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Old 05-22-2016, 09:15 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
There is no one bus that will work for everyone.

In order to narrow your search you need to determine which style of bus you want.

The Type 'C' conventional bus is the most common bus out there. As a consequence, with supply and demand the way it is, there is a large supply and low demand for them. In other words, they are going to cost less than any other bus of the same size.

The Type 'D' transit bus is the most expensive bus out there. There are a lot of reasons for the premium price with most of the reasons due to the fact premium options are built into most of them. Most Type 'D' buses will have a large, if not the largest engine available at the time the bus was made. Large engines are hooked to large transmissions. In order to stop they usually have larger brakes as well. Most also were built with 12" windows which means the bus will have the high headroom option.

In actual cubic volume the Type 'D' will have the most. But there are some Type 'C' buses that have nearly as much cubic volume.

So you need to decide what style of bus you want.

Once you decide what style you want you need to decide how you are going to use your bus. If you plan on doing a lot of highway work then you really want to hold out for the bus with the big HP and highway gears. Retrofitting an old bus with faster gears and more HP is costly and usually disappointing in the results. But if you are going to just be taking the occasional trip within a few hours of home then a top speed of 55-60 MPH is not that big of a deal.

If you are going to spend a lot of time on the highways then you really want the big engine. My engines of choice are the DT466/530, or the Cummins 8.3L/ISC, or the Cummins ISL. Cat and Mercedes-Benz made a lot of engines that found their way into school buses. IMHO the Cat and M-B engines are best left to someone else unless you can get a absolutely smoking hot deal on a bus with a Cat or M-B engine. I once drove an IC RE with the 315 HP DT530 in it. I have no idea how fast it would go but it would do 60 MPH in 4th gear. I have also driven more than a few IHC conventional buses that had a top speed of 47 MPH.

Since you are in WA state you are lucky that almost any bus that has been built since the mid-90's have had engines with enough HP to get up and down hills and have no problem going 60 MPH. The extra content the state of WA requires in a WA spe'c bus makes the WA spe'c bus cost, on average for a full size 13-row bus, about $15K more than the same bus in OR. You benefit from the extra content because in the used market it doesn't make that much difference to the price of a used bus.

Both Harlows in Auburn and NW Bus in Federal Way have some nice affordable buses in stock right now.
We're actually in Georgia. But will be traveling all over the country, we have family in Seattle, Monterey California, Maryland, Michigan and the carolinas. We really want to take it all over.
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Old 05-22-2016, 09:22 PM   #12
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I really doubt they put either of the 2 transmissions I mentioned behind a 7.3. You're in GA. I always see buses being auctioned off in your state or a neighboring state. Hold out for the right bus even is you have to pay 1-2000 more. $3800 isn't a steal if you ask me. For 3-5k, you can find an 8.3.
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Old 05-22-2016, 09:26 PM   #13
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Buy one of our western buses. Colorado seems to be a favorite for mountain type buses without the rust issues. Oregon, Washington and Idaho are also usually pretty good but primarily flat land buses. Driving around as much as you're indicating it would be nice to have the automatic chains for climbing mountain passes.
Interesting to hear that you are concerned with ground clearance. A mountain dweller?
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Old 05-22-2016, 09:42 PM   #14
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The 1996 bus that is in the link you posted looks like a pretty nice bus.

You can tell it has the high headroom option--notice the top of the windows do not line up with the top of the driver's window and there is a bump up in the roof just above the driver's head.

Since it has a T444E it most probably does have the AT545 transmission. Although it might have the MT643 since it does have the high headroom and at least one skirt mounted luggage compartment.

If there is no rust, no real parking lot rash, and it starts and runs well this bus might work for you.

Just be aware that the T444E is not going to be a powerhouse. If you end up towing a car behind you it is going to slow you down on the hills pretty significantly.

