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Old 01-10-2016, 01:25 PM   #1
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Anyone care to lodge a defense of the 5.9 or 444 for a full size bus???

Hello Everyone!

Based on reading more forum posts than could possibly be good for someone, I'm fairly well versed in engine differences but still have some lingering doubts/question.

I really like what I've heard about Detroit Diesels, but I haven't had much luck finding buses with them (other than Crowns which are out of my price range), plus it sounds like its harder to find people to service them. That leads me to the Cummins 8.3L and DT466, both of which are what I have been focused on finding. I'm planning on a full size bus and cross country trips, and a bigger engine just makes sense to me. The reason I'm writing this is that I keep finding buses that meet all of my other qualifications that have either 5.9s or 444s. I was wondering if people with those engines (or experience) have thoughts or opinions regarding their value. For the record, speed is of no importance to me...


As for transmissions, I want an automatic transmission. I hear Allison transmissions are the best but I'm still a little lost on which models are the best. What about the MD3060? or the MT643? Any that should be 100% avoided? We've had a hard time finding good threads on this, so if you are aware of some links would be great too!
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Old 01-10-2016, 01:49 PM   #2
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If you want a DT466 or 8.3, just wait until you find one because you will get a MT643 or MD3060. The first is a 4 speed and the second is a 5 speed but computerized. Someone will soon say that they know of a guy that knows a guy that got the sixth gear opened up. There is one person on here that did it.

If given the choice, I would chose a 5.9 over a 444 in a bus. I have never had one in a bus but have had them in pickups and vans. 2x 5.9 and about 10x 444. I would hold out for what you want.
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Old 01-10-2016, 01:52 PM   #3
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5.9 > 444

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Old 01-10-2016, 03:38 PM   #4
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I guess I'm the odd man here, I have t444e with the 545 tranny, I have no concerns in taking my full size bus anywhere, so far I put more then 20,000kms of road trips with out problem. I did replace all my injectors this year and it really made a big difference. one thing with the 7.3 or t444e is parts are all over the place to get, there's lots of people that can work on them if need be, I would buy another one with no problem. as for the tranny it works for me, but I have not driven any other type other then 545, which again im happy with.
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Old 01-10-2016, 05:49 PM   #5
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Our DT360 with at AT545 is slow and underpowered, but has no trouble getting us everywhere we want to go. Eventually. It's a very reliable engine. The AT545 trans shifts very hard between 2-3rd, but apparently that is expected.

Some parts for DT360 have been discontinued. I'd definitely recommend the DT466. It's what I thought I had bought from the lying school district garage, and if I ever convert another one it will be a 466.

I've also dismantled and reassembled it using only the manual, so it's super easy and accessible for overhauls. These buses are designed to be overhauled without removing the engine, and it has access from inside and outside the bus.
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Old 01-10-2016, 08:45 PM   #6
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A 5.9 is a very good engine, particularly the variants with the bosch p-pump in them. I dont like the 24v version as much as the 12v. With an aftercooler, they can easily make a bus move well.

The 444E is a budget motor that I think is really good and strong motor for what it is, but I find them hard starting in the cold and harder to troubleshoot issues on than a DT466. They also use glowplugs, which I dont like. The 5.9 and dt466 do not use glow plugs.
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Old 01-10-2016, 09:09 PM   #7
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Hmm, based on what I'm hearing I think I'll be holding out for the DT466. It seems to show up a lot in the buses I like anyway, I just haven't been able to find one that is 'perfect.' I have an offer I'm waiting to hear back about on a bus I absolutely love minus the fact it has hydraulic brakes. If the guy accepts the price I threw out, I may have to make that sacrifice...

@charles_m What is the alternative to a glow plug that makes the DT466 (and others) start better than one with one? Also, what do you not like about them? I'll look into this more now...
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Old 01-10-2016, 09:36 PM   #8
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Hey PigPen, you a Deadhead?
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Old 01-11-2016, 12:26 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazycal View Post
Someone will soon say that they know of a guy that knows a guy that got the sixth gear opened up. There is one person on here that did it.
In case the second overdrive (sixth gear) is something near and dear to your heart: do as porkchopsandwiches did and buy a Thomas. Nobody has been known (here at least) to get anywhere with asking Blue Bird to sign off on a 6-speed tranny calibration.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PigPen View Post
What is the alternative to a glow plug that makes the DT466 (and others) start better than one with one?
Can't speak to one style starting better than another, but the alternative to glow plugs is grid heater. It's an electric heating element mounted in the engine's intake for pre-heating air on its way in before and shortly after starting the engine.

I had a "transit style" (bah! flat nose! ) Blue Bird with a 5.9 engine in front. It was too slow for me; maybe I'm impatient. But one thing I will say for it: I overheat before that engine would. In that 1991 'Bird it had a massive radiator and fan that easily dealt with the grades we climbed. Just had to be patient; sometimes 20 MPH was all we could get. On more level terrain it had no trouble holding 65 MPH.
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Old 01-11-2016, 01:46 AM   #10
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Not all engines use preheating devices. My bus has no glow plugs or grid heaters. Just the design of the engine doesn't require it. I have never owned a DT466 that was hard to start in the cold. Every T444e I've owned wont start unless you heat the block and double cycle the glow plugs and have a strong battery. I really dislike HEUI systems and computerized engines for skoolies. They are expensive to repair and troubleshooting is difficult. A new, well running t444e is a strong(ish) engine and gets great service life in many applications, but it doesn't have a lot of the things that I love about a DT466 or 8.3 Cummins. If it was a terrible motor, there wouldnt be so many of them on the road, but in my opinion, there's better options out there.
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