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Author Topic: A question of conversion economics?  (Read 3494 times)
j_wilson
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« on: August 24, 2006, 10:15:21 AM »

As a newbie, I've seen a lot of buses.  But I was wondering about the economics of converting a coach.  Wouldn't it be cheaper in the long run, to convert an older entertainer coach, than say a regular intercity coach?  You would have your windows panned, a gen set and a few lighting and furniture pieces.  Or just strip the interior and rebuild to the way you would want it minus the exterior work.  Granted I understand that most entertainers do not come with a shower or a full galley but you could add them later.  I'm just trying to see the pros and cons.  From my view point, you wouldn't have to do the added expense of  sheet metal, roof raises, and possibly minimal interior redesign for an expanded galley/kitchen and bath.  Please note this isn't to offend anyone doing a conversion from scratch.  I love watching that type of work being done. (knowledge is bus power!!)  But I'm curious as to the economics of a possible starting point and why some of you guys did a regular coach and not use an older entertainer.  Do I go with a regular coach or start with an older entertainer coach?  Thanks a bunch.

J. Wilson
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Brian Diehl
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« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2006, 10:59:06 AM »

I never considered an entertainer coach as a starting point due to non-available in my price range in the model I wanted at the time I was in the market.  I ended up skipping buying an older converted coach because I had a specific model I just *had* to have and in conversion form was way too much money for me.  Since I bought my 96A3 I've only seen one conversion for sale near my price point ....
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Len Silva
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« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2006, 11:13:12 AM »

I have a little experience with entertainers and while some have been well cared for, many have been "rode hard and put away wet" as they say.  Those are the drivers who brag about running flat out (some claiming 100 mph, not sure I believe it).
Not that they might not make a good start on a motor home conversion, but be sure you know what you are getting.

On the other hand, many of the entertainers now on the market are Eagles and I think they make a great conversion.
Len
« Last Edit: August 24, 2006, 11:15:01 AM by Len Silva » Logged


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« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2006, 11:22:31 AM »

If you could buy the entertainer for the same $ as a seated coach, you are right , it would be cheaper.  As Brian said, teh enteretainers that I saw when I was out shopping were almost the same price as a fully converted motorhome, but would require an expenive remodel.  As Len said, also consider that many / most entertainers have had the wheels run off them.  Even more than the seated coaches, so there can be more work to be done there.   
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« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2006, 02:22:52 PM »

I shopped for a long time looking at seated coaches and "completed" conversions (is there such a thing) and no matter what I looked at they were all going to have to have something done to them so I could use them like I wanted. So I bought a coach that was in the process of being converted. I am not sure how much money had been spent on this before I bought it or how many hours of work was done but I got what I thought was a very good deal because some of the stuff I would have to do was finished and I could change what I wanted to so it would work for me. I'm not done yet (they say you are done when you run out of money) and I probably won't be done for a couple more years but I will be able to use the coach before this year is over for self contained camping and I saved a lot of money because of what was already completed.

Just my experience.

Melbo
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Devin & Amy
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« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2006, 03:11:56 PM »

J. Wilson,

I wanted an MC9. The entertainer coaches that I looked at were rarely 9's. We purchased the bus for 10,000 w/seats. I have invested about 25,000 in the conversion process. I do believe you are correct in principle, that you could save time and money if you find a converted entertainer to buy. The going saying is that you will never get out of it what you put in. I believe this to be true, even discounting completely the hours of time invested.
The reason I purchased a seated coach was mainly to have the model I wanted, but also to be able to do it all the way I wanted to.
Good luck with your decision.
Devin
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NCbob
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« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2006, 03:28:46 PM »

I, like Melbo, bought a partially converted bus.  Looking back over my shoulder and what I now have I often wonder if the design and work were performed by a potpurri of unemployed handymen and assorted jackasses. Being a newbie I'm sure I saw more than I was looking at, at the time.  However the engine, driveline and frame were reasonably solid although I had to pull the engine and install a new clutch.

The next time I hear, "I could drive this bus to FL tomorrow", I'm going to say, "OK, I'll buy the fuel and follow you in the car!"
And see what happens. Undecided

Now, many thousands spent and many more to go, I'm determined to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.  I wanted only a 35' model and so far it's looking like it will fill the need.  There'll be no second conversion so this one is it. It might take another year or two to get it right...but I'm gonna hang in there like a loose tooth! Wink

NCbob
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« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2006, 03:38:09 PM »

If you find an entertainer coach cheap don't walk away from it! Run, run Forest run as fast as you can!Cause if it's cheap it has major problems ! You'd be surprised at the age of alot of the "working entertainers still in revenue service", when one gets to looking aged they take it in and give it a facelift with caps & a paint job and remodel the interior (which by the way these days most of 'm have showers) and it's back on the road again taking $ from my friends, on the road again taking $ from musicains again! "Run Hard and put away wet" is an understatement on most of them! "100 mph + is quite common on late night hauls from event to event.  3 months to 2 yrs straight out on tour away from the owners & shop while depending on a driver (who's usually doing more dope than the band he's hauling) to keep up on the maintanace! I wouldn't wish an exentertainer on my worst enemy! If it's rugged enough that they are retiring it from service, you can bet it's only because it's not cost effective to upgrade and reuse againl Just my opinon FWIW BK  Grin
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« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2006, 03:39:04 PM »

J Wilson,

I bought a bus that was gutted and the Guy had assembled alot of stuff, caps, inverter, generator etc...But never started the conversion process.

