Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 10-31-2018, 01:13 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Location: Oregon
Posts: 21
Year: 2005
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: Blue Bird
Engine: 8.3 L Cummins, MD 3060 Trans
Rated Cap: 50
Going to look at a few buses tomorrow

Hey all,

I am heading out tomorrow morning to look at a four buses - three RE (2 with cummins 8.3, one with DT466), and one dog nose with the DT466. All the REs have the MD 3060 trans - not sure about the dog nose. From those who have been down this road and learned from their experience, I would like to know what should I look/watch out for, and what are good questions to ask?

Thanks for the help!

James
__________________
It only costs 70 percent more to go first class.
Tanker Pilot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-31-2018, 02:58 AM   #2
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 1,959
All things being equal I would not bother looking at the Type 'C'. In a foot by foot comparison the Type 'C' will need to have a body at least 5' longer to have the same interior volume as the Type 'D' buses.

If all of the Type 'D' buses are similar then you need to start chasing which one is a sheep and which one is a goat.

First, the high roof models are much preferred unless you plan to raise the roof. If you going to raise the roof it doesn't matter.

Second, check the HP ratings and rear end ratios. Both the Cummins 8.3L and IHC DT466 came in a lot of different HP ratings. Some came as low as 210 HP and some as high as 300 HP. Higher HP is better but 250 is probably the most common HP rating of those engines. Without one of the higher HP options the bus will not have enough power to travel highway speeds or climb hills at anything more than a fast walking speed. If the bus isn't geared for highway speeds it is one to look at last as the cost of swapping for a higher speed rear end gearing is not going to be cheap.

Third, miles are important but what kid of miles is more important. Most school buses, on average over the life of the bus, go 10K miles per year. Significantly higher would suggest it was used on trips and didn't spend a lot of time going to and from school. Significantly lower would suggest a bus that spent a lot of time going to and from school on short routes or a garage queen. In this case lower miles might actually be not as good as higher miles.

Fourth, spend some time in the driver's seat and visualize yourself in the driver's seat. If the control panel(s) are not close or easy to hand for you then it might be a good idea to look at another bus. Of the three major full size buses on the market today I like the IC driver's position best and the Blue Bird the least. Thomas, depending upon the model year tend to be better than the IC but not ever better than the BB. At least not IMHO!

Lastly, no matter how low the price goes, if the bus has rust you need to walk away. Any significant rust is a deal breaker.

Good luck and keep us posted.
cowlitzcoach is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-31-2018, 08:55 AM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Location: Oregon
Posts: 21
Year: 2005
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: Blue Bird
Engine: 8.3 L Cummins, MD 3060 Trans
Rated Cap: 50
Thank you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
All things being equal I would not bother looking at the Type 'C'. In a foot by foot comparison the Type 'C' will need to have a body at least 5' longer to have the same interior volume as the Type 'D' buses.

If all of the Type 'D' buses are similar then you need to start chasing which one is a sheep and which one is a goat.

First, the high roof models are much preferred unless you plan to raise the roof. If you going to raise the roof it doesn't matter.

Second, check the HP ratings and rear end ratios. Both the Cummins 8.3L and IHC DT466 came in a lot of different HP ratings. Some came as low as 210 HP and some as high as 300 HP. Higher HP is better but 250 is probably the most common HP rating of those engines. Without one of the higher HP options the bus will not have enough power to travel highway speeds or climb hills at anything more than a fast walking speed. If the bus isn't geared for highway speeds it is one to look at last as the cost of swapping for a higher speed rear end gearing is not going to be cheap.

Third, miles are important but what kid of miles is more important. Most school buses, on average over the life of the bus, go 10K miles per year. Significantly higher would suggest it was used on trips and didn't spend a lot of time going to and from school. Significantly lower would suggest a bus that spent a lot of time going to and from school on short routes or a garage queen. In this case lower miles might actually be not as good as higher miles.

Fourth, spend some time in the driver's seat and visualize yourself in the driver's seat. If the control panel(s) are not close or easy to hand for you then it might be a good idea to look at another bus. Of the three major full size buses on the market today I like the IC driver's position best and the Blue Bird the least. Thomas, depending upon the model year tend to be better than the IC but not ever better than the BB. At least not IMHO!

