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Old 08-20-2004, 08:29 PM   #1
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Newfoundland, Canada
Posts: 23
7.3L Ford...any good?

I just got back from looking at more buses, the guy there has a '90 Intl. with a 7.3 L, manual shift (forgot to ask about the brakes, the Lucas brakes are supposed to be VERY problematical so I've been told) Only thing is it's the last 7.3 in their fleet, so this leads me to believe that these engines are lacking somehow. The deal with him though is pretty sweet. The bus plus a good spare engine, and all the spares I can take home with me (possibly two more not-roadworthy buses) for $1000. The DT 360 Intl. with the allison was going for $1400. Both of the guys I've been dealing with tell me that they've got 1991 flat faced buses coming out of service in June '05, these are 5.9 Cummins equipped, so I could wait. Bottom line: I've been thinking of converting a bus to a motorhome for quite some time, and I don't want to get off to a bad start by buying the wrong bus. The flat front ones seem to be the best looking conversions and possibly the most manoverable, but the conventional buses are more readily available and cheaper. I don't know which way to turn. Any thoughts? Advice?
Sometimes it's better to remain silent and let everyone THINK you're an idiot, than to speak and remove all doubt.
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Old 08-24-2004, 06:44 PM   #2
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Location: Licking, Missouri
Posts: 67
Check out my post below on "How long have you had your Skoolie?" I would not have survived the accident had I been driving a flat nose. As far as the Cummins, I'm not sure of which version of the Cummins this applies to but my Diesel Guru says, "Stay away from them". I tend to listen to him as he has maintained a whole fleet of diesels for almost 35 years. As for the DT360's, good solid engine but not a lot of power in the hills. If you are not in a hurry it should be fine. AS far as ANY used Skoolie, make sure you are buying a used bus and not just buying somebody else's problem. If someone in the know says there have been problems with that style of brakes, you may very well have problems too. It's hard to stay objective when it comes to Skoolie's. (What IS that power they have over us?) But if you can keep your wits when you are buying, you can go crazy after you own it. Just don't get too much in a hurry. There are used Skoolie's EVERYWHERE. Stay patient and the RIGHT one will come along for you. Good Luck.
1993 Amtran (Ward) 77 Passenger body on an International frame. DT360, Allison 545 AT. The avatar is my first skoolie, "The Rocket" may it Rust In Peace. Follow the links at the bottom to see the horrible details at
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Old 09-12-2004, 06:32 PM   #3
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Location: Cobourg Ontario
Posts: 6
Year: 1993
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: International
Engine: DTA360
Rated Cap: 72
My answer to your question is yes. The 7.3 litre is a good engine.
There is nothing Ford about it though,it was built by International.
It continues to power many shool buses in its latest versions the T444E and the new VT365.
International offers (and did offer in 1990) the V8 as a lower cost option
to bus fleets.The reason the 7.3 cost less is it is a "patent bore"engine.
The pistons do not have replaceable sleeves.This means the engine can't be overhauled while in the truck.When it wears out in 250000 to 350000 miles(sometimes longer!) it has to come out of the truck.
There are thousands of 7.3's labouring on in trucks buses and ford pickups.They must be tough.
The DT360 can be a nightmare.It was a premium "sleeve bore"but was very prone to cavitation issues.Unless the previous owner maintained the cooling system with "DCA"you can count on your coolant ending up in your oilpan before too long. Ask about dca and to see a coolant test strip before you buy.If they give you a blank look pass on it.
I'd give the Cummins a pass too.Especially 1991,they made a lot of needed improvements part way through the year and you wont know if you have a bad one or a worse one.
The engine to get is the International DT466.the 360's bigger brother.
There are many trouble free miles in one of those,plus a high school auto shop student could rebuild it.We routinely let our apprentices learn on them.Hope I helped and good luck
International Mechanic
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Old 06-26-2008, 09:06 PM   #4
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Posts: 704
Re: 7.3L Ford...any good?

Yes, the 7.3L PSD is in the Ford trucks, but it's still made by International...the difference is, under the hood of a Ford, the engine will be equipped with Ford components (Power steering pump, alternator etc)... Ford does not make their own Diesel motor.

