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Old 02-04-2021, 11:23 PM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2020
Location: Central Washington
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Year: 2002
Coachwork: bluebird all american
Which bus should we choose?!

Hello everyone!
We are new here; been reading through this forum for the past 2 months answering a lot of our questions through all of your writings!
Family of 4 + 3 dogs from PNW Washington planning to purchase a bus next week and reaching out to you all for help choosing. BTW if anyone passing through Ellensburg in their Skoolie consider messaging us to visit and have a place to park overnight.

We found 2 buses from the same source for the trans and engine we were looking for:

#1 2002 Bluebird 81 passenger All American
175,121 miles Rear Engine - 8.3 cummings Transmission – 5 speed Allison MD3060 Tires <10,000 miles


#2 2002 Bluebird 75 passenger
175,232 miles Rear Engine - 8.3 cummings Transmission – 6 speed Allison MD3066 Tires <10,000 miles

The difference is the 5 speed vs 6, 3060 (#1) and 3066 (#2); what would you choose?
We are planning to drive through mountain passes on the West Coast; owner says the 3066 has retarder and thinks the 3060 has retarder too (waiting for them to get this answer from their partner)

What do you think? Thanks in advance!

Ali & Noah

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Old 02-05-2021, 01:57 AM   #2
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Coachwork: International Coach Corp.
Chassis: RE-300 42ft
Engine: 466ci
Rated Cap: 90
What is the asking price of these buses?
More importantly, Hours?
Mileage is not the whole story.
Lets say the six speed is a transit, having averaged a speed of 45mph. Versus a five speed route bus averaging 10mph

175,000/45 = 3,888 hrs
175,000/10 = 17,500 hrs

Which one has more:
Revolutions
Braking
Accelerating under load
Trans heat
Lugging
Passenger foot Traffic
Higher hours, of course

But that doesn't really answer enough. Which one has milky oil or metal flakes in the trans fluid? Suspension wear? Has the cummins cam been replaced, yet? Rust situation?

There's more to these gals than just their bra size.
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Old 02-05-2021, 06:37 AM   #3
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The MD 3060 is a 6 speed trans. 6th is normally locked out electronically on a school bus, however you can get 6th gear unlocked usually. There is a thread about it here on this forum.
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Old 02-05-2021, 07:04 AM   #4
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Engine: T444E
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With the size of your family I'd go with the 81 pass and have the 6th gear unlocked.
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Old 03-22-2021, 05:03 PM   #5
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Thank yous

Thank you all for your insight; we bought the bus with the 3060
Now we're trying to figure out how to get to it to drive it home. The location is Stuart, Nebraska and the nearest cities are a 2 hour radius. I'm going to make a new post to share the ideas and questions
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Old 03-22-2021, 05:24 PM   #6
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Engine: 5.9 Cummins/B300 trans
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BusStead View Post
Thank you all for your insight; we bought the bus with the 3060
Now we're trying to figure out how to get to it to drive it home. The location is Stuart, Nebraska and the nearest cities are a 2 hour radius. I'm going to make a new post to share the ideas and questions
If you think it will be reliable there's a couple people here that can help drive it to you, Cheese_Wagon for one, you can also try Uship.
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Old 03-22-2021, 08:45 PM   #7
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Two important things to know about the 8.3 Cummins.

1) It requires a high-zinc-content engine oil for longevity.
2) It tends to develop valvetrain problems at around 9,000 hours of runtime. Specifically worn / wiped camshaft lobes.

Relax, it is a common thing and not out of the ordinary. However as DeMac mentioned per my own threads and teachings....

9,000 x 35 mph average = 315,000 miles
9,000 x 30 mph average = 270,000 miles
9,000 x 25 mph average = 225,000 miles
9,000 x 20 mph average = 180,000 miles
9,000 x 15 mph average = 135,000 miles
9,000 x 10 mph average = 90,000 miles
9,000 x 5 mph average = 45,000 miles

It may seem ominous, but consider this same engine in an RV that averages 50 mph or more could go 450,000 miles or more before this happens. It's all about idle time, as you can read in my Hours vs Miles thread (linked in my sig). As I stated in your other thread, if you can PM me the particulars, I'll see what I can do about helping you out with pickup / delivery, as I am in Virginia.

Both transmissions are likely mechanically six-speeds with sixth locked out. Blue Bird in particular is pretty persnickety about giving Allison permission to unlock the sixth gear, the reason others are telling you to have it done private. I only recommend it if the bus' fuel economy and cruising speed are not realistic for your needs.

Fuel economy and cruising speed are entirely dependent on the rear axle gear ratio. A similar bus I transported in 2020 had what I believe could only have been a 4.56 rear axle gear, as it cruised comfortably at 70 mph getting about 7.5 mpg with a car in tow, turning just about 2200 rpm.

However, it developed the above mentioned issue, and after repair, the owners elected to finish the trip themselves. They reported about 11 mpg at lower speeds on back roads, at an estimated 1600-1800 rpm. Cummins says the 8.3 is safe to 2,750 rpm, but above 1800 it guzzles diesel like an alcoholic does booze, and I don't like pushing a diesel much above 1800-2000. More RPM = more heat = more stress, which is not good, the reason the AT545 is not well suited for highways and mountains.
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Old 03-22-2021, 09:01 PM   #8
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Chassis: 3000 / 33' Flat Nose
Engine: IC T444E / Allison MT643
Rated Cap: 72 Kids / 48 Adults
I'm going to make this simple.

Choose the yellow bus.
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Old 03-23-2021, 12:14 PM   #9
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Nailed it

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simplicity View Post
I'm going to make this simple.

Choose the yellow bus.
Oh good because we already bought the yellow one
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Old 03-23-2021, 12:28 PM   #10
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Join Date: Dec 2020
Location: Central Washington
Posts: 6
Year: 2002
Coachwork: bluebird all american
Bought it Now need to drive it home

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeMac View Post
What is the asking price of these buses?
More importantly, Hours?
Mileage is not the whole story.
Lets say the six speed is a transit, having averaged a speed of 45mph. Versus a five speed route bus averaging 10mph
175,000/45 = 3,888 hrs
175,000/10 = 17,500 hrs

Which one has more:
Revolutions, Braking, Accelerating under load, Trans heat, Lugging, Passenger foot Traffic, Higher hours, of course

But that doesn't really answer enough. Which one has milky oil or metal flakes in the trans fluid? Suspension wear? Has the cummins cam been replaced, yet? Rust situation?

There's more to these gals than just their bra size.
And right when I thought I had enough info to make the right decision, boom, DeMac dropping in knowledge
I think I chose the right one, they had the very close to the same hours and miles. both were used for transporting kids out of small town stuart and into cities for events via highway in a 3-4 hour radius (from stuart)
I chose the once who presented better condition based on rust, one undercarriage leaked (they made many attempts to fix and nothing worked) so we chose the dry non-leaking undercarriage, which was also less rust.
Chose the 3060 with the option to unlock if needed.
Both buses were taken incredibly great care of, used mostly highway, maintained and weather prepped every winter, this family has a coach service they've ran for over 40 years.. they weren't planning on selling the buses and liquidating the business but covid really made it impossible for them to continue financially.
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