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Author Topic: Mci, Eagle, Prevost...VanHool?  (Read 2933 times)
arutkow
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« on: July 03, 2013, 05:36:35 AM »

I see that most of the conversions on here are from (slightly) older MCIs, Eagles, Prevost, etc.  The buses that have a lot of metal and look solid.

I was wondering why I don't see newer conversions, with buses like VanHool?  Ebay has quite a few that have nice designs and look sleek, yet, no one on here seems to be converting them.

Is there something I don't know? (there's plenty I don't know actually Tongue )

Thanks,

-Abram
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Dave5Cs
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« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2013, 06:15:29 AM »

I actually looked at a couple before I got my mci.They seem really large and found that they were very tough to get parts for some you had to get overseas.

Dave5Cs from Galaxy S III
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arutkow
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« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2013, 06:18:19 AM »

Thanks Dave,

I was kind of curious about the size issue and repairs.

The benefits seem to bee that they are probably less rusty (in general) and have a more "modern" look.

But again, what do I know, lol!

-Abram
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CrabbyMilton
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« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2013, 06:18:50 AM »

 I think most people that convert a bus wait until a bus becomes available after serving a line haul/charter company for up to or more than 20 years or so. I have heard some not so good things about VAN HOOL of late 1980's to early 1990's vintage that were sold here but, I also heard that the newer one's are much improved. Unfortunatley, all it takes is to get burned once before people will be won over again. True, buses have much non metal in the body panels but below that lurks a heavy  stainless steel "cage". Many of the fine people on here have fierce loyalty to one brand or another so that too may explain it as well.
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arutkow
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« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2013, 06:43:48 AM »

Does anyone happen to know the standard height/width/length of a VanHool (for example).  Some of them look HUGE, and I would think adding things to the roof might make them too tall.
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belfert
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« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2013, 07:24:27 AM »

The reason a lot of busnuts build buses is because they don't want to spend a lot of money.  (That is not the reason everyone builds or buys a bus conversion.)  The MCI, GMCs, and Eagles tended to be less expensive.  In 2006 when I bought my bus I looked at Van Hools and the ones in decent condition were more than I wanted to spend.

Van Hool was using mild steel for the frames up until the mid 90s when they switched to stainless.  They rust badly.  One I looked at that was cheap needed to go to a scrap yard.  It was so rusty the engine bay door hinges had rusted through and was held on my baling wire!  A DOT inspector would have failed the inspection before even getting out of their vehicle.  Another big issue with converting an older Van Hool is the fact they have a dropped aisle.

I don't believe any Van Hool ever had a Detroit two stroke which can be a plus or minus depending if you like the Detroits or not.  The ones I was looking at had the Cummins L10 engine.
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« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2013, 07:40:28 AM »

I've had a couple of photos on my computer for years showing a Van Hool in the early stages of conversion. I took these from the build blog the guy was writing at the time, but have no idea what became of it. The guy was American and I remember that he was quite a young chap and involved in electronics of some sort - the bus was going to be fitted-out with all the very latest electronic tech. Be nice to know whether it ever got finished, or ended-up as another abandoned project

If I had the space I'd have no worries about converting one of these, but then I live in Britain and such buses are plentiful here, and all old buses in general here seem to be much cheaper than in the States because (I assume) there are many more brands to choose from and the market is always flooded with new models being launched








And just for interest, here's a 1986 Van Hool with a budget conversion for sale on UK Ebay - it's got a Buy it Now price of only 3,500 ($5,000), and no-one has bought it yet:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1986-Leyland-Royal-Tiger-Moterhome-/281123781877?pt=UK_Minibuses_Buses_Coaches&hash=item4174487cf5


Jeremy
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Geom
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« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2013, 07:58:03 AM »

The reason we'll be going with a GM conversion is we like the classic look of those buses, and appreciate the look of other buses like MCIs, eagles, Flxibles, et al.

I also love the fact that they're built like a tank back at a time when we seem to have cared about producing a quality product (I know I sound like an old man waxing romantic about how great them"good old days" were but...  Grin)

Using aluminum for the frame design should help limit corrosion issues.
2 stroke engines (what the vast majority of these old buses have) are simple machines to operate and to maintain, so long as you understand their needs (or at least I'm about to find out Wink )
For us the smaller (35') size was a benefit, not a detriment, as it will allow us access to more places (in theory).

Cost is a factor, but most people buying this style of bus understand that they'll probably spend more on them than they can ever recoup.

Interior styling was also a factor for us. In looking at the more modern looking conversions, a lot of them look like RVs, built with RV furniture, and styled like them etc. A lot of the older conversions were usually built using real furniture, real wood cabinets, etc. There will obviously be exceptions abound, but that's what our recent research is leading.

