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Old 09-01-2017, 11:06 AM   #1
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Gold Bar, WA
Posts: 124
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC 2000
Engine: 5.9 L Cummins Turbo
Rated Cap: 28
New owner of older bus

Hello. I have already used this site for questions and greatly appreciate the generosity of strangers ready to share their hard earned knowledge.

Realizing although I tried to do research that I have an under powered bus with a transmission that doesn't have a torque converter (Cummins 5.9L/Allison 545 [I think]). I bought this bus because it was in very good shape, low mileage, good price, close to home and mostly because it is 27' and I didn't want a huge bus. I had wanted a manual, but those are hard to come by and not being a mechanic needed something with common engine/trans. In any case, it is my bus now and I shall begin the conversion which I am excited about. Drew a floor plan on graph paper so have an idea of the layout, which mostly will leave it open and add as little weight as possible. Tearing out floor and then attaching water/grey tanks seems the correct order of business.

Look forward to paying the help I have received, and will receive, forward.

Any other bus owners in western Washington? Need to find a good mechanic and tire shop, source for solar install, used parts like a ladder to the roof (RV wrecking yards?) so any local knowledge would be appreciated.

Thank you. Deidre
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Old 09-01-2017, 01:19 PM   #2
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Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Midwest
Posts: 2,573
Year: 2003
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: TC2000
Engine: 5.9L Cummins
Rated Cap: '00
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Originally Posted by druidwood View Post
Hello. I have already used this site for questions and greatly appreciate the generosity of strangers ready to share their hard earned knowledge.

Realizing although I tried to do research that I have an under powered bus with a transmission that doesn't have a torque converter (Cummins 5.9L/Allison 545 [I think]). I bought this bus because it was in very good shape, low mileage, good price, close to home and mostly because it is 27' and I didn't want a huge bus. I had wanted a manual, but those are hard to come by and not being a mechanic needed something with common engine/trans. In any case, it is my bus now and I shall begin the conversion which I am excited about. Drew a floor plan on graph paper so have an idea of the layout, which mostly will leave it open and add as little weight as possible. Tearing out floor and then attaching water/grey tanks seems the correct order of business.

Look forward to paying the help I have received, and will receive, forward.

Any other bus owners in western Washington? Need to find a good mechanic and tire shop, source for solar install, used parts like a ladder to the roof (RV wrecking yards?) so any local knowledge would be appreciated.

Thank you. Deidre
Welcome !

Underpowered is a relative term. If you don't tow and can go slowly up the mountain, you should be fine. I have the same engine in a 35 foot bus.

Trans: From what I have read, the 545 is susceptible to heat damage, so temp gauge is good investment. It has a torque converter, just doesn't lock-up. This means it can generate the bad heat if not accounted for. Big trans cooler may help prolong life. Still a good trans, just not the preferred one.

Please share pics of your bus and plans!!
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Old 09-01-2017, 04:04 PM   #3
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Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 4,935
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
Welcome,

There are a number of Skoolies in Western Washington. I was one until last month. Moved to the Walla Walla area.

IMHO: The 5.9 Cummins is a good fit for a 27' bus. The AT-545 is manageable if you don't expect too much. Understand that you will not have the highway speed or hill climbing performance that you get with things like lockup converters and overdrive equipped buses.


Good luck!
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Old 09-01-2017, 06:28 PM   #4
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 11,860
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
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Originally Posted by PNW_Steve View Post
Welcome,

There are a number of Skoolies in Western Washington. I was one until last month. Moved to the Walla Walla area.

IMHO: The 5.9 Cummins is a good fit for a 27' bus. The AT-545 is manageable if you don't expect too much. Understand that you will not have the highway speed or hill climbing performance that you get with things like lockup converters and overdrive equipped buses.


Good luck!
my DEV bus is 24 feet with a DT-360 and an AT545. and I ran that thing 15000+ miles last year.. over mild mountains (3500 foot tops down to sea level).. I drove it at 65 when i wanted on flat ground.. I slowed down a lot on the hills.. and eventually decided that 60 MPH is a good fit for that bus..

I never burnt that transmission up.. and its fluid is nice and red.. to me the older AT545s (before the electric modulator) are pretty solid and Beefy units..
-Christopher
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Old 09-01-2017, 08:08 PM   #5
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Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Spring Valley AZ
Posts: 1,223
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Bluebird
Engine: 5.9 Cummins
Rated Cap: 2 elderly children, 1 cat


At545 3:54 diff.
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Old 09-02-2017, 02:58 AM   #6
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The AT545 in a smaller bus with a lower HP engine is going to work for you just fine! It won't have lock up so it will tend to run a lot hotter on grades but that can be worked out with larger coolers and slowing down.

Unless and until it goes south on you I wouldn't worry about doing anything to it.

As far as used parts and pieces are concerned, Westcoast RV Recycling in Centralia, WA has a very good selection of used RV parts all the time. It is always changing so if you see something you want or need you need to get it then because it most probably won't be there the next time you go.
1961 Chevrolet Bel Air Bubbletop Coupe Photo Picture

Gary Miller at GLM Bus Repair in Puyallup is a really good guy, very competent mechanic, and his prices are very reasonable. He works on a lot more motorcoaches than school buses but he still knows enough to get the job done. About GLM Bus Repair Puyallup | Tacoma WA

As far as tire shops are concerned, I would try to find an older locally owned non-franchised tire shop that works on trucks and equipment. They will have a lot more affordable choices than going to a discount tire shop like Les Schwab or a name brand shop like Goodyear. I have used T&T Tire in Kelso, WA for more than 30-years for my personal, company, and church vehicle tires. An added benefit, the sales tax in Cowlitz County is one of the lowest in the state. It is at least 2% lower than anywhere in King, Pierce, or Snohomish County (thank you Sound Transit). They sell a lot of tires to the local school district. It probably helps that the bus garage is across the street. Tires and Auto Repair. T & T Tire Kelso, WA (360) 636-0720
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Old 09-10-2017, 10:59 AM   #7
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Gold Bar, WA
Posts: 124
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC 2000
Engine: 5.9 L Cummins Turbo
Rated Cap: 28
Good info here, thanks.
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Old 09-11-2017, 12:54 AM   #8
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
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I have no idea as to why the link for Westcoast RV Recycling in Centralia, WA came up as a link to a 1961 Chevy Bel Air photo.

They can be found on FB here: https://www.facebook.com/WestCoastRvRecyclingAndSales

Their inventory is pretty extensive but it changes on a daily basis. If they have what you want on the day you are there you need to get it because in all likelihood it will be gone on your next visit.

Good luck and happy trails to you!
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Old 09-11-2017, 06:26 AM   #9
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Engine: 5.9L Cummins
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I have no idea as to why the link for Westcoast RV Recycling in Centralia, WA came up as a link to a 1961 Chevy Bel Air photo.
West Coast RV
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