Our Wanderlodge is FOR SALE


RV WHERE YET is a Vintage Gem that has been lovingly maintained and gently upgraded, updated and enhanced for 6 years. It pretty much ALL works…drive it away and use it today!     We are HIGHLY MOTIVATED (to say the least).  So motivated that We’ll even pay your airfare (as a credit upon purchase) AND pick you up at the airport!  And,  when you drive away,  you’ll do so with a full tank of diesel!!  We now own 2 Birds,  and that is more joy and fun than anyone should have!   PRICE REDUCED!  $25,000 OBO! …   Ph: 773.562.8894  dharris@strategicgeek.com 

Our Wanderlodge and Home for the past 6 years!
So far 150,000 Miles and 150,000,000 Smiles

Ready for more of both!!!

Briefly (More detail, below) It is a:  Bluebird Wanderlodge 1981 FC 33, Side Bath, Mid Door, with CAT3208 Non-turbo Engine and Automatic Transmission, Ridewell Air suspension, air brakes and Kohler 6.5KW Generator.  New Tires (2021), Modern Inverter and battery charger have been installed. Premium Coach-side Setup for Towed Vehicle. 150,000 Miles and 3,550 Hours as of Sept 1 2022. MANY improvements and modernizations have been made – this coach is ready to glamp ‘n roll for “The Right Buyer!”

This is truly a Drive-away opportunity to enjoy the road and own a perfected piece of history!!

How about a Few “Preview” Pics…

We’re not selling because we are unhappy…  We weren’t even looking for anything different than this bus,  and would have been happy in it for many more years on the road!!!  We are selling because a slightly newer and slightly larger, still Vintage and absolutely cool Bluebird practically fell in our laps!  As we transition to our new ride/home,  we want this bus to make someone very happy!

This bus is NOT a PROJECT,  it has projects (which we describe, below) …there is a BIG difference!

Is it “perfect?”

No, of course not – if anyone offers to sell you a “perfect” RV you should RUN the other way!!!  There is a to do list, which I shall share, in the interest of full disclosure and to make sure the purchaser is as happy with The Bus as we have been. NONE OF THE ITEMS ON THAT LIST are of an urgent nature or would interfere in any way with the immediate use and enjoyment of The Bus! We live in it now, and you could live in it tomorrow…

If you are Interested — how do you take the next step?

You can call (773.562.8894) or Email (dharris@strategicgeek.com)

Hands-on, In-person viewing is welcome! The Bus is located in Elephant Butte, New Mexico (Between Albuquerque and Las Cruces). 

Everyone knows that Blue Bird made some of the finest RV’s available — All-steel construction, 3/4″ plywood and millwork, Grade 8 truck platform, Air Ride,  CAT Diesel Powered…We’ll describe and show more about that in a bit.  First, we’ll feature some of the special upgrades!

We have removed, replaced or updated a variety of things to modernize and make it livable. For example, we removed the 12” Black and White TV and added a 40” Flat Panel. Removed the 8 track player and added a modern system with Bluetooth. We removed a couple of VERY uncomfortable (tho Vintage) chairs and added a Recliner and a Sewing Machine Cabinet/Project bench.  

WE THINK these enhancements make the bus better – it’s hard to enjoy living in a museum; tho some do.  We call it “IMPROVED VINTAGE” as it still attracts all the attention in parks, with none of the inconveniences onboard. If you are looking for a TRULY and COMPLETELY original vintage machine, this would not be the bus for you. Some of our updates include:

