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Old 12-20-2019, 10:02 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: Central Texas
Posts: 13
I'm new, but I come with a bus older than me

So some backstory:

My great grandfather renovated a school bus before I was born. I don't even think the poor bus has been turned on since Y2K. And all through growing up I thought it would be fun to live in that bus (mostly because it made me think of independence and adventure) but then I grew up and realized that I'm not a fan of the 70s(?) inside look (this thing has like shag carpet and I think the bathroom is that weird green color that was popular then). So for about the last decade I've been dreaming about a tiny house on a trailer because that had come into fashion, but this last week I have fallen head first down the rabbit hole of modern day skoolie conversions and that this is not just some weird unique thing my great grandfather did.

The dilemma:

Now that I know this is a thing that can be done, I am trying to decide if I want to buy a new (used but fresh from a school) bus, or if I want to try and get my great grandfathers bus up and running again. Some problems with just using the good old family bus though would be that I'm not sure what the rust situation looks like, I'm not sure if the engine would be able to have some tune ups and then work or if it would need to be completely replaced, I don't know if anyone in my family even knows where the keys are, and I have absolutely no clue what year, make, or model this thing is. So I'm going to throw 2 pictures below and would love opinions on fixing up the old bus or getting a new one, any guesses at the price of getting it in good shape, and if anyone has any idea about what the bus I have even is that would be great. (I have no idea how to flip the picture of the back the correct orientation and I'm sorry)




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Old 12-20-2019, 10:07 AM   #2
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Location: Wisconsin
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Year: 2001
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American
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It's an old Bluebird All American from the 1970s-late 1980s. It looks very similiar to a Wanderlodge but you can see the holes in the front overhead where the school bus lights used to be. I like how the builder moved the doors back to the middle of the bus.

I'd probably start by seeing what motor it has. Lots of buses from this era had big block gas motors that get like 3 mpg and are very slow. Repowering with a more modern diesel motor would be a LOT of work and time but you would get a very cool unique bus.

It looks like decent bones but you'd have to do a full teardown/rebuild if you want something that's driveable on long trips. It's probably got one of the old oddball braking systems that can be difficult to service.
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Old 12-20-2019, 10:10 AM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Lol, I forgot to mention my great grandfather was a career underwater welder, so there is no doubt in my mind that there are a bunch of things he moved around like the door.
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Old 12-20-2019, 10:14 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by averyonic View Post
Lol, I forgot to mention my great grandfather was a career underwater welder, so there is no doubt in my mind that there are a bunch of things he moved around like the door.
Yeah the fab work is quite impressive. It looks like he borrowed heavily from the Wanderlodge (factory built RV that Bluebird used to build on their All American school bus chassis). Looks like he used the mirrors from one in his build.
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Old 12-20-2019, 10:18 AM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
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I think my big concern is that I have zero idea how much it would cost to gut this one and get it in great condition. It would be fun to have to 'family bus' and it does look older from the shape so it would be fun to make it have a restored classic look, but I'm afraid that it wont be financially reasonable to do that instead of getting a new bus.
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Old 12-20-2019, 10:31 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by averyonic View Post
I think my big concern is that I have zero idea how much it would cost to gut this one and get it in great condition. It would be fun to have to 'family bus' and it does look older from the shape so it would be fun to make it have a restored classic look, but I'm afraid that it wont be financially reasonable to do that instead of getting a new bus.
20 years is a LOT of sitting. Getting a newer bus would def be an option imo.

Post some more pics of the engine and interior, I'm genuinely curious to check this one out. Looks really cool.
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Old 12-20-2019, 10:59 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WIbluebird View Post
Post some more pics of the engine and interior, I'm genuinely curious to check this one out. Looks really cool.
It was pretty cold and misty this morning when I went down to take pictures (I live like a block away from where my family keeps this bus) and I wasn't sure what the probability of upsetting a snake would be to move the things piled up in front to look at the engine more, and I think my grandmother is using the inside for extra storage because there are just... random things piled up on the inside. If the inside wasn't covered in a bunch of weird storage things I would have taken pictures and if I get more serious about specifically renovating THIS bus I promise I will post pictures of the inside clean before I start ripping anything out. But engine pictures on a day with better weather and maybe someone with me to take me to the hospital if I make a snake mad would be sooner than inside pictures.
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Old 12-20-2019, 11:39 AM   #8
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IMO, if you can't do all the work yourself that will be needed to get that bus going again you will have spent many times the worth of the finished product. This from a guy who started with an 80 year old bus--but who can do all his own work.
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Old 12-20-2019, 02:17 PM   #9
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Remove the EXIF data from your JPEGs (built-in on Windows, need to download an app to do this on Mac) or convert them to PNG format before uploading; this will fix any image rotation problems.
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Old 12-20-2019, 02:21 PM   #10
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I think the only reason to start with this bus would be the sentimental value of its having been converted by your great-grandfather - which is not necessarily a bad reason. Much respect if you go forward with it.
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Old 12-20-2019, 04:33 PM   #11
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I'd clean it up and get it running. Look at it as playing with a large machine. If you like the play you might want to go further. A great way to get into the bus thing. If you don't want to continue with it, sell it. You'd have a better idea then about converting a shell.

