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Author Topic: First Timer: Looking at Buying a Shell to Convert... A Few Questions for you guy  (Read 2683 times)
JBerg85
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« on: October 20, 2011, 02:23:21 PM »

I am in the beginning stages of wanting to convert a bus. I have had many regular class a motorhomes in the last 5-7 years that I have purchased and fixed up and remodeled… It is now time to move on to something bigger… Smiley

I have been looking online at busses for sale and have seen quite a few on craigslist. In the past I always wanted a Prevost… Never had a real reason why, probably more just because of their look, and always seeing the big movie stars in them.

My question is what are your guys thoughts on this? Is Prevost a good bus to convert, or is their something wrong with them... Are they usually more expensive and not worth the extra money?

If you had to do it all over again, what shell would you choose and why? (If it's not a prevost that's fine, just let me know why...) I am thinking around 10k for the shell... Is that enough?

For me... I am very big DIY person... I can do anything structurally and rebuilding to look nice and functional... I'm not as good at working on large engines, etc... Ie, a rebuild I would have to pay someone to do on a engine. But as for removing rust structure I am capable of removing and replacing, etc.

I appreciate your time, and I am looking forward to the excitement I am going to have through the next few years of building a coach.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2011, 02:29:01 PM by JBerg85 » Logged

Jason
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« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2011, 03:31:37 PM »

You might want to first consider that it is by far cheaper in today's market to buy a bus already converted than to start one from scratch. 

As to your question about brand of bus, all brands have a following and enthusiasts and all have pluses and minuses. .  That's kind of a loaded question... like what's better, Ford or Chevy, Cadillac or Lincoln?   

The best advice I can give is do tons and tons and tons of research, read a tons of old posts, ask questions, share links to buses you are considering and be patient. The right bus will find you.  It took about a year and a half for me to find the right bus and I thank GOD that I didn't buy any of the first several I was ready to pull the trigger on!

Marc
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kyle4501
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« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2011, 03:47:18 PM »

They are all the same, yet no 2 are alike.
First, pick the look you want - then do your research on that bodystyle.
If you can't walk away with out looking back at it a couple of times . . . .
If you don't enjoy the thought "that's MINE" every time you see it . . . .
Once you get started on your conversion, there will be days when you question your choice to do this. If you love the look of your bus, then it will be much easier to KNOW why.  Cool

All that said, after you do your research, get the best shell you can find for the money. The motor & trans are easier to replace than major rust & dents.
If you want your own interior - NOT someone else's, then don't pay any extra for the interior you don't want.
If you could be happy with a 'standard floorplan', then don't be afraid to pay extra when you find the one that is just right.

Good lock & welcome to the insanity!
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« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2011, 05:47:45 PM »

  I think the first question to know the answer to, is where your planning to go. If your not planning tight back roads and out of the way camping areas, size probably wont matter much. But with our 32 foot Bounder, I have gone places where any longer rig, or a rig with not as tight of a turning radius would have been more trouble or impossible. So I knew right off I did NOT want a Bus any longer than 35 feet, for those very reasons. And ill tell you true, no 35 foot bus turns anywhere near as tight as our Bounder, so ive already somewhat compromised myself moving up to a Bus, and I now have to reconsider areas I could get into before. So dont fool yourself, the Rock Stars cant go where I can go with that Bounder, nor can they go where any 35 foot Bus can.

  The second question for me was fuel economy. Yeah I know, its a Bus, whats the point. The point is many of the 35 footers with a manual gearbox and highway gearing can actually achieve 10 mpg, and some claim a titch more, but in a 45 footer with a big turbo automatic and oak and granite all over, 5 mpg  is likely the best youll ever see. So for me, the "possibility" of 10 mpg plus looked a lot better than the virtual likelyhood of 5 mpg, as the old Crystal Ball tells me $4 gallon fuel may look cheap in a year or two. So while a 5 mpg difference may not seem much to some, it means a lot to me. And reading of so many Buses getting sold or parked because the owner cant afford to drive it, it must mean something to others as well. It means 500 more miles from 100 gallons of fuel, or savings $400 every 1000 miles. A 5 mpg difference means if I could ever go to Alaska, a trip of more than 10,000 miles could save me more than $4000 in projected fuel costs. Even half that much better would save more than $2000, which spends better in my wallet than someone elses.

  
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Chopper Scott
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« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2011, 05:50:52 PM »

I'm a 99% DIY type of guy and I still would buy something already converted with today's prices. You can then spend time on the "road worthy" aspect, change things to make it your bus and not have to deal with getting burned out and letting it sit when one already converted lets you enjoy it immediately. Just my worthless 2 cents.
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Bill B /bus
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« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2011, 06:18:22 PM »

I know that an already converted bus is less expensive. Notice I did not write cheap. My problem with already converted is who did the work and how was it done. What documentation is available? What is the mechanical condition? How much work was done on brakes, wheels, suspension?  I have seen some nice interiors but the bus should not have been on the road.

Comments on manufacturers:  Prevost parts are expensive compared to the equivalent form MCI, GM's are getting long in the tooth (the last one was built in 1980) pretty much the only 35 foot coaches except the MCI 5's. Eagles are a nice coach but an almost complete orphan for some parts. And there are serious rust problems with some models.

Bus(es) of my choice: 35 foot - PD4106, 07, 08. Almost all a stick shift with DD 8V71. 8-9 MPG.  MCI  5 series. Stick and DD 8V71
                              40 foot - MC9, 102A3 through C3.

