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Old 01-16-2018, 09:21 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Which Bus Decision

For several months I have been looking for a used school bus for my conversion. I have narrowed down my interest to a shorter length bus and there are 2 available that I am considering:

1) 1991 International/Thomas with a DT 360 engine, model C185, horsepower 185, MT 643 Allison transmission. 213,723 miles. 41 passengers (6 passenger windows).

2) 1995 Carpenter Short Bus. Navistar T444E engine. Allison transmission but don't know which version just yet. 230,000 miles. I have requested additional info from the seller. Also, a 6 window bus.

Considerations would be, of course gas mileage, and the ability to occasionally pull an F150 pickup.

I would greatly appreciate your input on the pro's and con's of these buses. As far as I can see, mechanical condition withstanding, the buses seem fairly comparable?

Cheers,
Norm
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Old 01-16-2018, 09:28 AM   #2
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Both sound like decent prospects from the brief descriptions. What are they asking for them.

In the end, condition sells a vehicle so are they equivalent?

My inclination would be to look long and hard at the first one. That's a very good drive-train in a shorter bus.
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Old 01-16-2018, 09:29 AM   #3
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This might easy.

All other things being equal, if bus #2 has an Allison AT545 transmission, get bus #1. The 643 can lockup in top gear and will be night and day better at pulling a load and operating at highway speeds.
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Old 01-16-2018, 09:48 AM   #4
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I agree with Josh.

Also, I believe that the DT360 above would be a mechanical engine and is a wet sleeve engine. Both plusses from a maintenance standpoint.
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Old 01-16-2018, 10:08 AM   #5
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What does 'The 643 can lockup in top gear' mean? Lock up, its a good thing? Thanks!
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Old 01-16-2018, 10:27 AM   #6
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If you have a gear that "locks up", you are mechanically connecting the engine through the gears to the axel and ultimately to the back wheels.

In a non-locking gear, the torque converter is moving fluid that strongly suggests the back wheels should turn, but you can think of it as driving a manual transmission but never letting the clutch all the way out. Power that could be pushing you up a hill gets wasted inside the transmission doing not very useful things like wearing out your transmission parts and generating heat.

The MT643 locks in top gear, tha AT545 does not lock in any gear. Some of the bigger 6 speeds units lock in 5th and 6th gears.
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Old 01-16-2018, 10:49 AM   #7
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Also...without lockup, you have no engine braking. Not that big a deal in most of Kansas. A very big deal in hilly or mountainous areas.
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Old 01-16-2018, 10:56 AM   #8
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The AT545 is very common in school buses, because for the job they do it's almost perfect. Lock-up and overdrive are not required in neighborhoods and short stretches of 4-lane, and neither is big torque handling if the bus has less than 200 hp.

Millions of those transmissions were sold, and if they stick to their job they are cheap, and very rarely fail.

The problem we have is that we want vehicles that will handle hills and highways, often towing. The AT545 is not designed for that and does not do it very well.
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Old 01-16-2018, 11:42 AM   #9
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I can attest to that. My AT545 did OK for 2 years of going from Texas to Montana and various other places in the West. Finally crapped out last week. Lots of Highway driving with a vehicle in tow. I knew it was a matter of when, not if it would crater out. Upgrading to an MT643 now. Hopefully be back on the road before the weekend...

John

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Old 01-16-2018, 11:43 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Twigg View Post
Both sound like decent prospects from the brief descriptions. What are they asking for them.

In the end, condition sells a vehicle so are they equivalent?

My inclination would be to look long and hard at the first one. That's a very good drive-train in a shorter bus.
-----------------

- Fixed price for the Carpenter at $5,700.00 with the interior insulated and paneled.

- Bidding going on for the International.

- As to condition, no first hand info but they seem approximate by sellers reports and photo's. I would need to travel to pick up either one........or have it shipped?

Thanks Twigg!
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