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Old 05-14-2018, 12:18 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Cool Should I buy 88 International Bluebird 1954S

Hey folks, new member here and I am on the verge of purchasing my first bus. I've done some pretty strenuous research and have somewhat of an idea on what I want. I found a 1988 International Bluebird 1954S with 181k miles on it for the right price. It's running the Allison DT466 engine with the MT653 transmission. The couple selling it has already started the conversion. They raised the roof so there's 7.5ft of interior headroom and it includes 4 solar panels, battery bank and inverter. In addition, they already have a roof deck on it. The only thing that is making me weary is the year. I am really skeptical about buying a bus that is 4 years my senior. Despite the mileage, is there really that much life left in an '88? It's 9 hours away and I am planning on making the trek to go look at it. But before I do I wanted to ask the pros if the engine/transmission combo for that year would even be worth investing in. Anything you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks guys!

Andrew
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Old 05-14-2018, 12:32 AM   #2
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Buy it!
Right now!
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Old 05-14-2018, 12:45 AM   #3
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The International DT466 (not Allison) is the best engine you will likely stumble over.
And the Allison MT-series transmissions are much better than the more common AT-series.

181,000 miles is not such a bad mileage.

Sure, it has lots of wear.
11 years ago, I bought a bus with 165,000 miles. I have had to replace the king pins (expensive!), and the front brakes, and the starter, the alternator (twice), and numerous other Stuff. But that's is simply par for the course.

Now... what is this "right price"?
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Old 05-14-2018, 08:46 AM   #4
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it sure sounds like a great bus!!! love the drivetrain combo.. and if the roof-raise was done well that saves you a ton of work.
-Christopher
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Old 05-14-2018, 08:51 AM   #5
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It all depends on the price. It sounds like it has some nice features. You didn't mention air conditioning, which is a requirement for me as I'm way too far south to live without it... But the age and mileage are not issues at all, in fact I"d call that one very low mileage for its age. But without knowing how much they are selling it, it's impossible to say if its a good deal.
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Old 05-14-2018, 11:02 AM   #6
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It all depends on the price. It sounds like it has some nice features. You didn't mention air conditioning, which is a requirement for me as I'm way too far south to live without it... But the age and mileage are not issues at all, in fact I"d call that one very low mileage for its age. But without knowing how much they are selling it, it's impossible to say if its a good deal.
There is an issue with fitted AC. WOrking correctly it's the best solution while driving, but driving is only a relatively small part of bus use for many people.

So unless you can fit a pony engine, or something similar, to drive the AC while parked, then there are other solutions that might also work while driving.

I don't have all the answers to this, but there are options that can be explored before deciding whether or not to keep some or all of the fitted stuff.

Of course, many don't have AC so they have to look to other solutions. In Oklahoma it seems that school districts only specify AC for SPED buses, and that's probably because it is paid for by federal grants.
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Old 05-14-2018, 11:23 AM   #7
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Thanks for replying! So I'm pretty sure there is no AC. The 181k is on a re-manufactured engine and transmission. I just spoke with him and he said he wants to be totally transparent (appreciated) and that the raise needs more riveting and caulking to be water tight. He also told me when the engine starts up it blows white smoke until it's sufficiently warmed up. Does this imply burning oil? Cracked head gasket potentially? I'm sure it could be numerous things. It's only traveled up and down the west coast so there is minimal rust, and the floor has been cleaned of rust and painted with rustoleum. The price on it is 5k. Also, the dimensions on it are 32x8x12. The white smoke is concerning me, could I do damage to the engine by driving it 700 miles?
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Old 05-14-2018, 11:38 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by CatawamBus View Post
Thanks for replying! So I'm pretty sure there is no AC. The 181k is on a re-manufactured engine and transmission. I just spoke with him and he said he wants to be totally transparent (appreciated) and that the raise needs more riveting and caulking to be water tight. He also told me when the engine starts up it blows white smoke until it's sufficiently warmed up. Does this imply burning oil? Cracked head gasket potentially? I'm sure it could be numerous things. It's only traveled up and down the west coast so there is minimal rust, and the floor has been cleaned of rust and painted with rustoleum. The price on it is 5k. Also, the dimensions on it are 32x8x12. The white smoke is concerning me, could I do damage to the engine by driving it 700 miles?
I've seen modern trucks blow white smoke (not new, but with some mileage on them), especially during startup in cold weather. Burning oil is usually blue smoke. The white smoke can be either burning water/coolant, or in the case of a diesel, it can also be incompletely burned fuel. In this case, on a reman engine, I would hazards to guess the latter and wouldn't worry about it. I would ask if the injectors and other fuel system parts have ever been replaced, which is a fairly common cause for this issue. On modern emissions equipped engines, it could also be the DEF and regen systems.
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Old 05-14-2018, 01:02 PM   #9
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Whoa! Five Grand? Too much. That should be a "typical $1,500 to $2,500" bus.
Now... that depends on the tires. If all the tires are quite new, it might be worth closer to $5,000. And thread depth does not matter. It is the age that matters. There are websites that tell you how to read the date code on a tire.

If the roof raise was well done, it would be worth something. But "needs more rivets and sealant" sounds like a batched job.

Solar stuff... batteries.... To my mind, it is worth only pennies on the dollar.

I would worry about white smoke. Generally, un-burned fuel is black, and oil is blue. White may be water/antifreeze, and could be the head gasket.
I am only guessing at possibilities here. You might want to find a diesel mechanic to inspect it for you.

To try to answer your main question.... The LAST thing I would be concerned about is the year. You would just need to budget for brakes and kin-pins and that sort of thing.
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Old 05-14-2018, 02:19 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Elliot Naess View Post
Whoa! Five Grand? Too much. That should be a "typical $1,500 to $2,500" bus.
Now... that depends on the tires. If all the tires are quite new, it might be worth closer to $5,000. And thread depth does not matter. It is the age that matters. There are websites that tell you how to read the date code on a tire.

If the roof raise was well done, it would be worth something. But "needs more rivets and sealant" sounds like a batched job.

Solar stuff... batteries.... To my mind, it is worth only pennies on the dollar.

I would worry about white smoke. Generally, un-burned fuel is black, and oil is blue. White may be water/antifreeze, and could be the head gasket.
I am only guessing at possibilities here. You might want to find a diesel mechanic to inspect it for you.

To try to answer your main question.... The LAST thing I would be concerned about is the year. You would just need to budget for brakes and kin-pins and that sort of thing.
Too much? That bus is a $1500-$2500 bus as a bus. Roof rise is a grand minimum if you do it yourself or $5K+ if you have it professionally done. Add a roof deck at another $1K. The little left to seal and rivet the roof is 5% of the roof cost. Correct engine and trans make it worth up to $1K more to me. So $2500 bus, $1000 roof raise, $1000 deck, engine combo, $1000. That's $5500, $5k is a good asking price, negotiate from there.
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