  • Updated Kitchen Sink to a Deep-bowl model with new Faucet. The Original sink was a shallow-2-bowl version, and with the original faucet, you could not get even a small pot under for washing. We retrofitted a deep, single-bowl sink and higher faucet, and did so without losing any draw space.
    New Deep-Bowl Kitchen SInk
  • Replaced HORRIBLE, Uncomfortable dinette (Which was convertible to a Full Size Bed) with useful storage and prep area including custom Butcher Block Counter Top AND a really useful “Window Well” that keeps the Coffee Maker from rolling off the counter as we move down the road.  We never used the bed and/or sat in the Dinette, so it became a de facto storage area…our changes just made this official.
  • Installed unique Cabinet in front area to contain a Sewing Machine and space for various supplies and assorted craft stuff. This cabinet, and associated recliner, replaced two “Vintage” and horrible Barrel Chairs that no one could sit on for more than 10 minutes.
  • Replaced Shag Carpet from 1980 (in perfect condition, but not practical for the purpose!) with Luxury Vinyl Plank – maintenance free and waterproof.
  • Installed a foam floor in the kitchen for the benefit of the Chef’s back and legs.
  • Modified the undersized rear twin beds to incorporate clothing storage, raisable platforms and full-sized twin mattresses – that fold down to a King Size Bed. Gel foam mattresses included.
  • Installed 40” flat panel Television with Roof Antenna, cabling for Satellite or park Cable TV
    41″ Flat Screen TV
  • Enhanced Internet options, including King WifiMAX WiFi and external antenna setup for receiving/repeating Park Wifi; RG-6 Cabling for Park Cable Internet INCLUDING CABLE MODEM (for use during long term stays)
    King WifiMAX Router
  • Revised (and simplified) Water System.
  • Installed Seelevel 2 Tank Level monitoring to replace original unreliable tank sensors
  • Traeger Pellet Grill in rear Passenger-side Compartment with slide-out shelf.
    Traeger Pellet Grill
  • LED Lighting Throughout and LED Outdoor Lighting
    LED Patio Lights
  • Temp Gauges – inside, outside, Grey and Black Water
  • Rear-mounted Diamond-plate box for frequently used accessories such as carpet, lawn chairs.
    Super-convenient – we would not be without it, but not everyone’s taste so Box can be removed easily to return The Bus to its Vintage Profile.
Click here for Details on Engine, Systems, etc.
  • Bluebird Wanderlodge 1981 Model FC 33 Side Bath and Mid-door.
  • Mid-door has a SCREEN DOOR (You’d be surprised how rare –and useful –this is!)
  • 150K miles and 3535 engine hours (as of 8 September)
  • Caterpillar 3208 Normally Aspirated Engine 210HP
  • Allison MT654 4 speed Automatic Transmission (Recently Serviced and filled with Allison Transynd Synthetic Fluid – 75K miles next service)
  • Jacobs Electric Driveline Retarder for Braking on Downgrades
    (FANTASTIC DEVICE – wouldn’t be without it!)
  • 225 Gallon Diesel Tank (we average 7.3 MPG)
  • Racor Fuel Water separator and fuel Filter
  • Ridewell Air Suspension
  • 6 New Continental HSR2 Tires (2021)
    (Complete Alignment performed)
  • 4 Interstate 225AH House Batteries with Semi-Automatic Water Fill Attachments. 2 Group 31 Start batteries and 1 Group 31 Generator Battery. Batteries are 5 years old, but still perform and charge well. We installed a battery maintainer for the Start and Generator Batteries; the Inverter manages the House batteries.
  • HWH Leveling Jack system – all working, though the “Kick Down” jacks sometimes need a little help kicking up.
  • Original Kohler 6.5KW Gasoline Generator (20 gal tank) with 750 hrs. Starts and runs great. I have a Carburetor Kit and Head Gasket kit in case needed for a future overhaul.
  • 3 Suburban Propane Furnaces (all in full working order) and 3 Electric Heaters, all in working condition. You can stay warm in this bus, though why you wouldn’t drive south is beyond me!
  • 2 New Roof A/C…one 13K and one 15K with Heat Pump.
  • Working Bluebird Musical Horn with VERY RARE Bluebird Keyboard!!!
  • RARE Nutone Workcenter with ALL working attachments (Blender, Food Processor and even a Can Opener)
  • Inbuilt, Central Vacuum system!!
  • Roof covered with Aluminum Diamond Plate and one large roof storage pod in good condition.
  • 3 Small ZipDee Awnings over Windows on Driver Side and large ZipDee Patio awning Passenger Side. All ZipDee Awnings in EXCELLENT Shape.
  • 50a Power Cable with Adapters for 30a and 20a service. Power input has been modified with Std. 50a Connector and Automatic Transfer Switch
  • 100 Gal Fresh water, 40Gal Black and 60 Gal Grey Water with New FW Pump.
  • 44 Gal Propane Tank

