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Old 09-06-2018, 01:36 PM   #1
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Hey all!
I have been following the skoolie concept for many years, and we are getting close enough to start looking for a bus of our own. We are a homeschooling family of 11 (2 adults 9 kids) wanting to take a few weeks at a time to "give our kids the world" or at least the continental United States to start. So we are looking for as big as we can get, and something that will handle wherever we want to go (Mountains). We recently came across an 83 passenger, 15 window, 2002 Bluebird with a 5.9 Cummins and Allison 545 transmission. From my research, a 5.9 cummins (to quote another thread "is a great motor for a stationary bus") I wanted to see your thoughts, preferably from people who have/had the same or similar setup. Is this worth looking into, or should we keep looking. We are not really in a hurry, but do have a tight budget. Some other considerations, I would much rather go slow and not have to work on it all the time, and also like the idea of easy to find parts.

Thanks in advance!
Nathan
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Old 09-06-2018, 02:47 PM   #2
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It's not so much the motor as the tranny that usually backs it. The 5.9 is a decent engine as long as it's not in a very large bus where it will be under powered. The downfall of the 5.9 is that it usually has a AT 545 behind it that does not have a locking torque converter and there fore is always working off the fluid. Hills and long freeway stretches will tend to drive the heat up on that tranny and destroy it. A 5.9 in a medium or short bus with any other tranny would not be bad.
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Old 09-06-2018, 03:43 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply!
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Old 09-06-2018, 03:55 PM   #4
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Looks like a TC2000FE, every single one has the 5.9 and AT545, It's a very common bus and even though they stopped making them shortly after yours were built there are still thousands of them on the road. Some of them even have routes that include highway driving! I like them, I'm building one myself

You didn't say where you are at, which can make a difference.

Things to look out for:

. Check to see if its a 53 block: Cummins 53 Block Casting Information
. Decide if you're OK with not having air conditioning. I see storage cabinets where the condensers would be.
. Tire age and condition - replacing bad or old tires will run you at least $2600.
. These are low end, common buses. Read: inexpensive. This should be a very cheap bus.
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Old 09-06-2018, 04:25 PM   #5
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Thanks for the info!
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Old 09-06-2018, 04:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
It's not so much the motor as the tranny that usually backs it. The 5.9 is a decent engine as long as it's not in a very large bus where it will be under powered. The downfall of the 5.9 is that it usually has a AT 545 behind it that does not have a locking torque converter and there fore is always working off the fluid. Hills and long freeway stretches will tend to drive the heat up on that tranny and destroy it. A 5.9 in a medium or short bus with any other tranny would not be bad.
Gotta agree with Marc.

5.9/AT545 in a full size bus is great for picking up kiddies around town but (IMHO) sucks for hauling your (rolling) house across the country.

I spent 6+ years covering 250k miles living full time in my first bus. It had 318 HP and a 4 speed lockup transmission (HT740) . There were times that I really wished for more power and/or more gears. To be fair that bus was a bit heavier than my Bluebird.

If you are building a house you want a good foundation. The bus and its drivetrain are the foundation for your Skoolie project. Make sure you take the time to find a good one.

Good luck.
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Old 09-06-2018, 08:08 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by PNW_Steve View Post
Gotta agree with Marc.

5.9/AT545 in a full size bus is great for picking up kiddies around town but (IMHO) sucks for hauling your (rolling) house across the country.

I spent 6+ years covering 250k miles living full time in my first bus. It had 318 HP and a 4 speed lockup transmission (HT740) . There were times that I really wished for more power and/or more gears. To be fair that bus was a bit heavier than my Bluebird.

If you are building a house you want a good foundation. The bus and its drivetrain are the foundation for your Skoolie project. Make sure you take the time to find a good one.

Good luck.
Agreed, but I'd also say the same of the 444E.
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Old 09-06-2018, 08:16 PM   #8
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Agreed, but I'd also say the same of the 444E.
I agree.

I am a big fan of displacement. I have an 8.3 Cummins in my bus. But... I think that I would take a similar HP 5.9 Cummins over a T444. HP is good but big torque rules.
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Old 09-06-2018, 08:32 PM   #9
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I agree.

I am a big fan of displacement. I have an 8.3 Cummins in my bus. But... I think that I would take a similar HP 5.9 Cummins over a T444. HP is good but big torque rules.
Yeah. The 5.9 is my choice between the two but I'm a fan of displacement as well.
The 7.2 and 7.6 engines in my shorties are tops!
If I could find an 8.3 shorty I'd buy it. May have to build one some day.
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Old 09-06-2018, 09:01 PM   #10
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Awww...C'mon ECCB. We all know what you really want is a 16 cylinder QSK95...in a shorty! Gotta love those big bore Cummins.
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