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Old 04-16-2016, 03:45 PM   #1
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Auto or Manual Trans

New kid on the block though I've been lurking here for quite some time. Looking for my blank canvas from which to build up and one question has come up that I couldn't really find much of an answer on: whether to find a manual transmission or go with an auto. I've come across only a few buses that had MTs and was wondering what the Pros and Cons were versus ATs. If autos were the industry standard for buses why are there even MTs?
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Old 04-16-2016, 04:36 PM   #2
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Some of the older buses were made before Automatic trannies became commonplace. As ride comfort is of chief concern to the passengers, automatics tended to provide that.

That said, manual trannies are generally safer and easier to pull or move if they break down, and you also can frequently use a 'push-start' to start them up if you have a problem with batteries or the starter motor. Maintenance is also cheaper/easier than with automatics. They frequently get slightly better fuel economy than automatics. But get stuck in traffic somewhere, and you'll more than likely regret it.

Auto's are easier to drive, but are more expensive, more difficult to work on, and can be damaged rather easily if you have to get towed with the drive wheels on the ground.
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Old 04-16-2016, 04:49 PM   #3
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Ill second Albatross.

I prefer to drive manual transmission for several reasons though.
One is that I get to choose when to shift and how to shift.
That leads to my second point, I drive by sound. I know what gear I am in, and can therefor tell how fast i am going by the sound of the engine.

My third reason is that I park 2 buses and a 3 ton Uhaul on reasonably swampy land, at the back of a forest across 1/3 mile of pasture that is at places very soft and wet and have to drive 10 miles before a paved road.....well you get the point.....
I can control wheel spin.
More automatics get stuck on the field than manuals, I have gotten the bus stuck several times and can I tell you that is not fun.
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Old 04-16-2016, 05:03 PM   #4
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So it pretty much sounds like all the same pros and cons of the MT/AT argument in cars.
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Old 04-16-2016, 05:51 PM   #5
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Driver preference basically. Although I'll go along with the added control in slippery situations with a stick. Still, here I am driving an Allison 4 spd that gets stuck in my yard while I'm turning around if the ground is wet.
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Old 04-16-2016, 07:50 PM   #6
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another thing to think of issome of the Bus Manuals are not syncro'd. which means either RPM matching or double clutching every shift...

the more modern Automatics.. (allison 2000s) do a really nice job and are rated pretty reliably... the AT545 is mainly just older technology... I played with it on my bus when I test drove it and dropping it down a gear or 2 and I seemed to have plenty of engine braking... (granted on a DT360 with less than 40k miles on it so compression is high).. the AT545 does shift a bit sluggish at times but there are many thousands of them still in server all over the place..

I ALWAYS suggest a good cooler and a trans-temp gauge on any automatic.. the BIGGEST single destroyer of automatics is Heat... once you get that fluid too hot it is useless.. and needs changed.. most people that get a transmission hot never bother to change the fluid till the regular maintenance interval..

a manual does give you positive connection to your gear box so there is no power-lost in a torque converter.. However it may require lots of up and down shifting in the hills to keep your engine running in its power-band.. where a Torque converter properly mated to the engine will always try to keep the engine in its power-band through the "stall speed" rating of the converter...

-Christopher
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Old 04-17-2016, 10:02 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
another thing to think of issome of the Bus Manuals are not syncro'd. which means either RPM matching or double clutching every shift...

-Christopher
nope, most are. The most common manual is the 5 speed spice (variants) of course, and as long as you aren't buying a bus from the 1970's it will be syncroed.

Basically every Bus/ MDT manual transmission after the early 80's are synchronized.
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Old 04-17-2016, 10:58 AM   #8
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Yeah, but they usually need the syncro replaced in third gear. Lots of buses need a bunge to hold the stick in place because the detent balls in the transmission cap are worn out.
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Old 04-17-2016, 01:01 PM   #9
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I'm not sure Id go as far as usually but definitely sometimes, just like any machinery things wear.
I would rather have a crappy 3rd in a manual than a worn out automatic. Granted I have never driven any real high mileage MDT (<250000 kms) but this is the first I have even heard of needing a bungee to hold it in gear.

Edit: Sorry if I seem like I want to argue. I don't.
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Old 04-17-2016, 01:55 PM   #10
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I had a bus that wouldn't stay in third by itself. It was fine while accelerating but as soon as you slacked off the gas it would drop right into neutral.

Honestly I'd rather have a stick, but in this forward control bus that would be difficult.
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