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Author Topic: Family Bus  (Read 4801 times)
brojcol
Jimmy
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« Reply #15 on: December 20, 2006, 09:23:30 AM »

You don't need a CDL to drive a bus conversion/RV for family use (let the flaming begin).  However, I recommend that you at least look into it if you've never operated a vehicle with air-brakes.  It's a little different.  If I've learned one thing on this board, it's that each state has different rules and regulations about length, what you haul, etc.  Thing is, with a CDL, no one will question your right to operate your bus, whatever you do with it. 

I'm from Mississippi and have been transplanted in Pennsylvania.  In MS, you didn't need anything to drive a bus conversion except a regular license.  Also, to have it titled as an RV, you simply had to tell them it was for RV use.  When I went to get my insurance, they inspected the bus to make sure that it had some sort of conversion process in place.  I had my toilet and shower installed, so no problem. 

I suggest that you contact the DMV and ask to speak with someone familiar with RVs.  Chances are, they've come across this before.

Jimmy
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deal with it."            Professor Bubblegum Tate
jatnip
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« Reply #16 on: December 20, 2006, 09:23:30 AM »

I have seen many "family" buses and "most" any bus that you buy you will have to remodel to suit your need as hardly anyone builds a bus for families.  Most buses are Ma Pa types. 
Jim
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JerryH
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« Reply #17 on: December 20, 2006, 11:25:32 AM »

Thank you for all the great posts/links! 
A few more questions, if I buy an entertainer coach does that mean it is not an RV or can I get it re-titled as an RV? Or does that mean I just have to get a CDL? 
Are you allowed to tow vehicles in places like california where I think I read the 45' limit on length if you purchase a 45' bus? 

Also, as to Captain Ron's Question, we live in new hampshire.   Jatnip, I wish we had some singing talents, that sounds like a lot of fun!

Thanks again!


Lots:

You won't need a CDL if the unit is titled as an RV.  The 45-foot rule (I am confident) has been relaxed in Calif., I read something about it and pretty sure I included a link under another thread topic.

If you have the opportunity to gain more knowledge about driving a bus, ultimately getting your CDL, I think (personally) it's a good thing.  I trained through our local school district and am a part-time substitute.  I was paid while going through their -- pay subject to passing DMV testiing. 

As far as bedrooms in the "basement" (cargo bays).  Yes, have seen that done before, kinda nifty ... but then again you lose valuable storage space (robbing Peter to pay Paul).  I'd opt 9 bunks, plus queen ... or 11 bunks.  We have 4 bunks for the four of us.  So much for intimacy or romance  Smiley

Jerry H.
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lotsokids
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« Reply #18 on: December 20, 2006, 01:27:07 PM »

THanks again everyone.   I had a CDL several years ago when I was in the fireservice.  I will have to figure out how to go about getting certified again because it is good to be refreshed on all of that.    Thanks Brian for the link on bus construction.  http://www.archtex.com/bus/why.htm, very helpful.

Also, JerryH can you share any things on why you prefer the MCI vs the prevost?  I know a lot is probably personal taste, but maybe you could share some features that might be important that I wouldn't have thought about.

Thanks!
« Last Edit: December 20, 2006, 01:35:54 PM by lotsokids » Logged
Rich (Prevost)
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« Reply #19 on: December 20, 2006, 02:33:13 PM »

Let me know if you have any specific questions on the entertainer coaches. I work for Prevost, Nashville Service Center. And kinow most of the guys selling coaches. Most are very good. They don't try to hide things, but if you don't ask the right questions.......I also have a lot of experience with Eagle, GMC & MCI coaches.

Rich

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RJ
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« Reply #20 on: December 20, 2006, 03:06:31 PM »

Lots -

If you are in CA, here's a helpful link:

http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/traffops/trucks/bus-mh/fs-motorhms.htm

If you're not in CA, note that in the above link there is mention of other state's requirements.

Generally speaking, you do NOT have to have a CDL to drive an entertainer coach, unless it's "for hire" - in other words, somebody's getting paid to drive the coach and somebody is getting paid for the use of their vehicle.  Basically, if it's just you and your family, and the coach is registered as a motorhome, RV or "housecar" (CA's term), you can get by with a normal automobile license.  Exception in CA as noted in the link, however.

