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Old 09-27-2021, 10:46 AM   #1
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1990 Bluebird TC 2000 transmission swap

I'm looking a 90 tc2000 (30') with a 5.9 Cummins that has a good 545 Allison transmission but I'd want to switch it out for a more highway worthy trans, is there a direct swap out there or at least one with minor modifications?
Yes, aim a newb so sorry of I didn't include enough info.

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Old 09-27-2021, 10:56 AM   #2
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That bluebird better be a great bus for a great price, because a transmission swap will be expensive and could be time consuming.
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Old 09-27-2021, 10:59 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by dbsoundman View Post
That bluebird better be a great bus for a great price, because a transmission swap will be expensive and could be time consuming.
Its a real nice bus, no rust anywhere, already has RV windows installed and a pro paint job.
I would consider buying another bus to cannibalize if needed to reduce cost.
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Old 09-27-2021, 11:00 AM   #4
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Its a real nice bus, no rust anywhere, already has RV windows installed and a pro paint job.
I would consider buying another bus to cannibalize if needed to reduce cost.
That makes more sense.


Honestly, unless you're planning some application that would require a more heavy duty transmission, I'd wear out the 545 first, then replace it when needed. Make sure you hold a coach net towing policy in the meantime.
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Old 09-27-2021, 11:53 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by dbsoundman View Post
That makes more sense.


Honestly, unless you're planning some application that would require a more heavy duty transmission, I'd wear out the 545 first, then replace it when needed. Make sure you hold a coach net towing policy in the meantime.
Honestly, I want a bulletproof drivetrain in what ever I build. I tend to go overboard lol.
My S10 has a 400hp LS with a T56 trans, my motorcycle has a 131 ci engine with a baker 6 speed and my home computer with game with the best of them but I use it for Netflix lol.
I've looked at newer models with better engine/trans combos but the computer controlled engines and trans give me hesitation.
I looked at a 04 model but the owner states it needs a new ecm. He also said the ecm can run anywhere between $1500-$3500. A perfectly good bus now sits because of a pricey black box and some uncertainty.
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Old 09-27-2021, 12:21 PM   #6
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For highway speeds in a bus, you've got several options available.

Your 1990 bus with a 6bt and at545 is a fully mechanical as it sits.

If computers scare you, you can upgrade your AT series allison to an MT unit(MT643,MT644, MT653, MT654, etc.) But, the final gearing in all of the MT units is still 1:1 like the AT545 your replacing, so that swap alone won't gain you any highway speeds. To gain highway speeds, you'll also have to change your rear gearing to something more suitable. There are a few members/threads on here who have gone this route.

If you aren't scared by computers, then there are a handful of allison options available with overdrive gearing that you can get to work. There are a handful of companies around that specialize in swapping the newer electronic transmissions onto older/mechanical engines. There are also a few members/threads on here who have gone this route as well.

Just to mention, in your searching you might come across some suggesting using 2 speed rear ends, or auxiliary transmissions, to gain highway cruise-ability. This isn't to say that those aren't options, it's just not something done as commonly as the first two, so I won't go into detail about them in this post.

What I would do?

