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Old 02-12-2014, 02:34 PM   #1
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Found a possible bus!

Hello! I just joined the forum with my new username. For some reason, my old username (I think White99z... possible Heavenly3lues) is no longer available and all the posts have been removed. Could anyone tell me why this is? When I go back and look through old threads that I started, my old posts are gone but the threads are there. Hmmm... Anyways... I am from Grand Rapids, MI. I have been looking at buses for about 1.5 years now and think I have found one to buy buy have a few final questions.

It is a 92 BB TC2000 and is owned by a friend. It is 28 foot and an ex prison bus. I am looking to buy a bus with my girlfriend for full-time living and touring. I am a full-time touring musician and this will be an integral part of our life. Reliability and availability of parts is very important! We have full-timed in a 1977 VW, 1988 Toyota LiteAce (in Australia) and I am currently touring (but not living) in a 2006 Chevy Colorado converted with a bed in the back.

So... the bus is in Florida and is low miles (93,000), an ex prison bus, and professionally converted to run off veggie oil. I met the bus and my friend originally two years ago when they were traveling in it around the East Coast. Now, 2 years later it's for sale. It's a bit higher than we were originally hoping to spend, but I went to check it out last week in Florida when I was down there and we really like it.

Pros:
99% Rust Free
Interior is practically gutted and ready for conversion (they have a crude living setup that we are happy to rip out)
Converted for Veggie Oil (the conversion seems very nice and is professional)
Low Hour Diesel Generator
Ex-Prison Bus (Walls are already skinned and insulated)
Flat-front Bluebird (my favorite style)
Cummins 5.9
Mechanic maintained/serviced every three months for their 2 years of ownership
Factory AC

Cons:
A bit higher purchase price than we were hoping, but it's within our budget still. I am willing to pay extra for a rust free bus since I live in the rust belt!

Questions
The bus has 4.56 gears. Would this be good for highway driving and occasional mountain driving when we are out west?

Also, not being with the bus, is there anyway to tell what trans it has? My friend has 0 mechanical knowledge and has difficulty telling me. I forgot to look at the guide on the site here before I looked at the bus and didn't get the photos needed to tell the type. I looked for a badge and couldn't tell. I am hoping it has the lock up converter as I have read it's good for the mountains.

What are your thoughts? Any questions I should ask? I went down and spent approximately 5 hours with the bus and the body and mechanicals seem very sound. I am looking for the last bits of info I need before jumping on it!
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Old 02-12-2014, 02:53 PM   #2
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Re: Found a possible bus!

Hi there!

I am so sorry that your posts are gone! The site underwent a pretty thorough clean-up this past summer / fall... we had a massive amount of spammers and bot members that were clogging up the server. We ended up banning some e-mail providers (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.) and when we went through the massive amount of spam posts, some legitimate posts and users were deleted. :/ I have a feeling that this might apply to you and I profusely apologize!

We're glad you're back!
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Old 02-12-2014, 03:10 PM   #3
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Re: Found a possible bus!

This explains why I couldn't re-register with my email address! I had to use the one from my website.
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Old 02-12-2014, 03:58 PM   #4
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Re: Found a possible bus!

My biggest question would be the transmission. There really isn't anyway to determine what it has other than to look at it. It is probably an AT545, which is less than great. If it has an MT643 (which has the lock-up torque converter), that would be a very nice combo. 4.56 should be just fine, although you will for sure not be flying up mountains with that engine
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Old 02-12-2014, 03:59 PM   #5
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Re: Found a possible bus!

So... I spoke with my friend/the owner by FaceTime trying to figure out which trans it has. It's difficult for him as he doesn't know mechanics! Anyways I couldn't see the mounting plate on the bus trans, per this thread (viewtopic.php?f=44&t=1824). But, there did appear to be a bolt that could possibly be a temp sending unit (or maybe it's just a drain plug?!?)... Can anyone tell from these pics he sent me? Is it possible it's a different trans other than Allison with this engine/gearing/body combo?



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File Type: jpg 2014-02-12 15.21.02.jpg (1.23 MB, 552 views)
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Old 02-12-2014, 04:00 PM   #6
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Re: Found a possible bus!



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Old 02-12-2014, 04:01 PM   #7
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Re: Found a possible bus!

