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Old 01-29-2017, 04:31 PM   #1
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Are Thomas Built Buses Quality?

Hello all,

I am looking to purchase a bus and have ran across a 2001 Thomas school bus. It is a shorter bus that is handicap capable. Says it has a CAT engine in it on a freightliner chassis. I love the size of this bus as it isnt as big as a full size, but not the smallest size either. If anyone has any experience or input with these buses I would greatly appreciate any feedback!
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Old 01-29-2017, 06:41 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Cmp433 View Post
Hello all,

I am looking to purchase a bus and have ran across a 2001 Thomas school bus. It is a shorter bus that is handicap capable. Says it has a CAT engine in it on a freightliner chassis. I love the size of this bus as it isnt as big as a full size, but not the smallest size either. If anyone has any experience or input with these buses I would greatly appreciate any feedback!
Noob here,
I've heard to avoid freightliner, also mix things about cat engine.



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Old 01-29-2017, 07:08 PM   #3
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I don't know that I've read anything bad about the quality of CAT engines - just that you need to buy dealer parts when repairs are needed, and that they can be expensive. Disclaimer: I read a lot but have no practical experience in this area.
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Old 01-29-2017, 08:02 PM   #4
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I have a Thomas. Its seems well built. If you like the bus and its mechanically fit, buy it.
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Old 01-29-2017, 08:16 PM   #5
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The cat is likely a 3126 and is an awesome engine. Expensive to replace or repair, but an awesome engine. I have on in a truck right now.

I am looking at Thomas as my main choice as it has been told to me that the Thomas has an extra inch to inchanahalf more head room.

Freightliner makes as good of chassis as anyone else. Especially for a school bus where child safety is a concern.

As Clayton said, if you like the bus, and it's mechanically fit, buy it.
IMO.
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Old 01-29-2017, 08:31 PM   #6
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for what were looking for pretty much every bus is a good bus. yes cat motor parts are pricy but they make great motors. if it has a good motor and tranny and its not a rust bucket go for it. look for a bus that fits your needs.
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Old 01-29-2017, 09:16 PM   #7
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Follow Up

I appreciate all the answers here. I was able to dig a little more information about the bus.

It is a 2001 Thomas FS 65 handcap freightliner.

Engine: 7.2L Caterpillar 3126/C7 I6 (copied from Wiki)


Couldn't find anything on the tranny so far. I haven't been able to look at it quite yet because its a few hours away. I am just very very weary about buying the wrong bus that it has kept me from actually buying one. I fear buying one, spending all the time and money in renovations just to end up with a dud shortly after. Is there anything in particular I should be looking for asides from the obvious, IE rust, physical damage, etc.?

I want to jump on this because its the first bus I've found in awhile that is short, but not absolutely tiny. I just don't want to start my conversion off with a fatal mistake.
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Old 01-29-2017, 09:31 PM   #8
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Some people here agree with the idea of buying a bus far and driving it home.
This way if it makes it, you know you got a good platform.
If you buy near you, you can still drive it, have it inspected before you fully commit.

Noob here, fyi.


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Old 01-29-2017, 09:37 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cmp433 View Post
I appreciate all the answers here. I was able to dig a little more information about the bus.

It is a 2001 Thomas FS 65 handcap freightliner.

Engine: 7.2L Caterpillar 3126/C7 I6 (copied from Wiki)


Couldn't find anything on the tranny so far. I haven't been able to look at it quite yet because its a few hours away. I am just very very weary about buying the wrong bus that it has kept me from actually buying one. I fear buying one, spending all the time and money in renovations just to end up with a dud shortly after. Is there anything in particular I should be looking for asides from the obvious, IE rust, physical damage, etc.?

I want to jump on this because its the first bus I've found in awhile that is short, but not absolutely tiny. I just don't want to start my conversion off with a fatal mistake.
where are you located
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Old 01-29-2017, 11:34 PM   #10
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Thomas has always made a quality bus. The FS65 was probably their best seller for a LOOOOOOOOT of years.

The Freightliner chassis is a good chassis. I prefer the way an IHC chassis rides and drives but that is a Ford vs. Chevy vs. Dodge sort of comparison. Parts and pieces are almost as easy to source as an IHC.

Cat engines are as good as most and better than some. The problem with a Cat engine is you have to go to Cat if you Cat is ailing. Very few independent shops are equipped to service Cat engines. Parts tend to be considerably more expensive than a similar part from Cummins or IHC and not nearly as available.

If you like the bus and are willing to deal with a 3126/C7 and the price is right I would say go for it.

The biggest problems the 3126/C7 had when they were new is the electronics were full of bugs. When they ran they ran great. The problem was they didn't run very long between debugging sessions. As old as that bus is I would hope all of the bugs have long since been killed.

The other issue with a 3126/C7 is if you want to change the parameters of the performance envelope it isn't an easy software update and a few adjustments on the pump. It becomes a major expense with the bus in a Cat shop to reset the timing, the pump, the electronics and all manner of other updates.

Good luck and happy trails to you!
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