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Old 01-25-2020, 05:50 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Location: Alaska
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Oregon to Alaska, please help!

Hello fellow free men and women, independent thinkers and problem solvers, we are Jamie and Warren from Wasilla, Alaska.

So after months of researching and ghosting, my girlfriend and I bought our bus! Bus specs: 2002 Bluebird on a IH3800 chassis, DT466E with a TREMEC 7spd tranny, Dana spicer Rear 5.83 ratio. Also has a electronic speed limiter which I plan on bumping to 66 even though I will drive 55 or less 99% of the time. Any of you with knowledge, will that allow me to cruise at 55 at lower RPM in my 5? I will change the Rear end after getting home to Alaska but for now and the drive home, 5.83 suits me fine, keep the speed slow and Manual shifting low RPMs will make up for the Short gears supposed gpm difference for now!

Test drove the bus, no major red flags, we chose to go through a Dealer, getting a decent bus sight unseen or by auction wasn't something I was comfortable with at this point and with my current knowledge base. Bus has 101k miles and 4,445 engine hours, the underside had been rhino lined i believe, couldn't find any rust, bus had been a Fleet alternate for 15 years and parked in a garage when not in use. Fleet maintained, 1 owner before the dealer. 4 under compartments still in mint condition. Tires are 66% all the way around, 6 to 7 years old, no cracks, no bumps when driven. Interior I believe is 77.5 inches but I didn't tape it, that is front what the Ad said (should have taped it, was too excited!)

Though it's a Manual Tranny it has cruise control which worked beautifully, even climbed a nice grade in 5th gear at a constant 45 mph while cruising. Air brakes system seemed well maintained, clearly going to change all fluids and filters I can before I leave Oregon to drive to Alaska.

Planning on registering and titling in Vermont so I can make the drive home vs shipping, have any other Alaskan Skoolie owners or people making the trip to Alaska have any problems or issues they would care to share? I'm sure I will have my opportunity to learn from my own mistakes however I'd like to learn from others before the maiden voyage!!
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Old 01-25-2020, 07:22 PM   #2
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Location: Southern VT
Posts: 82
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas Bus
Chassis: Allison MD 3060
Engine: Catepillar 3126B 210hp/605 ft lb
Welcome!

Arctic Family Bus is leaving Alaska next week for the southeast US I believe! He is posting every day now as he gets ready for the 5k drive! Down the Alcan in the winter!

My bus is hibernating in Anchorage for the winter after a drive from VT across Canada and the whole Alcan highway last summer. We spent a night at the Wasilla transportation museum last August and over 1/2 day touring it! Love that stuff! Couldn't find Sarah's house though to say hello!

Have fun, get Good Sam before you go!! 150 a year with tire coverage!! We ran out of fuel on July 4th and couldnt find help, and a private guy got us 5 gallons, showed me where my manual prime pump was (yeah I should have known...) and fixed my motor AC, and Good Sam paid it!!
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Old 01-25-2020, 07:30 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Jan 2020
Location: Alaska
Posts: 18
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: IH3800
Engine: DT466E
Rated Cap: 77
Thanks for the tips, I'll be sure to follow that bus! Your bus looks like alot of fun, we are planning Prudhoe to the Cape someday, would love to hear about the Dalton and other places you've driven while in AK! I'm dying of cabin fever waiting for all the details to be right to allow us to drive her up here.

Are you living in your bus right now (as in the -20 weather we've had over the last 2 months) if so, how are you heating and are you happy with the results? Thanks in advance for the connection and information, very excited to meet people with Alaska/Canada skoolie knowledge!
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Old 01-25-2020, 07:52 PM   #4
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Location: Southern VT
Posts: 82
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas Bus
Chassis: Allison MD 3060
Engine: Catepillar 3126B 210hp/605 ft lb
No, family guy with little kids. Was looking for a reason to stay in Alaska but didn't happen haha (single guy). While driving there it occured to me the drive was so far it would be silly to drive home the same summer! So I looked at air fare and we flew back $177 bucks total each! (have 3 kids) cheaper then fuel. We parked at 76th street storage for 750 for the winter. Plan on next 2 summers in Alaska so big and beautiful and I get summers off, and air fare to Boston is $200 so what the hey, my dream come true!

Always wanted a bus, but reality wanted a class C, my teenager saw the bookmobile for sale near us last year and .... (I am an engineer and contractor so had the skills for the conversion)
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Old 01-25-2020, 07:54 PM   #5
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Location: Southern VT
Posts: 82
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas Bus
Chassis: Allison MD 3060
Engine: Catepillar 3126B 210hp/605 ft lb
Plus I would NEVER camp in a tent in Alaska with bears such as your Avatar (?) shows! Who is that bear! We saw many bears, and grizzlies in Denalli only
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Old 01-25-2020, 08:10 PM   #6
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Join Date: Oct 2018
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Posts: 82
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas Bus
Chassis: Allison MD 3060
Engine: Catepillar 3126B 210hp/605 ft lb
PS dont know if Good Sam does a bus BEFORE conversion to an RV, but in my case I just called and got coverage. I believe I told them it was an RV already? It had an RV title (not that it mattered in this case).

