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Old 02-01-2019, 11:19 PM   #1
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Urgent newbie question about motor!

Hey everyone! I've been looking online for some busses for sale. I came across what I think might be a good deal but I'm no mechanic and wanted your guy's opinion. I'm looking at a 2003 Thomas School Transit FE. Capacity is 71 Passengers. Diesel fueled with HYD Brakes and a 5.9 CUMMINS Engine with 102,199 miles on it. Asking price is $4,200. Do you guys think this is a good deal? I know the Cummins 5.9 is a popular choice on this site. Any and all advice would be great appreciated! I've also found some other Thomas and Blue Bird busses for sale that are around the same year (2002-2003) for $3,000-4,000 but they're around 145,000 miles give or take.
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Old 02-02-2019, 12:01 AM   #2
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While not a bad motor, It is not high on the desirable list. More important, what transmission is in it? With the 5.9 I would suspect it's 545 and in that case , no, it would not be a good deal. A bunch of nice buses just went for $1800-$2300 on Public Surplus.
Don't trust the speedometer on that bus, It is the most commonly replaced item on a bus as the solder joints fail soon after being put in service. It would be easier for us to find a bus for you if we knew where you were? Go to the UsrCP and fill out your profile.
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Old 02-02-2019, 12:59 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Nikkob View Post
Hey everyone! I've been looking online for some busses for sale. I came across what I think might be a good deal but I'm no mechanic and wanted your guy's opinion. I'm looking at a 2003 Thomas School Transit FE. Capacity is 71 Passengers. Diesel fueled with HYD Brakes and a 5.9 CUMMINS Engine with 102,199 miles on it. Asking price is $4,200. Do you guys think this is a good deal? I know the Cummins 5.9 is a popular choice on this site. Any and all advice would be great appreciated! I've also found some other Thomas and Blue Bird busses for sale that are around the same year (2002-2003) for $3,000-4,000 but they're around 145,000 miles give or take.

Without knowing more about the bus it is hard to know for sure if it is a good deal or not.


The Cummins 5.9L 6BT engine is a very reliable engine and will go a really long way before it dies, even if it is rode hard and put up wet. The problem with it in a school bus is most of the time it wasn't ordered with a very high HP rating. I have seen them rated as low as 160 HP and as high as 285 HP. If it is at least 190 HP it will be adequate. If it is at least 210 HP it will more than likely have the better MT643 transmission.


Hydraulic brakes would be a big minus for me. Juice brakes are great brakes. But because of the nature of a converted school bus they do tend to sit around more than they get driven. With air brakes that isn't a big deal. With juice brakes it becomes a big deal. You could end up having continual problems with leaking seals and rusting cylinders and pistons.


Not knowing where the bus saw service but the fact that it has juice brakes with seating for 71-pax it was in an area without a lot of hills. No hills means it most probably is a low HP engine with route gears.



With those spec's I would not be paying that kind of a price. About half of that asking price would be more reasonable.
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Old 02-02-2019, 09:42 AM   #4
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Thanks guys, I really appreciate it! That's all the information I have on the bus until the company emails me back (if they even do) unfortunately. I would need a bus that can drive in the hills and mountains towing a car because I plan to move to Oregon after it's built. I live in Carbondale IL right now though. Cowlitzcoach, I will make a profile on that website. That's kind of a bummer about the brakes. Mainly just because I think I would have to test at the DMV for air brakes. I appreciate the knowledge though because I would rather test than have brake issues. I appreciate both of your replies a lot! I will try to give you more info on the bus as soon as I get it!
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Old 02-02-2019, 09:55 AM   #5
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I feel like an idiot but what does usrcp stand for because I couldn't find whatever website to make a profile?
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Old 02-02-2019, 12:58 PM   #6
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I live in Carbondale IL right now though. Cowlitzcoach, I will make a profile on that website. That's kind of a bummer about the brakes. Mainly just because I think I would have to test at the DMV for air brakes.

FYI Illinois doesn't test for air brakes. I have no idea about Oregon though.
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Old 02-02-2019, 03:32 PM   #7
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I feel like an idiot but what does usrcp stand for because I couldn't find whatever website to make a profile?
I think it was meant as an abbreviation for "user control panel." You'll find a link to that at the left end of the black navigation bar, and also in the "Quick Links" menu located below and right of the search box (in the desktop version of the web site, anyway).
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Old 02-02-2019, 03:55 PM   #8
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FYI Illinois doesn't test for air brakes. I have no idea about Oregon though.

In the US, if you are not driving a commercial vehicle, and by definition an RV is not a commercial vehicle, you do NOT have to have a CDL. Many of the folks on here have purchased their bus and driven it home without a CDL even though the bus was still a seated bus and registered that way.


I do NOT know of any jurisdiction in the US that requires or has a way in which to endorse a regular driver's license with the air brake exemption taken off. Only on a CDL can you have the air brake exemption taken off. It requires an additional written test and a practical test which is usually part of the driving test for a CDL.
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Old 02-02-2019, 04:53 PM   #9
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I feel like an idiot but what does usrcp stand for because I couldn't find whatever website to make a profile?
Typo on my part, UserCP. You can find it in the upper left.
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