Read about the Great Fleets Across America
Subscribe

School Bus Fleet Magazine Forums
School Bus Fleet Magazine Forums
Home | Profile | Register | Active Topics | Members | Search | FAQ
 All Forums
 Professional Garage
 Enter Forum: Professional Garage
 Analyze my fleet? Or most reliable used bus?
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly
Author Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  

CharlieFoxtrot
New Member

9 Posts

Posted - 10/29/2013 :  6:57:45 PM  Show Profile  Visit CharlieFoxtrot's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I'm hoping to buy some new busses, but realistically, that's not likely to happen. So my next hope is to improve my fleet with some better used iron.

I am at a private boarding school (& summer sports camp) with no route service or home/pickup/dropoff. Busses serve as activity busses only. I need to have 5 busses to cover my busy times, but most days only use 2. I might make 2-5 runs per day, between 3 and 20 miles round trip. Weekends might include 2-3 100-mile round trips as well.

I am presently spending about $850/mo per bus on repairs & maintenance. It's all going to air conditioning, lights, charging, tires, rain leaks. I don't have any major mechanical issues.

My current fleet is:
#144 1993 Amtran Genesis FE, DT466E, 240K mi, 13K mi/yr, cost $0.58/mi in 18 months
#16 2001 Bluebird/Freightliner, Cat, 133K mi, 10K/yr, $1.42/mi in 18 mo
#15 1996 Thomas/IH, DT444E, 232K, 10K/yr, $0.65/mi in 18 mo
#13 1996 Thomas/IH, DT444E, 218K, 6K/yr, $0.91/mi in 18 mo
#9 1995 Bluebird/IH, DT444E, 241K, 8K/yr, $0.91/mi in 18 mo

Obviously my newest, lowest mile bus is my biggest POS, and my oldest is the best. But I only have this small sample of busses to analyze.

edit: 144 and 15 have an unfair advantage in these cost numbers. Their drive tires are good used tires from my other busses and their steer tires are new. The other busses all have 6 new tires in the last year.

On one hand, I'd like to get the newest busses I can, but the newer they get, the more potentially expensive-to-repair equipment they have. Then I think maybe I can find some really well-maintained 2000-2003s that are still simple. And then I look at what #16 costs me. Then I think maybe I should replace #16 with another 1993 Amtran. Then I hide under my desk and suck my thumb until I feel better.

What do you think of my repair costs? Are they really that bad? Of course the bigwigs will want to do the cheapest possible thing. Am I better off replacing just 16 and keeping the rest?

I don't have a budget for this. First I have to decide what's the smart thing to do (balancing purchase price and projected repair cost). Then I have to ask for the money and see what happens.

So what do you think is the smart thing to do? What age? What body? What chassis? What engine?

Conventional, FE, RE? Each has pros and cons and I could probably go with any, though the maneuverability of a FE is handy.

I'm in FL, so I must have air conditioning. Lots of it! I would like really big busses. I have to turn kids away from some trips because I don't have enough seats. Around 84-passenger rated would be good (realistically I fit 2 kids per seat).

I know this is an insanely broad question, but it's the one I'm stuck with. Any help would be appreciated.

thanks
kevin

Edited by - CharlieFoxtrot on 10/29/2013 7:47:40 PM

bwest
Administrator

United States
2295 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2013 :  05:51:47 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'll respond to your question from my experience with a small fleet. Just a couple of years ago I would have told you to go with a '99 through 2003 Chevy chassis, Blue Bird Body, & Cat engine with Allison trans. But in the last two years I have had two of the 3126 cats break rings and need to be gone through at 145k miles (both buses were within 1k of the 145k mark when they let loose). That being said though I have less overall trouble with these units than I do any of the newer buses (except the propane unit). They will just keep going when the new ICs with the DT engines have to come in because some light is on. I have one Cat unit with 235k on it and it's doing fine and another with 175k so hopefully I'm done with the broken ring thing. All that being said, if you are wanting to go with a low initial cost unit with a pretty decent track record I would go with the Chevy/ BB/ Cat/ Allison combination. If you have some money to spend for initial purchase & want low cost of ownership I would recommend trying to find a used propane unit. I know the used market is probably slim right now but it won't be long until there are some out there. Just my two cents