Insurance was a PIA till converted (and photo proved), I drove it home with my 'summer car' VW Thing plates and that vehicle's corresponding insurance (probably not valid) , bill of sale, and only 100 miles and what the hey 'the man' has too many rules (Yes stupid of me). Finally got state farm after a month with Progressive.

Canadian and US borders not an issue no paper work asked but I had all my kids...

Good Luck!
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Old 01-25-2020, 09:14 PM   #7
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Rated Cap: 77
That's awesome about leaving the bus stored and coming back summer after summer, we have contemplated the same situation but with the bus stored in the lower 48. At some point we'd like to live full time on the bus and -20 or worse is what I want to leave in the rear view!
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Old 01-25-2020, 09:24 PM   #8
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Join Date: Oct 2019
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Engine: 8.3 Cummins
Maligator,
Nice bus. Congrats. Did you buy from the used bus dealer near Wolf Creek, Oregon?
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Old 01-25-2020, 11:33 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Mountain Yawp View Post
Maligator,
Nice bus. Congrats. Did you buy from the used bus dealer near Wolf Creek, Oregon?
That's the place, sounds like you know of it?
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Old 01-26-2020, 01:14 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Maligator. View Post
That's the place, sounds like you know of it?
I'm on the other side of the state, so I have not been there or met the guy.
I did watch your bus when it was at public auction and really wanted to bid, but could not get to the coast in time to see it before the end of the auction. The guy at Wolf Creek won your bus, plus two others from the same school district. I emailed him to see if he would sell me the bus (now yours) before he did his "reconditioning" and added too much to the price. He didn't seem too interested in dealing with me since I knew what he paid for the bus at auction.

Anyway, that seems like a super awesome bus and I'm glad someone from this site was able to purchase it and will be converting it. I hope all goes well.
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Old 01-26-2020, 01:15 PM   #11
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Years ago I had trouble with the Canadian border trying to drive from Montana to Alaska. When I got to the Canadian Border they told me to pull into a stall, I did. I waited then they told me to pick up a phone, on the phone was a “immigration official”.

The immigration official said they were concerned because my car was 12 years old and they did not want people breaking down and using their welfare system. I told them I wanted nothing to do with their “welfare” and only wanted passage to Alaska. They said what if your car “brakes down” ? I said “I would fix it or get it fixed.”. They said they were concerned with it getting abandoned and then referred to “Americans” trying to use their “Welfare system”. In the end of the “interview” they said I would need to provide proof of financial accts equaling to $12,000 or more and if I tried to cross at any border in the next 6mo without that I would be taken to jail.

I was very offended by their treatment, I have no felonies or any criminal record. I have gone to at least a dozen different countries and never had any kind of problem with entry or passage in any of the besides Canada.

People have told me that my experience is rare ? I did want to mention it because you will be driving a older vehicle.

As far as I am concerned Queen Elizabeth of Canada is inbred rubbish and I will never spend a dime in Canada.
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Old 01-26-2020, 01:28 PM   #12
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As far as I am concerned Queen Elizabeth of Canada is inbred rubbish and I will never spend a dime in Canada.
Uhh...

You know the queen is English right?
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Old 01-26-2020, 01:51 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by JDSquared View Post
Uhh...

You know the queen is English right?

I know of her.


Seem as if you know her ? Related ?
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Old 01-26-2020, 04:08 PM   #14
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Deleted. Wrong thread
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Old 01-26-2020, 04:30 PM   #15
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Jan 2020
Location: Alaska
Posts: 18
Year: 2002
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Chassis: IH3800
Engine: DT466E
Rated Cap: 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mountain Yawp View Post
I'm on the other side of the state, so I have not been there or met the guy.
I did watch your bus when it was at public auction and really wanted to bid, but could not get to the coast in time to see it before the end of the auction. The guy at Wolf Creek won your bus, plus two others from the same school district. I emailed him to see if he would sell me the bus (now yours) before he did his "reconditioning" and added too much to the price. He didn't seem too interested in dealing with me since I knew what he paid for the bus at auction.

Anyway, that seems like a super awesome bus and I'm glad someone from this site was able to purchase it and will be converting it. I hope all goes well.
Living in alaska I'd be paying 1k or more just to attend 1 or 2 auctions, then I'd have to worry about shaking the bus down and storing it until I can get it up here. I did a lot of research, including on this Site, even though he's a Dealer, Kurt has already gone the extra mile for us which is why we decided to pay the Premium from a dealer. It does make Us feel alot better to know that someone who already owns and has converted a bus had eyes on this one and thinks it's a quality starting point!!
Assuming the bus makes the trip North with no major mishaps I'm going to give Kurt and his Dealership a great review (even though we paid more, the convenience and consideration was worth it to us!)

