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Old 07-20-2021, 10:28 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2021
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Bluebird AA RE 2004 Opinions

My wife and I have recently started looking at getting a bus to convert and live in full time in NW Montana. I've been lurking the forums to familiarize myself with the types of buses out there and decided today to go to a local used bus dealer to see what they had. I found a few that alright but one really stood out to me:
It's a full size 2004 Bluebird All American Rear Engine with a Cummins 8.3 paired to an Allison MD-3060 transmission with air brakes. Exact mileage unknown, the instrument panel was replaced in 2016 and currently reads 22k. The last mileage log before that is 63k in 2013. Interior was probably the nicest on the lot that was more than a few years old, didn't see any leaks (inside or out, it had just rained), a lot of rubber on the tires, they were retreads and I spaced on checking the DOT date.
There were a few issues with it, the undercarriage and the bumpers have some rust, the body (and in particular the storage doors) has some cosmetic damage. There is an L bracket that has become partially disconnected and is bent (visible in third picture peaking out). Additionally it has the grossest harmonic balancer I've ever seen, although the rest of the engine itself seemed fine. Is this a sign of a leak or other issue?
They're asking $8500 for it and I had a few questions about it:
1) Is this worth the asking price? If not what would you pay?
2) Is there anything here that should be a deal breaker? Body damage, surface rust? Is any of this really out of the ordinary for a 17 year old steel body government vehicle?

It had just showed up on the lot that day, I know this is a rare configuration so I thought I would ask for opinions here. Drove it for around half hour, city and highway and it seemed to run great.

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Old 07-21-2021, 09:53 AM   #2
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Sorry for the bump, the dealer is holding it for me through this afternoon and I'm hoping for some opinions before I make a mistake.
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Old 07-21-2021, 10:02 AM   #3
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
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Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
I really dont like that rusted out step-well.. unless you plan to completely gut that out and replace it.. bluebird does make replacement stepwells for many of their models though not sure about that one specifically.. or of course you can rebuild it yourself..



the leaf spring mount doesnt look terrible but to me it looks like the bushings are shot and need replaced..




I personally wouldnt pay 8500 for it but that may be the going rate for a nice 8.3 RE these days.. to me its a 5k bus and needs some minor work..
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Old 07-21-2021, 10:08 AM   #4
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Thanks for the advice - for whatever it's worth the bad rust spot is in the storage compartment, interior (including stepwell) don't have any visible rust.


I thought 8500 sounded high but it's so hard to get a price on this configuration.
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Old 07-21-2021, 10:50 AM   #5
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Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 5,981
Year: 2003
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Chassis: CE 300
Engine: DT466e
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Rust doesn't look too bad. FYI the bus almost certainly has some leaky windows and/or hatches and/or light openings, but you wouldn't see the results of that in rain. The water comes down inside the walls and soaks the plywood on the floors, where it never dries out and causes the steel floor to start rusting. Once you demo the inside you'll be able to see this more clearly. It's not likely to be fatal rust but you may have to do some patching (my bus rust required me to rebuild an entire section of the floor, but that level of damage is pretty rare and can be detected from underneath if you're not a moron like me).

Buses with the 8.3 and MD3060 seem to be going in the $9000 to $10,000 range these days, but that's usually for ones with no rust concerns at all. $5K would be a pretty good price for it if they agree to it.
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Old 07-21-2021, 11:15 AM   #6
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Location: Fraser Valley British Columbia
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Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas
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Engine: C7 Cat
Price is high considering condition but that's a dealer price, they want a payday!
My biggest concern is you didn't check the tire dates, doesn't matter what they look like or how much tread is on them if they've timed out you're risking a big $$$bill or big damage. Chech the tires before negotiations begin.
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Old 08-08-2021, 10:38 PM   #7
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Join Date: Jun 2021
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I would like to see your RequirementsStatement.
.
For example, to 'full-time in Montana' implies dealing with Montana weather, dealing with Montana bureaucrats, dealing with Montana neighbors... including griz and canooks.
.
2003, we converted a 1997 Ford CF8000 commercial truck to our concept of an ExpeditionVehicle.
Cummins 8.3 250/800 12-valve mechanical.
Allison 3060.
Retired at 80,000 miles, it was a beverage hauler in Seattle, home to snowy icy hilly roads.
This rig takes us all over tarnation.
Nearly two decades, and it could easily be a daily-driver.
.
Our latest project is a 2006 garbage truck we are converting by hybriding a four-door crew-cab fire-truck on its snoot.
Cummins 8.3 315/1050 24-valve.
Allison 3060.
.
Neither has any cancers.
.
I think 'asking before jumping' is a good plan.
I think your decision hinges on your ability to repair/replace anything you think jeopardizes reliability and safety.
.
I would not invest that amount based on your photographs.
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