Bus Options / Research

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Bus Options / Research

Postby Seager » Wed Aug 17, 2011 1:44 am

To recap, these are our options and needed research. If you can help please post findings / discussion here.

• Keep the existing bus
o Pros: Cheapest, easiest option. Runs on Veggie (sometimes), Already customized. Can carry people and bikes, most communal option.
o Cons: Non-standard, broken radiator, hard to keep running.
• Buy a new bus
o Pros: Might find a standardized, easy to maintain bus. Can customize from scratch. Can carry people and bikes, most communal option.
o Cons: Expensive. Might have to customize from scratch, including installing top rack. Need person-power to customize. Hundreds of volunteer hours needed. Financial support needed.
• Rent a U-Haul every year (or something similar)
o Pros: No maintenance issues, relatively easy
o Cons: Might destroy it. Can’t carry people. Issues with legal drivers. Hard to get people to and from start/end of RAGBRAI. Possibly more expensive option in the long run -$500/year or more.
• Cargo-van with trailers (similar to how WI did it for several years when IA had a small bus)
o Pros: Forces a large support crew due to the large # of vehicles (also a con). Buying a cargo-van might be cheaper than a buying a bus. Easy maintenance, possibly less gas. Vans can be people’s daily drivers.
o Cons: Less communal than being in one vehicle, no roof to sit on
• Share a bus with a tailgating group
o Pros: Bus is kept up for most of the year by other people, should be less expensive
o Cons: It’s not our bus or our paint job. May be customized for tailgating and not RAGBRAI (ie bike tracks, etc). Hard to manage. Not 100% reliable. Who pays for maintenance?

However, before we make that decision we need to do research. We need to know:

1) How much would it take to fix the old bus and make it standard?
2) What can we sell the old bus for?
a. As a whole?
b. Parted out (veggie system, etc)
3) How much are new (old) buses?
a. Is it cheaper to buy a less expensive non-customized bus or a more expensive customized bus that already has a top rack, etc?
4) How much are used cargo-vans?
5) How should we raise the money?

I like the idea of using kickstarter.com to raise the money.
--- Sir Seager Yapsalot, Esquire
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Re: Bus Options / Research

Postby Troy » Wed Aug 17, 2011 4:26 pm

As I have been researching. A running, stock school bus will be around 2,000. This may fluctuate as time goes on. But some of these buses that I have seen are ones that were used recently for school transit and are in good, running condition.
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Re: Bus Options / Research

Postby Seager » Wed Aug 17, 2011 7:01 pm

The old bus cost $4k. I'm thinking with the veggie we can get at least $3k out of it, which leaves us $1k left after buying a new bus to customize it. Maybe we can even get 4K out of it with the veggie.
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Re: Bus Options / Research

Postby Kendar » Thu Aug 18, 2011 9:07 pm

Britt emailed me about some research he's done regarding bus replacement, as well. See below.

Not sure who is taking responsibility for what but as I was watching Twister to see the hill we tried to conquer (and some successfully conquered), I did some searching for used buses in the midwest and found Midwest Transit (http://www.midwesttransit.com) had a few in Kankakee, IL (a little south of Chicago) for under $5,000. I know there's a lot to be sorted out with all of that but I can try to lend a hand in research since that's all I'm able to really commit at this point even though I hardly know what to look for. I'm not sure where our Indiana portion of the team is located but it mostly sounded like bus storage and work in Wisconsin so I didn't want to get too far away from there. Landed on a site with buses in the Seattle area too but didn't think you and Seager really wanted to drive a bus out here.


For the record: no, Seager and I don't especially want to drive a bus from here to Iowa.
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Re: Bus Options / Research

Postby Troy » Fri Aug 19, 2011 1:02 am

It seems like the hardest part of this will be selling the bus. Idk if we have hookups or anything, but idk where to start with this. Anyone?
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Re: Bus Options / Research

Postby Seager » Sun Aug 21, 2011 11:59 pm

I think for selling the bus we should look at the RAGBRAI forums (and for buying) and also veggie oil forums. Jackson might know a few.
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Re: Bus Options / Research

Postby Kendar » Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:53 pm

http://www.teamcrude.com/buspics.html

Looks like Team Crude is selling their bus. I'll email them to see if it's still available and how much they'd want for it.
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Re: Bus Options / Research

Postby Kendar » Tue Oct 04, 2011 10:40 pm

Team Crude got back to me pretty quickly. Here's what they had to say:
Kendra,

Yes the bus is still available but we ended up taking the deck off that bus
and putting it on our new one. However, should you want to build a deck
again we have some sheets of the honeycomb aluminum flooring (aerospace
material) that our deck is made of that we could sell you as well.

