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Old 12-06-2019, 10:56 AM   #1
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Bus into toterhome

Hello y'all
I have seen a few posts about this but they didnt fit what I was doing and i have some questions. I have not started my build yet but will be soon. I guess I will start with what's its use will be. I race dirt track modified cars. I tow a 30' bumper pull enclosed with my car, tools, and stuff needed. My tow vehicle is a 1986 GMC 5500 U-haul truck that has been converted into a make shift toter( no water). It has a 366 big block grain motor and I get about 3 mpg.

Ok. Here is what I am thinking about doing with one of the 2 buses. Cut about 5-6 of body of the back and just leave the deck to haul anything if need be. Put in shower, toilet, fridge, queen bed (hopefully over the drivers head), few bunk beds, run electricity, and 1 or 2 a/c units. I will take out most of the windows and seal them off. There might be a few other things but I am not sure

The bus/toter would only be used on the weekends and not during winter (live in Iowa). Normally stay within 100-150 miles from home and manly it would be for the 2 and 3 day races for my family and crew. My father in law is a certified welder so not worried about welding, I drive semi trucks for a living and have since 2008 and my race rig now is 65' and turns like a cruise ship, I work for a salvage company and can get any part off the buses we have there.

The bluebird is a 2002 and all it says is cummings motor with allison transmission. The other one is a 2001 Thomas with a cat 3126

Which one would be better to use power wise? What am I not thinking about? What do I need to do? Any advice would be great.

Thank you

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Old 12-06-2019, 11:14 AM   #2
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Which Cummins motor is in the Blue Bird?

If you plan on towing, avoid the AT545 transmission or anything without a lockup torque converter. Otherwise, I think you have a solid idea and there have been several chop-and-decks for toterhomes and jeep toy haulers and such.
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Old 12-06-2019, 11:29 AM   #3
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Like Sehnsucht if it has a AT545 Allison then don't bother with it, those transmissions are bad news, no lockup converter and will burn up quick.
Does it have a shift lever or push button for the transmission? USUALLY a push button isn't a 545 but a MD3060 which is a great trans, if it's a lever then you can bet is a 545 slush box.
I'd take the CAT over 5.9 "Cummins" (not cummings) any day, ESPECIALLY towing such a long and heavy load. But if it's a 8.3 Cummins then I'd take that before the CAT.
There is a tag on the side of the trans that will have the model stamped on it, crawl under and have a look see.
I believe the 8.3s have a coolant filter and the 5.9s do not.

Welcome to the forum and fun!
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Old 12-06-2019, 12:13 PM   #4
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I assume you plan on towing the trailer behind the bus?

If you are, what you're missing it the fact the the trailer will be 10 or so feet behind the rear axle, which can lead to a harsh environment for the trailer.

A member on here(I forget who) had this same issue with beating up the boat he was towing behind his bus.

My suggestion is to bob the bus after the rear axle if you're planning on hauling a trailer.

As for engines and transmissions. I'd avoid the at545, it's marginal in school bus service, add a heavy trailer and a bunch of equipment and it will quickly be undesirable.

I'd prefer a 5.9 cummins over a 3126 cat, but that's due to parts for them being cheaper and better available at parts stores.
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Old 12-06-2019, 12:16 PM   #5
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Oh, and I fully support your ambitions with this. When we were racing, it was always nice to have a "home" to go to during the rain, while away from home, etc.

That, and sleeping in the cab of pick up truck with a few other people is no fun.
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Old 12-06-2019, 01:44 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatrickBaptist View Post
Like Sehnsucht if it has a AT545 Allison then don't bother with it, those transmissions are bad news, no lockup converter and will burn up quick.
Does it have a shift lever or push button for the transmission? USUALLY a push button isn't a 545 but a MD3060 which is a great trans, if it's a lever then you can bet is a 545 slush box.
I'd take the CAT over 5.9 "Cummins" (not cummings) any day, ESPECIALLY towing such a long and heavy load. But if it's a 8.3 Cummins then I'd take that before the CAT.
There is a tag on the side of the trans that will have the model stamped on it, crawl under and have a look see.
I believe the 8.3s have a coolant filter and the 5.9s do not.

