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Old 07-29-2017, 06:48 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Question Bus vote! 1990 Bluebird vs. 2001 Thomas

Hello dear skoolies,

My husband and I are about to move to Colorado to buy a bus and get it converted by Charlie Kern. He has two options waiting for us in Denver, and if we want to buy one of them, we have to decide by next week. Please help by sharing your vote/opinion. I'll give you the details of the two buses below.

Also, we like that both of these buses are 35 feet, as we like the idea of a more maneuverable bus rather than having those 5 feet of extra living room.

(And just for a little background context: we are a 27 and 31 year old husband and wife duet called The Love Sprockets. We plan on touring around the country in our schoolbus home and playing house shows + living part time in Washington, Austin and Vermont. We are expecting to have 1-2 children during the next five years. We have a cat and a dog and a lot of folk instruments. We work remotely from our computer/iPad)

Here are the specs for the 2001 Thomas bus:https://www.dropbox.com/s/1tml7kudsg...17.14.jpg?dl=0

-Rear engine
-35 ft long
-Electronic transmission (overdrive)
-tops out at 65 mph
-Cummins 5.9 L engine
-not a super powerful engine = slow going uphill
-175,000 mi (speedometer may actually be reading 10% over of actually mileage)
-front tires good, back tires need to be replaced by next year
-rust free except for a small section on passenger side
-$6500

Specs for the 1990 Bluebird bus:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/w68irlturs...17.08.jpg?dl=0

-Front engine
-Cummins 8.3 engine
-35 feet
-178,000 mi (may have a new engine - speedometer reads 16,000 mi)
-Good power up hills (beastly engine)
-Electronic retarder braking system
-tops out at 70 mph (no overdrive)
-Dual-diesel tank (good for veggie oil conversion, which we are potentially interested in)
-Rock chips in front, no rust
-Front tires good, almost new
-Back tires have 30-40% wear left

We so appreciate your input on this decision. We've never done anything like this before!
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Old 07-29-2017, 07:41 PM   #2
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Chassis: GMC or Chevrolet, I hope
Engine: gasser probably
Price for the second one ?

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Old 07-29-2017, 07:53 PM   #3
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I'd go for the Thomas. They're just as manoueverable as a conventional bus, plus, the engine is in the rear for more quiet.
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Old 07-29-2017, 07:58 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chickadee020 View Post
Here are the specs for the 2001 Thomas bus:https://www.dropbox.com/s/1tml7kudsg...17.14.jpg?dl=0

-Rear engine
-35 ft long
-Electronic transmission (overdrive)
-tops out at 65 mph
-Cummins 5.9 L engine
-not a super powerful engine = slow going uphill
-175,000 mi (speedometer may actually be reading 10% over of actually mileage)
-front tires good, back tires need to be replaced by next year
-rust free except for a small section on passenger side
-$6500

Specs for the 1990 Bluebird bus:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/w68irlturs...17.08.jpg?dl=0

-Front engine
-Cummins 8.3 engine
-35 feet
-178,000 mi (may have a new engine - speedometer reads 16,000 mi)
-Good power up hills (beastly engine)
-Electronic retarder braking system
-tops out at 70 mph (no overdrive)
-Dual-diesel tank (good for veggie oil conversion, which we are potentially interested in)
-Rock chips in front, no rust
-Front tires good, almost new
-Back tires have 30-40% wear left
For bus 1, my thoughts:

5.9 Cummins engine, you have a pretty good assessment. OK on the flats but will slow on the hills. Everything else not too bad; you may want to get the rust spot checked - and check the underside thoroughly for rust (this goes for both buses). Price is a bit high for an average bus.

And for bus 2:

8.3 Cummins will pull a lot better on the highway; you'll enjoy driving it more. The low mileage does *NOT* necessarily indicate a new engine! They may have simply replaced the speedometer/gauge cluster (fairly common). Ask to be sure (Seller may not know), I would assume no rebuild if they don't know. Dual tanks may not be separate systems (on big trucks they are connected at all times, drawing fuel from both equally). It is possible they are separate systems but I would not make an assumption on it. What's the asking price?

I did not see what brake system either bus has (air or hydraulic); I'm partial to air brakes myself but please don't take that to mean hydraulic brakes are bad. I like having air pressure available to inflate tires, operate air tools, and such. I also feel the parking brakes are "stronger" and there's 2 of them (as opposed to a single driveshaft parking brake).

