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Old 04-08-2010, 02:18 AM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Pacific North West
Posts: 9
Year: 2006
Coachwork: Thomas Saf-T-Liner
Chassis: Freightliner (FS-65)
Engine: Cat C7
Rated Cap: 28
First Bus Opinion/Advice Before Purchase

I hope this isn't too much of a recurring newbie kind of question, but I've really appreciated all the advice I've found on the site so far. Basically I'm interested in opinions regarding a bus I'm thinking of buying. The bus will be for a band/radio project that needs a rolling shelter. It's a shoestring operation and there won't be much conversion, we just need a functional vehicle to go from the West to East coasts this fall or next. Eventually I'd like to keep the bus and do a proper conversion. So I was wondering whether or not we should rush in an pick this one up because it seems like a good base or whether it would be best to wait.

The bus in question is an 87 Bluebird pushed with a Cat 3208, Allison 4 speed with Airbrakes. The odometer pegs the bus at 144K. I looked at the bus and it seems to be in excellent shape tire/brake/rust wise. It even looked like it had a relatively new replacement alternator and maybe even a new or rebuilt compressor. Everything seems to work. The brake / treadle pedal was firmer / more sensitive than what I'm used to, but honestly I'm a non CDL-er and most of my air brake experience is from heavy equipment so maybe that's normal on over the road vehicles? The bad thing is the bus is from a school district auction and there are no records so there is a bit of mechanical blindness in that regard. The seller is asking in the $3400 range.

One thing I want to do is have a mechanic look the bus over for any critical safety issues. Does anyone have an idea what an inspection/oil change might run? I'd love any kind of suggestions or feedback before taking this on since I'm not expecting the other folks involved in the project to be much assistance in terms of the bus part. Thanks in advance and my apologies if this has been on the longish side. - benjamin
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Old 04-08-2010, 09:38 AM   #2
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Winnemucca, NV/Reno NV
Posts: 182
Year: 2003
Coachwork: 2003 Thomas E-350 shorty
Chassis: E350
Engine: 7.3 Powerstroke
Rated Cap: 24
Re: First Bus Opinion/Advice Before Purchase

The 3208 is a hit or miss engine. In non-turbo mode, they only have 2 piston rings, and are notorious for emitting white smoke for a long time on start-up, especially when cold. Make sure you get the chance to start it up and see how it runs. A bit of white smoke on start up is somewhat OK if it clears up quick. It is not re-buildable in chassis, the motor must be swapped when it's tired. Does the motor have a "rebuilt" or "remanufactured" sticker on the valve cover? If so, with the low miles on the bus, you may have a good one. I've got an '80 with orig engine, runs good but makes a bit of smoke. My '75 has a reman with ~45K, runs GREAT! Both Gillig pushers. Go to a local medium or heavy duty truck shop for a service/ vehicle check quote, not an RV shop. Shouldn't be too bad. A BB with a 3208 should have an MT643 if it's an auto. I'd make sure it's not an AT545. There's a few posts here on how to ID them. Good luck!!
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Old 04-08-2010, 12:59 PM   #3
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Goodland, KS
Posts: 233
Year: 1988
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: GMC
Engine: 8.2L Detroit N/A, Allison
Rated Cap: 65
Re: First Bus Opinion/Advice Before Purchase

If the air compressor has been rebuilt or replaced, that'll save you $800-ish, plus your time and headache if you get stuck somewhere when it pukes. Mine died on me when I was on a trip and no one in Central Iowa had one on hand. It was three days to get the part about a two hour removal and install job.

That's just my experience from one Benjamin to another.
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