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Old 05-15-2009, 10:50 PM   #1
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need advise to buy a schoolie for a conversion

Hello, I am looking to get a few questions answered. I have been researching buses and conversions all day today and most of the times I am lead to this site in one way or another. I have two Schoolies in mind and I need some advice.

The two buses I am looking at are
1989 Bluebird 31' with a 5.9l Cummins Puller with 95k miles
and a 1982 Thomas 35' with a unknown Cummins diesel. pusher with 65k miles

The Bluebird is in a little better shape cosmetically but I don't like the individual drip rails over the windows. I want to block off 90% of the windows and those rails are a dead giveaway that there is supposed to be a window there. Now the Thomas has one continuos rail which I like better.

First, any idea which engine is in the Thomas?

Second, Is that 5.9l big enough? Thats the same engine in the Dodge trucks right? Seems that platform is a little big for that engine. Maybe i'm wrong.

Which one has cheaper/more availible parts as far as the engine chassis goes?

I'd prefer the Thomas for the Pusher and the body but don't want a turd of a bus to start with.

Thanks, and sorry for the newbie questions.

Chad
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Old 05-16-2009, 01:37 PM   #2
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Re: need advise to buy a schoolie for a conversion

The 5.9 is a fine engine for a bus. The Thomas might well have one. Unless it's a "triple nickel", the awful 555 Cummins. (That's a non-turbo V8.) RUN AWAY from a 555 as fast as you can. I recall most pusher Thomases were repowered with 3208 cats, but that one might be original. (If the engine is yellow, it's a Cat.)
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Old 05-18-2009, 04:22 PM   #3
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Re: need advise to buy a schoolie for a conversion

Ok, I found out the Thomas is a VT225 cummins Turbo diesel and the tranny is a Allison 3 SOD overdrive trans. MT643. Are these any good?
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Old 05-18-2009, 04:38 PM   #4
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Re: need advise to buy a schoolie for a conversion

i think that's the triple nickle cummins 555.......i've heard nothing but terrible things about them, never seen one myself.

looking on some other forum i found this line about the cummins vt225

Quote:
Well, when ours weren't busy belching out a black oil cloud, they often found time to pump a bunch of antifreeze in the oil.
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Old 05-18-2009, 04:44 PM   #5
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Re: need advise to buy a schoolie for a conversion

I just got off the phone with a local cummins mech. and he said they were good engines in there time but are obsolete so parts are near impossible. Also being a pusher, replacing that engine is goingt to be tough. Guess I'll keep looking.

On a different note, has anyone ever seen a blue bird with the drip rails removed?
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Old 05-18-2009, 09:41 PM   #6
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Re: need advise to buy a schoolie for a conversion

Found a '96 crown carpenter 40' down in texas with a 5.9l/allison 185k miles asking price of $5200 is this too high? I can't find any others for sale to compare it. It has the one piece drip rail that I want. So far the Thomas, Ward, and carpenters I found have a one piece d.r. I really getting burned out on looking for a bus What kind of headroom do school buses have? I haven't been in a bus in years.
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Old 05-19-2009, 02:05 AM   #7
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Re: need advise to buy a schoolie for a conversion

5200 is to much if you ask me, keep looking have some patience the right deal will come along I paid 1750 (Canadian) for my 96 40' Thomas pusher with 200k miles. i dont think to many people on this site paid more then 25-3000 $ for their buses. Headroom in mine is 6'2" but higher ones are available. look at the roofline if it dips past the drivers area its around +6' some are straight and some even go up. wish mine would go up
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Old 05-28-2009, 10:57 PM   #8
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Re: need advise to buy a schoolie for a conversion

Ok, need some more engine choice advice.

Cat 3208
DT466
5.9l
Which would you choose in a bus?


I am looking a a 1991 Thomas 72 passenger now with the Cat 3208 pusher in it, It is everything I want but I was really hoping for a DT466 in a bus but if the cat is a good reiable engine I may go with it. Whacha think?
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Old 05-29-2009, 08:33 AM   #9
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Re: need advise to buy a schoolie for a conversion

I hear ya on the patient part. Unfortunatley I have a lack of it. I am tired of tent camping. I'm getting too old for that crap. As a matter of fact I will be loading up today for a two night trip this weekend. I'm sure I will be worn out when I get home Sunday.

I just can't do the bluebird skoolies though. I prefer one long continuos drip rail like the Wards and Thomas buses. I think I will end up paying premium for "the bus I want". They are just not plentyful within 500 miles of me. And when you do find them Prices are typically $4000 and up. Maybe it is becuase of all the Churches here buying them up.

To be honset, I have not found my "perfect" combination anywhere in the US. This Thomas I just found yesterday is local and they are asking $3000 for it. I might be able to get it for $2500. It is as close to my combination that I have found. Just don't no about that CAT engine. I too prefer the DT466 but have never seen them in a Pusher bus. I will call and see if it is a Turbo today.

BTW, about how long is the inside of a 72 passenger Pusher bus? I am really hoping to get around the 35' range.
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Old 05-29-2009, 08:57 AM   #10
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Re: need advise to buy a schoolie for a conversion

the 3208 cat is a great engine, practically bullet proof up to 250hp, unfortunately it's on the endangered species list due to emissions compliance, cat is/has phasing it out and is replacing it with a 6 cylinder 3116/3126 that is easier to bring into current and future emissions compliance.

it's a safe bet that parts will continue to be available for years to come.
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