You can’t drive it! Its too large to tow with a car or truck! How do you get it home! These are the questions you ask after you purchase a used school bus in an online auction. The answers require a lot of phone calls and a lot of faith and patience. But surprisingly, not that much money.
Our problem was the bus was 350 miles away. Which is temptingly close and yet way too far away. We didn’t know if the bus could make the drive on its own. The last thing we wanted was to be stranded on the side of the road in central Florida with a dead bus.
The online auction site GovPlanet (where we bought the bus) will hook you up with a shipper after you win an auction. Basically GovPlanet sends the specifications of you vehicle (or whatever) to a shipping auction site. There you get bids from shippers to transport your vehicle. We got a total of 4 bids ranging from $780 to $2000. Naturally we went with the lowest bid.
When you hire a company to transport your bus you are really dealing with 3 to four people. There is the Transport broker, the truck driver and at least 2 people at the storage depot. This made coordinating things a bit tricky.
The video on the GovPlanet site shows the bus running, this is key to remember.
We finally got the broker, the truck driver and Larry (good old Larry) at the storage depot coordinated to have the bus picked up. That took about 12 days. The day of pickup came and went without a word. It turned out Larry could not meet the driver so his understudy was pressed into service.
It turns out the truck driver and Larry’s understudy could not get the bus running. Without it running it could not be loaded onto the flat bed trailer. They decided to give up and not call me, the transport broker, or Larry. The brain trust at work.
I was assured by Larry (good old Larry) that the bus did in fact run. He had started it for the GovPlanet people.
A second pickup date was coordinated between all the parties concerned. That day came and went. This time I got a call from the transport broker that Larry (good old Larry) didn’t make it into work that day. So, another pickup date was set.
Third time is a charm. Two weeks after the auction the bus was successfully loaded on the truck and was on it’s way home. This was a relief on many levels, mostly because I had pre-paid the transport in full weeks before. I must admit I was starting to think the bus didn’t actually exist and that this was all a cruel prank.
Transport is GO!
Much to my surprise and relief the transport with the bus on its back rolled down our street on January 28th, 2016. The truck driver was very helpful, but a bit lacking in knowledge of mechanics, which struck me as a bit odd.
It took two vehicles and 2 sets of jumper cables (and 1 hour of charging) to jump the bus into life. Lucky for us it was a cold and rainy night. It is always best to cable together 5 batteries while in the dark and in the rain.
If the bus would not start it was not coming off the trailer. I will admit that after 45 minutes I was not confident it was going to start. Then, she roared to life, it was glorious!
Getting it off the trailer without it bottoming out on the trailer was tricky. But the bus ran great and once we got it started it was maybe another 20 minutes and she was parked in the driveway safe and sound (or so we thought).
This is how the cost broke down:
Bus = $1555.20
That included tax, title, and fees.
Transport = $830
That included a $50 tip for the truck driver.