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Old 01-03-2019, 01:38 PM   #1
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Too many AT545's. Need help trying to find alternate transmissions.

So from what I've gathered here the AT545 is bottom of the barrel. Even though I'm looking at a non-40' bus, it'll still be in the 30' range and pushing the limits of an AT545.

Unfortunately, the VIN does not disclose what type of transmission is on a bus, and the majority of offers I've gone through not only don't list what transmission, but I've had several dealers that outright refused/can't to give me any more details other than "Automatic". Literally the only person I talked to that gave me specifics (even rear end ratios) was Union School District, NC bus lot.

This is kind of surprising, when buying cars (even used ones) the dealership generally knows the basic drivetrain details, and the Allisons have the model number right on the outside of the housing.


So, how does one find alternative methods of ruling out the AT545? I can't really afford to fly out to every potential offer to verify the transmission.

I know the AT545 is rated at 30,000lbs. Does that mean if I find a bus with a GVWR over 30,000 it will have a different transmission? For example, this bus I'm looking at has a GVWR of , but doesn't list the transmission. Could I assume it's at least not a 545?

Are there any specific models of buses, conventional or flatnose, that never had an option for an AT545?

I've found a few good options after pushing my budget up a thousand (currently $4500), but every single one has the AT545.

I'm not looking to have a full size bus or stay in mountain areas, but with the fuss over the AT545 I figure it's better to just get a different transmission to start out with instead of swapping it out later.
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Old 01-03-2019, 03:02 PM   #2
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The AT545 isn't optimal but it can be just fine. They made a million of them and they've travelled billions of miles. My first bus had one and I toured the country including all those pesky mountain areas, and my second bus has one too.

I wouldn't want to tow a toad with one but even then if you keep it cool it can give you a long successful life. It will always be at a disadvantage compared to a bus with a lock-up high gear but that's just life.
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Old 01-03-2019, 03:36 PM   #3
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Actually, I think the vin can give you that info, it's just not online. When ordering parts(for bluebird anyways) I call the dealer, and give them the body# and they can normally tell me everything about the bus. I would assume the vin would work the same way, you just have to figure out which dealer(bluebird, thomas, etc.) to call.

Most resellers won't give you that info because they don't have it. They'll sell it eventually without the info so in their eyes why bother.

As far as gvw goes, technically it's supposed to be used below 30K. But it's all based on what is spec'd by the district when ordering. The districts that bought busses with heavier axles wouldn't bat an eye to paying more for a trans upgrade as well.

I've got an at545, and have had no problems with it. Some do though, so I can understand your quest for a bus without one.
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Old 01-03-2019, 03:39 PM   #4
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The AT545 isn't optimal but it can be just fine. They made a million of them and they've travelled billions of miles. My first bus had one and I toured the country including all those pesky mountain areas, and my second bus has one too.

I wouldn't want to tow a toad with one but even then if you keep it cool it can give you a long successful life. It will always be at a disadvantage compared to a bus with a lock-up high gear but that's just life.
It'll work until it doesn't. Like my bus' first 545.
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Old 01-03-2019, 04:06 PM   #5
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Everything just works until it doesn't! Keep the fluid full and the temps low and they can last a long time!
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Old 01-03-2019, 06:35 PM   #6
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Absolutely true over the years I have dealt with many 545's one customer had one in an old Binder 2axle dump that climbed in and out of a quarry for 17 years extremely overloaded,truck plus 15 ton always, never had a trans repair the whole time it was maintained flawlessly.Another customer built a tool bus with a 3208 and a 545 it was way over gross and that combo lasted for many years with marginal maintenance, maintain it run an exceptional cooler and it will last a lot longer than the 545 haters on here say it will. Gene
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Old 01-03-2019, 06:45 PM   #7
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My short bus is on its second 545 and its only got 64k miles and 3300 hours on the bus.
Chris just wore out his 545 by using it on the interstate.
Maybe if we start driving our buses through rock quarries the 545's will live longer?
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Old 01-03-2019, 07:12 PM   #8
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Wonder how long a 545 would last doing this?

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Old 01-03-2019, 07:18 PM   #9
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Wonder how long a 545 would last doing this?

Just after the film clip stopped.
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Old 01-03-2019, 07:25 PM   #10
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My AT545 has been good to me so far. I am preparing for a cross country trip in my bus with that tranny and it's the only thing that gives me butterflies in my stomach because of what I read here. It seems like these are pretty bulletproof transmissions, but if you get it hot it might just give up the ghost.

This tranny will not be a 75MPH Interstate cruiser, but most vehicles equipped with this tranny are governed or geared for optimum RPM and speed limited gearing to prevent overheating. I have no problem with a 55-65 MPH cruising speed in a 19000 lb vehicle.
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