Old School Buses

If you were hanging around this site back in 2013 you’ll remember my trip to Dobbins Auto Parts when a massive auction was held to clear out the 60 acre property. Every form of vehicle could be found on the property. There were Walter Snow Fighters, classic cars, buses, trucks, heavy equipment and more. I spent the better portion of a day wandering through the property becoming more amazed with every hill I crested. There was simply too much to see and from what I learned after the fact, too much to auction off. Mr. Dobbins was heavily involved in the sale that day often refusing to sell items after the auction hammer fell or removing lots shortly before they were to be bid upon. When the sun set hundreds of items remained unsold with uncertain futures. And then there was the debacle involving a large collection of military jeeps which proved to generate much attention among collectors as well as military authorities from nearby Fort Drum. Apparently the jeeps were to have be destroyed years ago. Oops. Despite this looming legal snafu and repeated warnings that the vehicles could NEVER, EVER, be registered for road use plenty of people still dropped tens of thousand of dollars per unit. Whatever became of the jeeps and their potential owners remains unknown at this time.

But I digress. After that sale many items remained on the property. For years there were rumors of everything being junked or some form of clean up operation taking place. A few vehicles were saved including a QCUS Walter. This past weekend the final auction was held and everything that was left behind went up for sale. Believe me, compared to what could be found in the weeds just three years ago the property on Sunday looked like a pristine national park.

With so much being sold, stolen or scrapped I was able to focus on some of the items I skipped over during my last visit. The buses! Certainly there were more many more back in the spring of 2013. Gone were the Oneida bodied buses and so many other unique nameplates but many classics could still be found.

Namely, this 1958 International R-185 with Carpenter body. I did see this truck the last time I was at Dobbins but it was thoroughly buried in the weeds with birch trees growing all around it. In time for the auction someone pulled it from its resting spot breaking the tie rods in the process but also providing an unobstructed view.

International R-185 school bus

This bus was one of the most intact models from what I would consider the classic era of buses at Dobbins. The front sheetmetal was remarkably intact and aside from the busted out windshield this bus probably doesn’t look much different from the day it was hauled into the yard.

Carpenter Bus Body

Now filled with corrugated sheet metal this tin can once hauled a family across the country. I could barely make out the last name painted on the side but could see the names of Ma and Pa along with their kids. Travel stickers on the bus doors indicated stops made with a variety of locations from across the country. This R-185 was gas powered with a five speed gearbox. Oh the stories this bus could tell.

Of course, there were many other buses to be found with more than enough S-Series Internationals with BlueBird bodies to go around. There were a few interesting rigs left including what appeared to be two V series Internationals with unknown bodies.

The living color video.

In the next day or so we’ll take a look a few new items not seen the last time as well as touch base with that old DC75-T wrecker. Prepare yourself now. The past three years have not been kind.

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One Response to Old School Buses

  1. Joe says:

    Thanks for posting these Eric. As you know, I have always been a vintage school bus fan and always felt they are too often overlooked by truck fans. They offer some interesting sheet metal designs and certainly the conventional models shared their looks with the truck lines. Finding old ones like this relatively intact is almost unheard of today. Too bad we couldn’t determine the school district this one originated at.

    In your picture #9 above the third bus from the left (in the center) is an old Superior bodied Loadstar. These were all over Central NY back in the 1960’s and early ’70’s. Seemed like all the districts had them- West Genesee, Fayetteville-Manilus, etc. Skaneateles had them with the old Black Diamond six in them. In the mid-’70’s it seemed everyone was switching over to the fiberglass tilt hood Loadstar.

    Were there any rear engine Superior or Carpenter buses around? Those were always my favorite.

    By the way, International model nomenclature always designated a school bus chassis with a “3” as the final digit; 1603, 1803, or in the case of that R-model “R-1853”.

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