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Old 05-29-2015, 12:13 AM   #1
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Picking a bus. What's reliable?

I'm currently on the hunt for a surplus bus to start my skoolie project. Here's my parameters:

Transit style only, Front or rear engine
72+ passenger size (anyone know exactly how long the 72 and 84's are?)
diesel only.
Manual trans is preferred.
I wont be going anywhere in a hurry. 55-65mph top speed is acceptable.
No curvy busses (Crown, Gillig etc.)
Ill likely get one with mileage of 150k to 250k already on.

Mechanical reliability of the engine and transmission is the primary factor i'm looking for. I don't mind regular maintenance and fixing odds and ends, but I need to avoid expensive repairs like ebola.

Ultimately, In terms of reliability and ease of repair, can anyone give me a rundown on which engines, transmissions, and chassis to avoid or seek?

I have heard many praise the DT466, and others call it a boatanchor. What's the story?

Is my dream of finding a stickshift transit bus possible?

Thanks to anyone who can enlighten me here!
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Old 05-29-2015, 12:21 AM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 12,107
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Ward/AmTran
Chassis: International
Engine: dt466
Rated Cap: 78
I have NEVER heard ANYONE call a DT a boat anchor.


My DT466 is pretty awesome. Runs pretty much as good as new with no smoke at all and its got 250k on it. It doesn't have an hour meter but I'd imagine its got a ton of em.
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Old 05-29-2015, 12:51 AM   #3
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I have seen a couple as in two transit style buses with manual transmissions. I was a bidder on one and stopped bidding at $6400. I think it would be easier for you to find a pair of unicorns.

P.S. Don't be dissin da DT's.
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Old 05-29-2015, 03:14 AM   #4
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How does the Cummins ISB 5.9L Stand up? I'm looking at some buses with this engine, and I have not read pleasant things about it.
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Old 05-29-2015, 03:52 AM   #5
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Not sure where you are getting your info about these engines but you don't have that many choices. If you don't want a DT or a Cummins, you might consider a Cat.
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Old 05-29-2015, 04:33 AM   #6
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Location: Oklahoma aka "God's blind spot"
Posts: 2,241
Year: 1989
Coachwork: 1853FC International/Navistar
Chassis: 35' Retired Air Force Ambulance
Engine: DT466, MT643
Rated Cap: 6 souls and a driver


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Old 05-29-2015, 05:54 AM   #7
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Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: EHT New Jersey
Posts: 1,134
Year: 2003
Coachwork: AmTran
Chassis: International 3000RE
Engine: T444E/AT545
Rated Cap: 75
My 75 pax is around 37' long. And while I've only have it on the road once (the haul from Maine to NJ), the T444E onboard drove like a champ, averaging around 10mpg at 65 mph. I've put thousands of miles on ambulances with the 7.3L Powerstroke and they've never missed a beat. Navistar and Cummins would be your best bets unless you have a ton of money to sink into a CAT powerplant. DT466s are used in farm and construction equipment, which need consistent reliability, so I'd also be interested in where it's being called a boat anchor.

As for stick in a transit? Cal's right- you'd be better off finding a pair of unicorns.
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Old 05-29-2015, 07:13 AM   #8
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Iowa
Posts: 120
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Honey Badger RV Co
Chassis: tc2000
Engine: 5.9 cummins
Rated Cap: 74
The 5.9 cummins is a great motor. The engine doesnt make gobs of power but always gets the job done. It isnt a wet sleeve engine, so you dont have to worry about antifreeze getting in your oil when a O-ring goes bad on a cylinder. Not bashing the DT, it's a fine power plant also. Just left a bad taste after unexpected inframe rebuilt for above noted problem. BTW mileage was just above 150k on it.
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Old 05-29-2015, 07:17 AM   #9
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 12,107
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Ward/AmTran
Chassis: International
Engine: dt466
Rated Cap: 78
The DT can at least be rebuilt in-frame unlike the 5.9
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Old 05-29-2015, 08:11 AM   #10
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Posts: 1,171
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: 3800 International
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 72
One thing with any motor, is how well it has been maintained,
466 5.9 or the t444e(power stroke) all good engines, all have there own faults, but if any of them are not maintained then you can be left with a boat anchor, our bus at work has the cat c7, its had a few issues, but it runs like a champ as well.
Me a like my t444e, easy to work on, can find parts anywhere, and tons of them around.
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