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Old 02-09-2020, 08:19 PM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Posts: 1
Pros and cons of 2003 Bluebird Chevy 3500

Hello family of skoolie lovers!
I've been dreaming, researching and saving for this life for about 2 years now.
Today I went and visited my first bus in person. I'm asking for advice specifically to this bus. Hopefully y'all have ran across them before!
It's a 2003 Bluebird Chevy 3500. 5.7 liter automatic engine with 67000 miles.
Listed for $5,400
I'm wondering how these perform mechanically over their lifetime? Are they insured as a van or a bus/ best practices for insurance? How do y'all deal with heat loss from the windows? Price of new tires?
Any and all advice/ experience is welcome!
This bus is well maintained and I kind of fell in love. Just trying to do research into this specific vehicle as I've been doing general skoolie research for a while now. But I still feel brand new to all this. I appreciate the support!
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Old 02-11-2020, 12:02 PM   #2
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Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 6,200
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
I am not a fan of cutaways on one ton chassis. You start out with something that is too close to gross when empty.

If you are looking at a minimalist conversion you may like it but keep a close eye on how much weight that you add.
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Old 02-11-2020, 02:15 PM   #3
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Weeki Wachee, FL
Posts: 3,013
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000 FE
Engine: Cummins 5.9
Rated Cap: 72
I'm not a van of the Type A buses or gas powered buses in general... outside of very narrow cases where one of those things is a hard requirement. Accidentally ending up with one when you didn't absolutely need it is a common occurrence though.
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Old 02-11-2020, 03:15 PM   #4
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Posts: 1,012
Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas Built
Chassis: Minotour
Engine: Chevy Express 3500 6.6l
IDK anything about that engine, but you’d figure you got at least another 80K on that motor if it’s mechanically sound.

I would say it’s overpriced by about $1K, but it’s not yellow, so you’ve saved at least $1K on the back end.
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Old 02-11-2020, 04:42 PM   #5
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 2,178
That engine and transmission are not bad and should be good for 200K+ miles given decent maintenance. It won't be a powerhouse so it won't be climbing hills in the fast lane.


Insurance has been discussed many times on this forum. It is easier to get insurance once the bus is titled as an RV instead of a bus. The challenge is every state has different rules and regulations in regards to titling, registration, and insurance. Your best resource is your personal insurance agent. If you have been getting your insurance online or through a toll-free number you may have problems getting insurance.


Heat loss through the windows can be minimized by a lot of different techniques. The best is removing any windows that are no longer needed. For the windows that are left using insulated curtains/blinds can help.



The tires on that bus are identical to the tires found on 3/4- and 1/ton light duty trucks. Tire prices can go from cheap to expensive depending on brand and ply rating. Figure about $150.00-$300.00 per tire.


The biggest issue with Type 'A' buses like this all have to do with how much they weigh in relation to the GVWR. That particular bus most likely has a GVWR of 12,000 give or take 1,000. Empty weight is going to be around 7,000-8,000. Which gives you at most a net payload of 4,000-5,000. That may sound like a lot but by the time you build in all of your cabinets, plumbing, appliances, and furniture you can eat up 3,000 of that net payload very quickly. Add a passenger or two with all of their junk and plunder and you run out of net payload really fast.
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