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Old 09-24-2020, 10:55 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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2004 Blue Bird FE

Hi everyone! Been on the search for a bus! Going to look at a 2004 Blue Bird FE Flat Nose bus on Monday. I havenít found much information or reviews online. Would this be a good buy?

Specs are as follows:
Engine: Cummins ISB 24 valve, ESN 46245642
Transmission: Allison 2500PTS SN 6310232092
Rear axle: Meritor RS21145 (same as a 20145) 5.29 ratio, spring suspension, single axle
140,283 miles
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Old 09-24-2020, 11:50 AM   #2
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That's just enough information to give either really good advice, or really bad advice.

We need a lot more info to help you out.

What is your intended use
Bus size
Where did it spend most of it's life
Price
Does it come with maintenance history
Your technical and handyman capability level
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Old 09-24-2020, 02:12 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Intended use: constant travel
Bus size: 52 passenger
Life spent: unknown but currently in ohio
Price:$3,500
No maintenance logs
My capability level: am a mechanic for the National guard and have a side business of making furniture

* also theres an other option, same bus same specs just a 2002 with 129,663 miles for $2,500*
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Old 09-24-2020, 02:21 PM   #4
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2004 ISB is a 24-valve 5.9 Cummins. It's a little more fickle than the 12-valve, but still a good engine. The big thing with these is the injection pump they use. Doesn't sound like a bad bus on the surface, but I agree with the previous post -- just enough info to give bad advice, or good advice. Pics and some more info would really help. Particularly frame rail, steering and suspension pics to see how much rust is or is not there.

I seem to remember something about a dowel pin of some sort coming loose in the valve timing drive area on these and causing major damage. I'll try to find some more specifics. It could be the 8.3 I'm thinking about, not the 5.9. But I'm pretty sure it was common to the 5.9. There is also a certain cylinder block number series you want to stay away from. 53, if memory from previous conversation serves.
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Old 09-24-2020, 02:43 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHEESE_WAGON View Post
2004 ISB is a 24-valve 5.9 Cummins. It's a little more fickle than the 12-valve, but still a good engine. The big thing with these is the injection pump they use. Doesn't sound like a bad bus on the surface, but I agree with the previous post -- just enough info to give bad advice, or good advice. Pics and some more info would really help. Particularly frame rail, steering and suspension pics to see how much rust is or is not there.

I seem to remember something about a dowel pin of some sort coming loose in the valve timing drive area on these and causing major damage. I'll try to find some more specifics. It could be the 8.3 I'm thinking about, not the 5.9. But I'm pretty sure it was common to the 5.9. There is also a certain cylinder block number series you want to stay away from. 53, if memory from previous conversation serves.

Killer dowel pin was from 1998-1999 or so. Long before this bus was built.



I'd be curious to see if it's a TC or an All American.
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Old 09-24-2020, 02:57 PM   #6
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I'm not the expert that a lot of guys are on here, mostly because I didn't have to filter through the masses to find the right bus, it found me.

I am a big fan of the Cummins engines, at 52 passenger it seems like it's probably in the 30-35 ft. range. Probably just about right for the 5.9L to drag around. From what I have learned here, the 2000 series trans is on the better end of the spectrum. Sounds like probably your biggest worry at this point would be the amount of rust that is present. If it lived it's life in Ohio, it could have a significant amount making it not worth the effort to fix.
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Old 09-24-2020, 03:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WIbluebird View Post
Killer dowel pin was from 1998-1999 or so. Long before this bus was built.

I'd be curious to see if it's a TC or an All American.
What's the differences between the TC and AA?

Is the killer dowel pin on the 5.9, or the 8.3?
I have the '99 8.3L. I don't remember reading anything about a killer dowel pin.....
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Old 09-24-2020, 03:26 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackE View Post
I'm not the expert that a lot of guys are on here, mostly because I didn't have to filter through the masses to find the right bus, it found me.
EXPERT?!!
*Bugs Bunny pose* He don't know me very well, do he? *snickers*
Never claim expertise, I just more often than not, know where to look for some info. If it hides, I keep chasing it until I find it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JackE View Post
Is the killer dowel pin on the 5.9, or the 8.3?
I have the '99 8.3L. I don't remember reading anything about a killer dowel pin...
Quote:
Originally Posted by WIbluebird View Post
Killer dowel pin was from 1998-1999 or so. Long before this bus was built.

WIBlueBird says it is the '98-'99 model 5.9. Not sure if the 8.3 has the same issue or not, being it is an ISC series, vs the 5.9 being an ISB.
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Old 09-24-2020, 03:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHEESE_WAGON View Post
EXPERT?!!
*Bugs Bunny pose* He don't know me very well, do he? *snickers*
Never claim expertise, I just more often than not, know where to look for some info. If it hides, I keep chasing it until I find it.
You are one of the ones I had in mind with that statement, along with several others. You do have an expert level on knowledge in many areas. At least I didn't label you as a professional information giver!!




