what am I doing?!?

Discussions about all things to do with buses, trucks, and the homes made within them.

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jokertown
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the search continues

Post by jokertown »

So the green one was a total bust. After a nice night of camping in Green Lake, WI we went to check it out, only to find out that the seller had mucked up one of the brake lines the night before by accident. So we couldn't even take it for a test drive. The rust on the rear and sides was significant. It was to the point where the structural integrity of the steel was definitely compromised. When the seller tried to open the emergency door on the back, one of the hinges went straight through the outer wall!

Needless to say, i passed on that bucket.

The search continues though. The grey blue bird above also had significantly more rust than expected from the pictures, and had a few minor mechanical things. It needs a replacement fuel gauge, and the seller mentioned having some previous issues with the starter. He had replaced the starter, and used some generic solenoids that occasionally fail. He said when this happens he just disconnects the battery and reconnects it, and it starts up fine. I don't know much of anything about that stuff, so it maybe worries me more or less than it should.

I'm thinking about bidding on this recently retired 2001 Freightliner/Thomas that's located in northern Wisconsin. There's some exterior rust, and the tires aren't great but it's supposedly a good runner. It's got a Cummins engine and a manual transmission. It's going for $1,200 right now, and the auction ends tomorrow. The driving tires will need to be retreaded.

The other prospect is a partially converted 1991 Blue Bird. It's got a cummins engine, and allison automatic transmission with about 130K miles on it. It's got two rooftop AC units and comes with a generator. It's got a nice paint job with some surface rust, and I believe the roof is painted coated in Bus Kote. The seller says the only known mechanical issues are an untrustworthy fuel gauge, and an emergency brake that could need some work. The steering tires are good and the rear tires are new. He's asking $4,000.

What do you guys think?
I will post some pictures of each bus.

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dburt
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Post by dburt »

The 5.9L Cummins is always a better choice then a Cat, Detroit, Ford or Mercedes diesel. The Allison MT643 auto transmission is a good transmission also, a manual trans is good, but then there is the clutch to consider if the bus has many miles on it, and you have no service record to know if the clutch has been replaced or not.

Decisions, Decisions- and so many choices! :roll: I would go with the bus with the least rust, a Cummins if possible, transmission choice would be third on the list. A front engine bus is nice for ease of engine servicing, and more protection for the driver in the rare case of a collision.
tamangel
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Post by tamangel »

the DT466 (International) is also a good engine for consideration, along with the 5.9/6BT Cummins

Navistar DT engine, unknown best year
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navistar_DT_engine

Cummins B Series engine , attempt to get one made prior to 1996..
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cummins_B_Series_engine

Mike
jokertown
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thanks

Post by jokertown »

thanks guys,
I've been researching for the past 6 months or so, and the consensus definitely seems to be that the Cummins is the best, but I've also heard good things about the DT466.

I passed on the yellow bus. The auction ended today at $2,000. A good price, but I decided that the Blue Bluebird would better meet my needs. I'm going to try to set up an inspection by a mechanic from a nearby trucking place that works on buses and semis. What should I ask for in his inspection? How much should I expect to pay him?

thank you again. I hope to be a proud bus owner soon. Once I get my rig, expect regular posts of my progress.
Mark R. Obtinario
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Post by Mark R. Obtinario »

If the blue BB has hydraulic brakes, give it a pass.

On a vehicle as large as a full size bus the cost of maintaining wet brakes will end up eating you alive. Air brakes, when not in use, do not have as serious problems of moisture in the braking system. It is particularly a problem if the bus will be sitting for any appreciable amount of time during periods of high humdity and/or cold.

Even without hearing about the rust issues in the green bus I would have said give it a pass since the owner obviously didn't know what he had. I have never seen an IHC conventional bus chassis that had a Cummins enigne in it. Most of the chassis of that vintage had the T444, the DT466, or the DV550.

If the yellow bus had air brakes the $2K price would have been a bargain for you.

As you go out and about checking for buses stay away from any bus that has a V-8 engine. V-type engines don't pull hills as well and usually use more fuel than inline engines of the same rating.

Good luck on your search.
jokertown
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bluebird coach

Post by jokertown »

I saw a very interesting conversion yesterday. It's a 1996 bluebird that was once an airport shuttle, but has since been fully converted (bathroom, kitchen, 110v system). It isn't like a school bus body at all, much more like a coach. It's got 220K miles on it, but my guess is that 200 of those are fleet maintained. The seller said he had to replace the water pump, and that it doesn't currently have a thermostat installed. It starts up and drives really nice. It's got a 5.9L cummins diesel in the back (it's so much quieter inside than a skoolie). Some aspects of the conversion are not to my taste, and I would likely end up gutting the front half of the bus and redoing it to meet my needs, but in general I really liked it. He's asking $5,000 but seems like he will go quite a bit lower. Does anyone know more about these type of buses? I hadn't seen anything like it really. If I can get him to go low enough on the price, this might be my bus. I didn't have a camera with me or I would've taken pictures...
Sharkey
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Post by Sharkey »

I can tell you one thing for sure, if you buy the bus, the first thing you have to do is put the proper thermostat in it. Diesel engine efficiency is all about heat, and having an engine that runs at too low a temperature will - at a minimum - knock the stuffing out of your fuel mileage. Additionally, some diesel engines can be damaged by not running a thermostat, and all of them will likely experience accelerated wear as a result of not operating at the proper temps.
jokertown
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Post by jokertown »

i think it was either a Q-bus or a CS
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