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Old 12-31-2016, 06:10 PM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Posts: 4
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Bluebird
Alaska Bus Conversion

Greetings from the Final Frontier (Anchorage, Alaska)!

My wife and I are purchasing a 1998 Bluebird All American with a front end diesel engine. Currently configured as a 48 seater and I estimate that it's 45' in length. We're very new to this and looking forward to learning a lot. I've been lurking on this forum for the past week trying to glean as much knowledge as I can stepping into this.

Does anyone have a decent VIN decoder for me to use? Trying to find some better spec listings for our bus than what I've been able to ascertain through Google searches.

Excited for this process. Going to be learning a lot!
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Old 12-31-2016, 07:40 PM   #2
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Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: near Christiansburg VA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robotwrestler View Post
...Does anyone have a decent VIN decoder for me to use? ...
I use this one for quick and dirty lookups. Other decoders TRY to squeeze out more info but I haven't seen much success in getting any more from them than this one gives:

Automotive Belts & Hose Vin Decoder | Gates Corporation

Glad you're with us! And I think school bus length is 40' max by law, so it's likely that's your length.
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Old 12-31-2016, 07:58 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 17
Year: 1998
Chassis: chevy
Engine: 366
Rated Cap: 36
Hey Robotwrestler- Nice bus. I have (2) 35 passenger (1/2 busses- Bluebird bodies, one with a Chevy 366 the other with a DT 466e). My son and I are heading to Alaska this summer (just booked flight) yesterday. Unfortunately, we will not be taking our Freebyrd bus) as the trip is too long from NH. We are renting an RV tho and will be staying for 2 weeks. This is a great site. Good luck and maybe we'll see your bus in Alaska this summer!

Freebyrd
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Old 12-31-2016, 08:56 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Louisiana
Posts: 21
Year: 1989
Coachwork: Ford B700
Engine: Detroit Diesel
Welcome aboard! my wife and I are new to this as well. we bought a 1998 Ford B700. will begin conversion second week of January! Best Wishes!
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Old 12-31-2016, 09:06 PM   #5
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Posts: 4
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Bluebird
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dapplecreek View Post
I use this one for quick and dirty lookups. Other decoders TRY to squeeze out more info but I haven't seen much success in getting any more from them than this one gives:

Automotive Belts & Hose Vin Decoder | Gates Corporation

Glad you're with us! And I think school bus length is 40' max by law, so it's likely that's your length.
Thank you for the help. I have a lot to learn. I haven't physically measured it out yet.
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Old 01-01-2017, 04:55 AM   #6
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 1,546
I think you will discover the bus is only 40' long. School buses are limited to 40' maximum. As a consequence, even in the commercial versions none of the school bus based buses are longer than 40'.

A 1998 Blue Bird is going to have one of three engines--Cummins ISB, Cummins ISC, or Cat 3126/C7. The ISB is going to be a little small in that bus, the ISC will be a great engine, the Cat engines are good but can get very expensive to repair.

It will have either an Allison MT643 or MD3060. If you are lucky it will have the MD3060 and since your bus was never a school bus it may actually have all six gears enabled.

Axles, brakes, and rear end gearing is so variable that I can't even begin to guess what you might have.

If you do end up purchasing that bus there is some things you need to know about Type 'D' FE buses.
  • They are nose heavy. If you notice, the total weight of the engine and transmission are in front of the front axle.
  • Because they are nose heavy they can become a handful when the road gets slippery--a lot of oversteer and no traction.
  • Because they are nose heavy you need to plan your conversion so that anything heavy goes behind the rear axle. Empty you will most likely discover there is twice as much weight on the front axle as there is on the rear axle.
  • Because the engine is in the dog house right next to you it is going to be loud and hot. You can put more insulation on it to reduce the heat and noise but when it is inches from your right foot you can only reduce the heat and noise so much.
  • Because the engine is in the dog house working on it is a royal PITA! Changing service items like filters can be an exercise in gymnastics and contortion. Changing wear items like fan belts can become a full day job.
The only caveat I would have is make sure there is no rust in the bus.

Good luck and happy trails!
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Old 01-01-2017, 05:19 AM   #7
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Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Prince George, BC, Canada
Posts: 467
Year: 1974
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: CHEVROLET C60 just under 19700 lbs body#B10353
Engine: 350 ci on propane
Rated Cap: 48
This is probably the best vin decoder for bluebird buses. Part of the blue bird bus website.
https://cptdb.ca/wiki/index.php/Blue...er_Explanation

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Old 01-01-2017, 10:46 AM   #8
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Johnstown, PA
Posts: 248
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC 2000
Engine: 5.9
Rated Cap: 83
Nice looking bus! Welcome to the best place on the net. Don't hesitate to ask questions. There is more skoolie knowledge here than anywhere else and everyone is glad to
help.
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Old 01-01-2017, 12:09 PM   #9
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Posts: 4
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Bluebird
Thank you, cowlitzcoach, that is all helpful information. The engine wain't as loud as I was expecting, which was nice. We took it for a drive in the snow and it didn't slip at all (has new tires), but I also didn't take it over 25MPH.

We're hoping to start the conversion process in 3-4 months after it warms up a little. We pick the bus up next week!
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Old 01-03-2017, 11:24 PM   #10
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Fayetteville Arkansas
Posts: 155
Welcome! Definitely insulating? Ha ha

-Thomas
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