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Old 06-14-2021, 04:10 PM   #1
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Location: Tulsa, OK
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Year: 2004
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: 39' CS RE
Engine: ISC 8.3/Alisson B400R
Seller says he put $10k into bus engine??

Hey guys - we are looking at buying the following bus:

2002 Blue Bird All American Bus
8.3L Cummins Diesel
6 Speed Allison Automatic Transmission
About 100k Miles
1-Owner Fleet Maintained Bus
This Bus Was Owned By The Federal Government
It Is Out Fitted With Roof Top RV A/C Units & A/C That Runs Off The Engine
It Has A 10kw PowerTech Diesel Generator with 1995 Hours
Also Has Shore Power Hookup
The Bus Has A Small Water Holding Tank & A Rear Toilet
If You Are Wanting To Do A Skoolie Conversion Or A Food Truck A lot Of The Expensive Stuff Has Been Done.
The Bus Has Air Brakes and Air Ride Suspension
The Tires Are In Fair Condition
The Bus Has A Top Speed Of 80 Mph
Full underbody storage
Great Running Bus

He is selling it for $19,995

The who owns it runs a 1-person operation out of St.Louis, MO and he said he put $10k into the engine. Replacing the CAM shaft and "a lot of other stuff". He does say he has all the mechanic records for what he did but nothing from when the government owned it. He also said he has sold to a whole lot of skoolie owners and this is the best setup he has seen in a while for a skoolie.

We are going to go look and it and drive it around, but would you guys be willing to let me know what questions you would ask? The price feels high BUT it also has all of the extras (that generator is crazy sauce), so it also feels like a steal. Ha.

Questions I have so far -
What repairs did you have to make?
What kind of Allison transmission does it have?
How many miles does it have on it?

Would appreciate any questions you would recommend I ask or any input (like am I getting taken for a ride?!)

Thanks!

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Old 06-14-2021, 04:54 PM   #2
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That is a *VERY* high price, I would definitely ask to see proof of mechanic work done. For $20K, I would expect to see a full in-frame engine rebuild to be considered "worth it". It is my understanding the 8.3's (or some of them at least) have the cams wear out at around 8K engine hours so I'm guessing this bus has done quite a bit of idling.
DO NOT take the odometer as true mileage, they can be (and often are) replaced. The ECM will reflect its "true" mileage, assuming it hasn't also been replaced. Apparently Fedex was replacing a lot of delivery truck speedometers/odometers (which is legal), but not disclosing this to subsequent buyers (very shady to highly illegal), apparently not noting this in/on the trucks themselves either (Also very sketchy at best). You'll need to plug a computer in to check the ECM mileage, and no, an OBDII won't connect to medium duty buses. They will use a J1708 or J1939 plug.
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Old 06-14-2021, 05:34 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
That is a *VERY* high price, I would definitely ask to see proof of mechanic work done. For $20K, I would expect to see a full in-frame engine rebuild to be considered "worth it". It is my understanding the 8.3's (or some of them at least) have the cams wear out at around 8K engine hours so I'm guessing this bus has done quite a bit of idling.
DO NOT take the odometer as true mileage, they can be (and often are) replaced. The ECM will reflect its "true" mileage, assuming it hasn't also been replaced. Apparently Fedex was replacing a lot of delivery truck speedometers/odometers (which is legal), but not disclosing this to subsequent buyers (very shady to highly illegal), apparently not noting this in/on the trucks themselves either (Also very sketchy at best). You'll need to plug a computer in to check the ECM mileage, and no, an OBDII won't connect to medium duty buses. They will use a J1708 or J1939 plug.
Those are some helpful thoughts.

The seller said he can scan the ECM so that's good, we can ask for that.

For the "extras" (the generator, which I know is $10,000 new), the 2 RV A/C units, the shore power hookup - if the engine has been rebuilt is the price decent?
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Old 06-14-2021, 05:36 PM   #4
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I don't know school buses like others here, but I would recommend you determine what you think the 'base value' of the bus is (as a shell, no conversion), and subtract that from the asking price, then see how much value you feel is in the work done.

