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joshjohnson17 10-18-2017 07:38 PM

Got a bus, finally!
 
So we picked up a bus after months of looking! 1999 GMC Bluebird 38ft front engine 3126 cat with a 545 allison transmission. A little rust since its a New England bus. We paid $2500 for it and they put on a hitch and removed all the seats for us (hope that was a good price). It was serviced by the same school bus fleet for its life till now and last inspected/used this spring but parked for the past 5-6 months. So the issues it has, very slow going up long grades and hills, its like the power just drops and I inch up at 30-40mph (does it need a new tranny or is it just what you expect from an older bus?). The ABS light goes on and off intermittently? The speedometer and tachometer do not work? The steering isn't tight but i think that normal? So any tips on these issues? Also we plan on painting and treating the rust this weekend, any tips on paint etc.? Thanks again and we will be posting some pics soon!!!

bigskypc50 10-18-2017 07:58 PM

As far as speed I would say that's pretty normal going up a grade you are slightly faster then the fully loaded semi's trucks but not much.

As far as getting a good deal I would honestly say no, not with a 545 trans and cat engine and rust. Then to top that off you have ABS and dash problems, I would have had the bus barn look into those issues vs ripping out the seat and installing a hitch (besides that is a skoolie right of passage removing seats) :-)

I feel bad if you need to go to CAT or a dealer for parts to fix that ABS and dash problems.

Not to rain on your parade, best of luck and happy trails!

Johnny Mullet 10-18-2017 08:29 PM

Sounds like you got an old bus with low geared rear end and slow top speed and a reliable, but crappy 3 speed auto. Build it the way you want and take the slow back roads through life.

EastCoastCB 10-18-2017 08:51 PM

The at545 isn't a good transmission in a full size bus. Especially in the mountains. Add in the Cat motor and rust, and I'd say its probably the kind of bus most would want to skip.
That said- its better than my first bus. A thomas gasser. Yuck!
Enjoy the build, and post lots of pics!

mmoore6856 10-19-2017 10:49 AM

ignore the negativity about the cat motors as almost all the posters never owned one. talk to all the old truckers and ask what is the best for power and reliability and the answer is always cat. so ignore them as i have never had trouble getting a million miles out of them. the only engines that come close now are the 60 series detroit which is a rare one in a bus and Cummings. if i ever change engines i will use a mack next time as it will fit in most buses and is dependable also. one last note Bonneville is on my schedule in a couple of years as i had it up to 85 mph before backing off on the flats so ill have fun passing the combines on the highway

mmoore6856 10-19-2017 11:04 AM

and dont go to cat for a abs as that would be a gmc issue cat dont make brakes just engines and every truck dealer has a cat engine mechanic so you dont have to go to cat look at the signs on kw volvo freightliner and all the others as cat showed up in most trucks now you probably realize that this site is not always got the best of info so good luck and wear tall rubber boots

Twigg 10-19-2017 11:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mmoore6856 (Post 230006)
and dont go to cat for a abs as that would be a gmc issue cat dont make brakes just engines and every truck dealer has a cat engine mechanic so you dont have to go to cat look at the signs on kw volvo freightliner and all the others as cat showed up in most trucks now you probably realize that this site is not always got the best of info so good luck and wear tall rubber boots

I have never heard anyone on this site complain about the performance of CAT engines.

The criticism is always two-fold:

1. They cannot be in-framed", which matters for DIY mechanics

2. Parts prices are high.

There is no global "hate" on CAT here, merely an acknowledgment that our priorities might vary from those of a full-service workshop.

mmoore6856 10-19-2017 11:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Twigg (Post 230009)
I have never heard anyone on this site complain about the performance of CAT engines.

The criticism is always two-fold:

1. They cannot be in-framed", which matters for DIY mechanics

2. Parts prices are high.

There is no global "hate" on CAT here, merely an acknowledgment that our priorities might vary from those of a full-service workshop.

do you have a cat?

mmoore6856 10-19-2017 11:19 AM

brb forgot my boots

Twigg 10-19-2017 11:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mmoore6856 (Post 230012)
do you have a cat?

