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Old 07-03-2019, 08:15 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: WV
Posts: 5
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000
Engine: 6BT5.9
Hello from West Virginia! Anyone else near by?

Hi, new member and new skoolie owner.

I got my 92 TC2000 FE off craigslist, 3 hour drive from where I live. I think I got an ok deal, would love to get advice on what to do next. I am a tad hesitant on moving forward due to the drive train.

Cummins 5.9 + AT545

I bought it off someone who started to frame out a living space but ditched the idea after a year. They were asking $3500, I took it for $2000. When I crawled under and over it, I didn't see anything too alarming. Roof was solid, a little rust scale on the frame. The worst is the stair well into the bus - rusted out but still holding "true".

The test drive was a bit worrying, the owner said she had never driven it and had just kept it in storage. It started quick and strong, engine runs great. This has hydraulic brakes, and when I got to moving it felt like they were dragging. I believe I was facing the common issue of seized caliper pistons after sitting for so long. I couldn't break 35-40mph on the local highway.

So I bought it!

After about 20 miles towards home, I think I wore enough pad and/or rotor material to get up to 50-55mph. Any uphill was a drop to 35-45mph. Around 55-60mph the front end has a bit of a shimmy.

The oil pan and torque converter have a good amount of oil leaking, hoping some new gaskets will fill those holes nicely. Note, the bus made it home without to much of a hiccup in 140miles so I think that says something.

Oh yea all 6 tires are old/gouged/cracked - yay..

Did I buy a bunk of a bus or should I dive in head first and get her built? My thinking is, make this my first build, a learning one. I am budgeting a total of $10k, maybe I can off load it in a few years after improving the worst of it.

As for what I plan? Recently single, want to hit the road and find home. I want to explore different towns and lively hoods. I've lived in an RV for a year and a half and feel I learned a lot of how NOT to live life on the road from that experience.
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Old 07-03-2019, 12:38 PM   #2
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Well you're not too deep in price to make a go of it. Definitely pull the flooring and address the rust that will be inevitable if the stairs are rusted out. Why did you buy that drive train if you were leery of it to begin with? It is the least desirable drivetrain, but manageable if not doing a bunch of highway speeds or tall mountain passes. You could probably sell it for what you paid and find something better.
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Old 07-03-2019, 01:51 PM   #3
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Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Loudoun, Virginia/Bus in Beckley, WV
Posts: 41
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Thomas Built
Chassis: Saf T Liner MVP EF
Engine: CAT 3126B + Alizon AT545
I'm currently garaging mine in the Beckley area mid-build.
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Old 07-03-2019, 07:22 PM   #4
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Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: WV
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Year: 1992
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000
Engine: 6BT5.9
Quote:
Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
Well you're not too deep in price to make a go of it. Definitely pull the flooring and address the rust that will be inevitable if the stairs are rusted out. Why did you buy that drive train if you were leery of it to begin with? It is the least desirable drivetrain, but manageable if not doing a bunch of highway speeds or tall mountain passes. You could probably sell it for what you paid and find something better.
Yea that's why I jumped... I thought for $2k I couldn't go wrong really... bright side - the 5.9 is well supported and can make plenty of power? And the 545 can ride or die.

I definitely give myself a small kick for going with this one first and not waiting... but I'm pretty motivated for anything to get me on the road asap and with my budget I felt like I could make this work. There is always future buses to look forward to.

I don't know what else I would be doing when not driving if not highways and mountain passes haha. ...I'll do a "light" build.
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Old 07-03-2019, 07:23 PM   #5
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Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: WV
Posts: 5
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000
Engine: 6BT5.9
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Originally Posted by Aegis2x View Post
I'm currently garaging mine in the Beckley area mid-build.
Right on, bout 4 hours from me.
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Old 07-03-2019, 11:45 PM   #6
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Location: Oberlin, Kansas
Posts: 1,390
Year: 1989
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Chassis: Saf-T-Liner ER
Engine: 3208 CAT/MT643 tranny
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Originally Posted by nehmia View Post
And the 545 can ride or die.
On a long hard drive in the summer, say going non-stop for 600 or so miles, that 545 WILL cook. There's no lock-up like a 643 has. So the transmission fluid will slop around, heat up, and boil. The super quick and cheap route is to add a second over-sized transmission cooler. But remember, the tranny will eventually overheat when pushed on a long drive no matter how many tranny radiators you use. The 545 will also heat quickly on mountain passes. Even with my 643, that transmission got a bit toastie when I drove up from California to Reno, NV on I-80 this past spring break with SNOW falling and cold water on the road splashing on the drivetrain....... The engine and transmission are in the rear of the bus, and my transmission temperature gauge went from a comfortable 160* to 205* in about 20 or so miles. I had to pull over three times and let the transmission cool for about 30 minutes each time while the engine idled and helped circulate the cooling transmission fluid from the transmission radiator. Something to keep in mind if you want to keep on the road instead of broken down beside it....

M
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Old 07-04-2019, 08:22 AM   #7
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Location: WV
Posts: 5
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000
Engine: 6BT5.9
Dang it! Dad and I were just like "ah let's throw another cooler in it and call it good!" Haha. Well... Shoot.

Sell bus and find a one with a 643 or swap in a 643 for the difference in cost maybe?
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Old 07-04-2019, 08:44 AM   #8
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Location: Oberlin, Kansas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nehmia View Post
Dang it! Dad and I were just like "ah let's throw another cooler in it and call it good!" Haha. Well... Shoot.

Sell bus and find a one with a 643 or swap in a 643 for the difference in cost maybe?
Yeah, those are your two realistic options.....

M
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Old 07-04-2019, 09:27 AM   #9
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Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: WV
Posts: 5
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000
Engine: 6BT5.9
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Originally Posted by M1031A1 View Post
Yeah, those are your two realistic options.....

M
Listed! Well, nothing like a hiccup right at the start to get out of the way.
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Old 07-05-2019, 12:58 AM   #10
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Don't let that get you down. Look at some of the builds you would be interested in doing yourself. Look at the buses that are bought for the conversion. There is a pattern to follow. Some people prefer one engine over another, but with transmissions, it's usually an MT 643 or newer design. Ask for some guidance before buying. For example the IC MAXX engine is a boat anchor riddled with problems, avoid it. Other engines have various advantages and drawbacks depending upon the intended use. It's all in what you are wanting to do and how you want to get the task done.

Also ask yourself about the parameters. Is this a weekend get-away bus or a full-time live-in? What about comfort? A/C or no A/C, cruise control, electronic or mechanical engine/transmission, mileage. manufacturer, and so on... Narrow down the needs first, then look for a bus that fits those needs.

My wife and I took time to figure out we want to full-time live in our bus, travel, do work-camping, and relax without worrying about bills when we retire. She's handicapped, so that was another major consideration and challenge. It took us three years to find our bus. We decided against many similar buses due to one or more issues, no cargo bay being one of the big ones. So we looked for a long time before we found our bus. Be patient and the right one will come along at the right price at the right time. In the meantime, do research, create floor plans, find a place to put the floor plans down with tape, see if it works, change as needed.

It can be frustrating at times. However, keep your eye on the ultimate goal - not getting the wrong bus, but getting the right bus that will last a long time in meeting your needs (especially when your needs change).

M
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