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Old 06-11-2006, 10:33 PM   #1
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Location: Edmond, OK
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Year: 1993
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International
Engine: 7.3 International diesel
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Which bus/motor would you get if you did it over?

If you could go back, knowing what you know now, which bus or motor would you get? I've been looking for a good bus. There's so many different buses out there, it's hard to choose which one is a good one. I'm willing to spend up to $5K. I want a diesel bus that will cruise at least 70 mph. Something easy to convert to running on grease. I like the classic looking bus vs. the flat front. I'm sure not everybody agrees on which one is the absolute best, but I'm curious to get a few ideas. Also, are there any I should avoid? Thanks! Matt
1993 International Carpenter 10 Window bus
7.3L diesel w/AT545
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Old 06-11-2006, 11:07 PM   #2
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Well I don't have a whole lot of experience with other makes and models than what I have, but I have zero complaints about my 1989 Ford B700 with a Wayne body.

My motor is a 6.6 liter (401 ci) "Brazilian" made jointly by Ford and New Holland for medium duty trucks and tractors. It is an inline 6 with a Garrett M-1 turbo and an intercooler. Unfortunately it still only specs out at 185 horsepower and 474 ft lbs of torque. I've heard that this is easily bumped up, but I prefer longevity. It is backed by a deep pan Allison AT545. I like this transmission. Others don't. It has good points and bad points like everything else. With the 4.56 gears in the Rockwell International rear axle I do about 63 mph on the speedo at a governed 2500-2600 rpm. My mileage hovers right around 8.5 mpg. BTW...the 6.6's bigger brother is a 7.8 liter inline six that can be speced from 185 hp and 509 ft lbs all the way up to 270 hp with 735 ft lbs of torque. Gasser options for the chassis are the 370ci 385 series big block which I might avoid due to some exotic parts and a 429 ci big block which might be an ok option. Both are tall deck motors.

As for my body....Wayne's are known as "low-bidder" buses in these parts yet they are the spares you still see around at the school. I don't know if this means they aren't reliable enough to be daily drivers like the TC2000's or if they are just that old and hold up that well.

My center height was right at about 74 inches before I did the floor. The roof has a VERY gentle curve to it. It is perhaps the least curvy roofline of any bus I've seen. This means that the low roof option still has some space. All the interior panels are screwed in place with large wire chases on both sides. This makes running new wiring extremely easy. I don't think I've found a rivet inside the thing yet. That certainly is something to think about. Of course it made up for it by using grade 8 bolts for all the seats making grinding a bit of a task.

All the external panels are one continous piece. This means less seams to leak and a safer design. It also makes it a pain to just remove a panel for installing things. The one piece roof is all that really matters to me because it should be pretty leak proof. It is also very strong is seems. This may prove helpful when I get around to building the roof rack.

Under the bus I have the normal battery compartment wit ha second compartment behind that which originally housed a Webasto heater, but is now a super convenient spot for my inverters, shore power connection, etc. There is a third large compartment behind the rear wheels which I will eventually use for storing supplies like oil, coolant, jumper cables, etc.

My only complaint about the body is that the wiring is a bit tricky even with the factory schematics and it seems to twist just enough that some of the windows will not go up the last click. It is random windows, not the same ones over and over again so I think it must be flexing. Trying to put them up while parked on pavement might help.

I hope that helps you out a little. I know it was a long rambling but if you wanted info you have it now. If you have other questions just ask as I have complete manuals on everything in the bus.
Skooling state at a time...
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Old 06-15-2006, 08:05 AM   #3
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I'm very happy with my setup, I get decent mileage, good cruising speed and I like the motorhome look of the flat front end. I'd really like a rear engine flat nose bus with air brakes and a taller roof. I already own a bus and I'm not really looking for another one, so I don't know what the best drive train/body combo would be best for one of those.

I'm happy with what I have, but I think if I ever were to buy another bus I'd look for a coach. The better ride and huge interior are very appealing to me.
My Old Bus :(
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Old 06-15-2006, 07:40 PM   #4
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: ont canada
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My 2 Cent

i have a Blue Bird Int. with a DT360 with a 5 speed stick shift...i really like the fact about being a diesel it should really help out on those very long trip....i have a conventional style and think if i do another i would like to a find a coach to canvert if i could find one that is afordalble....but to sell my "MotorHome" i better be given the right price it's really surprizing how much time they take to convert

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Old 11-14-2008, 03:33 PM   #5
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Winnemucca, NV/Reno NV
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Year: 1980
Coachwork: Gillig 1980, 2003 Thomas E-350 shorty
Chassis: 636/E350
Engine: Cat 3208 NA/7.3
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Re: Which bus/motor would you get if you did it over?

By building a bed in the rear of a rear engine / pusher, which has a "shelf" where the engine is gives approx. 4-5' more usable interior space than a conventional. Makes a HUGE difference. Also, a rear engine configuration allows storage under the entire bus to used- a front engine has the drive shaft running down the center, between the frame rails. Many pushers have storage compartments or "basements" already built in. My Gillig has an 8' storage bay that span across the width of the bus. 24" high, drops to 16" under the frame rails. There was NO fabrication involved in placing my propane tank, water, waste, batteries, inverter......and I still have storage space left over. The ride of a pusher is generally considered to be superior to a conventional. Visibility while driving is awesome. To me there are so many compelling reasons to go pusher, it's a no brainer. And Gilligs last forever (if no drip rail rust problems). They're getting a bit tough to find.

An AT545 supposedly won't last driving up hills as a way of life, and it won't allow an exhaust brake (cheaper than adding a Jake) to be added. It's probably at it's max application in most full size skoolies, so be careful turning up the power. MT-643 is a better choice, if available. Everyone else can chime in on the engine part. If I drove the bus regularly enough to be comfortable shifting, a Gillig or Crown with a roadranger 10 speed would be the coolest thing going. My understanding is they are not synchronized tranny's.