And did I mention that these old buses just look cool Smiley
I mean Flxibles are just adorable, and a lot of the older GMs (3102, 4101, etc) just make me want to give'em a big hug Cheesy

But ultimately it depends on what you're personally looking for in one of these machines.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2013, 08:02:09 AM by Geom » Logged

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Iceni John
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« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2013, 08:02:46 AM »

Jeremy,

One difference is that the Van Hools in N.America are integral designs, using whatever drivetrain is best suited to the local market, while Van Hool is (was?) in Britain more commonly known as a body supplier that would build on a variety of different chassis and running gear, such as the Leyland you mentioned.   That same Leyland could instead have had a Plaxton or Duple body, or a body by almost anyone else that chose to use such a chassis.   There was never the tradition of separate chassis and body builders in USA like there was in Britain.   I know that things are different now, with fewer traditional body-on-frame buses and many more integral ones.

I wonder if the Australian Van Hool high-decker in your photos is a body-on-chassis or an integral design?   The second photo shows what could be frame rails, but they look so high off the ground considering it's a high-floor design.

And yes, I've also heard about older Van Hools here having corrosion problems.   Like so many builders they either did not use high-strength steels in the first place, and/or didn't do much to protect the steelwork with any serious amount of rust-proofing.   Too bad, because they're handsome buses and would otherwise make a neat conversion.

John
« Last Edit: July 03, 2013, 08:12:25 AM by Iceni John » Logged

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arutkow
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« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2013, 08:09:39 AM »

Is there anything about VanHools (or other non-traditional conversions buses) that makes them completely non-usable as a conversion?

Something with the framing, height, wiring, etc?

I love the look of the older, coaches with the curves and stainless steel exteriors. But I get the feeling that those pretty exteriors could be hiding a lot of rust and other troubles.



-Abram
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Jeremy
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« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2013, 08:33:58 AM »

When I was looking for a bus I went to a local bus and coach dealer to look at a Bova Futura he had. The dealer was a helpful and laid-back guy, and once he knew that I was looking for a bus to convert into a motorhome he basically warned me off buying what he called 'Continental' buses (ie, European but not British). He basically said that buying a typical monocoque coach like the Bova I was looking at (or a Neoplan, Van Hool or whatever) might give rise to all sorts of problems down the road that could be avoided by buying something with a traditional full chassis and an unstressed body.

I remember him specially saying that if, for example, you jacked the Bova up in the wrong place when changing a wheel, the windscreen would fall out! I'm sure he was only specifically referring to the relatively late-model monocoque buses that I was looking at, and not the first-generation monocoque designs from 1960-70's, which I expect are vastly over-engineered by comparison.

Jeremy


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arutkow
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« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2013, 09:15:07 AM »

I'm probably going to go with an MCI, GMC, Prevost, or Eagle.

There are quite a few cool looking European buses on Ebay, but the classic, American can't really be beat.
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« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2013, 09:26:07 AM »

MCI's, GMC's, Eagles being made for the U.S. have longer wheelbases with less overhang. VanHool has more over hang-especially in the rear which makes for better turning, but I've seen several get hung up trying to get in and out of steep driveways.

Take a look at the MCI 102C3. Can't get much bigger then that in a 40ft'r. Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2013, 09:30:50 AM »

VAN HOOL used to offer a conversion shell here in America until about 5 years ago. It was called the S2145.
MCI no longer offers a shell so that leaves PREVOST as the sole builder of new shells unless you want a THOMAS or INTERNATIONAL school bus shell.
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RJ
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« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2013, 10:02:15 PM »

Living where I do, and being a genuine busnut, I often get an opportunity to talk to charter drivers overnighting in Fresno either going to or coming out of Yosemite National Park.

The general consensus about VanDrools is that they look pretty, but they're a POS to drive and often spend more time in the shop with weird electrical problems than they do on the road.  Some drivers don't like the fact they're sitting "down in a hole" with the passengers staring down their necks, and that it doesn't give them the view down the road ahead that an MCI does.

The only real plus seems to be that the VH distributor, ABC Bus Sales, has service facilities all over the country.

In the current coach market, the two favorites by far are the MCI J series and the Prevost H series, followed by the new Setras.  But we're talking $400K coaches here. . .

MCI, Prevost, Eagle and GMC dominate the bus conversion market, with the GMCs starting to fade away due to age and demographics, sadly.

Whatever you decide, in today's depressed market, you're way farther ahead to buy a conversion that's already done.  It makes NO sense to start from scratch.  Remodel/upgrade is ok and common.

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink
« Last Edit: July 03, 2013, 10:03:59 PM by RJ » Logged

RJ Long
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