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Old 05-28-2007, 10:50 PM   #1
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Which engines should I look for? Which ones to pass on?

Ok, you guys have sufficently talked me into full size buses. I thought length would signifcantly make it hard to manuver. So.... now that I am looking with a bigger selection, what engines are sought after, and which one should make me to pass it on. Are there better places to shop for a school bus? I am trying to see whats availible in my local area but the online shops makes finding whats out there much easier. I'm sure that they get their cut of the money for doing that. Are there better places to find a bus for my project? Your replies are greatly appricated.
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Old 06-04-2007, 12:45 PM   #2
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Re: Which engines should I look for? Which ones to pass on?

Difficult question to answer... Its really a function of engine/transmission/rear end, and of course whether or not it all works or leaks like a sieve....
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Old 06-04-2007, 02:10 PM   #3
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Diesel engine choises

The trucking industry sets the standards for the bus engines. There are no bad engines, or there would be no sales. The world premier engine maker Caterpiller,
mostly does not participate in making engines for the bus makers. Yep there are a few of the small engines, but none of the 12, 13, 15 litre big bad engines up to 600HP. A big powerful engine may not be good for all buses and bus owners. Again, there are no bad engines. With some money and talent, any engine can be modified to make big HP. Longivity is a function of care. It something is broken, fix it, don't continue to operate. Frank
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Old 06-05-2007, 01:19 PM   #4
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Re: Which engines should I look for? Which ones to pass on?

Check out uglymut's posting in the classifieds/wish list.... if Kenosha ain't too far for you....
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Old 06-13-2007, 09:06 PM   #5
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Re: Which engines should I look for? Which ones to pass on?

With fuel costs a gasser is a bad idea.
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Old 06-15-2007, 07:41 PM   #6
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Re: Which engines should I look for? Which ones to pass on?

All are inline-six diesels unless noted otherwise.
Very Good (first choices):
International DT466/466E (best of the bunch)
5.9 Cummins 6BT/ISB
8.3 Cummins
6-71 Detroit (rare, except Crowns)
6V71 Detroit (V6), mostly pushers
Cummins 855 (again, mostly in Crowns)

Good (I'd own one):
Caterpillar 3116 & 3126
Ford/New Holland 6.6 & 7.8
International 6.9/7.3 litre (V
International T444E (V
Caterpillar 3208 (V
DT408 (as good as the 466, but kind of weak on power)
DT360 (see DT408, but even weaker)

Bad, avoid unless a screaming deal:
9.0 International (V
8.2 Detroit (V

Horrible, avoid at all costs:
504/555 Cummins "triple nickel"

For gas...well, it's $3+ a gallon. Anything will do well to get 6MPG.
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Old 06-19-2007, 01:42 AM   #7
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Re: Which engines should I look for? Which ones to pass on?

Great info.

My bus has a 366 Chevy gas, it gets 6-7 mpg but I only paid 810.00 for the bus so it does not hurt as much when I filler her up
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Old 06-19-2007, 03:39 AM   #8
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Re: Which engines should I look for? Which ones to pass on?

My 6.6 is stupidly simple, uses common enough parts, and is easy to work on. My gripes are that it lacks any real power, but most buses do. Once the turbo spools up it actually does ok with the 4.56 gears, but that comes at the expense of top end speed. I'll experiment with turning the pump up to see if that helps things out any. The other issue is with finding stuff like oil or fuel filters. Most parts guys give you a blank stare and tell you that Ford diesels are 6.9, 7.3, 6.0, and 6.7 liters and they're all V-8's Then when they figure out that you're actually right they tell you that they only stock one fuel filter or one oil filter at a time since they don't get many requests for the. Yeah...a lot of good that does being that the engines all use 2 oil and 2 fuel filters.

I think a 7.8 with a 5 speed would be great. I'd recommend either of the Ford/New Holland Brazilians.
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Old 06-24-2007, 11:40 PM   #9
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Re: Which engines should I look for? Which ones to pass on?

In a way, looking for the engine first and the bus second is like putting the cart before the horse. The engines they put in school buses are all pretty well tried and true power plants, with gazillions of miles for just about all of them over the years. You find the bus you like, then see if the motor is acceptable or not. I think you'll find that just about all of them are good for about a half million miles before they need their first overhaul.

The engine is going to largely subject to the year of the bus you buy, and that will of course be largely determined by the price you pay. I work for a heavy truck dealer, and we are dealers for Ford, Cummins. Caterpillar, & Detroit Diesel. All are great motors, some perhaps better than others for various reasons.

In the older Buses, you're going to find the older motors. There are several of us with older Thomas Diesel pushers, and for the most part, the pre-1990's were generally equipped with the Cat 3208.... a GREAT motor, the backbone of Caterpillar for years, it's what you'll find in a lot of Bulldozers too! The engines have changed in recent years as they have been forced to make them meet pollution standards, and such great motors like the 3208 could not be made to meet these new standards, so new engines have emerged.

The post-1990 Thomas has been equipped with either the newer Cat motors, and largely with Cummins motors. They are smaller and perhaps more efficient.

Things to look for are turbo equipped, they generally do better on the power curve than naturally aspirated engines.
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