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Old 08-01-2019, 11:36 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Need Your Advice

I am looking at buying a bus and as it stands right now the price of the bus is too good to pass up.

I know nothing about engine sizes tranny types etc and I've tried to read and retain that information but it's such a new thing to me I'm still confused...now you put a Jeep in front of me and I can rebuild that puppy in a heart beat with my eyes closed.

Below are the bus specs:

2002 Blue Bird 71 Passenger Bus / Make/Brand: Bluebird Engine: 5.9 Cummings ISB / Mileage: 197,660 Miles / Transmission: Auto Allison AT545 / Brakes: Hydraulic / Condition: Fair / Last State Inspection: February 2019

It was used for a school district. Can you guys help a fella out and let me know if the engine is quality and the tranny is quality?
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Old 08-01-2019, 11:52 AM   #2
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The 5.9 Cummins is a very good engine in the right application. It is IMHO underpowed for a full size bus.

The AT-545 is the least desirable of the transmissions that we see in school buses.

The 5.9/AT-545 combination is fine for picking up the kiddies in town. Not so great for highway and Mountain driving.

I held out for a bigger engine and better transmission and I am glad that I did.
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Old 08-01-2019, 11:55 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by PNW_Steve View Post
The 5.9 Cummins is a very good engine in the right application. It is IMHO underpowed for a full size bus.

The AT-545 is the least desirable of the transmissions that we see in school buses.

The 5.9/AT-545 combination is fine for picking up the kiddies in town. Not so great for highway and Mountain driving.

I held out for a bigger engine and better transmission and I am glad that I did.
Thanks for the info! The bus as it sits right now is going for 800 on auction with 4 days left to go so I'm watching it. But I may pass given the information you provided.

*Edit I got info from the seller its a 35 ft bus - which is perfect for me! Gah I wish the mechanics were better.
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Old 08-01-2019, 12:04 PM   #4
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While everything Steve says is true, what is also true is that this is one of the most common combinations of engine/transmission you'll find, and that many of us are rolling around the country with them just fine. We could be rolling faster (although rear axle ratio is almost always the limiter there) and I personally won't tow with this setup, but don't mistake "underpowered" for "unusable".
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Old 08-01-2019, 12:05 PM   #5
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It took over a year of watching auctions daily and biding on well equipped buses before I was successful in winning my bus at auction.

I wound up with a 37' Bluebird with the Cummins 8.3, Allison MD-3060 and 180k miles.

Have patience and hold out for a bus that fits your needs.

Good luck.
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Old 08-01-2019, 12:23 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by brokedown View Post
While everything Steve says is true, what is also true is that this is one of the most common combinations of engine/transmission you'll find, and that many of us are rolling around the country with them just fine. We could be rolling faster (although rear axle ratio is almost always the limiter there) and I personally won't tow with this setup, but don't mistake "underpowered" for "unusable".
How does yours do on the HWY speed wise? 60-65? What about on inclines? I mean I know buses are going to be slow and I'm good with that. Once I get in it full time its gonna be a slow roll across the county. I want to get out of the rush hour routine.
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Old 08-01-2019, 01:08 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluetoad View Post
Thanks for the info! The bus as it sits right now is going for 800 on auction with 4 days left to go so I'm watching it. But I may pass given the information you provided.

*Edit I got info from the seller its a 35 ft bus - which is perfect for me! Gah I wish the mechanics were better.
Never try and guess the going price from an auction with 4 days to go, it will spike in the last 10 minutes by people who know how to work auctions. The Crown on Bainbridge jumped over $10k in the end. You will find people who don't have bad things to say about that drive train, usually they own one and if pushed they will admit they wouldn't mind having something different.
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Old 08-01-2019, 01:32 PM   #8
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Never try and guess the going price from an auction with 4 days to go, it will spike in the last 10 minutes by people who know how to work auctions. The Crown on Bainbridge jumped over $10k in the end. You will find people who don't have bad things to say about that drive train, usually they own one and if pushed they will admit they wouldn't mind having something different.
I completely understand, I'm not expecting them to sell for that cheap but I will be one of those last minute bidders if I decide to pull the trigger.
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Old 08-01-2019, 01:32 PM   #9
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^
Seconded, + Steve, too.
As I was in the bid process on the aforementioned Crown; you may well imagine my dismay when I logged in, 15' to it's scheduled end, to find that the price was then about at my limit, with 2 bidders, only one live, waging a bidding war!
Morbid curiousity keep me rivited right up to the bitter end...
It was like watching an episode of, "Lifestyles of the Rich and Retarded"
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Old 08-01-2019, 01:56 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluetoad View Post
How does yours do on the HWY speed wise? 60-65? What about on inclines? I mean I know buses are going to be slow and I'm good with that. Once I get in it full time its gonna be a slow roll across the county. I want to get out of the rush hour routine.
Our cruising speed on flat ground is around 60, limited by gearing (4.78:1 axle). When the roads are steep enough to have "slow truck" lanes, we are holding the same pace as the slow trucks in them with us. Outside of mountain climbing, it's rare to drop below 55 on hills.

