Author Topic: Trading a 2nd car for a bus to do a Conversion  (Read 3098 times)

nawhite

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Trading a 2nd car for a bus to do a Conversion
« on: October 10, 2014, 11:34:18 AM »
My wife and I have 2 cars but have been planning on selling one for about a year now. We only use the second one about 2x per month and could easily skip those trips through better planning. We are planning on selling a 2 door Honda Civic. KBB ~$3500, but comparables on craigslist are only going for about $2200 because everyone on the Front Range of Colorado thinks they need 4wd (subarus and jeeps go for 30% more than KBB value while fuel efficient 2wd cars go for 30% less than KBB)

We are also planning on eventually full timing in an RV for at least a year but we cant start that until my wife finishes grad school and we finish paying off our student loans (4-ish years away).

We found someone on Craigslist who is willing to trade a 1970 BlueBird short bus (full height and shape as a normal bus but only 6 or 7 rows of seats) with a rebuilt engine and partial RV conversion for a "daily driver." After talking to him, he's interested in the Civic.

To complete the RV conversion would take about $6k to make for a really nice setup (1k for water/gray water tanks, 1k for composting toilet, 2k for interior work, 2k for solar/electrical setup). I'd do most of the work myself and really enjoy doing projects like this.

I'm looking for advice on doing the trade and conversion or just selling the Civic and buying a decent RV later. To be perfectly honest, the bus is probably worth more as is than I could get for the civic so worst case, I do the trade then sell the bus next spring for about 4k (~$1500 profit). After I finished the conversion, it would probably be worth at least $10k so I'd still end up with the same amount of profit.

I'm leaning towards doing the trade because doing the work on this conversion would make me very aware of what I want in an RV setup for going full-time.

Thoughts? Things that would be red-flags? Advice on Bus Conversions?

whydavid

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Re: Trading a 2nd car for a bus to do a Conversion
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2014, 12:52:33 PM »
My only concern would be the rebuilt engine.  Was this a do-it-yourself job or was it done by a reputable shop?  Do you have the mechanical know-how to do the repairs yourself if that rebuild wasn't of the highest quality?

Note that I'm basing this only on personal (and friends) experiences with rebuilt engines.  Others with more mechanical leanings can probably give better advice as to what to look for and if this is really worth worrying about. 

DarinC

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Re: Trading a 2nd car for a bus to do a Conversion
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2014, 05:48:18 PM »
What David said. Rebuilt can mean a lot of things. Did they just re-ring it, or did they actually pull everything apart, machine to spec, put in new bearings/etc... and break-in correctly?

Forcus

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Re: Trading a 2nd car for a bus to do a Conversion
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2014, 07:46:48 PM »
A 1970 bus is probably going to be a small gas engine with a stick (and not the fun to drive stick.... heavy duty long throw all the way and maybe even non-synchronized), no overdrive, 2 speed rear, no A/C, and about 3-4 MPG (seriously). Maybe a bit more since it's a short bus but still low single digits. No fun in the mountains too. Older medium duty trucks / busses are driven one way, gas pedal to the floor. They are cheap, and essentially the construction is the same on the old ones as on new busses. If you are parked (camping, whatever)most of the time, it's probably not a big deal, but my decision would hinge on usage and then condition. Lots of driving, old bus, no good. Also the chassis matters on the old stuff. NAPA carries a lot of old truck stuff, but if you are stuck with an orphan chassis, parts can be hard to find (example, some of the chassis with the wide 5 lug setup can be hard to get brake parts for). Don't get me wrong, I love old stuff but for certain purposes.

This is not to say it's a horrible deal but 10 year old busses with ~100k miles are less than $5k. They have A/C, 300 HP diesels, and automatics (if that's your thing). Front engine, rear engine. Most are larger but I've seen smaller ones. Heck, this would be a viable option and cheap (local to me... not you unfortunately.. although a plane ticket from DEN to PIA or ORD is cheap and the drive back easy...):

http://peoria.craigslist.org/cto/4681632835.html

Over 10 MPG and as much room as you need, and a regular Ford dealer can work on it.

There are companies that specialize in used bus sales but naturally like a car dealer they are higher priced than typical CL.

Just some thoughts but I think a much newer bus might actually fit your needs a bit better.

Forcus

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Re: Trading a 2nd car for a bus to do a Conversion
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2014, 07:54:00 PM »
Few more examples:

http://chambana.craigslist.org/cto/4641521134.html (I like this but the non-turbo diesel will be a bit of a dog)
http://quadcities.craigslist.org/cto/4675391866.html (Might take a while to um.... clean the interior up.)
http://quadcities.craigslist.org/cto/4631576041.html
http://decatur.craigslist.org/cto/4690162738.html
http://chambana.craigslist.org/cto/4652705798.html

This was just a quick search in my area.

daschwa

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Re: Trading a 2nd car for a bus to do a Conversion
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2014, 10:00:59 PM »
A bird in hand?  You know what you have in that Civic.  Pretty it  up and advertise well, in my parts anything Honda is golden. 

The bus is an exercise in risk.  I would keep an eye on the the market for something you'd really want and get value there as opposed to a DYI exercise.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Trading a 2nd car for a bus to do a Conversion
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2014, 06:19:20 AM »
If you've got 4 years, based on the advice you've gotten here, I'd park the cash you get for the Civic and wait until you get a more workable bus, even if it's a project as well.