Do I need one to be able to read and distill the balance of comments?

You gave the impression that people here are "anti-CAT". I've seen no evidence of this, so maybe you could share some.

mmoore6856 10-19-2017 11:55 AM

but you feel like interjecting comments about prices being high and they cant be inframed (wrong) and thats positive??? all parts are getting high and i still buy cat filters as they are not that bad as far as price (oh yea i have a cat and actually buy this stuff and work on my own) read all the cat posts and see the negativity also learn to comprehend english as i never said that there was a global conspiricy against cats just to ignore the negativity are you a moron?????? ps got my boots on

Twigg 10-19-2017 12:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mmoore6856 (Post 230018)
but you feel like interjecting comments about prices being high and they cant be inframed (wrong) and thats positive??? all parts are getting high and i still buy cat filters as they are not that bad as far as price (oh yea i have a cat and actually buy this stuff and work on my own) read all the cat posts and see the negativity also learn to comprehend english as i never said that there was a global conspiricy against cats just to ignore the negativity are you a moron?????? ps got my boots on

No, I didn't "interject comments about prices being high", I merely stated that those were the concerns expressed on the site.

One of us is a moron, it might not be who you think it is.

Reading comprehension is your friend.

EastCoastCB 10-19-2017 12:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mmoore6856 (Post 230003)
ignore the negativity about the cat motors as almost all the posters never owned one. talk to all the old truckers and ask what is the best for power and reliability and the answer is always cat. so ignore them as i have never had trouble getting a million miles out of them. the only engines that come close now are the 60 series detroit which is a rare one in a bus and Cummings. if i ever change engines i will use a mack next time as it will fit in most buses and is dependable also. one last note Bonneville is on my schedule in a couple of years as i had it up to 85 mph before backing off on the flats so ill have fun passing the combines on the highway

Truckers get REAL Cats. The medium duty Cats aren't the same thing as a 3406.
And its NOT CUMMINGS!!!!!!:nonono:

EastCoastCB 10-19-2017 12:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Twigg (Post 230009)
I have never heard anyone on this site complain about the performance of CAT engines.

The criticism is always two-fold:

1. They cannot be in-framed", which matters for DIY mechanics

2. Parts prices are high.

There is no global "hate" on CAT here, merely an acknowledgment that our priorities might vary from those of a full-service workshop.

I think the 3126 is a wet sleeve, but I could be wrong.

cadillackid 10-19-2017 05:19 PM

losing speed on hills is somewhat normal with an AT545.. it lacks a lockup converter so it tends to lose speed on steep hills. its not usually broken unless its truly just spinning at the engines maximum RPM and you are not feeling any load against it.

the CAT-3126 in your year should be a fully mechanical engine (a plus.. no computer). the 3126 is not a wet sleeve but there are repair sleeve kits made for it so it can be sleeved during a rebuild if the cylinder walls are in bad shape.

ABS is usually wheel speed sensors.. the ones on your bus are very similar to the ones used in the chevy pickups.. you can google to see how people have repaired them.. most times its not to bad of a job... hardest part is taking the wheels off or jacking the bus up if you need to.. good visual inspection of the wiring going from the wheel sensors back to the ABS device which is usually underneath on the frame rail... you'll see multiple brake lines from it.. its somewhat common for water to splash up over the years into the connectors and they need cleaned or replaced..

if any of the brake lines have air in them that can trigger the ABS also.. sometimes just bleeding all of the brakes helps to solve the issue..

styeering tightness.. if you have alot of bump steer (feels like the steering wheel wantrs ripped out of your hands on big expansion joints in the road, etc) check your front shocks and also your alignment..

