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Author Topic: First Timer: Looking at Buying a Shell to Convert... A Few Questions for you guy  (Read 2837 times)
RJ
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« Reply #15 on: October 21, 2011, 01:12:33 AM »

Mr Berg -

As others have stated, buy a coach that's already converted, you'll be SO much further in the game than starting from scratch.  The market's so depressed right now, some folk have taken to simply scrapping their conversion because they can get more for the parts than the whole.  Thus, it's definitely a buyer's market!

Marathon, Liberty, Angola and Custom Coach are four of the major conversion companies, any of which would include a well-built interior.

Some are more rolling pimpmobiles than others (depending on your taste), but that can be changed.

If you don't get the fever so bad that you cannot walk away from a prospect, you just might find a gem that's almost perfect for what you want.

Be aware that the majority of conversions are designed to seat six, dine four and sleep two.  Conceptually, the majority are also laid out the same: living room, galley, head, bedroom.  Just like the stick n' staple Class A's.

If you need to sleep 6, 8, 9 or more, then you need to look at "entertainer" models.  However, most have been run hard, some put away wet.  They also frequently do not have on-board showers, and only a minimal galley - it's all taken up with bunks.  Again, these can be remodeled to suit - still at substantial savings vs starting with a steel tent.

Altho slide-outs are the big rage nowadays, on an older coach chassis, they can be very problematic.

Continue educating yourself.  Besides this message board, there's also BNO (busnut.com) as well as numerous Yahoo Groups dedicated to the various makes for additional info.

As Paul said earlier, decide what you want to DO with the coach, to help guide your decision.

Good luck with your search, and welcome to the incurable madness of busnutitis!

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink 
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RJ Long
PD4106-2784 No More
Fresno CA
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« Reply #16 on: October 21, 2011, 04:57:25 AM »

Everyone is making suggestions, but nobody has asked the first and most imoportant question.

How much are you prepared to spend. If you convert your own and intend to do it "right" you have the cost of the shell, plus all the components required to create a motorhome. Unless you are incredibly lucky or an astute buyer you will spend serious dollars for quality components ranging from generators, tanks, inverters, interior materials, etc. That stuff adds up fast.

Once you have established your amount of dollars I think the answer to what to buy will become very clear. There are some very cheap older conversions on the market, professionally done by quality converters that cannot be duplicated for twice the price. Starting with a shell and doing your own conversion may cost more.
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Jon Wehrenberg
Knoxville TN
1997 Prevost Liberty
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« Reply #17 on: October 21, 2011, 05:54:41 AM »


 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?

  After seeing a few bad accidents posted here, and some ive seen elsewhere, I dont want a slide. A Bus can be hard enough to survive in a bad accident without having a slide parked behind the driver to get squished into. And Buses were never designed for them, most have no real frame. In the majority of Buses, the outer skin riveted to steel ribs creates a monococque shell like an airplane fuselage. Sort of like an egg shell. The big stick and staple RV's have a heavy truck frame which is what is supporting the slide, but in a wreck a S&S is the last thing you want to be in, their like a house of cards, litteraly. Some of the big name converters that built Buses into RV's, actually added additional structural members to support slides, and it was all well engineered. I wouldnt say a smart guy couldnt do it, but it would be quite an undertaking.

 
 
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luvrbus
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« Reply #18 on: October 21, 2011, 07:02:17 AM »

The older MCI's are not a very good candidate for slides but people do it nether was Prevost but it was done the MCI DL has a frame you remove the skin and they are a tube frame just like a Eagle ,Vanhool,Setra or H series Prevost nice buses IMO

good luck
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JBerg85
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« Reply #19 on: October 21, 2011, 07:06:48 AM »

Thanks for all of your comments...

To reply to your question prevosman:

Part of the thrill for me will be redoing the bus rather than just going and buying a already converted one. I expect over a 3-4 years build to spend somewhere in the ballpark of 50-60k, so I had budgeted around 10k for the shell... what are your thoughts here?

The good thing is, I a already have a 2001 30" fleetwood that I can use which will not put a strain on having to get the bus done for a certain time.

Also a little background... although My dad and I never got around to buying a bus and converting it (which he always said he wanted to do)... When I was in my teens my pops and I rebuilt and restored cars for fun... (1964 American Lafrance Fire Truck (which later appeared in a few movies, one of them being passenger 57 with Wesley Snipes), 1930 Model A Huckster, 1972 Corvette Stingray, 1967 Oldsmobile Toronado, 1962 Cadillac Ambulance, 1973 Mercedes 430SL, and a 1965 Ford Ranchero)...

