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Old 5 Days Ago
WanderScott's Avatar
WanderScott WanderScott is offline
Junior Member
Join Date: Mar 2019
Location: Victoria
Posts: 6
Default 1983-1989 FC Wanted

Hi All,

I’m looking for an ‘83-‘89 FC. Length is unimportant. A side bath, rear bedroom is a must, but the layout of the bedroom doesn’t matter (twin beds/full/etc.).

I prefer a well maintained coach that is ready to hit the road, but I’m not opposed to some work if the coach is priced accordingly. If you have, or know of a Bird that fits this bill, please let me know.

Also, thanks to all that have contributed to this forum. It’s made the information gathering part of this journey that much easier. Moving up from a VW Westfalia, I’m looking forward to the space that a Wanderlodge will afford my young family during our adventures. Thanks and safe travels.
Trent Scott
Victoria, British Columbia
1990 Volkswagen Westfalia
Looking for a ‘Bird

Last edited by WanderScott; 5 Days Ago at 10:05 PM.
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Old 5 Days Ago
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kunzelj kunzelj is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Oakville
Posts: 270
Default My opinion between the 82-86 FC compared to 87-89's

After owning both a 1982 FC 33SB and now a 1988 FC 35SB, I'd like to list out some differences. FC's are always lumped in together simply because they have a front engine, but they are different in so many ways.

Much of this is my own opinion and review of having owned and made major repairs to both. Being Blue Bird, not all buses and years will be compliant with my observations below.

My first bus was a 1982 FC 33 SB with an upgraded 250HP turbocharged 3208 and stock 4-speed Allison transmission. Differential was also replaced and faster. Both coaches run 60MPH @ around 2000rpm

Current bus is a stock, unmodified 1988 FC 35SB with 300HP 3208 and ZF 5HP500 5-speed.

3208 300HP is nice, but still gutless by modern standards

5-speed ZF is smooth and strong

5-speed ZF is expensive to rebuild and the ECU is not available anymore

5-speed ZF has a mind of it’s own and take some training to operate it properly

300HP has an intercooler which makes the front accessibility challenging

300HP has a separate coolant overflow tank which again makes front accessibility challenging

300HP has a much smaller opening on the dog house which makes it difficult to get to anything, dog house removal is necessary for many tasks.

300HP has an air throttle and a CC5 Bendix cylinder which can be rebuilt and no longer available. Older coaches have manual cable operated throttle.

87-89 have much better power steering and handle much better than previous FC’s. You can dry steer an 87-89 is you need to. Older FC need to be moving to turn the wheel.

87-89 have a much improved dashboard. Much more ergonomic and really made for the driver. I would never go back to that old dashboard. I very much disliked the layout and having to reach through the steering wheel for wipers. The old tilt wheel does not have much adjustment. New dashboard was an absolute must for me.

87 and earlier FC’s are higher off the ground. 88 and 89 had larger compartments making the bus sit lower to the ground. Once you get under it, there is room.

88-89 had an AD4 air drier. 87 and earlier have the old AD-2.

86 and earlier have 11R tires. 87-89 have the 12R’s and they handle much better.

ZF has an integral retarder which is only good to assist the service brake. It’s useless to hold you back in the mountains without using the service brake as well. It heats up much too quickly. Snubbing the brakes is the correct way to descend a mountain which is what I do – service brake and retarder working together with fan on.

Allison in the 86 and earlier have the Telma electromagnetic retarder. Works well and can be used without rest. Good for descending mountains.

Allison transmission has a fluid to air cooler underneath. ZF has a fluid to coolant heat exchanger – all heat from the transmission and engine end up in the main radiator and triggering the fan has a long delay to see transmission temps start to drop.

The layout of the 87-89 is much improved and much more open.

The 87-89 typically have the Onan 3-cylinder 8KW generator on the rear driver’s side. Much better for camping because your generator is not right under your awning. The 8KW is also much better sized to a 35’ bus.

The 87-89 Onan generator does not slide out and has a pancake radiator underneath. Not a wonderful design for servicing or cooling effectiveness.

Plumbing system on an ’86 and earlier is pretty contained into the back driver’s side of the bus. On an 87-89 it spans both sides of the bus making plumbing repairs more challenging.

I find the washroom smaller on the ’87-89 vs the earlier bus, however the washroom on the 87-89 can be made part of the aft bedroom by swinging the door open and locking it.

There are many more air accessories on the ’87-89’s. Clippard valves with electric over air operation. It’s of additional risk to build air pressure with the increased chance for air leaks in the accessory system.

Smaller outside main awning on the ’87-89’s which is a better size. The awning on the earlier models are too big in my opinion.

There are no flip down steps on the 87-89 FC’s to bring out the awning or latch it so I carry a little step ladder now.

88-89 FC have 6 batteries on slide out trays. Earlier models have 4 batteries. All batteries are on the same circuit contrary to some belief about there being a separate house and chassis bank.

89 FC’s are rare. The SP was released in ’89 so most people bought those.

Fewer people point at the newer FC’s. The older models just have that captivating look that make people point and smile.

87-89 35'ers all have two AC units. Earlier 35' models had three.

87-89's came wired with a PACs inverter. Earlier models have a Rediline electric generator. My '82 had neither.

Much more and better gauges on the '88!

87-89 FC's are missing those front access panels that you can swing open with the wiper motors. I miss that from my '82. No idea how I would ever change a wiper motor.

Older FC's chassis heaters are in series. 87-89 FC have them plumbed in parallel. Much better distribution of heat.

The ZF transmission is BIG and requires the front axle to be removed and rolled out to replace a rear main seal on the 3208. Did that! Allison can be removed without front axle removal.

87-88 you can check and fill the oil from the front. Earlier coaches you have check and fill the oil in your living room.

87-89 FC's have rubber hinges on the compartment doors. Earlier buses have mechanical hinges. Rubber are smooth but they can crack. Dupree Products has the new rubber.

There are some of my thoughts on the differences. I'm sure there are many more, but these are the common things I notice between the two generations.
Jeff Kunzelman
Oakville, Manitoba, Canada
1988 FC-35SB 300HP/ZF (2016-current)
1978 GMC Royale 26' (2015-2016)
1982 FC-33SB 250HP (2007-2009)

Last edited by kunzelj; 4 Days Ago at 05:45 PM.
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Old 5 Days Ago
WanderScott's Avatar
WanderScott WanderScott is offline
Junior Member
Join Date: Mar 2019
Location: Victoria
Posts: 6


Thanks for your FC summary. This is wealth of information all in one post. Much appreciated!
Trent Scott
Victoria, British Columbia
1990 Volkswagen Westfalia
Looking for a ‘Bird
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