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Old 05-03-2016, 09:51 PM   #1
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cat 3126

Hello! Newbie here. I'm looking at a 2001 Thomas saf t liner with 172,000 miles that I can get an awesome deal on. The body style is exactly what I've been looking for! However, it has a cat 3126 engine, which from what I've read here doesn't sound like the best engine? Just wondering if I can get some opinions on whether or not that engine is worth touching.

Thanks for any input!
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Old 05-03-2016, 11:50 PM   #2
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The word is it's going to be very expensive to have someone touch it for you.

Why does that sound familiar?

That actually sounds like a nice bus, aside from the cat. Transmission? If that's a cat with a 545 I'd let it go even if it ran good. That's like double jeopardy with two weak links.

They call it Cat gold. It's an adequate engine at best, and at worst it cost a lot to work on.

It's fair to say the combined opinion on this site is to wait for the right drive train for what you need the bus to do. You'll spend more money trying to make the right bus or be unhappy with that choice for years. This is to much work and money to not start with the right bus.
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Old 05-04-2016, 05:05 AM   #3
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And in-frame rebuild will cost (with new injectors, sleeves, et. al.) is about $10K. If the engine was overhauled fairly recently, then you should be good to go. If not, then you need to consider this. Many people here are anti-Cat people. I however, am not. If the engine is maintained, it will last for some time with continued T.L.C. See if the maintenance records are available for a better determination for your decision. If there are no records, presume the worst and go from there.

Hope this helps.

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Old 05-04-2016, 06:58 AM   #4
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The Internationals and Cummins are so good, why mess around with that yeller thang!?
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Old 05-04-2016, 07:18 AM   #5
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more cat bashers..... While they are expensive to maintain, they are reliable if you do what youre supposed to do to help maintain them. Is it a 3126 or a 3126b?
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Old 05-04-2016, 08:53 AM   #6
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Thanks all for the input! I've been lurking around here for months, it's fun to finally join in!

I'm not sure if it's a 3126 or 3126b, but I did just find out it's a 545 transmission. The seller doesn't have the maintenance records, and since I am not in the least mechanically inclined I feel like it might be better to hold out for something with a better reputation... hope I don't regret that!

Just out of curiosity, is there much of a cost difference to replace an engine vs an in-frame rebuild? Or do I just have no idea what I'm talking about?

Laura
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Old 05-04-2016, 11:03 AM   #7
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The general thought on this site seems to be get the right drive train from the beginning. It is so difficult and expensive switching major components to try to make the right bus.
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Old 05-04-2016, 01:20 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by wildchild View Post

I'm not sure if it's a 3126 or 3126b

Just out of curiosity, is there much of a cost difference to replace an engine vs an in-frame rebuild? Or do I just have no idea what I'm talking about?

Laura
3126b is electronically controlled. It has an ECM.

I replaced the one in my bus. The guy who had it before me ran #3 cylinder dry and it scarred the sleeve. After I had the ecm reviewed at CAT I decided to find a motor from a salvage place. It was cheaper because my bus is in Alabama and I live in Arizona. I got the motor complete with turbo and ecm for $4600 with shipping to the shop I used. I am most likely sure you won't get a complete rebuild kit for that.

Any motor is expensive to repair depending on what you do or don't do. My newer 3126b with an MT643 can climb a 7% grade and stay consistent with 40 mph.

If you are worried about type of motor and trans combo, you may want to just stick with a cummins. Anybody with a diesel shop can wrench on them.

If you don't care about the engine type, maybe a gas one would be better until you learn more about them.

