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Old 03-15-2017, 10:44 AM   #1
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1996 blue bird

I am working out a deal for a bus right now and would like to get another opinion. It's a 1996 blue bird, 5.9 cummins. MD3060 tranny, 92k miles. Tires with good tread, been sitting for a month and was used in a school district lightly its whole life. Haven't gone to see this bus because of distance but is said to run very well. No rust damage whatsoever, even the underbody is clean. He is asking 5k for it. Would you buy this bus?
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Old 03-15-2017, 11:42 AM   #2
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That sounds like a really nice bus. Light use and a 3060. Price seems a bit high for a '96, but sometimes it's a good deal anyway. Will you be happy with a 5.9 in there?
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Old 03-15-2017, 12:18 PM   #3
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I honestly don't know. I was hoping the md3060 would make up for the loss of power but I know little about automotive. I want to travel in the Rockies quite a bit so it might be a little troublesome to me. If I have to drive slow I'm fine with that
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Old 03-15-2017, 12:35 PM   #4
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It is the 5.9, but I believe it has a higher horsepower rating in the larger buses. That combined with the extra gears should make things relatively ok. Someone with modern knowledge of this engine should add info. None of us are climbing the rockies very fast anyway.
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Old 03-15-2017, 12:39 PM   #5
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I am working out a deal for a bus right now and would like to get another opinion. It's a 1996 blue bird, 5.9 cummins. MD3060 tranny, 92k miles. Tires with good tread, been sitting for a month and was used in a school district lightly its whole life. Haven't gone to see this bus because of distance but is said to run very well. No rust damage whatsoever, even the underbody is clean. He is asking 5k for it. Would you buy this bus?
As others say. The tread rarely wears out. Sidewall cracking due to age is bad. Check the age of those tires. How is the exhaust. Depends also what state you are in. A 96 should be a 12 valve mechanical. That is good. You don't need 65 mph in mountains. I think it is $1000.00 too high if what i listed is all good.
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Old 03-15-2017, 02:03 PM   #6
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It is the 5.9, but I believe it has a higher horsepower rating in the larger buses. That combined with the extra gears should make things relatively ok. Someone with modern knowledge of this engine should add info. None of us are climbing the rockies very fast anyway.
I have a 5.9 in my pickup along with a 6 speed manual. It is far from stock (400+hp) and I have pulled an 18,000 lb trailer behind it. That puts me in the same ballpark weight wise as my bluebird.

I think that a 5.9 built similarly would push my bus along reasonably.

Would it be a good idea to build a 400hp 5.9 for a bus? Only if you want a dry sleeve motor with a significantly reduced lifespan.

Just my opinion: 5.9 is a great motor in a lighter rig but, if you are looking at a full size Bluebird, I would encourage you to consider a bus with the Cummins 8.3 or the DT-466.

Being the slowest rig on the road on cross country trips makes me a little crazy
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Old 03-15-2017, 03:12 PM   #7
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PNW- I feel the SAME way. Smaller, less powerful engines are FINE, for smaller buses.
My shorty has a 444E and its GREAT. But in a mid to full size bus I'd NEVER want one. The 5.9 is ok, you can do worse. But buried in a FE bus, if it ever needs a rebuild the bus is basically junk unless you wanna pull the engine, have it all machined, etc. With the 8.3 Cummins or the DT466, you can rebuild it in the frame of the bus.
I don't mind taking a bit slow, but not being able to keep up with any kind of flow of traffic on the interstate can be a real drag. Every Semi and coach that blows by me makes me want class 8 gear!
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Old 03-16-2017, 12:16 PM   #8
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Vers- I'll check in on those factors thanks for the opinion.
Steve/ECB- isn't speed affected by the transmission more than the engine? if the 5.9 can't be rebuilt in the frame I'm gonna have to rethink this. Even with 92k miles on the engine i feel like that is very important, no?
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Old 03-16-2017, 12:18 PM   #9
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Vers- I'll check in on those factors thanks for the opinion.
Steve/ECB- isn't speed affected by the transmission more than the engine? if the 5.9 can't be rebuilt in the frame I'm gonna have to rethink this. Even with 92k miles on the engine i feel like that is very important, no?
Well the rear end ratio will decide what your top speed will be, however if you are on less than perfectly flat ground your motor might not have enough grunt to get you to that speed.