I have the “Blue Box” with all manuals and schematics. I have also Scanned and digitized these. Will provide both versions. I have a detailed maintenance history on a Spreadsheet, as well as digitized receipts, all of which I will provide. I will provide an unlimited owner-orientation, my cellphone number and email address!

Click here for Maintenance Highlights
 *FULL MAINTENANCE HISTORY will be provided in Excel*

  • Replaced Engine Air Compressor
  • Added 12v Air Compressor to allow for early morning air-up without filling neighbor’s bedroom with Diesel Fumes.
  • Installed Swing radiator for easy access to front of engine/belts, etc
  • New Alternator (2017)
  • Installed Automatic Transfer Switch to replace manual switching for Park/Gennie power
  • Installed Updated Gauge for Oil Pressure and added new gauges for additional instrumentation not included by Blue Bird: AUX Air Pressure, Exhaust Temp, Transmission temp.
  • Replaced Manual with Automatic Slack Adjusters – rear brakes.
  • Added Bendix Air Dryer and additional Quick-connect ports for Shop Air in and Air tools out.
  • Added Battery Maintainer for Truck and Gennie Batteries
  • Relined and insulated Doghouse
  • Relined and insulated Generator Compartment
  • Replaced Gennie Muffler and Exhaust system.
  • Added external Air filter for engine compressor
  • Added quick-drain plug to oil pan to allow Oil Analysis Samples between Oil Changes
  • Replaced Transmission cooling hoses
  • Installed Facet Fuel Pump with Dash and Racor-bay manual switches for filling filters during filer changes
  • Replaced marker lights with LED
  • Replaced all external reflectors per DOT requirements
  • Replaced Rear Running, brake and hazard lights with LED Fixtures
  • Added Safe T Steer Hydraulic steering and blowout control system
  • Replaced Rear Camera with Modern Camera and 7” display in cockpit.
  • Installed Kenwood Audio System, updated Infiniti speakers (6) and Subwoofer (with Amp)
  • Replaced Propane Alarm and Valves with Safe T Alert items and replumbed for shutoff solenoid at tank
  • Installed Magnum 2012 Inverter and Battery Management with Remote Control Panel. Reorg. 120V load center to separate Inverter and System loads; Updated Electrical/Battery System
  • Installed independent analog Amp/Volt monitors for House AC system to facilitate power management when on 30/20A hookups
  • Serviced Differential with Synthetic Fluid 2019
  • Installed new Horton Electric Fan Clutch custom-fit by Fanclutch.com and new nylon fan blade to replace failed and unavailable Facet Clutch
  • Rear bearing seals 2019
  • Brake Pads 2019
  • Airbags 2019
  • Rebuilt Hydraulic Jack installed by HWH 2020
  • New tires Continental (Date Codes Jan and March 2021) all around 2021
  • New Koni Shocks 2022 (including Reworking of Front Shock Mounts to resolve a known Bluebird issue)
  • Updated Ignition circuits and headlights circuits to utilize relays.
  • New Amish-sold 2-way FRIDGE 2020. Works GREAT!
  • Installed Access ports in Fresh water tank for easy sterilize/cleaning.
  • Updated Freeze Protection for Waste Tanks
  • HW Heater Winterizing Bypass.
  • New A/C Units
  • Exhaust System pipes and muffler replaced
  • Engine Oil Analysis performed at regular intervals for Wear Metals and other problems.
  • Installed new Generator Fuel Filter apparatus for easy change
  • New Gennie Spark Plugs July 2022
  • New Gennie Muffler and Pipe 2021
  • Roof screws and other leak-prone spots have been sealed and we monitor these — the bus has never had much issue with water penetration.
Click here for The Intangibles

If you buy this bus,  you will also get a LOT of intangible stuff.  How do you value these?