Quote:
Originally Posted by JakeC
My biggest question would be the transmission. There really isn't anyway to determine what it has other than to look at it. It is probably an AT545, which is less than great. If it has an MT643 (which has the lock-up torque converter), that would be a very nice combo. 4.56 should be just fine, although you will for sure not be flying up mountains with that engine
Where would an ID badge be? I couldn't find one when I was there, but I could direct him where to look! I am back in Michigan now and he is in Florida.
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Old 02-12-2014, 04:06 PM   #8
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Re: Found a possible bus!

If this pic is showing what a sending unit might look like, there was a hose like this coming out of the passenger side of the transmission

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Old 02-12-2014, 04:31 PM   #9
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Re: Found a possible bus!

Quote:
Originally Posted by JArndt
Quote:
Originally Posted by JakeC
My biggest question would be the transmission. There really isn't anyway to determine what it has other than to look at it. It is probably an AT545, which is less than great. If it has an MT643 (which has the lock-up torque converter), that would be a very nice combo. 4.56 should be just fine, although you will for sure not be flying up mountains with that engine
Where would an ID badge be? I couldn't find one when I was there, but I could direct him where to look! I am back in Michigan now and he is in Florida.
I can't remember where it is. Maybe I'll go crawl under my bus and look tonight Based on the 3rd pic, it looks like an AT545...
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Old 02-12-2014, 05:51 PM   #10
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Re: Found a possible bus!

Passenger side towards back big plate 2x3 maybe
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Old 02-12-2014, 07:06 PM   #11
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Re: Found a possible bus!

Welcome! On the veggie side-good news is the 5.9's run fine on the stuff. The bad news is the reality of the supply side of things. People aren't tripping over you to give you oil anymore. The stuff is getting hard to find + now is a commodity with a price. ( Not trying to spoil anything for you-just taking that out of the price equation.)
It works for me because I fill up at home-and have enough to get back. If you are going out on a road trip on veg, you need to plan what to do once your tank gets empty.
So if the price is a couple of thousand high because of the kit, do some math to see if any of that money will "earned" back. If not, at least you can turn off the heat +use the tank for diesel.
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Old 02-12-2014, 07:17 PM   #12
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Re: Found a possible bus!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sdwarf36
Welcome! On the veggie side-good news is the 5.9's run fine on the stuff. The bad news is the reality of the supply side of things. People aren't tripping over you to give you oil anymore. The stuff is getting hard to find + now is a commodity with a price. ( Not trying to spoil anything for you-just taking that out of the price equation.)
It works for me because I fill up at home-and have enough to get back. If you are going out on a road trip on veg, you need to plan what to do once your tank gets empty.
So if the price is a couple of thousand high because of the kit, do some math to see if any of that money will "earned" back. If not, at least you can turn off the heat +use the tank for diesel.
I hear you on this supply factor, but I still know it can be done, and done well. My good friend who is also a full time touring musician collected enough veggie oil while touring last year to save over $12,000 in fuel expenses. Having a cause behind him helps I am sure! He also runs a non profit called Journey 4 Youth (http://www.Journey4Youth.org)

For us full-time musicians, that adds up quick. Anything helps. In 2012, my partner and I drove nearly 20,000 miles in Australia at probably around $6/gallon of gas. It was our largest expense in a very expensive country. Comparatively, we each averaged $5-7 per day ($10-14) for our food in a country where a pint of berries is easily 10+ dollars.
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Old 02-12-2014, 07:51 PM   #13
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Re: Found a possible bus!

Question... for those of you experienced bus drivers. Would an AT545 in a bus that has everything else you are looking for be a deal breaker? Especially if you would be driving in the mountains occasionally?
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Old 02-13-2014, 07:17 AM   #14
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Re: Found a possible bus!

East coast mnt I can "deal" with it...west coast...hell no, not me

No compression braking since no lockup converter, also since no lockup converter you can not have and use an exhaust brake

Flat land and rolling hills,tn,nc,sc,again I can deal with my tranny....go slow, watch temps and keep revs up.

See my post in drive train about driving a 545 in our little mountains 3700 feet type
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Old 02-13-2014, 02:44 PM   #15
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Re: Found a possible bus!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bansil
East coast mnt I can "deal" with it...west coast...hell no, not me

No compression braking since no lockup converter, also since no lockup converter you can not have and use an exhaust brake

Flat land and rolling hills,tn,nc,sc,again I can deal with my tranny....go slow, watch temps and keep revs up.

