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Old 01-07-2007, 02:39 PM   #1
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which engine?

A local school district is auctioning off 7, 96&97 International 3800 Thomas 48 pax handicap busses, T444E, 545a/t's, hyd. brakes, 126 to 155k miles is there any significant difference in the 96&97 engine trans packages.There are also 8, 97&98 Thomas pushers with 5.9Cummins, Allison 643 & 545a/t's 3116 Cats, Allison 643a/t's, air brakes either 78 or 84pax, which engine is most desirable and why? The 643 trans is a no brainer.

My big dilemma is do I go with a dognose for a toterhome and a large gooseneck trailer for living quarters and garage, or Pusher conversion and a tag trailer for 4x4 toy? I continue to lean towards a toterhome but I don't feel that a T44E & 545 trans is the right powertrain, I tend to think that the lower speed higher torque 6 cyl engines and manual transmission packages are more efficient and durable, any and all opinions are welcome
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Old 01-07-2007, 03:12 PM   #2
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I think the MT643 is the better choice in transmission for your purposes. Just get a BIG cooler on it.

Of the engines, I don't see a bad one in the list. I know a lot of bus drivers that really like the 3116. It's a big, torquey 6 cylinder and you can actually find parts for it (it's no Ford brazilian). I also know there are plenty of people on this board and others that like the 5.9 as well. I'm not sure how outgunned it would be by that load, but the same goes for that as the 3116....lots of parts. The T444E seems to be well liked by bus drivers I've talked to and with the popularity of the 7.3 Powerstroke, there is no shortage of parts and aftermarket help for that one either. No matter which engine you get, it will be castrated by an AT545. It's just a fact of life that the vast majority of us have learned to deal with.

As for the length...with an 84 passenger class D and a trailer wit ha rig on it, you might run into some issues with length. I'm sure you can adapt to gas station driving and the like, but campsites are only so long. On top of that, the DOT has issues with certain lengths, especially in metropolitan areas. Trailers over 10,000 lbs are also a no-no, but you'd have to have a pretty serious offroad rig to do that.

For what it's worth, I can comfortably sleep 6 people in a 65 passenger bus. At the same time, I wouldn't mind the extra 10 feet an 84 passenger Class D bus might give me.
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Old 01-08-2007, 12:39 AM   #3
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Acutally you ought to find a flat nose front engine bus with a DT466 and an MT643. I'd find a short one (I've seen a few) and turn it into a toterhome.

Like:



That ought to get her done!
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Old 01-08-2007, 05:37 PM   #4
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I really like the picture and opinion, thanks. I for some reason have a problem with working on a diesel in my livingroom, which brings up the question, how much room is their to perform service from underneath the bus?
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Old 01-08-2007, 07:20 PM   #5
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Hey Paul,

I was really just razzing you! The only reason I thought of it was because I remembered that photo.

I don't know about the working condition for a front engine flat nose bus but it's one of the reasons I when with a pusher but obviously that wouldn't work as a toterhome.

I think Elliot is out on the road engaged in Gainful Employment but that Blue Bird he just raised the roof on is a front engine flat nose. He can give you the scoop for sure. He went that way to get the rear garage so I guess it's all about compromise (as usual).

I thought about doing the toterhome thing with my dog-nose Blue Bird with the DT466 but I came to the conclusion it was just going to be too long for the space inside. It's a full size 66 pax bus so maybe if I had started with a shorter wheel base bus it would have looked better on paper.

Here's what I had when I quit working on it:


(a larger version is in my gallery)

It's 59-1/2 feet long as drawn.
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Old 01-08-2007, 11:10 PM   #6
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Les; I had seen that picture somewhere before and forgotten about it until you reserected it.
You sure don't make it easy to make a decision, especially when Greg, floridachurchbus, has bluebird flatnose w dt466 and 5.9cummins less than 100 miles away in Ohio. I think that the right thing to do is to keep looking for something that has a 5+speed manual trans, air brakes, 6 cylinders, no spark plugs and hiway gears.
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Old 01-09-2007, 12:30 AM   #7
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I know there's at least one of everything out there...the possibilites are endless!

I drove a semi for long enough and got caught in Chicago, Los Angeles and elsewhere often enough to know I didn't want a manual transmission no matter what (and I wanted my wife to drive on occassion too; she knows how to drive a manual (she was my co-driver in the semi)...she just won't anymore!). But I understand the desire and the practicality; something with a good pulling engine and a 9 or 10-speed behind it would certainly be a good combo.
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Old 01-09-2007, 01:43 AM   #8
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Les: What are your thoughts about an over/under brownie behind an Allison 643, it probably couldn't be shifted on the go but it might be nice if you had tall diff gears.
Automatic VS manual trans? I dont forsee pulling a large trailer in major metropolitian traffic except to travel thru, without a trailer its just another version of a "Cowboy Cadillac". Maintaince wise manual transmissions are less expensive and easier to work on An automatic becomes vulnerable to failure when you start bumping up the engine, 90/91 Cummins 5.9B's were 300 hp in marine trim
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Old 01-09-2007, 10:04 AM   #9
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A few years ago I had a conversation with a fellow that owns a coach company in the southern part of the state regarding a 2-speed rear end behind the MT643. He said it works great. I've thought of doing that on my Blue Bird ever since but never had the time to try it or research it more.

All the situations that made me want an automatic occured on the freeways while traveling through. You just can't always miss the traffic, especially if it's caused by construction or an accident. When I picked up my Blue Bird just east of Denver I took I-70 over to I-25 to head north out of town toward Wyoming. I didn't realize there was massive construction north of Denver and I was in stop-and-go traffic for two hours...right about then I fell in love with the MT643. I've spent many hours creeping though the Chicago area on 80/90 at almost any time of day (or night).

Almost everything I've driven my whole life has been a manual and I certainly like being able to pick your gear and maximize the engine's work load. I think you can also anticipate uphills and downhills much better and get the engine in the right gear ahead of time. But I'm getting older and this bus is for fun and the older I get the more I appreciate not working a heavy clutch. In short...I'm getting lazy.

I don't know about the maintenance thing...the Allisons seem to have a reputation for being all but bullet proof. I just saw a completely rebuilt (by Allison) MT643 for sale for $1,000 CDN (he had it as a spare then sold the bus it was backup for). It doesn't seem either the manual or the Allison is a hard keeper; I'm actually more concerned about the engine part of the drive train. My Cat 3208 is turbo'd and rated at 250hp so I'm at the max for my MT643; If you're going to 300-hp it's definately going to take a manual or an Allison H700-series.
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Old 01-09-2007, 01:59 PM   #10
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I'm not sure about a about being able to shift a brownie behind an Allison, but my Operator's Manual not only condones the use of a two speed rear end behind the tranny, but gives instructions for shifting it (which are pretty much just lift or lower the button).
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