I have a 35' Gillig 636, my first bus was a 30' Chevy/carpenter conventional AT-545, DD 8.2T
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Old 11-14-2008, 07:30 PM   #6
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Re: Which bus/motor would you get if you did it over?

its most likely not a synchronized transmission, since that's basically a semi transmission, and they aren't synchronized. but......most people dont seem to understand what synchronized means anymore, sadly. ive had several people try to tell me that trucks have fully synchronized transmissions. uh, yeah, explains why i have to synchronize it myself.
But it's the perfect anti-theft device! The idiots won't get far if they can't get the transmission into second gear.
Someone said "Making good decisions comes from experience, experience comes from bad decisions." I say there are three kinds of people: those who learn from their mistakes, those who learn from the mistakes of others, and those who never learn.
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Old 11-14-2008, 09:30 PM   #7
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Re: Which bus/motor would you get if you did it over?

If my automatic ever goes out, I'll be seriously interested in converting to a stick. Lots of medium duty stick trannies in city delivery trucks, so it shouldn't be hard to find one, complete with bell housing for the 5.9 -- I should think. A big-rig tranny might be easier to find, as the truckers sure wreck a lot of them, but I don't know about matching it to a small engine.
As for the pedal and linkage, that's pretty basic mechanical stuff that can probably be adapted from the donor truck, or even fabricated from scratch. There is also the option of hydraulic clutch "linkages", such as used in the current Volvo big rigs.

What's not to love about an automatic? Well, I learned something when I had the automatic in my Dodge Dakota rebuilt. It used to take real close to a full tank of gasoline to make my basic trip from home to Sacramento and back. With the fresh tranny, it suddenly took less than 3/4 tank, and the car had much better get-up-and-go.
So... with so much energy wasted thru the tired automatic, I must wonder what's left to be had by taking the next step to a stick shift.
Let's face it, school buses get autos for slow speed stop-n-go driving with "house wives" at the wheel. I have 10.000 highway miles on Millicent already. And my automatic gets awful hot climbing mountains.
Millicent The Bus - roof raised two feet, toy-hauler tailgate.
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Old 11-14-2008, 09:35 PM   #8
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Re: Which bus/motor would you get if you did it over?

The State bought me my CDL, and the Kornbinder DOT trucks we borrowed all had the 9 speed - pretty much the same pattern but only use 4 gears in high range. My OTR buddy told me this is called a "juice squeezer." My Skoolie driver in High School had a gasser with an electric dual rear end and split every gear, but the most work I saw was when I was picked up by a trucker when hitchhiking around 1970. Every gear was split with a second shifter lever - that was work! Moving the air paddle once coming out of 5th is like driving an automatic by comparison.
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Old 11-14-2008, 09:45 PM   #9
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Re: Which bus/motor would you get if you did it over?

If I were to truely start over again, I don't think I'd use a school bus... Some kind of Hwy bus like an MCI, Prevost, Eagle or Vanhool would be really nice, I think the MCI's would be the most abundant and most affordable. Typically these would be equipped with Detroit Diesels 8V72 or 6V91's...

If I were to go the Schoolie route again, I'd get another transit style Thomas Pusher, but I would get the one with the taller interior ceiling. Motor? Hard to put a Cat 3208 down, it's a beast of a motor and was the mainstay of Caterillar for years, many of Bull dozers still plowing around with those motors in them. The newer model year buses (which is what I'd be after) come with a different cat motor, or the Cummins 5.9, and I'd probably go with the Cummins on that...

You just might be a Redneck if...
...your motor home used to be a school bus!
...Your living room has a steering wheel!
...Your home has brake lights

1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee
1989 Thomas Diesel Pusher (Cat 3208/Freightliner)
Chesapeake, Virginia
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Old 11-15-2008, 07:48 AM   #10
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Re: Which bus/motor would you get if you did it over?

I know what youre talking about though, you had two shifters sticking out of the floor, right? I forgot the name for that, but basically it has two transmissions bolted together!
Exactly. Now that I've had time to think, there was a stick on the left with 5 forward speeds plus reverse, and a 4-speed multiplier stick on the right. The driver used second and third multipliers in each gear on the 5-speed. I suspect that first multiplier was an "underdrive" for launching fully loaded, and fourth was overdrive. Out of twenty possible forward combinations, the way he drove it would make it a twelve-speed. I worked in a warehouse summer of '72, and one of our guys who was a part-time trucker 'borrowed' a semi after we unloaded it, and sped across the lot through all 4 speeds in reverse.

I was just a kid then, so real truckers correct me if my memory is fuzzy, but I think that was a Fuller Road Ranger, before Eaton bought the company. At the time, I had taught myself to double-clutch so I could get my mom's Valiant with "three on the tree" back into first so the small six could get up steep hills with my buddies on board. I also practiced getting the gasoline-powered forklifts at the warehouse from low range to high and back without stopping.

be careful with bigrig transmissions. If its been used by a major company the transmission has been ground to DEATH
Excellent point. I would be so excited to find one I wouldn't think of that. I expect the 5-speeds in skoolies would be synchro in the top 4 like delivery trucks, so that shouldn't be a problem, but I don't know. All of my skoolie driving so far has been maneuvering around parked buses inside an old army warehouse. I needed to get buses into or alongside the wash bay to be within reach of the only power plug for my radio tester. No shifting was required.
Someone said "Making good decisions comes from experience, experience comes from bad decisions." I say there are three kinds of people: those who learn from their mistakes, those who learn from the mistakes of others, and those who never learn.
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