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Old 01-06-2018, 12:31 PM   #101
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Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Owasso, OK
Posts: 2,627
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner MVP ER
Engine: Cummins 6CTA8.3 Mechanical MD3060
Rated Cap: 46 Coach Seats, 40 foot
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
I bought my bus through online auction, sight-seen via photos, but not an in-person inspection.

I was hesitant about bidding more than a certain amount because WYSIWYG. I actually called the school district bus shop and spoke to the head mechanic there who was very pleasant and answered all the questions I could think of. Satisfied the bus was in acceptable mechanical condition, I bid their reserve price and picked it up a few days later.

It made the trip home and a few trips around here with no issues. Everything worked as it was supposed to (except for the school stuff, which they cut the wires to). Sure, the tires weren't new with a little over half tread remaining - however - I was able to see this in the photos prior to bidding (informed decision making here).

The biggest thing that has come back to get me is the low rear-end gear ratio (5.38 ) and limited top speed (55 MPH). It has a 5-speed manual so there's no OD for unlocking. I could have (and probably should have) run the VIN to see what it originally came with, but changing a rear-end ratio is not the end of the world.
Console yourself with the fact that a VIN search would not normally tell you the FD Ratio. Sometimes the data plates tell you, often they don't. My Thomas doesn't but Blue Birds often do.

I have the same FD as you, but my set-up actually makes it "just right".

So when it comes to changing the FD ratio there are a couple of things to be aware of. Each axle manufacturer offers a wide range of combinations, but they don't all fit in the same housing. They often have at least two housings to cover the range. In your case you will probably want to go to something like 4.44, so make sure that will fit in the same housing as your current 5.38. It'd possible that you have the larger housing and that 5.38 is the highest gearing that will fit.

If that's the case then you will need a different rear axle, but either way the costs involved won't be much different ... finding the right axle may take a while.

I looked at ring and pinion prices for mine when I thought I might need to change. They seemed to vary from around $250 to $800 per set, and I've heard $1500 to $1800 prices for a swap out of sets (inclu. parts).

Changing the ratios is something I would leave to a good shop because it's one thing that really does need doing right, but I might deliver them an axle, not a bus, to keep the cost down.

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Old 01-06-2018, 12:38 PM   #102
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Year: 2001
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: IH
Engine: T444E
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Quote:
Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
How many miles do bus tires normally last?
Depends on a lot of factors, really. How often do you drive? How fast? How's the alignment? Proper inflation? Loading? Type of surface(s) you drive on? Do you do a lot of turning?

It's not unheard of for big trucks to get 100,000 miles (or more) from a set of tires. Heavy loads add some wear, but perhaps the biggest is all the turning they do. Traveling in a straight line gives the least amount of wear, while a lot of parking lot and city street turning grinds rubber off quick. Heavy loads increase this dramatically.

My last job was hauling tanker, which knew only 2 modes - empty, and heavily loaded. We went through a set of tires about every year, and only ran about 40-50K miles a year. Keep in mind, though, this route involved a lot of U-turns-in-parking-lots, making turns in town, all while carrying very heavy loads.
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Old 01-06-2018, 12:45 PM   #103
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Join Date: May 2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Twigg View Post
Console yourself with the fact that a VIN search would not normally tell you the FD Ratio. Sometimes the data plates tell you, often they don't. My Thomas doesn't but Blue Birds often do.

I have the same FD as you, but my set-up actually makes it "just right".

So when it comes to changing the FD ratio there are a couple of things to be aware of. Each axle manufacturer offers a wide range of combinations, but they don't all fit in the same housing. They often have at least two housings to cover the range. In your case you will probably want to go to something like 4.44, so make sure that will fit in the same housing as your current 5.38. It'd possible that you have the larger housing and that 5.38 is the highest gearing that will fit.

If that's the case then you will need a different rear axle, but either way the costs involved won't be much different ... finding the right axle may take a while.

I looked at ring and pinion prices for mine when I thought I might need to change. They seemed to vary from around $250 to $800 per set, and I've heard $1500 to $1800 prices for a swap out of sets (inclu. parts).

Changing the ratios is something I would leave to a good shop because it's one thing that really does need doing right, but I might deliver them an axle, not a bus, to keep the cost down.
Having checked into this already, I have a Dana N175 rear axle. I can remove the rear "chunk" and swap it without any specialized tools or knowledge. All the adjustment of gears, spacing, lash, torques, pre-loads, and all that other highly technical stuff gets done by the gear shop, on the bench.

I could just cannibalize a module from a boneyard too.

I'm thinking about a 4.11 gear set, should deliver about 70 on the highway. 65 isn't fast enough for me.
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Old 01-06-2018, 01:13 PM   #104
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Twigg View Post
They all do that. My tacho is accurate when the bus is running, but never returns to zero. Neither do many I've seen pictures of.

I have seen quite a few like that too and wonder why. Any explanation, is the thing I'm trying to find. They can't all be from the same mfg or maybe they are.

John
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Old 01-06-2018, 01:27 PM   #105
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackJohn View Post
I have seen quite a few like that too and wonder why. Any explanation, is the thing I'm trying to find. They can't all be from the same mfg or maybe they are.

