1997 Blue Bird School Bus – Partially Converted

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by Dylan Renner
Published: September 12, 2023 (7 months ago)
All American RE
VIN Number

Partially converted Skoolie with a 12” roof raise.

MAKE: Blue Bird

MODEL: All-American RE

YEAR: 1997

Class: 7

SIZE: 38ft

ENGINE: Cummins 8.3TA

TRANSMISSION: Allison 3060R (Automatic)

MILEAGE: 117,616

VIN: 1BABMB7A5VF075993



Check this link for more photos and videos: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1gVx3qAhhv8TfTmrX63PfpvpwZkaYYO8C?usp=drive_link

This bus is the perfect blank canvas for any type of Skoolie build!

We purchased this bus in March of 2019 with the intention to create a long term, off the grid, home-on-wheels. After six months of searching and waiting for our dream vehicle to appear, it did in the form of this beast. Our patience paid off, as we now possessed one of the most powerful engine and transmission combinations available on a school bus.

This was very important to us as we intended to fully outfit this rig for any adventure and tow our car behind it, so having a vehicle that could get us up and down The Rockies safely was an absolute necessity

Four years later however, we’ve outgrown the desire and physical capability to live in a bus and have decided to sell it.

The bus was retired from Murray School Districts (Salt Lake City, UT) fleet in late 2018 and put up for auction on Public Surplus in early 2019. We discovered it online in March of 2019 and instantly knew it was what we’d been searching for.

One huge advantage of buying from a school district is that they kept most of the paperwork from 20+ years of inspections, repairs, maintenance etc which they passed onto us. This paperwork will be included with the sale of this bus.

Before winning the auction, we paid a local mechanic for a full general inspection of the bus. The report came back with good marks for a 20+ year old bus and will also be included with the bus paperwork.

After winning the auction, we shipped the bus (on a flatbed) from UT to MA where it has lived the last four years. Since its arrival in MA, it’s been occasionally driven around the properties we’ve housed it at. While we haven’t experienced any long trips with it, to this day it starts up, drives, handles and breaks great. Check out the video footage on this listing or the Google Drive folder.


Included with this bus will be fully printed manuals for:

  • Cummins 8.3L Engine
  • Allison 3060R transmission
  • Electronics schematic for 1994 Bluebird school bus (closest year we could find to ours online).

– We are selling the bus “as is”. At this time, the vehicle currently works as it should and we are not aware of any issues.

Below you will find detailed descriptions of work done, quirks and general info. For a visual history of our building experience, please check out our Instagram page: @downstreamskoolie  where you can find dozens of pictures and hours of video footage in our story archives!


Work Done



  • Two coats of Henry’s Tropi-Cool White Roof Silicone coating on top exterior.
  • Interior seams of roof sheet metal sealed with Henry’s Tropi-Cool White Roof Silicone.


  • Front drivers area floor replaced with new sheet metal.
  • Four coatings of Corroseal metal primer.
  • All bolt holes patched with ½” steel disks.
  • Subfloor installation:
    • Rmax Thermasheath 1.5”  Rigid Foam Insulation Board (R9.8) installed between a 2×4 subfloor frame.
    • Frame and insulation glued to sheet metal floor with Loctite PL Construction Adhesive.
    •  ¾” Arauco Plywood subfloor installed.

Roof Raise:

  • Stock hat channels cut (staggered down length of bus).
  • Roof lifted 12”.
  • Custom 12” hat channel extensions installed (welded).
    • Hat channels purchased from Colorado Custom Coachworks.
  • ¾”x2” steel support bars installed (welded) in front and back of bus (over front windshield and back window).
  • Sides, front and back of bus re-skinned with 20g steel sheets.
  • All new siding installed with steel rivets and marine-grade 3M 540 Polyurethane Sealant
  • Exterior and interior new sheet metal siding sanded and painted with Rustoleum.


  • x9 original windows re-installed after roof raise.
  • We chose to reinstall the original windows for a few reasons:
  1. We couldn’t afford insulated RV windows, and non insulated RV windows have the same R-value as the original bus windows.
  2. Bus windows are made of tempered glass, meaning they won’t shatter when cracked and are incredibly durable.
  • There is no official guide on how to reinstall bus windows, so we designed our own system. See pictures for more details.
    • Window ledges are ⅜” thick square steel tubing, welded to interior hat channels.
    • Galvanized steel sheathing was shaped to 90 degree angle and fit over window ledge and down exterior of bus below the window.
    • ZIP system flashing tape installed around the entire window opening to waterseal.
    • Marine-grade 3M 540 Polyurethane Sealant installed on window frame and window itself.
    • Window placed in the frame clamped tight for 24 hours to cure.
  • These windows are water tight. They have been installed for over a year now and have dealt with snow, rain, hot sun and freezing temperatures and we have never had a leak.

Painting prep:

  • Stickers and decals removed, entire bus sanded and ready for paint


  • Both batteries were replaced in May 2023.


  • Oil changed in April 2021.
  • Oil filter changed April 2021.
  • Fuel Shutoff solenoid replaced April 2021.
  • Starter Solenoid replaced August 2023.


  • Odometer
    • The odometer reads 7,455 because it was replaced at 110,161 miles.
  • No driver’s seat
    • We removed the original pneumatic drivers chair due to wear and tear.
  • Exterior lights.
    • Headlights – DO NOT WORK (not sure of dead bulbs or wiring issues).
    • Blinkers – WORK (front and back).
    • Backup lights – WORK (front and back).
    • Hazard lights – WORK (front and back).
    • Brake lights – 2/4 work in rear.
    • A few of the side blinkers (the ones that run the length of the bus) need replacing.
  • Front roof emergency hatch
    • Plastic latches are broken. Currently on, watertight and held in place by interior bungee cords.
  • Subfloor
    • Two sections of the subfloor are slightly creaky, one section in the very front and one in the way back where the glue didn’t hold. We planned to not fuss over this as the weight of the rest of the build (framing, furniture, appliances etc) will push it back down and 90% of the subfloor is solidly attached to the metal floor. Could be easily fixed with a few screws if desired.
  • Compressed air tanks
    • The two 10 gallon compressed air tanks underneath the front of the bus are currently working, but will need replacing at some point.
  • Under storage compartments
    • Two of the four under storage compartments doors do not fully close or lock; we purchased the bus like this.
    • The underside of the compartment floors are rusted. They work well and will last a while longer, but we were planning to replace them.
  • Windshield
    • Small crack on bottom left corner pane of glass.
  • Rearview Mirror
    • One of the drivers side rear view mirrors got it with welding sparks during build. Still completely useful, but could be replaced. See pictures in Google Drive.
SOLD! This ad has been sold and is no longer available.
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