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Old 04-24-2019, 04:26 PM   #1
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Experience And Thoughts On New Flyers (Transit)?

Hi all!


Writing from Austin, TX. I'm currently eyeing an auction site for several 2003 New Flyers, and wanted to get your experiences and opinions with these models. Also listing the specs in case anything jumps out as a red flag. The auction ends 5/3, I'll get a chance to inspect in person this Friday, and bids are currently in the $500-700 range. Not too bad!



Here are the specs of one of the units I'm considering:


- D35LF model, yr 2003

- Detroit Diesel 50 series, inline 4 cylinder

- 39 passenger
- EGR 8.5L Voith 864.3E automatic transmission
- ~653,000 miles (though I'm told the odom. has been replaced but I don't know how long ago, possibly when the transmission was rebuilt)
- transmission rebuilt in June 2018, retired from local city service late March 2019
- engine starts/runs (I'm inspecting on Friday) and no needed repairs are known
- maintained every 3,000 miles
- no title restriction
- minor dents, scratches, dings present. no major damage
- has AC but condition unreported. would probably replace anyway


Beyond the specs above, has anyone converted one of these and have cautionary tales or advice to tell?


Many thanks!
-Raanan
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Old 04-24-2019, 04:51 PM   #2
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I would be a little concerned about the Voith transmission.

Their service centers are few and far between.

A member here that had his Voith fail in Seattle and he had serious issues finding someone to work on it. IIRC: He wound up scrapping the bus.
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Old 04-24-2019, 04:59 PM   #3
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Excellent, thanks. I knew Voiths were less common (and therefore less serviceable) than Allisons, good to have that direct feedback. Was my concern as well. I'm hoping the same transit service will be putting Gilligs or Optimas up for auction soon, those typically have Allison transmissions down here. Will be treating this inspection opportunity as a trial run before making any kind of bid.


Does the mileage concern you? I've heard these buses can last up to 1,000,000 miles, not sure how common that is though or what the end-of-life circumstances and repairs end up looking like.
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Old 04-24-2019, 05:06 PM   #4
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I have seen them for sale with 800k miles but I have no idea what kind of shape they were in at that mileage.
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Old 04-24-2019, 05:28 PM   #5
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Just don't get to excited about those low bid numbers, they will rocket in the last hour.
Normally I would be concerned about a dash that said 100K on a 20 year old bus, chances are the dash had been replaced. Dash replaced and showing 650K , OMG. Has the motor been rebuilt yet? That million mile motor probably has it's half life at 500K.
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Old 04-25-2019, 07:24 PM   #6
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Haha totally. I'm not clear if the miles on the odometer all happened after it was reset, or if it's been messed with. Will be asking questions tomorrow. The transmission was rebuilt in 2018 but I don't believe the engine has been replaced/redone.
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Old 04-27-2019, 05:37 PM   #7
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OK, I had a chance to go inspect two of my top picks at the auction site and chat with the auctioneer (who works for the local transit company). He was very friendly and honest, and pretty much talked me out of a bid once he heard what I had in mind for it. Thought I'd share his input on the New Flyers. All this should come with the caveat that he has not personally done a conversion himself. He's simply a mechanic who works for the transit company.



- He wasn't too concerned about the Voith transmission, said that should be in good shape and not needing much repair

- His main concern was all the electronics involved in the New Flyers, most mechanics will be ill equipped to handle (not just the lights, but sensors, etc.)
- Apparently there's a crew from California planning to buy all these New Flyers they have up for auction and convert them to full electric.
- Another concern was replacement parts are apparently fairly exclusively sold through New Flyer, therefore difficult to get at any mechanic shop on the road.


Regardless, I won't be bidding on these New Flyers. But my question is whether folks with experience doing transit bus conversions have had similar issues in general, or if this seems specific to New Flyer series? Also not putting too much stock in his words since he's not done the bus conversion himself, although I trust his word is genuine and comes from mechanical experience.



Thanks!
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Old 04-27-2019, 10:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PNW_Steve View Post
I would be a little concerned about the Voith transmission.

Their service centers are few and far between.

A member here that had his Voith fail in Seattle and he had serious issues finding someone to work on it. IIRC: He wound up scrapping the bus.
Even though you aren't bidding, I would heed Steve's advice about Voiths. I am the unfortunate soul he speaks of. I don't think Voiths are more prone to issues, just hard to find someone knowledgeable if issues arise. I was advised(not from here) to tow to two different shops who both said they could work on it no problem. Even with detailed directions from a member here with the same exact bus, they could not figure out how to communicate with the tranny. I had to sell the bus for a fraction of what I paid out for the purchase, tows, and shop fees due to an empty bank account. The buyer expressed interest in throwing another tranny in, but may have just used the engine for another bus he was checking out.
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Old 04-28-2019, 12:38 AM   #9
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Don't buy a Series 50 unless it's had its countershaft and bull gear replaced recently. Otherwise it's just a disaster waiting to happen. And reckon on replacing the motor mounts as well - 50s need soft mounts, and if/when they collapse you'll get a lot (and I mean A LOT) of vibration at idle.

John
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