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schoonmakerjon

Evaluating Prevost purchase

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I've been evaluating purchasing a 16-20year Prevost motorhome.   Given appropriately documented maintenance records, these units appear to be a reasonable purchase, i.e. ~200K miles w/85%-90% price depreciation.   Also, I've spoken to a few folks providing entertainer coaches to the music industry, and have some understanding of these units, configuration, usage levels (500K-1m miles) and cost.   Since I need 3-bunks and space for 2 large dogs, my configuration needs look more like a Prevost Entertainer coach than a motorhome.   However, for a similar cost, the motorhome will have 50%-80% lower mileage/easier usage.

So I'm considering purchasing this RV/coach as a motorhome and than reconfiguring some of the galley and bath/shower areas into 3-bunks, dog crate area, etc.   My reconfiguration spend target is ~$15K-$20K.   Does this appear to be a reasonable approach to interested members reading this post?

If so, what ideas, problems, recommendations do you all have for an effective result?    Thank you for your help.

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schoonmakerjon.  Welcome to the Forum!

Are you looking to get a 40 foot or 45 foot?  No slide out or up to 2?  Remodeling a Prevost is not an easy task, so it will cost more than a "cookie cutter" coach like mine.  I would recommend you to call Marathon, Liberty, Featherlight, etc and ask them!  Lot's of electronics, plumbing, etc that we don't have.  Care & feeding of a Prevost is not cheap!

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How much of the work can you do yourself? If you can do most, that is reasonable expectations, if you must depend on others for more than 50%, your figure is about 50% low. Another consideration for this type coach, how tall are you? Over 6' look for a raised roof, if under, stay away from the raised roof, the added height cost pretty close to 1 MPG.  I did my complete conversion for $25,000.00 on the MCI 41.5' stripped bus. I of course did all the work myself. Best engine to look for is a C60 Detroit, parts are readily available and almost any truck shop will work on it. Not knocking Cat or Cummings, but the Detroit is easier to find a mechanic for a bus, at a more reasonable price. Oh yes almost forgot, we have four Yorkies that go everywhere we go, I built two kennels, one for each side of the couch, in the parlor,  made sure that heat and AC vents were placed so that they stay comfortable, the kennels look like lamp or knick knack stands.

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10 hours ago, schoonmakerjon said:

I've been evaluating purchasing a 16-20year Prevost motorhome.   Given appropriately documented maintenance records, these units appear to be a reasonable purchase, i.e. ~200K miles w/85%-90% price depreciation.   Also, I've spoken to a few folks providing entertainer coaches to the music industry, and have some understanding of these units, configuration, usage levels (500K-1m miles) and cost.   Since I need 3-bunks and space for 2 large dogs, my configuration needs look more like a Prevost Entertainer coach than a motorhome.   However, for a similar cost, the motorhome will have 50%-80% lower mileage/easier usage.

So I'm considering purchasing this RV/coach as a motorhome and than reconfiguring some of the galley and bath/shower areas into 3-bunks, dog crate area, etc.   My reconfiguration spend target is ~$15K-$20K.   Does this appear to be a reasonable approach to interested members reading this post?

If so, what ideas, problems, recommendations do you all have for an effective result?    Thank you for your help.

Welcome to the forum. I would talk to someone who can give you better answers as to cost. I would talk to Texas Custom Coach and get a better idea of cost. http://texascustomcoach.com/

Carl probably has the boses home number.:P

Bill

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Prevost conversions are nice rigs, for certain. Bus conversions, in general, provide many things that are not generally available in typical motor homes including ride, handling, and safety on the road.

Be aware that even though you're looking at vehicles with a sales prices reflecting depreciation from the original sales price, you're still going to have much higher service and repair bills than a typical motor home. Not sure from your posts if you have previous experience with bus conversions or not, but this is one of the things that tends to surprise new owners. Doing lots of the work yourself can help you save quite a bit, but then you'll need to get a model old enough so that it doesn't come filled with computers which require proprietary software.

