And so it begins! I am writing this retrospectively, as the build journey completely took over my life for six months. To anyone interested in starting the skoolie journey, the GovDeals auction was a really great experience for us. We found our bus, paid a really great price, and lucked out with no headaches.
We began searching for our bus four months prior to finding her, beginning around December 2020. I had a spreadsheet of bus sellers, auction sites, and Craigslist.org pages that I would check every day. I had a pretty good idea of what we were after – Dog nose, diesel engine, seven to nine windows, always chasing the legendary DT466.
One night I found an auction with seven buses – all 1995 International 3800, with the DT466 engine, located only five hours away in Fontana, CA. Not thinking much of it, I put down a $500 minimum bid, closed the tab, and turned to my wife, “I just bid on a bus.” And the rest is history.
The action closed about one week after placing the initial bid. My wife and I sat nervously by the computer as the bidding wars began. We saw bus after bus go to other users, but we had our eyes on one or two with the “sweet spot” in miles.
We managed to walk away with a beautiful 1995 International / Bluebird 3800, DT466 engine and Allison 3060MD Transmission – truly a win!
I will get into the in’s and out’s of purchasing a bus from auction, sight-unseen in a later post – but so far the experience has been extremely positive for us. The bus ran great, right out of the gate and all the way home to Las Vegas – she is slow, but strong and steady.
ready to buy a bus?
If you’re looking for a school bus to start conversion, here are some of the sources we used to find ours:
Skoolie.net Non-Affiliated Classifieds – The Skoolie.net crew has been THE #1 resource for all things skoolie build, for me. It is not for everyone, but for me I would not have been able to do this without the generous folk at Skoolie.net. The countless hours the members spent helping me, and everyone else, discover their dreams is a true testament to the power of the internet, and the good nature of us travelers.
GovDeals Auctions – Check your local and surrounding areas. Think about how far is reasonable for you to travel for a used bus. GovDeals can offer great pricing on buses, but be aware you are often purchasing a bus that has not been inspected by a mechanic, and you will be purchasing as-is, sight-unseen (except for pictures).
Facebook Marketplace – I’m not a big advocate for Facebook, but their marketplaces and Skoolie communities do have some good resources, and can be a great place to find your bus. Generally, we found buses listed here to be too expensive, too far away, or too pre-converted for us. There are several marketplaces on Facebook, so search around if you’re a Facebook user and bookmark the listings that seem most active.
Craigslist.org – very unlikely, but always keep an eye on your local and surrounding Craigslist.org.org ads. Who knows, you just might get lucky!