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Old 01-10-2017, 10:43 PM   #1
New Member
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 5
Finding out about your bus


First time writer, long term reader. We are looking at buying a partially or completed bus conversion ASAP. We are looking to get on the road for the next couple of years exploring the Americas. So first off, if any one has any tips on where to look or any ideas that would be great. We are looking to sleep 6-8 people.

Most importantly my question is about how to find the specs ( transmission, engine type, etc) about a bus, if they are all stock of course. I have been in contact with a few people that do not seem to have knowledge about their bus. As I am scrolling through various websites there is a lack of information on the engine and more on the sweet table they built. I have contacted a few people and received their VIN but am having trouble finding VIN sites that give me information. We are most likely going to have to travel for our bus so i want to make sure get the right bus before we fly out.

Any help on this would be appreciated.


Nouse3 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2017, 02:34 AM   #2
Bus Crazy
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 2,233
If it is an IC bus the VIN can be looked up by any IC Bus dealer or Navistar Truck dealer. With the VIN they can find the line setting ticket which is the birth certificate for your bus. They can go back on chassis VIN's quite a ways back. So if you are looking at a much older bus, if the chassis was made by IHC they can still find the line setting ticket. I doubt they can go much further back than about 1990 but you can always ask.

If it is a Blue Bird bus a Blue Bird dealer might be able to help you if they were so inclined. They won't be able to help you very much if it is a conventional with a chassis made by an OEM vendor like Ford, GM, or IHC. If it is a newer bus with a Volvo/Blue Bird chassis they might be able to help.

If it is a Thomas and you have a VIN they might be able to help. Their database is not nearly as searchable as most of the other OEM's.

Every engine, transmission, and rear end left their respective factories with tags on them that provided a lot of information. The problem is that over time those tags get lost or get washed so many times with steam cleaners or power washers that the tags are no longer legible. You will need to become conversant as to the location of those tags so you can ask for more pictures that are specific to that particular bus.

It would also be very helpful if you familiarized yourself with the different engines and transmissions so you can visually check what it is the seller is trying to sell you. The outside cases of the Allison transmissions are all very different. Without the tag to tell you what model it is you should be able to tell just by looking at the case. You might not be able to tell if it has a deep low gear or if 6th gear is enabled but you should be able to identify the differences between AT500, MT600, HT700, B400, B500, and MD1000, MD2000, and MD3000 series of transmissions.

Probably the most common transmission you will find is the AT540. It was used in almost every bus that had less than 210 HP from the late-'60's through the late-'90's or early-'00's.

The B-series are fairly uncommon in school buses. The only buses that had the HT700 series were buses with Big Cam Cummins engines and motorcoaches. The MD series started showing up in some buses starting in the mid- to late-90's. The 1000 was in small buses with low HP. The 2000 was generally in medium sized buses with HP in the 200-230 HP range. The 3000 was generally in full sized buses with more than 235 HP.

Good luck on your search.
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