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Old 04-23-2010, 06:24 PM   #21
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Re: my new ambulance/ 66 passenger bus

I would love some good pictures of the doors on the back, when you get a chance. Hinges, latches, etc. I have been considering a similar setup on our bus. If I can find something with the style doors I want in a scrap yard, I really might cut them out and transplant.

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Old 04-23-2010, 07:25 PM   #22
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Re: my new ambulance/ 66 passenger bus

Sure. When I get it home from MD. I'll take lots of photos.

I called CarQuest today and ordered the belts. They list a serpentine belt and two AC belts for the 1998, TC2000 BlueBird Bus. I hope I got the bus Model correct. I really have no idea for sure. I ordered them for $85.00. I plan to take them on the plane for the drive back. Just in case.

How do you check the transmission fluid? Is that under the engine cover? What kind of transmission fluid would it use? I think it has an allison 545. Or something like that.

How about the rear axle? Will that just be a plug to remove? Should I use 80W90 or heavier?
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Old 04-24-2010, 12:01 AM   #23
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Re: my new ambulance/ 66 passenger bus

Welcome!

No personal experience, but reading about some shake-down/homecoming trips here, the most common problem experienced seems to be a loss of power that gets cured with new fuel filters. Based on those stories, I would probably always carry spare filters on board, even before carrying fan belts. And figure out how to get the air (if any) out of the fuel line after a filter swap. As always, "Your mileage may vary."
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Old 04-26-2010, 12:55 PM   #24
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Re: my new ambulance/ 66 passenger bus

Quote:
Originally Posted by busdriver_phil
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarlaxle
Air brakes?
Yep, I can just barely see the knob if I zoom in on the pic of the driver's area.
You have better eyes and a better monitor than I do, then!
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Old 04-26-2010, 12:57 PM   #25
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Re: my new ambulance/ 66 passenger bus

Quote:
Originally Posted by miltruckman
I stopped by the local school bus garage today and told them about my bus. They just shook their heads. Said that the cummins engines leak all over the place, and the "lift pumps" go out around 85,000 miles, That the injector pumps go out around 100,000 miles and cost $1700.00 They said that a front engine was almost impossible to work on and that you have to tear off the whole front of the bus to get at it.

Did I make a bad choice? Or is the 5.9 Cummins and flat front busses not as bad as they made out?

Bill
Go to www.turbodieselregister.com and start reading their tech pages. That's the same engine used in 1989 to early-1998 Dodge pickups. They have FAQ's and fixes for the few issues the 5.9 has. The biggie: I think 98's have the KDP problem. It's bad news if it fails, but a $40 fix to prevent. The only reason I didn't get a 5.9-powered Bird or Thomas is I didn't want an AT545 transmission.
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Old 04-26-2010, 01:02 PM   #26
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Re: my new ambulance/ 66 passenger bus

Quote:
Originally Posted by miltruckman
Sure. When I get it home from MD. I'll take lots of photos.

I called CarQuest today and ordered the belts. They list a serpentine belt and two AC belts for the 1998, TC2000 BlueBird Bus. I hope I got the bus Model correct. I really have no idea for sure. I ordered them for $85.00. I plan to take them on the plane for the drive back. Just in case.

How do you check the transmission fluid? Is that under the engine cover? What kind of transmission fluid would it use? I think it has an allison 545. Or something like that.

How about the rear axle? Will that just be a plug to remove? Should I use 80W90 or heavier?
Trans should use regular Dexron (probably calls for Dexron II, Dexron III is fine), dipstick/filler will be in the bus accessed through the doghouse...IIRC, right side of the engine near the back. You'll need a long funnel. Oil is also checked & filled from inside. PS fluid (usually also Dexron), usually through the access panel at the driver's windshield wiper. (Don't look at me, I didn't design it.)

Rear end will have a plug to check oil (though I don't recall where). I'd use the 75W-140 synthetic blend...Wal-Mart has it for about three bucks a bottle.

Oil will be 15W-40 diesel oil, probably between 3 and 4 gallons.

Two belts are listed probably because early-98's like yours have the 12-valve Cummins. Late-98's (aka: 1998.5's) have the electronic 24-valve Cummins. Alternately: maybe A/C versus non-A/C. (Or maybe both...)
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Old 04-28-2010, 09:36 AM   #27
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Re: my new ambulance/ 66 passenger bus

with that cummins 5.9 motor and those low miles, you won't need any tools or spare parts.

good sam club roadside assistance is an excellent tool that can be carried in your wallet.

buses run for a long time, and that cummings motor will run forever.

good luck
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Old 05-13-2010, 10:55 PM   #28
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Re: my new ambulance/ 66 passenger bus

Hopefully you made it home ok. Congrats...I'm drooling over those rear doors.

