Saturday, August 7, 2021

Can I visit National Parks with a Skoolie over 30' long?

 There is a common story spread around the internet that you can not visit the national parks with a vehicle over 30' long.  I found a couple that did great research on this, and what they found is that there are some campgrounds that have shorter requirements, but the parks allow vehicles 40' or more.  The longest school bus is 40'.  So while there are campgrounds you can't visit, you aren't barred from the parks.

We have seen many customers sacrifice size or comfort, just to fit this 30' requirement.  And in today's market, the smaller buses have nearly doubled in price.  The full size buses haven't seen nearly as much price increase.  

Most school districts in America do not run small buses.  I don't think I've seen 5 small buses in Florida in my whole life.  Do they run small buses in your town?  Usually you have to find the large cities, that are usually in the rust belt, to find small buses in quantity.  Of course everyone wants a rust free, southern school bus.

Visit the Roving Foley's research here National Park Length Restrictions

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Do all Florida School Buses have Air Conditioning?

 It is a common thought that all buses have air conditioning.  I also get several calls per week assuming Florida buses all have air conditioning.

This is not true.  Most buses do not have a/c.  Florida is getting more and more a/c buses, so eventually the entire used market will be air conditioned, but currently they are not.

When you look at other states, it becomes even more rare.  We just had a bunch of Alabama buses come in without a/c.

If you need a bus with a/c, contact us with your needs and we will do our best to help you.  Also make sure the bus you purchase has a/c, if you need it.  You don't want to pay money and then wonder why the a/c doesn't work when actually it never had it to begin with.

You can call or text us anytime at 727-856-3000.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Unlocking 6th Gear on an Allison Transmission

 We are asked all the time about unlocking 6th gear on the Allison MD3060 or Allison 2000 series.  Is this possible?

Buses are built to the specs that the engineers approved.  Many buses don't have 6th gear unlocked, because they wouldn't have enough power to use it.  The bus would constantly be shifting between 5th & 6th, trying to figure out what gear it wanted to be in.

The transmissions mentioned, usually have a 6th gear inside of them.  It is a computer (TCM) program that is telling the transmission not to use it.  A shop with the proper tools can reprogram the TCM to new parameters, if they can get permission from the manufacturer.

So how do you get permission to change the parameters?

You will need to contact the manufacturer of your bus.  This will generally be Bluebird, Thomas or International.  They will be able to tell you the steps needed.  Once you get an engineer to sign off on your use of the bus, you take the approval to an authorized Allison dealer.  It is then a reprogramming (flashing) of your TCM.  It can be a long process, if it even gets approved.  A shop will charge you a few hundred dollars usually to re-flash your TCM.  They will not be liable if the re-flash ruins your TCM.  A new TCM can cost around $2500 in today's world.

So the simple answer is YES your transmission can be unlocked.  The real answer is it will take you a long time, if not forever, to get approval from a school bus manufacturer engineer to approve your unlocking.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

What Are the Types of School Buses?

School buses come in essentially 3 varieties in today's world.  This will be a brief overview of the three types.

Type A (Van Cut-away)

These buses are van drive lines with a school bus body attached to them.  The chassis (drive line) is made by Chevrolet, GMC or Ford.  These come with diesel or gasoline engines.  They are generally the lightest duty bus, but they are the smallest/shortest bus available.  They can come as a wide body or narrow body.  The wide body has dual wheels and is the same width as a full size bus.  A narrow body has a single rear wheel.

 Type C (Conventional)

A conventional bus is built on a medium-duty chassis.  These are built in two parts.  The drive line, frame and chassis are built by one manufacturer.  The chassis is then sent to a body manufacturer for completion.  The main chassis manufacturers were International (now known as IC), Freightliner, Chevrolet, GMC, Ford.  Today there are three main manufacturers.  They are IC, Thomas & Bluebird.

These buses come in sizes between 5 rows of passengers and 13 rows.  Some modern versions have 14 rows on one side.  The 11-12 row is currently the standard on the used market.  Anything smaller or larger than this will bring with it a premium price due to supply & demand issues.

Type D (Transit)

A transit style bus is also built on a medium-duty chassis.  These are usually built in one part.  The chassis and body are built by the same manufacturer.  In today's market, you will find International (also known as Ward, AmTran or IC), Thomas & Bluebird.  You may still come across a Carpenter or Wayne, but these are getting very rare at schools.  These come in two set ups.  Some have the engine in the front, next to the driver.  The others have the engine in the very rear.

These buses come in sizes between 7 rows of passengers and 15 rows.  A 14 & 15 row bus have the same amount of floor space.  They just have a little more or less leg room.  The 13 row is the most common version currently available on the used market.  Expect to pay a premium for a 14/15 row, or anything 10 rows or shorter.  The shorter ones are much harder to locate in good condition than the standard lengths.