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Old 11-25-2016, 08:17 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Indiana
Posts: 11
Year: 2000
Can't go faster than 60mph max...30mph on hills

Trying to figure out why my 2000 Thomas Saf-T-Liner will not accelerate properly. It has the Cummins 5.9 ISB in there. I am a newbie, just bought the bus two months ago, no prior bus or Diesel engine experience. I just changed the fuel filter, and have checked the fuel lines. The fuel injection pump was replaced a couple years back...although I've heard that these buses often have problems with those...uhhhgh.

I do have a leak coming from the fuel tank area that I need to fix. Would that cause this issue? I don't hear any unusual noises or jerks or anything like that. I can hear the turbo working. It seems like so many things might be the cause. Anyone experienced that could point me in a good direction?

Got the bus for $2700 and already put $1200 into repairs.
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Old 11-25-2016, 09:56 PM   #2
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Clearlake, Northern California
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Year: 1992
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TC-2000 Frt Eng, Tranny:MT643
Engine: 5,9 Cummins
Rated Cap: 84
60 MPH may be all it is supposed to go. Remember, this is a school bus.

For someone without heavy vehicle experience, it can be quite an adjustment to accept how heavy vehicles operate. (No offense intended!)

When I bought Millicent, she struggled to reach 55 MPH. Then we turned up both the fuel (power) and the governor (RPMs). Now she accelerates right thru 55 and tops out around 64, at the official redline of 2,600 RPM.

Still, I see 20 MPH at times on steep grades with (very) heavy load.

Obviously, fix any leaks and such real problems.

Can you recruit an experience driver to evaluate her?

You bought a 16 year old bus for $2,700. I bought a 14 year old bus for $5,500, and I'm quite happy with her, even though I paid "full retail".
10 years later I put $2,000 into her for front end repairs -- king pins, rod ends, and brakes. In the interval... a few hundred here and there, and two or three $500 dollar bills -- maybe (very rough estimate) an average of $600 a year in repairs and fluid changes.

In these ten years we have spent several times the total of all that on fuel. All soooo worth it!
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Old 11-25-2016, 10:06 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
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I thought it was a pretty good deal. I'm happy with it. I wish I knew any experienced drivers though. I removed all the seats, and feel like this load shouldnt be too heavy, couple of futons and one bunk bed. I do plan on figuring out the fuel leak situation, for sure. But, it just seems like there must be something else happening...it hits 60 only on the highway after like several minutes of acceleration in perfect conditions... thanks for the encouragement though
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Old 11-25-2016, 10:17 PM   #4
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Clearlake, Northern California
Posts: 2,255
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TC-2000 Frt Eng, Tranny:MT643
Engine: 5,9 Cummins
Rated Cap: 84
Well, that's as empty as it can get, so it should "fly". But "flying" is still relative. "Several minutes" from 0 to 60 may be normal if you are accustomed to a peppy automobile.

Maybe you could swing by a nearby school bus barn and chat up the drivers and/or mechanics? Not to test drive your bus on company time, of course, but on his personal time. You wouldn't need more than ten minutes of his time. The bus mechanics I have met have all been wonderfully friendly and helpful.
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Old 11-25-2016, 10:21 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Thanks, Elliot. Will do that.
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Old 11-25-2016, 10:24 PM   #6
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Join Date: Feb 2015
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Chassis: International
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You need to find out more information about your bus, like which transmission, rear end ratio and engine horse power and if it is speed limited by a governor, really common in school buses
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Old 11-25-2016, 11:46 PM   #7
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Which transmission and rear end ratio can also determine how long it gets up to cruising speed.

Try locking it in a gear until it gets to the redline and then manually upshifting to the next gear. You may have a transmission that has been programmed to shift up as soon as possible. If you have a MD3060 that has five usable gears and it shifts into 5thOD at 35 MPH it could take you next to forever to reach 60 MPH. On the other hand, if you keep it locked down you may find it is relatively peppy when the throttle is stomped.

I have driven several different models of the Saf-T-Liner FE that had various models of the 5.9L Cummins. They ranged from 190 HP to 250 HP. All of them seemed like hot rods compared to Cummins C-190 equipped Gilligs and GMC OEM vendor supplied chassis buses with gas V-6 Type 'D' buses we had back in the day.

You may also want to determine that all of your brakes are releasing completely. Some brakes adjusted to tightly can really slow you down while accelerating.
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Old 11-26-2016, 07:36 AM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Indiana
Posts: 11
Year: 2000
Thanks everyone for the help. If it has a governor, what would that make the engine sound like or do when I hit 60? Also, how would I remove it? It just doesn't seem like the brakes idk. Also, it just doesn't feel like this is all the faster this bus should do. Obviously, I'm no expert, but something doesn't feel right. I'm going to try to find an experienced bus driver this week to test drive it.
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Old 11-26-2016, 08:27 AM   #9
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what's the rush? my bus tops out about 110kms around 65 miles an hour, I like to run about 95kms . best fuel mileage , nice relaxing drive, less noise etc.
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Old 11-26-2016, 08:31 AM   #10
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I've driven newer Saf-t-liners and OMG..i can run faster carrying the kids on my back I think.

IC's can be had with 220 240 and 260 hp motors and different gearing and even transmission. It can make a HUGE difference in the performance of the bus.

We have an 11% grade in town that I drive daily and the older IC i've had this week is fine empty..put 60 kids in it and OMG..it won't hit 25 on the uphill..can do 30-35 empty.

The saf-t-liber is 31k GVWR, 220hp and a '13 with 70k miles on it. Loaded (60-70 gradeschool kids) it will not get to 35mph between stops (speed limit is 35, road fairly level, 1/4 mile between stops). Our newer IC 260hp buses cna do it no problem.

As for hiway, haven't had the thomas on the hiway. Had several of the IC buses and no problem doing 55, 65 even 70. Empty or less than 1/2 loaded.

Govenor limites max RPM of the engine - all the ones iv'e driven seem to top out about 2500, 2600 rpm. Not sure what trans or engines are in all of them..the IC's have cummins and probably 2500 or 3000 trans (i can ask). I know the older IC/BB buses (we have both) have 545's in them and our transits have the 3060s
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