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Old 12-09-2019, 02:10 PM   #1
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Do most Thomas short buses come with 545s

Weve settled on that we like the Thomas shorties, but, seem to be finding that most of the ones weve seen have the 545 Allison transmission, which weve been told isnt the best transmission to go with. Just looking at a 7.3l powerstrike t444E with the 545 and like the bus, the interior size and length, 22 feet, but are definitely not happy about the 545. Looking for words of wisdom from seasoned folk!
Thanks,
Karen
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Old 12-09-2019, 02:16 PM   #2
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AT545 is by far the most common transmission in the age range we recommend for buses. Many of us have them. I have traveled tens of thousands of miles with them, they can be sufficient for certain needs. In a short bus that isn't towing it might be just fine, while still understanding that literally any other option would be better.
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Old 12-09-2019, 02:17 PM   #3
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Weve settled on that we like the Thomas shorties, but, seem to be finding that most of the ones weve seen have the 545 Allison transmission, which weve been told isnt the best transmission to go with. Just looking at a 7.3l powerstrike t444E with the 545 and like the bus, the interior size and length, 22 feet, but are definitely not happy about the 545. Looking for words of wisdom from seasoned folk!
Thanks,
Karen
The AT545 was out of production by the end of the 2003 model year. You may find it on buses before then if whoever ordered the bus new paid the extra for an Allison 2000 or MD3060.

You also have the MT643 which was found on 90s - early 2000s but my understanding is that it cost substantially more to upgrade to that over the AT545 so you won't see it on shorties very much.
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Old 12-09-2019, 02:19 PM   #4
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Someone correct me if I am remembering incorrectly

I believe that the AT-545 was discontinued in 2002 or 2003. The "basic" transmission after that was the Allison 2000.

I am pretty sure that 2003 and later will likely be a 2000 series.

Hopefully Christopher or Cowlitz will chime in. They are much more knowledgeable when it comes to bus transmissions.

Good luck.
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Old 12-09-2019, 02:25 PM   #5
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The Allison 2000 was offered as an upgrade over the AT545 starting in the early 2000s and then was made the default transmission after the inventory of AT545s ran out sometime in late 2003 is what I was told by our mechanics.

This is corroborated by several threads I saw on School Bus Fleet forum (searching the old topics can really be a gold mine at times!)

My company sold off a few 2000-2001 TC2000s that had Allison 2000 transmissions and the old school Dayton axles. A really odd combo for sure.
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Old 12-09-2019, 08:38 PM   #6
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Is 545 as problematic as Ive read here in forums?

I was reading on the school bus drivers forum and ran across the explanation that the 5.9L (I think) with the 545 wasnt too bad, but, when it was paired with the 7.3L it wasnt up to withstanding torque and invariably fell apart. Im wondering if the problem with the 545 happens when its put into a 40 foot that then gets transformed into a skoolie that is also towing? We dont plan on towing, and were plonking for a shorty in the 20-24 foot range. Weve been given the advice to stick to pre 2004 so we dont have to deal with problematic pollution controls. We lean toward pollution control, we do like breathing clean air, and wonder if the hassle of upkeep on a newer bus with pollution control is about the same as dealing with having to eventually rebuild the 545 or replace it with a 2000 or something? Not being a mechanic, I have no deep knowledge on this!
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Old 12-09-2019, 10:30 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Kaleth2 View Post
Weve settled on that we like the Thomas shorties, but, seem to be finding that most of the ones weve seen have the 545 Allison transmission, which weve been told isnt the best transmission to go with. Just looking at a 7.3l powerstrike t444E with the 545 and like the bus, the interior size and length, 22 feet, but are definitely not happy about the 545. Looking for words of wisdom from seasoned folk!
Thanks,
Karen
You'll be hard pressed to find a shorty with anything but a 545.

Mine has one. Wasn't a deal breaker. Its a lot less crappy in a lighter bus. Sucks royally in a large bus.
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Old 12-09-2019, 10:57 PM   #8
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We have a shortie with an AT545. It's doable, but much more so on flat ground. We live in the mountains and play in the mountains. The 545 definitely slows you down. They also generate a lot of heat which can affect your engine cooling capacity. We did o.k. travelling in cool weather, but a couple of grades in the summer saw us limping up and stopping to cool. Hoping to upgrade someday.
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