Rich at Prevost would be an excellent source to get you started on the right foot.  Nashville is currently the "hub" of entertainer coach converting, leasing and sales, which is where you probably should concentrate your efforts, if that's the way you choose to go.  You can contact him by using the button under his name to send him a private message.

As for a coach shell, the major difference between an MCI and a Prevost is market share - MCI outsells Prevost, overall, about 5-1 or so in the commercial coach segment.  In the motorhome shell segment, it's probably a toss-up, with Prevost having a slight lead.

MC-9s are the most popular highway coach ever built, over 9000 of them were produced.  The venerable 35-foot GMC PD4104 is second, with 5065.  The MCI "D" series, I believe, is rapidly approaching, if not already surpassed, the 4104 in units produced, and may be closing in on the 9.  A good coach, actually, available in both 40 and 45-foot lengths.

The Prevost XL and H series are very popular as both motorhomes and entertainer cars.  Both are available in 40 and 45 foot.

The discontinued Eagle, especially the early 1990's 45-foot models, may be an excellent buy if you can find one in an entertainer configuration.  By this point in time, Eagle was much better about rustproofing their chassis, compared to those built up until the very late 1980s.  Eagles have a unique ride, due to their Torsilastic suspension, compared to the air suspenion of the other manufacturers.  For years, Eagle was THE choice for entertainer cars, primarily because of thier pleasing ride.

And a final, important  point:  ALWAYS sleep in an entertainer coach with your feet pointing forward, toward the steering wheel.  Less chance of major injuries in a sudden stop situation for those who are snoozing.

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink
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RJ Long
PD4106-2784 No More
Fresno CA
Dreamscape
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« Reply #21 on: December 20, 2006, 03:17:59 PM »

Don't forget, Eagle production is back at www.silvereaglebus.com.

Paul

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Buffalo SpaceShip
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« Reply #22 on: December 20, 2006, 03:55:05 PM »

Thanks for the kudos, Barn Owl! I have to make some new trip journals for Glenwood Springs, The Black Hills, and St. Louis that we did this Summer and Fall in the SpaceShip... now that the "flip that house" chapter of our lives is finally coming to a close (knock on wood).

Lotsofkids, I often peruse the busforsale site, drooling over the Entertainers they have on there. There's a sweet Provo$t 12 bunk sleeper on there at the moment. Dunno your budget, but it's way spendier than ours. There's a "three-bedroom" Eagle on there that I've had my eye on for some time that's a bit more in our "wheelhouse".  There's a handful of 12-bunkers, already set up for a bevy of travellers.

Even though we only have three "young-uns", the entertainers coaches actually suit our lifestyle better than the "Gram and Gramps" rear bedroom coaches you typically find. I might have to trade up to a 40' coach now that my kids are getting bigger (well... longer).

A 40' GMC Buffalo only has two axles and some of the biggest bays in the biz. A bedroom bay is very doable in one of those, since you have more bay space than your typical 40' three-axle coach. Chaz's 35' Buff has a bay bed by the look of this pic (click here) The Buffs are getting a bit "long in the tooth" for some folks' taste, but consequently they are cheaper than a comparable MCI, Prevost, or even Eagle. If you can find one with an automatic (V730 preferred by me), you'll find it more drivable in RV service. If you don't do much camping, and stick to the superslabs and big parking lots (and don't have to back up often), the 4-speed stick will give you more MPH and MPG.

Whatever you choose, or even if you go "toterhome", please "come on in" to this wonderful forum. There's a lot of good folks and a TON of information, opinions, and (usually) good-natured banter to be had here.

Brian B.
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Brian Brown
4108-216 w/ V730
Longmont, CO
JerryH
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« Reply #23 on: December 20, 2006, 04:28:10 PM »

Quote
Also, JerryH can you share any things on why you prefer the MCI vs the prevost?  I know a lot is probably personal taste, but maybe you could share some features that might be important that I wouldn't have thought about.

