Originally Posted by ntrain6942
Hey folks, me and my wife are new to this school bus to RV conversion scene, but looking to buy a large flat nosed RE(rear engine)school bus with a DT466(possibly a T444 if low enough miles and good maintenance records)and Auto transmission in good running condition, looking to spend in the $1500-$4000 range cash. From what we have seen that would mean we are looking at buses built around 2000, plus or mins a fwew years. Willing to travel. Located in New England area.
I'd be willing to bet you're being too picky, no offense. I thought about it all just like you when I started, based on a lot of opinions I read on various forums.
First, you won't find a decent 466 meeting your specs at $1500 unless you get very lucky, though $4k is very reasonable. Why not settle for a less expensive T444E (which I believe are generally in much better condition as they're not as sought after) and sink the savings into something else? The 444 is a very reliable bus as long as you're not looking to put a million miles on the engine, and there are some smaller variants of the DT wet sleeve (360?) that are great. You can find a really nice deal on either of these between 2-3k. The Cummins is also a fantastic engine, although I can't personally attest to it.
Additionally, why automatic? The bus listed below is a beautiful bus but the 545 tranny will probably need work before 200k. The manual transmissions will last forever minus a new clutch here and there. They're not that difficult to learn on. Mine still has cruise control. Finding just the right match of a DT466 and a powerful Allison tranny will get time consuming and expensive as you are outbid at every auction.
There's a lot of conjecture on which engine is better than which but if you keep your eyes peeled and remain unbiased you'll get yourself a much better deal. Check publicsurplus and govdeals religiously. I swear, you will not be disappointed. It's easy to get really focused on what you think you need, based on what the majority on a forum tends to agree a better engine is.
The T444E has been used as a light-medium duty truck engine for a long time and there are a lot of happy customers out there. It should last well past 250k without issues if well maintained. Parts are plentiful and most of them are the same as the pickup power stroke version, which is mostly the same exact engine with a different computer.
The DT466 will probably last well past 500k if well maintained. Okay. Definitely true, but are you really going to be doing that much driving? Most of us are not OTR truckers and are not putting 500k-1 million miles on our engines. Most of our buses will rot well before we get there. It took me a long time to understand this concept. If I don't have property in a few years I'm doing something wrong. My bus hasn't hit 67k yet. I'll never see 500k.