Lastly, no matter how low the price goes, if the bus has rust you need to walk away. Any significant rust is a deal breaker.

Good luck and keep us posted.
Thanks!! That is precisely the input I was hoping for!

Cheers,

J
Tanker Pilot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-31-2018, 10:53 AM   #4
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 10,048
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tanker Pilot View Post
Thanks!! That is precisely the input I was hoping for!

Cheers,

J

cowlitz is spot on here.. some busses have hours meters.. you can look for high hours to miles ratio.. also dont necessarily believe extra low miles on a dashboard odometer.. school busses are notorious for having gauges fail and get replaced with rebuilt / reman units that are often zeroed out.. sometimes the bus will be marked with previous mileage but not always. I always look at the wear and tear on the bus to see if displayed mileage is believable..



your sig says oregon. oregon can be hit or miss.. if busses lived their lives on the desert side of the state they are very likely to be pretty rust free.. if they lived on the wet coastal side there ay be significant rust... you just have to look and crawl around..





-Christopher
cadillackid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-31-2018, 11:12 AM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Location: Oregon
Posts: 21
Year: 2005
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: Blue Bird
Engine: 8.3 L Cummins, MD 3060 Trans
Rated Cap: 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
cowlitz is spot on here.. some busses have hours meters.. you can look for high hours to miles ratio.. also dont necessarily believe extra low miles on a dashboard odometer.. school busses are notorious for having gauges fail and get replaced with rebuilt / reman units that are often zeroed out.. sometimes the bus will be marked with previous mileage but not always. I always look at the wear and tear on the bus to see if displayed mileage is believable..



your sig says oregon. oregon can be hit or miss.. if busses lived their lives on the desert side of the state they are very likely to be pretty rust free.. if they lived on the wet coastal side there ay be significant rust... you just have to look and crawl around..





-Christopher
On the subject of rust, are there any particular areas that are telling?

Also, I plan on towing about 10,000 pounds with the bus. A lower axle ratio might be what I need, at the sacrifice of top speed. What sayest thou?
Tanker Pilot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-31-2018, 11:15 AM   #6
Skoolie
 
Pizote's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Santa Rosa, CA
Posts: 107
Year: 2007
Coachwork: ICCORP
Chassis: CE300
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
All things being equal I would not bother looking at the Type 'C'. In a foot by foot comparison the Type 'C' will need to have a body at least 5' longer to have the same interior volume as the Type 'D' buses.
But all things are not equal. This is also a matter of styling, heat/noise, use case, personal preference.

Here are some differences:
  • CE are Quieter than FE as there is no doghouse
  • Less heat transfer than FE as there is no doghouse
  • CE and RE - the RE has space issues in the rear as the engine takes up a similar amount of floor space - albeit in the rear
  • A CE has typically - not in all cases - more clearance and is better suited for boon-docking and unimproved roads. This is subjective, but one must look at the empirical evidence of Latin America, you will be hard pressed to find a flat-nose bus school bus there as the CE types perform better for the mountainous and rough roads.
  • Flat nose buses have a tighter turning radius as the wheel base is typically shorter than with a CE.
  • Styling - all subjective

Now for the purpose of converting to a skoolie, I would agree that an FE would provide more living space foot-for-foot, but not so sure about a CE vs RE.

I would never go with a flat nose - purely for my personal tastes, they excel in some areas over a CE, but they don't go with my use-case and personal preferences.
__________________
Follow my build - and adventures at https://www.facebook.com/pizote.adventures
Pizote is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-31-2018, 11:23 AM   #7
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 10,048
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
gears and gears can be your friend for towing.. the idea of a slightly lower rear gear and then have an overdrive gear in the trans is often a nice way to go.. when you are towing, you drop down to your straight 1:1 gear and go slower to tow.. then when you arent towing you go back to Overdrive and can either drive a bit faster or more economically with lower RPMs..



the MD-3060 is a 6 speed auto .. in school busses 6th is Not enabled or available to the user.. some have had luck getting 6th enabled and then can run lower RPM or higher speed..



on the 3060 4th gear is 1:1 and 5th gear is 0.75:1 and 6th (if you can get it enabled ) is 0.65:1


you'll have 5 gears.. sometmes the schools bought the busses with very low rear gears knowing they had OD.. but from ive seen of oregon busses most of them come with a reasonable rear gear like a 5.13 that allows you to have decent pulling torque in 4th gear.. and then go to 5th for 65 MPH highway travel..



on an international you can call a dealer with the VIN and they will tell you what the HP rating, trans type, and rear gear ratio, and tire size that the bus was built with from the factory..


