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Old 03-25-2017, 10:14 AM   #1
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New Member in Northern Minnesota

Hey all! I guess I'm kinda new to posting. I've been prowling the forum for weeks but my wife and I are finally making progress. Hardest part was finding a bus...

There's no real point to this post besides saying hello and sharing my experience (as limited as it is) so far.

Thanks in no small part to this forum I had a pretty good idea of what we wanted/needed for a bus. Dognose 70+ passenger with hyd brakes and a Dt466 engine. There were a few local buses but they were either too expensive, too rusty or just not what we wanted. Northern Minnesota isn't exactly great for bus options (or rust) but I'll admit that idea of buying a southern bus and transporting it home was a bit daunting.

So I've been searching hard for weeks, calling everywhere, staring at auction sites... but just last week I finally got in touch with the guy that runs the shop at the local school bus depot and he (of course) has 5 buses that all fit what I'm looking for and in our price range. What are the chances? Blue Bird Internationals with DT466e, hyd brakes. There were two 2001's with AT545 transmissions and three 2003's with the 2500? series transmissions (5 speed). I went from hoping to get lucky with finding a bus to suddenly having options! What a great day that was.

These buses are backup for his fleet so they've all been maintained to be used on a moments notice. Compared to a few other buses we've checked out locally... that's a nice fact to know. A few around here look like they've rusted and sunk right into the ground... uffda.



So I guess that's just me sharing... We are in talks with the guy right now. We realized how nice it is to work with a fleet manager and not a salesman/dealer. He's upfront, honest, and not at all pushy. It's great. We toldl him our plans and he helped guide our decision making toward the bus that would be best for us. Just helpful. Plain and simple.

So that's the story so far. I'm looking forward to getting it home. We are thinking of getting a 2003 with the 5 speed transmission. 180,000 miles. Not great but not terrible considering the company has kept studious records of all the maintenance performed. The tires appear to be in great shape so that's a plus. The big thing for me is convenience. It'll be a 10 minute drive to go pick it up.

Thanks for taking the time to read! I'm just excited and wanted to share. You guys have been fantastic here. So very helpful even if you don't realize it.
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Old 03-25-2017, 11:40 AM   #2
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Great story! Going straight to the source is never a bad idea.

Why did you settle on hydraulic brakes, if I can ask? That's a minority opinion around these parts.

And, welcome!
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Old 03-25-2017, 12:00 PM   #3
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Dan-fox, thanks for asking! I've always been a fan of the idea that if you can't justify or give a reason, you've made the wrong decision. So on that note I prefer hydraulic for a number if reasons specific to me. I'm more comfortable with the system and maintenance. They are more common in my area so getting local service in the immediate future is easier... But mostly I'm just not a fan of air brakes and the upkeep.

Again. That's just my opinion so take it for what it's worth. ;0
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Old 03-25-2017, 12:35 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rengald View Post
Dan-fox, thanks for asking! I've always been a fan of the idea that if you can't justify or give a reason, you've made the wrong decision. So on that note I prefer hydraulic for a number if reasons specific to me. I'm more comfortable with the system and maintenance. They are more common in my area so getting local service in the immediate future is easier... But mostly I'm just not a fan of air brakes and the upkeep.

Again. That's just my opinion so take it for what it's worth. ;0
Yeah, I hear you. When I first started thinking about this topic the only thing I knew about air brakes was that if you got a leak or lost pressure they defaulted to full on and you were dead in the water. I thought that sounded pretty stupid.

After reading this forum and the places it's pointed me to for further info, I've changed my mind. Now what I think is "A school bus is an awful lot of metal to try to bring to a halt with hydraulics. Air brakes are just stronger binders."

I'm not trying to change your mind. You do you; I'll do me. But keep an open mind and an ear to the ground.

One thing that wet brakes have in their favor is they are more unit rebuildable. I read recently that air brake actuators are no longer rebuildable because of the danger of compressing the spring to take them apart. You get to buy new units whole. I don't know what that costs, but I'm guessing it ain't cheap.
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Old 03-25-2017, 02:05 PM   #5
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Welcome Rengald
It's good to hear you did your research first.

Not to be offensive but I'd still have to agree with dan on the air brakes. Like you I preferred wet brakes previously. Air brakes do feel different, and they require a whole system from the pump to the tanks to the brakes. I've never had to hone out a gummed up slave cylinder with air brakes. About the worst thing is if the brakes freeze to the drums overnight and that's fairly easy to deal with. Still, nothing wrong with the system you're accustomed to.

Welcome to the maddness.
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Old 03-25-2017, 02:44 PM   #6
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https://www.bigmachineparts.com/prod...i2caAkbP8P8HAQ
Cheaper than the calipers in my car! Lol
I prefer air for larger vehicles.
Both systems have pros and cons. If you are comfortable with hyd brakes, then awesome.
The important thing is... Another Skoolie is born.
Welcome aboard!

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Old 03-25-2017, 08:18 PM   #7
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Welcome!
We need more skoolies up here.
Beware of rust!
Have fun.
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Old 03-25-2017, 10:02 PM   #8
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welcome to the fun, here in Ontario if you have air brakes you need an endorsement on your drivers licence, I have wet brakes on my full size bus and work fine
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Old 03-26-2017, 08:13 AM   #9
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If you have a choice between a 2000 series and 545 trannys, definitely go for the 2000.
545's are ok on smaller buses, but they have no lockup tc and no o/d.
I got my latest bus from Colorado. AMAZING bus for the money. Colorado is my first choice now for buses. You're a LOT closer to CO than I am....


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Old 03-26-2017, 10:15 AM   #10
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Hey all, Thanks for the replies. I fear the Air vs Hyd conversation is one of those "can't please everybody all the time" conversations. If I had the choice between the two I might be more keen on learning more about the air systems but as it sits I have yet to see a air system in person. but thanks all for the input! This is exactly the reason I like this place.

I've already talked to a local servicer about brake work. It will be along while before we are heading out of town after the conversion is ready so I just plan to bring the bus around for a quick check up (brakes included) before we are off. I can just assume right now that after a year and a half of sitting the hyd brakes are going to be a bit due to a off in a MN climate. I'll just have to deal with that when the time comes. ;0

GBStewart, I think your statement is correct in MN. As far as I can tell I would need the endorsement with air brakes and my wife would too if she ever wants to drive it.

EastCoastCB, I was struggling with the A545 for a while. That was all I was able to find for a long while and I just was not convinced it would do what we are asking of it. So when I found out that this place had a newer bus with a nicer trans I was ecstatic. Thanks for reaffirming.
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