For instance, let's say you could get an unconverted, not recently repaired but operable bus with the same mileage for 8 grand. Subtract that from the asking price (20K) and start to work through the mechanical repairs. What work was done on the mechanicals, and at what cost? Certainly there's value there.

Making up a number, let's say the seller has receipts for 4K, you might think some of that was just deferred maintenance and not really an investment, so you add 2K. Now you're at ten grand.

Then you can look at the conversion work done, and do some math about what it would take in time, effort, money to do it yourself versus buy it already done. Maybe there's huge value in having the conversion pretty much done.

Not knowing how much you know about bus conversion, you may be at a disadvantage estimating the value of, say, a 400 watt solar system that uses older lead/acid batteries, or seeing how well the plumbing was installed. The design and workmanship may be stellar, or it may be less so, and where it falls on a spectrum between designer and hack will very much determine your enjoyment of the bus down the road. Hopefully you have spent some time watching conversion videos in addition to the bus walk-through clips so you know a little bit about what to look for.
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Old 06-14-2021, 10:49 PM   #5
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What you are describing is one of the ICE busses. There are a couple other people on the forum that have bought these busses. They do have a nice drive train and I believe also have an exhaust brake. The bus will have road AC as well as the generator powered RV units. They also have a nice locking front door.

As Brad said 20k is pretty steep unless the mechanical work included a full inframe. Most of these busses I have seen sell for 10k to 13k. The seller could have purchased for around 10k and ended up putting another 10k into it.

There is the value of the generator and and the RV airc onditioners to consider if they are operational.

Ted
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Old 06-15-2021, 06:44 AM   #6
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A bus like this one is the "Holy Grail" of the skoolie world (at least I call it that) and these days they typically sell for something in the neighborhood of ten grand. A new camshaft is apparently something these Cummins 8.3s need at around 9,000 hours, so having that done already is a good thing and worth at least some amount of money (I have no idea what that typically costs). A bus needing nearly another ten grand in general repairs is not unusual (I'm a bit north of that in my own bus despite not having any engine or transmission problems) unless you're a mechanic type in which case you can do a lot of this kind of repair work yourself for cheaper.

$20K isn't any kind of great deal or steal for this bus, but I don't think it would be an outrageous overpay, especially considering the genny, the AC and the toilet. If it's already painted white or some other non-school-bus-yellow color, that's a plus as well.
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Old 06-15-2021, 08:17 AM   #7
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my 2 cents-
Go look at some coaches... look at a wanderlodge.
You can buy one for that price.
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Old 06-15-2021, 10:06 AM   #8
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Quote:
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my 2 cents-
Go look at some coaches... look at a wanderlodge.
You can buy one for that price.
This is a good suggestion anytime we are talking about getting into the 20-30K price range....those ICE buses are nice with the generators and AC installed but any interior teardown takes forever and is time intensive since they seemed to build them really well.

This might be one of those military buses used by the Navy and the Air Force for transporting recruits. I am aware of a dealer in Missouri that sells a ton of them. They are different from the ICE buses (and nowhere near as nice). Def not worth $20k, they can be had at the auctions for less than 10k all day.

Someone in my area is selling one that still has the seats and all for $7900. It's a 2009 BB AARE with some damage on one side skirt but def more reasonable than that dealer.
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Old 06-15-2021, 11:26 AM   #9
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Thanks everyone

So I got more information -

The ECM has been replaced - it reads about 21,000 miles. The hubometer reads about 148,000. So...guessing the hubometer is closer but it's anyone's guess?

He sent reciepts for $6k of work - including replacing the cam shaft, 12 tappet valves, 2 push rods & rocker levers, a foot valve and the alternator + coolant flush and oil change.

I am trying to call a place close to him to see if they can run a fluids test.

He has already removed the seats and metal grating, but yeah - that floor and the walls are a doozy of metal.

According to him the generator and A/C units are still functioning. The picture of the generator says it has 1600 hours on it.
It is painted white.