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 06-27-2008, 11:57 AM   #5
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Posts: 19
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Goshen
Chassis: E350 Ford
Engine: 7.3 Power Stroke
Rated Cap: 10
Re: 7.3L Ford...any good?

A 7.3 Ford isn't a 7.3 Ford Power Stroke.

Yeah, all of 'em are related back to International.

The 7.3 is non turbo charged, and it's an IDI engine. Not much on electronics. Not much power over a 351W gas engine, but it has better economy due to being diesel, in my experience.

7.3 Ford Power Strokes became available in Ford pick ups in 1994 1/2 and in the van line in 1995. The 7.3 PSD is basically the same as the international T444E, but there are some differences in water pumps and other items. The PSD is a DI engine. Better power, and it can actually be a bit more efficient because of the turbo.

Is it a good motor? I think it has proven to be very reliable.
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Old 06-27-2008, 01:47 PM   #6
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Location: Grand Rapids, MI
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Re: 7.3L Ford...any good?

only negative I've heard about the 7.3 in a bus is they are painfully slow. I've got the 5.9 in my bus, and it's surprisingly fast and gets decent mileage for a bus.

I had the cheaper conventional bus vs. flat front bus choice when I bought my bus 4 years ago as well. I could have saved about $600 and went with an 87 international with a DT360 for $1250 but I'm glad that I went with the flat front bluebird TC2000. It looks more like a motorhome, and has almost the same wheel base as a long bed 4 door pickup truck.

I've also been very happy with the 5.9L Cummins, on a few road trips with a fellow skoolie member who had the DT360 I was putting about 1/2 the fuel in my tank as he was. I'm sure the rear end had a little to do with that as well (I have a 4.33:1 rear end he had a 5.3? something)
My Old Bus :(
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Old 06-27-2008, 06:53 PM   #7
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Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
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Year: 1996
Coachwork: Amtran
Chassis: International
Engine: T444E 3800
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Re: 7.3L Ford...any good?

I've got the 7.3 T444E in my shortbus and it has some balls. It gets to 65Mph pretty quick on a straightaway and that's with a govenor. Uphills it still has decent power even with a full load, but again it's a shortbus so it doesn't carry the weight of a full size bus. I tool around town alot because it's really fun to drive and not the worst on diesel mpg. My Hemi 5.7 pickup sucks almost as bad on gas.
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Keep on Keeping on.
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Old 09-15-2008, 05:24 PM   #8
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 39
Year: 1993
Coachwork: genesis
Chassis: international harvester
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 84
Re: 7.3L Ford...any good?

regarding the 7.3 its a good motor but also suffers the same cavitation problem, had a 6.9 which is the sister to the 7.3, the 6.9 & 7.3 can be turbo-charged check out e-bay for used set-ups, I think the 7.3 is better than the power-stroke because the 7.3 has mechanical fuel injection instead of electronic, which is cheaper to get parts for.
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Old 11-09-2009, 11:40 PM   #9
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Year: 94
Coachwork: MidBus
Chassis: Ford
Engine: 7.3L V8
Rated Cap: 12
Re: 7.3L Ford...any good?

I have a 7.3L in my 1994 E-350 ShortBus with 150,000 miles. I have yet to figure out the MPG - any ideas what I should be getting?
SeanDEX, HelmetHauler - 1994 Ford E-350 MidBus
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Old 11-16-2009, 01:54 AM   #10
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Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 34
Year: 1992
Coachwork: SturdiVan
Chassis: Ford E-350
Engine: 7.3 IDI Navistar diesel
Rated Cap: 8
Re: 7.3L Ford...any good?

I've got a 7.3 in my 1992 short bus. I'm pushing about 230,000 miles right now but it still starts up with no problems and runs like a champ. I personally have taken it a good 2,200 miles on various roadtrips and I can vouch for the fact that its not the most powerful engine around, especially when you're lugging up a 2 mile long grade in 120 degree hear in the middle of the Mojave. In fact, I trust the 7.3 much more than that shitty E40D transmission, I'm pretty sure my trans is running on borrowed time.
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