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Old 08-08-2019, 10:42 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 345
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American
Engine: 8.3 Cummins ISC
Rated Cap: 75
Cool Wisconsin 2001 Bluebird All American RE

I've been a member on this site for a few years now and have spent a lot of time following all the great builds on here. I also drive school buses for a job (mostly school sports trips and charters as I have a different job during the weekdays).

The used bus market in the Midwest is pretty depressing. Lots of rusty low-spec junk. People asking $8K for low headroom buses with Cat motors and hydraulic brakes I've spent the last 2-3 years watching the auction sites but the timing was never right.

I finally found THE bus. 2001 Bluebird All American RE activity bus with the 8.3 Cummins/MD3060 drivetrain. Has factory AC, full basement understorage and high roof. It was in Wyoming for the first 11 years of its life, then Rocky Mountain Bus Sales sold it in 2012 to a non profit nature center in Pueblo Colorado. I actually ended up finding this bus on FB marketplace.

I flew from Milwaukee to Denver and then took a greyhound down to Pueblo to check it out. According to the caretaker it mostly sat the last few years but they did do some maintanance including new starter. The rear cap had some damage, very similiar to PNWsteve's bus.



She did great on the journey back to Wisconsin. The power steering pump whines a bit and I drove most of the way with the transmission retarder on but otherwise the 1000 mile journey went great. It does not have the 6th gear unlocked but she can easily do 75 mph. This bus completely and utterly blows the doors off the newer Bluebirds I drive at work with the Cummins 6.7/Allison 2000 powertrain.


The required seats out photo will be coming soon!
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Old 08-09-2019, 03:04 AM   #2
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Join Date: May 2019
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Awesome bus!
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Old 08-09-2019, 09:35 AM   #3
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We have twins

Congratulations on the find.!
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Old 08-09-2019, 10:31 AM   #4
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One of the tough questions will be whether to keep the factory AC...it's currently not working. The controls by the drivers area light up but none of the fans turn on. It may be low on R134a or the compressors are locked up (there's 2 of them running off the engine).



It's also ducted into the luggage racks so if it was re purposed on my build the ducting would have to be redesigned.



For now I will be evacuating the lines so I can unhook the 2 evaporators inside the bus and remove the luggage racks.
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Old 08-12-2019, 05:23 PM   #5
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Update, seats are out. LOTS of old garbage including some really nasty fossilized orange peels, bandaids, etc.



The $15 harbor freight 4 1/2 inch cutoff wheel did a great job, I only went through two cutoff wheels. Estimated time was 2 hours by myself.




I have a 3500w inverter generator from HF that works great for power tools. Makes it so I don't have to move the bus by the house when I want to do stuff like seat removal. Hopefully it runs the air compressor OK when the time comes to use air tools.





I estimate there's a good 300-400 pounds of scrap right here. I may try to reuse the seat frames for stuff like the roof deck and the RV entrance door. Cushions don't seem like they're useful for anything though.



Next up on the list is getting the luggage racks down from the ceiling. For now I won't disconnect the AC lines but I will have to figure out how to get them down without breaking anything
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Old 08-12-2019, 08:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WIbluebird View Post
I've been a member on this site for a few years now and have spent a lot of time following all the great builds on here.....

I've spent the last 2-3 years watching the auction sites....

I finally found THE bus. 2001 Bluebird All American RE activity bus with the 8.3 Cummins/MD3060 drivetrain. Has factory AC, full basement understorage and high roof.
Sounds like you put a lot of time and effort into your research, and it paid off. I wish more new buyers would use that approach.

Congrats! Glad the trip home was without incident.
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:09 AM   #7
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Sounds like you put a lot of time and effort into your research, and it paid off. I wish more new buyers would use that approach.

Congrats! Glad the trip home was without incident.

I actually ended up finding this bus on Facebook Marketplace. Got a good deal at $4K, even with the rear cap damage and the banged up luggage bay doors.



It was likely only good as a skoolie anyway since the rear cap damage was considered "structural" and probably wouldn't have passed state inspection.
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Old 08-19-2019, 09:36 PM   #8
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Got all the decals and the front school bus sticker off the bus today. Seems like some of it was attached with witchcraft.



The luggage racks have tons of good 12v switches and wiring that can be re used in the final build. Removing the AC evaporators is going to be a paint though as they're built into the luggage racks. I did get the bus in to a shop today to have the refrigerant removed and they charged me $95



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Old 08-20-2019, 03:28 AM   #9
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Location: Eustis FLORIDA
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Sweet bus! Is that a spoiler?
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Old 08-20-2019, 08:52 AM   #10
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Yes but sadly somebody backed into a building with it so its trashed pretty badly. I have a welder buddy that may be able to get it back into shape though.



You can see it in this pic.



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Old 08-20-2019, 09:05 AM   #11
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I've got similar damage on my front cap!

