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Old 11-20-2018, 01:21 PM   #21
Bus Crazy
 
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Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: pa
Posts: 1,850
Year: 98
Coachwork: 1. Corbeil & 2. Thomas
Chassis: 1 ford e350 2 mercedes
Engine: 7.3 powerstroke & MBE906
Hi Charlie, I really appreciate that you changed your opinion about CATS ( at least some).


It seems pretty rare nowadays that people can change there view point.

May some day I hear you about Mercedes engines....


Later Johan
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Old 11-22-2018, 01:48 PM   #22
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: Michigan
Posts: 22
Year: 2004
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: CS RE
Engine: 300HP ISC 8.3L w/ B3/400R Trans
2003 Blue Bird CS-RE

Looking for thoughts/ideas/opinions/all that good stuff...

These are essentially beefed-up school buses, right? (and not an entirely different animal complexity-wise like a transit bus...) What are peoples' thoughts on this bus? I very nearly bid on it, but there were a couple issues/unknowns holding me back:
  • Corrosion/rust issues evident in many visible exterior and interior places, making me suspect deeper issues underneath (literally undercarriage, engine area, and under screws/panels/that roof air gap piece/etc). I got additional pictures from him that showed enough room for concern, including rust come out from the air gap piece on the roof.
    It must have been a coastal area bus around sea water seeing as it's from Texas.
  • No maintenance records provided, but supposed to have come from Homeland Security, which explains the security features.
  • And to that point, the windows don't open, so we'd have to replace some of those.
  • Rear hatch area is solid on these buses, not an actual hatch, and needed replacing due to the grate, and we want a window back there.
  • Unsure if I'd be able to integrate that heavy duty A/C system into house planning while still completely gutting the inside, without a lot of extra work.

What it had going for it was the excellent engine/trans combo, air ride, storage, and generator. Also has fairly low miles, though that could have meant a lot of short trips with it being 15 yrs old.

See the link at the bottom for pictures. Details from the auction, plus added details from talking to the seller in italics:

1-Owner Fleet Maintained Bus8.3L Cummins Diesel Engine (300HP)
6 speed Allison Automatic Transmission (w/ retarder - B400R - basically, everything you could ever want)
Rear axle ratio: 5.38 (added after asking him)
128k miles
Power Tech Diesel Generator
Shore Power
3 Roof Top A/C Units
Also has factory A/C that runs off the engine
Under Belly Storage
Air Ride Suspension
Jake Brake
This Unit was owned by the Federal Gov't
$200k unit new
Very Well Maintained
Great Running Bus
Top speed 80 mph

Link: Ebay

The reserve was supposed to be $12K, so that's what I was hinging my decision on. It looks like he lowered it at the last second to complete the sale, since it said reserve not met as I was refreshing at the end. I was hoping it may not sell, then I could have a diesel mechanic check it out and fly down to see it in person before committing. I was concerned what the unknowns could due to our budget, trying to balance that with the perks.

What are your thoughts overall? Do you see the value justified knowing how much additional work may need to go into it? Anything specific to the CS-RE models I should be aware of?

I may start seeking out this specific type of bus, though there aren't many I've found so far (and they're not listed as what they are, oddly) and others I'm seeing are not nearly as beefy.

Thanks again in advance for all of your expertise and insight!
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Old 11-22-2018, 02:50 PM   #23
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Location: Eustis FLORIDA
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Year: 1999
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Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeblack5 View Post
Hi Charlie, I really appreciate that you changed your opinion about CATS ( at least some).


It seems pretty rare nowadays that people can change there view point.

May some day I hear you about Mercedes engines....


Later Johan
Happy Turkey Day, Johan and family!
I've always liked Cats just not the smaller ones. But...
I'll be the first to admit when I'm wrong.
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Old 11-22-2018, 03:59 PM   #24
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Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Picton,Ont, Can.
Posts: 1,956
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: GMC
Engine: Cat 3116
Rated Cap: 72
Just sold for $10,900 Did you get it?


John
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Old 11-22-2018, 11:21 PM   #25
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: Michigan
Posts: 22
Year: 2004
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: CS RE
Engine: 300HP ISC 8.3L w/ B3/400R Trans
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackJohn View Post
Just sold for $10,900 Did you get it?


