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Old 04-01-2005, 10:41 AM   #1
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What's the best skoolie out there?

Just wanted to see what people thought was the 'best' skoolie made.

By best I guess I mean a combination of best engine, tranny, body, longevity, and easy to maintain.

I've heard a lot of people make envious comments about the International DT466 Manual Transmission.

Is this the 'best bus' out there? Is there a better bus?

This post confirms the strength of the DT466:

http://www.skoolie.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=290
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Old 04-01-2005, 11:24 AM   #2
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best schoolie

Whatever bus works well for you and is paid for. Hahaha. -Richard
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Old 04-01-2005, 01:45 PM   #3
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Depends on who ya ask, I think MINE is, but you'll probably get that from everyone else, too!
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Old 04-01-2005, 03:27 PM   #4
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okay.. maybe i should rephrase..

I guess I should have phrased the question a different way...

Besides our own personal biases towards our own pride and joy...

What bus seems to have proven itself over the years in terms of reliability and longevity. If you were to have a bus of your choice given to you at no charge, which would you choose and why?

Or how about this...

Which bus, given people's experiences, observations and second-hand knowledge, would last the longest on the road given the same maintenance and care?

I mean, we're not comparing apples to oranges here, right? ..or are we?

Which diesel engines perform and last? Which bodies hold up longest? Which are know to be low maintenance?

If I were to answer about cars (which I've had a little more experience w/ than buses), I'd say, Toyota, Datsun/Nissan, Honda have been known to be the cheapest to maintain and get high miles out of. Mercedes generally are of higher quality, but tend to break more easily and are more expensive to fix.

Hope this makes the question easier... but yeah, those who say "My bus is the best", I ain't gonna try to argue, cause I know mine is too.
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Old 04-01-2005, 03:44 PM   #5
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If it were me I would want a pusher. I have a bad stomach and I enjoy the better ride. I would want a Cummins 8.3 or a DT-466 coupled to a B300R or the MT-643. International makes the AmTran Genesis with the DT-466. I also like the Thomas bodies as well as BlueBird. I care more about the power train than the body. Of course this is like asking somebody if they like Ford or Chevy better.
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Old 04-01-2005, 05:15 PM   #6
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While I like the bus I have, my experience is more with International/AmTran buses. I drove for a company that had 96-98 AmTran RE's, and I really enjoyed driving them. They were governed to 55, but the ride and visibility was outstanding. Not sure what engine/tranny they had, but they seemed to have plenty of power, even fully loaded with 60+ kids!

I also like the look of the AmTran RE's, much better than any of the other "transit" style buses I've seen out there, IMHO. Macgyver's New Flyer artic is pretty cool and looks just as nice, but it's not really a skoolie!

I guess if it were a matter of getting any school bus at no cost, I would probably go with a '96-'98 AmTran RE. The look good, have decent power, excellent visibility, and are quiet (at least from the driver's seat).

As usual, this is based upon my opinon, take as you like, your mileage may vary, author not responsible for any loss, damage, or injury caused by use of this information, do not try this at home, yada yada, standard disclaimer applies.
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Old 04-01-2005, 07:48 PM   #7
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The AmTrans I've seen come up for sale in the North East have looked REALLY rusty.

I think the best bus is the one I have! I spent 3 months coming up with my prioritized list of buses. My second choice was a Bluebird All American and third choice was a TC2000. I was all ready to settle for one of these since they are far more common on the east coast then my number one choice which was:

Thomas Saf-t-Liner MVP
Rear Engine
CAT 3208 engine
MT-643 tranny
Raised ceiling (10' 10" overall height - means bigger windows too - inside is about 6' 4")

When one came up on eBay with everything I wanted, except it had an AT-545 tranny, I put my bid down (after checking out the seller) and held my breath!

When the bus arrived it seemed HUGE sitting in my driveway! Fortunately it has shunk and doesn't seem nearly so big anymore. It also turns out that the tranny had been upgraded to an MT-643 at sometime in it's life and it was equipped with automatic tire chains making it the perfect bus!
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Old 04-02-2005, 12:07 AM   #8
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Hm....

International
DT466
MT643
'40 feet
Conventional (easy access to engine)
2 storage boxes (don't have to make them for the batteries)
Adult size (translation-taller ceiling)

I think I'd still take mine
International Ward
DTA360
AT-545 (which isn't all that bad as everyone says IF you aren't looking for speed or whatever it is that seems to be biggest deal; as long as the darn tranny works who cares ya know-I don't)*
35 Feet
5'11 ceiling

Higher ceilings would be nice but since I do not plan on living inside of it 24/7 unless it rains, it'll do.


*As the above might offend some folks, let me disclaimer right now: My opinion and mine alone. My girl got myself and Mom home safely after sitting around for 8 months or so with occasional starting so I'm not complaining about her tranny
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Old 04-02-2005, 12:39 AM   #9
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I personally haven't seen any AmTran's for sale, but I'm just going by what I used to drive when I was a bus driver. They drove well and I liked them. I'm quite happy with my Ford/Thomas conventional, but I like the visibility from a forward control bus.

Just my $.02
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Old 04-02-2005, 12:50 AM   #10
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International S1700/3800
Blue Bird or Thomas body
DT466
Spicer 5-speed
2-speed axle
Air-assist hydraulic dics brakes
22.5" Budd wheels

Runner-up:
Ford B-700
Cummins 5.9, 6.6/7.8 New Holland, or 3208 Cat
Everything else as above.

For a flat-nose, give me a Blue Bird with a Cummins B-series, lockup Allison (no manual trannies ), air brakes, & mechanical gauges to replace the troublesome electronic cluster.
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