Also keep in mind, mechanics hate working on flat nosed buses. The motors are harder to get to.
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Old 05-04-2016, 01:29 PM   #9
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Old 05-04-2016, 04:37 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Robin97396 View Post
The general thought on this site seems to be get the right drive train from the beginning. It is so difficult and expensive switching major components to try to make the right bus.

it all depends on your area of expertise.. for me I wanted an older bus body because well I like older bus bodies.. and interiors.. mechanics dont scare me in the least... ive put together transmissions, engines, A/C, wiring, etc for years..

it happens to be that I got a fiarly newly rebuilt drivetrain... but the AT545 trans doesnt scare me because ill just put a 1000 series Over drive in and forget about it if I dont like it...

ive done a lot of reading and SPEC'ing and talking and learning.. and realize that it certainly is possible to swap a transmission if you want to.. it will take time and some $$.. and maybe a little Mod n Fab ..

you may also be perfectly fine with an AT545 transmission.. theres LOTSof AT545s running around here on this board and in the real world... LOTS of people drive busses with them all over the place...

-Christopher
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Old 05-04-2016, 06:26 PM   #11
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Also keep in mind, mechanics hate working on flat nosed buses. The motors are harder to get to.
Mine's right at the back. Extremely easy to get to from GROUND level on my TRANSIT-STYLE bus.
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Old 05-04-2016, 06:35 PM   #12
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Mine's right at the back. Extremely easy to get to from GROUND level on my TRANSIT-STYLE bus.
Good point, there are exceptions!
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Old 05-04-2016, 06:42 PM   #13
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Mine's right at the back. Extremely easy to get to from GROUND level on my TRANSIT-STYLE bus.
Ditto, and I've two access points for both sides of the engine
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Old 05-04-2016, 07:25 PM   #14
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You need knee pads to service my engine.
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Old 05-05-2016, 11:57 AM   #15
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I found a 2004 Bluebird RE bus with a 3126 CAT, 81 passenger with luggage racks. Only 83K miles on it supposedly. It's a dealer bus but they're currently asking only $4K for it.

What are the chances it has an AT545?

Should I hold out for a Bluebird RE with the 8.3 Cummins instead?
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Old 05-05-2016, 12:21 PM   #16
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Well, bigger is always better on this site. Most with larger engines report much easier driving and commonly have the best mileage on the highway.

If a dealer is selling an '04 for that price there is obviously something wrong. That's not a true reflection of a dealer price for that year bus. It's a good price, but why?
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Old 05-05-2016, 12:27 PM   #17
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Well, bigger is always better on this site. Most with larger engines report much easier driving and commonly have the best mileage on the highway.

If a dealer is selling an '04 for that price there is obviously something wrong. That's not a true reflection of a dealer price for that year bus. It's a good price, but why?
It's in Indiana. I looked on a few other bus dealer sites in IN and found a whole bunch of early-mid 2000s RE buses with the big motors and luggage racks really cheap - like in the 4-7K range. Not sure if they're really common in Indiana or what, but there's quite a few like that.

Currently waiting on pics and additional specs from the salesguy, but I'm defenitely not holding my breath on this one.

Edit: Here's the inventory sheet for one of the dealers. There's a whole sh##tload of rear engine buses in the 3.5 - 5K range with the ideal specs. I just can't figure out why they're all so cheap

http://www.macallistertransportation...-16-MASTER.pdf
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Old 05-05-2016, 12:46 PM   #18
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Wow, those are some pretty amazing prices and with decent mileage on most. I'd guess that there's not a market for those large buses in that area. You notice how there is a distinct lack of short buses in that rather long list? Most beginners want a short bus because even driving a short bus feels big.

It's like they say, gold is where you find it. There doesn't seem to be any reason why some buses go for double and even triple normal prices, other than bidding wars.

I'm going to guess you're on the right track with those buses.
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Old 05-05-2016, 03:55 PM   #19
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Hows the rust on these buses?
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Old 05-05-2016, 06:18 PM   #20
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Hows the rust on these buses?

Anything in Indiana that is 10 years or older, rust city. I think they are in competition with Illinois for the most salt applied during winter!!! Their roads are awful.....Even the toll roads have giant potholes. I'd look for a southwestern bus, say TX, NM or AZ. Hell, even one in Alabama or Mississippi is probably ok.

Just my .02

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