For the Cummins motor, they are probably complaining about the 24v 5.9s rather than the 12v 5.9s, which made the transition around 1998-1999. The 24v motors had bad injector pump problems to the point that they admitted it later that it was a problem. A somewhat popular conversion was to mount the old 12v injector pump on the 24v motor. Another solution was to get a fuel pressure guage. The problem came when the fuel pump would go, the injector pump was too weak to handle pulling fuel to the motor, so it would go out. Adding a fuel pressure guage and pulling over as soon as the fuel pressure guage shows your pump died tended to solve the problem, if I recall. Anyone please correct me if I got it wrong...it has been a few years. I loved the old 12v motors. I've had two of them.
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Old 06-01-2010, 04:59 PM   #29
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Re: my new ambulance/ 66 passenger bus

I have been pretty busy here at work but wanted to update everyone on my bus recovery efforts.

I got my bus home from Maryland after a 21 hour journey on the road. The parts and tools I took with me worked out great. The original wiper blades were rotted off so I swapped those. The batteries were dead but I found a new set at "battery Warehouse" just down the street. They delivered them to the bus for me to install, they were heavy but not too hard to change as they sit in a slide out drawer that rolls right out. I had brought extra battery clamps with me which came in handy as the old clamps needed new bolts.

I greased everything I could (especially the drive shaft) before I moved the bus. And after some confusion as to how to turn off the parking brakes, I headed to the nearest gas station to fill up with diesel. Then I headed for Wall mart where I purchased all I would need to do an oil and transmission fluid change which I did right out in the parking lot. I filled all the tires to 100lbs pressure and changed out the headlights for the brighter Sylvania X-travision bulbs since I would be driving at night. After getting something to eat I rolled for home about 8Pm to avoid most of the traffic around Baltimore, MD.

I drove for about four hours and stopped to sleep at a rest stop. I didn't do too bad laying on the bus seats and left the bus idle so the air operated door would stay shut tight. I locked the back doors with a couple chain links and padlock so I felt pretty secure.

The PA turnpike is horrible!! The road is incredibly rough, Sometimes I thought I would bottom out the springs, Concrete barriers inches away on both sides, It was not fun. Once I made it into Ohio all went smoothly. Mountains and all, I averaged 9.89mpg on the way home.

The bus runs well but I have some concerns about the transmission. The engine is governed at 2400 rpm. And up and down most mountain roads it would hold pretty close to 2400rpm. Regardless of the speed of the bus. If I let it get down to 45mph it would downshift but make a horrible whirring/squealing sound like it had a bearing or shaft failing, or something turning too fast upon the downshift? If I downshifted it myself it sounded O.K. and just went to the next lower gear. Do Allison 545's have an overdrive gear? Also when starting up, when the transmission shifts from first to second gear it makes a squeal/squawk for about 1 second when it changes gears from first to second gear only. And mostly after the transmission is hot.

Since I got it home I have stripped out all the seats and the black rubber and plywood floor which was completely rotted in some areas. Mostly in the far front and rear of the bus. The sheet metal underneath is pretty good and I am now trying to figure out how I will recover the floor. Plywood, like before? Is there a composite material that will be more moisture resistant? Should anything be put on the metal before the subfloor material?

I will probably be selling about 8 of the fold down bench seats, if anyone needs any. I don't want to ship them though. Let me know.

The bus has a neat fiberglass ramp stored under the rear. I didn't even know it was there until after I got it home and was looking underneath and found it.

I am having some trouble with the right rear gargo area door. The cables to the paddle latch broke. I ground off the rivets that hold it on, but even when I grab the cables with vice grips i can't pull hard enough to open the door. I think the latches must be rusted tight.

I'll post some more recent photos since I got it home.

Bill
Michigan
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 101_9312.JPG (1.94 MB, 530 views)
File Type: jpg 101_9172.JPG (1.70 MB, 530 views)
File Type: jpg 101_9180.JPG (1.91 MB, 528 views)
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Old 06-01-2010, 05:02 PM   #30
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Re: my new ambulance/ 66 passenger bus

Here are some more photos of my progress.

Bill
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 101_9149.JPG (1.26 MB, 240 views)
File Type: jpg 101_9220.JPG (1.20 MB, 240 views)
File Type: jpg 101_9295.JPG (1.36 MB, 240 views)
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Old 06-17-2010, 10:43 PM   #31
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Re: my new ambulance/ 66 passenger bus

I was looking at those buses also let me know what you think of it. We are on the hunt for some more. Our club plans on turning it into a motorcycle hauler and party bus for trips.
It looks greeat so far, gonna be fun to watch your progress.
Good luck
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Old 12-15-2014, 11:16 PM   #32
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Re: my new ambulance/ 66 passenger bus

Update, i still have it. I'm slowly converting it to an RV to my wife's dismay. She has stated (on several ocasions) that we could be camping by now if we had just bought a camper.