Welcome to the forum and fun!
I have to argue the "burn up quick" statement. You would think these trans wouldn't last 100 miles, yet most of them have 200k miles on them with no issues. Lots of high highway speeds and mountains in a full size is not a great application for this trans, but everyday stuff they handle quite well.
Booyah claims it's marginable in a school bus, yet it is probably by far the most used transmission.
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Old 12-06-2019, 01:55 PM   #7
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"but everyday stuff they handle quite well."
" Lots of high highway speeds and mountains" That's every day driving where I live though...
What you mean is pudding around in the city without being on the heavier side.
Remember this feller was talking about his use being " I tow a 30' bumper pull enclosed with my car, tools, and stuff". So as you define "every day driving" is nothing close to what his purpose is. So the AT545 sure wouldn't suit his needs, nor last very long.
Sure there are buses with them with 200k on the trans, but let's face it, they can't make what our 3060s can before rebuild time. I've had a F350 with almost 300k on the E4OD but it sure didn't have much more to go before failure.
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Old 12-06-2019, 02:06 PM   #8
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Well yes, it's not everyday driving but I only would drive it on the weekends. Would adding a transmission cooler help? Not saying I am getting that one but if it's my only choice would like to help it out
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Old 12-06-2019, 02:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iyaoyas45 View Post
Well yes, it's not everyday driving but I only would drive it on the weekends. Would adding a transmission cooler help? Not saying I am getting that one but if it's my only choice would like to help it out
Yes, a cooler would keep the fluid temps in check help to prolong the life of the fluid. Don't get me wrong, I have an at545. In my scenario where it's use 5-10 times per year it's good. But your scenario isn't like mine, and I don't think you'll be happy with it.

My biggest thought though, is that what's the point of spending time and money on something that isn't really desirable for your situation and has a good possibility of failing on you.

If/when it does fail, are you going to pony up a few grand and replace the transmission to keep using the bus? If yes, then why don't you just spend a few more bucks on the original purchase price and get something that will work better.
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Old 12-06-2019, 02:23 PM   #10
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This is my setup now
Attached Images
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File Type: jpg 20181219_135428.jpg (178.4 KB, 16 views)
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Old 12-11-2019, 08:38 AM   #11
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The 2001 Thomas is in the transition period between the A-545 and the A-2000 which is a nice 5sp with o/d. Just depends on how 'they' ordered the bus.
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Old 12-11-2019, 11:26 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Booyah45828 View Post
I assume you plan on towing the trailer behind the bus?

If you are, what you're missing it the fact the the trailer will be 10 or so feet behind the rear axle, which can lead to a harsh environment for the trailer.

A member on here(I forget who) had this same issue with beating up the boat he was towing behind his bus.

My suggestion is to bob the bus after the rear axle if you're planning on hauling a trailer.

As for engines and transmissions. I'd avoid the at545, it's marginal in school bus service, add a heavy trailer and a bunch of equipment and it will quickly be undesirable.

I'd prefer a 5.9 cummins over a 3126 cat, but that's due to parts for them being cheaper and better available at parts stores.
That was me with boats getting beat up. I have since put an air ride hitch on and have not had any further boat damage. You can see the hitch in the rear view camara and see it actively moving. Mine is rated for 12,000lbs of trailer, and if I remember right they had one for 16,000lbs
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Old 12-11-2019, 03:00 PM   #13
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That was me with boats getting beat up. I have since put an air ride hitch on and have not had any further boat damage. You can see the hitch in the rear view camara and see it actively moving. Mine is rated for 12,000lbs of trailer, and if I remember right they had one for 16,000lbs
Interesting selection of hitches when you google "air ride hitch"...

I guess I'd like to know where I'd learn more about when and how this is a problem.

I can see where a boat is more delicate compared to a car trailer.

But if my buses rear axle overhang is no greater than a large box truck which routinely pulls trailers...?
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Old 12-11-2019, 04:29 PM   #14
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Interesting selection of hitches when you google "air ride hitch"...

I guess I'd like to know where I'd learn more about when and how this is a problem.

I can see where a boat is more delicate compared to a car trailer.

But if my buses rear axle overhang is no greater than a large box truck which routinely pulls trailers...?
My hitch is an "air shocker"

pulling a car on a trailer, or construction equipment I have not had any trouble. But wooden boats do not like to be handled rough, and that is my business, just brought one back to the shop yesterday.

I expect a horse in a horse trailer would not be to happy behind a bus. Someone hauling antique furniture would be another more delicate cargo. Really anything that would be effected by the exaggerated up and down motion from the long overhang on a bus, or box truck for that matter.
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Old 12-19-2019, 01:06 AM   #15
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My hitch is an "air shocker"

pulling a car on a trailer, or construction equipment I have not had any trouble. But wooden boats do not like to be handled rough, and that is my business, just brought one back to the shop yesterday.

I expect a horse in a horse trailer would not be to happy behind a bus. Someone hauling antique furniture would be another more delicate cargo. Really anything that would be effected by the exaggerated up and down motion from the long overhang on a bus, or box truck for that matter.



is it a problem on level roads or just bumps/dips?
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Old 12-19-2019, 07:00 AM   #16
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is it a problem on level roads or just bumps/dips?
Older concrete roads are the worst. Back roads in new england are terrible.

I remember as a kid riding to school on buses like mine,(1970's International, might even have been Wayne bodies as we had a local assembly plant) and we all loved sitting in the back seat hoping to get some air time on bumps. Well my boats do not like the air time.
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