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Old 02-05-2018, 05:42 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Hi there

I'm about to buy my first bus very soon. I plan to live on the road and hopefully still make a living. I do woodworking and cabinet making. I also plan to start a vlog and stream the process of converting the bus over. I am currently looking at a 2001 Blue Bird 84 passenger bus with a 5.9 liter engine. I'm not sure if this engine is good for a bus or not. I assume it does good considering it's in an 84 passenger bus. Any thoughts on this engines power?
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Old 02-05-2018, 06:01 PM   #2
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I'm about to buy my first bus very soon. I plan to live on the road and hopefully still make a living. I do woodworking and cabinet making. I also plan to start a vlog and stream the process of converting the bus over. I am currently looking at a 2001 Blue Bird 84 passenger bus with a 5.9 liter engine. I'm not sure if this engine is good for a bus or not. I assume it does good considering it's in an 84 passenger bus. Any thoughts on this engines power?
Sounds like it has a Cummins 24V 5.9L engine. It is a very good engine, some consider underpowered for big bus, especially towing. ( i have it in my bus)

A lot depends on your transmission model- what is it mated to? Where is going to go- Mountains?

How much $$ it is also comes in to factor.

Woodworkers do the nicest builds.
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Old 02-05-2018, 07:05 PM   #3
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Old 02-05-2018, 07:48 PM   #4
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That is a bit small of an engine for a 40' bus. It's doable, but you'll be that slow guy in the mountains.
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Old 02-06-2018, 04:42 PM   #5
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That is a bit small of an engine for a 40' bus. It's doable, but you'll be that slow guy in the mountains.
I was wondering how underpowered it might be. My logic is they used this engine with the intention of carrying 84 passengers. That's a lot of weight even if it was young kids. I would lighten up the bus as much as possible. Would engine programmers work on this bus like is used in Dodge trucks?
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Old 02-06-2018, 05:00 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by pouncer View Post
I was wondering how underpowered it might be. My logic is they used this engine with the intention of carrying 84 passengers. That's a lot of weight even if it was young kids. I would lighten up the bus as much as possible. Would engine programmers work on this bus like is used in Dodge trucks?
I have 24v 5.9L in my 25' former bookmobile. It was specc'd with a 10KW Onan genny and 16 floor-ceiling 3/4 Maple ply bookshelves loaded with books. The bus cost them north of $160K. It was their 3rd Bookmobile with the 5.9L. It was not light.


Everyone keeps telling me how underpowered it is, but have yet to see the effects. Have not gone through the mountains yet, but probably wouldn't drive through them at 70 mph, even if I could.

Most of the comments on the Board about Cummins engines are from people who never owned one. They think the 12v=24v.

It's more a function of the transmissions. Diesel trucks did fine with low-horsepower engines for decades, still got up the big hill and dumped the dirt.

None of the Dodge stuff will work, unless you replace the harness, injection pump brain, ECM, sensors...I forget what else.

Cummins shop could turn-up the settings a bit, but they are dealers, aka jagoffs--at least Chandler Services is.
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Old 02-06-2018, 05:03 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by pouncer View Post
I was wondering how underpowered it might be. My logic is they used this engine with the intention of carrying 84 passengers. That's a lot of weight even if it was young kids. I would lighten up the bus as much as possible. Would engine programmers work on this bus like is used in Dodge trucks?
They don't carry those kids very far, or very fast.

You are taking a vehicle designed to run stop/start through neighborhoods and use it on the highway. Scool districts only pay for the power they need.

This is why the Trip buses command a premium as they were spec'd more towards highway use.
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Old 02-06-2018, 05:06 PM   #8
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I like my 5.9 so far, it's a 12 valve 190HP tune. It's in a 32 foot Bluebird and while I haven't driven it much beyond the 600 miles home from purchase it had plenty of power to roll at its comfortable cruising speed.

If you're joining the SSBRL (Silly School Bus Racing League) it might not be a good choice.
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Old 02-06-2018, 05:09 PM   #9
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Some of the Dodge cummins stuff is applicable, but not that much. Then again you've got the computerized cummins obviously. Others here know the electronic versions ever so much better than I do. I've got one of the last mechanical engines. I haven't found much of anything I could use from the Dodge side.

I got this bus down to about 17k lbs just by stripping the interior panels. This one only had a couple seats to start with because it's a handy bus. I often liken the power of this 5.9 engine to driving a pickup truck with a cord of green firewood loaded on it, and this is the 26' 9 window bus.
I wouldn't be afraid of a 35 or 40 ft bus with a 5.9 unless it also has the 545 tranny. I think you're looking at a flat land route bus that probably scooted around town. If you're getting a long bus and you want to actually travel on interstates and highways you're going to want a bigger engine and a transmission that's not the at545. That means you should be looking for a 643, or the 1000 or 2000 series transmission. It's easy to find a long bus but hard to find the trip buses with big engines and gearing for smooth freeway travel. If you're going long, go big.
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Old 02-06-2018, 05:25 PM   #10
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Thanks for the responses. I planned to use this for short trips daily, like 50 miles or less, I intend to live in it full time.
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