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Old 03-29-2006, 07:18 PM   #1
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Recomendations

Greetings,
First time post, long time reader of the forums.
I really enjoy the attitude and creativity of this community.
As a long time VW Westy owner, as I get older, its time for a larger, more comfortable traveling/camping vehicle.
I am looking for any suggestions/recomendations for a bus/vehicle for a conversion, including engine/trans combinations, brakes, manufacturer, etc.
As it will be for my self, I think that 30' would be plenty long. Is this reasonable? Make sense? Are these shorter buses still out there?
I am planning to do the interior my self and (as a Westy owner) am fairly competent in performing basic mechanical maintance.
I would be putting approx 10k to 15k miles on it each year, towing a 1964 VW Beetle.
Money of couse is an object but I understand that money spent up front on a quality unit is money well spent in the long haul. (BTW, I really dig the looks and craftsmanship of the early Bluebird Wanderlodges, not that I could afford one.) Any estimates on costs? Bus - platform/engine/trans, Infrastructure - interior/wiring/rough plumbing.
Thanks for any responses, ideas.

Moderators, if this is posted in the wrong area please feel free to move it.
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Old 03-29-2006, 11:15 PM   #2
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If you like the Wanderlodges, look for a Bluebird TC2000. They're very common and fairly affordable. Not affordable enough for me, but I'm a poor college student so take it for what it's worth . 99% of them will have a 5.9 liter Cummins making parts EASY to find (try any dodge dealership as well as the normal medium duty truck places). That transmission will almost surely be an Allison AT545. Some people love them, some people hate them, but you can't argue with the fact that they had a HUGE production run and are cheap to maintain or even replace.

Of course I have on rare occasion seen other combinations....I've seen atleast one TC2000 with a 427 Chevy tall deck industrial (good motor IMHO) with the coveted Allison MT643 transmission.

I'd like to give you more of an overview, but that should atleast get you started on the Wanderlodge concept. I know I rode the same TC2000 since I was in second grade (I am know 21) as they are running on my route today and it was by no means new when I started riding so they must hold up....
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Old 03-30-2006, 01:12 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the_experience03
If you like the Wanderlodges, look for a Bluebird TC2000. They're very common and fairly affordable. Not affordable enough for me.
Thats what I have... I love mine. It wasnt that much. I only paid $1,850. You just have to shop around. Click on the "my bus" link on the bottom of my post to see what I've done with it, its no wonderlodge by any means.
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Old 03-30-2006, 11:23 AM   #4
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thanks for the reply guys
philbus914, very nice, i want to do something along the same lines
how long is yours? do they come shorter? i'm wanting to get off the pavement and keep camping on the dirt roads.
thanks
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Old 03-30-2006, 01:35 PM   #5
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The tc2000 has a few different lenghs. The shortest ones I've seen are 26 feet. There is also a tc1000 which has a flat floor, but the down side is the wheels are 19.5 rims. Those 26 foot units can be turned around in a tighter area then most full size vans.

Another thing about the 26 footers there is almost no weight on the back, if you go down a bumpy road you can get the back of the ground. The one we have in service, we put a 500+ pound block of concrete in the back to help with traction through the snow. And there have been no issues with the suspension.
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Old 03-30-2006, 03:15 PM   #6
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I personally have riden them from 44-96 passenger. They all roade nice although the 44's were a bit rougher with a wheelbase similar to that of a longbox quad cab pickup. The 96 pax models also seemed to REALLY tax the 5.9 to its limits. I'm still not really sure why Bluebird didn't use a 3116 in the later TC2000's as I know they were found in some of the Chevy chassis conventionals.

Anyway....the 72 passenger I rode was comfortable. I would imagine anything smaller than that would be fine as well.
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Old 03-30-2006, 05:09 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmah
The tc2000 has a few different lenghs. The shortest ones I've seen are 26 feet. There is also a tc1000 which has a flat floor, but the down side is the wheels are 19.5 rims. Those 26 foot units can be turned around in a tighter area then most full size vans.

