First off, a big THANKS to everyone who contributed to this thread!
I am now the proud owner of a 2002 Bluebird All American front engine flat nosed bus!
You can see it here next our 37' 5th wheel:
I bought this bus from a private school bus contractor that had been running bus routes for the past 40 years.
It had a 2015 Tennessee inspection sticker on it and it was in service until this school year started.
It does have a Cummins 5.9 diesel engine in it, but it has plenty of power and according to the plate on the transmission it has an Allison 2000 in it instead of the usual 545.
As an aside, I would have loved to have found a bus that had the DT-466 in it, but felt like the other things in this bus were too good to pass on.
Also the 5.9 drove out well (I had over an hour test ride since the owner lived back in the hills and wanted me to drive it on a big straight road).
FWIW, I'd also driven a T444E the day before (in a smaller bus with a GVWR of 27.500) and I felt like that engine was woefully under powered.
The Allison 2000 is a rebuilt transmission that was recently replaced.
The state inspector had them replace the tie rod ends last year and it had a new alignment when that was done. Steering is good and tight (not like some of those old log trucks I drove as a kid!).
The rear brakes were replaced and the rear end was rebuilt last year as well.
Driving it home was a breeze (it even has a working cruise control - who would have thought it!).
It has a little noise at times from a carrier bearing that will need to be replaced (some speeds and pulls cause it to appear, but usually a change in speed or letting on/off would cause it to stop). In fairness to the seller they did tell me about this before I bought it. and it pulled the grade up Interstate 24 on Monteagle mountain at 55 Mph with no problems at all.
I had a close eye on the temp gauge and there was hardly any rise on the entire run up the mountain.
Overall I think this bus was better taken care of than one I could have gotten from a dealer lot or an auction (it was the one that the owner's wife drove... so we all know what that means
The GVWR is 34200 with the 11R 22.5 tires it has on it.
After I pick up the tags for it I plan on driving it out and getting it weighed before I start deconstruction. I want to keep up with how much weight I remove in the seats, body and frame as we go along.
Speaking of which - I also got two nice spare tires and rims as a part of the deal (now I just have to figure out where I am going to carry them).
The only thing that will be a little PITA is moving the fuel tank (it is in a cage between the rear frame members) and also moving the rear air tank forward onto the shortened frame after the fuel tank is moved.
I believe that the easiest route will be to create a new frame to carry the fuel tank and move it forward of the rear wheels on the right side.
If that is a problem, then it was also suggested that I could use a couple of the metal clad fuel cells like they use in race cars (I found some that were 32 gallon). But I think the existing tank won't be that bad to move.
When I get started on the actual conversion project I do plan to start a new thread in the right forum area to keep up with that.
But THANKS AGAIN for the input everyone gave!