Buses are so big in person! I am so very glad I'm not looking for a full sized bus because just this medium bus was so intimidating. Unfortunately I wasn't able to go inside it but from what I saw I am still pretty confident this will be a very nice amount of space for me.
There appeared to be very little rust. The rust I did spy was on part of the battery compartment that was not actually attached to the rest of the bus structure. I would like to get a closer peek at the floor from the inside, but I'm feeling positive about it being in decent shape.
The friend I brought along to check out the engine says things look fine. Not a professional opinion but a good start. No red flags. It was leaking transmission fluid, but that was expected.
A downside- there were three broken windows, two in the body of the bus and one on the door. Not the end of the world because I'd have to block out a few windows of the body for the bathroom any how and as for the door I would be fine with blocking out the bottom two windows for a bit more privacy anyhow. I'm hoping this could maybe be a point to drive the price down a bit as well.
The odd thing I should mention is that I did not meet with the owner, I've talked to him a bit on the phone and mostly over email. After looking the bus over I have told him I'd like to have the bus looked at professionally and to get an estimate for getting the transmission repaired and will work out to meet with him then. I'll also then be sure to give the inside of the bus a good look over. I also sent a few more questions off to the owner- What is the gas mileage? Is it currently registered as an RV or bus? When did the transmission problems begin, while you owned it or before?
Update! I got a response from the owner. The bus is already registered as an RV in the state of Arizona. Its past life in Arizona would probably explain the nice lack of rust. It gets 10-12 mpg. Ew, but looks pretty standard. The story with the transmission sounds like it was messed up while making the trek from Arazona to SF six months ago. Coming up a hill towards the end of the journey he didn't downshift appropriately.
It sounds like the owner has looked into what it would take to fix it and sounds pretty confident it would be in the $1,000-$1,500 range which does not sound too bad to me. Obviously I still want a professional opinion. This gets to the unfortunate part. The bus can not leave the storage unit where it is kept until it is sold- sounds like the current owner needs the bus money to pay off the storage bill. So, I've contacted a mobile mechanic that has experience with gas school buses and I've also contacted a mechanic shop only a few blocks away from the storage unit to see if they would come down.
We will see what happens!