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Old 04-04-2019, 07:54 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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I need help deciding! Mini vs Full size bus?

I have been on craigslist for the past 2 years looking at vans and buses, it seems like I can never really make my mind up or find a good one or the other thats not over 1,000 miles away so I always research one to see if its worth the trip and end up finding something that leans the other way or info about something wrong with that certain model or year.

I bought a 1986 Econoline 6.9l idi cargo van the beginning of last year and loved it, absolute beast! Was good for working out of, but sucked driving anywhere over an hr away. Loud slapping exhaust and screaming doing 65-70. Sold it about 6 months ago to get something more suitable for highway cross country trips.

I have mainly been looking at 7.3l Powerstroke Or 6.6 Duramax mini busses, but started looking into getting a shorter full size bus after learning their not too mich longer than a Mini or extended van and have tons of space. From what Ive researched I wiuld want a DT466 with a MD3060 or 2000 series. Which are kinda hard to find.

But aside from the inside space, Im trying figure out reliability and ease of owning wise how different the two are. Would really like to hear any opinions that you have on why you chose one or the other for mechanical reasons.

This is my opinion on the pros and cons of each.

Mini bus-

Pros: Very easy to find parts and mechanics if needed. Probably little better mpgs but not too much. Easier too drive and faster I would guess? Tons of info to be found on the engines.

Cons: Very hard to work on. Not as reliable and bulletproof? Very little ground clearence. Not equipped with amenities that a full size would have air brakes, airbag suspension, ect.?

Full size bus-

Pros: Very easy to work on? Tons of space around parts. Built better and to be maintained easier? Better mechanical amenities? Way more ground clearance.

Cons: kinda the unknown for me. Harder to find parts and mechanics. More expensive parts and maintenance? Not a ton of info out about certain mechanical areas.

Really just trying to get some outside opinions on what im thinking, I would love to own a DT466 bus, but not if its going to be a huge learning curve where if anything happens will be a research project and hassle to find out whats going on. And I understand this happens with any vehicle but it just seems to me that a full size bus is kinda on that next level of knowing whats what. Thank you if you read all of that and all help is appreciated!
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Old 04-05-2019, 05:39 AM   #2
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Personally , Iím not too keen on the minibus idea.
For whatever reason Iíd rather have a BUS bus

Now. I went 40í feet. At the time I figured bigger is better but there are some cons...

Youíll have to decide for your own needs ,of course.
Also depends on how many people will be traveling.

The trick is to balance square footage vs. the ability to get in to tighter spaces. Remember there are limits in some national parks.

My flat nose 40í is gonna be interesting to see how far I can get out into the deeper camp areas

I doní know what you plan to do with your rig but, If I were to do it again. Iíd look at a mid size FRONT engine bus. Probably BlueBird.

And do yourself a favor. Texas, Arizona or WEST coast Washington should be on your shortlist of states to buy from. My WA bus is 20 years old and rust free. Look at bus carefully (or pay someone local) to make sure you arenít getting yourself into a rusty can of worms. Time and money up front and getting a great bus will save you tenfold in the long run.

IMO there are smoking deals at the government auction sites but the good ones go pretty high anyway. I got outbid for months before I went with a Bus fleet reseller. I can personally recommend NWbus.com and hear nothing but great things about AAA bus in Phoenix. My two cents...

Good luck and get to building!
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Old 04-05-2019, 07:03 AM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Thanks! Aside from the size and rust is their any pros or cons you get mechanically owning a Full size bus?

Thats my major dilemma, the full size buses that have been looking at are the mid size short bus. Longest one being 30 feet, most are 26-29 feet. Thats only 6-10 ft longer than a Full size pickup.

It’s just the mechanics of the full size bus that is out of my realm. Im fairly mechanic savvy, and im not too scared of the engine mostly the transmission and anyother heavy machinery part that could go bad. I know the transmissions are EXPENSIVE and probably hard to find parts and get fixed. I would guess that the rest of the parts if something goes wrong would be a pain to find and/or really expensive.

I plan on using it to live in the mountains in the winter to ski and adventuring the NPW. I never knew there are restrictions of how big a vehicle can be to go into National parks. And yes I’ve had those in my search list, actually found a really nice mini 7.3l bus thats in WA. Problem is im in FL so I REALLY have to commit.
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Old 04-05-2019, 07:14 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Surf44 View Post
Thanks! Aside from the size and rust is their any pros or cons you get mechanically owning a Full size bus?

Thats my major dilemma, the full size buses that have been looking at are the mid size short bus. Longest one being 30 feet, most are 26-29 feet. Thats only 6-10 ft longer than a Full size pickup.

Itís just the mechanics of the full size bus that is out of my realm. Im fairly mechanic savvy, and im not too scared of the engine mostly the transmission and anyother heavy machinery part that could go bad. I know the transmissions are EXPENSIVE and probably hard to find parts and get fixed. I would guess that the rest of the parts if something goes wrong would be a pain to find and/or really expensive.

I plan on using it to live in the mountains in the winter to ski and adventuring the NPW. I never knew there are restrictions of how big a vehicle can be to go into National parks. And yes Iíve had those in my search list, actually found a really nice mini 7.3l bus thats in WA. Problem is im in FL so I REALLY have to commit.
What part of FL?
Maybe come drive my bus around the block and see if its something you'd want to drive a thousand miles in.
I like the shortest full size I can find. This is what I've ended up with after 4 previous buses-
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Old 04-05-2019, 07:22 AM   #5
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The '03 we have now is our first venture into big trucks as well. I did have almost 4 years experience on a local town highway crew when I was 'between careers' so did get my hands dirty on basic maintenance with them. I've also been playing with cars since the late 70's (street and race/rally cars) but nothing this big.

Having something sitting in the yard that I don't have the tools to work on is a little weird, but we did our research and think we found a good example that will last a long time. We figure any parts we'll need on a road trip can be found at any decent truck stop. Yes they will be expensive, but whatever it is, it will probably be the last time we have to replace that item.

You don't need a CDL to drive one, but it would be a good idea to look at some of the pre-trip videos or maybe work with a local truck shop to get familiar with the workings of the bus.
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Old 04-05-2019, 07:42 AM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Over in Cocoa Beach. I have actually just been looking at one just like your bus thats up in NC. It has the T444e and I think the MT643 trans. The drain bolt on side means that if Im correct.
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Old 04-05-2019, 08:03 AM   #7
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Over in Cocoa Beach. I have actually just been looking at one just like your bus thats up in NC. It has the T444e and I think the MT643 trans. The drain bolt on side means that if Im correct.
make sure its capable of doing more than 45-50 mph. That's the main thing to watch for with buses from NC.
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Old 04-05-2019, 08:32 AM   #8
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thats just a deep pan.. they were on most of the newer AT545s.. that second hole was designed wither for a temp sensor or you could locate the dip stick on that side..



the pan pattern is shared between the 545 and 643 if I remember right..



that one looks like a 545 as it appears theres an SAE2 to SAE3 adapter ring on the bell.. hard to tell on the pic but looks like the step-down ring on the flywheel housing..



-Christopher
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Old 04-05-2019, 09:34 AM   #9
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I was just going off of the pics in the sticky how to tell the difference between at545 and mt643
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Old 04-05-2019, 09:36 AM   #10
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My 8 window midsize bus is 29ft long. my crew cab truck is 20ft. being around this length was important to me so we could navigate remote forest service roads.

by mini bus do you mean like the cutaway fiberglass buses?
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