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Old 01-21-2019, 06:22 PM   #1
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Lightbulb Aspiring future Skoolie! Opinions on this bus?

Hey guys, name's Nate! I've been lurking the forums the past few weeks, and have been on the hunt for a specific bus: Flat face, under 29ft total length, with DT466 or 5.9L Cummins, and around 150+ square feet of usable space. This has been a rather difficult search, as its a rare combo, especially finding one in good shape. Well, I think I might have finally found one!



Asking price: $8,000. The owner has stated they've received multiple offers for $5,000 and have turned them down.

Reason for sale: Not able to financially sustain their youth program

Bus is around 8 hours away from me, so I haven't checked it out in person yet

Details (per the current owner):

2001 Blue Bird CS-Series (I think, based on Blue Bird Wiki)
- Front engine
- 25 person bus
- 27' total length
- Interior dimensions from the rear of driver's seat: 21'Lx7'9"Wx6'3"H

Usage:
- Originally purchased at auction, it was a transit bus for the Treasure Coast area of FL

- Used as Church bus (daily youth program, weekend field trips, etc.)

- The last usage was early December (180mi round trip)


Engine: 5.9L Cummins 24V, 304,000 miles

- Worked on locally by a diesel tech

- Diesel tank had growth in it when they bought it, the tank was removed and steam cleaned and re-installed

- Has had Cummins Campaign 0504 Bulletin # 4907663 performed (Upgraded LP).

- Rear seal replaced 1.5K miles ago, new trans seals and other seals accomplished when this took place.

- 9.3MPG avg, cruises comfortably at 63mph, governed at 68mph


Transmission: Allison AT545

- 4K mi since overhaul

- Rear Axle Ratio: 3.54


Brakes: Hydraulic

- Parking brake recently rebuilt


Suspension: Air Ride in rear


Paint: Repainted when they took ownership from city bus auction.


Tires: 2yrs old, 4K miles


Air Conditioning: Dual A/C (right/left) in good working condition


All Gauges and lights work


Issues:

The fuel pump may need work

Back door weeps very slightly in heavy rain

Emergency exit on top leaks very little in heavy rain (needs new clamp?)

My plan:

I'll be turning this into a full-time off-grid skoolie, moving myself and my two 90lb Labs into it within the next year. My reason for going with a compact bus is so I can travel and use it at 84% of national parks (Source: https://camperreport.com/best-rv-len...ational-parks/).

My initial thoughts:

Mileage is probably high for that price, however, it seems like it's been well-kept and the owner is upfront with any issues (they are church-goers, so I would hope so haha)

This has nice, big windows already, and the floor is FLAT, so no worries about working around wheel wells in my floorplan. It's also the right height, as I'm about 5'9" and even with floor and roof additions I should have enough room to stand comfortably.

Ground clearance may be an issue, but only if I have to ascend some crazy steep roadways.

I'd obviously prefer a bigger motor/more durable transmission (MT643 or better), but there are solutions for the AT545 to install a torque converter if needed (Suncoast Transmissions makes some great options, and I happen to know one of their engineers )

More pics on Imgur here


One more thing, does anyone here know about the Blue Bird CS/APC series buses? I can't find many examples of anyone converting one, so I'm slightly hesitant of diving into the unknown.

Looking forward to feedback and expertise from everyone!
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Old 01-21-2019, 06:50 PM   #2
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I'd pass. Its top dollar for a lowrider with a 545. And that's crazy miles for a 5.9 in a bus.
If you've got that kind of dough go for a top of the line bus.
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Old 01-21-2019, 06:51 PM   #3
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No way I would personally pay that kind of money for that drive train, especially with over 300K on it. Keep looking, what you want can be had for around $3k if you search. You may have to travel a bit to get the right one. I pity those who settle for less just because it's close.
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Old 01-21-2019, 06:57 PM   #4
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304k miles $8000...............

I would run away.

There are much better deals than that out there. It may take some patience.

I actively looked and bid on auctions for almost 18 months before I found my 8.3/MD3060 equipped bus with 180k miles for $3800 including auction fees.

A little patience will pay dividends in your search.

Good luck!
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Old 01-21-2019, 07:11 PM   #5
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No arguing the price is high, and I likely will offer no more than $6500. I haven't been able to find many other options after searching for a few weeks.

These are the only other candidates I've found:

2001 Blue Bird TC2000, 28ft, 5.9L Cummins, Allison 2000 trans, UNK mileage (Odometer replaced at 139K mi)
Downsides: No flat floor, unknown mileage
https://www.govdeals.com/index.cfm?f...29&acctid=1251

2002 Bluebird 28ft, 5.9L Cummins, Allison tranns w/retarder, 27,000mi (super low)
Downsides: About 2600mi away for me, no flat floor, price is high
https://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/...790499381.html

2004 Thomas, 5.9L, Allison 2000 series trans, 214,101 mi
Currently at $550 on auction
Downsides: No flat floor, possibly too long (shooting for 29' or less)
https://www.govdeals.com/index.cfm?f...63&acctid=4438
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Old 01-21-2019, 07:19 PM   #6
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Not a flat nose, but an example of what's available. Just happened upon this, I'll keep an eye out for what you want.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/1995-Intern...Q-Gr:rk:4:pf:0
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Old 01-24-2019, 08:58 AM   #7
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Itís only an asking price... Offer them something realistic for you and give them the reasons why. Itíll sit there a long time at the current asking price..
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Old 01-24-2019, 10:22 AM   #8
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suncoast makes a Locking converter for an AT545?? only thing i knew of was suncoast making a "tighter" converter. but a Locking converter requires actuation mechanisms..



