Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The [Great White Mobile] Office Saga: An idea, an auction, a leap of faith

Once upon a time we lived in Florida and it was good. In fact, the living in Florida still is good. But a few years ago we found a magic valley in the North, in a state called New York, a hidden place peopled by cool folk and planted with many crops and trees. We bought a house on a hill there and it was good to visit. Then we thought, wouldn't it be nice to live here most of the time?

But there are some things lacking in our house on the hill, and I'm not just talking about no fibre optic net connection. There is no office space for my office stuff. There is a single car garage that would make a nice office but that would take a fair amount of professional contract work to convert, work I might not be there to oversee. So I thought, what about those offices they have on construction sites? And that's how we got into this...The [Great White] Mobile Office

I found quite a few used construction offices for sale on eBay and it seems you can get a good deal IF you go get the thing. But it is very hard to tell from the listings if the thing is worth getting. Most have been used pretty heavily. The people selling them are generally just looking to get them hauled off the lot and so there's not much "staging" going on to make them look appealing.

During this searching I did come across a mobile office, a truck that the Navy had converted to conduct eye exams. And that got me thinking. With a mobile office I could set the thing up in Florida, then just drive it to New York. We have a big machine shop there, into which I could drive the office and park it out of the elements. Instant office!

Several of these mobile offices, each quite different, came and went on eBay, as in went for more than I was prepared to pay. I started to look at RV listings but there seems to be about a $5000 floor to the price of used RVs. Then along came a listing for a mobile classroom. As you can see, it is a lot like an RV, a motor home, a brick on wheels.

Driver side view This machine was originally purchased in 1987 by the school district of Dayton, Ohio, and fitted with desks, cupboards, movie screens, and a dividing door to make two rooms. However, the unit never did much mobile duty. Nine years later it was sold to the Urbana school district, near Columbus. They parked it and used it for teaching until last school year, when inspectors told them they had to get a permanent alternative.

The school district listed it for sale locally by sealed big. The listing suggested the unit would need to be towed awat. A local church put in a bid, wanting to get it for the two roof-mounted Coleman AC units (to add to the church tour bus). They won and when they went to collect it they found it still ran (after a jump start). They figured they could sell it on eBay and make enough to buy new AC units.

I decided to big up to $3600 on eBay (knowing that if the deal was an out-and-out fraud I was protected by eBay). Before bidding ended I was amazed to receive a message saying that this was in fact a scam and the unit had over 500,000 miles on it.

Odometer 1752

As you can see from the photo in the eBay listing, it only has 1752 miles. What you can't see is that the odometer actually says 001752, so the unit would have to have done 1,001,752 miles to get the same reading, if the odometer was accurate. It was built in 1987. You do the math.

Furthermore, the state of Ohio title showed 1736 miles in 1996 when the transfer to Urbana took place. Seemed reasonable to assume that the 1752 was accurate, along with the story that it had simply been parked for the last 11 years. I asked the seller about this "scam warning" and he seemed as surprised as me. I let my bid stand and was amazed to get it for around $3,400. And a bit scared. Would it run, as in "all the way to Florida?"

I then started to plan my trip to Ohio for the pick up.

1 comment:

  1. [...] I tried them out for the first time on Friday, to make the trip from Florida to Ohio to collect the Great White Office. I paid $90 including all fees, taxes, government surcharges, etc. That was at least $40 less than [...]

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