I thought I got a helluva deal, but what I found was that most of the new stuff, was now out of warranty and I had to do alot of work to make most of the other

stuff fit or it needed a little attention(lots of my time). in the end I PAID for everything.

What I am getting at is, be careful your not paying a premium because it has all or most the stuff "already installed", because if you have to rework it, replace it, rebuild it,

you may really not be money ahead.

And bring somebody who knows what there looking for, I cant even begin to tell you the education these last couple of years have been.

My first question to a seller would be "What DAY can I spend checking this coach out" 

Knowledge is power.

Best of luck in your search

Cliff
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« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2006, 03:43:01 PM »

Quote
There'll be no second conversion so this one is it. It might take another year or two to get it right...but I'm gonna hang in there like a loose tooth! Wink                                                                       NCbob

Hey that's the way to go! When he decides he wishes it was just a littl bit bigger, we can Strettttttttttttttttccccccchhhh it for ya Bob! Will 20' do ya! ? BK
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Busted Knuckle aka Bryce Gaston
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JerryH
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« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2006, 05:13:31 AM »

I think the same comments could be (can be) made about (seated) coaches which come from Church groups, smaller operators, etc.  Hell, even coaches in which once were owned by Greyhound are viewed negatively and quoted as, "Never a hound!"  So depending on who you query ... they're all duds (with exception to the one "they've" purchased).

"Value for Investment" is what you're looking at.  I've seen some Eagles down in FL that appeared a bit "used" -- they definitely got their moneys worth out of them (as they're trying to do clearly).  When I inquired as to the price, they hit me with a high number.  To me, NO value for the investment, despite the already present utilities, etc.  If you found something workable and the price was "decent" (or really really good), then I'd (personally) take the chance -- after (or course) conducting a thorough inspection to determined an "idea" of how much it might cost to  make it right.

You might find a seated coach (whether from a church or line) in great shape for a good value, you might not.  You might find a decent entertainer coach for a decent value ... you might not.  I think that if the coach is in great shape, of decent age, really well maintained, you're likely not gonna find "the deal", as they do know what they have.

My suggestion, look into repo's.  I've made out pretty good on repo's.  They're out there -- look for and try and find the obscure ones, in which banks (lenders) have assests they need to dump.  Not talking about the large asset management companies who have many buses -- they know what they have too.  Talking about the smaller lenders who are not quite as savy about buses and have these certain assests they need or would like to unload.  They do exist, trust me.  A lender might have a nice, clean, newer model coach that does run or work properly.  They may have no clue, but simply classify it as a non-runner (or in bad shape).  Checking it out, you might find the fix is not so much $$$.  The value of the coach with the fix might be quite a deal.  They're worth a look.

Oh, and I also don't believe that all (or most) entertainer coach drivers are on dope. Smiley

Just my $0.02.
Jerry Hankins
« Last Edit: August 25, 2006, 05:20:04 AM by JerryH » Logged
j_wilson
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« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2006, 06:51:16 AM »

Jerry H., I know that not all those drivers are on dope.  I have an old friend that moved to Nashville about three years ago to drive entertainer coaches.  He and his dad are having a good time.  I haven't kept in touch but I think the reason he wanted to get away was from his ex-wife.  I would've asked him but all his contact info was changed.  Wonder why?  Any way I thought I would ask some of you experts here on the forum.  The reason I asked was I came across this bus and figured with time and some hard work it just might be something to look at.  Granted it's not in the best shape but with some patience and wishful thinking maybe.  That's why I asked you guys.  Here is the link to the coach.  Just be ready, it's not pretty but..... I'll let you guys decide. 

http://www.staleycustomcoach.com/52544.htm

Thanks,
J. Wilson
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Melbo
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« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2006, 06:59:03 AM »

JW

After looking at what you are thinking about it is very close to what I purchased a couple of years ago.

The coach I got had everything but plumbing ( they used a porta potty ) and had been used for steel tent camping.

My best advise is to give no advice but I will tell you that what you are looking at is not a bad place to start.

If the the mechanical part of the coach is good and you think it is worth the money after you have shopped around then I say eveyone has to start with something and as one person commented they are all junk except the one you buy.

Melbo
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« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2006, 11:09:13 AM »

The one thing I think you should be most concerned about is the mechanics of the bus.  Forget about what it "looks" like.  As you can see from the pictures of the buses on this board, some of the most beautiful rides around, driven by some of the classiest people around.  But I'll bet those old "dogs" didn't start that way (the buses I mean!). 

As long as you start with a good foundation (strong engine, transmission, frame etc.), you can pretty much do whatever you want to it.  The fact is, if you buy an entertainer, you will probably want to change things anyway.  Unless you're THE WALTONS, you probably don't need 9 bunks or a lounge in the rear.  Either way you go, you're gonna end up putting $$$ into it. 

The next one I do, I've decided that I will start with a clean slate.  I will strip it, and build it MY WAY, instead of trying to build around what someone else started.  I think in the long run, you'll be more satisfied.  And, you're probably gonna be out about the same amount of money anyway.
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j_wilson
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« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2006, 10:21:27 AM »

True, very true!  But I will keep my eye open for that special one, when it reveals itself.  Any way, I wanted to say thanks for all the great info you experts have given me.

J. Wilson
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