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Old 09-28-2016, 07:26 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 34
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird FE
Engine: 5.9 Cummins
Old DT-466 or a newer model?

Hi Folks,

A couple of days ago many of you weighed in and gave me advice on engines and transmissions for a project to convert a skoolie into a toterhome to haul a 16,000 lb (loaded) 5th wheel.

That thread is here:
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f13/th...ome-15175.html

Thank you to everyone who contributed there!

Since I am now looking at buses that don't have a Cummins 5.9 in them (and that engine seems to be all over the place, along with the small CAT engines), I am seeing a mix of older DT-466 engines and the newer DT-466E (as well as quite a few of the T444E engines).

I am finding buses that are just coming out of service, but are older buses in many cases (1992, 1996, 1997) that have these engines.

Assuming all are well maintained, would I be better off to go for one of the older "mechanical" versions of the DT-466?

Also I was reading threads here and elsewhere that seem to be about 50/50 for/against the T444E series. Most of the buses I have seen with them have upwards of 150K on them and some have said that is fairly the life of that engine.

Lastly on the transmission issue, everything I am running across seems to have the AT545 in it.

So it looks like I may have to go that route and put a transmission cooler and a separate gauge on it, then just take it easy with it.

I also do plan to put an exhaust brake or retarder on it.

As mentioned in the other thread, I am not going to be in a big hurry on this trip, so if it is a bit slower going up the mountains (and definitely so going downhill with a 16K 5th wheel!), that is fine by me. I don't need to set any land speed records.

I'm not desperate to buy one ASAP, but I'd like to be able to get my bus and get it shortened before the really cold/wet weather sets in. I can always put a heater inside and work on the inside over the winter months.

If I can't find a flat nosed (transit type front) bus with the larger engine, then I may just go with the standard nose (it does seem easier to work on the engine) despite that I would have liked to have had the extra space inside.

I'm not really wanting to take a chance on a remote auction somewhere, so I am trying to buy from some place where I can take a better look at it, drive it, etc.

Fortunately there are a fair amount of just out of services buses available right now around here (within a couple of hundred miles at best).

Keep in mind that I will probably never put more than 10K-20K max on this bus ever. In reality I should only pull the 5th wheel about 5K to 6K max.

As always - thanks in advance for your expertise, thoughts and opinions!



Charles
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Old 09-28-2016, 09:04 PM   #2
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For its worth...

My opinion is to shy away from any Diesel with Electronics. Mechanical is usually cheap and easy to fix and modify in comparison to their wattage riddled counterparts...... However, I would not, NOT buy an engine based solely on that. I have had several Diesel pickups and other items, and only one diesel bus, and I love the simplistic mechanical pumps and injectors.
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Old 09-28-2016, 09:17 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CE42 View Post
Hi Folks,

Assuming all are well maintained, would I be better off to go for one of the older "mechanical" versions of the DT-466?

If you ever want to make any more power then stock, then you want a mechanical version. Towing as much as you plan, and if you want to keep the bus long term, eventually you will probably want to make more power then stock. The DT466E you are pretty much stuck with whatever computer tune it has.

Also I was reading threads here and elsewhere that seem to be about 50/50 for/against the T444E series. Most of the buses I have seen with them have upwards of 150K on them and some have said that is fairly the life of that engine.
I would rather have a 5.9 cummins then the T444E. The 444E is pretty much a 7.3 powerstroke that came in the ford pickups.


I'm not desperate to buy one ASAP, but I'd like to be able to get my bus and get it shortened before the really cold/wet weather sets in. I can always put a heater inside and work on the inside over the winter months.

If your not that desperate, then I would hold off till you find the drivetrain you want. At least one without the 545

If I can't find a flat nosed (transit type front) bus with the larger engine, then I may just go with the standard nose (it does seem easier to work on the engine) despite that I would have liked to have had the extra space inside.

I bought my bus from this bus dealer. Hoglund Bus & Truck is a full service school bus, commercial bus and medium-duty truck dealership. |*Hoglund Bus and Truck
Not sure where you live but they were good to deal with.



Charles
Probably the biggest problem with school buses, is finding a perfect drivetrain for what you are looking for. I held out for a Mech DT466, 7spd manual trans. I still had to regear it, and the other problem with Internationals are the split radiator and innercooler. I have sourced parts to change that as well, but just takes time and money. Have you considered a used class 8 trucks? I love my bus, but in alot of ways, a semi would have been a lot easier option for towing.
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Old 09-28-2016, 09:23 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
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Year: 2002
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SDR76 View Post
My opinion is to shy away from any Diesel with Electronics. Mechanical is usually cheap and easy to fix and modify in comparison to their wattage riddled counterparts...... However, I would not, NOT buy an engine based solely on that. I have had several Diesel pickups and other items, and only one diesel bus, and I love the simplistic mechanical pumps and injectors.
Thanks for the input.

I'd talked to a couple of friends here at a local garage that services several diesel engines in garbage and straight trucks they own.

Their comments were like minded.

