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Author Topic: ok have a couple of questions  (Read 3438 times)
dumbone
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« on: July 11, 2007, 07:48:04 PM »

I called a conversion company today because hubby and I are considering buying either a eagle or prevost shell and doing the conversion ourselves. Admittedly we know nothing ,but the guy on the other end of the phone told me that ie would be a 10 year project and by the time we are done we will spend close to a million dollars. But followed it up with we build them here and can sell you one alot quicker than you can build one. Someone help is any part of this true ??
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Nick Badame Refrig/ACC
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« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2007, 07:56:46 PM »

Hi Dumbone,

Welcome!

You certinly have alot of reading to do in our archives...

The outcome, length, and quality of a conversion depends on the person converting it and the extent of their talents. Oh, and the depth of your pockets...

Let us know your in-vision and we will direct you down the proper path.

Good Luck to you!
Nick Badame
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« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2007, 08:02:49 PM »

Darn,

The bad news is I have 7 1/2 years to go.

The good news is I am 980,000.00 under budget.... Grin

Sounds like a salesman to me.....Like Nick said, read the archives and take it all in...

Best of luck..

Cliff
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belfert
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« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2007, 08:03:44 PM »

Yes, it could take 10 years to do it yourself if you don't have the time and/or if you are really picky doing the work.  No way will DIY cost $1 million unless you spend $400,000 on a shell and buy everything brand new at the most expensive places.  Even then, you would probably have to gold leaf the interior to get up to $1 million.

There are converters that could build a fairly basic conversion with a used shell you supply for way, way under $1 million.  It may not look like a Marathon coach inside, but Marathons have way too much glitz and complexity for my tastes.

I think this sales person wanted to scare you into buying a conversion from their company.
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belfert
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« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2007, 08:06:24 PM »

Cliff, what have you done to only spend $20k on a conversion?  I've spent probably $20,000 on house systems and interior alone and the interior isn't near done.  I'm not doing anything real fancy on the interior.
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dumbone
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« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2007, 08:08:29 PM »

What we like is the style of the 88 eagle. However thru my reading I do believe we will have to have the roof raise on what ever we get hubby is 6ft7. What about a seated coach and going from there? What about the chassis is there anything special I have to have added? The only thing out of the ordinary from other motorhomes is I want a full size fridge. I thought about slides (still thinking) the guy on the phone today scared my almost full grey headed. About the whole thing. As far as money I know what I want but I think it would mean alot more if we did it ourselves  instead of just purchasing one. Any input would be great..
Thanks,
Darlene
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« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2007, 08:26:19 PM »

Cliff, what have you done to only spend $20k on a conversion?  I've spent probably $20,000 on house systems and interior alone and the interior isn't near done.  I'm not doing anything real fancy on the interior.
That's easy, Cliff was smart enough to let the prev owner spend the $$$, Cliff just stole the bus  Grin
Seriously tho, Cliff is amazingly talented & works wonders with what he has. Amazing what you can accomplish on a budget if you can find deals & incorporate them into your plan AND live with what you have.

There is a lot to be said for living within your abilities.

What we like is the style of the 88 eagle. However thru my reading I do believe we will have to have the roof raise on what ever we get hubby is 6ft7. What about a seated coach and going from there? What about the chassis is there anything special I have to have added? The only thing out of the ordinary from other motorhomes is I want a full size fridge. I thought about slides (still thinking) the guy on the phone today scared my almost full grey headed. About the whole thing. As far as money I know what I want but I think it would mean alot more if we did it ourselves  instead of just purchasing one. Any input would be great..
Thanks,
Darlene

Best thing for you to do is realize that salesman was trying to intimidate you into buying what he was selling. Personally, I don't put much faith in what a salesman says. Their usual goal is to sell me something that will make them a commission. As you can imagine that is in conflict with my goal which is focused on ME, not them.  Grin


Read, read, read this & every other board you can concerning this insanity of bus conversions. If you can't wait the ~6+ months for all this to start to sink in, then you probably can't wait to 'roll your own' conversion.

