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Author Topic: Opinions needed, which of these two bus's should we get?  (Read 4573 times)
topfrog007
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« on: May 22, 2011, 07:57:53 PM »

Hi there,

First time poster, but have been reading for a while now! I could really use some expert advice/opinions.

We've decided to buy our first bus and are down to two possibilities:

Candidate #1    - Price 4,000
1970 MCI-7
Partially converted, has partial shower, bathroom, master bedroom. We're not particularly fond of the layout/flooring so I think we'd take it all out and re-do it. Minimal/no rust, good tires, seemed to be in good condition. It's got an Detroit Diesel 8V71, starts right up and runs good, air systems function properly. Owner states he was told bus has 84,000 original miles, showed me the title and that's what it says... Regardless, has records for $7,000 engine overhaul done less than 3,000 miles ago.

My questions about this one: It has a 10 speed manual transmission, well it's actually a 5 speed with Hi-Low gears. The owner who kind of fell into it was told that the bus came from the factory like that, I've never heard of an MCI with a 10 speed transmission. It shifts and seems to function smooth. Regarding the miles, is there any way to verify the 84,000 miles?

Canidate #2    - 8,000
1980 MCI-9
Current owner believes bus has about 1.7 Million miles and it recently had an overhaul 20K miles ago. It's also a Detroit Diesel 8V71 it has a 3 speed automatic transmission. It is partially converted as well, no plumbing work of any kind, has original bathroom. Has a 6.5KW generator wired up so that it can be started inside, also has two rooftop airconditioners which work and make it ice cold inside. Owner stated the air conditioners were 1,200 each. Needs two rear tires.
Engine is leaking oil at nearly a drop per 2 seconds, seems like a lot but I'm not too sure.

My issues with this one: The leaking engine scares me, I know that these 8V71's usually leak a lot, but this seems like an abnormal amount.


So which do you recommend and why?

Thank you so much!
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Preston - Dothan Alabama - 1986 MCI 102A3
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« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2011, 08:39:21 PM »

oh boy...

A 1970 MC7 would have come from the factory with a 4 speed manual.

All 10 speed transmissions shift 5 positions and either range shift after the first 5, or each position is split, depending on which transmission is involved, that's ok. A 10 speed with an 8V71 is a popular upgrade.

1970 was a little early for a coach to be directed to a low mileage life. That sort of extravagant excess started later than this. I'm suspicious. Anyhow, mileage is irrelevant, condition is everything.

Records of an overhaul means what? Bill of service, or detailed as to what exactly was done? Big shop or small shop? Can you call for details?

Th MC7 is more realistically priced, if the engine work proves truthful.

A 1980 MC9 would have a 4 speed automatic. Mileage claims, again, are irrelevant, and could just as likely be 3 million miles.

As for leaking oil, it all depends where the leak is coming from. Something as simple as tightening the rocker covers to something as involved as a main crankshaft seal, it all depends. This is a major price reducer.

$1200 for both roof air conditioners would be the purchase price. Unless someone was paid to install them from scratch, cut holes, run wires, etc.

$8000 is way too much for a MC9 coach of this vintage with issues. Run away, or offer $2000.

And, keep looking, there's lots of good coaches out there at excellent prices.

happy coaching!
buswarrior

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Frozen North, Greater Toronto Area
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« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2011, 08:53:15 PM »

I vote for candidate 1 due to the mileage.  Still, the bus should be evaluated by a qualified busnut.   
There are no "$7000" overhauls.  There are a lot of "$7K" repairs.  I'd want to know what was done to the engine.
The coach has obviously set around and not operated for long periods.  This can cause problems with fuel systems and wiring.   Shouldn't really be an rust in the coach...although, it may have been used for an airport shuttle or some such where they run and equivelent of millions of miles but don't roll very far. 
I'm unaware of factory 10 spd manuals in a bus...but could be.  If the shift pattern is flopped over, shifting from right to left, probably a RoadRanger of some sort that was installed by a PO.  They will interchange, but shift tower has to be swapped for the OEM bus shifter to match up.  "RT" series transmisisons have low/high ranges where you shift thru 5th and flip the switch for high range.  They were good transmissions.  As long as it works and you can comfortably drive it, cool.  The manual is dependable, but is an overall detractor from the value of the coach when compared to an automatic.  At least that trans has very low "campground" gears if you need them.   
Someone can elaborate on this, but I reckon it's possible that the coach has a two speed axle, that works OK too, but it would be sorta different to drive...that would require spit shifts thru most gears...?  Not ideal.   
If the switch is an air switch that operates laterally and you only switch is once at the end of 5th, it's a 10 speed.   If you have a small electric switch that pulls up and down, that a two speed axle.  Never seen one in a bus, but who knows what some folk come up with.   