They said that the one remaining mechanical engine they had was cheaper and easier to service. That the electronic ones would give error codes, but that often the error codes did not always point to a bad part. More often than not it would be a faulty ground or something in the wiring harness (if not a sensor itself).

So a lot of the repair work was swap out the recommended part (based on the error), that doesn't fix it, so then they hunt for a bad sensor (or some other glitch in the matrix).

I know there are some good things with the electronics, but I do miss the simpler days when I could look under the hood of my truck and actually have some inkling that I might be able to fix the problem!



Charles
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Old 09-28-2016, 09:33 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hvbuzz View Post
Probably the biggest problem with school buses, is finding a perfect drivetrain for what you are looking for. I held out for a Mech DT466, 7spd manual trans. I still had to regear it, and the other problem with Internationals are the split radiator and innercooler. I have sourced parts to change that as well, but just takes time and money. Have you considered a used class 8 trucks? I love my bus, but in alot of ways, a semi would have been a lot easier option for towing.
Yes I have considered that option as well.

However the towing is only a small part of the end game here.

The trip to Alaska is a LONG one (I helped a niece move there a couple of years ago).

My wife does NOT like to travel (honestly, if I could give her a sedative and wake her up when we get there I would! ).

So part of the incentive for the conversion is to have a more "RV Like" way to travel up there so that we don't kill each other before we get there.

The other incentive comes after the trip up.

I plan to use the remaining interior portion of the bus as an office space for me to do my work. While we have a good sized 5th wheel, two people and four dogs in that small of a space can take it's toll on creativity after a while.

With regards to the towing part of the bus, it is really a means to an end.

If I can make the trip up there without any major problems, then the bus can rest easy knowing that it probably won't have to tow the 5th wheel again.

If it gets moved much at all, I would be using it as a mini-RV or sorts to go fishing or hunting (Alaska IS a big place after all ).

Charles
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Old 09-29-2016, 05:04 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hvbuzz View Post
Probably the biggest problem with school buses, is finding a perfect drivetrain for what you are looking for. I held out for a Mech DT466, 7spd manual trans. I still had to regear it, and the other problem with Internationals are the split radiator and innercooler. I have sourced parts to change that as well, but just takes time and money. Have you considered a used class 8 trucks? I love my bus, but in alot of ways, a semi would have been a lot easier option for towing.
Toterhomes are all over down here.
I always wonder why folks who plan to tow don't just go for the class 8 stuff.
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Old 09-29-2016, 08:12 AM   #7
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on the way down 19 last night I went by 2 such rigs.. these were medoium duty trucks... one was a 4700 series international that side 'DT-466' on the side.. it was an older truck but he was crankin along with a massive 5th wheel on it..

the other I couldnt tell as it was on the other side of the road looked like a small semi extended (but not sleeper) cab that had a massive 5th wheel on it..

the Bus makes sense if you are going to travel a lot and need the ability to have the family comfortable trip-in and trip-out but if towing the trailer is only a one time thing, I would think about a truck of some sort.. unless you seriously plan to tow the trailer alot more..

why build a complete bus only to have that space you cut out for the tow-gear to be wasted / unusable when you want to travel...

perhaps look at this as 2 different operations..

1. getting the 5th wheel to alaska
2. having a camper to travel around in with the family..

as 2 separate entities.. even if you have to rent a truck to get the trailer there.. then have your bus to be your motorhome thereafter.

-Christopher
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Old 09-29-2016, 10:18 AM   #8
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Couple of those trucks in the kansas city metro area for sale right now. Honestly if I didn't already have the bus converted I'd think about getting one of these and converting a shipping container to live in...

1987 International

95 custom international truck

http://kansascity.craigslist.org/cto/5749384492.html
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Old 09-29-2016, 10:52 AM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
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Year: 2002
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slaughridge85 View Post
Couple of those trucks in the kansas city metro area for sale right now. Honestly if I didn't already have the bus converted I'd think about getting one of these and converting a shipping container to live in...

1987 International

95 custom international truck

99 GMC TopKick 6500 w/Sleeper Cab

Thanks for the links.

If I was going for a vehicle where towing is the only concern, I could get what I need from that with a one ton dually and an extended or crew cab.

There is no way I would ever think of trying to stuff my wife and four dogs into one of those small conventional cabs for the extended trip it will take us to get to Alaska. You'd be reading about my wife murdering me in the papers!

As I mentioned before, the towing is actually the smallest part of my desire for using a bus. As long as it will get the job done and get us there safely, I am fine with it taking a longer time.

The main interest in using a bus for us is to make the trip up there easier on us AND to give me a small office that I can use for my work once we get there.

When we finally decide where in Alaska we want to put down our roots, we actually DO plan to build a shipping container home from two or three of them married together.

That way when we leave to go to town we can lock everything up from two legged and four legged critters alike and it will still be there when we get back.



Charles
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Old 09-29-2016, 12:09 PM   #10
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Toterhomes-









These will go a million miles and will be much better suited to interstate hauling than a pickup.
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