When I first started looking at busses, I wanted a 750+hp engine. Now, not so much. Why? Because I now have a better understanding of what I want out of my coach. That & the $$$$$$$ it'd cost  Shocked  Grin

Good Luck, you're gonna need it  Grin  Grin  Grin
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« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2007, 08:29:13 PM »

Time, Money, and energy---  How much are you willing and able to spend?  and what do you want to do with your bus?  You need to answer those first. Mostly to yourself.


If one could afford a Million dollar bus they probably wouldn't build one themselves.  (  I'd be looking for a used 2 Million dollar bus if it were me Cheesy ) but everything is relative and they could build one if they wanted to.

So you spending a Millon--  I vote that would be up you.
Buy one quicker-  most likely
ten year project- again up to you.

Freinds on the board-  priceless


Hope this helps and welcome.  Get the Magazine just so you'll have a highlight to every month. and keep readin the board.  Great bunch of well rounded knowledgeable people.

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Nick Badame Refrig/ACC
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« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2007, 08:29:57 PM »

Hi Darlene,  Thanks for your name..

Take a stroll through our members bus and family pictures at the top, above this thread and get some more ideas..

We can reccomend some converters to you if you feel that it would be out of your league.

Where are you located?

Nick-
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« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2007, 08:31:20 PM »

Brian,

I guess I am a better shopper than you...... Grin   Tongue

But hey, I'm not done yet!

Cliff  

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« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2007, 09:05:20 PM »

Darlene, 

A roof raise may not be necessary as some coaches have a taller interior. The MCI 102 C3 advertises an added 3" to the height of their "A" series coaches.

Some of the MCI specs can be found here: http://busforsaleguide.com/mci.htm

If just starting, I would be looking for an MCI 102 C3.

HTH

Ed.
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« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2007, 09:06:38 PM »

Darlene Welcome,

After you've read everything on this site, twice, plan a trip to a bus ralley, spend at least two days, ask lots of questions, take lots of photos.  Go home, let it all soak in, then plan another bus rally.  What you spend going to bus rally, you will save building you coach.    Try to find someone on the board that you can visit that is in the middle of rebuilding a bus.  Once again, the trip will be an eye opener.

Good luck, everyone on this board will help you.

Bill  
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« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2007, 09:09:46 PM »

The do it yourself bus conversion is never done.

The problem is that most of the million $$$ coaches need to be redone to suit your needs
at unusually high prices.

A good used already done conversion is usually available somewhere at some price. Go used and spend a few bucks to fix up to your liking. The basics will be there already done and you can refine from there.

And yes we are talking less than $200k going down the road. A Buddy of mine bought a NICE Prevost/Marathon conversion for $73k and drove it home. He will probably spend another $10 to upgrade some of the leather and cabinets but that's easy. All from eBay too!

Buying an Eagle, well any Eagle will be risky at best. There are reasons why an eagle could be a poor choice and all of it is under the sheet metal skin. It may look good but be your worst nightmare and take years to make it safe and usable. I like eagles but am not a fan of replacing 90% of the structural steel which can rust out hidden from view. If you like to metal-fab and weld and have the space and equipment and knowhow then it might be possible. It depends on your aggravation level and bank account.

Basically you couldn't go too wrong with an MCI or Prevost and they can be raised. Or if you like the older styles maybe a pre-1980 GMC coach although they are harder to raise the roof on.

I didn't mention the other brands but to those who have them they might work too.

The TALL requirement might cause a few problems but not so big as to limit what you can do...

Dave..
Oh Guys..... I am now in Tennessee! , Out of Florida clean and clear....whew...

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« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2007, 09:10:54 PM »