The reason I mention the above... We didn't restore them to make money or because it wouldn't be cheaper to buy from someone else already done... We restored them by working on them nights, weekends, etc because it was something we both enjoyed and made good "father son time". It also allowed us something to keep us busy... Some people need tv, internet, well mine is working on a project...

Thanks again everyone for your comments... let them keep on coming.
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Jason
Winter Park, Florida
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« Reply #20 on: October 21, 2011, 07:15:17 AM »

With that kind of budget, which is quite respectable, I would get a later model bus with a 4 stroke engine and computer controlled auto trans.  I would probably stay away from some of the later MCI's - the experts here on those models can tell you why, but it comes down to overly complex control systems that are hard to keep working.  My ideal bus would probably be a late 90's, early 2000's Prevost.  I like the way they look.  But you are probably looking at an early - mid 90's bus shell for your 10K.  A southern bus would be the best, for corrosion issues would be less.

Brian
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1980 MCI MC-5C, 8V-71T from a M-110 self propelled howitzer
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« Reply #21 on: October 21, 2011, 08:01:47 AM »

Prevost are good buses I don't care for the 1996 to 2002 models they have a few problems, for the money a MCI 9 is a hard bus to beat IMO and do not overlook a Newell they are as good as any bus ever built

good luck
« Last Edit: October 21, 2011, 08:24:00 AM by luvrbus » Logged

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« Reply #22 on: October 21, 2011, 08:13:18 AM »

This has been a nice thread to read.  We have been looking for a bus for about 2 years now.  I would really like to get a Prevost, but many are so expensive, we have focused on an MCI-9 (I like the construction of their frames).  Have tried to purchase a couple and were either talked out of it by people on this board (seems someone always knows the coach) or the seller has pulled out.

We have 5 kids (don't ask) so we decided to go down the entertainer coach path.  As someone mentioned, the problem is most do not have full baths.  Our goal is to be able to take the kids places that they would not be able to see otherwise so we really want something already converted.  I figure the time we spend on the road visiting places will be valuable time with the kids, someday, when we find the coach.

Still looking..
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Still looking for a bus
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« Reply #23 on: October 21, 2011, 09:02:10 AM »

When I first started looking for a shell, I was convinced I wanted an MCI-9.  I'd driven them years ago and totally fell in love with the ride, handling, and dependably.  As my search progressed, I began to find some nice MCI-102 models for about the same as the MCI-9s.  The 102 models began to grow on me.  I like that I could turn the bed sideways and use the depression over the engine for the closet.  Much more closet space and a more spacious layout. 

I ended up getting a 102-A3 with a rust free body, and a brand new engine/trans for $14,000.  The new engine will outlast my lifetime of use, and still be going strong.  The work of gutting seats, pulling windows, skinning the sides, etc. has been a significant labor, but a labor of love just the same.  Nothing a person with basic skills can't handle.  We're getting the spray foam done (hopefully today) and that's the first project I've needed to hire out.

The 102-C3 has a higher roof, so that would be a plus, but the 102-A3 is more than enough for me.  We have roof-top units and I'm a full 6' tall and there isn't anything within less than 2" of my head.  Most areas I have 3" or 4".  More head room up front, and less in the rear - but still more than ample. 

The newer engines are pretty cool, and the gas mileage is certainly appealing, but I found those were always out of my price range - unless they were getting really old.  But you'll be hard put to find an engine more rock-solid dependable than these old Detroit Diesels. I wanted something I didn't have to think about or worry about.  I want to get in and drive.  I know there will be issues, but hopefully not major engine issues.

If you like the newer "square" rear caps with the louvered air intake, I have the full fiberglass set from R&M fiberglass listed on this forum for sale.  I happen to like the look of the MCI-102 just the way it is. 

Enjoy your search.  Look at as many as you can.  Drive as many as you can.  Then, jump in the deep end of the pool.  This is fun!

Dave
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I couldn't repair my brakes, so I made my horn louder.
1989 MCI-102 A3
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Started in Cheboygan, Michigan (near the Mackinaw Bridge).  Now home is anywhere we park
JBerg85
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« Reply #24 on: October 21, 2011, 09:08:02 AM »

I ended up getting a 102-A3 with a rust free body, and a brand new engine/trans for $14,000.

Do you have a blog or anywhere of pictures of yours and what you have done so far?
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Jason
Winter Park, Florida
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« Reply #25 on: October 21, 2011, 09:11:51 AM »

I don't have a blog, but I should start one. 
Here is a link to a bunch of pics:
https://www.dropbox.com/gallery/31679284/1/Coach%20Project?h=9fcb66
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I couldn't repair my brakes, so I made my horn louder.
1989 MCI-102 A3
DD 6V92 Turbo, Alison
Tons of stuff to learn!
Started in Cheboygan, Michigan (near the Mackinaw Bridge).  Now home is anywhere we park
JBerg85
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« Reply #26 on: October 21, 2011, 09:18:09 AM »

I don't have a blog, but I should start one. 

