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Old 09-20-2014, 10:49 AM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Pinnacle, NC
Posts: 16
Pop's bus

Yes, another newbie. I have been considering this for several years. Now that I am within a year of retirement, its time to get serious. Wife wants a condo in Florida, I want to travel. We will see who prevails Over the years we have had a few pull campers, and a couple of motor homes. But, I want something better this time.
So, what I have found (have not bought it yet) is a 1998 Thomas MVP. Local school system ( North Carolina) has it. No rust! So I will not have to spend months fixing the floors. Bus was pulled from service about a year ago. Body in great shape, tires ok, engine starts and runs just great, everything seems to be working. Talked to the mechanic at the school garage. He has all the records for the bus.
Now, I need input from you.
I know almost nothing about a diesel engine. This one has a Cat 3126 with 212K miles. The mechanic said the problem with these buses was overheating, from dust and dirt in the radiator. Their solution was to blow the radiator fins clean about once a month. The other maintenance problem is the pulleys (expensive) for the fan. So what do you know about this engine?
I have photos, as soon as I figure out the upload.
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Old 09-20-2014, 11:00 AM   #2
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Pinnacle, NC
Posts: 16
Re: Pop's bus

Here is the engine
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Old 09-20-2014, 11:03 AM   #3
Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 151
Re: Pop's bus

It's a low roof, how much are they asking. The 3126 isn't a great engine, multiple people on the forum have it and they I think 3 out of the 4 people that have them have problems with them. What's the transmission and hours on the bus?
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Old 09-20-2014, 11:13 AM   #4
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Pinnacle, NC
Posts: 16
Re: Pop's bus

Transmission is Alison AT545.
Forgot to get the hours. But it is only 25 minutes away from me,I will stop by Monday.
I am 5ft 10in so the roof works.
We are still haggling the price but ~$3k
I am not in a big hurry, they will have a couple of International's for sale in the spring. But I like the looks of the Thomas.
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Old 09-20-2014, 11:24 AM   #5
Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 151
Re: Pop's bus

With a at545 I would skip it. Your better off with a mt643 or md3060, the at545 is one of the worst you can get. Especially for 3k. I would try to find one with a 5.9 or 8.3 cummins and a mt643 or md3060, you should be able to get one with that configuration for around the same price.

Blue Bird 74"/77"
IC 74"/78"
Thomas 72"/78"
That's the low and high roof heights for bluebird, international/amtran and thomas. Once you add insulation in flooring you could be hitting the ceiling of a low roof pretty easily, especially on a thomas
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Old 09-20-2014, 11:33 AM   #6
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 4,075
Re: Pop's bus

I can't believe they ordered that bus with a 545. That's got to be reaching the full capacity of that trans.
I'm hungry!

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Old 09-20-2014, 12:09 PM   #7
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Join Date: May 2010
Location: Texas
Posts: 471
Year: 1988
Coachwork: Ward
Chassis: Ford B600
Engine: 6.6L Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 26
Re: Pop's bus

I concur, skip the 545. I have one in my Ford B600. It's not the best tranny on the market, thus the upgrade to the 643.... That body style is the LEAST valuable of the Thomas buses. The engine has a reputation for injector and oil pump failures. My daily driver, a 2000 Thomas MVP Safe-T-Liner, had an in-frame rebuild at 129K miles. It has the 643 tranny, very solid shifting transmission. Plus I drive the 40 foot raised roof version where the raise is behind the driver area. It handles better than the International in crosswinds due to the raised roof. I've driven both. Just FYI.....
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Old 09-20-2014, 05:56 PM   #8
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 4,365
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
Re: Pop's bus

Love Allisons but gotta' go along with the 545 haters. 645 or newer will have full lock-up which makes a world of difference if you ever encounter anything like a hill. Most of the 645's are set up as 5 speeds but can be re-programmed so the second overdrive can be used.
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Old 09-20-2014, 08:52 PM   #9
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 133
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Phantom
Chassis: Gillig
Engine: Series 50
Re: Pop's bus

You may have to look outside of NC. I've been watching bus sales for years, but have never been able to buy anything in NC. They keep their buses in service much longer than most states. When they sell them, they tend to be older and have more miles than other states. Of course this is a generalization and there are exceptions.
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Old 09-20-2014, 10:19 PM   #10
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Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Arizona via Baton Rouge
Posts: 640
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freight-shaker (Freightliner)
Engine: Cat 3126b 250 HP
Rated Cap: Only 1 seat
Re: Pop's bus

Well everyone is giving opinions on the transmission and motor set up..... no one has said,

Welcome to the gang!

My Thomas has the 3126b in it. Although I am in the middle of a motor swap, the ecm went bad and the driver ran it dry soooo........rebuild for $9k or replace for $5k? No brainer there! (The original motor had about 2million miles on it according to the Cat tech.

Hope you find your next 30 years in a skoolie!!! (Ok maybe not all 30 of them consecutively.......)

My build thread - viewtopic.php?f=9&t=467197
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