  • The COOLEST rig in the park!  Any Park.  Any Time!  It is a conversation starter and a friend-maker. 
  • Knowing that if you turn the key,  the bus will run and you will be travelling!! Can we promise you will NEVER have a moment of mechanical trouble?  Of course not!  Have we ever had to adapt or redirect to resolve a problem?  Of Course we have.  But we don’t ever wonder if The Bus is ready to go!!! 
  • Classic, well-built Bus with a history of Good Maintenance AND Goodwill!  Including A Mechanic who Loves it – and presumably us (We will give you his name!) !  And access to mechanics everywhere who work on Truck Chasses (Just remind them it is NOT an RV!!!).
  • A “To Do list”   Wait,  WHAT????  Yep!  We will give you our list,  and details on WHY these items are not yet done (and may never NEED to be done)!    First law of Blue Bird ownership:  You fix what you gotta before you fix what you wanna!

And  Us!   We will always answer the phone,  and any questions you might have!  As important,  you get the WHOLE BLUEBIRD COMMUNITY.  Folks are sooo helpful…have been to us as we have tried to be with others – and with you! 

Who is “The Right Buyer?”

  • The right buyer would be a couple with no kids or empty-nesters with grown kids and/or infrequent visitors as the bus is dialed in for 2 adults.
  • The “Right Buyer” wants to meet new people and make new friends every day – because The Bus will attract a crowd as soon as you pull in to any park, Walmart or Driveway!
  • The “Right Buyer” wants to be on the road “a lot,” ranging from full-time (like us!) to several weeks or months at a time. Wanderlodges don’t like to sit, and neither should their owners!!
  • The “Right Buyer” wants to hit the road with the reliability, sturdiness, safety and Savoir Faire that only a Vintage Wanderlodge and its caretakers can manage!!!.
And Some Closing Thoughts...

If you buy this bus, You Will:

  • Get around reliably and slowly (what’s the rush, anyway?).
  • Glamp Comfortably and Conveniently, whether that means for you boondocking for days at a time or full hookups in an RV Resort.
  • Enjoy legendary Blue Bird quality – the greasy stuff down below is Grade-8 Truck-sturdy and well-maintained. The Living area is mostly original ¾ Plywood, copper plumbing and aircraft aluminum. You will never have a drawer-pull come off in your hands or sides delaminate, as you might with today’s plastic palaces.
  • Have Access to remote and difficult places. At 33’ Your Bus is small enough to get in almost anywhere, but big enough to live in full time! It has high ground clearance relative to other Class A Motor Coaches – the Bus handled everything Alaska and Newfoundland (and everywhere in between) had to offer!
  • Attract attention (the BEST Kind!) everywhere you go! You will meet new people every day, because the Bus gets immediate attention when you pull into a park! After 6 years on the road, I can tell you that the first snapshots will be taken by someone within 5 minutes of arrival! Beer follows shortly thereafter.

You are NOT the “Right Buyer” … To be fair and complete, you should NOT buy this bus if :

  • You have a large family – there are only two realistic sleeping berths on board.
  • You like the latest computer doo-dads, engine controls and monitors, slides, automatic awnings, leveling systems, etc. Everything is simple, mechanical and repairable; the only computers onboard are those we carry into a coffee shop to do our online banking!
  • You want Granite Countertops, a dishwasher, laundry machines, an automatic icemaker or any other such modern amenities (frivolities?).
  • You will be impatient ascending grades at 20mph (15 at altitude)…the CAT 3208 will go forever, but it will NOT go fast!

