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Author Topic: Advice needed for a newbie on owning a bus  (Read 13992 times)
Dave C
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« on: June 27, 2007, 05:22:14 PM »

Hello.
I am looking to buy a bus conversion and I am not mechanically gifted as so many of you so I must buy a finished bus. 

Is spending $50-70K fair for a clean good running 25+ year old bus?  Are buses more of a hobby rather than a regular RV whereas it might be easier to resale later? It seems the ones for sale don't sell very fast.  There must not be that many people buying at that price range which means I too will have a long wait if I wanted to sell it.  Should I look at spending the same money on a newer diesel Vectra.

Thanks to everyone for their opinions.    DAVE

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Barn Owl
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« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2007, 05:29:32 PM »

Ive seen some nice bus conversions for what you have to spend.
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L. Christley - W3EYE Amateur Extra
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tekebird
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« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2007, 05:45:56 PM »

It all depends on your wallet and what your planning on doing with it as well as how long you intend on keeping it.


Bus parts cost more than medium duty truck parts (AKA Motorhome parts)  true they last longer but when you need something it cost three times as much

what is your intended use of the vehicle?

how long do you plan on keeping it?

What motivated you to look at buses vs the Sticks and Staples motorhome?


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jjrbus
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« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2007, 05:46:50 PM »

Very wise decision to buy a converted bus, there are some real deals out there.
 To ansewer your question motorhome vs bus. I bought a motor home and kept it less than 1 year! to start with the thing was all over the road, they put this huge box on a midsize frame, with little tiny tires. Just look at the tires on those things in relation to the size of the vehicle. But they do spend lots of money on fancy brass lamps.
 While we are on the frame size, lets talk about undersized brakes. They cant do that! Oh yes they do!! Wait till you try to stop 20,000 lbs of vehicle with brakes rated for 16,000 lbs. This is a pucker factor of 10. But they do put in some georgeous berber carpet.
 Had a small leak in the shower, what a mess, they put in the plumbing and then spray foam everyting in place. Try and work on something like that.
 They put in large basement storage areas, put more than a 100 lbs in one and go over a good size bump.
 I needed a window for my RV $1000 for the bus it is $150
 They will spend $1000 on glitz and $0 on safety or quality.
 Never mind the showroom for shopping go to a RV salvage yard and look at what can happen from a minor accident.
 I can go on and on but will let someone else have my soapbox.  There are downsides, like you pointed out they are not a liquid asset.
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jjrbus
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« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2007, 05:58:47 PM »

Afterthought. If you must shop for an RV please join   www.rv.org   it will cost you $139. it could be the best $139 you ever spend!!!!! If I would have known about it I never would have bought the MH that I did.
                                                                 HTH Jim
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Dave C
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« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2007, 06:16:38 PM »

tekebird, Actually I was envious of the luxury rigs celebrities use and started looking.  My wallet is really $25K (now!) but it appears I must spend $50-70K to get a decent finished bus.  I also understand the 1000's hours people have spent doing the conversion tend to be forgotten in the sales price.  Otherwise they would all be hundreds of thousands!!! 

Originally just 3-5 years to see what RVing is all about but at this prices, I must look at it as a least 10year ownership. Reason to buy:  Just explore our great US !


jjrbus, great points regarding safety.  RV Sales folks don' t mention this. And for the liquid asset, I guess its a depreciation asset in the same mind set as owning a ski boat!  Thanks for advice.    DAVE
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NJT5047
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« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2007, 06:25:01 PM »

Owning a bus isn't for the timid.  If you are a decent mechanic, have the time and place to maintain a bus...it may be for you.   These things can be very reasonable to own and they can be a nightmare.  Got to choose carefully.
Also must sort out what type of camping you want to do.  A bus isn't an off road item.  Asking for problems getting off solid ground. 
While RV chassis are underbuilt, bus conversions are overbuilt.  They work well, are quite safe, and have major storage. 
And, it's a buyer's market.   Large RVs are also in a "buyer's market" slump.
And, RV ain't exactly cheap to own either.  High end RVs are loaded with problems...some of which have no resolution short of parting with the RV.
You'll get plenty of ideas from this thread.
Good Luck,  JR


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JR Lynch , Charlotte, NC
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tekebird
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« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2007, 06:30:10 PM »

Don;t get me wrong..the bus is the better built unit from the base chassis standpoint. but alot of people dive in not knowing what they are getting into.....and for thier actual use...unless already a busnut.....would have been better off buying the sticks and staples.

Heck there are even some bonified busnuts who have sold thier buses to get RV's....because their use was better served by that type of unit.

yes the bus windshield may be 150.00 and the RV 1000, but I am talking about more mechanical things.

