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Old 07-29-2017, 06:48 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Posts: 18
Question Bus vote! 1990 Bluebird vs. 2001 Thomas

Hello dear skoolies,

My husband and I are about to move to Colorado to buy a bus and get it converted by Charlie Kern. He has two options waiting for us in Denver, and if we want to buy one of them, we have to decide by next week. Please help by sharing your vote/opinion. I'll give you the details of the two buses below.

Also, we like that both of these buses are 35 feet, as we like the idea of a more maneuverable bus rather than having those 5 feet of extra living room.

(And just for a little background context: we are a 27 and 31 year old husband and wife duet called The Love Sprockets. We plan on touring around the country in our schoolbus home and playing house shows + living part time in Washington, Austin and Vermont. We are expecting to have 1-2 children during the next five years. We have a cat and a dog and a lot of folk instruments. We work remotely from our computer/iPad)

Here are the specs for the 2001 Thomas bus:https://www.dropbox.com/s/1tml7kudsg...17.14.jpg?dl=0

-Rear engine
-35 ft long
-Electronic transmission (overdrive)
-tops out at 65 mph
-Cummins 5.9 L engine
-not a super powerful engine = slow going uphill
-175,000 mi (speedometer may actually be reading 10% over of actually mileage)
-front tires good, back tires need to be replaced by next year
-rust free except for a small section on passenger side
-$6500

Specs for the 1990 Bluebird bus:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/w68irlturs...17.08.jpg?dl=0

-Front engine
-Cummins 8.3 engine
-35 feet
-178,000 mi (may have a new engine - speedometer reads 16,000 mi)
-Good power up hills (beastly engine)
-Electronic retarder braking system
-tops out at 70 mph (no overdrive)
-Dual-diesel tank (good for veggie oil conversion, which we are potentially interested in)
-Rock chips in front, no rust
-Front tires good, almost new
-Back tires have 30-40% wear left

We so appreciate your input on this decision. We've never done anything like this before!
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Old 07-29-2017, 07:41 PM   #2
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Location: Central Florida
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Chassis: GMC or Chevrolet, I hope
Engine: gasser probably
Price for the second one ?

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Old 07-29-2017, 07:53 PM   #3
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Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Billings, MT
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Year: 2003
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: HDX
Engine: Cat C7
Rated Cap: 84 passenger
I'd go for the Thomas. They're just as manoueverable as a conventional bus, plus, the engine is in the rear for more quiet.
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Old 07-29-2017, 07:58 PM   #4
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Join Date: May 2016
Location: Georgia
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Year: 2001
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: IH
Engine: T444E
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chickadee020 View Post
Here are the specs for the 2001 Thomas bus:https://www.dropbox.com/s/1tml7kudsg...17.14.jpg?dl=0

-Rear engine
-35 ft long
-Electronic transmission (overdrive)
-tops out at 65 mph
-Cummins 5.9 L engine
-not a super powerful engine = slow going uphill
-175,000 mi (speedometer may actually be reading 10% over of actually mileage)
-front tires good, back tires need to be replaced by next year
-rust free except for a small section on passenger side
-$6500

Specs for the 1990 Bluebird bus:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/w68irlturs...17.08.jpg?dl=0

-Front engine
-Cummins 8.3 engine
-35 feet
-178,000 mi (may have a new engine - speedometer reads 16,000 mi)
-Good power up hills (beastly engine)
-Electronic retarder braking system
-tops out at 70 mph (no overdrive)
-Dual-diesel tank (good for veggie oil conversion, which we are potentially interested in)
-Rock chips in front, no rust
-Front tires good, almost new
-Back tires have 30-40% wear left
For bus 1, my thoughts:

5.9 Cummins engine, you have a pretty good assessment. OK on the flats but will slow on the hills. Everything else not too bad; you may want to get the rust spot checked - and check the underside thoroughly for rust (this goes for both buses). Price is a bit high for an average bus.

And for bus 2:

8.3 Cummins will pull a lot better on the highway; you'll enjoy driving it more. The low mileage does *NOT* necessarily indicate a new engine! They may have simply replaced the speedometer/gauge cluster (fairly common). Ask to be sure (Seller may not know), I would assume no rebuild if they don't know. Dual tanks may not be separate systems (on big trucks they are connected at all times, drawing fuel from both equally). It is possible they are separate systems but I would not make an assumption on it. What's the asking price?

I did not see what brake system either bus has (air or hydraulic); I'm partial to air brakes myself but please don't take that to mean hydraulic brakes are bad. I like having air pressure available to inflate tires, operate air tools, and such. I also feel the parking brakes are "stronger" and there's 2 of them (as opposed to a single driveshaft parking brake).

Myself, I prefer a bus with a hood but to each their own. Front engine bus will yield more usable space behind the seat; a rear engine bus will have a quieter ride (and many folks say more comfortable). I've only ever driven a rear-engine bus once. It was strange sitting well in front of the steering axle and adjusting to how they turn in city streets. It *WILL* take some getting used to, but they are *NOT* hard to drive.
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Old 07-29-2017, 08:30 PM   #5
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 8,462
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
You need to know more specifics on the trannies. Make, model, number of gears. Also need to know the final gearing. With that, the trans gearing and your tire size, you can compute your highway speed (there are still a lot of 50 mph buses out there).
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Old 07-29-2017, 10:19 PM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Whoops! Thanks for catching that. The Bluebird is $5500
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Old 07-29-2017, 10:20 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Thank you for sharing your opinion CaptSquid!
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Old 07-29-2017, 10:22 PM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Thank you for giving those assessments Brad Swiftfur, I really appreciate it. The Bluebird is selling for $5500 btw, forgot to put that in there.
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Old 07-29-2017, 10:23 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Hey thanks for that Tango. We'll be able to see the buses in person next week, and by then the seller says he'll have more information about each of the buses, so I'll be back in here with those updates.
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Old 07-29-2017, 11:13 PM   #10
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 18,494
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
I'd definitely go for the Bluebird over the Thomas any day.
But if you're already paying the guy to convert it why pay a premium for the bus TOO?
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