And finally,  you will not enjoy this bus if (Just my opinion…):

You don’t know which end of a wrench to hold. You should be able and willing to figure things out, and at least DECIDE if you want to repair yourself or take it to someone. Not that it needs frequent wrenching, but when it does, the Bus is older than most mechanics at a typical RV shop (i.e. Camping World) – which you should NEVER stop at because you will be paying them to learn about your Bus! DO GO to a truck place…after you convince them it’s not an RV, but a Truck with Awnings, they will be helpful and more than fair. And, the Bluebird Community is the most helpful and gracious anywhere! If you have a problem, you will have ample offers of expertise and assistance – and maybe someone will toss their tools in their truck and drive 500 miles to help!


Click here for Spare Parts and Tools I will include (and you should carry)
Spare Parts Inventory
  • Custom Belt Tightening Tools
  • Leveling Valve
  • Racor Filters
  • Caterpillar Fuel Filter
  • Caterpillar Fuel Pump Rebuild/seal kit
  • Kohler Generator Head Gasket Kit (just in case…I met a guy who had one!)
  • Generator Carburetor Rebuild Kit
  • Generator Control box fuses
  • Air Bags (2 front, 1 rear)
  • Spare Red Brake/Taillight LED assembly
  • Spare Belts, all positions.
Click here for The Warts? And our To-do List!
Any vehicle that was built in 1981 has Warts, and anyone who says otherwise has swampland to sell!! The following is everything we know about…

Let me emphasize that NONE OF THESE prevent use of the bus

They are simply “out there” for consideration in future maintenance.

Radiator leak at fill neck. This is a common issue, and can be easily Brazed if removed. We have not bothered, because even though the system will not pressurize, we have had ZERO difficulties in over 80K miles, including some pretty major grades. At reasonable outside temps, the bus will run at 185° and 60mph all day. The bus does not like to go faster than 60mph (and cannot, uphill). You have to stay ahead of the engine on a hot day when you see a grade coming – we installed a manual FAN switch and turn it on at the bottom of the grade. Even over Wolf Creek Pass (10,900ft) as recently as August 2022, we never exceeded 195° (or 15mph!)

Engine A/C Non-functional. Most Wanderlodges of this era have non-functional Engine Air. Most owners do not bother to repair as an operating AC needs about 20-30hp, and YOU CANNOT SPARE THIS!!! Also, repairs require old R-12 Freon, and the long hose runs will inevitably eventually leak; making a repair short-lived and ongoing! Instead, to stay cool, start the Generator and run the Coach air (that will add about $3/hr to your operating costs).

Cracked Passenger-side Windshield (Awaiting Gasket Mfg). Windshield glass for the Bluebird All American Chassis is a STOCK ITEM at very reasonable cost ($300/side last replacement) at school bus places…we have used RUSH BUS SERVICES in Houston (offices all over). The problem is, the gasket is no longer available, and ours is pretty stiff after 40+ years. The Wanderlodge Owners Group is having some gaskets made, but with supply chain issues, this is taking awhile. As soon as the gaskets are available, the windshield can be replaced. (You COULD replace immediately if vehicle inspection is an issue, but getting a good seal might be problematic). We’d suggest waiting for the Gasket, as we are!

UPDATE (Oct. 20, 2022) :  The Gaskets are about to be manufactured.  I have ordered one and will include this with the Bus at purchase (Delivery TBD).

Front End Paint is rough. Bluebird used Dupont IMRON Paint, which is the very best that can be found for automotive applications. The original paint on the sides and back is in really good condition (except for partial Clearcoat that Bluebird used), but the front has 140k miles of accumulated nicks, scratches and other road wear. Many Bluebird Drivers get the front repainted in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, where Carlos specializes in this sort of thing – while you camp, eat fresh-caught shrimp and fish and drink margaritas!

