Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 02-07-2019, 12:16 AM   #1
New Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 6
Advice for gas, manual trans., short -mid size, sturdy, affordable bus to buy?

Hi all. ( I posted a similar question in mechanic section, but realize it may be better suited to this section, also. )
I do not yet own a bus. Am saving money to purchase one to convert for blend of living and working out of. Am asking for recommendations from those of you with experience, what buses are most compatible with my preferences -

One thing I am noticing from browsing cl and other ads of buses for sale, is most school buses seem to be both diesel fuel and automatic transmission. Both of which are opposite of my preferences.

I definitely prefer regular gas as its more affordable to maintain, repair and buy gas for. With as high gas mileage as possible.


And automatic transmissions tend to also be more expensive and complicated to repair or replace than manual transmissions.


Any suggestions for short to mid size ( I have seen a few buses which are in between short and long, which is ideal ), mechanically and structurally durable buses run on regular gas, and manual transmissions?


And given Californias' smog red tape, compatible with smog requirements.


Ive heard Collins are better built structurally.?

Definitely need height enough to stand fully upright in. Ideally with some extra space I can add a loft to some portion. Even the type with an outcropping space above driving area cab is good. Realize i may just need to do a roof raise for this preference.?


I am in the SF Bay area of California.
ocean is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-07-2019, 06:43 AM   #2
Bus Crazy
 
Ronnie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Virginia
Posts: 1,161
Year: 1971
Coachwork: Wayne
Chassis: International Loadstar 1700
Engine: 345 international V-8
Must say I am not aware of any modern, gasoline powered manual trans buses. Van cutaway shorties can have gas engines, usually automatics though.

What you are looking for was common in the 70's and even up into the 80's. But then you are buying an antique, and it is best to be mechanically savvy.
Ronnie is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-07-2019, 09:58 AM   #3
Bus Geek
 
Tango's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 8,462
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
If you plan on doing much traveling at all you will find both a diesel engine and a good automatic trans will fare much better in the long run. There's a long, long list of reasons why virtually all commercial vehicles on the road for the past 50 years are all diesel and the new auto trans when properly maintained (mostly just not overheated) will out perform a stick. They are proven to be the better choice financially in terms of ownership, better mpg's, higher torque, much longer maintenance intervals, etc., etc., you get the idea.



Don't be put off with unfamiliarity of these two options. They make a lot of sense and are worth investigating without bias.


Not my two cents but the results of decades worth of highly studied analysis by folks who monitor every penny per mile of service.


Just for disclosure, I worked on the Shell Rotella T ad account for years and was privy to some amazing studies. Engines that were routinely turning two million miles (all diesel) with nothing but routine maintenance. No gasoline engine has ever come remotely close. "Comfort" with a particular engine type or even oil type/brand had no impact on the resulting data.
Tango is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-07-2019, 11:27 AM   #4
Bus Crazy
 
Ronnie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Virginia
Posts: 1,161
Year: 1971
Coachwork: Wayne
Chassis: International Loadstar 1700
Engine: 345 international V-8
I do have to say after trying an automatic I have now taken it out and put a manual in. Much better from my view.

In fleet service yes an automatic is going to be better overall. I see two weaknesses with an automatic,

1. it can not see ahead and anticipate need, a properly driven manual will have the driver paying attention and will be prepared to shift at the correct time, instead of always after the correct time of the automatic.
2. it has hydraulic pump(s) that take power and cause heat. Very few manual trans have or need oil coolers. This uses power and will reduce fuel mileage compared to a properly driven manual.

Proper driving is key though. An automatic you can toss anyone in and not hurt much. Great for fleets.

Of course then we have the AT545 automatic..... It works but not well liked and without a lock up converter is not efficient and a great producer of heat. This seems to be used so often in school buses though.

I like my bus, but if starting over and had a lot of money to spend would think about a Crown with the 855 cummins and 10 speed roadranger
Ronnie is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2019, 01:42 PM   #5
Bus Geek
 
o1marc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Dawsonville, Ga.
Posts: 8,553
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Genesis
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466/3060
Rated Cap: 77
While automatics may be more expensive to repair, I see no difference in the installation process. With a manual you now have a clutch to deal with that may need replacing more often than an automatic needs rebuild.
o1marc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2019, 03:31 PM   #6
Bus Crazy
 