This forum will be lots of help getting things on the house side in order. There is also a Prevost community online where Prevost owners share information specific to the Prevost, and there are a few good bus conversion sites which are very helpful with the bus chassis information. As a bus conversion owner I participate in the bus conversion sites along with FMCA to get information from both sides.

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I have a good friend that has worked on Prevost and MCI buses as well as his primary job"Keeping School Buses" ready to safely go.

RE:. High end coaches. He was more impressed by the MCI units. Workmanship and durability.

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13 hours ago, obedb said:

I have a good friend that has worked on Prevost and MCI buses as well as his primary job"Keeping School Buses" ready to safely go.

RE:. High end coaches. He was more impressed by the MCI units. Workmanship and durability.

I went with MCI also for that reason, the year model of mine, 1988, Greyhound actually owned MCI, as well as several other years. These particular years longevity and safety were primary concerns. Since the Greyhound selloff of MCI, the manufacturer has retained very high standards. When I need parts, I call MCI and usually have replacement parts within 24 hours, on a 31 year old coach!

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Hello FMCA responders to this post,

My apologies for my tardy reply/update, a busy fall.   First,, I appreciate everyone insights here, all very helpful.   Many thanks to everyone.    I particularly interested in these MCI comments/insights, as I live fairly close to PeterPan Bus HQ, and this larger reg'l carrier runs MCI buses exclusively.   So there is a wealth of expertise in this area to support/maintain a MCI RV/entertainer.    Additionally, I've completed most hurdles for this purchase and am now assessing 3 ~20yr old MCI entertainer/RV units.   We will see how this goes.   Thank you all again.

   --- Jon

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I think all of us, wish you good luck on your endeavor!  Have a nice Veterans day...Ck the date & condition of tires/batteries.  Try for low mileage, you don't want to re-build engine or transmission after 50,000 miles.

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You mention 15-20 yrs old. Keep in mind all the electronics and video components are now obsolete if they are OEM installations. I speak from personal experience.

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Bus conversions make wonderful motor homes, but they are really unlike most other commercial motor homes out there. True, house systems will be built with components and appliances common to all motor homes, but the mechanical systems of the vehicle itself are going to be quite different. They were built to go millions of miles carrying passengers, which is why we chose a bus conversion over a traditional motor home. We wanted the road worthiness that comes with a bus chassis, but of course that brings with it a whole new world of things that a traditional motor home doesn't.

There a few really active bus conversion forums out there with a wealth of technical information and experience maintaining a bus. You can also find information on Facebook, but the really good stuff is on the main three forums which are filled with owners of bus conversions, both vintage and newer. It would probably be a good idea to get on one of these to learn the specifics of what you need to look at when evaluating a bus conversion for purchase. Bus Conversion Magazine, Bus Nut Online, Bus Grease Monkey. There are some great threads which talk specifically about evaluating a used bus conversion, and while many are about older more vintage models, the basics of the lists would apply to a newer one as well.

18 hours ago, manholt said:

I think all of us, wish you good luck on your endeavor!  Have a nice Veterans day...Ck the date & condition of tires/batteries.  Try for low mileage, you don't want to re-build engine or transmission after 50,000 miles.

You've got to look much deeper than just the miles on the odometer. There are some high-mileage coach in great condition, and there are some low mileage coaches I'd run away from rather than consider buying. This is where having someone with you that is experienced in bus conversions when you evaluate will be really important, or be able to get it to a shop that does bus maintenance for them to do a thorough pre-purchase inspection.