I dont know if you can do that with thomas and bluebird or not.. (others can chime in).


-Christopher
cadillackid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-02-2018, 04:02 PM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Location: Oregon
Posts: 21
Year: 2005
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: Blue Bird
Engine: 8.3 L Cummins, MD 3060 Trans
Rated Cap: 50
I looked at five buses on Wednesday. Every bus I looked at was free of visible rust. This guy buys them 10 at a time, so they let him have first pick out of the available buses. I passed on three of them right away - not enough head room, and there were two buses that were tall enough inside that I would not need to.

Of the two "tall" ones, one is a 40 foot 2005 Blue Bird that was an event bus, used to transport football teams and such to games. It has a 290 HP 8.3 Cummins and the 3060 trans, 6th speed enabled, and a 5.83 axle ratio. "Sweet driving bus" is an understatement. It has the overhead bins (which I would most likely remove), 242,000 on the ODO with 7,265 hours on the meter. It has air conditioning, but did not turn it on to see if it works as I was not in the negotiating phase. He runs these buses through his shop and safety checks them. This bus had not yet been through the shop. It is clean and dry everywhere, burns clean, engine and tranny are silky smooth, quiet and tight. Suspension and steering also tight and quiet. 76 inches of interior headroom, and I am 6' tall. The good news is, being that this bus has AC, they insulated it better than they would have had it not been so equipped. His starting price on the bus is $5,000, "as is," without it going through his shop, $5,500 if I have him replace the front tires - which it needs. If he runs it through his shop and safety checks it, his price goes up to $8K. The body is good except for one dent about 2/3 the size of a football on the back of the bus, left rear corner near the roof line - as if they kissed a light pole with it. I like the underneath storage. Opens up a lot of options. My balking points on this bus are (1) the low ground clearance compared to a dog nose (I expect to be taking it off road a lot), and (2) the uncertainty of what lies undiscovered if I do not have him run it through his shop, and (3) my limited knowledge of what price a bus configured like this and in this condition should fetch.

The second bus I looked at is a 97 Navistar, 39 foot dog nose with a 240 HP DT466 and MT643 trans. It was the first one I looked at and drove. It is very clean, rust free, perfect body, and has 78 inches of headroom as it is. It came with a bump in the roof from the factory. Nice ground clearance - also important to me. Both buses have adequate interior room for my purposes (one man bus). It does not have the underneath storage of course, but cutting into the sheet metal and bolting/welding the compartments I need underneath should be simple enough. I like the fact that with the body as high as it is off the ground, mounting an ASTM propane tank such that the bottom of the tank in above the axles will be easy. The control panels are not as functional and appealing as the Blue Bird. Being 8 years older may have a lot to do with that I guess. The downsides for me on this bus are the power train and road feel of this bus compared to the Blue Bird. I ran it up and down the steep grades we have on I-5 here in southern Oregon, and it climbed them at 50 to 55 MPH. Of course, it was empty, with nothing behind it. I plan on towing 10 to 12 K pounds with whatever bus I buy. The tranny and engine work fine. I just got spoiled after driving the Blue Bird. I was told by the seemingly very engine-savvy yard kid that I could program the engine to deliver 275 HP without having to upgrade the cooling system, and much higher if I did upgrade it. I suspect that - as suggested in an earlier reply - this bus had its pedometer/odometer replaced. It indicates it has 128,000 miles on it, but 9,101 hours. The steering feel is not as sure on this bus as the Blue Bird, and there is no comparison between the transmission and engine performance, function, control feel and drivability, The Blue Bird is vastly superior. What I am vacillating over is (1) the headroom - which is very important to me, and (2) the ground clearance. He wants $5,500 for this bus, but I expect I could get it for $5,000. On the downside, there is a noticeable rubbing sound and feel when the steering wheel is turned to the left. I am more concerned about the fact that when I brought it to the owners attention he acted as if he could not feel or hear it - kind of makes me suspect he might know precisely what it is and does not want to fix it. There is a high frequency vibration in the wheel when you turn it. Imagine rubber on rubber if you can. I lifted the hood and had him turn the wheel, and I could hear it. It sounds like it was coming from under the engine, more or less centered, but I could see nothing, and with all of the engine noise it was just not possible for me to locate it. Any ideas?

