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Old 02-19-2015, 09:56 AM   #1
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Looking for my first bus

Hey! I'm looking for a bus for my first ever conversion! As far as what to look for when picking the right bus, this is what I have gathered:

1) I'm looking for a longer bus 35-40ft.

2) Engine Location - I would feel more comfortable with a front engine. I understand the pullers are quieter when driving; however, seems like pushers are harder to work on when something goes wrong. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

3) Engine - I'm leaning towards diesel fuel. My understanding is that the Cummins 6BT 5.9 or 8.3 are the best (5.9 having a little bit better mpg's, but I'll be in the mountains, so 7.3 is likely more appropriate). I've heard CAT 3208 and Navistar T444E are good as well. Any significant differences between the lot other than the obvious power and torque?

4) Transmission - I'm not opposed to a manual. If I were to get a manual I've been told 2 speed rear end is best. If I went automatic I would prefer an MT644 or MT643 for the lack of slipping/electronics. What are the differences between these? Any thoughts on manual vs. automatic?

5) Milage - I'v been told not to worry too much about the milage as these things will run for a while.

6) Looking for hydraulic brakes over air brakes. My understanding is hydraulic is less maintenance and I'm less likely to run into licensing issues with hydraulic.

7) Tires - look for tires with some life left in them. No split wheels.

Other than that, my ultimate selection will come down to overall condition (rust, leaks, etc.) and the offered prices. Are there any good indicators of poor engine, transmission, etc. health to look for when doing my search. I'm expecting to see small oil leaks on everything I look at, but large oil leaks would be a deal breaker. Location of the leak would be taken into account as well. Is there anything else to look for during a primary inspection?

Thanks for the help,
- Chip
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Old 02-19-2015, 10:25 AM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Denver
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Year: 1982
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: International S1800
Engine: DT466 Trans: MT643
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Definitely diesel. Avoid a computer-controlled engine if you can. The T444e is a computer engine that I dont really love. Ive had buses with those and we sold them all. Id prefer a cummins or a dt466, personally. I like non-computer inline 6 diesels. A rear engine bus is not much harder than a dognose bus-both offer good access and a rear engined bus is quieter to drive. But, you wont have a back door. Avoid as much rust as you can, rust never sleeps! The MT series trannies are preferred over the AT series. Sounds like you know what youre looking for.
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Old 02-19-2015, 10:56 AM   #3
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Thanks for the input, Charles! Didn't know the T444e was computer controlled; I'm definitely hoping to avoid computer controlled.

Still unsure of where I want a second door.

Thanks again.
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Old 02-19-2015, 10:57 AM   #4
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Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 12,165
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Ward/AmTran
Chassis: International
Engine: dt466
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the "split wheels" you are thinking of haven't been spec'd on anything for many decades.
Air brakes are the way to go. Their default is "stopped" vs the opposite for hydraulics. My parents newer RV recently blew out a brake like. Wasn't expensive to fix, but we were glad there aren't mountains or traffic here.
444 isn't as good as the other engines you've listed for pulling heavy loads through the mountains or hills. Its a v8, I prefer straight sixes. Mechanical too.
For actual driving, the 8.3 is the superior engine of the ones you listed. I'd look for one of those or a 466.
Just my 2cents on all that. Others will have their own suggestions and opinions.
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Old 02-19-2015, 10:57 AM   #5
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Location: Eustis FLORIDA
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I definitely like having the rear door. And the side one, too.
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Old 02-19-2015, 11:14 AM   #6
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Didn't know that about the brakes either. Just for conversation's sake...

Is it possible to reroute the hydraulic lines to create a fail-safe system like the air does?
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Old 02-19-2015, 11:21 AM   #7
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Just decided to let my bus be sold. Just became a member here, just now.
Pictures are up somewhere on this site will explore. now. Maybe you can find it titled Valhalla

owner/builder is selling this sweet set up to start her next project.
This is a full conversion, bus to home on wheels beautiful 1990 International, Diesel.
This is a 1 of a kind and is an amazing transformation.
It starts on a dime, for traveling fun, but could be a cozy small home on a wonderful piece of land.
1990 30'Valhalla bus is an amazing Home on Wheels conversion.
10' trailer for storage and is equipped with generator.
15x15 with fly Panther Primitive Marque/Tent.

Bus:
International Diesel.
Full electric with 12 volt and 110.
Inside is hand crafted woodwork .
Full size bed with bunk possibilities.
Shower, toilet, galley.
2 gray, 1 black holding tank,
15 gallon portable water holding tank, invertor,
leather love seat, curtains ( many extra items will be negotiable).
To build would cost over 40,000 to replicate.
The Trailer is equipped with a generator for backup, also has bike rakes and canoe rack.
Marque is 15 x15 with fly 'Panter Primitive' $1,900 new. Used big festivals 5 times. In pristine condition. www.pantherprimitives.com
Viewing is available by appointment. And the Price, we are taking offers in the region of $20,000.
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Old 02-19-2015, 11:48 AM   #8
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Location: Eustis FLORIDA
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Coachwork: Ward/AmTran
Chassis: International
Engine: dt466
Rated Cap: 78
Hmmm not sure, never really thought about that.
I was a bit intimidated by air brakes before I got my first bus. Then quickly became a big fan of them.
The sound alone is worth it.
If you can drive an rv with air brakes in your state, then the bus would be legal too. You're right though there are states that require a test to be legal.
I think it would be worth taking the test for though. 30,000 lbs is a lot of weight if the brakes don't work.
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