Darlene,
     Are you and/or hubby mechanically talented and driven.  You'll need to learn and do, in addition to lots of 'engineering',  welding, wiring woodwork, plumbing, upholstery, painting, and more. I'm intensely proud that I've gotten a bus conversion done enough that I can take it to rallies and travel in it.  I keep 'improving' it and adding to it's capability's, next will be the satellite system, hopefully before this winter's travels.  I'd guess I have about $20,000 in 'motorhome' systems and interior materials.  And another $25,000 in shell and major repairs such as engine and tires. Still far under the magic million. I'd guess I have 4000 hours in it spread over the 3 years I've owned it.  But it's definitely 'my way'.  You simply can't buy a motorhome with features I've incorporated, like a full sized jetted bathtub and the closet above it that rolls back over the bed.  Or the digital fuel gauge that reads in tenths of a gallon.  Or the airconditioning that'll keep us comfortable on a 95 degree day while plugged into a 15 amp outlet at a relatives house.  Or the water and heating systems that eliminate 'winterising' and allow it to be ready to go all winter by storing it plugged in to a 15 amp outlet which maintains the interior temperature above 50 even on sub zero winter days.  Bus conversion to me is a wonderful challenge but it's definitely not for everyone, I'm saddened to see so many partly done conversions for sale.  Choose carefully.
Regards
Jerry 4107 1120   
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Barn Owl
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« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2007, 09:26:37 PM »

Quote
A good used already done conversion is usually available somewhere at some price. Go used and spend a few bucks to fix up to your liking. The basics will be there already done and you can refine from there.


Buy used and you can start enjoying it right away, and at the same time you will learn what you like and donít like. That way, when you are ready to do a DIY, you would be closer to what you want the first time.
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« Reply #15 on: July 11, 2007, 11:46:48 PM »

Best thing to do is to buy a bus that is going to be your choice instead of trying to change it to your use.  I bought a '77 AMGeneral Transit in 1992 and immediately had the injectors increased from 55 to 65, gearing raised from 55 to 72 mph top, changed the grease wheel ends to oil bearings, changed the 12R-22.5 to 11R-24.5, then drove it home from Kelso Washington in 1993.  Started working on it in 1994-where I took the whole year off and just worked on the bus.  Transits take alot more time to build the facilities into the bottom of the bus whereas you can just install them in the baggage compartments on a highway bus.  I was truck driving and worked 9 months a year and took 3 winter months off where I worked on the bus. 
Some of the specs-130gal fuel, 130gal fresh water, 85gal gray waste, 45gal black water waste, 20 gal propane, 2-8D AGM deep cycle batteries, manual leveling system with the air suspension, 2-TV's, both home and car type stereos, 3-burner stove, microwave, toaster oven, 6.3 Norcold compressor type reefer and 100lb Norcold chest freezer, wash/dryer, 2500 watt inverter, 10,000 watt Powertech Diesel generator, 3 roof airs, queen bed in back, 78 x 42 convertible dinette, 80 x 60 convertible sofa, recliner, 9ft kitchen counter top, house size double stainless kitchen sink, 36 x 36 shower stall, etc.  Essentially finished in 2000.  You can put what you want even in a transit bus.
 
2001 had the engine overhauled. Also changed the air assisted power steering to full Shepard power steering (finger tip), had all 8 air bags replaced, recently had the engine turbocharged and air to air intercooled, the Allison transmission overhauled, new radiator core, new enlarged air cleaner, larger muffler, auxiliary transmission cooler, radiator water misters, King cruise control, back up camera. 
I've had the bus for 15 years and have spent about $90,000 on it-way cheaper and a whole lot stronger than a sticks and staples motorhome.  I will probably have this bus for another 10 years. 
Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #16 on: July 12, 2007, 02:11:17 AM »

Which ever coach you decide on make sure you ask lots of questions regarding any prior maintenance, along with paperwork to prove it. Get what you want and can afford. I bought an Eagle off eBay and I am very pleased with it, any older coach will have problems you will have to deal with. As others have said, if you want to tackle the job and do it yourself, go for it. Ours was a converted coach when we bought it, in the process of doing it our way.

Have fun and ask lots of questions.

Paul

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belfert
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« Reply #17 on: July 12, 2007, 05:38:12 AM »

Brian,

I guess I am a better shopper than you...... Grin   Tongue

But hey, I'm not done yet!

I know there is some stuff I spent extra on simply because I was in a hurry.  Unfortunately, my fast pace was for nothing as the bus wasn't quite ready for the big trip last year.  I ended up flying out while my friends drove a conversion van.

Unless something major happens I will be ready for my first big trip this fall.