What length is your bus? The 5.9 should be fine as long as you are not tackling mountains regularly. I would be more concerned by not being able to rebuild. Is the bus a dog nose or flat nose?
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Old 03-16-2017, 01:04 PM   #10
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Flat nose fe. I'd like to be traveling the Rockies pretty regularly. 38' long I believe
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Old 03-16-2017, 02:01 PM   #11
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Nice miles and nice tranny on that bus, but it sounds like you need the 8.3 if you're playing in the mountains a lot.
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Old 03-16-2017, 02:05 PM   #12
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Flat nose fe. I'd like to be traveling the Rockies pretty regularly. 38' long I believe
If the mileage is legit and it has been cared for then you probably dont need to worry about the rebuild scenario, although I would use that to perhaps get the price down.

Rolling through the Rockies may require some additional grunt for such a big bus though. Not saying it wont work for your needs, but your $5000 is plenty budget to get into something that will work better for you.
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Old 03-16-2017, 02:47 PM   #13
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Right on deftone. Don't buy a bus for that much if you're expecting to rebuild it. I figured you'd get the guy down to at least $3k. The seller knows it's not worth $5k and he's left himself some negotiating room.
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Old 03-16-2017, 02:51 PM   #14
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Keep in mind that the MD3060 in that bus is configured as a 5 speed and I have yet to see a Bluebird owner have any success at getting one reprogrammed to unlock 6th gear. I have been trying myself.

That said, If you do pursue a 5.9 equipped rig, keep a CLOSE eye on the weight that you add during the conversion process.

I will continue to encourage you to look for an 8.3 or DT466 equipped bus if you want a 37-40' bus.

Another consideration: I'll wager a case of your favorite beer that my 8.3 equipped BB gets 1-2mpg better fuel economy than a similar rig with a 5.9.
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Old 03-16-2017, 03:14 PM   #15
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Flat nose fe. I'd like to be traveling the Rockies pretty regularly. 38' long I believe
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Old 03-16-2017, 03:45 PM   #16
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Keep in mind that the MD3060 in that bus is configured as a 5 speed and I have yet to see a Bluebird owner have any success at getting one reprogrammed to unlock 6th gear. I have been trying myself.
Allison will provide authorization for the unlock in the correct circumstances (and this is their own words) -

"Six-speed applications are restricted for engine speeds which exceed 2200 rpm. The maximum engine speed in sixth range at 105 km/hr (65 mph) must
be less than or equal to 88% of the engine full-load governed rpm. Note: This is not the same as no-load governed speed or high-idle governed speed. "


Not sure how you would go and prove it to them though. I assume most skoolies would require modifications to meet this standard.
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Old 03-16-2017, 03:50 PM   #17
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Sounds (to me) like you need a bus with REALLY low gearing, let them unlock it, then swap in better highway gears. If that would work, it's still a huge ordeal.
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Old 03-16-2017, 04:56 PM   #18
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Allison will provide authorization for the unlock in the correct circumstances (and this is their own words) -

"Six-speed applications are restricted for engine speeds which exceed 2200 rpm. The maximum engine speed in sixth range at 105 km/hr (65 mph) must
be less than or equal to 88% of the engine full-load governed rpm. Note: This is not the same as no-load governed speed or high-idle governed speed. "


Not sure how you would go and prove it to them though. I assume most skoolies would require modifications to meet this standard.
One of the members here approached Thomas and received a letter from them that Allison had requested before granting permission. He then successfully had his MD-3060 re-flashed for 6th.

I wonder if he had to make the math work as above or the letter from Thomas was enough?
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Old 03-16-2017, 06:31 PM   #19
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I wonder if he had to make the math work as above or the letter from Thomas was enough?
I imagine that the math is for liability reasons due to over-stressing the motor with the low ratio or something , so the letter was probably enough for them to accept that their a** was covered.

Im not sure how else they expect you to prove to them that your bus meets their requirements??
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Old 03-16-2017, 08:21 PM   #20
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Are there alternative transmissions that the manufacturers don't play games like Allison?
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