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Old 01-26-2020, 04:53 PM   #16
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Join Date: Jan 2020
Location: Alaska
Posts: 18
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: IH3800
Engine: DT466E
Rated Cap: 77
Thanks for the older vehicle warning, I've driven through canada many times with minimal issues but never in a bus! I'll be prepared for weird questions and contingencies, it's Canada, they have about as many Strange eggs as we do here in AK!
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Old 01-27-2020, 01:58 PM   #17
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Year: 1999
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Engine: 8.3 Cummins MD3060
Rated Cap: 84
I have crossed the border at the Sweetgrass/Coutts crossing a dozen times each way. The first time going into Canada we were held up and taken inside and grilled for an hour or so. It seemed like they were trying to make sure the kids we had were ours and not kidnapped. The only other problem I had was from a crotchety old gal who didn't want to let us back into the USA. 15 minutes arguing with her and she slammed the window and got on the phone. I figured I was going to jail! Some guy came in her booth and she left. He opened the window and it was like the sun started shining! 5 minutes with him answering the same questions and we were on our way. It just depends on who you get at the window and how bad their day has gone up to that point.
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Old 01-27-2020, 06:30 PM   #18
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Location: Alaska
Posts: 18
Year: 2002
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Chassis: IH3800
Engine: DT466E
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Originally Posted by JackE View Post
I have crossed the border at the Sweetgrass/Coutts crossing a dozen times each way. The first time going into Canada we were held up and taken inside and grilled for an hour or so. It seemed like they were trying to make sure the kids we had were ours and not kidnapped. The only other problem I had was from a crotchety old gal who didn't want to let us back into the USA. 15 minutes arguing with her and she slammed the window and got on the phone. I figured I was going to jail! Some guy came in her booth and she left. He opened the window and it was like the sun started shining! 5 minutes with him answering the same questions and we were on our way. It just depends on who you get at the window and how bad their day has gone up to that point.
I've crossed from Ontario to YT to BC under more normal circumstances dozens of times also. I completely agree, there's some cranky, picky, nasty customs agents but on the whole most of my crossings were under 5 minutes, usually well under 5 minutes. I suspect Tact and Respect will be my best allies at borders!! Thanks for the tip, I'm assuming you've crossed dozens of time in a skoolie? If so that's great news, the first time will be the hardest that's for sure!
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Old 01-27-2020, 07:36 PM   #19
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Chassis: All American A3RE
Engine: 8.3 Cummins MD3060
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maligator. View Post
I've crossed from Ontario to YT to BC under more normal circumstances dozens of times also. I completely agree, there's some cranky, picky, nasty customs agents but on the whole most of my crossings were under 5 minutes, usually well under 5 minutes. I suspect Tact and Respect will be my best allies at borders!! Thanks for the tip, I'm assuming you've crossed dozens of time in a skoolie? If so that's great news, the first time will be the hardest that's for sure!
All of my crossings have been in an auto, never a Skoolie. I'm about as new to the Skoolie realm as you are. My last visit up there I was pulling my new camper that just had a temporary plate on it from Utah. No questions asked. Other than those 2 longer stops, I have always been across in about 5 minutes. You are absolutely correct, respect and tact will win the day almost every time. When I get my bus completed, it will definitely be making the crossing many times, 3 of my grandkids live up there!
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Old 01-27-2020, 09:47 PM   #20
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Year: 2001
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Engine: ISC 8.3 L 260 hp
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ACamper View Post
Years ago I had trouble with the Canadian border trying to drive from Montana to Alaska. When I got to the Canadian Border they told me to pull into a stall, I did. I waited then they told me to pick up a phone, on the phone was a “immigration official”.

The immigration official said they were concerned because my car was 12 years old and they did not want people breaking down and using their welfare system. I told them I wanted nothing to do with their “welfare” and only wanted passage to Alaska. They said what if your car “brakes down” ? I said “I would fix it or get it fixed.”. They said they were concerned with it getting abandoned and then referred to “Americans” trying to use their “Welfare system”. In the end of the “interview” they said I would need to provide proof of financial accts equaling to $12,000 or more and if I tried to cross at any border in the next 6mo without that I would be taken to jail.

I was very offended by their treatment, I have no felonies or any criminal record. I have gone to at least a dozen different countries and never had any kind of problem with entry or passage in any of the besides Canada.

People have told me that my experience is rare ? I did want to mention it because you will be driving a older vehicle.

As far as I am concerned Queen Elizabeth of Canada is inbred rubbish and I will never spend a dime in Canada.
Funny story. A long time ago a buddy of mine was trying to move his ex girlfriends crap back to her house in Canada after they split. They wouldn't let him in because they thought he was trying to move there although all cloths were women's. "After our welfare Aeh!" They told him. He unloaded the ex's belongings at the border and left. He refuses to set foot in Canada to this day.

Ted
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