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Old 06-19-2017, 03:43 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 21
Chassis: GMC Bluebird
Engine: Cat 3126
Cat 3116/Allison advice needed!

So we had a baby and now after a year have decided to do some traveling by bus. I am usually over cautious which often prevents me from actually pulling the trigger on what may be a good deal. Looking for some sound advice and input from y'all!

We located one that seems great but would love your input as it is a few states away so we can't just show up with a mechanic. The bus is a 35ft 1992 Thomas with a 3116 cat engine, Allison automatic transmission. I am told the engine, transmission and running gear are in excellent shape. Brakes have around 5k on them. Tires have lots of tread. New 4D battery, heavy duty tow hitch used to pull dirt bikes to Mexico the last 5 years. The bus was maintained by a bus mechanic and owned by a former bus driver. It's in great shape and registered as an rv. Title is clean. The bus has about 150k and motor about 85k since the engine broke a crankshaft around 60k. Current owner states the engine was repaired and is in excellent shape. He also states that he is confident in its ability to safely get us from one coast to the other with no issues.

Anything you have to offer as far as the engine and mechanics are concerned would be greatly appreciated. Providing everything checks out what would be a fair offer? It is currently a barebones no frills camp style bus with bunk beds. Any other tips that might keep us from getting stranded somewhere would be great. Thanks everyone
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Old 06-19-2017, 04:03 PM   #2
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Ont, Can.
Posts: 420
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: GMC
Engine: Cat 3116
Rated Cap: 72
Welcome.
If I was you I would get over there and look it over and test drive it first before thinking price. Sounds like a nice combination except I don't know about the Allison auto transmission. Should be fine if the owners are truthful.
I have the 3116 with a 5speed standard, 19997 Bluebird. It's a bit slow through the gears in town but on the highway it will cruise night and day with no issues. Power to spare let's say so I am very happy and it's non computerized which works for me.
Have you got any pics available.
Most folks here don't like Cat engines mostly due to parts costs. But a well mfg. part is worth it in my mind. And dealers are everywhere so that your travels should be worry free.
Mine is also a FE so no clue if I'd like a RE engine. I like to hear and feel those horse pullin!
If that bus did Mexico it should have a good cooling system also. The trailer hitch is a plus as is a basically empty bus so if me I'd be all over it asap.

John
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Old 06-19-2017, 04:06 PM   #3
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Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Willamina, Oregon
Posts: 4,410
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC 1000
Engine: 5.9
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Best advice, shop for a bus at the local bus barn (school district bus parking area) through the Public Surplus or Federal auctions.

http://www.govliquidation.com/

https://www.govdeals.com/

http://www.publicsurplus.com/

Most of us here don't like buying buses from re-sellers. People say they feel at risk during the auctions. Consider who has more reason to pawn a bad bus off on you, a county agency or a bus re-seller that stands to make a profit? I'd prefer a bus that has been recently pulled from service, simply because I know it has had frequent use rather than buying a bus that has been sitting in someone's backyard for who knows how long.

Additionally, most of us here don't like Cat engines because of their propriatory parts that are considerably expensive compared to International and Cummins parts. There are also people that prefer Cat engines, so do what you're comfortable with.

You didn't mention if those brakes were air or wet brakes. Again it's a personal choice, but most of us prefer air because they're safer and more durable.

You'd do well to read information on anything you have questions about. It works best if you search subjects through google; i.e. "brakes, skoolie.net" or "insulation, skoolie.net."

Are you thinking of making the weekend camper type bus or are you thinking of doing a full build to live in?
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Old 06-19-2017, 04:10 PM   #4
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Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Willamina, Oregon
Posts: 4,410
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC 1000
Engine: 5.9
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For the bad news, Cat is not a favored engine by the majority but there are Cat users that swear they are just fine. You mentioned the brakes. Are those air or hydraulic? Also if you don't mind my asking, how much is that bus selling for?

Are you planning a good weather camper out of the bus or are you planning a full build that you can live in for an extended period of time?
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Old 06-19-2017, 05:27 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 21
Chassis: GMC Bluebird
Engine: Cat 3126
https://seattle.craigslist.org/sno/cto/6165118552.html

Listed at $4500. If everything is as the seller says would you say that's a good price or should I talk it down a bit? Really have no idea a good price is on a bus? Thanks
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Old 06-19-2017, 05:28 PM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 21
Chassis: GMC Bluebird
Engine: Cat 3126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin97396 View Post
For the bad news, Cat is not a favored engine by the majority but there are Cat users that swear they are just fine. You mentioned the brakes. Are those air or hydraulic? Also if you don't mind my asking, how much is that bus selling for?

Are you planning a good weather camper out of the bus or are you planning a full build that you can live in for an extended period of time?
https://seattle.craigslist.org/sno/cto/6165118552.html

Listed at $4500, is that a good price?
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Old 06-19-2017, 05:30 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 21
Chassis: GMC Bluebird
Engine: Cat 3126
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackJohn View Post
Welcome.
If I was you I would get over there and look it over and test drive it first before thinking price. Sounds like a nice combination except I don't know about the Allison auto transmission. Should be fine if the owners are truthful.
I have the 3116 with a 5speed standard, 19997 Bluebird. It's a bit slow through the gears in town but on the highway it will cruise night and day with no issues. Power to spare let's say so I am very happy and it's non computerized which works for me.
Have you got any pics available.
Most folks here don't like Cat engines mostly due to parts costs. But a well mfg. part is worth it in my mind. And dealers are everywhere so that your travels should be worry free.
Mine is also a FE so no clue if I'd like a RE engine. I like to hear and feel those horse pullin!
If that bus did Mexico it should have a good cooling system also. The trailer hitch is a plus as is a basically empty bus so if me I'd be all over it asap.

John
https://seattle.craigslist.org/sno/cto/6165118552.html

Only pics I have are the ones in the craigslist post above. So it's listed at $4500, would you say that's a good price if everything is as he says it is?
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Old 06-20-2017, 08:01 AM   #8
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: West Ohio
Posts: 611
Year: 1984
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: International 1753
Engine: 6.9 International
Rated Cap: 65
That engine should be fine. Similar to a 3126 size wise but less power, and like previously stated, no computer control.

The allison is likely an at545. I've had no problems with mine and a few others in the shop but some people like to avoid them at all costs. They're not as robust as other allison options out there. Make sure the throttle cable to the trans is adjusted properly and it should last you a while.

I like the fact that it is already has a mh title. That is one less step you have to take. How much are they asking for it?
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Old 06-21-2017, 09:05 AM   #9
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Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Posts: 854
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: All American
Engine: Cummins 8.3/Allison MD3060
Rated Cap: 84
The 3116 had a problematic injector/cup setup. I wouldn't be too excited about any bus with a Cat in it, but for the right price I'd take a 3126. There's no pricetag that would make me take a 3116.
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Old 06-21-2017, 10:22 AM   #10
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 7,200
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International S3800
Engine: DT360
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
my all mechanical AT545 is a beast... it shifts firm and stout every time.. has that school bus whine and has taken me through everything but the rockies so far.. I feel like I can drive that ome anywhere..

my newer electronic modulated AT545 felt flimsy and whimpy.. thats why its on my garage floor now...

-Christopher
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