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Old 09-23-2020, 08:28 PM   #1
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Making a purchase, first time buyer fears

Hey Popping into the forum and have been nosing around as I get closer to making a purchase (like possibly tomorrow). Having those normal first time home buyer anxieties of making sure I'm making the "right" purchase. Need a little help and guidance as to engines and trannies. This is where I'm clueless. The bus I'm looking at is as follows:

Year: 2000
Make/Model: Blue Bird All American FE
Seating Capacity: 84 Passenger/74"
Engine: 5.9L Cummins ISB Diesel
Transmission: Allison MD3060 Auto
Mileage: 108,858 mi​

They sent me video of the tires, and it running, the under carriage, etc. It's an Arizona bus and no evidence of rust and in really good shape from a reseller that got it from a military base who leased it from a school district so not worried about upkeep. Just curious if there's anything I should run from or be concerned about on this kind of engine/tranny. Or, if not, anything I should consider and just file in the back of my head for future maintenance/known issues.

Thanks!
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Old 09-23-2020, 08:37 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by FreebirdTheBus View Post
Hey Popping into the forum and have been nosing around as I get closer to making a purchase (like possibly tomorrow). Having those normal first time home buyer anxieties of making sure I'm making the "right" purchase. Need a little help and guidance as to engines and trannies. This is where I'm clueless. The bus I'm looking at is as follows:

Year: 2000
Make/Model: Blue Bird All American FE
Seating Capacity: 84 Passenger/74"
Engine: 5.9L Cummins ISB Diesel
Transmission: Allison MD3060 Auto
Mileage: 108,858 mi​

They sent me video of the tires, and it running, the under carriage, etc. It's an Arizona bus and no evidence of rust and in really good shape from a reseller that got it from a military base who leased it from a school district so not worried about upkeep. Just curious if there's anything I should run from or be concerned about on this kind of engine/tranny. Or, if not, anything I should consider and just file in the back of my head for future maintenance/known issues.

Thanks!
The MD3060 is a good trans, IMO the best one available. The engine will likely be a 190 hp and it's not going to have a ton of power. But the only other option I would prefer would be the 8.3L Cummins or the 7.3 / T444 Navistar. Sounds like a good bus, just not a hotrod, but then no bus ever really is...

However, I would ask for a fluid analysis to spot any potential issues looming (coolant / oil / transmission fluid cross-contamination, excessive wear, etc.) If the seller will agree to it pre-purchase. And a sufficient deposit should hold it for you in the interim.

You might also get familiar with this and bring it with you on pickup...

https://www.skoolie.net/forums/f9/re...ist-33026.html
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Old 09-23-2020, 09:08 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by CHEESE_WAGON View Post
The MD3060 is a good trans, IMO the best one available. The engine will likely be a 190 hp and it's not going to have a ton of power. But the only other option I would prefer would be the 8.3L Cummins or the 7.3 / T444 Navistar. Sounds like a good bus, just not a hotrod, but then no bus ever really is...

However, I would ask for a fluid analysis to spot any potential issues looming (coolant / oil / transmission fluid cross-contamination, excessive wear, etc.) If the seller will agree to it pre-purchase. And a sufficient deposit should hold it for you in the interim.

You might also get familiar with this and bring it with you on pickup...

https://www.skoolie.net/forums/f9/re...ist-33026.html
Fantastic! Thank you so much. That link for check point list is great. Going to print that baby off. My brother mentioned asking for a PPI (pre-purchase inspection) to see if they have one. I'm guessing if they don't, the fluid analysis you mentioned would cover that area. Does it cost a lot to get one of those if they agree to it, and to pay for it?

They did say I can put down a 10% deposit and hold the bus for 30 days so that's cool.

Re: not a hotrod...totally get it as buses are slow. But once it's converted (it's a 40 foot) and you have the materials, water tanks, etc. etc. and the motorcycle loaded inside/possibly outside -- maybe not the right bus if it doesn't have power getting around the US? Or, even towing anything extra at that size of bus? I'm flipping through my mess of notes and think I wrote down for this one 235hp.
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Old 09-23-2020, 09:16 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by FreebirdTheBus View Post
Fantastic! Thank you so much. That link for check point list is great. Going to print that baby off. My brother mentioned asking for a PPI (pre-purchase inspection) to see if they have one. I'm guessing if they don't, the fluid analysis you mentioned would cover that area. Does it cost a lot to get one of those if they agree to it, and to pay for it?

They did say I can put down a 10% deposit and hold the bus for 30 days so that's cool.

Re: not a hotrod...totally get it as buses are slow. But once it's converted (it's a 40 foot) and you have the materials, water tanks, etc. etc. and the motorcycle loaded inside/possibly outside -- maybe not the right bus if it doesn't have power getting around the US? Or, even towing anything extra at that size of bus? I'm flipping through my mess of notes and think I wrote down for this one 235hp.
I compiled that list with my experience and knowledge from cross-country trucking for the benefit of others here. Safety first. The 5.9 Cummins is a fine engine with quite a bit of aftermarket support, however, there are two factors to consider -- the power limits of the transmission, and the fact that the 2000 model is a 24-valve, with known injection pump shortcomings. Not a bad engine, just limited. But the 5.9 has pulled off some pretty amazing feats in the light-truck market.

However, the 5.9's support is based largely on the light-truck (Dodge Ram) market. Many tweaks can be used on this bus, but I would find out what the power limits of the MD3060 are before doing too much to it. If it's factory-tuned to 235 hp, that's better than the usual 190.

As to the fluid analysis, I've not dealt with it before, but I understand it does not cost much, takes a week or two for the results as I understand it. I don't think you have much to worry about engine wise, but a 20-year-old radiator could be pushing coolant into the transmission cooler and contaminating the transmission fluid. And metal in the oil is hard to see with the naked eye.
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