I've got my eye out for a deal on a lower ratio axle swap, I expect that 70 on flat ground would be no big deal with 4.10:1 ratio.
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Old 08-01-2019, 02:07 PM   #11
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I think PNW_Steve and brokedown are both right - that is a common engine transmission combo and it should be quite suitable if you know what you will and won't be doing with it. For regional trips in the plains states it should be fine but don't plan on climbing any mountains or towing with it. Its a good price so should leave you adequate budget for a build out.
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Old 08-01-2019, 02:17 PM   #12
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The trick to it is whether you think this will meet your needs now AND in the future or just for now. Its possible that as o1Marc pointed out you may be okay with it now but then desire something more robust later. Then you'll have another build out which may or may not be a good thing. Just food for thought,
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Old 08-01-2019, 02:20 PM   #13
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I would modify that statement and say don't plan on climbing any mountains fast. I have made it to the top of every hill I've started at the bottom of and will be climbing many more in the future. Some people get to the top before me, some (admittedly not a lot!) get to the top after me.

if you live in the mountains or plan to spend most of your time going up and down them then it's a bad combination. I'm touring the country, including the parts that are relatively flat.
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Old 08-01-2019, 02:45 PM   #14
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I guess I'm really in no rush. I could wait for something more powerful. I am working paying down the rest of my debt. I should be debt free in 1 year.

My traveling plan is to tour the coast first and work my way in. I will eventually run into a mountain or 2 along my journey and want to be fully capable of conquering anything I run into.

I was just stoked to find a bus (several actually) the exact size and style I wanted. The mechanics are something I am learning on what I need and may want in the future. I'm taking in all the information being provided and it is greatly appreciated!

I am having second thoughts as I am now thinking the extra power would be preferable and I don't want to have to do a new build if I get frustrated with the power output of this bus.
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Old 08-01-2019, 03:27 PM   #15
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If you're having doubts this early on, there may well be an excellent reason why.
https://youtu.be/DewDqsszXi8
Heed your manly instincts!
UHN!!!
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Old 08-01-2019, 03:53 PM   #16
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If you're having doubts this early on, there may well be an excellent reason why.
https://youtu.be/DewDqsszXi8
Heed your manly instincts!
UHN!!!
Ha. Thx for that clip that made me laugh and yes I think you're right.
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Old 08-01-2019, 04:05 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
Never try and guess the going price from an auction with 4 days to go, it will spike in the last 10 minutes by people who know how to work auctions. The Crown on Bainbridge jumped over $10k in the end. You will find people who don't have bad things to say about that drive train, usually they own one and if pushed they will admit they wouldn't mind having something different.
Yeah, folks use ebay tactics even when the auction isn't ebay and auto-extends.
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Old 08-01-2019, 04:37 PM   #18
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You're quite welcome. I know how stressful making this decision can be.
When in doubt, seriously consider gonadal advice, and, if feasible, always go for
More power!
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Old 08-02-2019, 08:18 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brokedown View Post
While everything Steve says is true, what is also true is that this is one of the most common combinations of engine/transmission you'll find, and that many of us are rolling around the country with them just fine. We could be rolling faster (although rear axle ratio is almost always the limiter there) and I personally won't tow with this setup, but don't mistake "underpowered" for "unusable".
Josh definitely has more patience than I do

He has traveled all over the country in a 7.3/AT-545 equipped Vista. I would go nuts...
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Old 08-02-2019, 10:26 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Bluetoad View Post
I am having second thoughts as I am now thinking the extra power would be preferable and I don't want to have to do a new build if I get frustrated with the power output of this bus.
I have yet to see anyone on this forum say "Boy I wish I'd gone with a smaller engine!" LOL
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