We're currently asking $2,000 and yes it does have a couple of things wrong
with it.

1. It uses a lot of oil. That's just the nature of these Chevy
heavy duty truck engines.
2. The engine was rebuilt in 2003 and has less than 20,000
miles on it since then with most of those obviously being highway miles.
3. The synchronizers in the transmission are pretty much gone.
It requires a delicate touch to shift without grinding.
4. It has 4 relatively new retreads in the back (less than
3,000 miles) and 2 new front tires (non re-tread) with about the same
mileage. In addition we have a spare tire that will fit anywhere and it is
also non re-tread. These tires and rims alone are worth over $1,000.
5. The driver's seat pictured on our website has been swapped
out for the seat that came with the new bus.
6. And also, since it is a 1984 model and old bus technology
the front end tends to wander when you're driving it.
7. One of the brake pistons had to be rebuilt in 2010 and all
the others were checked at that time. In addition the rotors and pads were
also checked and found to be in good condition with plenty of miles left.

Should you need more information or want to negotiate my phone number is
918-232-8155.

Thanks...Lee


Thoughts?

Edited to add: Team Crude is based in Oklahoma, but there may be a way see if someone from our team can meet it closer to home instead of driving all the way down there and back. Also, the listing has been up for many months, so it's probably not necessary to decide right away.
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Re: Bus Options / Research

Postby beej » Wed Oct 05, 2011 12:20 pm

I think we should shoot for a bus in better condition than the Team Crude bus. I think the way to move forward would be to:
First: determine the average cost of a bus in the condition we want.
Second: Put a call out to members to see how much we can get in team donations.

Then, if we have enough money committed thru member donations, we:

Third: Buy a bus!
Fourth: Scavenge anything we deem fit to scavange from the current bus. This could include the platform on top of the bus, the tires (they're expensive, and in pretty good condition), etc.
Fifth: sell the old bus, either whole to another party, or as scrap metal.

With regard to selling it as scrap, I kind of think that making a new platform for the new bus could cost as much as we would get for the old bus. Also, new tires are something like $500 each. It could be more cost effective to store these tires and use them when we need them (if they fit)
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Re: Bus Options / Research

Postby Kendar » Wed Oct 05, 2011 10:43 pm

beej wrote:I think we should shoot for a bus in better condition than the Team Crude bus. I think the way to move forward would be to:
First: determine the average cost of a bus in the condition we want.
Second: Put a call out to members to see how much we can get in team donations.

Then, if we have enough money committed thru member donations, we:

Third: Buy a bus!
Fourth: Scavenge anything we deem fit to scavange from the current bus. This could include the platform on top of the bus, the tires (they're expensive, and in pretty good condition), etc.
Fifth: sell the old bus, either whole to another party, or as scrap metal.

With regard to selling it as scrap, I kind of think that making a new platform for the new bus could cost as much as we would get for the old bus. Also, new tires are something like $500 each. It could be more cost effective to store these tires and use them when we need them (if they fit)


I was interested by the Crude bus because it's the only one I've found so far that--in the initial listing, at least--was already outfitted for transporting bikes, though apparently no more. A cursory craigslisting and googling shows that buses that would work start at around $2k and go up from there; most are in the $2.5k-5k range, with really nice ones being more than that. We would probably want at least $5k in our bus fund to purchase the vehicle and make the necessary and desired repairs and alterations to suit it to our purposes, as well as possibly allow a small cushion for emergencies.

Based on what I'm seeing in those other ads, our current bus could be listed for $2,000+, depending on just how "fixed" it is and how much stuff we'd need to scavenge from it. How's it doing these days, anyway? If it's running smoothly, keeping it an extra year or two while saving for something new might be a good idea.

I realize that RAGBRAI is ten months away and our collective zeal for the transportation project has waned. We don't even know if we want a new bus; one of the other options might be more practical. However, if we do decide to go with purchasing and renovating a new bus, that process needs to begin soon. I'd like to rekindle our group conversation from this summer so we can have a smooth week next RAGBRAI.
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