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Old 05-13-2017, 04:54 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Time to make a choice...

Good afternoon everybody. I have been looking at a bus that is about 400 miles away. A 2002 Thomas RE with air suspension, 78" roof, Cummins engine, 3060 Allison trans, ??? axle gear ratio, and 165,000 miles. I just found a couple of rear engine Blue Bird busses today that are less than an hour from my house. The first is a 1997 BB re with spring suspension, 78" roof, Cummins, Allison trans (don't know which one), 5.38 gear ratio, 81,000 miles. The second is a 2000 BB re All-American with air suspension, 78" roof, CAT engine, Allison (again don't know but has push button shift), 4.78 gear ratio and 155,000 miles. I have the transmission serial #s from the ID plates inside the BB busses if there is a way to find out what they are. The Thomas is an 84 passenger, the two BBs both measure 35' from back of driver seat to back window (plenty of room!). All three busses are priced the same $4,500. Tires on the BB have great tread depth but have some slight cracking, have not seen the Thomas. Any constructive thoughts, comments or advice one way or the other to help me make this decision would be appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 05-13-2017, 05:11 PM   #2
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Location: North carolina
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Year: 1986
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Ford
Engine: Detroit 8.2
Rated Cap: 60 bodies
If I had the choice I would stick with a cummins engine cause the parts are more readily available. A CAT engine will cost you anytime you have to open the hood on it.
Any push button Allison is electronic . And I can't speak for which one is there.
Cummins is a common in most parts stores but CAT is a money pit.
My opinion?
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Old 05-13-2017, 05:17 PM   #3
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Location: Chapel Hill, NC
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Year: 2002
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: All American
Engine: Cummins 8.3/Allison MD3060
Rated Cap: 84
Agree with everything Jolly Roger said.

You can punch your Allison serial numbers in here to find out all about them. If memory serves me correctly, anything that starts with 6510 will be an MD3060.

Any idea which Cummins the Thomas has in it?
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Old 05-13-2017, 05:19 PM   #4
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Year: 1986
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Ford
Engine: Detroit 8.2
Rated Cap: 60 bodies
Also meant to add that I want and am attempting to add air suspension on my 86 but when/if I do then I know the age of the bags themselves?
An air bag suspension is great for many reasons but it is high dollar maintenance/replacements verses sucking up the bounce of a spring ride.
The only way those two busses should be priced the same is that one is the body is better than the other.
Just my thoughts
Good luck
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Old 05-13-2017, 05:59 PM   #5
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I concur with Jolly Roger Cummins all the way if you can't get a Detroit DT466, caterpillar is just too expensive to work on.

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Old 05-13-2017, 06:50 PM   #6
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Location: Willamina, Oregon
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Coachwork: 97 Bluebird TC1000 5.9
Go with the '97 and stay all mechanical.
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Old 05-13-2017, 07:09 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by milkmanchip View Post
I concur with Jolly Roger Cummins all the way if you can't get a Detroit DT466, caterpillar is just too expensive to work on.

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Sorry, miss read your post. edited my foot out of my mouth.
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Old 05-13-2017, 07:22 PM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Thank you all for the input and support so far. I am shy of the Thomas because it is so far away I can't just run and look at it and that is a long way to try to drive a bus I realistically know nothing about. Communication with the seller has been unreliable this far, not answering, telling me he sent pic or info and I never rcvd it. Just don't want to go on LONG distance joy ride for it to end up a bust. As for the two BBs I found today, on one hand you have a 1997, spring suspension, Cummins, unknown Allison transmission, with 80k miles, and 5.38 gears (it's not a school bus, it has smooth sides and no rub rails). On the other hand there is a 2000, All American, with air suspension, and 4.78 gears, but it has the CAT, and 150k miles. I like 97 with the Cummins and low miles but it probably has the non lockup trans. I like the 2000 because of the air suspension but don't like the miles or what I have heard about the CAT engine. Am I too hung up on the air suspension? Has anybody had experience with rear engine Blue Birds in that age with and without air suspension that could give a comparison? I want any long rides to be as comfortable as possible.
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Old 05-13-2017, 09:07 PM   #9
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I'm not really understanding the deal with air bags. Yes your bus runs smoother when you're traveling. Where are you when you're traveling? In the driver's seat, and most buses don't have air ride in the front.
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Old 05-13-2017, 09:31 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
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This bus has air ride front and rear, and both busses have an air ride driver's seat. My concern is more for my family traveling with me. My memories of riding on a bus as a kid would equal that of a pogo stick crossed with a jackhammer! Maybe the suspension systems changed a lot from the 80s to 1997, I don't know. Just looking for an experienced opinion from somebody that has been there done that before I make my decision.
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