School Bus Conversion Resources

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lizzabus 02-02-2016 08:15 PM

OMG! I bought a bus also.
Looks like today was the day to purchase our next adventures!

I just purchased a 28' long 1994 Bluebird with a Cummins 5.9L 12V/Allison 545. Moves along like a cow but I understand I can replace/add (still fuzzy on that part) some higher gears and look for a governor.

I'm totally in over my head but I really appreciate all the fantastic posts here. Spent the past couple of weeks reading a lot. Unfortunately, I have questions about specific things on this bus (how to use it, for example) but I don't know the questions to ask. :facepalm:

SO...I'll keep reading and hopefully not irritate anyone too much. THANK YOU all for sharing your expertise and experience.

I'll be posting pics soon.

Lisa ~ Everett, WA

PigPen 02-02-2016 08:20 PM

Cool, welcome. We're on the verge of getting one, so it's great to see others getting them as well. Definitely post some pics! How far away was yours?

Roadrunner 02-02-2016 09:01 PM

Welcome and congratulations on getting your bus. Feel free to ask as many questions as you need to. As they say here on Skoolie, without pics it didn't happen. We love pics here. Go to the Conversions and how-to section and read the 4th post. It tells you how to post pics here. Whatever you need/want to know someone here will help.
How fast does your bus go and at what RPM? Vehicles have different gear ratios in the rear end (differential). Some people change the gears inside and some people just change the whole rear end. The rear end is the part between the rear tires, the round thing and the tubes that go out to the tires. It is a good bit of work to change one.
Let us know what you need.

lizzabus 02-02-2016 10:41 PM

The pic the seller had on Craigslist. I forgot to get a good side shot today.

My new "throne" before I clean and fix it up.

A closeup of the front.

Roadrunner 02-03-2016 06:29 PM

Sweet bus! Automatic sanders too.

cowlitzcoach 02-03-2016 07:33 PM

It looks like you found yourself a really nice bus! Without seeing the back view I would say it looks like a WA or OR spe'c bus.

Among the options I see are the 12" windows, traction sanders, and tinted glass.

With any changes to the engine or rear end you run the real risk of overheating. BB didn't over spe'c cooling on any of their buses. If your bus does not have an auxiliary transmission cooler you need to seriously consider adding one.

Good luck to you!

lizzabus 02-04-2016 09:36 AM

Thank you for the suggestions, cowlitzcoach! Yes, it's recently come out of service in the Kent, WA school district.

I could not figure out what the pipes were sticking down in front of the rear wheels until I got close and read the sign for the sand filler caps. LOL!! Who knew!?

I plan on driving it over to a truck/rv/bus mechanic when I pick it up and having a nice long chat with them about their suggestions for upgrades/improvements/repairs. We'll see how many $$$ that ends up being. Yikes!

lizzabus 02-04-2016 09:40 AM

Thank you so much, Roadrunner! I do appreciate all the experience and expertise of the crew on this site. Such a wonderful resource.
When I had Serenity (yes, yet another one!) out on the road for a test drive the other day I couldn't get it over about 55 on the downhill run. I didn't think to check the RPM but I will when we bring it home in a couple of weeks. I think, like a lot of other wise people here, I will just slow down and enjoy the ride. It would be nice to have a wee bit more on the top end just not to piss off all the other drivers on the road. It's typically 70 mph on the highways around here and I'd like to try to be less of a road hazard. <grin>
Thank you for the pic posting help. I'll make sure to take/post lots of pictures as I work on the bus, especially if I have questions.

jazty 02-04-2016 10:14 AM

What a beauty!
Do those sanders swing out of the way when the encounter curbs and the like? I wouldn't be able to pull out of my driveway without smacking them off the ground a couple times.

SDR76 02-16-2016 10:35 PM

Congrats!! I have the same Skoolie, just a couple years older. With the 5.9 Cummins, you have one of the best workhorse engines ever. Simple 12valve, all mechanical- they cant be beat. Your Allison 545 is an AT series, its a fine trans, but a bit on the wimpy side (mine too). It's a 4 speed, direct drive, with a non-lockup Torque converter (this means that the transmission is constantly slipping causing wasted energy, and excess heat). Depending on your gear ratio in the rear end, your top speed should be better than you claim. Mine is 4.44:1, and I can pull 75 MPH, but it likes to run closer to 60. If you have lower gears, like in the 6.0's you may need a different gearset, or perhaps an Overdrive transmission. A bus/truck shop will likely tell you to swap the AT545 for a MT653 or 643, or even a MD3060. All good options, if you want to spend the money. Engine wise- find a diesel performance shop, (not a bus/truck shop) and look into new injectors and a 4000 Governor spring for your injection pump. Find out if the KDP (killer dowel pin) has been fixed in the engine (its a little design flaw that can have very bad results if not fixed). These are very cheap upgrades for this engine, and will give you HUGE results. Way cool bus! Im pretty jealous of the tire sanders!!!!
--good luck.

cowlitzcoach 02-17-2016 12:55 PM

The Kent School District has always had one of the better transportation departments in WA state.

I would be surprised if your bus has an AT540 transmission. I would be inclined to think it would have the MT640 transmission. Kent usually up spe'c'ed their buses. And I would be really surprised if Kent didn't spe'c auxiliary transmission cooler for that bus as well.

In every respect, it would appear as if you have found a pretty nice bus.

Good luck and happy trails!

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