I'm not near done with my bus either.
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« Reply #18 on: July 12, 2007, 07:03:31 AM »

Darlene,

First decide what make/model/length of bus you want.  If the Eagle is what you want then carefully inspect the candidate(s) for frame rust.  Eagles are prone to rust, but there are Eagles available with little to no rust.  Shop for an Eagle that has spent it's entire life in the dry southern climates (no snow, road salt, etc.).  I believe in the late 80's and on into the 90's Eagle was using a different type of steel in their frames that was more rust resistent.  Also consider 40' vs. 45' buses....45' is more costly & challenging to maneuver, but offers more interior & baggage bay space.  MCI & Prevost are also good choices....just depends on what flavor of bus you are happy with.

Second decide what type of engine you want.  A lot of the used buses have the older 2-stroke diesels which have been around for decades, but my experience is that it is growing more & more difficult to find competent 2-stroke mechanics.  I would suggest buying a bus with a newer 4-stroke diesel like the Detroit Diesel 60 Series with an Allison automatic transmission.  The 4-stroke is the newer technology and 4-stroke mechanics are widely available.  Better fuel mileage from a 4-stroke too...some report up to 50% better mpg.

Third, as many others have stated, ask yourself how much time & $$ are you willing to put into this bus conversion project?  If you have a personal deadline of being "on the road" by next year then you may want to look at partially or completely converted buses.  If you have lots of free time & talent then doing your own conversion can be quite rewarding both from satisfaction & cost savings perspectives.....it will just take extra time.  However, your conversion does not have to be 100% complete in order to use it...something else to keep in mind.

Good luck on your bus search!  There are a lot of knowledgeable folks on this board so don't hesitate to ask questions.  There are also many websites that sell used buses that are seated, shell, partial or complete conversions.

Happy bus hunting, Grin
Darrin
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Darrin Bruner
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« Reply #19 on: July 12, 2007, 07:15:43 AM »

As Darrin States:

Darlene,


Good luck on your bus search!  There are a lot of knowledgeable folks on this board so don't hesitate to ask questions.  There are also many websites that sell used buses that are seated, shell, partial or complete conversions.

Happy bus hunting, Grin
Darrin


One of those websites is this one.

Check out some of what MAK has for sale by clicking on the banner links above.

and as other people have mentioned, get the magazine and help support the hobby.

Dallas
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cody
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« Reply #20 on: July 12, 2007, 07:27:29 AM »

I bought an 81 Eagle that was already converted but as is usually normal, the conversion wasn't the way I wanted it so for several reasons I gutted it completely, the main reason was that like others have said, eagles are prone to rust and even tho I could find very little rust I wanted to make sure, after I gutted it I found some hidden rust that was easily taken care of, I also cleaned and undercoated all the area's I could find to minimize future rust problems, I've spent the last year converting it to my liking.  If your husband is that tall, you will probably want a raised roof, like the others have said, read all you can, hit some ralleys and don't be in a rush to buy, and ask lots of questions, the people on this forum not only know what they are talking about, they are in the middle of doing what your proposing to do and thats important, I've found a lot of good information here and made some new friends.
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« Reply #21 on: July 12, 2007, 08:06:36 AM »

Darlene,

At 6'-7" your hubby will definitely want a raised roof.  I am 6'-5" and I've been in many buses & RV's that I can't stand up in or I clock my head on something protruding from the ceiling (A/C, lights, etc.).  I can testify that a low ceiling is not fun.

I bought a 1985 Eagle Model 10 - 40' with a DD 6V92TA & Allison 740 that was "partially converted" (I use that term very loosely Roll Eyes), but I am in the process of gutting the interior and bays to do it my way.  The partial conversion was very crude & unprofessional, so I knew when I bought it that the interior would have to go bye-bye. 

The good news is that an 8" roof raise, new front & rear caps, Model 15 front-end upgrade, seamless aluminum skin, 7 RV slider windows, foam insulation, 3 roof airs and 2 fans were done well and I won't have to do any major rework to these components. Smiley 

The bad news is I've had to spend some of my conversion $$ on engine repairs Sad, but hopefully I am close to having the bus in good reliable mechanical shape. Undecided

When the dust finally settles, I believe I will have a bus conversion that is done the way I want it at a much cheaper price than a Professional bus conversion.....also cheaper than a Sticks & Staples RV and much safer.