It will be a full conversion. Done so far: bus gutted and floor insulated and 3/4 inch dry ply installed. 3/4" oak floor installed over that. Walls mostly insulated and panneled with 1/2" oak. 32"x32" shower pan installed. Shower Surround partially installed. Dome lights replaced with Led lights.all the interior walls are now studed in where i want them.
Im also building fold up bunk beds in the rear like pullman beds so the ramp will still be usable. I just got the spaces built over the wheel wells last weekend for the refrigerator and washer/dryer. They are sitting in place but not yet hooked up. I also installed a front hitch for a bike rack, strengthened the front bumper, installed a new water pump, alternator, and front main seal as i had the radiator out anyway. I have a new all metal radiator ready to go in. I'm rebuilding the entire AC system with rebuilt ac compressors and new hoses. I have ordered a coleman Mach 8 heat pump for the roof. And hope it will still fit through the garage door after it is installed. I have a 12 ft rack i dont use on the van any more i need to figure out how to mount it on the rear of the roof. I have pulled all the ambulance lights and sold them on eBay to help finance the project. Still need new tires and i have to mount the rear hitch i pulled off my bobbed deuce before I sold it. I'll be installing a 24v battery bank to power the inverter, multifuel cab and engine heater, water pump, and circulator pump for the marine water heater with heat exchanger im installing. The water heater is also 120vac. I picked up a 10k Onan quiet diesel as scrap and am replacing the field winding to get it going. It will mount just in front of the rear axle on the right side behind the fuel tank. Still working out the generator slide system. I am also still thinking about my stove options as i would like to avoid a propane tank if i can.

Bill
Michigan
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Old 03-12-2015, 11:47 PM   #33
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A bit of an update. Still working on the bus. I have determined to take it out this summer camping even though it is far from being done. The kids are 12 and 14 and there are only so many years before they are grown up. My main problem is lack of time. (I average about 60 hours a week at work) Though limited resources are always an issue too. Nere is how the project has progressed so far. The seats are ripped out and the floor insulated with 1" of foam, then 3/4" plywood sturdifloor, then 3/4" oak. The rear is converted into a bunkroom with steel fold up bunks like pullman beds on a cruise ship. They are out for paint right now. (But its too cold to paint) the shower, closet, and bath are framed in. I also framed two spaces above the wheel wells for utilities. I installed a front hitch and straightened the front bumper. New radiator, front main seal, alternator, water pump , and idler pully. I have removed all the flashing ambulance lights and replaced them with steady on white led lights instead. I figured it would be handy to light up a camp site. I installed the full roof rack from my 1 ton chevy van and a Mach 8 rooftop ac. I also put 1KW of solar on the roof. Still not wired up inside. Just put all new all position Firestone FS820 tires all the way around too. I hope to get a 20' Carefree awning i picked up on Craigslist installed this weekend. My only problem is I dont have any help so havent figured out how to do that yet. Though my Kids can help some. Ill try to post a few photos. Bill
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Old 03-13-2015, 07:19 PM   #34
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go and enjoy the family and your steel tent...some smors's and it's all good!
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Old 03-13-2015, 08:54 PM   #35
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Bill, did you ever find out what the trans squawk/squeal was all about?
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Old 03-13-2015, 09:56 PM   #36
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I changed the transmission fluid and put in the recommended synthetic $200, 5 gal bucket and the squeal stopped. Since i still dont trust it any more I picked up a used 545 transmission from craigslist and sent it to Weller transmission company. They rebuilt it and converted it to the model in my bus. I haven't swapped it yet, but will if it has any more problems.
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Old 05-26-2017, 06:08 PM   #37
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Ok guys, we are taking the bus out for the first time this weekend. It has been a long arduous conversion. I was slowed down a year or so my a major heart attack. Which contributed to the aAlmost 7 years to get it done enough for the road. This is really the test run. As there are a few things to complete before it is ready to dry camp. But with a garden hose we have hot and cold running water. And the electric and plumbing inside is about finished. The bunks are in, the shower, toilet, dinette and sofa too. The kids are excited. (And 7 years older than when I started.) maybe i'll have time to get some photos up later.

Bill
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Old 05-26-2017, 08:23 PM   #38
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That has to feel good! Congrats!

Hope everything goes well.
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