ONE Exhaust Manifold Bolt Sheared Off. (There are 8 per side). This is the “biggest” ticket item, as it cannot be truly resolved without removal of the engine since you cannot get a drill in the space (I tried!) to extract the bolt-remnant. It should be noted that the bolt has been sheared off for at least 70k miles, and I have been watching the area VERY carefully. There is a VERY small “bloom” of soot only! I attribute this to the fact that the Engine has NO turbo, so there is very little back-pressure at the manifold. I would NOT repair this UNLESS The situation worsens (it hasn’t for as long as I have been aware of it), OR the engine is being removed for other reasons. I CERTAINLY would not pull the engine for this.

Fuel Pump Shaft Seal SLIGHT leak. This is a common and easily repaired issue with the mechanical fuel pump on the Cat 3208s. I have purchased the gasket kit – repair instructions are available online and through Youtube, but have not gotten around to the repair. The leak is barely perceptible by “fuel in the valley” (the area on top of the engines, in the “V” of the Cylinders). You could go another 100k MILES without doing the seals, but if you had the time and inclination…

Batteries are older, but still quite functional. We chose to use old-fashioned Lead-acid batteries and these have been very functional and cost-effective. We monitor them through the Magnum Inverter/Charger’s functionality…they still take a charge and hold that charge sufficiently. A new owner MIGHT wish to replace the batteries, or to revamp the battery setup in conjunction with a Solar upgrade.

Dash Lights (and entire Dash cleanup). Let me start by saying that Everything is working on the Gauges and Switches… The night lights for gauges are not really functional – this is almost certainly due to flakey ground connections and old bulbs – both easily addressed. We simply don’t drive at night. We have been intending an entire Dash Wiring redo – Bluebird really just “stuffed” wires under there.

Fog/running Lights…These are not working – its wiring, and I haven’t bothered. We never drive at night and don’t need them. If we were to fix, we would implement newer, LED lights.

Electric Actuator (vs. Hydraulic) for Door Step. The pneumatic rams for both the Gennie and the step work great; however they leak a little bit of air. Both could be reconditioned at most any hydraulic shop I think – the Step ram might have a slightly score shaft, though… Because eventually, there will be no air pressure, we rewired to eliminate the switches that extend the step every time the door is opened (that’s just showing off!). Instead, we simply operate the step ONCE when we park and ONCE AGAIN when we depark – it works perfectly! Many Bluebirdbrains simply replace these pneumatic devices with electric actuators (Approx $150), which also work great, but don’t make that cool “Swish” sound! It IS all about the cool!

Pictures are always worth 1,000 Words!!!  So here are some!!


8 thoughts on “Our Wanderlodge is FOR SALE

  • I believe we saw your bus at Arcadia.
    It struck us as having been well cared for.
    And just for a minute we considered it.
    We were there scouting spots.
    We live close by.

  • Hi I have read your entire post on the bus and I am interested in your bus. To me old and less gadgets is better. I have one concern about the bus and that is speed. Slow hills ok but flat road and 60 tops are not appealing. Do you know or can the gearing be changed to raise the speed. Surley you have looked at that in the past. That is my only hang up on the bus!

    • I surely agree with you that old, mechanical and simple is better! And the Wanderlodge is SUPER well built…all steel construction!!!

      With regard to gearing, I know some have changed the rear ratio to make it a little faster, and I even know one guy put a two-speed rear on. We have never even considered doing…easier and better for us to slow down!!

      Happy answer any questions you might have…

    • Hi Diane!

      Great questions! For a third adult…we reupholstered the couch in front — the original Bluebird convertible bed was uncomfortable for both sitting AND sleeping. That couch is very nappable, so I assume a third adult could sleep there!

      As for leaks…the bus is very tight. I resealed all the roof screws, and I keep my eyes on them. There is no membrane or other weak poi t on a Bluebird…roof is covered witdiamond plate, but there are a lot of screws. There is a leak from an overhead heater vent above the passenger that ONLY happens at highway speeds in heavy rain. Liz puts a Tupperware on the dash. I have not been able to find that one, tho I have and continue to look.

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