Bottom line is I think I need to look at a few more buses, or just stew on this awhile. If these were the last two buses on the planet, I would go with the dog nose for the simple reasons of ground clearance and headroom. Even though the Blue Bird drives like a dream by comparison, the bus will spend more time parked than on the highway.

Any thoughts - besides the fact that I talk too much?
__________________
It only costs 70 percent more to go first class.
Tanker Pilot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-03-2018, 02:42 PM   #9
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 1,959
It sounds as if the Blue Bird is the unicorn for which you are seeking--high HP, highway gearing with low gears for towing, adequate headroom, and a very attractive price. Even after the $3K safety check if he adds in two better front tires it is a very attractive price.

The Type 'C' bus will NEVER drive or ride as well as the Type 'D' bus. The longer wheelbase contributes most of the difference.

Having the noise and heat maker 30+ feet behind you will make a world of difference in regards to fatigue at the end of the day compared to having the noise and heat maker inches away from your right foot.

As far as ground clearance is concerned, regardless of what bus you purchase you really do NOT want to be getting too far off of an improved road with a bus. They are all very heavy, very top heavy, and very cumbersome when taking off pavement. At some point you will have your household gear in the bus. It won't take a lot of banging around before you start to hear things breaking in the cabinets or stuff breaking free. Gravel is one thing. Offroad trail is something else again.

As long as you are not trying to drive on a rutted road with deep holes and a high center crown I would not hesitate taking either bus off pavement. But neither bus is well suited to serious off pavement trekking. Add a trailer hitched behind on and you enter into the "don't stray too far from the pavement" zone.

I doubt you could find a better bus than the BB at a comparable price no matter how long you look.
cowlitzcoach is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-03-2018, 07:03 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Location: Oregon
Posts: 21
Year: 2005
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: Blue Bird
Engine: 8.3 L Cummins, MD 3060 Trans
Rated Cap: 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
It sounds as if the Blue Bird is the unicorn for which you are seeking--high HP, highway gearing with low gears for towing, adequate headroom, and a very attractive price. Even after the $3K safety check if he adds in two better front tires it is a very attractive price.

The Type 'C' bus will NEVER drive or ride as well as the Type 'D' bus. The longer wheelbase contributes most of the difference.

Having the noise and heat maker 30+ feet behind you will make a world of difference in regards to fatigue at the end of the day compared to having the noise and heat maker inches away from your right foot.

As far as ground clearance is concerned, regardless of what bus you purchase you really do NOT want to be getting too far off of an improved road with a bus. They are all very heavy, very top heavy, and very cumbersome when taking off pavement. At some point you will have your household gear in the bus. It won't take a lot of banging around before you start to hear things breaking in the cabinets or stuff breaking free. Gravel is one thing. Offroad trail is something else again.

As long as you are not trying to drive on a rutted road with deep holes and a high center crown I would not hesitate taking either bus off pavement. But neither bus is well suited to serious off pavement trekking. Add a trailer hitched behind on and you enter into the "don't stray too far from the pavement" zone.

I doubt you could find a better bus than the BB at a comparable price no matter how long you look.
Thanks for the input. What you say makes a lot of sense. I was not thinking I would go "trailing" with a bus. I have a Jeep for that. I just want to get deep enough off pavement to escape humanity and have some privacy.

I sent the owner a deposit and he is going to start running the bus through his shop on Monday. I told him I would for certain buy this bus, or another bus from him, so neither of us will lose either way. It really is a fine-driving machine, and the driver's position is much more appealing. I know I will be happy with it.

J
__________________
It only costs 70 percent more to go first class.
Tanker Pilot is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:25 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.