Lots:  I personally think without doubt, most of the Prevost models (XLII being one of my favorite) are a better looking coach than "most" (not all) MCI's.  But they usually fetch a higher price, so that was clearly one deciding factor.  Unless I am wrong (someone else can correct me) there are more MC-9's (for example) out there than similar vintage Prevosts.  Parts should be easy to find -- you can likely find something (parts wise) that'll work in an MCI as well, whether new or parted out.  As far as service -- should be more user-friendly as well across the US.  The Prevost units do have great "curb appeal" though.

If I won the lottery tomorrow, what would I purchase -- still an MCI, likely the D4505 (new look) as I've always liked the 102DL3 and would love to have a 45-foot x 102" wide model.  Prevost has done a great job catering to the conversion market, while I think MCI hasn't done a great job.  But I am still an MCI diehard.

But, if I was starting out ... if cost were a factor ... if I could afford to purchase some newer that had some miles on it, yet still in good condition for a decent price (and I had 9 kids).  I'd probably be looking at a Prevost bus configured for an entertainer, that's already configured in such a way that I could make subtle changes as needed to fit our familys lifestyle.

That's just me.

Jerry H.
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brojcol
Jimmy
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« Reply #24 on: December 20, 2006, 05:33:42 PM »

I knew I had a song in my head for you...

"It's a big job just gettin' by with nine kids and a wife
I been a workin' man dang near all my life
I'll be working long as my two hands are fit to use
I'll drink my beer in a tavern,
Sing a little bit of these working man blues"

Merle Haggard, "Workin' Man Blues"

Jimmy

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"Ask yourself this question...Are you funky enough to be a globetrotter?  Well are you???  ARE YOU?!?!

deal with it."            Professor Bubblegum Tate
lotsokids
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« Reply #25 on: December 20, 2006, 06:58:07 PM »

Thanks again everyone!    Very helpful comparisons on the MCI and the Provosot!   

On a funny note, my wife would kill me if she headr all this discussion about 9 kids.  Just to set the record straight, we are expecting our 8th child, and my oldest is 9years old, I think that is where the nine got started from one of my earlier posts.   But anyway the all the advice still holds 8 or 9.  Thanks again.
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JerryH
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« Reply #26 on: December 20, 2006, 07:43:27 PM »

Thanks again everyone!    Very helpful comparisons on the MCI and the Provosot!   

On a funny note, my wife would kill me if she headr all this discussion about 9 kids.  Just to set the record straight, we are expecting our 8th child, and my oldest is 9years old, I think that is where the nine got started from one of my earlier posts.   But anyway the all the advice still holds 8 or 9.  Thanks again.

I'M BAD!!   I think that was me who added the 9th!  Sorry.  Sad

Jerry H.
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jatnip
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« Reply #27 on: December 20, 2006, 09:28:09 PM »

We are just a year ahead of you.  Next year this time we will be talking about number 10 coming.
Jim
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lotsokids
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« Reply #28 on: December 22, 2006, 04:59:05 AM »

Thanks again everyone.  A few more questions have come up.  I remember reading on one site that the family felt their sewage tanks were too small, but I don't know how big they should be.  Do you have any formulas, based on # of people?  Or do entertainer type buses already have big tanks?

My other question, is about bay bedrooms, those can be made accessible from the inside of the bus right?  Are people able to use them while the bus is moving or is that a thing to only use when the bus is parked?

How do these buses handle on snow and ice?  Or does everyone try to stay out of snowy areas when they plan their trips?   I know greyhound runs all year, but I am just wondering is it a scary thing, or do they get stuck easily?

Thanks!
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Len Silva
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« Reply #29 on: December 22, 2006, 05:56:26 AM »

The entertainer coaches that I am familiar with do not have a shower or cooking facilities and do not permit "#2" in the toilet.  They are mostly used for transport from the venue to a hotel and not really considered liveaboards.

In fact, the one's I have seen do not even have a dump hose connection.  The driver just operates a remote control dump valve on the side of the road or on the road at night.  Now that was more than ten years ago, maybe things have changed.

Len
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