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Old 10-07-2010, 09:59 AM   #1
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1989 Bluebird Flat-front auction—what should I look for?

My first post on this site! Thanks to Jarlaxle and Steve for helping with my registration issues.

I'm eagerly looking forward to buying and converting a skoolie, and last night I found a 1989 Bluebird 71-passenger flat-front bus being auctioned in central Florida. I'm going to take a look at it later this week and I'd like to know if there is anything I should look for. Here's what I know from the online listing:

• Owned by Flagler County School Board
• "Runs and drives"
• 243,000 miles
• 5.9L Cummins diesel
• GVWR 29800
• GVWR Front 10800
• GVWR Rear 19000
•*22.5 x 7.5 wheels

Here's a link to the auction: http://server2.maxanet.com/cgi-bin/mnlist.cgi?gga8/8001

So, what should I look for? Anything to be wary of? I hadn't given thought to a flat-front bus until recently—is there anything about this style of bus that is particularly good or bad?

Thanks for any input!

Phil
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Old 10-07-2010, 06:52 PM   #2
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Re: 1989 Bluebird Flat-front auction—what should I look for?

My biggest concern would be that it might (in fact, almost certainly does) have a non-lockup AT545 transmission. These are durable, but not that strong and the always-slipping converter limits highway driveability. Also, what is the axle gearing...is it a highway runner or does it top out at 50MPH?
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Old 10-08-2010, 08:42 PM   #3
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Re: 1989 Bluebird Flat-front auction—what should I look for?

Thanks for the tips. I'll take a look and drive it before the auction ends.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarlaxle
My biggest concern would be that it might (in fact, almost certainly does) have a non-lockup AT545 transmission. These are durable, but not that strong and the always-slipping converter limits highway driveability. Also, what is the axle gearing...is it a highway runner or does it top out at 50MPH?
The rear axle is 4.78. Is that good or bad?

I don't plan on spending too much time on the interstate. In fact, I DO plan to intentionally avoid it. I want to be able to stop every now and then just to see things, meet people, take pictures, etc. The purpose of buying this monster is so I can drive around the country (slowly) and take a LOT of pictures. Of course, I'd rather have a lock-up transmission, but if I can get this for a low bid, I'll take it (provided it's good in every other way).
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Old 10-10-2010, 12:27 PM   #4
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Re: 1989 Bluebird Flat-front auction—what should I look for?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PDBreske
Thanks for the tips. I'll take a look and drive it before the auction ends.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarlaxle
My biggest concern would be that it might (in fact, almost certainly does) have a non-lockup AT545 transmission. These are durable, but not that strong and the always-slipping converter limits highway driveability. Also, what is the axle gearing...is it a highway runner or does it top out at 50MPH?
The rear axle is 4.78. Is that good or bad?

I don't plan on spending too much time on the interstate. In fact, I DO plan to intentionally avoid it. I want to be able to stop every now and then just to see things, meet people, take pictures, etc. The purpose of buying this monster is so I can drive around the country (slowly) and take a LOT of pictures. Of course, I'd rather have a lock-up transmission, but if I can get this for a low bid, I'll take it (provided it's good in every other way).
What size tires? Assuming this is a fullsized bus with typical 11R22.5's...4.10's and 11R22.5 tires mean about 1900 (driveshaft) RPM ast 60MPH...add about 10-15% for converter slippage with an AT545, sdp call it 21-2200. 4.78 is 16.5% deeper than 4.10, so that would mean about 2200 driveshaft RPM at 60MPH, or about 24-2500RPM with an AT545. While fewer RPM's will burn less fuel, 2500RPM is certainly not a big deal for a 5.9 Cummins. Long as you're willing to cruise at 55-60MPH, you should bevfine.
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Old 10-10-2010, 12:43 PM   #5
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Re: 1989 Bluebird Flat-front auction—what should I look for?

.. get the service records or go down to the maint. yard and ask about that bus number and see what the mechanics can tell you .. there's a reason (could be good or bad) that front-end is not oxidized like the rest of the body paint, and what looks like a new bumper too .. you want to know why .. could be a bonus for you, could be a deal-breaker too ..
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Old 10-10-2010, 07:35 PM   #6
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Join Date: Sep 2010
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Re: 1989 Bluebird Flat-front auction—what should I look for?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RevBill
.. get the service records or go down to the maint. yard and ask about that bus number and see what the mechanics can tell you .. there's a reason (could be good or bad) that front-end is not oxidized like the rest of the body paint, and what looks like a new bumper too .. you want to know why .. could be a bonus for you, could be a deal-breaker too ..
I noticed that, too. I'll look into it when I see it. Thanks.
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