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Old 09-01-2017, 07:55 PM   #1
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 228
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: AARE 3903
Engine: Cummins 8.3L 12v
Rated Cap: 78
Intro and Bus Opinions Wanted

Hi all,

Not super serious yet, but my family is fantasizing about taking a year off starting next summer to wander the county in search of a new place to live. We sort of ended up in Phoenix by accident, and next thing we knew we'd been here for 15 years. We've seen enough of RVs to know that's probably not the best option for us. I don't think we've managed a single outing with the grand parents in their 32' class A without the boys managing to break some cheaply made piece of RV furniture or interior

We will probably be renting a Winnebago View to try out sometime soon. The 15-25 mpg on the Mercedes diesel sprinter platform is at least somewhat appealing given the shock of the thought of giving up our 50mpg Priuses for a <10mpg bus/RV. I'm also a sucker for vintage buses, but that's probably a whole lot more trouble than we're ready for.

So in many ways a skoolie probably makes a lot more sense for our family of 5 (2 adults, 3 boys 11/9/3, 2 cats and 1 dog to spend a year living in. We don't really need anything fancy, just rugged, reliable, and convenient/comfortable enough to not get too much in the way of the primary goal of exploring and spending time together.

I think I've picked up some of the basics of what to look for, but wanted to see what you all thought of this as a possible example of what we might want to build on:

1997 BLUE BIRD ALL AMERICAN RE, 78 passenger (36-37'?), 8.3L Cummins, Allison (maybe 3k series based on pics) transmission, high roof (assumed from windows line in pics), air brakes (possibly air ride as well?), dual roof AC, 3 under bus storage compartments, and transit style windows. 247k miles. Price is $10k fresh out of fleet service and inspected by large local new/used bus dealer. Seems a bit high, but maybe worth it if dealer bought translates to ready to drive, and/or some significant service done for mileage? Like the idea of the transit windows vs. traditional school bus windows, under storage seems very handy, seems like potentially a good drive train / mechanical setup for the size? Maybe good enough for towing a trailer or vehicle?










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Old 09-01-2017, 10:42 PM   #2
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Its cool, but man that's a lot of money.
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Old 09-02-2017, 03:14 AM   #3
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With 5.38 rear gear I would guess that bus has the MD3060 OD transmission. The touchpad gear selector also suggests it has the OD transmission.

Coach A/C is nice but I wouldn't pay extra for it. I don't know how that coach A/C system is hooked up. I do not see an A/C compressor in the engine compartment. I only see on alternator so I doubt it is an all electric system.

The bus looks extremely clean. If it is at Canyon State Bus Sales in AZ, the buses they sell used tend to be really nice. The old dogs are usually sold south of the border or to scrap. If it is at Tillery's in NM, they usually have very little in the way of inventory and what they have is always very nice. If it is in CA at A-Z, they always price their buses at crazy prices and for some reason they are able to sell that at those prices.
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Old 09-02-2017, 09:55 AM   #4
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That's an clean bus but the price is steep. If your willing to drive to Oregon I bet you could find a better deal. I have a few friends that bought their buses from western bus sales, they have a website but if you call them they usually have cheaper deals.
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Old 09-02-2017, 12:06 PM   #5
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 228
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: AARE 3903
Engine: Cummins 8.3L 12v
Rated Cap: 78
Thanks all, appreciate the feedback very much! I'm going to try to go see this bus next week if I can to get some more info.

The price seems high to me too, though I suppose it's all relative. Expensive compared to dragging a free bus out a field, cheap compared to buying a $150k class A RV ;) Finances are of course one of the big concerns about taking this leap. I don't want to spend more than we have to, as it eats into our overall savings for spending a year on the road. But have also had enough experience with vintage vehicles to know that buying the cleanest / best platform you can afford often pays big dividends in terms of reliability and rehab time / costs. I don't know how much that translates into the skoolie world, or if this is an example of a prime sample or just inflated price.

Part of my concern is if we go for it, we won't really have a ton of time to work on it before next summer. Particularly given all the other projects we'll have on our plate of getting our house ready to sell, thinning out our possessions, and getting the rest into storage. Which makes the thought of potentially minimal mechanical needs quite attractive. It's also one of the draws of the transit style windows, which might save us a whole lot of time and effort dealing with school bus windows?

cowlitzcoach: I'm hoping for a MD3060 based on the control panel and gear ratio just as you observe. The bus is at AAA Bus in Phoenix, any experience with them?

From the pics at least I though it looked incredibly clean for a 20 year old bus. It will be interesting to climb underneath and see if it's as clean down there, but I'm hoping that's one benefit of looking at buses down here in Arizona. Again hoping that will potentially save us a lot of time if we don't have a whole lot of rehab related to rust and leaks. The engine compartment also looks really clean for the age to me. Wondering if that's just good maintenance or possibly a sign that it's already had some rebuild work done? Hopefully they'll have maintenance records so we can see what's been done.
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Old 09-02-2017, 12:27 PM   #6
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I have never had any dealings with AAA Bus Sales so I have no opinion about them. It appears that they have a very nice inventory of Type 'D' buses. From the picture of their sales lot it would appear as if they have more buses on the lot than they have in their online inventory.

If for some reason the BB doesn't do all that much for you in person the 2001 IC RE3000 looks like a great bus. It has just about everything the BB has except of coach/transit slider windows. 10424 - aaabussales.com

You may want to double check but starting in about '00 almost all IC RE buses came from the factory with rear air suspension. That is a really NICE option.

If the pricing for the BB and the IC are close I would choose the IC over the BB. I will freely admit part of the reasoning is a Ford vs. Chevy vs. Dodge sort of bias--I just don't like BB's, I don't like how they are put together, and I think the IC with the rear mounted radiator will have fewer issues with overheating than the BB.
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Old 09-02-2017, 01:15 PM   #7
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Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 228
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: AARE 3903
Engine: Cummins 8.3L 12v
Rated Cap: 78
Thank, I appreciate the opinions. That International with the DT530 had caught my eye as well. Seems like a nice bump over the DT466. Air suspension (particularly rear) does seem like a really nice feature from a comfort and maintenance perspective from what I've read.

OTOH the BB has air horns ;) I admit I like the look of the classic BBs, part of me really wants a Wanderlodge. Probably the not so smart part. Not that this one has much of that look left to it anyway.
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Old 09-02-2017, 03:32 PM   #8
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Air horns can be retrofitted without too much difficulty. I plan to do just that to mine.
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Old 09-02-2017, 06:19 PM   #9
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Year: 1996
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You can find em cheaper in AZ we picked up ours for $5000, 1996 BB 84 pass, 5.9 12v Cummins. Smaller engine and trans but it'll get us where we need to go and it opens up the budget for the build

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Old 09-06-2017, 12:49 PM   #10
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 228
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: AARE 3903
Engine: Cummins 8.3L 12v
Rated Cap: 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
Air horns can be retrofitted without too much difficulty. I plan to do just that to mine.
Sorry, that was an attempt at humor ;)
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