Suncoast and custom automatic comversions are top notch. but something seems suspect anoput locking converters for 545s


price is def high.. its a 300,000 mile engine thats not wet-sleeved.. its a $3500 bus..
-Christopher
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Old 01-24-2019, 11:00 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
suncoast makes a Locking converter for an AT545?? only thing i knew of was suncoast making a "tighter" converter. but a Locking converter requires actuation mechanisms..



Suncoast and custom automatic comversions are top notch. but something seems suspect anoput locking converters for 545s


price is def high.. its a 300,000 mile engine thats not wet-sleeved.. its a $3500 bus..
-Christopher
They don't make a lockup converter as you would need a valvebody, controller, and input shaft.

Suncoast does make a torque converter with higher efficiency though. It might not be on their website, so I would call and check with them.

And it seems like the consensus is to pass on this bus, so I'll keep my search going. If anyone wants to keep an eye out, I'm looking for a good condition, no rust, no fuss bus with the following, in order of importance:

- Less than 29ft long, but not a shorty <<<This is most important, since I want to fit into a majority of National Park campsites, while still maximizing the space I'll have for full time living.
- DT466(E) or Cummins 5.9/8.3
- Flat nose (FE or RE, doesn't matter, just trying to maximize space for the length of the bus vs having a dog nose)
- Prefer Blue Bird

This community has already provided me with a wealth of information, and I'm incredibly appreciative... Thank y'all so much!
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Old 01-24-2019, 12:07 PM   #10
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Chassis: Vista 3600
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I had/have the same concerns as yourself regarding national parks. That's the entire reason for my project.

I found this site super useful, it's for RV"s but mainly covers max lengths, which applies to us. https://camperreport.com/best-rv-len...ational-parks/

Here are the averages:

RVs up to 12′ in length fit in every national park campground in the United States, although there are a few campgrounds that don’t allow RVs at all and are tent only.
  • RVs up to 19′ in length fit in 98% of all national park service campgrounds.
  • RVs up to 25′ in length fit in 93% of all national park campgrounds
  • RVs up to 29′ in length fit in 84% of all national park campgrounds
  • RVs up to 32′ in length fit in 81% of all national park campgrounds
  • RVs up to 35′ in length fit in 73% of all national park campgrounds
  • RVs up to 37′ in length fit in 60% of all national park campgrounds
  • RVs up to 40′ in length fit in 53% of all national park campgrounds (Remember that many of the parks will only have a few sites this size, however. Book long in advance if reservations are available–otherwise you run the risk of not having a spot)
  • RVs up to 41′ in length fit in 7% of all national park campgrounds (Remember that many of the parks will only have a few sites this size, however. Book long in advance if reservations are available–otherwise you run the risk of not having a spot)

Without the front buttwacker, mine comes in at just over 32', entirely passable in the 32 foot areas.

I'm not sure if this is a secondary goal, but I can confirm that anything under 35' can fit into two lateral parking spaces fully within the lines.


As for your bus choice, that was mine as well! I love the little TC2000's, so cute. I had several floorplans designed in sketchup, and they were great. In the end though, I decided to settle on something a bit larger at the expense of losing roughly 3% of parking areas. Entirely worth it IMO.

The AT545 isn't great and with the TC's small wheels, handling and speed won't be very good. As others have said, the AT545 makes for rough driving when it comes to going up/down hills.

I originally would never have picked a dog nose, but after test driving some transits and dognoses, I found that my preference for handling heavily weighed in and I decided to take a middleman, the Vista. Half dognose, half of the engine is in the cab under a short doghouse. I lose 3 feet, but it drives like a standard vehicle with the driver behind the front wheels.

If you get the chance, drive a few of them. School districts often will take you on a ridealong if you can't find a dealership that'll let you do a test drive. The transit styles put you over the front wheel, and due to leverage any bumps will be magnified. My rear end hurt a bit after only 20 minutes of driving in one (in mildy rural areas, not too bumpy roads, all paved). Turning wasn't bad, but it certainly was different (although you'd get used to it, I did after my first 2 test drives).

As for the engine, just my own opinion and coming from a newbie to the skoolie community, but I'd drop the 5.9 off your list of potential engines. The 8.3 and DT466 are highly recommended, but the 5.9 seems to get the consensus of underpowered.
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Old 01-24-2019, 02:45 PM   #11
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Is this one the right size or too long?
https://abilene.craigslist.org/ctd/d...780880685.html
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