Quote:
Originally Posted by CHEESE_WAGON View Post
WIBlueBird says it is the '98-'99 model 5.9. Not sure if the 8.3 has the same issue or not, being it is an ISC series, vs the 5.9 being an ISB.
I have been doing some additional reading. Seems the most common problem mentioned with the ISC is the CAPS system, which from what I have found is perfectly preventable. I found a sticker on my injection pump with a date of 2012 on it, so I know it was replaced at least once.
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Old 09-24-2020, 03:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackE View Post
You are one of the ones I had in mind with that statement, along with several others. You do have an expert level on knowledge in many areas. At least I didn't label you as a professional information giver!!

I have been doing some additional reading. Seems the most common problem mentioned with the ISC is the CAPS system, which from what I have found is perfectly preventable. I found a sticker on my injection pump with a date of 2012 on it, so I know it was replaced at least once.
I ran into some issues transporting an 8.3-powered bus recently, originally suspected the CAPS pump, turned out to be a worn-out camshaft (typical of high run time on the 8.3). However, some useful and interesting info was thrown out in my thread asking suggestions...

https://www.skoolie.net/forums/f39/9...ues-31753.html
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Old 09-24-2020, 03:54 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackE View Post
You are one of the ones I had in mind with that statement, along with several others. You do have an expert level on knowledge in many areas.
Thank you for the kind words, it's greatly appreciated. I will never say I'm never wrong. Of course that could be read two different ways, but I don't claim to be a Messiah. Even I am wrong on occasion, but I've usually been pretty close even when I wasn't 100% right. I like to think my CDL training and experience may help, but also make me a little overzealous, and I certainly don't want to take the fun out of it for anyone. But any one of a million situations I can think of, and many more that I can't, could take away a lot more fun than my suggestions...

For instance, while doing a time restart in a truck stop for the weekend about 3 years or so into my trucking career, I watched an obvious newbie make several failed attempts to back into a space I could tell they were not going to fit into anyway. There were several available that were much easier, so twice I suggested they make things easier on themselves. This was met with a bit of screaming and obvious indications my help was not wanted... so I simply climbed back up in my rig, pulled a pint of Ben & Jerry's from the fridge, kicked my feet up on the dash and sat back to watch the show... They never did get in that space, just as I thought.

That's what I call a 'sexual intellectual'. Think they know it all, and don't know a f---ing thing...
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Old 09-24-2020, 04:30 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHEESE_WAGON View Post
However, some useful and interesting info was thrown out in my thread asking suggestions...

https://www.skoolie.net/forums/f39/9...ues-31753.html
I am quite familiar with that thread. I have the twin to their bus, right down to the number of miles. I don't know my engine hours yet. A valve train check is high on my list of tings to check out before any use beyond moving it the one block from my home to my shop.
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Old 09-24-2020, 04:34 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackE View Post
I am quite familiar with that thread. I have the twin to their bus, right down to the number of miles. I don't know my engine hours yet. A valve train check is high on my list of tings to check out before any use beyond moving it the one block from my home to my shop.
Also good to know is that the 8.3 requires high zinc engine oil, discussed somewhat indirectly in that thread.
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Old 09-25-2020, 12:23 PM   #14
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Hey guys! So I finally received pictures of underneath the bus. Let me know what you think!
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Old 09-25-2020, 12:46 PM   #15
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IMO, that's great condition for an '04. Rust is minimal and I don't see a lot of evidence of rot in the floors or crossmembers.
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Old 09-25-2020, 12:55 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackE View Post
What's the differences between the TC and AA?

Is the killer dowel pin on the 5.9, or the 8.3?
I have the '99 8.3L. I don't remember reading anything about a killer dowel pin.....
The TC was Bluebird's budget model sold from the late 1980s until 2003-04 (most people claim 2003 was the last year but I have seen 2004 TCs for sale). It was only sold with 5.9 Cummins in the front engine version.

The All American is Blue Bird's flagship model and is still being made today. Differences over the TC include more engine choices, beefier axles, WAY WAY more options, etc. I am unsure what the cost difference was between the TC and the AA brand new but I'm guessing it was quite a bit more.

That looks decent for an Ohio bus. The real areas to check would be the floor behind the rear axle and around the wheel wells. I've seen many Midwestern buses that had all the bodywork redone halfway through their service lives yet they had rotted out floors from years of hosing them out by uninformed bus wash bay attendants.
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Old 09-25-2020, 07:29 PM   #17
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no red flags there even behimd the axcle looks pretty good.. if its cheap enough, buy iot build it love it enjoy it!!!
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Old 09-25-2020, 07:30 PM   #18
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no red flags there even behimd the axcle looks pretty good.. if its cheap enough, buy iot build it love it enjoy it!!!
I am Cheese_Wagon, and I approve this message.
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Old 09-30-2020, 09:27 AM   #19
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Hey guys! I went and looked at the bus, ran good but i check the transmission oil level and it was very low so I went underneath to see if there was a leak. And sure enough there was. Not only did the transmission have evidence of a leak but the engine oil pan was covered in engine oil. Soo it was a no go for us!

On the bright side, they have a 2003 Blue Bird TC2000 FE
190k miles
Same engine

What do you guys think?
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Old 09-30-2020, 09:44 AM   #20
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In some ways, looks better. Still wouldn't hurt to blast and paint the rails to arrest the rust. I've seen a lot worse though. Get an hour reading and divide mileage by hours. Also, find out if the engine is a 53-series block. They have problems from what I understand from another member here.
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