Another thing about the 26 footers there is almost no weight on the back, if you go down a bumpy road you can get the back of the ground. The one we have in service, we put a 500+ pound block of concrete in the back to help with traction through the snow. And there have been no issues with the suspension.
I drove what I think was a 1998 TC1000 (badged a TranShuttle, was NOT a school bus): floor was flat, 265/70R19.5 tires, GVWR 25,000 (10,700F0/15,000R), 175HP 5.9 Cummins ISB, trans was NOT a 545 (4-speed lockup auto), 3.54 axle gears, full air brakes, rear air suspension. 65MPH was about 2200RPM. I liked it a lot...and it could do a U-turn almost in its own length. It was far and away the least-bouncy FC I've ever driven. This one was a 25-passenger (I think 30') lift bus, but the lift had been replaced with three extra seats. The derated ISB was a bit thin on power with a full load, but not too bad.
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Old 03-30-2006, 06:42 PM   #8
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Jarlaxle, that sounds almost like the same one I had been using for years. Except ours was a 99 model on a 98 chasis and was set up for 3 wheel chairs and 20 seats plus driver. Ours too has 3.54 gears and is a transhuttle unit. I had put a Diablo PowerPuck on it and it really has guts after that. I'm sure the one you drove there was also a 26 footer. Ours would go 71 to 72 at 2750rpm and up to 75 down hill but the sweet spot is closer to 58 mph. Our dash has the all electronic dash and most of the idiot lights are on most of the time but I learned to ignore them and rely on the sounds I hear. And since about 2 years ago the fuel gage reads 1/4 tank lower than what is really in it, so that helps keep other drivers from running it down to empty and not filling it up. Ours also has the AT545
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Old 03-30-2006, 08:22 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtace
thanks for the reply guys
philbus914, very nice, i want to do something along the same lines
how long is yours? do they come shorter? i'm wanting to get off the pavement and keep camping on the dirt roads.
thanks
My TC2000 is 35' long, was origonaly a 72 passanger bus.

I agree that there isint enough weight on the rear axle, I've been stuck with mine a few times. I park next to my garage & after a few days of rain the ground turns to mud. I was able to pull it out with my F150 with no problem, so it wasn't too bad. I also got stuck on the beach a few times & needed another bus to pull me out.

Both situations would have gotten a 2WD pick up stuck, so as long as you dont stray too far off the beaten path you'd be fine.

Also as far as power goes my 5.9L seems to have tones more power than Jasons DT360 even though there the same size. Even with my 4.33 rear end vs. his 5.?? rear I can out accelrate him & have about 10mph more top end. I'm not trying to degrade Jasons bus at all, it's just thats the only other bus I've traveled with, so thats all I have to compare it to. Both busses have the same transmission, but his is not innercooled, mine is.

I dont have a tach so I couldnt tell ya what the engines running at any givin speed but according to this site, at 77mph (my top speed) I'd be doing about 2800RPM's which is fine for a 5.9 Cummins I'm told.

Oh also if I keep it around 60mph I can get slightly over 10mpg
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Old 03-30-2006, 09:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmah
Jarlaxle, that sounds almost like the same one I had been using for years. Except ours was a 99 model on a 98 chasis and was set up for 3 wheel chairs and 20 seats plus driver. Ours too has 3.54 gears and is a transhuttle unit. I had put a Diablo PowerPuck on it and it really has guts after that. I'm sure the one you drove there was also a 26 footer. Ours would go 71 to 72 at 2750rpm and up to 75 down hill but the sweet spot is closer to 58 mph. Our dash has the all electronic dash and most of the idiot lights are on most of the time but I learned to ignore them and rely on the sounds I hear. And since about 2 years ago the fuel gage reads 1/4 tank lower than what is really in it, so that helps keep other drivers from running it down to empty and not filling it up. Ours also has the AT545
AUUUUUUUUGH! That damn electronic dash! Our problems were mostly with the idiotic "4 gauges in one" thing. Were I to buy one, I'd add mechanical temp, oil pressure, & volt gauges (along with trans temp & EGT).
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