To me, the number of miles on the vehicle isn't as important as how the vehicle was driven and cared for during that time. Mileage is one of those things that can go either way. Too many miles, especially if the appropriate ongoing maintenance hasn't been done, means that you'll be in for some repairs and have a bunch of deferred maintenance to catch up on. Some bus conversions are done on retired passenger vehicles, and they will have gone many miles before being retired. The condition at that point will depend largely on how well the company maintained the vehicle and whether they were southern or northern buses. It's not uncommon for charter companies to stop doing routine maintenance on buses they know they are going to sell off. Buses running in the snow belt states will deteriorate quickly due to the constant exposure to salt, so use caution if you're looking at a conversion that was a bus in the north.

Too few miles can also be a problem. These vehicles were built to be driven, not parked. We bought our coach with about 41,000 original miles, which created its own problems. Our coach led a very pampered life, but the extreme low mileage meant that it wasn't driven often enough to keep all the mechanical systems in good shape. We've spent a considerable amount of money replacing seals that have dried out, and we've had our fair share of maintenance/repairs necessary not from miles driven but just age. It's possible to find some bus conversions like ours which were done on new shells and which have low miles on them, but which were owned by people that either had no clue how to care for them or that just didn't care. So, you have to do a full inspection regardless of the miles.

10 hours ago, RayIN said:

You mention 15-20 yrs old. Keep in mind all the electronics and video components are now obsolete if they are OEM installations. I speak from personal experience.

Yeah - if the conversion is 15-20 years old expect some of the house components to need updating or replacing. In the grand scheme of things, it's a small thing though. If you find a conversion you like and that meats your needs, nearly everything can be easily upgraded to modern equipment. Depending on how the conversion was done, it could be quite easy to. Many conversions provide great access to the various systems and have wiring chases which are accessible. Some were built without a thought regarding future maintenance or upgrades. Look carefully at how things are put together so you can determine if you will be able to access things you need.

Chassis electronics are much more difficult to upgrade though, so it would be important to confirm that the engine & transmission are still supported. Some newer systems also use proprietary computer systems and make doing the work yourself difficult. I'd assume that anything within the last 30 years is still supported, since many charter companies are still running coaches that old in commercial service. But it would be wise to confirm this with a shop that works on buses so you don't get stuck with an odd duck or an orphaned computer system in your drive train.

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All,  again my thanks for everyone's comments and insights.   Very helpful.   I've done my initial bus/coach inspection, a 1999-2000 MCI, converted to an entertainer/star coach just after delivery.   This coach has ~400K miles, and I've all 20yrs maintenance history and have inspected the bus w/the current, and only owner.   The owner included the mechanic having done all the maintenance and record keeping.   The owner, mechanic and I spent ~1hr together going through the engine, transmission and ECAS maintenance activities.   The owner and I spent ~another 3 hours covering the interior, usage profile, other questions, etc.

This unit appears to be a possible purchase and meets our needs.   Unfortunately, PeterPan Bus, has been unable to deliver on the prior commitments.   This bus/coach has a Detroit Diesel S60 engine and Allison B500 transmission, and again I've access to all the maint. and fluid analysis records.   All valuable.    I'm now looking for a service organization and storage facility in the CT I91 corridor.   I'll be reviewing/interviewing a few after the new year.   also, I've come across Nat'l Indoor RV storage, and their facility is in the Atlanta area.   The current owner would prefer is store this coach indoors w/30-50amp continuous power.   Most of this is to support 10+yr electronics, that I've no value for, and to eliminate the winterization process time/expense.    

I'm interested in anyone's insights into the storage issues, indoor/outdoor, and service organizations.     thank you and a happy new year to all.

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A few thoughts.  Why would you care, what the current owner want's?  If your happy with it, why didn't you buy it?  By the time you get your storage ducks in a row, he might sell it to another party!  MCI's are quite happy to be outside on Elect...even in snow!  

Happy New Year!

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Hi, good afternoon and happy new year to you, also.   My concern w/maintaining the current owner relationship is access to knowledge/expertise and the prior mechanic.   All helpful with a big, somewhat complicated coach and a new owner.   So I see some value here.   And I appreciate the pointer about outside storage, and concur, that after 20years, and 400K miles there is no real reason to keep this coach in indoor storage.   I've found very limited availability of outside electrical facilities and have been pointed toward solar units to meet the need.   Also, with the coach outside, the generator can be run on any required frequency to charge the batteries, etc., as another option.    thank you.

