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Old 09-06-2004, 12:31 AM   #1
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3208 Caterpillar Diesel

Can anyone tell me any pros or cons about the 3208 Caterpillar Diesel Engine. I see that it's often used in boom trucks, heavy equipment, and fire engines, none of which are long haul, over the road vehicles. I've found a 1981 Blue Bird Skoolie with this engine and I was curious about power and longetivity.
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Old 09-06-2004, 04:56 PM   #2
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I've got a buddy at work that used to drive tractor trailers and tandem box trucks for years, and still does occasionally, and I put the same question to him not long ago (when I was looking at buying a dump truck, but that's another story!). He told me that 3208 Cat's are really good engines, in fact in a tandem box truck that he drove exclusively for a number of years had one and it was used regularly for long hauls of three hundred miles and longer. He said that he couldn't kill the one in his truck and drove flat out quite a bit. His buddy had a similar truck with a 3208 and had no problems either. I'd imagine in a schoolie application they'd be unbeatable, not much payload and all. My buddy did say that as a heavy haul engine they were no match for the bigger Cat's etc., but they weren't supposed to be anyway. In dumptruck applications they're the cat's meow (pun intended). In fact if I could find a bus with one for a good price I'd have it. Service and parts through Cat dealers are supposed to be $$$ expensive, but than again from what I can tell, any diesel parts and service are expensive. Around these parts a bus older than 1985 or so would be too rusty to be worth doing and so out of all the 1990 or so buses I've looked at recently I have yet to find one with a Cat under the hood. Too bad, I'd like one.
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Old 09-06-2004, 06:24 PM   #3
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Thanks for the quick feedback. I just heard today from a guy who maintains a diesel fleet. He said pretty much exactly what you did about the 3208 Cat. My only reservation is that this engine is in a flat-nose bus.
Failed brakes put my last skoolie into a tree. The bus was totalled but I walked away. Had I been driving a flat-nose, I probably would not be here.
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Old 09-07-2004, 08:07 PM   #4
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WOW!!! This bus is on e-Bay right now and the price just jumped an additional $1400 in 45 minutes. Check it out, 60 pass Blue Bird (60 adults maybe, this thing is huge, are rolling condo!) There are a little over two hours left to bid. How high will they go? Back later with an update.
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Old 09-07-2004, 10:35 PM   #5
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The final (winning) bid was $3251.91
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Old 01-09-2010, 11:02 PM   #6
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Re: 3208 Caterpillar Diesel

Bringing this all back to the CAT 3208--they are GREAT engines, being that they are as common (or were) as dirt.

A big old iron V-8, what could be wrong with that!
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Old 01-10-2010, 12:41 AM   #7
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3208 Kitty

This is an OK engine for any medium duty, BUT it as known in the truck world as a car engine. The engine has low horsepower even with a turbo. I'll guess max
HP is about 300HP. The engine does not have replaceable cylinder liners and small bearings like a gas engine. After about 150-200K miles an overhaul is needed. These engines are made by the famous Caterpiller engine maker, and parts are very expensive. My Thomas has a "Kitty" and a rebuilt water pump was
$250 plus. A injection pump will surprise ya. There are many bus engines of this size and power level. Local only no over the road power or longivity.
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Old 09-30-2010, 09:35 PM   #8
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Re: 3208 Caterpillar Diesel

Does anyone have any info as to the installation of an exhaust brake on a 3208 NA? It seems that it's only reccomended for the turbo engine, and that, on ones with roller cam followers.
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Old 10-02-2010, 11:37 AM   #9
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Re: 3208 Caterpillar Diesel

I did a bit of looking into an exhaust brake for my Gillig, and then bought another with an ex brake installed. Because of I think lifter design, if installed the braking pressure needs to be drastically adjusted down, so it'll work but not very much. I drove my '75 with a 10 speed over the sierra on I-80 to NV, and found I didn't really need the ex brake, and there are some fairly long steep grades. A few years prior I drove my '80 from WA to NV, went over Mt. Hood. Again, I found it didn't want to over-speed too much. This bus has an Allison MT-643. It wanted to run a bit more than the 10 speed, but not too bad. Given the decreased setting you'll have to use, I don't know if it will be worth it or needed.

The 3208 is known to wear rings, as most non-turbo models only use 2 rings. Make sure the bus does not smoke excessively at start-up. I've seen (and heard of) 3208's that look like a mosquito fogger going down the road. when you go look at the bus, make sure the engine is cold and hasn't been run just before you got there to warm it up! If it's a smoker I'd keep looking. My 10 speed has a rebuild with only 40K miles!! No smoke even cold. The '80 will fog for a good while when it'd cold or even chilly out. I really like the extra room and quiet ride of my flat nose pushers, but yeah, if I ever hit anything I'm probably a goner.
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