Sleddgracer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: south east BC, close to the Canadian/US border
Posts: 2,265
Year: 1975
Coachwork: Chevy
Chassis: 8 window
Engine: 454 LS7
Rated Cap: 24,500
Quote:
Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
While automatics may be more expensive to repair, I see no difference in the installation process. With a manual you now have a clutch to deal with that may need replacing more often than an automatic needs rebuild.
I'm leaning towards gas because of my unfamiliarity with diesels to the point that when I read the good advice written in the forum, it might as well be written in Greek in some instances, the cost of repairs of diesels - my handiman and I can change a blown head gasket, or thermostat or ?? on a gas engine in my backyard for a few $s -- the same repair in a diesel is going to require shop time in one of the few garages in my area that has the knowledge and equipment, to say nothing of desire, to get it fixed - balancing my comfort zone and extra cost for fuel against the undesirable areas of diesel power is making me lean towards a big block gas motor - - right now I'm puling a trailer with a pickup, staying in motels and eating in restaurants, so I'll be saving multi $s anyway
Sleddgracer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2019, 04:17 PM   #7
Bus Geek
 
o1marc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Dawsonville, Ga.
Posts: 8,553
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Genesis
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466/3060
Rated Cap: 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sleddgracer View Post
I'm leaning towards gas because of my unfamiliarity with diesels to the point that when I read the good advice written in the forum, it might as well be written in Greek in some instances, the cost of repairs of diesels - my handiman and I can change a blown head gasket, or thermostat or ?? on a gas engine in my backyard for a few $s -- the same repair in a diesel is going to require shop time in one of the few garages in my area that has the knowledge and equipment, to say nothing of desire, to get it fixed - balancing my comfort zone and extra cost for fuel against the undesirable areas of diesel power is making me lean towards a big block gas motor - - right now I'm puling a trailer with a pickup, staying in motels and eating in restaurants, so I'll be saving multi $s anyway
When was the last time you saw a gas engine in a bus get 250k miles before rebuild?
o1marc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2019, 04:40 PM   #8
Bus Crazy
 
Sleddgracer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: south east BC, close to the Canadian/US border
Posts: 2,265
Year: 1975
Coachwork: Chevy
Chassis: 8 window
Engine: 454 LS7
Rated Cap: 24,500
Quote:
Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
When was the last time you saw a gas engine in a bus get 250k miles before rebuild?
I don't know, but I can limp a chevy for a long way before it dies and pick up a decent replacement motor for $500+/-
Sleddgracer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2019, 04:57 PM   #9
Bus Crazy
 
Ronnie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Virginia
Posts: 1,161
Year: 1971
Coachwork: Wayne
Chassis: International Loadstar 1700
Engine: 345 international V-8
The international 345, and 392 gas engines are considered to be normally good for 200,000 Mikes average.

The 444 international, and the 5.9 Cummins are normally good for 250,000 on average.

All these are commen bus engines.

The heavy duty tractor trailer engines a million miles plus. But very few school buses have them.

I like diesel don't get me wrong , I really thought of putting ax 5.9 in my bus till I found out what a used one cost, then plus tranny. Ouch, more then I have in the bus. A low me age gas engine plus 5 speed tranny $900. It will take 10 years plus for me to wear out the gas engine. If I was going to drive it everyday that would change things.

One has to balance their own needs. Biggest issue I see is a gas engine bus is likely to be an antique. Not a good place to start. I like my bus to be sure but it would have been cheaper to buy a modern diesel bus. I like old iron. Plus I have had International trucks of this vintage so it is very familiar to me. I do not think it us a good chioce for most though.

If someone really wants a gas engine go for it. However do not to be afraid of a diesel. An engine is an engine if you can fix one you can fix the other.get a service manual and study up on it, then jump in
Ronnie is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2019, 06:20 PM   #10
Bus Crazy
 
Sleddgracer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: south east BC, close to the Canadian/US border
Posts: 2,265
Year: 1975
Coachwork: Chevy
Chassis: 8 window
Engine: 454 LS7
Rated Cap: 24,500
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronnie View Post
The international 345, and 392 gas engines are considered to be normally good for 200,000 Mikes average.

The 444 international, and the 5.9 Cummins are normally good for 250,000 on average.

All these are commen bus engines.

The heavy duty tractor trailer engines a million miles plus. But very few school buses have them.

I like diesel don't get me wrong , I really thought of putting ax 5.9 in my bus till I found out what a used one cost, then plus tranny. Ouch, more then I have in the bus. A low me age gas engine plus 5 speed tranny $900. It will take 10 years plus for me to wear out the gas engine. If I was going to drive it everyday that would change things.One has to balance their own needs. Biggest issue I see is a gas engine bus is likely to be an antique. Not a good place to start. I like my bus to be sure but it would have been cheaper to buy a modern diesel bus. I like old iron. Plus I have had International trucks of this vintage so it is very familiar to me. I do not think it us a good chioce for most though.
If someone really wants a gas engine go for it. However do not to be afraid of a diesel. An engine is an engine if you can fix one you can fix the other.get a service manual and study up on it, then jump in
I think I've read every post since I joined this forum and have learned a lot in the process - One thing I have learned is that it can be hard to find mechanics that are up to date on the older diesels, and how a seemingly minor problem can shut a vehicle down - when I've traveled a 1000 or 1500 miles north into the Territories in the winter months, I don't want to have to hunt for a diesel mechanic when the settlements are 100's of miles apart, or wind up with a repair bill totaling $1000's - I won't have the resource of this forum when I'm up there because I don't pack a cell phone and don't want one -I'll be more comfortable with the tried and true, which to me is a good old chevy v8 - parts are everywhere, mechanics that know chevys are common
Sleddgracer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2019, 08:44 PM   #11
Bus Crazy
 
