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Old 11-07-2016, 10:40 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
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89 Bluebird, 5.9 Cummins

Hi all,
New here, looking to buy a 1989 Bluebird, with a Cummins 5.9. I haven't even looked at the bus yet, other than pictures. It is within 25 miles so I will drive down in a couple of days.
The owner says it has a blown head gasket.

Is this a common Cummins 5.9 ailment?

Also, what is the service life of a Cummins 5.9 before rebuild?

Also, also, as this is an early Cummins 5.9, the horsepower looks to be rated at 120. Is this enough power to pull my conversion and a car on a dolly?
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Old 11-08-2016, 07:03 AM   #2
Bus Nut
 
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I worry for you in regards that you might be buying someone else's boat anchor. How can you be sure what is wrong without a tear down? There are plenty of busses out there. Used engines are about $3500.00. What condition are the tires? How many miles on steering parts?
How much work a person wants to do and can do is subjective. A bus with a bad engine or tranny is like a house with a bad foundation. You are going to have to spend money just to be like the next bus on the block.
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Old 11-08-2016, 08:21 AM   #3
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Location: Houston, Texas
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Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
The 5.9 had a minimum rating of 160 HP at 2500 and 400 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm.
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Old 11-10-2016, 02:16 AM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Posts: 25
89 Bluebird, 5.9 Cummins

While I agree, that a thorough tear may be warranted, and a
possible rebuild necessary, the initial cost of the bus, depending
upon it's condition may make it worthwhile.
I have been looking at buses for quite some time in various
sales sites. The cost of most buses, the size and condition I am
looking for is around $3k @ the low end up to $25K at the upper
end. So even if I have to rebuild this engine, $4K to $5k, I can
still justify it. I will have a bus with a fresh engine for around
$4.8k to 5.8K.
From what I have been able to determine, searching various
forums on Google, that the TBO of the Cummins 5.9 is around
400K miles, depending upon the maintenance and idle time.

This compares with around 180 to 250K miles for a Cat 3126.

I am going down in the next 2 days to look at the bus.
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Old 11-10-2016, 07:59 AM   #5
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Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
the issue comes about if that head gasket was run for a long time and it steamed / cavitated a cylinder... I dont know enough aout the cummins to know enough if they are replaceable sleeves or if you could have a ruined block... then the cost goes way up...

the other thing I struggled with in my logic was 'is a fresh engine really needed?' sure one can say that a fresh engine is an awesome thing... however how many miles will you drive the bus per year? find a nice $4000 2001-2002 rust-free bus with a DT-466E and an MT-643 / 2000 series transmission and only 150k or so.. and very well may be able to run that bus 100k or more before ever touching it.. vs a nearly 30 year old bus that may have other 30 yr old bus issues...

my carpenter I paid too much for to have a DT-360 with only 85k on it... great bus.. ive run it 10k so far.. I dont regret it..

my second one I paid much less for and the body is nicer, its newer, has more creature comforts, and pretty much hop in the seat and drive.. no rust or roof leaks, no frozen brakes or rusted lines, etc...
it has 145k on it (Ive put 2 on it since I got it).. as far as i can tell the engine is in fine condition.. if I take care of it I may very well run it another 100k before I tear it apart... how many years? not sure..

or it may blow up tomorrow.. who knows..

if you plan to drive it all over the place and into remote areas then a fresh motor is a nice-to-have, but if its a few 1000 miles a year casual RV / traveller then a good-running bus with a few miles will likely be just fine..

-Christopher
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Old 11-10-2016, 09:43 AM   #6
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Gosh i am with the majority here; a bus with a blown motor needs to be free in comparrison to what we often see that same bus sell for with a good motor $15oo to $25oo

Good luck whichever road you choose.
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Old 11-10-2016, 11:01 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
the issue comes about if that head gasket was run for a long time and it steamed / cavitated a cylinder... I dont know enough aout the cummins to know enough if they are replaceable sleeves or if you could have a ruined block... then the cost goes way up...

the other thing I struggled with in my logic was 'is a fresh engine really needed?' sure one can say that a fresh engine is an awesome thing... however how many miles will you drive the bus per year? find a nice $4000 2001-2002 rust-free bus with a DT-466E and an MT-643 / 2000 series transmission and only 150k or so.. and very well may be able to run that bus 100k or more before ever touching it.. vs a nearly 30 year old bus that may have other 30 yr old bus issues...

my carpenter I paid too much for to have a DT-360 with only 85k on it... great bus.. ive run it 10k so far.. I dont regret it..

my second one I paid much less for and the body is nicer, its newer, has more creature comforts, and pretty much hop in the seat and drive.. no rust or roof leaks, no frozen brakes or rusted lines, etc...
it has 145k on it (Ive put 2 on it since I got it).. as far as i can tell the engine is in fine condition.. if I take care of it I may very well run it another 100k before I tear it apart... how many years? not sure..

or it may blow up tomorrow.. who knows..

if you plan to drive it all over the place and into remote areas then a fresh motor is a nice-to-have, but if its a few 1000 miles a year casual RV / traveller then a good-running bus with a few miles will likely be just fine..

-Christopher
Great advise. It's all in what you want to do. Work on it constantly and spend money or just get on down the road.

As a kid in the back seat on vacation i look back and see the my dad was never so happy on vacation as till we had car trouble and he had to work on the car.
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1998 Ford B700 Thomas body 65 passenger. 5.9 Cummins 12 valve with MT643 Transmission 123,000 miles.
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Old 11-10-2016, 01:26 PM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Posts: 25
Bus with a blown head gasket.

I agree with all of Your comments. It is great to come
here to be able to bounce things off everyone. Hope
You don't get tired of me.
The bus I really want is a pusher, because I can get them
with basement storage and they tend to be longer.
The bus in question is a FE, if the engine needs to
be removed will take a great deal of effort, the same
for a pusher.
I am weighing the pros and cons of whether buying
a crippled unit is worth it. I agree, that after all is
said and done, whichever unit I end up with will not
get very many more miles, although my Bride and I
are planning on living in it.
I have crossed any units with a Cat 3126, (OK, I know this
thread is for the Cummins 5.9.) off of my list, because
it is the wrong choice for a school bus; the 3126 does not
like to idle for long periods of time. School buses idle for
for most of their life, except rural districts where they have
to drive a long ways between stops.
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Old 11-10-2016, 02:43 PM   #9
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 2,127
Major engine repairs on FE buses are a royal PITA!

If you pull the engine your hoist only has about 2" to move up and down to get the engine out. You will need a really stout hoist since on some of the FE's the rear engine mount is the transmission mount. In other words you will have to pull the engine out with the transmission attached.

If the bus is in good condition in all other respects you may want to consider purchasing a second bus for a donor bus.

On buses built in the '80's and early '90's it is relatively easy to swap stuff around because there are no electronic controls that would need figuring out. Most from '96 on had partial electronic control. All from about 2001 and newer are totally electronically controlled. And from about 2005 and newer everything got multi-plexed.

Good luck!
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Old 11-10-2016, 03:08 PM   #10
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Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
and 2004+ everything got DPF and 2007+ everything got DEF..
-Christopher
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