My $0.02
Bill
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« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2011, 06:31:18 PM »

Differant strokes::: As you can see I like Prevost. As far as parts most are the same as others as most coaches share common parts. Specialized parts you pay for! Windshields on sale 179$  Air bags $143.  Shocks 42$  includes shipping usually next day service.  So what is expensive?I just bought these parts.Service and tech support is the best! They have a frame. Many buses don't.  In the end all have advantages. I'm building a 45ft coach now. with a 60 series 10sp autoshift and hoping to approach 9 mile to a gallon. The 89 8v92 gets a little over 5.    In the end.....What turns you on??  Be it a school bus or a neoplan  do it your way.   That is what is great about this hobby.   Bob
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Bob@Judy  98 XLE prevost with 3 slides --Home done---last one! SW INdiana
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« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2011, 06:52:28 PM »

Kyle,  "They are all the same, yet no two are alike".  Took me a few years to learn it,....but that is what i say about women. Grin
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« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2011, 07:01:07 PM »

Eagle's are getting to be a rare bird but sure are intresting. Would think they would be the most expensive build now. Because of scarce specialized parts. I know they are available for the most part.Have just developed a true respect and admiration for them.   Bob
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Bob@Judy  98 XLE prevost with 3 slides --Home done---last one! SW INdiana
JBerg85
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« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2011, 07:57:34 PM »

Wow... You guys are amazing... My smile on my face after only a few hours of posting on here and seeing all these replies.

I have looked at buying a already converted bus, but the problem I have with that as a few of you mentioned about 1. having it done the way you want, and 2 knowing how the person did the conversion... ie the cheap way, or the right way.

I have no problem making this a few year build and doing an entire redo of the coach, as I do have a 30" Fleetwood now that I use about 3 weekends a month. So I will have this while working on my new bus.

Part of the fun for me will be redoing the coach, and allowing me some of that father son time with my dad, as ever since I was a kid my dad always said that he wanted to buy an old bus and convert it... although he never got around to actually pulling the trigger... I guess he started the bug back when I was just a little kid. (Thanks Dad...)

Right now, I am thinking about the MCI or Prevost... Where would you guys recommend looking for a shell? I have been looking on the usual places (craigslist and ebay...) What would you estimate for a shell with good motor tranny and not a rust bucket as for price on both brands? are they close and comparable? Am I way off for 10k on just the shell for a late 80's to early 90's?

I know its going to take thousands on redoing the coach, but that is why I plan to do it over a few years...

I appreciate you guys and this forum, it really is becoming addicting...
« Last Edit: October 20, 2011, 08:01:18 PM by JBerg85 » Logged

Jason
Winter Park, Florida
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« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2011, 08:15:44 PM »

You should be able to find a solid shell for $10K or so.  Nothing perfect, and probably older than the '90's.  You will just have to start looking.  MCI buses are a lot more plentiful than Prevosts, at least in the USA... And less expensive.  MCI-9's have an excellent track record and are not known for rust issues.  Plenty of guys here with MC-9's.
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« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2011, 08:30:38 PM »

I am a huge Eagle fan but fwiw IMO the DL MCI is the best candidate for a conversion for the price do some serious shopping and you can find one in your price range and it will have a modern electronic engine (DD 60 series,Cummins or Cat) and transmission.

Great for tech support and parts and have a true frame like a Eagle if you are into slides a easy bus to do slides on only draw back to me they need a roof raise and most are smooth sided a very easy bus to work on compared to a Eagle or Prevost.

The school here has 2 I do work on they don't give many problems what few they have are minor they lost a series 60 at 361,000 miles has been the only major repair  


good luck
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JBerg85
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« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2011, 09:14:03 PM »

For the DL MCI where would you look for this? I found some on ebay, but the cheapest is a 96 for $39,500...  also, can you do a slide on it? (it's quite a bit out of my budget for the shell...)

For the MC-9 can you do a slide on it too? I remember reading somewhere that MCI's weren't good for doing slides... I could be mistaken. what engine would you go for if i did a MC-9? any years to stay away from?

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Jason
Winter Park, Florida
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« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2011, 10:08:41 PM »

Something to consider.  If you do your own conversion from scratch it will likely cost you more than one that is already done.  Mine was done but there are still plenty of things to work on.  If you pick up a completed conversion it is ready for use and you can change things to suit your needs while you are able to use it.  There are many here that have "steel tents" and are perfectly happy and just about everyone has a work in progress.  Good luck with your search and look at as many as possible before you buy.  Have it inspected so you don't end up with an expensive pile of scrap.
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Dennis Watson
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« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2011, 11:26:24 PM »

Part of the fun for me will be redoing the coach, and allowing me some of that father son time with my dad, as ever since I was a kid my dad always said that he wanted to buy an old bus and convert it... although he never got around to actually pulling the trigger... I guess he started the bug back when I was just a little kid. (Thanks Dad...)


  Thanks Dad is right. There are a lot worse things a man can do than own an old Bus. If your dad gave you the Bug, keep picking away at it. It made my Dad proud as all hell that I bought a Bus. Im just sorry he never got to play co-pilot again after we got it home. Dad always used to talk about Greyhounds running out west, and how hard they were to hang with. He said out into Nevada out of Salt Lake City, in the 1950's they would roll 100 mph and you just couldnt catch them.
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