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Old 05-23-2024, 08:54 PM   #1
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Is this a good deal?

Hello! n00b, here! Although, I *HAVE* been studying-- I swear! 😅

I'm currently eyeballing both regular buses and old school Wanderlodges, for my future full-time lifestyle. While Wanderlodges are great (I'm looking at anywhere between '81 and '89, when they introduced air-ride, but before they ditched the bus look), and are already built-out, I'm a little iffy on their Cat 3208 engines (I'm led to believe they're okay, but can be a bugger bear, and not totally fit for pulling a TOAD?), and the floorplans aren't ideal.

Which also has me revisiting my high-school dream of just building the living space that I want. Definite upside to skoolies, even if it means more sweat and tears!

If I pursue the skoolie route, then I believe I may have found my (near) perfect rig (although, I wish it had a manual transmission), but I want to run it past the experts, here, before racing out and buying it.

The bus in question is a 35' Blue Bird All American 4th Gen 2003 A3FE, with a 2003 CAT 3126 (pre-emissions, not the ACERT C7), an Allison MD3060, and a 5.29 rear diff gear. Bus should have little/no rust, given its location. Plus, it still has the rear-door exit, and a rear-right wheelchair lift. For only $6k. Have I hit the jackpot? Thoughts? Opinions?

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Old 05-23-2024, 09:01 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jun 2023
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 1,019
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 29
My opinion, not bad, Transmission isn't bad either, but the rear diff is slightly higher than I'd want.

Another grand or two could swap out the rear diff gears to 4.78, or 4.44, and fix that though easy enough. Otherwise not bad at all.
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Old 05-23-2024, 09:45 PM   #3
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Join Date: May 2018
Location: topeka kansas
Posts: 1,798
Year: 1954
Coachwork: wayne
Chassis: old f500- new 2005 f-450
Engine: cummins 12 valve
Rated Cap: 20? five rows of 4?
Sounds like a fine set up

I also like th wander lodges…..they are around. There is a very few lower end bluebirds that were motorhomes, but not wanderlodge.

If you happen to crater the 3208, you can repower, but a 3208 with turbo, and enough fuel should pull you down the road okay.

William
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Old 05-24-2024, 08:09 AM   #4
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 23,782
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
I've got a Wanderlodge in FL with a very good running 3208 Turbo. Has abotu 25k miles on the engine it was repowered from gas to diesel in the mid 90's. Its got plenty of power and towed a car down here to FL.
Its a project and needs tlc but its priced cheaper than a lot of skoolies out there. Hit me up if that sounds like anything you'd be interested in.
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Old 05-24-2024, 12:46 PM   #5
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Join Date: May 2015
Location: Central Tx.
Posts: 2,091
Year: 1999
Chassis: Amtran / International
Engine: DT466E HT 250HP - Md3060
My ‘99 amtran, dt466 ht, 250hp, md 3060 also with a 5.29 gears now runs great with 6 th gear unlocked. 70 mph at 2100 rpm. The ht along with a 250 hp motor, does great pulling smooth grades on i-10 florida pandhandle hills!
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Old 05-24-2024, 01:21 PM   #6
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Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Toledo OH
Posts: 823
Year: 2006
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: MVP-EF
Engine: Cat C7 + Allison 3000PTS
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Originally Posted by ewo1 View Post
My ‘99 amtran, dt466 ht, 250hp, md 3060 also with a 5.29 gears now runs great with 6 th gear unlocked. 70 mph at 2100 rpm. The ht along with a 250 hp motor, does great pulling smooth grades on i-10 florida pandhandle hills!
Did you upgrade that engine to 250hp? Usually 210 is about the highest you can find, I think cat engines can be upgraded up to 230 before you need major component swap outs.
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Old 05-24-2024, 01:24 PM   #7
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Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Toledo OH
Posts: 823
Year: 2006
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: MVP-EF
Engine: Cat C7 + Allison 3000PTS
Quote:
Originally Posted by HiPPy_SandWiTCH View Post
Hello! n00b, here! Although, I *HAVE* been studying-- I swear! 😅

I'm currently eyeballing both regular buses and old school Wanderlodges, for my future full-time lifestyle. While Wanderlodges are great (I'm looking at anywhere between '81 and '89, when they introduced air-ride, but before they ditched the bus look), and are already built-out, I'm a little iffy on their Cat 3208 engines (I'm led to believe they're okay, but can be a bugger bear, and not totally fit for pulling a TOAD?), and the floorplans aren't ideal.

Which also has me revisiting my high-school dream of just building the living space that I want. Definite upside to skoolies, even if it means more sweat and tears!

If I pursue the skoolie route, then I believe I may have found my (near) perfect rig (although, I wish it had a manual transmission), but I want to run it past the experts, here, before racing out and buying it.

The bus in question is a 35' Blue Bird All American 4th Gen 2003 A3FE, with a 2003 CAT 3126 (pre-emissions, not the ACERT C7), an Allison MD3060, and a 5.29 rear diff gear. Bus should have little/no rust, given its location. Plus, it still has the rear-door exit, and a rear-right wheelchair lift. For only $6k. Have I hit the jackpot? Thoughts? Opinions?
As a Cat guy, I think you’ll be happy with the 3126. I will say the C7 gets a lot of hate because of the very last design where they attempted some emissions and seriously messed up the reliability. The original C7 like I have is just a next generation 3126. From what I can tell the reliability of the HEUI pump was much improved on the C7 with the caveat that it can’t be repaired, it has to be totally replaced if it failed. The 3126 had a field serviceable solenoid that seems to be a weak point.
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Old 05-27-2024, 07:51 PM   #8
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Thanks for all of the replies! Unfortunately, it looks like I missed out on this gem of a bus. �� The listing for the bus sold already. As consolation, a friend had pointed out my more pressing need to get out from under my apartment lease. Plus, if I buy the Wanderlodge I've been eyeing, and then have something go wrong with it, I can always keep it covered, and use it as parts for a future conversion. To be fair, it seems like it'll be quicker and a lot less expensive to go with an older vehicle, that's already kitted out. I really was hoping I could possibly even get both, but it would seem that the fates have other plans. ��
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Old 05-28-2024, 07:08 AM   #9
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 19,035
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
Quote:
Originally Posted by nikitis View Post
My opinion, not bad, Transmission isn't bad either, but the rear diff is slightly higher than I'd want.

Another grand or two could swap out the rear diff gears to 4.78, or 4.44, and fix that though easy enough. Otherwise not bad at all.

with overdirve? 5.29 is damn near perfect.. esp since you can open 6th gear and get down to a 0.65:1 ratio...



4.78 or 4.44 would lug that engine..


the 3126 isnt a powerful engine.. its a good one but needs a little RPM to make power...
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