Not sure where you are located, but there are several bus rallys coming up that you & your husband may want to attend to get ideas and ask questions.  Let us know your location and we can give you the info.

Good luck,
Darrin
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« Reply #22 on: July 12, 2007, 08:39:15 AM »

Two buses come to mind that have 6'10" of headroom.  One is the transit I have and the other is in the classified section of this board.  It is '91 MCI 102C3 40ft'r with a Series 50 and Allison auto.  Personally think this is the perfect bus/engine combo.  Granted their are bigger engines, but the Series 50 4 cylinder at 350hp is enough power and will get close to 10 mpg!  At $28,000 I think it is a great deal!  If I were looking for a bus today, this would be my choice.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #23 on: July 12, 2007, 12:42:49 PM »

Darlene,

One of my wife's "nice to have" requests was a full size refrigerator.

We have a full size Kitchen Aid 120V refer.  I also like the amount of ice cream it will hold in the freezer.

We ordered it new, without the ice maker and auto defrost, in order to save on amp draw.

The unit of course works when plugged into shore line, will of course run off a generator, and runs off the 3000W inverter when dry docked.  Going down the road it runs off the inverter and the bus generator recharges the inverter batteries faster than they are drawn.

We have used this set up for about 5 years now, and it works great for us.

Anything is possible, again like everyone says, "depending on your abilities, budgeting, amount of time available, etc...etc....

Welcome aboard, hope you get your future bus, and maybe we'll meet you guys down the road.

Chris & Cheryl Christensen
Eagle, ID
1974 GMC 4905-739
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« Reply #24 on: July 12, 2007, 04:32:26 PM »

Bus conversions is a lifestyle change Grin

If you've ever tried to go on a diet, you know you have to change your way of thinking if you want to be successful.  (Believe me, I know)!!!

Decide what you realistically want.  If you want bells and whistles with no headaches, you probably want to re-think a DIY job.

However, if you are reasonably talented in woodworking, welding, mechanics or like me, just a good dreamer, and if you have lots of relatives that can work cheap, you can have a very nice conversion for under $50,000 (let the flames begin, but be warned, I am now beginning every debate with "SCREW YOU").

I say GO FOR IT!!!
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« Reply #25 on: July 12, 2007, 05:38:17 PM »

Darlene,
I suggest that you put where you live in your profile so people close to you can send you a private message.

This (and other) bus boards have a lot of people that are willing to invite you over just to talk and or show off their units, They are less likely to do so if they don't know where you live. 

As others have said read the archives, there is so much information there that it will take you weeks to catch up. By doing so, you will get an idea of how you are planning to use it, and then be able to judge a prospective bus with that in mind.

I have seen very nice units that were done for $30,000 to $40,000, I have seen great units sell for $100,000, and it goes up from there. Only you can decide what you want in a coach and what you want to spend.

Either way, good luck
Jim
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« Reply #26 on: July 12, 2007, 08:08:11 PM »

We bought our bus after attending an Arcadia rally in January over a year ago.  i am not a mechanic, but i can tell a screwdriver from a wrench.  i've made some changes to our bus.  My wife and i love it and hope it lasts as long as we can drive.

you should do what we did.  talk to lots of folks, look at all the buses for sale, decide how much time and money you have, and get a real busnut of some sort to help you inspect before you buy.
the salesperson was wrong.  you can buy a converted unit, a partial conversion, or a seated bus, then make the changes to make it yours.

We're in ohio most of the time and you're welcome to stop by.  good luck.
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« Reply #27 on: July 13, 2007, 04:23:48 AM »

I second (or third) most of the posts. It all depends on YOU! What YOU want, what YOU can afford, what YOU can and are willing to do.

We bought a '73 MCI MC7 already converted. We drove it home and have been using it ever since. I am a very good "hard mechanic" ..... engines, transmissions, wiring, etc, but not so good at sheet metal or carpentry. I just don't want to do it!  Grin Grin

We have tweaked a few things but mostly just use the bus & fix what breaks, so far, we have less than $30,000 in ours.

The only advice I can offer is some that has already been posted : DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This board & Bus Conversions mag are good places to start.