Spending money on an old 8V71 isn't special, even with a low mileage coach.  I'd want to verify the mileage.   You may be geting jerked around on the chassis mileage.  Beware of people selling conversions and beginning with some date around when the conversion was done. 
Check the dates on the tires.  They might not pass a DOT inspection.   
Check the radiators for rot.  Check the fans for rot.  Check the engine cradle for crap modifications and cracks.  Verify that the transmission is properly mounted and that the clutch is smooth. 
As stated, have someone familiar with MCIs to drive and evaluate the coach.  Most old busses wouldn't make good boat anchors.   Be ready for a few surprises. 

Candidate 2 may have major engine problems, too many miles, and is going to cost a ton of bucks to get road ready.   
The trans is likely an HT740 4 speed. 
If the genset is gasoline, not desirable.   Two roof airs will cool a bus.
A coach with 1.7 mil could have all sorts of major chassis problems just waiting to flatten your wallet.   So could the 84K mile coach!

Good luck, JR 
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JR Lynch , Charlotte, NC
87 MC9, 6V92TA DDEC, HT748R ATEC

"Every government interference in the economy consists of giving an unearned benefit, extorted by force, to some men at the expense of others.

Ayn Rand
Fred Mc
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« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2011, 09:25:50 PM »

To me a 7K overhaul doesn't jive with only 84000. With that few miles there shoudn't be ANY engine repairs.
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rdbishop
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'68 MCI-7 892T, 740 Richard & Missy - Texas




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« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2011, 06:00:13 AM »

007,

Take the MC-9..... I have a 7.. The 9 has straighter walls, ceiling,and windows to work with. It also has larger rads in case you'd want a larger motor in the future. The auto makes the bus easier to drive for you or someone who goes with you. Also easier to handle in the big hills!! It's also newer and probably has the intragal power steering.

Richard
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luvrbus
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« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2011, 06:14:11 AM »

Like Richard I would go for the 9 not going to be as much rust to repair and a 7000.00 rebuild is just a patch job
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topfrog007
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« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2011, 06:53:11 AM »

Thanks for all the replies so far.

Update, the owner of the MCI-7 is still looking for the reciepts and is having a hard time locating them.

I talked to both owners and have got the MCI-7 down to 3300 and the MCI-9 down to 6800.
Does that change anything?

Does anyone know of any for sale that are in that price range and in better condition? I don't really care where they are, I'm willing to drive and pickup.
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Preston - Dothan Alabama - 1986 MCI 102A3
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« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2011, 07:03:56 AM »

Thanks for all the replies so far.

Update, the owner of the MCI-7 is still looking for the reciepts and is having a hard time locating them. 
Ha ha , a rebuild without receipts is just wishful thinking.

FWIW take your time, it's a buyers market out there, have a look at these buses but keep looking there are many many more out there, some of them finished and ready to roll at these prices.  You may want to do your own conversion, but even so, with one ready to go you will save big $$$ and there will still be plenty to do, don't worry.
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eddiepotts
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« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2011, 07:20:57 AM »

Don't pay the extra to pull out somebody's work. A shell would be cheaper. Make sure you drive the bus. Feel for any float in the steering wheel. Listen for and noise when you apply the breaks while stopping. Listen for movement of loose front end parts. Look behind the wheels and look for oil leaking down or oil on break drums through the wheels. Working on the inside of a conversion can be fun and rewarding. A coach looks better With latex paint on it than it sitting on the side of the road with a bad wheel bearing. You could have spent $2000 on a better bus rather than fixing it or be out $6000 and let the state haul it off if you do not have the funds to move it. The first time you have to jack the bus up and start fixing drive train parts you step into a differant world. You need a whole other set of big tools and ability. FWIW You can make the inside and out of a coach your own but if your not set up to work underneath it that is where you best have the best you can get.
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edroelle
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« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2011, 07:21:44 AM »

I would vote for neither.    Keep looking and do not be in a hurry to buy something with large compromises.