A diesel engine would be a definite plus. Can you stand-up in it? New tires would probably be required if you want it to drive down the road.
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Old 12-20-2019, 07:26 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WIbluebird View Post
It's an old Bluebird All American from the 1970s-late 1980s. It looks very similiar to a Wanderlodge but you can see the holes in the front overhead where the school bus lights used to be. I like how the builder moved the doors back to the middle of the bus.

I'd probably start by seeing what motor it has. Lots of buses from this era had big block gas motors that get like 3 mpg and are very slow. Repowering with a more modern diesel motor would be a LOT of work and time but you would get a very cool unique bus.

It looks like decent bones but you'd have to do a full teardown/rebuild if you want something that's driveable on long trips. It's probably got one of the old oddball braking systems that can be difficult to service.

Not all these ol' buses had gassers. It might have a 3208 Cat engine or an IH engine.


No idea if the 9.0L IH engine was used in Type D (flat front) buses.
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Old 12-28-2019, 04:07 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bus-bro View Post
I'd clean it up and get it running. Look at it as playing with a large machine. If you like the play you might want to go further. A great way to get into the bus thing. If you don't want to continue with it, sell it. You'd have a better idea then about converting a shell.

A diesel engine would be a definite plus. Can you stand-up in it? New tires would probably be required if you want it to drive down the road.
I agree, since it is right around the corner from your place I would take a deeper dive into it and see what condition it is in. You might find that the motor has low miles and will fire right up with fresh fluids, batteries, etc. Should be little to no rust if you’re in TX. You may be able to get started on your skoolie journey allot cheaper with a little time and elbow grease.
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Old 12-28-2019, 07:53 PM   #14
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Well I fixed up an old one that had been sitting around in the woods for many years. Love it and would not trade it for anything. However I am an experianced mechanic, and have had International trucks of the same vintage, so knew what i was getting into.

If you have to pay someone else to work on it, it could turn into a money pit. If you are willing to learn how yourself it can be a great learning experiance. So it really comes down to how you look at it.

I would at least try to get it running enough to see what condition it really is in. If you can get it to sputter to life, then checking compression , vacuum, etc will give some idea of the engine condition.

The interior in mine was in poor shape and I gutted everything except the bathroom. Yes green shag carpet and that same yucky green on all appliances. I had to cut the stove , fridge, and dishwasher apart to get them out the door. Apparently the rear of the bus was left open to get them in then closed up after they were in. Look at your interior and decide if it works for you and what needs to be changed to fit your needs.

I do have to say keeping it in the family has value, but only you can put a price on that.
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Old 12-28-2019, 11:36 PM   #15
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Coachwork: Gillig bros. of hayward ca.
Engine: C180 supercharged cummins
cool old bus.. and with it being a old family member i would definitely look into getting it back road worthy.. i also built a old bus that i am going another renovation on ... i will be looking for updates on your project.. ..
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Old 12-29-2019, 10:44 AM   #16
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Looks like its been sitting on dirt a good long time. I would think a frame/suspension inspection first , then motor/trans, then systems.

You can't even begin to figure till you know what you have to start with.
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Old 12-29-2019, 07:00 PM   #17
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Looks great. What a testament to the craftsmanship of the past.
However for practical purposes I'd look for newer technology.
Perhaps make this classic into a vintage tiny house and keep the old charm of it? If you have the room.
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Old 01-01-2020, 05:41 AM   #18
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Engine: T444e 7.3L
I'd fix up the old bus if it's within your abilities. If I were you, I'd look at everything myself inside and out to figure out if it's even worth going further. If it looks halfway decent, call a locksmith to make you some keys for $150-200 (or watch a youtube video on how to hotwire it). Next, try to see if you can get it running (fresh fluids, batteries, etc - a mechanic buddy would help).

If it's not fixable, you may want to use some of the components for a new skoolie. First, there's some cool sentimental value. Second, your grandfather probably put some cool features on it if he was a professional welder.
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