24/7 so you won't wear it out.  Traveling in a bus conversion is a lot less stressfull (even stress relieving) than airplanes or even car/motels.

Good luck and keep us posted.
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Dreamscape
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« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2009, 07:53:28 AM »

"I strongly prefer an older, very lightly used, high end professional conversion.  I hope to buy something and try it for a time and if it doesn't work out w/ the folks maybe I could re-sell at only a small loss."

I'm sorry but I had a big smile on my face when I read that, Don't we All!

Be careful on what you get no matter what. You said you can't even turn a screwdriver, like Bob said, be prepared for the high cost of repairs. Even for those that have mechanical abilities it's still spendy, ask Bob.

I don't want to scare you, but you need to take your time and do a lot of research before opening your wallet. Yes, there are some good buys out there, and now is a good time.

Ask lots of questions, and you will get lots of answers, some you will like and some you won't.

Follow your dream, but look around at several before you decide, almost every coach has a different floor plan, make sure it works for you.

Good Luck and Welcome to our crazy hobby, Wink

~Paul~
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« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2009, 08:38:34 AM »

there is a nice MCI A3 on ebay presently, I have looked at it and it is well layed ourt and a Professional conversion, just was too far above the new bus fund at the moment.

it is set up to sleep 4 and has a very large stateroom and walk through bath that is bigger than the bath in my first house.

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cody
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« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2009, 08:48:36 AM »

Bob, your corn fusing canadian money for real money here in the states lol.
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« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2009, 08:50:21 AM »

Welcome to the Funhouse,
I have only one comment and I don't want you to take it wrong, but a bus purchase isn't a one-time investment. Of course, even stick and staple's aren't. And even though you don't turn a screw driver now, after owning a bus you will definitely learn its intricacies and all the little things that keep your heart pumping on a regular basis. 50K in today's economy will net you a real gem, even if you're talking Canadian coin, just don't jump at the first one you see and don't be afraid to negotiate, Good luck with your endeavor, Will & Wife
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Chopper Scott
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« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2009, 10:45:14 AM »

Some great advise and all pretty well along the same lines. The one fact that pops up a lot is having some mechanical knowledge and in fact one needs a love of doing it at times. Even new busses need scheduled maintanance, however they run a lot more miles than what you will. A bus is a lot safer than a sticks and staples motorhome for sure. Later
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« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2009, 12:21:05 PM »

$50 should get you a Prevost with less than 150K miles, a sound motor and trans WITH MAINT RECORDS. ( Never buy one without unless it is this year's model.)  Interior will probably be "dated" but without abnormal wear and completely serviceable.  All appliances and systems will be serviceable.  Tires will have at least 50% tread and be "younger" than 5 years.  Paint will not be pealing and there will be NO RUST anywhere.  It will have a walk thru bath cause they have more closet space and a transverse queen bed for the same reason.

Along those lines!

There are scads of low ball sales in Florida, Phoenix, Palm springs, Las Vegas, Tenn and LA to name a few "hubs".  I think bus knuts will keep an eye out for you but keep up your own search.  RVTRADER and RVTRADERONLINE are excellent places to look regularly.  EBAY for buses is really iffy.  Make Prevost professional conversions you first choice.  YOU MUST HAVE A PROFESSIONAL BUS COMPANY INSPECT THE BUS AND DD INSPECT THE ENGINE.  An overhaul costs $35K but the engine will go 300K plus between those only if properly maintained.  10,000 miles or less if not.  Whatever you find....run it past this board.

If you can't do pliers , screwdrivers and wrenches....you should stand clear.  Everything else is really reliable and a careful purchase will serve to protect your wallet down the road.  You will learn as you go and this board will be a Godsend.  You NEED to have at least $5K in plastic to make sure you can get fixed and get to home base.

Buses that are listed for 150K are in your price range in this market.  Don't be afraid to make lowball conditional offers....they just might be gratefully accepted.  There is NO DEAL so good that you needn't have your professional inspection done.

Good luck and stay in touch,

John
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« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2009, 12:40:01 PM »

Lee,

Welcome aboard!!! So far all has been good advice. As has been said already, always have a good engine pro go over the engine, and a good bus mechanic (might be the same guy) go over the whole bus.

Also, just because you haven't turned a wrench yet, doesn't mean you can't start. I am sure that there are some here that have learned as they go (we all have to some extent). Some of the guys on here are computer geeks, and not mechanics, but they have gotten along (maybe not as well as others, but so what Grin Grin Grin).

Keep us updated.