See my post in drive train about driving a 545 in our little mountains 3700 feet type
Thanks for your input! I read your thread earlier and thought that this would mean it would be OK if it did have the AT545. That's a bummer for me to hear this from you now because your thread originally got my hopes up. Anyone else? I think this is the last bit of info holding us back from purchasing. It will not be driven regularly in the mountains... only occasionally as we are flat-landers up here in Michigan. But... we tour regularly so it will go through mountains from time to time. I also would not like to be forced to stay away from Mountains due to a transmission.
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Old 02-13-2014, 06:00 PM   #16
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Re: Found a possible bus!

Don't get me wrong, I didn't know were you lived

As long as you can deal with slower speeds and enjoying the scenery.... I say go for it

I will eventually swap trannies...maybe

We can enjoy it now and love it...please don't be discouraged by what I said....

I still would not want to drive mountains over 5000 ft from sea level all the time....we travel from sea level to our highest pass which is 421 in boone its like 3700feet...

The 6 miles of 8% grade is what is rough....we just slow way down and grab a drink and go(from our house to books, nic there are several 8%+ and at least 1 grade that is 12% for a couple miles on 421s, this is what is a pain the constant hills here...it is uphill to work both ways

We live at 2500 and when we get past the mnt its smooth sailings, on NC12 last year its possible that I cruised at 70mph in 4th gear

Normally I drive in 3rd gear around the 200 mile radius from home

Ideal is one thing....getting a skoolie is another...the 545 will do the job....just not optimum

Ya'll swing by for a cold beverage when you get to TN......
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Old 02-13-2014, 06:33 PM   #17
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Re: Found a possible bus!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bansil
Ya'll swing by for a cold beverage when you get to TN......
I want to make a new member level just for you... something that denotes your taste in fine alcoholic beverages. Also, omw to TN for wine.
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Old 02-13-2014, 10:54 PM   #18
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Re: Found a possible bus!

First I will say that... I don't mind going slow! I did quite a few trips around the country in a 1977 VW Westfalia. I was chugging right up the mountains with the semi's, getting passed by the coaches all the time.

That being said... after a bit more debate with my partner, I think we decided to pass on the bus. But, I would like a bit more input from you guys.

The bus is $7500. My intuition tells me that he's not going to be willing to budge on the price much... if at all. Like I said before, it's a bit higher than we were hoping to spend but some of the tradeoffs (not having to rip out seats, not having to skin the windows, not having to convert to run veggie oil, low miles, rust free) made the price seem justifiable. It's basically get in and drive while building as you please.

But... it will need new tires within a year of driving, needs the whole interior completely redone to our standards, and is at the top of our budget right now. We are thinking of holding off and being patient until we can find a lower cost, stock school bus and build it to fit our needs. I am a DIY kind of person and this appeals to me.

We were thinking if we could find a bus for ~$3000-3500 with lower miles we would have some room to play with for building a nice interior and doing a veggie conversion. Speaking with Lapeer20m before (on my old username), he said that he could help design a veggie oil system based on his experience with them over the past few years, and do it rather cheaply.

This still leave us with some money for buildout, solar panels, any maintenance costs, etc.

Any advice from you experienced Skoolie's?

On a side note... I am headed down to Tennessee in March. I saw some school buses on my way home from Florida last week in Tennessee for sale. I am thinking of swinging through and checking them out. I know buses don't see much salt down there. If anyone from any salt-free states down there see any buses that would be great for a conversion, let me know! I am thinking of heading out a few days early and driving/looking/asking around to see what I find, with cash in had to make a purchase if we find one.

We have a target of wanting to be on the road by June. I am self-employed (as a musician) and have a flexible schedule to get to work. The hard part is finding the bus!
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Old 02-15-2014, 04:15 PM   #19
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Re: Found a possible bus!

Well... I called yesterday to my friend and told him we will continue looking for a bit. It's a lovely bus, but I feel it it a bit pricey compared to what I read on here for people finding their buses for, etc. Any input from you experienced Skoolies based on my post above this one?
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Old 02-18-2014, 01:19 PM   #20
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Re: Found a possible bus!

Well... after a few days of back and forths and negotiations, we reached an agreement on the bus! It was probably one of the longest, most difficult negotiations I have ever done for a vehicle, but he did come down on the price!!! Now to figure out the details on pickup. I will post pics after a deposit is paid!!!
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