And last but not least, Have Fun!!!!  Grin Grin
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« Reply #28 on: July 13, 2007, 08:12:36 AM »

everyone on this board have given you very good replys. i bought a 4104 that was already converted, i have had pretty good luck so far. most of the problems have been mechanical,but not serious. when you buy a coach get a good bus mechanic to check it out for you. good luck
      Bernie
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« Reply #29 on: July 18, 2007, 06:28:41 PM »

I have read all of your posts and thank you so much for the information all of you gave. We are still looking (taking our time) to find just the right one.. How would I find out about the rallies that are coming up? I would love to attend some and see whats out there. Hubby and I went to a rv place last weekend and ok..... some are nice but not what I want. Any input would be great.

Thanks
Darlene in Texas
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« Reply #30 on: July 18, 2007, 06:39:31 PM »

I have read all of your posts and thank you so much for the information all of you gave. We are still looking (taking our time) to find just the right one.. How would I find out about the rallies that are coming up? I would love to attend some and see whats out there. Hubby and I went to a rv place last weekend and ok..... some are nice but not what I want. Any input would be great.

Thanks
Darlene in Texas

Thought you'd never ask!  Ok first off Paul aka Dreamscape has set up a nice informal Texas Bus Round UP in N. Texas coming up soon!

Greetings All,
 
Here are the details of the upcoming event.
 
Location: Hickory Creek Campground
                1801 N Mill St.
                 Lewisville TX 75057
 
When: September 13-16, 2007

Then there is the one here at my place also in September 6-10 here in God's Country of NW TN!

Ah there's one in SC this week end!

and if you'll look on the top of the page you'll see the calander it list all of them that someone has taken the time to post! And Richard does a great job of keeping it updated of the ones his is made aware of! Last of all if your out traveling and see one, and they aren't rolling down the road and you got a minute stop and interduce yerself and let them know you wanna join this crazy group of bus owners and I'm sure they'll help ya as muchas they can!
Grin  BK  Grin
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Busted Knuckle aka Bryce Gaston
KY Lakeside Travel's Busted Knuckle Garage
Huntingdon, TN 12 minutes N of I-40 @ exit 108
www.kylakesidetravel.net

Grin Keep SMILING it makes people wonder what yer up to! Grin (at least thats what momma always told me! Grin)
Dreamscape
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« Reply #31 on: July 18, 2007, 07:19:32 PM »

We are having a bus get together, September 13-16. It is not an "Official" Rally, just a group of folk with their buses. It is listed in the Calendar /Upcoming events on this board, Texas Roundup 2007. You are most welcome to attend. All other events are posted there also. That would be a good way to see some buses and meet BUS NUTS.
Where in Texas are you from?

Happy Trails,

Paul

Dreamscape
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« Reply #32 on: July 19, 2007, 05:50:40 PM »

We are just north of Houston

Darlene
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Dreamscape
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« Reply #33 on: July 19, 2007, 06:00:37 PM »

Darlene, There are lots of pictures available on this board and other places on the net, just not the same as going to an event and seeing for yourselves. Good Luck with your search. Make a list of questions and post them, that is what this board is for. We will all do our best to help you in any way. Lots of very smart busnuts here, and we all have differant ways of doing things.

Happy Trails,

Paul
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« Reply #34 on: July 19, 2007, 06:11:19 PM »

Darlene, the September rally that Paul is talking about is just north of Dallas --- which in the end isn't that far from Houston.  One option you might want to think about is driving (or flying) up for the Saturday of the rally, where you'll get a chance to see several coaches - and a wide range (ours is a 1968).  There are plenty of hotels just south of the rally location, look for hotels on I-35 in Lewisville.  Since I live within 10 or so miles of the rally site, I can suggest hotels if you need.  If time is tight, it's about 30-40 minutes drive from either airport (Love Field - on Southwest; or DFW on American, Continental, or Huh)

Whether driving up, or even doing a Southwest 1-day round trip, it'd be a cheap education.

Arthur
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Arthur Gaudet    Carrollton (Dallas area) Texas 
1968 PD-4107

Working in the bus industry provides us a great opportunity - to be of service to others
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