John
No, though I'm not sure if it was the right decision. I am curious what others think (including you), and if they have any input on the concerns I had or overall thoughts on this bus. Wasn't figuring on responses today because of the holiday and food comas!

Happy Turkey Day also, btw! So caught up in all this earlier, it escaped me!
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Old 01-04-2019, 01:17 AM   #26
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Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Rapid City, SD
Posts: 612
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: CS RE
Engine: ISC 8.3 L 260 hp
Rated Cap: 36
From your profile it looks like you got the bus! There have been several of these on ebay they all looked to be low mile, top spec busses. I thought about buying one and selling the one I have.

Ted
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Old 01-04-2019, 02:27 PM   #27
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: Michigan
Posts: 22
Year: 2004
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: CS RE
Engine: 300HP ISC 8.3L w/ B3/400R Trans
Quote:
Originally Posted by TJones View Post
From your profile it looks like you got the bus! There have been several of these on ebay they all looked to be low mile, top spec busses. I thought about buying one and selling the one I have.

Ted
Hi Ted!

Yes, we did. We didn't get the exact one in the post, but one of that same group of buses. I've been in touch with the person that won the auction, as we've been going through the peculiarities of how they built these.

Just checked out your thread. Your bus looks quite similar. What's making you consider swapping? [sounds much easier than it is, having to drive another one across states (and pay gas for it)] Challenges you're running into with it might be better than those on these buses.

They have an awesome drive train setup, low miles, and underbelly thru storage. Those were the main drivers in our purchase of it. It drives great (80 mph not on a grade, and it holds speed fairly well on lower grades), is geared right, and has a retarder (which I absolutely love). Also, just found this out, it has a thin layer (not uniform - 1/2" to 1") of spray foam inside the bus ceiling and likely walls -- can see it through some gaps I've created, but still working on removing those panels, as I have to leave the windows in it to be able to move it for a few tasks.

For a Texas bus, they have quite a bit of corrosion/rust that I'm going to have to clean up underneath and clean up the various mechanical pieces. I'm not looking forward to that and have been looking for solutions. I looked into media blasting, but it's not cheap nor simple to find someone willing to tackle it on a running machine -- plus guarantee they won't inadvertently cause problems. DIY is not really feasible, as the masks you need for it are $300+ and you need a SERIOUS air compressor to push the volume/pressure required -- no Home Depot rental or even big box store purchase comes close. I found an item that may speed this up and be less dangerous... will see how it works and report back in my build thread (once created).

Depending on what you want to keep of the rest of it, there could be pluses there also. We're going to be removing the roof AC units to regain height for a roof raise, and removing the rear AC unit, as it's large (lose 2 1/2 ft of bench space for the bed above the engine), loud and requires an intrusive ducting system. That rear AC unit delete may be a huge PITA, as there's a dual purpose drive in the belt line tied to it and a second alternator for the bus -- need to figure out a solution there. We're also replacing the RV windows, as none of them open and we don't want all of our windows with privacy tint -- more natural light!

I'll also add that it does not look like yours has the 2nd roof skin, which could definitely be a plus. I found someone that bought a bus with a similar 2nd skin, though not Blue Bird and the sheet metal for that skin was done slightly differently, but it had rust issues inside even though the outside was completely clean. With this bus having spray foam, I can't check that out. All I can do is hope the vapor barrier the foam created also kept the moisture out enough that the roof will rust at a much slower rate if there are any loose rivets (which judging by removing those on the inside panels, definitely seems a possibility).

And the final larger challenge we're having is regarding the electrical. They modified the buses for border patrol use and they had guard equipment, so a video recording system, gun locks/controls, extra lighting, controls for the toilet/sink up front... lots of oddities all wired in via some custom design that we have no documentation on. The fuse panel is completely custom and the awesome labeling Blue Bird had on the door is useless. The other person that bought the auction bus had an electrician come out and work through it. I'm going to try tackling it myself with a Power Probe master kit.

I'm going to be starting a build thread (demo at this point) on a day I'm not over working on it. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot them over.
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