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Old 02-17-2018, 09:58 AM   #1
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International Thomas Vista 3600?

Calling all short skoolie experts! We've decided to convert a short bus for road trips up to nine months per year. The Thomas Vista 3600 seems to be just the right size for our needs. As luck would have it, a nearby school district has several being auctioned on publicsurplus.com.

They are all 1998 with T444E diesel engines and Allison transmissions. They all have mileage of 200K or less.

We would love some feedback on the suitability of this bus platform, the longevity of the drivetrain, and a reasonable price to pay. Any comments would be appreciated. Hope to see you all out on the road someday soon. Thanks!
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Old 02-17-2018, 10:01 AM   #2
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Check out Brokedown's build/travel thread.

Josh and Hillary have been all over the country in a Vista with the T444e and 545.

Good luck!!
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Old 02-17-2018, 11:43 AM   #3
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Year: 1998
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i was looking at those too. noticed they are all hydraulic brakes though instead of air, fyi. not sure if all are made that way
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Old 02-17-2018, 05:51 PM   #4
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Did they disappear? Can't find em looking on my phone, but I know I saw em last night
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Old 02-17-2018, 06:58 PM   #5
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My Vista is hydraulic but I've seen ads for full size ones with air. I assume air was available for short versions as well.

The T444E and AT545 are very common and well known. AT545 is the "baseline" transmission that people hope to do better than but often settle for anyway. It's a reliable platform, just don't overheat them.
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Old 02-17-2018, 06:59 PM   #6
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Chassis: International 3600
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My bus is a vista shorty. No wheel wells made things easy for interior design, and gives lots of space for tanks underneath. The ride is a little rough though. Driving is pretty easy, being right over the front axle and having a short nose makes it very maneuverable.

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Old 02-17-2018, 07:57 PM   #7
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I can still see them from here jjhwick119. All 4 expire in about 12 days.
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Old 02-17-2018, 08:03 PM   #8
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Thanks everyone for your comments. Does anyone have an idea what a 1998 Thomas Vista 3600 with 200K miles should be worth?
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Old 02-17-2018, 09:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pborowski View Post
Thanks everyone for your comments. Does anyone have an idea what a 1998 Thomas Vista 3600 with 200K miles should be worth?
Not enough information without making a lot of assumptions.

Depending on condition, I'd be in at about $2,500 if it all looked good. I'm assuming it's got a small enngine and a 545. Decent enough tires that you don't have to visit the tire shop to feel safe taking the bus out for a stretch. Hydraulic brakes are a no go for me, but we all have our preferences. So, it depends.
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Old 02-17-2018, 10:34 PM   #10
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A Vista is a an odd sort of a duck of a bus. It is technically a Type 'B' but it is usually classed in with Type 'C' buses and was originally sold as a sort of poor man's Type 'D'.

The big advantage for the operators when the bus was sold as new was you could get more seating positions in a given length of bus compared to a Type 'C' at a reduced cost to what the same number of seating positions would be in a Type 'D'.

Fast forward many years, most of the Vista buses I have seen were spe'c'ed as special needs buses so they were generally shorter buses, many of which had lifts.

While I am not a big fan of hydraulic brakes in a bus for a lot of reasons, the hydroboosted four wheel disc brakes used in the IHC bus chassis are some of the best brakes ever used in a medium duty truck or bus. By the late '80's all of the bugs had been worked out and operators were getting 2x to 4x as many miles out of a set of pads and rotors as they ever got out of the hydravac boosted four wheel drum brakes as found on Loadstars and early S-series chassis. In the near models the brakes came with ABS which is even better (I doubt the Vista buses at which you are looking would have ABS).

The T444E and AT545, which is the most probable power package, is a very serviceable and reliable power package good for close to 300K miles in school bus use--if the bus has seen reasonable preventative maintenance. The good thing about the IHC chassis is reasonable can be a pretty low bar since the chassis were so simple and very forgiving. Since it is a 1998 it just might have the MD1000 or MD2000 series transmission which will have at least one OD gear. If it has a touch screen gear selector is won't be an AT545. If it has a 'T'-handle with RND321 it is an AT545. If it has a 'T'-handle PRNOD32 or some other variation that has a Park position and/or more than D321 then it has the MD transmission. The MD transmissions are preferred but the AT545 in such a small bus would not be a that bad.

The Vista most probably does NOT have 12" windows. I don't ever recall seeing a Vista with the high headroom options. That is not to say they didn't come with that option.

Most of the lift equipped Vista buses I have seen had the flat floor option which makes building out your "house" much easier as you have a completely flat floor from the standee line to the back of the bus.

At the right price it could be a very good choice for you. Good price in this instance would be under $4K if the tires are newer with good tread. Good price with older tires with less than 40% tread would be $3K.

And of course if it has any rust that has flakes coming off the frame rails, or floor stringers, or any body rust that has a hole through any panel is most probably a no sale.

Good luck and keep us posted as to your progress.
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