PS:  I appreciate the pointer about traveling with dogs.   Ours are 2 german short hair pointers, fairly large.   I'll remake one of the bunk areas for the crates, as we only need 3 bunks.

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Our bus has been winterized, just like any motor home would be. It spends the entire winter here in Wisconsin parked out behind the barn, snow covering the roof for much of the winter.

I keep the bus plugged in, but that's only because I'm too lazy to bring all the batteries inside. If I did that, there is absolutely nothing on the bus that needs any attention, other than checking for mice and things once in a while.

The only thing that you want to be certain of before parking a 20-year-old bus outside is that it does not have any leaks. Common leak points are around any roof openings and the windows.

If you want to explore maintenance options beyond what the current owner uses, see if there is an MCI facility near you. Or, call a local charter company and see what facility they use. I take our bus to a shop in town that has contracts for a couple of smaller charter outfits, and they never hesitate to work on my 45-year-old bus.

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23 minutes ago, richard5933 said:

I take our bus to a shop in town that has contracts for a couple of smaller charter outfits, and they never hesitate to work on my 45-year-old bus.

I bet they don't, yours is so much easier to work on they probably welcome it with open arms.

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38 minutes ago, richard5933 said:

Our bus has been winterized, just like any motor home would be. It spends the entire winter here in Wisconsin parked out behind the barn, snow covering the roof for much of the winter.

I keep the bus plugged in, but that's only because I'm too lazy to bring all the batteries inside. If I did that, there is absolutely nothing on the bus that needs any attention, other than checking for mice and things once in a while.

The only thing that you want to be certain of before parking a 20-year-old bus outside is that it does not have any leaks. Common leak points are around any roof openings and the windows.

If you want to explore maintenance options beyond what the current owner uses, see if there is an MCI facility near you. Or, call a local charter company and see what facility they use. I take our bus to a shop in town that has contracts for a couple of smaller charter outfits, and they never hesitate to work on my 45-year-old bus.

Again, very helpful information, and generally fits with some of my current activities to resolve maintenance and storage needs.   I've used MCI's roadside assistance service to identify local service organizations, and then gotten their recommendations for storage nearby.    Thank you.

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3 hours ago, schoonmakerjon said:

 also, I've come across Nat'l Indoor RV storage, and their facility is in the Atlanta area. 

To meet your criteria I would go there. They will take good  care of your coach. You can also get it cleaned inside and out plus maintenance and they do upgrades.

Bill

 

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Hi.   Too far, as in a plane ride.   I expect if I really want indoor storage, I can find it closer to my Western Mass residence.   Again, I'm not convinced about the indoor storage need.   I've seen a few posts that identify reasonable approaches to outdoor storage.   And I'll only be storing the coach Jan-Mar+ for 3+years, then I expect we will be traveling during these harsh winter months.   

Adding solar panels, permanent or portable, seems like a reasonable solution for getting power to the chassis and house batteries during storage.   So I'll investigate this possibility.   Thank you.

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2 hours ago, jleamont said:

I bet they don't, yours is so much easier to work on they probably welcome it with open arms.

They also work on many MCI and Prevost buses, as well as a good number of motor homes. The only thing they won't do is factory warranty work, from what I understand. It does take a bit of sleuthing at first, but there are usually at least a couple of shops in any major city that will work on a bus.

 

18 minutes ago, schoonmakerjon said:

...Adding solar panels, permanent or portable, seems like a reasonable solution for getting power to the chassis and house batteries during storage.   So I'll investigate this possibility.   Thank you.

Just be sure to keep the snow off the solar panels. Sitting flat on a roof of a coach they won't shed the snow like they would on the roof of a house.

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