Bryan
Go to Top of Page

Fastback
Top Member

971 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2013 :  07:28:24 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Here is a short list of what I would avoid if I was shopping for used buses for my small fleet;
hydraulic brakes
VT 365 engines
Cat engines
2007 emission Cat, Mercedes or MaxxForce DT engines
2010 emission MaxxForce 7 engines
Early Thomas C2s with bonded in stop, tail, turn lights

Why yes, the ORIGinal CHARGER is a Fastback
Go to Top of Page

black
Active Member

USA
30 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2013 :  07:41:27 AM  Show Profile  Visit black's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Fastback is dead on in my opinion. If it is a new emissions 2008 or newer Cummins is the only one to get it right.
Go to Top of Page

CharlieFoxtrot
New Member

9 Posts

Posted - 10/31/2013 :  11:52:12 AM  Show Profile  Visit CharlieFoxtrot's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Fastback & black - Wow, that's a lot simpler than I thought! I'm definitely a Cummins guy, so that makes me happy.

Bryan - that's an interesting idea, but I don't have the infrastructure to fuel busses on campus at all, let alone a propane rig.
Go to Top of Page

CharlieFoxtrot
New Member

9 Posts

Posted - 11/03/2013 :  7:32:15 PM  Show Profile  Visit CharlieFoxtrot's Homepage  Reply with Quote
So my other question is, how far out of line are my repair costs? I'm spending between $0.58 per mile and $1.42 per mile.
Go to Top of Page

bwest
Administrator

United States
2295 Posts

Posted - 11/04/2013 :  09:03:58 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I don't keep that close of records but even the 58 cents a mile just for repairs sounds pretty high. That would be over $4,600 between when I change my oil. At 1.42 that same mileage is over 11 grand! I guess if you're including tires that would drive the cost up quite a bit. Still though, that seems up there. Just my two cents.

Bryan
Go to Top of Page

dsalinas1939
Senior Member

188 Posts

Posted - 11/05/2013 :  07:23:34 AM  Show Profile  Visit dsalinas1939's Homepage  Reply with Quote
i purchased three used vt 365 last year and they have been killing me ever since had to but motor in one with only 75000 on it roller broke off the lifter and whipped cam out the other has 90000 and have to replace injecters the third has about 80000 and it runs terrible havent had a chance to check it out so i would definitly stay away from the vt 365
Go to Top of Page

CharlieFoxtrot
New Member

9 Posts

Posted - 11/16/2013 :  12:08:14 PM  Show Profile  Visit CharlieFoxtrot's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Bryan -- For me, it works out to $12,500 per bus in the last year and a half, averaging 14,500 miles each in that time.
Go to Top of Page

CharlieFoxtrot
New Member

9 Posts

Posted - 11/16/2013 :  5:00:14 PM  Show Profile  Visit CharlieFoxtrot's Homepage  Reply with Quote
FYI, my service and repair work is done by an extremely capable and HONEST independent shop @ $89.50/hr. Tires come from a large independent commercial dealer with very good Firestone pricing. I have enough past mechanical experience that a dishonest/incompetent shop would get caught and eliminated quickly. I can do little things when I have time, but I don't have time and I don't have a shop.

DSalinas-- Thankfully I didn't inherit any 365s and I am totally avoiding any sort of IH or Ford V8 Diesels for sure.

Go to Top of Page
  Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly
Jump To:
 


School Bus Fleet Magazine Forums © 2013 School Bus Fleet Magazine Go To Top Of Page
This page was generated in 0.23 seconds. Snitz Forums 2000