Buy the best bus you can.    If you can afford a $7000 coach, don't buy a $3000 one unless it is worth $7000.    If you afford $7000, could you stretch to ____?

How does the saying go?    "The quality remains long after the price is forgotten."

I have heard many times, "I should have spent a little more money and looked more.   Now, I want to sell the coach and get one with ______"

There are a lot of coaches to select from.

Ed Roelle
Flint, MI
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Cary and Don
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« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2011, 08:10:12 AM »

We agree with Ed.  The cheapest part of this is the actual purchase price.  You are far better ahead to buy something that is mechanically sound,  structurally sound, and taken care of.  The repair bills will far exceed the difference in the price between a cheap coach and one that is priced for what it is. 

We were lucky when we purchased our first coach.  Right after we bought it we discovered many more units for less money than we paid for an unfinished conversion.  We thought we had  made a mistake.  But after 8 years with this bus,  we were lucky.  We have had only two minor repairs in eight years,  both we could do ourselves.  Never had any engine or transmission repairs.  We made a very good purchase.

Don and Cary
1973 Eagle 05
GMC 4107
Neoplan AN340
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1973 05 Eagle
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Seayfam
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« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2011, 08:12:56 AM »

I'm with Ed, you really can't get much for 3 to 7k. Heck the awnings alone on my coach cost more than those buses. I would think without seeing them, they are probably a mechanical nightmare. If you can find a good coach that's ready to roll for that price, than go for it. But I have seen and read about many that should have gone to scrap. Also if you can find a fully converted bus for that price like others say there's plenty of, then that would be the way I would go. When you start to converting, all that hardware, plumbing, electronics and many other things will really add up. I just did some light remodeling all the plumbing and replaced a inverter, that cost 15k.

Gary
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Gary Seay (location Alaska)
1969 MCI MC-6 unit# 20006
8V92 turbo 740 auto
more pics and information here     "  www.my69mci-6.blogspot.com  "
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« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2011, 09:14:42 AM »

Before deciding on either of these buses, please go look at a MCI 102A or C3.  Both are 102" wide.  That extra 6" width really makes a big difference.  Plus the C3 has 6'10" headroom and really nice big windows.  Good Luck, TomC
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Tom & Donna Christman. '77 AMGeneral 10240B; 8V-71TATAIC V730.
topfrog007
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« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2011, 09:38:44 AM »

Hmm.

Lots of good tips here. Although some confusing points. Some say we can get much more for 3-7K and some say nothing worth while in that range.

Does anyone know of any coach bus's under 10K (Max bus limit at this time, would prefer something more around 5K so we can do some improvements) that would be a good buy? My search as of now has been limited to craigslist and ebay, any recommendations on where to look?

We are pretty frugal, often able to do things for a fraction of what others pay. Usually by buying used/junked and fixing up.
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Preston - Dothan Alabama - 1986 MCI 102A3
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« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2011, 09:44:06 AM »

  Opinions are many, youll have to pick your way through. Some here are pushing $50k plus rigs down the road, some well over $100k. Others are in the sub $20k club, making quite a range and with that, many differing opinions. As we dont know what your goals and capabilities are, or financial concerns, no one can really surmise whats best for you, and honestly, you have to decide for yourself anyway.

  Regardless of the aquistion cost, to have a Bus thats safe and reliable, all its systems have to be gone through, and you need a good engine, etc.. The more time you take to find the best Bus, the less money and time youll spend sorting it out. Here is where study pays off, search these forums and read as much as you can. Remember that being mobile, with a Bus its condition, condition, condition. Location only comes into the equation as a matter of getting it home, looking at them, etc.. If your looking at MC9's, they are everywhere right now for scrap price, you should be able to find one locally, same with MC7's. No need to look 2000 miles away for either.

  As far as cost, these things are becoming so devalued and some sellers are in such a bind, that even for $3K you can find nice stuff, you just have to know what your looking at and be ready to pounce.

  Without our eyes, you have to look at these two potential candidates and decide for yourself. There isnt a great deal of difference between a MC7 or an MC9, its primarily cosmetic. Theres more stainless in the 7 ive been told, but being older you still need to watch corrosion. All that said, the 7 seems the better deal. $3000 is less than scrap price, so its not like your going in upside down.
  

  
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