Keeping in mind that the RV can be worked on by any car dealer basically while the bus needs special attention.

with that said.....buy what you want, what you can afford
what you can afford to upkeep

there are exceptional values out there in RV's and Buses right now.

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WEC4104
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« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2007, 06:49:53 PM »

Are we really 7 posts into this thread and no one has yet mentioned to have any bus being considered for purchase thoroughly checked out by a knowledgeable mechanic?   Grin
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Jerry Liebler
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« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2007, 07:09:47 PM »

Dave,
      I support JR's arguments for a bus over most other motorhomes.  I have owned a class A motorhome before my bus and it scared me into the bus.  Brakes and stability are really scary on most motorhomes. Brakes and stability in the bus are much better but it's still no sports car, it's a big vehicle.  My fuel economy is better in the bus as well but I'm willing to drive a manual transmission.  But now for the cautions.
You say you're not mechanically gifted enough to do your own conversion, that means you'll be paying someone to fix and change anything that needs fixing or changing.  You'll no doubt pay more with a bus conversion, they are unique and few shops want the challenge of figuring out what he converter did.  Also there are many poorly done partly finished conversions on the market.  You are well advised to learn a lot about the various systems of a conversion and reject any conversion that you see bad compromises in.  You also need to understand what you want in an RV and make a very unemotional evaluation of how well each candidate meets your needs, remember changes will be expensive.  Then you need to try to find a unit that has had proper maintenance and has significant service life left.  A major overhaul of  bus engine is $10,000 minimum.  Don't be in a hurry, employ an expert to judge mechanical soundness, choose carefully.
Regards
Jerry 4107 1120
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coolbus
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« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2007, 07:55:40 PM »

You would have to be absolutely crazy to want to buy a bus to convert, and even crazier to buy one that is already converted by someone else...

But that's what I did! I was going to do a conversion myself, but the kids are growing up fast; I can't afford to wait for the project, even though that's what first got me interested in a bus conversion.

Only a few changes, remodel type stuff & some neglected repairs, etc.

Be careful... you will be amazed at what you will find out there for sale! Somebody elses pride & joy may be your nightmare.


Mark
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niles500
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« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2007, 10:01:49 PM »

Dave - don't be surprised if you offer $25k for that $50-70K bus ......... and ..........somone takes it - it's a buyers market out there - HTH
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« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2007, 11:48:23 PM »

Dave, a bus conversion is not something to consider for resale value alone, simply because 95% of RV owners would not consider one. If you're not mechanically gifted... would you like to be? Owning a conversion, even someone else's conversion, typically means that you'll be tweaking and fixing things in order to stay on the road and be safe. Buses were designed to be driven regularly in revenue service and receive regular maintenance, which seldom translates well into RV service without some compromises.

But to put this in perspective, in the RV world, you won't touch a true bus-chassis MH for less than $500k new. An older Bluebird or Newell will set you back about what you want to spend for the bus conversion you mentioned, and will (arguably) be a safer bet when it comes to resale. And buses are a lifestyle. If you really don't love buses... and talking about oil and brakes and tires and injectors and "that 2-stroke music", take a long, hard look at some other kind of Motorhome. Preferably, a Newell or a Bluebird, unless you want it to be in the shop more than on the road.

BTW, here's something I wrote a few years back on why my family chose a bus conversion over a traditional "S&S" motorhome: http://www.thefamilybus.net/why.htm

HTH,
Brian B.
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Brian Brown
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« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2007, 05:31:44 AM »

I keep a hard copy of that article that Brian wrote. I am often asked Why a bus?  I then give them a reading assignment.
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L. Christley - W3EYE Amateur Extra
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Ed Hackenbruch
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« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2007, 05:32:49 AM »

We bought our bus, (68 MCI 5A), for just over $33,000 and could have been quite happy with it the way it was. However since we knew we were going to be fulltiming in it immediately and since we had the money at the time we did some upgrades. Over the last 4 years we have put about $17,000 into it in the form of new tires, inverter, more solar panels, furniture , windows, etc.  I have seen a few great deals out there on buses from time to time, you just need to look around a little. Go to a rally if you can, almost always a few for sale and you get a chance to compare a lot of buses to one another. That said, if you decide not to go with a bus you might want to check out Barth motor homes at Barthmobile.com, they are a notch or two above regular sticks and staples  and can be found at similar prices. If i was gonna buy something other than a bus that is the route i would go.
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1968 MCI 5A with 8V71 and Allison MT644 transmission.  Western USA
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