I know the md3060 was a factory option behind the 6bt for a few years in the mid 90's. So I would look for a donor bus or truck that was equipped with those options, and then swap the parts between the to gain what you're after.
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Old 09-27-2021, 12:42 PM   #7
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Do you have a transmission temp gauge on the converter out line? If so what does it run now?
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Old 09-27-2021, 03:05 PM   #8
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Do you have a transmission temp gauge on the converter out line? If so what does it run now?
This is a bus I am thinking about buying.
No idea what the trans temp is. The bus runs great being that it has 60,000 miles on it. It was used as a pick up bus to shuttle canoers back to their cars from their launching spot.
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Old 09-27-2021, 03:32 PM   #9
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Quote:
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This is a bus I am thinking about buying.
No idea what the trans temp is. The bus runs great being that it has 60,000 miles on it. It was used as a pick up bus to shuttle canoers back to their cars from their launching spot.
I would question the mileage. It's unlikely that a canoe shuttle service would buy a new bus, more like a used decommissioned school bus. A school bus typically sees 10k miles a year. A 90 model would normally have in the 300k range. Speedometers were notorious for breaking in the 90's and being replaced with another used unit without correcting the mileage. Can your mileage be verified?
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Old 09-27-2021, 03:45 PM   #10
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I would question the mileage. It's unlikely that a canoe shuttle service would buy a new bus, more like a used decommissioned school bus. A school bus typically sees 10k miles a year. A 90 model would normally have in the 300k range. Speedometers were notorious for breaking in the 90's and being replaced with another used unit without correcting the mileage. Can your mileage be verified?
Yes. It comes with a lifelong service record of inspections and payment receipts for maintenance.
It was never a school bus. No flashers/stop sign brackets or anything of the sort. He has several pictures of the bus throughout the years. The last big upgrade was the conversion to RV windows and new paint that was done about 7 years ago.
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Old 09-27-2021, 05:15 PM   #11
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I have had 2 of these AT 545’s in 2 ton trucks over the years and still have one of them. You MUST have a good auxiliary oil cooler on these to keep them cool. The one I sold was in a tow truck with the world famous Detroit Diesel 8.2 NA. I put 185 thousand miles on it towing cars, pickups and motor homes up grades and down. The first thing I did was install a large oil cooler in the front with electric fans on a thermo switch. 2200 rpm was about right. Never overheated. My International has just a cooler with out fans and it does good too. The highest it has ever gotten was 230 degrees converter out going up hwy 58 out of Bakersfield pulling a 37 foot trailer. My gross weight on that trip was 36000 pounds. I think if you will just add some cooling capacity you will be fine. But I’m talking about a large cooler.
If you will go with a cooler that has electric fans and do it before the radiator heat exchanger you can install it under the bus and not add to the heat load of the cooling system.
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Old 09-27-2021, 05:16 PM   #12
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With 60k miles, it should not be used up if they didn't overheat it.
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Old 10-03-2021, 06:12 PM   #13
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.....I wonder if going manual is a viable option - Euro-ZF-Eco-Split-16 comes in a number of torque ranges. (I bet the Volvo 18-wheeler fleet in the North America all have ZFs - though the newer ones all electronically "automatic" shifters....) - don't know if you find a good used one in the US, but in Europe you cna get them used everywhere...
NO idea what else you need to adapt them and make thme work in your bus, but 16 gears at hand will CERTAINLY give you the right gear for any and all occacions...
Usually transmissions will go on about every truck engine on the planet - only need the right adapter and spline. You would need a clutch too, of course....
IF you stick with your present trans (....and do the suggested oil cooler upgrade) - you also could look into a 2-speed axle, maybe you find a good used one out there!!
I have no idea if these can be shifted on the fly or if you need to stop to switch gears - but either way, you can do that before the going on the next stretch....
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Old 10-07-2021, 12:44 AM   #14
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Prior to me recommending anything...
I would need to see your RequirementsStatement.
.
Some folks enjoy swapping transmissions.
Who am I to stand in their way?
.
Some folks enjoy designing and building a conversion.
We prefer camping with a caravan of chums.
.
Some folks read a recipe book for the pictures.
I treasure the grocery shopping, imagining sitting with friends, the smells and temperatures, cleaning-up together around the sink, then savoring the memories of those good times.
.
Would I acquire a vehicle I know would make me unhappy until I completed major mechanical changes?
Probably not.
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Old 10-07-2021, 07:54 AM   #15
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Unfortunately, I don't think I made myself clear enough with my goals for this upcoming project.
I have around 25,000 to spend on a new engine/trans combo for a bus body style I truly enjoy.
The Bluebird TC2000 series is a platform I really like but let's face it, the 5.9/AT545 is not the ideal combo for a distance traveling bus, I am going to upgrade this not out of necessity, but for the thrill of building a body style I love and a drivetrain that will cruise the highway and climb the hills with no issues. A restomod in bus form.
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Old 10-07-2021, 08:47 AM   #16
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just buy a bus with the right drivetrain.. around a 99-03 DT466E with an MD3060.. oput an orion tuner on it, oipen 6th gear on the trans.. and re-gear the rear accordingly to your tire size and final drive..



you can build ione similar to what ive done with my red one.. but ive spoent a lot of time and effort on the software to make the engine and transmission truly talk seamlessly..



another good combo is the Cummins ISC 8.3 from the 99 on time frame, rear engine.. open 6th gear, turn up the pump on the 8.3 and you have a real highway cruiser there too..



both of those are good non-emissions combos that will take you anywhere you want to without having to spend 25k to build it.


both of those engines are wet sleeve so you can rebuild them in-frame when / if you wear them out.



as far as the TC2000, its not my first choiuce for a cross country RV.. the TC's ive been in were hot as hell and noisy as a factory assembly line.. my conventionals are loud enough.. for a cross country cruiser id want a Rear engine rig..



if you want this TC, you can pump up the 5.9 to a respectable power output.. lots of articles online of getting 5.9's to put out respectable serious power and do it reliably..



the MD3060 trans was an option on the 5.9, so as long as you get the computers set up right you can find the nexessary parts and mounts to set up an MD3060 on it without havign to pay a machine shop Big $$ to fab parts..



MD3060s can be built up like the A1000 / A2000 series so they can be built to take seriously more HP / TQ than they will stock..



ive got 3 busses that were all built originally with AT540 / 545 series transmissions...
only one bus still has an AT545, the other 2 I nuked the trannies and upgraded.. one has a 6 speed Built A1000 and the other I put in a reman MT643, the 3rd bus is a classic and will always keep its original straight-gear AT540.. (they are so easy to rebuild in your garage that ill just rebuild it every time I wear it out..)..
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