Ronnie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Virginia
Posts: 1,161
Year: 1971
Coachwork: Wayne
Chassis: International Loadstar 1700
Engine: 345 international V-8
I do understand that, and that makes your needs different then most. I do wish you luck finding one, they are out there just not common any more.
Ronnie is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2019, 08:58 PM   #12
Bus Geek
 
o1marc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Dawsonville, Ga.
Posts: 8,553
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Genesis
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466/3060
Rated Cap: 77
What i like about the big diesel engines is the fact that so many reliable miles can be put on them. I would spend more time finding a suitable bus, than planning on multiple engine changes.
o1marc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2019, 02:49 PM   #13
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 2,135
I have been in the bus business in one way or another since the late 1970's. Back then nearly 100% of the school buses were gas powered with stick shifts.



Moving into the 1980's when emissions controls were starting to be required on even medium duty vehicles like school buses drivability and reliability issues on gas powered vehicles became an issue. The lack of fuel mileage also became a significant issue. When an identical bus with a diesel engine got 2x the fuel mileage on a fuel that was almost half as much per gallon meant the diesel option became the standard. At about the same time automatic transmissions became the standard as well. Between cost over the life of a bus, safety, and ease of training the automatic became standard equipment and the manual transmission became an extra cost option.


But the 1990's the only bus chassis that was offered with a gas engine was the OEM vendor supplied chassis from GM. The small block 350 truck engine and the Tonawanda high deck big block 366/427 were offered up into the early '00's until GM got out of the OEM vendor supplied chassis business.



In recent days alternative fuels have become available. With the advent of the emissions controls on all diesel engines starting in 2007 drivability and reliability issues on diesel engines have caused fleet owners to look at alternative fuels. As a consequence factory propane and CNG engines are finding their way into school bus fleets. Blue Bird uses Ford engines with Rausch conversions to run on alternative fuels. Thomas uses GM big blocks. And IC uses a purpose built engine made by Power Solutions Inc that can run on just about anything. https://www.psiengines.com/whatwedo/on-highway-engines/


Since the '70's I can count on one hand how many brand new buses I have come across with a manual shift transmission instead of an automatic. They just are never spe'c'ed these days.


So unless you want a bus that was built in the '70's or '80's the odds of you finding a gas powered bus are pretty slim. Finding one with a standard transmission would be even slimmer.



By the way, gas powered buses back in the day got terrible fuel mileage. 4-6 MPG was pretty standard. 1-2 MPG with some buses was not unusual. Diesel buses of the same vintage and same size were getting 6-9 MPG and some got over 10 MPG on route and even better on the highway.
cowlitzcoach is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2019, 11:06 AM   #14
Almost There
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 82
Gas

After mulling over the same things as you, and realizing my needs I decided on a short bus and specifically sought out a Chevy 350. Mine is a 2002 Collins pre school short 4 window bus. I plan to travel a lot not sit a lot so I want good mileage, cheap maintenance, and the ability to get fixed by any mechanic. I go down to baja frequently and plan on taking my bus. I just drove mine home from California to New Mexico and got 14.3 miles a gallon. It only has 65,000 miles on it. New tires, brakes, and shocks. Oil changes are cheaper, tires are cheaper, the list goes on. I know I can buy a crate motor for mine for under $3000 and any mechanic in North America can install it.

However if your plan is to not travel as much and you need a big bus for living a diesel will almost certainly be the way to go.


My good friend has a beautiful 26ft flat nose Cummins from phoenix with about 150,000 miles and it needs rebuilt. Basically looking at $8000-10,000 and most people want no part of it. It just seems like everyone says diesels are million mile motors, but they do need maintenance and lots of it. Iím a firefighter and all of our trucks are newer model diesels of all kinds. They are insanely expensive to maintain and trouble shoot. Not only that they often need to go to bigger dealers and sit to be diagnosed, which normally means throwing money at things that donít fix the problem. The older simple diesels are great, but again diesel fuel cost more and can be harder to come buy down in Mexico.
Tstege is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:34 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
×