You sure should make a blog... Looks like you are doing a great job on your bus... What year is your MCI, and where did you find it?
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Jason
Winter Park, Florida
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« Reply #27 on: October 21, 2011, 10:04:29 AM »

The bus is a 1989 MCI-102 A3.
I bought it near Denver, CO in March of this year.  We live in Northern Michigan, near the Mackinaw Bridge. 

We flew to Denver, and road an airport van from there.  The company I bought the bus from runs vans for the airport (also limos, 30-some coaches, etc.), so that part was easy.  They just told me who to find and I got a very long free ride.

The bus had been used as a tour coach its whole life.  The company has a very large fleet of coaches.  He had upgraded his entire fleet of coaches to Setras and this was his last MCI.  I don't remember why he said they began making the changes, but it made sense financially.  This bus had become the owner's personal party bus.  It was decked out with lots of options, and even had a full leather interior, couches, oak cabinets, etc.  I remember him saying that this old MCI handles and rides better than his new Setras, but they are better on fuel and cost less to buy. 

This bus had a smokey engine when he was thinking about selling it.  In his maintenance garage, they had a brand new crate engine from Detroit Diesel (6V92TA) that would never be used in the Setras.  The engine alone is worth more than the coach.  So, he had his guys install the new engine before he sold his bus.  He purchased a brand new Prevost conversion coach for his personal party bus.  It has all the bling you could ever imagine, but you could tell he had a hard time seeing his old red bus leave the lot.

We began the long drive home from Denver to northern Michigan.  Everything went really well for the first two days.  On the evening of the third day we got into a construction zone on I-90 someplace in IL.  The construction zone forced us over on to the opposite size of the expressway separated by those concrete barriers.  So, we're driving along with a concrete barrier on our left, and nothing on our right, not even a shoulder, just a drop off.   My wife says "this would be a terrible place for someone to break down, there isn't even anywhere to pull off"... about thirty seconds later my engine shut off.  I had no idea why.  So, here we sat, in the middle of I-90, blocking everything moving eastbound.  After about five minutes I got the motor to start again, and moved it a short distance further, to a "emergency pull-off".  This was a shoulder that barely allowed others to pass.  Trucks were slowing to a crawl to clear my mirrors.  The engine quit, and we were done.

Turns out the problem was small, but in the dark, now knowing what the problem really was, plus being in a very dangerous place on the highway, we just called for a tow truck.  Cost me $875.00 for the tow truck to move me about four miles.  But, they earned every penny.  It was dark, dangerous, and a lot of work.   The had to disconnect the drive-shaft under a bus that was now too low to the ground to get under the bus.  They had to hook up their air system to mine to get the brakes released.  Then tow slow and hard down a very busy, backed-up expressway. 

Turns out there is a air cylinder that tightens the fans as the engine warms up.  That air cylinder pushes up on a bracket, that engages the belt and starts the fans.  The bracket just decided that today was the day to break and released the fan belt.  So, the engine was simply trying to overheat.  The safety on the MCI shuts the engine down before risking any damage to the engine.  Small fluke, easy fix, but frustrating just the same.

We spent three days in Peru, IL waiting for a replacement air tank from MCI.  We found one tank had a air leak from a rusted pin hole.  We had noticed it wouldn't hold air long.  So it was worth getting it fixed while we had it in the shop.  All things considered, the trip went very well.  We were so excited to be driving our new coach that the problems didn't bother us too much. 

We didn't know about this forum then, I wish we had.  There might have been a bus-nut around who could have helped.  Maybe we would have even found a coach closer to home.  But, life is an adventure, and the wife and I are always game for a new adventure.

Dave



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I couldn't repair my brakes, so I made my horn louder.
1989 MCI-102 A3
DD 6V92 Turbo, Alison
Tons of stuff to learn!
Started in Cheboygan, Michigan (near the Mackinaw Bridge).  Now home is anywhere we park
JBerg85
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« Reply #28 on: October 21, 2011, 05:31:55 PM »

Thank you so much everyone... Do you guys have any tips on where to find a shell? What sites are listing them, etc. I am in Florida, but willing to travel for the right bus.

Jason
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Jason
Winter Park, Florida
robertglines1
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« Reply #29 on: October 21, 2011, 05:49:14 PM »

Ck out ABC bus in your own back yard. They have web site but many not listed on yard.  Bob
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Bob@Judy  98 XLE prevost with 3 slides --Home done---last one! SW INdiana
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