God bless,

John
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gmpd4104
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« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2009, 02:08:47 PM »

PLEASE show me where there are professionally converted Prevost with less than 150k on them for 50,000.00
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John316
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« Reply #17 on: April 27, 2009, 02:13:25 PM »

PLEASE show me where there are professionally converted Prevost with less than 150k on them for 50,000.00


Lee,

Don't worry about gmpd4104. I am not sure whether there is a bus out there, like you want, for under 50K, but I probably is out there. Gmpd4104 usually doesn't look on the bright side of things, so don't worry about him Wink Grin.

God bless,

John
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niles500
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« Reply #18 on: April 27, 2009, 02:20:52 PM »

"PLEASE show me where there are professionally converted Prevost with less than 150k on them for 50,000.00"

Please DON'T - I would prefer to think it's not yet that bad - But I'm probably in denial - FWIW last week a 2000 Marathon 40' XL w/ 115k, cherry (and I mean cherry) went for $178k - I almost kept it going if not for a friend holding my arms down - The bright side is when hyper inflation takes hold, when a loaf of bread is $20, your bus may be worth what you've got in it  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #19 on: April 27, 2009, 02:53:05 PM »

Hi John,

I see the bright side... but I have never seen a professional Converted Prevost for 50k   WITH 150K

seems to me most people who could afford a Newer professional conversion pre ecomomy slowdown......are not worried about it and certainly are not having a fire sale.  I have seen some extrememly good values in coaches with 150k type mileage.....in comparison to the 500,000.00 + new price tag  but much more in line with 125k North price tags.  I even went to look at a Prevost that was priced at 90k....was clean, had about the mileage you stated......but had all sorts of systems gremlins...thus the sale.


There are very good values out there, Alot of them, but don't mislead new people with unrealistic figures.
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John316
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« Reply #20 on: April 27, 2009, 02:58:37 PM »

gmpd

Thanks for the post, I am glad that you do see things on the bright side Grin Lips Sealed Grin.

God bless,

John
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« Reply #21 on: April 27, 2009, 05:21:16 PM »

So along these lines of thinking (lower prices) would you all out there say that people selling their coaches are listing them for less, or listing them at normal prices and taking less? Or is it really such a buyers market that they are listing for less and taking even less?
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« Reply #22 on: April 27, 2009, 05:32:37 PM »

My choice, based on my opinions and my needs:

Thomas MVP Diesel Pusher

What that is: A schoolbus oriented towards toting around athletes.
6'8" down the middle. Usually a pampered bus, low mileage.
Probably sold because it is X years old and state law requires it.

Transit buses are not made for long haul. Geared wrong, no ground clearance.

ICs - Intercity Coaches - were flogged into the ground by Greyhound, which has its own maintenance staff. Then beat further by charter operators, who have maintenance done by independent shops run by mechanics who don't work for Greyhound. Sold because the cost of maintaining it is no longer profitable. sold to - somebody else, not me.

School buses are made to transport kids in rural America. Significant ground clearance. Maintained by people who have a job they plan on keeping and kids in school.





1992 Thomas MVP Saf-T-Liner - 78 passengers
5.9BTA Cummins
Automatic transmission - AT545
AIR BRAKES
Wouldn't this make a GREAT church bus?  Or conversion?
SUPER NICE - no rust
TINTED GLASS
Just 131K actual miles
In Virginia NOW
$5500*

Characteristic signature of the MVP: Individual windshield panes are taller than they are wide.

This gent has a sterling reputation, and usually has MVPs in stock:

http://www.floridachurchbus.com/
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Dallas
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« Reply #23 on: April 27, 2009, 05:57:58 PM »

You may want to check with Arctic fox on this board. Recently he had something that might fit your needs.

PM him here: http://www.busconversions.com/bbs/index.php?action=profile;u=2201
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bowmaga
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« Reply #24 on: April 27, 2009, 06:22:09 PM »

yes, welcome aboard....

I'd say you buy a bus for 30k and save the other 20k for repairs.  At an average 100 a week repair, you'll have a wonderful frustration for at least 3.5 years.  haha...We bought a bus for 6750, spent 8k on it in 8 months and had to part with it....and i can't wait to own another!!!  These busses are frustrating, annoying, and expensive...but are addicting.  They are like a kid, but worse.  I wish you good luck in your hunt.  Be sure to check it out...and ask other guys here if they are close to come look at it to.  But no matter what you get...it will take some sort of money to fix.....so don't spend all your money first off.  Use these guys on the board...they'll help.  When you're on the road...cruising...people are always somewhat jealous, no matter what the bus looks like.  It feels good to pedal her down the road......

super Betty lives on....

I bet you guys thought i was gone for good.....I'm still lurking in the shadows.....

Greg
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John316
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« Reply #25 on: April 28, 2009, 05:14:29 AM »

Greg,

Great to hear from you. I hope you are able to get another soon.

KD5, I have always wanted to mod a school bus up, and make it my off road bus....

God bless,

John
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