John
Probably because the tach is at a non-zero reading when it is powered off and it sorta "stays there", or finds some nearby resting spot. I expect if you turn on the switch but don't start the engine, it will indicate zero (or it should).
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Old 01-06-2018, 02:36 PM   #106
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Location: Fayetteville Arkansas
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Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: GMC G3500 Vandura
Engine: V-8 5.7L Gas
When I bought mine it was with a 50,000 mile warranty. I'd say that's about right since I'm getting close to it but it looks like I might get near 60 or 70 before I change them.
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Old 01-06-2018, 04:43 PM   #107
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My husband got me a book of 101 tiny house floor plans and they're all 8.5 ft wide. Check Amazon.
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Old 01-07-2018, 03:52 PM   #108
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I wanted to put this link here for further reference. Good quality build with 6 pages of pics.

http://www.pettypb.com/bus/index.htm
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Old 01-08-2018, 01:12 PM   #109
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Found a couple I think have potential. Both are 2003 International Blue Bird 72 pass., wheel chair lifts. One 466 with 120K and a 444 with 180K. Asking $3k ea.
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Old 01-08-2018, 02:34 PM   #110
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Found a couple I think have potential. Both are 2003 International Blue Bird 72 pass., wheel chair lifts. One 466 with 120K and a 444 with 180K. Asking $3k ea.
Good luck

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Old 01-08-2018, 03:40 PM   #111
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Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
I bought one bus sight-seen.. even drove it around... still broke down 450 miles into my trip home...

I bought one bus virtually sight-unseen.. a fellow forum member gave a quickie look at it (as much as auctioneer would allow).... that one didnt break down..
-Christopher
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Old 01-08-2018, 07:42 PM   #112
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The ones i posted are for sale at a bus sales company. They have lots of buses, those 2 fit my basic criteria, 40', wheelchair lift, front big engine, 2000 or newer. I'll go there and make a decision, not buy sight unseen.
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Old 01-08-2018, 08:13 PM   #113
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Coachwork: 97 Bluebird TC1000 5.9
Do you know how much the bloodmobile went for?

I'm sure you'll do well by looking at them first.
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Old 01-08-2018, 08:26 PM   #114
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Do you know how much the bloodmobile went for?

I'm sure you'll do well by looking at them first.
Bloodmobile is still listed on Craigslist. I can't jump till I have cash in hand and that might be another week or so. I don't want to negotiate with out funds, so if it goes before I'm ready, another deal will come along. That ones not perfect for me, but the additions make the extra work I need to do a lot easier to swallow. I paid for the Argosy tonight and gave him a battery to get it running. As soon as I got home I got the call. I'll pick it up tomorrow and ready it for a trip to Ct. Where hopefully I will be flying out to a bus purchase from there. I'll pick my Airstream trailer up on wed. and decide what direction I want to take with it.
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Old 01-09-2018, 07:05 PM   #115
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Well my first step towards doing my own bus started today when I paid for and picked up this AirStream Argosy 20 for my best friend from high school. I will go, probably tomorrow, and pic up the 20' Airstream trailer that we got in the package deal of motorhome and trailer and I get the trailer and some cash as my finders fee. I have to get this roadworthy to drive it to Ct. next week. It drove pretty good for having sat for a year. Did take a bit of rocking back and forth to break the rusted brake drums free, got a sticky pedal that needs lubing. 454 V8 got about 9mpg over the 40 miles I drove it home. Hopefully when I deliver the MH i'll take a bus or fly to a bus I can purchase. If my money hasn't come through by then I'll finish the inside of the trailer and flip it for bus money.
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Old 01-10-2018, 10:50 PM   #116
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I know I was looking at the murphy style bunk beds in back, but I saw this interior and really, really like it. The more I thought about the murphy beds giving more floor space in the rear, I couldn't really see why I need that extra floor space. I like these with storage for bedding when not being used.
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Old 01-11-2018, 09:16 AM   #117
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Location: Houston, Texas
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Year: 1946
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Looks great but reminds me a bit of my Navy days. But those are a lot roomier.
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Old 02-09-2018, 05:50 PM   #118
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Got my fingers crossed. I went to the next town over today to try and find a "Tiny Home" shop my friend told me about, just wanted to check them out and pick their brain a bit. As I get near I see a BBAA parked on the side of the road that i had seen last time I was in the area and told myself to stop and check it out. I get to the Tiny Home place and find that it is actually a shop that builds concession trucks and trailers. Talked with them for a bit and then left. As I pulled out I pulled into the spot where the bus was and by chance happened to catch a guy inside firing it up. I asked him about the bus and he said it was owned by the local church and that they have him come out every couple of weeks to fire it up and charge the battery. Said they may be interested in selling it, they only have $2K in it. I didn't get a year model, but it is an BBAA in decent shape, no rust that i could see. Hopefully he will call me tomorrow with good news. I'd be stoked to find what I'm looking for only 15miles from the house.
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Old 02-09-2018, 06:10 PM   #119
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BBAA's have outstanding construction. Built like tanks. But...condition is everything. What engine & tranny and what miles? What about maintenance logs? Tires?(a set can run 2$K). Demon Rust?

As noted, that is/was a very well built rig (I used to own one)...but what is it like now?

Dig in...it could be a goldmine, or just another hole in the ground. Best of luck!
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