IDK what I'm gonna do about it yet.
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Old 08-22-2019, 08:03 PM   #12
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Got some work done today...procrastinated on removing the 2nd interior AC evaporator. Couldn't get one of the AC hoses loose without damaging the brass fitting so I ended up snipping one of the hoses.



Also several of the wires going in to the evaporator were still hot! I traced the wiring into the fuse box in the engine bay but NONE of them were labeled for the AC system



At this point I'm making such a mess of the AC removal that I'm at the point where it's even worth putting back together after the build is complete...I could not get it to work at all prior to removal, tech said there was plenty of r134A in the system so it is probably a wiring or compressor problem.



I found that my 3500W predator generator fits perfectly in the storage bays. Will have to rig up ventilation and fans in the spot where it ends up staying as I'd like to be able to run the genny while on the road.





Today was mostly stuff like removing the exterior reflective strips (about 90% gone now!) The heat gun from Harbor Freight makes quick work when it comes to removal.



I took off the last ceiling panel in the back as well as the back bulkhead cover to see what the cap damage looks like from the inside. No obvious puncture points but two of the ribs are bent a bit. Not the end of the world but its part of the reason why I got the bus so cheap. I plan on removing my school bus lights and doing covers from the inside of the bus so I can use body filler on the outside and make it look smooth. Does anyone have any suggestions for a good metal to metal adhesive?







Those luggage racks were no joke, at least a solid 200 pounds of scrap metal there.







Also took a look at my Webasto, haven't had a chance to fire it up but I will be looking into it and seeing if I can incorporate it into my heating plan (I live in Wisconsin so it needs to be pretty stout).


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Old 08-22-2019, 08:18 PM   #13
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Surprised you have a wind deflector on the back. Nice option.
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Old 08-22-2019, 08:21 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
Surprised you have a wind deflector on the back. Nice option.

This bus was really nice when it was new. Had just about every option I've seen on a Bluebird. Air horn, rear AC, luggage racks, Cummins ISC/MD3060, full pass through understorage, etc.



The wind deflector is bent pretty badly though. Hopefully when I pry it out of the roof damage it is still saveable.
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Old 08-22-2019, 08:22 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WIbluebird View Post
This bus was really nice when it was new. Had just about every option I've seen on a Bluebird. Air horn, rear AC, luggage racks, Cummins ISC/MD3060, full pass through understorage, etc.



The wind deflector is bent pretty badly though. Hopefully when I pry it out of the roof damage it is still saveable.
It's metal, so it's fixable.
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Old 08-23-2019, 10:08 AM   #16
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It's metal, so it's fixable.

Easy for you to say

If it were made of wood, I would agree.

I drilled a hole in my rear cap, installed an eye bolt and tied a rope to it and a tree. I pulled the bus forward until I had the rope pulled as tight as I could without fear of breaking it.

Then I set to the dents with the biggest hammer that I own. I pounded on it until I could hardly lift my arm.

I didn't make any visible progress.... So, I cut the rear cap off....


I am afraid that I was born without the metal working gene....
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Old 08-26-2019, 02:01 AM   #17
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Location: Calgary, Alberta
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Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Thomas
Engine: Cummins ISC 260/660
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Nice bus similar to mine 2001 with 8.3, md3060 pass through storage but mine is a Thomas. If you aren’t aware of bluebird vantage they can give you some specs if you type in your vin.
https://vantage.blue-bird.com/Portal/Vantage-Home.aspx

I’m curious what your rear diff ratio is.

As for the metal to cover the removed school bus lights I riveted the sheets on the inside of the bus along with caulk. Seems to have worked fine for me but the filler frustrated me as I kept getting air bubbles in and had to sand too much. I ended up with imperfect filler but will finish it another time...
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Old 08-26-2019, 01:31 PM   #18
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Looks like my rear end is a 4.78.


Also at this point I'm really debating if its worth putting in the factory Trans Air AC system after interior work. I tore up one of the evaporators pretty badly trying to get it out. And it wasn't even working at all prior to removal so I'm not going to dump a bunch of time and money into something that can only be used when the bus is being driven.


Plus I live in Wisconsin where it's only really necessary maybe 2 months out of the year. And I will most likely do mini splits or roof airs anyway.



I will try and retain the compressors (2 of tthem!) condenser and the remaining evaporator and possibly see if I can sell them.
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Old 08-26-2019, 02:13 PM   #19
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4.78 diff isnt too bad. Mine is 5.4 but I have the 6th gear too. I’d like to get a 3.78 diff or so but not sure if it would be too low for the engine to power.

The only way I’d keep a factory air conditioner is if I hooked it up to a motor to run while plugged in but that might be difficult. My 2 roof top units are more than enough; more expensive but easier and doesn’t take up interior space.
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Old 08-28-2019, 03:41 PM   #20
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I must be weird.......

I have 5.29's in my bus and think that it is just right. I have a truck with a 6speed overdrive, 22.5 lp's and 3.73 gears. It is TOO tall. I rarely ever see 6th gear and backing up trailers is a pain.

To each their own
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