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Old 01-23-2017, 02:39 PM   #1
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1998-2004 All American A3 Series Engines

I think I have narrowed our bus search to a Blue Bird All American (A3 Series). Based on a dealer recommendation, he said we should look at 1999-2002 models with most of the buses having 78" of head room and in the price range we are looking to spend.

My question to everyone here is what are the good and bad engines that are recommended? The wikipedia page does not list engine options specifically for the A3 series, but I have gleaned some info from posts and it seems the 5.9 Cummins is the most common but under powered. There also seems to be the 8.3L Cummins. What other engines should I be looking for in this make and model of bus that is better?

I should note we are looking at something in the 32-38' range.

Thanks!
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Old 01-23-2017, 03:02 PM   #2
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I wouldn't turn down an IC bus. They're all built pretty much the same, anyhow.
Thomas, IC, BB... Its the drivetrain that they spec'ed in any particular bus that matters.
Headroom is easy- just look at the side windows. Are they the shorter ones or the taller ones?
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Old 01-23-2017, 03:56 PM   #3
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if you go above that 02.. to say 03 or 04 you have a better shot at getting a desirable overdrive / lockup transmission vs an AT545 non lock-up transmission.. MT-643's (lockup) are out therei n 99-02 on the nicer busses..

it sounds like from your sig you are going to be driving all over the place including mountains so you will want a bus with an MT-643 at a minimum.. and preferred 2000 series or MD3060.
-Christopher
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Old 01-23-2017, 05:57 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
if you go above that 02.. to say 03 or 04 you have a better shot at getting a desirable overdrive / lockup transmission vs an AT545 non lock-up transmission.. MT-643's (lockup) are out therei n 99-02 on the nicer busses..

it sounds like from your sig you are going to be driving all over the place including mountains so you will want a bus with an MT-643 at a minimum.. and preferred 2000 series or MD3060.
-Christopher
643's are in a lot of buses WAY older than 99.Mine is a 92.
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Old 01-23-2017, 06:27 PM   #5
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Thank you for the great info!! Will be exploring tonight on this!
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Old 01-23-2017, 06:47 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
643's are in a lot of buses WAY older than 99.Mine is a 92.
Mine's 88/89


Also called International Harvester S-1723/S-1753
Production 1979–1989


Body style
Cowled chassis
School bus
Commercial bus
Stripped chassis (1853FC)

Engine
Gasoline
International Harvester 345 cubic-inch V8 (1979–1986)
International Harvester 392 cubic-inch V8 (1979–1986)
International Harvester MV-404 6.6 liter V8 (1979–1981)
International Harvester MV-446 7.3 liter V8 (1979–1981)
Diesel
International Harvester D-150/170/190 9.0 liter V8 (September 1978 – December 1979)
International Harvester 9.0L V8 (January 1980–1987)
International Harvester IDI 6.9 L (420 cu in) (1983–1987)
International Harvester IDI 7.3 L (444 cu in) (1986–1989)
International Harvester DT466 7.6 L (466 cu in) (1979–1989)
International Harvester DT360 5.9 L (360 cu in) (1986–1989)
Caterpillar 3208 10.4 L (636 cu in) (1979–1981)

Transmission 5-speed manual
Allison AT545 4-speed automatic
Allison MT643 4-speed automatic
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Old 01-23-2017, 07:03 PM   #7
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If anything, it seems that the 466's in the 97-2001ish era are most likely to be paired with the 545. IDK. Cowlitzcoach is the one to ask about this kind of stuff.
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Old 01-23-2017, 07:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ourmefa View Post
I think I have narrowed our bus search to a Blue Bird All American (A3 Series). Based on a dealer recommendation, he said we should look at 1999-2002 models with most of the buses having 78" of head room and in the price range we are looking to spend.

My question to everyone here is what are the good and bad engines that are recommended? The wikipedia page does not list engine options specifically for the A3 series, but I have gleaned some info from posts and it seems the 5.9 Cummins is the most common but under powered. There also seems to be the 8.3L Cummins. What other engines should I be looking for in this make and model of bus that is better?

I should note we are looking at something in the 32-38' range.

Thanks!
The majority of A3s sold were powered by the Cummins engines, either the 5.9 ISB (very common) or the bigger 8.3 ISC (on the older 84/90 pass FEs and many of the REs). The A3 also had the newer 6.7 Cummins in the last couple years of its run, from around 2009 until 2013.

We actually still have 6 A3s in our fleet (2013 82 pass route spec) but they're getting traded in next summer). Most of ours are the current-gen T3s.

The A3 was offered with CAT motors, mainly the C7 but I follow the general consensus on this forum that they are to be avoided due to the ridiculous cost of parts.

EastCoastCB is on point with the transmissions, if you want to avoid the AT545 you'll generally want to get 2001 or newer.

2002 was also the first year for the updated driver's area which included a better redesigned console with actual switches instead of those awful little metal push-in buttons. 2005+ models have larger/better designed engine gauges although those buses are likely still beyond the reach of the average skoolie.

The front engine A3s came in a mind-boggling variety of wheelbase lengths. At our bus garage alone we have around 5 different wheelbase lengths on our A3s (48+2, 70, 76, 78 and 82)! These buses could be ordered with a TON of different options.
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Old 01-23-2017, 08:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
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643's are in a lot of buses WAY older than 99.Mine is a 92.
Yes they are but the OP was asking about busses 99 and up
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