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Old 12-04-2011, 05:21 AM   #1
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Towing with a Wanderlodge

We are considering an older used 36 foot Wanderlodge as our next RV. It has the 3208 Cat engine, and an Allison automatic trans. Will this rig tow a 7K gross total weight enclosed 24 foot race car trailer with a car inside? Or is this too much weight for this rig? How well will this rig do for launching a 4K boat on a 1K trailer? The engine is in the front, and it is a puller design, not a pusher. Think factory flat nose school bus conversion. It has air brakes. I know that Wanderlodges are as tough as nails, however one can overload anything... Thanks in advance. Charles
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Old 12-04-2011, 07:21 AM   #2
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I don't about the towing but, aren't those 3208 CAT's real smoker's when you start them. I know we had some and they where considered throw away engines and were real mosqitoe fogger's when you got them started.
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Old 12-04-2011, 03:20 PM   #3
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If it is a converted school bus it probably geared low and doesn't have much top in. I looked at a used wanderlodge back in the late 1990's with a Detroit and the salesman talked me out of it unless I was a mechanic plus it looked like a ambulance on the inside.
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Old 12-04-2011, 04:58 PM   #4
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It is NOT a converted school bus. The Wanderlodge is the factory built motorhome built by Bluebird Bus Company. The 3208 is not one of Cat's best engines, however this coach has 40K miles on it and has been well maintained, so the model of the engine does not concern me much. It will take many years of use before this engine hits the 100K mark, far different usage then what one encounters in commercial trucks. I feel certain that the engine will have a service life better then any class A with a gas powered light truck engine. The coach is geared for highway driving, and has a top speed of 85MPH, much different then a school bus which usually tops at 60MPH.

The unit is finished like a custom tour bus on the inside. Wanderlodge only uses the best materials, and the fit and finish is far superior to most production built coaches. New this coach sold for 450K in 1980. new models of these coaches sell for 750K to 1.2million each, and are in the class of a Prevost and other top of the line units. The unit we are considering is a 1980 model, however the unit is in great condition and it is in our price range.

I have the mechanical skills to maintain the rig. Any major repairs on the engine or transmission will have to be done by a professional, however all routine maintenance and repairs to the coach will be within my skill level.
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Old 12-04-2011, 05:14 PM   #5
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Have you tried calling Bluebird to see if anyone has the towing specs for this vehicle? If you get the GCVRW, GVWR and the hitch rating you will at least understand if your proposed scenario is legal. Then you can decide if the performance will be acceptable.

And I totally agree with you that Wonderlodges are magnificent MH's.
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Old 12-04-2011, 06:32 PM   #6
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Wanderlodge has been out of production for several years now, although Bluebird is still building school buses. Ask your question on the Wanderlodge owner's forum, Wanderlodge Owners Group - Powered by vBulletin and you will get good information.

What you are looking at is called an FC36, Forward Control 36' and the prices are quite reasonable. There is an 81 with new tires and batteries listed for $16,000.
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Old 12-04-2011, 07:42 PM   #7
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Thanks for the information. I did not know that Fort Valley had stopped production on the WL. As for the legal part, the coach and trailer is right at the legal limit in most of the southern states were we live and will be traveling. The HY Patrol have never paid any attention to it. As for towing and handling, there should be no problem. Everything is so heavy duty, that the weight of the trailer should not affect the handling of the camper. It has the Jake brake option, which is wonderful in the mountains. We have done four bus conversions over the years, and my father has a 36 foot Thomas coach, schooly conversion that we did a few years back. The trailer that I have, I bought from him. His coach will pull the trailer but is very underpowered. His coach has a 366 Ford engine, a Clark 5 speed stick, and a two speed diff with 7:30 gear low range and 5:36 gear high range. The weight of the bus and motorhome conversion is just shy of 24K. The 7K trailer makes a gross of 31K which is too much for the Ford gas engine to pull despite the full range of gears. I will contact the WL board for information, however one would think that the torque of a 3208 Cat will be significantly higher then a gas engine, and that should make a difference. Dad is a retired trucker, and he has given me the good, bad, and ugly about the 3208. He says that they are turds, but thinks that it will do fine as a motorhome engine. I would like to tow what I already own instead of buying a different TOAD. With the 24 foot enclosed trailer I can haul my original 29K mile Trans AM show car, or one of our Crown Vic daily drivers. Dad was hauling a big motorcycle and a Ford Country Squire wagon, which is a lot of stuff!! The one thing that I really want to be able to tow is the boat. Dad's underpowered rig pulls the boat without any problems at all.
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Old 12-04-2011, 09:39 PM   #8
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1983 Bluebird Wanderlodge, Pataskala OH - 100319252 - RVTraderonline.com
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Old 12-04-2011, 09:40 PM   #9
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1981 Bluebird Wanderlodge Lxi, LOUISVILLE KY - 96732367 - RVTraderonline.com
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Old 12-04-2011, 09:41 PM   #10
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These two links above are for similiar coaches to the one we are looking at.
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Old 12-05-2011, 06:44 AM   #11
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You will not have any problems with towing. You could join the wanderlodge owners group- they know all about wanderlodges- almost as much as me
www.wanderlodgeownersgroup.com
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Old 12-05-2011, 10:23 PM   #12
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Thanks, I joined last night. Now I am a Newby Wanna-Bird!
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