It sounds as if he wants $4K for it. The asking price is about what a dealer would ask for a bus like that.
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Old 05-22-2016, 09:54 PM   #15
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I looked at that ad a few times myself. The T444 is a decent engine, the turbo will give it some needed Oomph but probably not as much as a DT466. Not sure the tranny on it. It would do OK towing a vehicle on relatively flat ground, but maybe not so much in the hills. Same holds for the common 5.9 Cummins. The larger Cummins or DT466 will pull hills much better (especially since you aren't hauling 50+ kids in it), both are relatively easy to find parts for and tend to be very durable engines. I have long believed a DT466 and most (larger) Cummins engines will easily go a million miles if taken care of.
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Old 05-22-2016, 10:02 PM   #16
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There is a "dealer" of sorts who posts in the Atlanta Craigslist regularly, I spoke with him on the phone and he indicated he had several IH buses he was willing to part with for the 3500-4000 range. Since I live not far away, feel free to message me if you would like me to go with to check out his inventory.
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Old 05-22-2016, 10:58 PM   #17
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I just thought of something else. If you are going to use a tow bar instead of a trailer, you will rip your toad to shreds with a rear overhang that long.
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Old 05-22-2016, 11:24 PM   #18
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Good suggestions so far. Yes, everyone seems to like their particular bus. Some of the guys that have posted have much experience in the school bus industry so you can trust what's been posted so far.

Lots of hills doesn't make a difference between flat nose or dognose. What really matters is engine/transmission. That's been covered well in prior posts.

My take: you don't want the type of bus listed on the CL ad. You've mentioned a couple of times about the heat and noise. The dognose type has the most heat in the drivers position because you're sitting a few inches in from the window and they just don't get the airflow transit style (flat nose) buses get. Noise wise they are quieter than front engine flat nose buses. You said that noise and heat is fairly minor, but if you know the difference it's not minor!

My favorite: Always a rear engine (RE) bus. Quiet and the least heat. Did I say quiet? Yes, MUCH quieter. And many of them have air ride in the back. Some shy away from them because they think the turning radius makes them less maneuverable. However, once you get used to it the maneuverability is a very minor thing. A RE bus travels well for long distance.

You talk about "SO Many buses!!" Yes, but not really. Here's a condensed list of RE buses, leaving out older (pre 199 buses to keep it as simple as possible:

International (Amtran) RE300: These are the big 81 passenger 40' buses with DT466E (or very rare DT530) engines and 3060 transmissions. Heavy duty chassis, air ride in back, high headroom. It's what I own and I love it. Great engine (cheapest parts that are widely available, good power) and transmission. The shorter version of these buses usually has the 444 engine which is a good engine but not the power you need for long trips.

Blue Bird: All American or TC2000. The All American is heavier duty than the TC but the engines/trans choices overlap. The big Cummins engines will have the same Allison 3060 transmission as the International. The Cummins also has the cheapest parts that are readily available. Great engine. They sometimes have air ride in the back but not always. Usually has the high headroom but not always.

Thomas: The newer ones have the cool looking front end like CaptSquid's avatar picture. Good bus but they seem to vary more with either a Cat engine or Cummins engines. Thomas for a while was owned by Mercedes so sometimes you'll see one with an expensive to maintain Mercedes engine in it. Basically, if you find a big Thomas with a Cummins engine (and the same 3060 trans) you're good to go. Also, they seem to vary with equipment more than Blue Bird or International. Some have air ride front and back, some regular spring suspension, some high headroom, some not.

There's more variation with the dognose buses but I think for your traveling purposes with 4 children an RE transit style is what you're looking for.
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Old 05-23-2016, 09:46 AM   #19
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Well for my two cents... I'm buying my 2002 Thomas HDX rear engine from Midwest Transit in Whitestown IN because it's right down the street and a good price. Yes it's only a 5.9 Cummins but I'm not in a hurry to get up hills and there's not a lot of hills in Indiana! If you want another option for Western buses, check out AAA bus sales in Phoenix. No prices on their website but very helpful when you call and plenty of clean (rust-free), big engine-d buses from $5k and up.
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Old 05-23-2016, 12:05 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boojiewoojie View Post
International (Amtran) RE300: These are the big 81 passenger 40' buses with DT466E (or very rare DT530) engines and 3060 transmissions. Heavy duty chassis, air ride in back, high headroom. It's what I own and I love it. Great engine (cheapest parts that are widely available, good power) and transmission. The shorter version of these buses usually has the 444 engine which is a good engine but not the power you need for long trips.
I had seen a few of those ones and really liked them but not the price. I just found this one and called, they're asking $7800, $2000 down (which I can do) we just have 45 days to pick it up and pay the rest in full. It has a md3060 trans and the DT530 engine...not sure how hubby will react to it being all the way in Phoenix though...that's a long drive with a new bus haha

What do you think?

10392 - aaabussales.com
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