The bluebird Wanderlodge are pretty amazing buses.
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Old 06-15-2021, 11:29 AM   #10
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That's a good point about tear down - he has already removed the seats and metal grated walls, but the floor and walls look like a beast. Would the floor need to be removed or could we build the subfloor right on top of it?
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Old 06-15-2021, 11:43 AM   #11
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I think you are right. It does have the exhaust and locking front door. It's a solid looking bus with metal flooring and some grated walls - although he removed all the seats & grated walls - not mad about that.
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Old 06-15-2021, 11:44 AM   #12
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Engine: ISC 8.3/Alisson B400R
That's a good point about tear down - he has already removed the seats and metal grated walls, but the floor and walls look like a beast. Would the floor need to be removed or could we build the subfloor right on top of it?
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Old 06-19-2021, 11:05 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Game is Afoot View Post
That's a good point about tear down - he has already removed the seats and metal grated walls, but the floor and walls look like a beast. Would the floor need to be removed or could we build the subfloor right on top of it?
If it is an ICE I would pull up the plywood and get down to the metal floor. Others that have stripped these busses found rust on the metal floor. It seems these busses where built with a floor drain and where hosed out periodically which would have gotten moisture into the plywood.

Search for ICE bus and Prison Reform on the skoolie.net search.

Ted
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Old 06-19-2021, 02:17 PM   #14
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good drivetrain.. My 5.9 5 speed will cruise 55-60 all day but that's it. The config you describe will do 70-75 all day.
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Old 06-19-2021, 06:34 PM   #15
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https://www.skoolie.net/forums/f11/ice-bus-2003-bluebird-35216.html
Mine 8.3 Allison trans 116k 12kw engine 3 ac units roof top and 160 hrs on genny paid 15k in nj in December. Was an ICE immigration bus.
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Old 06-19-2021, 07:43 PM   #16
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Thats an awful high price. Look for an Arizona bus if you want good a/c. They all have it, no rust and prices are reasonable. I paid 8k for mine in mint condition with just over 100k miles.
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Old 06-20-2021, 01:18 AM   #17
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My 8.3 of the same era had the camshaft replaced under warranty when the school district had it. I think it was like 3000-4000 hours or so and a few thousand dollars. The repairs add a little bit of value but not much in my opinion. It seems like he’s trying to get all his money back out of it but when you put money into a vehicle of any type you’re lucky to get half back out of it.

Do a bit of reading on the CAPS injection pumps and their failures before buying this era 8.3.

Post some pictures if you’re still considering this one.
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Old 06-21-2021, 12:34 AM   #18
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I know nothing about your individual proposal based on your description.
.
We operate a small organic teaching farm near the outskirts of Eugene Oregon.
We prefer 12-valve 8.3 with less computer issues.
But...
.
I acquired our last 8.3 mechanical by pulling it from a retired military truck.
I believe it showed less than 8,000 miles.
This was a couple-three years ago, we invested us$1,200 (twelve hundred American dollars), plus got an excellent trailer frame from the carcass.
.
To keep our equipment going strong, part of our Preventive Maintenance ('PM') is pulling samples of the fluids -- coolant, engine oil, tranny fluid, hydraulic fluids.
The engine oil analyst shows the amount of bearing compound circulating.
If you distrust your mechanical skills, pull fluid samples, invest in analysis.
This gives an Initiation Point so, over your years of operation, you can observe deterioration of the hidden components.
.
Twenty grand.
More than I would invest in used equipment.
Used tires, used transmission, used petroleum-based generator, used windshield-wipers.
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Old 06-21-2021, 01:06 PM   #19
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Update on bus

Hey all -

So we are still considering this one. The seller has come down to about $17k. We are getting a bumper-to-bumper inspection done by a diesel mechanic which will also allow us to negotiate price if there are other repairs or tires needing to be replaced, etc.
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Old 06-21-2021, 02:06 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Game is Afoot View Post
Hey all -

So we are still considering this one. The seller has come down to about $17k.
Of course he will. He paid probably less then half that amount at the auction that you or I could've bid on as well
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