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Old 02-10-2018, 11:27 AM   #1
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Looking for opinions on the options in my area!

Hello, I am Ryan and I'm new here. For a long time I've been interested in building a skoolie for the weekends where my girlfriend and I want to get out of town and go camping. This past summer we bought a pair of jet skis, and we both already had snowmobiles, so now my dream is transforming into a toy hauler skoolie camper. There are a few busses available near me, but I want to make sure I know what to look for, and which of these options would be the first choice of others here.

First option is a 1997 Blue Bird dognose with the 444 and a manual transmission. It has 227K on it, air brakes, and they are asking $1800.


The next option is a 1998 Blue Bird with a 444 and an automatic. It doesn't list which model transmission it has though. It has 187K on it, and has hydraulic brakes. No picture of this one, so I don't know if it's a dognose or flat nose. They want $3000.

The third option is a 2002 IC with the 444 as well, lists as an automatic (again, no model listed) and has 210K. This one has hydraulic brakes too. They want $2200, and this is the one I'm leaning towards the most even though it doesn't have air brakes.


I really appreciate any and all help you can provide me!

Thank you!
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Old 02-10-2018, 04:29 PM   #2
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Welcome Ryan

You might find this counterintuitive, but I like the first bus with air brakes and the stick. Hydraulic brakes are a deal killer for me. Also the fact that all these are all long buses with a kind of small motor, I'd be looking elsewhere. Lots of fish in the sea. Get what you want mechanically instead of trying to make it into something better after you get it. Read into better transmissions for these buses and final drive ratios if you haven't done that already.

Bigger engine, better transmission. You're in the right year grouping though IMO. Are you specifically aiming mor a mechanical engine?
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Old 02-10-2018, 04:43 PM   #3
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Welcome Ryan

You might find this counterintuitive, but I like the first bus with air brakes and the stick. Hydraulic brakes are a deal killer for me. Also the fact that all these are all long buses with a kind of small motor, I'd be looking elsewhere. Lots of fish in the sea. Get what you want mechanically instead of trying to make it into something better after you get it. Read into better transmissions for these buses and final drive ratios if you haven't done that already.

Bigger engine, better transmission. You're in the right year grouping though IMO. Are you specifically aiming mor a mechanical engine?
My main interest in the 444 is because I have a 2001 F250 with the same engine, and I know they are capable engines. I know to shy away from the AT545 if possible.

And I know this shouldn't be a deal breaker, but I prefer the look of the hood on the early IC busses.
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Old 02-10-2018, 04:49 PM   #4
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That 97 looks nice. High headroom too.

04 is sketchy. I've got an 04 but quality control was nowhere near as good in 04 as it was on the 98 I had, or the 92.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old 02-10-2018, 04:52 PM   #5
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That 97 looks nice. High headroom too.

04 is sketchy. I've got an 04 but quality control was nowhere near as good in 04 as it was on the 98 I had, or the 92.

Just my 2 cents.
Do those look like the taller windows to you? I couldn't tell. I thought the tall windows had almost square panes.

And I suppose, if I happened upon a early IC hood in a junkyard, that's all that I would need to make the swap. It would be an ICBBCE
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Old 02-10-2018, 06:20 PM   #6
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I would definitely lean towards the 1997. The stick shift is sort of unique and if you don't mind shifting it might be a good choice for you. The windows appear to be the 12" windows which gives you three inches more headroom over the standard ceiling.

I really would not consider the other two simply because they don't have air brakes. On a vehicle that is by definition sitting a lot I would not want to have wet brakes. The brake fluid is hydroscopic and attracts water. When you get water in the brake fluid it drastically lowers the boiling point of the fluid making it much easier to boil your brakes dry. The water in the system also tends to cause rust that will ruin pistons and seals in the brake system. And most importantly, the emergency/parking brake is on the driveline and tend to not be that great.

Good luck and happy trails to you!
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Old 02-10-2018, 08:05 PM   #7
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Welcome!

Is your location actually Minnesota? I assume that is where you found these buses? I would be interested in the first with the manual transmission, but you want a toy hauler. For your purpose, please look for a bigger engine. V8 diesel is not going to do you any justice for what I understand you to be intending to do. Look for a 7 liter + inline 6.

A common pair up is the DT466 with an AT463 (Correct me if I got the numbers wrong)in the full size buses. It is very likely that the other two buses feature the at545 since they have wet brakes and a dt444 IMO. Ask me my reasoning if you feel like hearing the explanation, but it all comes down to weight ratings.

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Old 02-10-2018, 08:28 PM   #8
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Welcome!

Is your location actually Minnesota? I assume that is where you found these buses? I would be interested in the first with the manual transmission, but you want a toy hauler. For your purpose, please look for a bigger engine. V8 diesel is not going to do you any justice for what I understand you to be intending to do. Look for a 7 liter + inline 6.

A common pair up is the DT466 with an AT463 (Correct me if I got the numbers wrong)in the full size buses. It is very likely that the other two buses feature the at545 since they have wet brakes and a dt444 IMO. Ask me my reasoning if you feel like hearing the explanation, but it all comes down to weight ratings.

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I'm interested in your reasoning.The 444 is 7.3L but was replaced by the VT365 6.0L-6. Is it because the turbo 6 puts out more torque?
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Old 02-10-2018, 09:20 PM   #9
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I am leaning towards that first one myself now. The main reason I wanted an automatic over manual (which, at this point I assume to be the Spicer with 1:1 top gear) is to have overdrive to help with MPGs. I don't think the 444 will be horrible for my intended purpose, but by no means will it be a powerhouse. I'm not planning on doing a full build out, at least not right away, I just want something that will carry our snowmobiles and jet skis, and we can sleep in it with more protection from the elements than a tent. I'm thinking we would add features and build it when we couldn't get more than a standard weekend off from work. I would do what is necessary to make it legal here in Minnesota (permanent bathroom, kitchenette, and paint).
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Old 02-10-2018, 09:43 PM   #10
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Yeah go for that 97. Its a good deal at that price!
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Old 02-10-2018, 10:06 PM   #11
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Yeah go for that 97. Its a good deal at that price!
I plan to look at it this week if possible. Are there any common problem areas I should check out? Or common rust areas?
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Old 02-10-2018, 10:07 PM   #12
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I'm interested in your reasoning.The 444 is 7.3L but was replaced by the VT365 6.0L-6. Is it because the turbo 6 puts out more torque?
PM sent. To keep on topic.
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Old 02-10-2018, 10:55 PM   #13
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I plan to look at it this week if possible. Are there any common problem areas I should check out? Or common rust areas?
Just look all over it for rust. As long as it isn't bad the price and drivetrain are pretty highly regarded.
A little rust isn't bad, but if the frame is flaking its probably best to leave it.
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