Myself, I prefer a bus with a hood but to each their own. Front engine bus will yield more usable space behind the seat; a rear engine bus will have a quieter ride (and many folks say more comfortable). I've only ever driven a rear-engine bus once. It was strange sitting well in front of the steering axle and adjusting to how they turn in city streets. It *WILL* take some getting used to, but they are *NOT* hard to drive.
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Old 07-29-2017, 08:30 PM   #5
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You need to know more specifics on the trannies. Make, model, number of gears. Also need to know the final gearing. With that, the trans gearing and your tire size, you can compute your highway speed (there are still a lot of 50 mph buses out there).
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Old 07-29-2017, 10:19 PM   #6
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Whoops! Thanks for catching that. The Bluebird is $5500
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Old 07-29-2017, 10:20 PM   #7
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Thank you for sharing your opinion CaptSquid!
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Old 07-29-2017, 10:22 PM   #8
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Thank you for giving those assessments Brad Swiftfur, I really appreciate it. The Bluebird is selling for $5500 btw, forgot to put that in there.
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Old 07-29-2017, 10:23 PM   #9
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Hey thanks for that Tango. We'll be able to see the buses in person next week, and by then the seller says he'll have more information about each of the buses, so I'll be back in here with those updates.
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Old 07-29-2017, 11:13 PM   #10
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I'd definitely go for the Bluebird over the Thomas any day.
But if you're already paying the guy to convert it why pay a premium for the bus TOO?
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Old 07-29-2017, 11:24 PM   #11
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i would vote for the cummins 8.3 FE.

bigger displacement and the retarder will keep the ulcers out of your travels through Colorado.

imo, those are quite average buses.

if i were having one built, it would have:
isc or dt466
rear engine
643 or 3060
underbay storage
retarder - bonus

a family of 4 is going to want a 40' bus. i have a 30' bus and its fine for 1 but full with 2.
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Old 07-30-2017, 06:02 AM   #12
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If you can maneuver a 35 foot bus, another 5 feet of bus is nothing. I'd go for 40 feet of bus.
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Old 07-30-2017, 04:36 PM   #13
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Thanks for voting EastCoast! We def like the Bluebird, just wish it was a rear engine! Charlie buys and sells buses to people all the time, and then the cost of converting them is just it's own thing. I should see if he'll give us a discount since we'll be paying him lotsa monies soon to convert it
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Old 07-30-2017, 07:03 PM   #14
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I concur with ECCB, get the 40' bus! That extra 5 feet is a real difference in storage AND floor space, both very precious. We have a 40' diesel pusher bus, up from the 30' conventional we're giving to a close friend for help on our 40'. In reality the 30' bus only has about 14 or so feet of actual living space due to the design of the body. So when we got the 40', it was like getting almost three buses for one when it comes to floor space, and two extra buses for storage. You'll be stunned how quick the storage is eaten up by "stuff". We're already cutting down our things to only basics that will only fit in the bus and nothing else. We've dumped all our furniture, have only folding tables and wood structures for our beds so we can convert the wood into building materials for the bus, figuring out how many clothes we actually need with the space we have on the bus, cookware that will handle traveling, and figuring out our water and food capacities. Not an easy task, but doable.......

Best of luck!

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Old 07-30-2017, 07:07 PM   #15
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Some real nice buses on the auction sites lately. Oregon, Washington, AZ, Cali, and Colorado.
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Old 07-31-2017, 01:47 AM   #16
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Those two buses look like pretty nice buses although I would consider the prices a little on the high side.

The Blue Bird does NOT have the 12" windows which means it is a low roof bus with 9" windows. The interior headroom is going to be less that the Thomas as it appears to have the 12" windows. 3" in ceiling height is a HUGE difference if you are a tall person.

The RE will ride better, it will be much cooler in the summer, and it will be almost silent going down the road compared to the FE bus. The Cummins is not going to be as loud as a Cat 3208 but you can not eliminate the sound and the heat completely since it is all happening within inches of your right foot. It is much easier to drive away from the noise, especially when the noise is starting more than 30' behind you.

RE buses have an advantage of not having a driveshaft that goes the length of the bus. Being able to build basement storage and hanging plumbing and tanks is so very much easier when you don't have to consider working around a driveshaft and an exhaust system.

All things considered, I would prefer the Crown behind the BB. But if the choice is only between the BB and the Thomas I would go with the Thomas.

Good luck and happy trails to you.
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Old 08-01-2017, 02:07 PM   #17
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This is almost a flip a coin moment for me it would depend on the price of the blue bird I guess, there are pros and cons both ways I guess I would say that working on that engine in the front of the bluebird would be super simple but it's right there under foot 24/7 the Thomas with the engine in the rear out of sight out of mind hard to work on.
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Old 08-01-2017, 02:09 PM   #18
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Okay I think both buses are about $2,000 overpriced that's all I got thanks good luck
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Old 08-01-2017, 02:39 PM   #19
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Bluebird wins for me, am biased. I have 35 foot bluebird and am glad not to have 5 more feet (unless you have 6 kids). Big difference in maneuverability.

8.3 motor up front, I have to see. Must be snug. I have 5.9L 24v and have zero room to work on motor.

Good luck ! drive them both.
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Old 08-01-2017, 03:49 PM   #20
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Thank you for all of your input--keep it coming! :-)

Thank you, all of you, for giving your opinions on these buses. Keep it coming, please! We'll be checking them out this week + getting more details on both.
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