steering on ab us isnt as tight as a car but can be looser than it should for many reasons.. loose king pins, tie-rod ends, etc just like a car.. also the lash could be too high in the steering box.. i adjusted lash in one of my busses and it greatly helped with loose steering as did getting it aligned and putting on new shocks..

im not sure how the tach and speedo get their signals on that engine.. but if your temp / oil / fuel / volts gauges are working, I would look for a harness that comes from underneath .. the speed sensor from the AT545 is on the tailshaft.. should be a 2 pin connector on it.. and then there is likely a sensor near the flywheel with 2 wires on it which would be for your tach (RPM).. if None of your gauges at all work i would start with fuses in the fuse panel for the gauge cluster.

-Christopher

EastCoastCB 10-19-2017 05:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cadillackid (Post 230065)
losing speed on hills is somewhat normal with an AT545.. it lacks a lockup converter so it tends to lose speed on steep hills. its not usually broken unless its truly just spinning at the engines maximum RPM and you are not feeling any load against it.

the CAT-3126 in your year should be a fully mechanical engine (a plus.. no computer). the 3126 is not a wet sleeve but there are repair sleeve kits made for it so it can be sleeved during a rebuild if the cylinder walls are in bad shape.

ABS is usually wheel speed sensors.. the ones on your bus are very similar to the ones used in the chevy pickups.. you can google to see how people have repaired them.. most times its not to bad of a job... hardest part is taking the wheels off or jacking the bus up if you need to.. good visual inspection of the wiring going from the wheel sensors back to the ABS device which is usually underneath on the frame rail... you'll see multiple brake lines from it.. its somewhat common for water to splash up over the years into the connectors and they need cleaned or replaced..

if any of the brake lines have air in them that can trigger the ABS also.. sometimes just bleeding all of the brakes helps to solve the issue..

styeering tightness.. if you have alot of bump steer (feels like the steering wheel wantrs ripped out of your hands on big expansion joints in the road, etc) check your front shocks and also your alignment..

steering on ab us isnt as tight as a car but can be looser than it should for many reasons.. loose king pins, tie-rod ends, etc just like a car.. also the lash could be too high in the steering box.. i adjusted lash in one of my busses and it greatly helped with loose steering as did getting it aligned and putting on new shocks..

im not sure how the tach and speedo get their signals on that engine.. but if your temp / oil / fuel / volts gauges are working, I would look for a harness that comes from underneath .. the speed sensor from the AT545 is on the tailshaft.. should be a 2 pin connector on it.. and then there is likely a sensor near the flywheel with 2 wires on it which would be for your tach (RPM).. if None of your gauges at all work i would start with fuses in the fuse panel for the gauge cluster.

-Christopher

I didn't know the 3126 ever came mechanical.

cadillackid 10-19-2017 07:50 PM

supposedly the early ones were... and their year is such it may very well be mechanical..
-Christopher

EastCoastCB 10-19-2017 07:55 PM

You're right. That would be as good as it gets for school bus Cats.

milkmanchip 10-19-2017 10:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mmoore6856 (Post 230003)
ignore the negativity about the cat motors as almost all the posters never owned one. talk to all the old truckers and ask what is the best for power and reliability and the answer is always cat. so ignore them as i have never had trouble getting a million miles out of them. the only engines that come close now are the 60 series detroit which is a rare one in a bus and Cummings. if i ever change engines i will use a mack next time as it will fit in most buses and is dependable also. one last note Bonneville is on my schedule in a couple of years as i had it up to 85 mph before backing off on the flats so ill have fun passing the combines on the highway

Just wondering about your Bonneville reference did you actually have your bus on the Bonneville Salt Flats?https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/201...c8acff6005.jpg

milkmanchip 10-19-2017 10:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by EastCoastCB (Post 230023)
Truckers get REAL Cats. The medium duty Cats aren't the same thing as a 3406.
And its NOT CUMMINGS!!!!!!:nonono:

Right! Cummins.....Cummins....NO...G.


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