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Old 03-15-2017, 12:21 PM   #1
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Year: 1994
Coachwork: Bluebird
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1994 Bluebird TC200 - 5.9 Cummins - Transmission Issue

Hello again everyone =) I finally sat down and made a video about what happened to the bus and how it broke down, with specific distances traveled, how the bus was acting and how it felt throughout the ordeal. I am looking for any advice/thoughts you may have on what happened, and what our course forward may be. Specifically, what are the holes on the engine that you can see towards the end of the video, and are they supposed to be open to atmosphere like that? Thanks for the help folks, we really appreciate it.

Here is a link to the video:
https://youtu.be/_PL10NF-3RI

Also here is the transcript of the video for those that prefer to read it. Warning, its a long one lol =)

Hello everyone and welcome to The Hippie Geeks!

It is March in Western Oregon, and that means rain. There are a ton of projects we would like to get going, but between this rain and a family emergency that popped up we haven't been able to make much headway, especially outside. It has been nearly a month since we posted about the bus, and we have had some time to process everything. I think we are finally ready to really look into what happened, and find out what our options are. This video is not only to document what happened, it is also to reach out to you folks, that have more experience with these engines than we do and ask for some guidance. We will someday be able to afford to have an actual mechanic look at her, but for now let me go over exactly what happened, what we have seen since then, and how we are feeling about the whole mess.

I want to preface all of this by saying that this was only the third time we had taken her out any distance, and as such were still not sure what "right" feels like. While what I am about to describe may seem obvious to you, with red flags everywhere that we should have known, we simply did not. I promise you, no one feels worse about what has happened to the bus than I do, so please tread gently on my feels. Constructive criticism and discussion are welcome and encouraged, but please don't be rude just to be mean. Thank you, and lets get on with this.

Friday, February 10th we were so damn excited to be heading out on our first road trip in Sol. We Had two separate mechanics look at her after the oil loss we had experienced bringing her home, and she had been given a fairly clean bill of health. We had busted out bunks and furniture, gotten packed and we pulled out of the driveway. I had checked our fluids, looked at the tires. We hit the road, and went to stop at the local Fred Meyers Gas Station for a fill up, which was two miles or so away from our house. The speed limit in town varies between thirty and forty miles an hour, and with traffic I doubt that I got above thirty. So far so good.

Fred Meyers was blown up as it was five in the afternoon on a Friday, so we decided to just head to the coast and get gas at a Shell station about three miles away towards the coast. Again the speed limit was at 35 most of the way there, until it opened up to 50 miles an hour a little before the Shell. Traffic was still crappy, and we never got up above forty. The Shell station was also completely full, so we decided that we would finally stop in Veneta and get gas there, another eight miles away. Traffic opened up finally, and we were able to get up to speed.

Something didnít feel right. Looking back on it, I should have pulled over right then to see what was going on, but hindsight is 20/20. The bus felt underpowered, that the engine rpm was too high for how fast we were going, but in my mind, I just thought it was because the bus was heavier than she had been when I brought her from the coast. Six people, all of our beds and bedding, groceries, food, toys, a dog and everything else you need for a weekend trip to the coast. As we got closer to Veneta, I began to get worried. However I was checking my gauges like crazy, and nothing was out of the ordinary. Temps were right where they should have been, even the transmission oil temp. No warning lights, no gauge weirdness but still it wasn't right. I looked in my mirrors for smoke, but I didnít see anything coming from behind the bus.

I had to peg the engine out at 2800 RPM to make it up hills and not slow down too much. There are not very many places to pull over on that road, and the areas that do exist are typically filled with cars as folks park there to access the reservoir. I made it the final mile to Veneta, and as I slowed down and pulled into the parking lot a black cloud of foul smelling burnt fluid enveloped the bus, and my heart sank. I pulled her into a space, called our neighbor to come look at it with us as he knows more about deisel engines than I do, and I started the process of finding out what had happened.

When I opened the doghouse, the horrific burnt fluid smell was not oil, but I could simply not identify what it was. Looking at the engine, I could see that the transmission dip stick was popped up about half an inch, which was weird as I had pushed it in solidly after checking my fluids earlier. Whatever the fluid was, it was all over the rear of the engine. When the engine oil had leaked from the fill port before, it was very obvious that is what it was. It would have been even more obvious this time, as the oil is full of bright green UV dye from the leak test. I checked the transmission fluid, and while there was still fluid on the dipstick it definitely smelled like it had gotten hot ... but again nothing was showing out of the ordinary on the transmission oil temp gauge.

I shut the bus down, and started cleaning up the mess as best I could, hoping that I would be able to find somewhere, anywhere that this fluid would have come from. Could it have all come out of the dipstick, and if so what had pushed the dipstick up to let the fluid out in the first place? It didn't make any sense, and I couldn't see anywhere that it should have come from on the top of the engine. Time to hop under the bus and take a look. More fluid underneath, quite a bit had come from somewhere but I still couldnít see anything obvious. No busted lines, no holes in the pan, nothing.

As a side note here, I also have a sub question. The engine was obviously not shifting all the way up, or something was slipping to make me keep it at that rpm level. When I got under the bus, the vent tube had obviously been spewing a bit of oil. It is super easy to see now with the dye, even without a UV lamp. Would being at high RPM's for seven to ten miles have built up some kind of pressure that would have vented oil out of there? This may be related, or separate, but I need to know if I could also have a problem with my engine as well as the torque converter or transmission.

I climbed back out from under the bus, and my neighbor arrived. He couldnít find anything either, and we were sitting there at a loss, looking for anything or anywhere the fluid could have possibly come out of. Finally, we noticed these holes on what I am assuming is the torque converter? It looks like they were previously capped at some point, though there were both open to atmosphere now. On the left side of the engine, right below the hole on that side we did fine a black plastic cap that fit into the hole, what did this even mean? Can we dump transmission fluid out of these holes? I tried putting the cap we found into the hole on that side, and it fit in. It was too tight to pop it in all the way, so I did what I could to push it in ... hopefully that was the right choice.

The bus was definitely not going to the coast, we knew that. The question was, how do we get her home? There is no way we could afford a tow bill, which meant limping her home and hoping for the best. She was still driving when we pulled into the parking lot, so we asked the universe for a little help, started the bus and got her back on the road. I limped her along, and initially she was doing the exact same thing, the rpm's were too high for how fast we were going. However once we got up to forty five miles an hour, she shifted into a higher gear. I could almost have cried, and instantly started beating myself up for not realizing that is what was happening. For whatever reason, the bus had simply not shifted into a higher gear on our way out of town. That still didn't give me any ideas for what was happening, but it was a start.

I continued to watch my gauges like a hawk, and all of the ones that I could see were right where they should have been. I mention the ones that I could see, because I couldn't see the transmission oil temp. It is not a part of the full cluster, and it is not illuminated. I would come to find out when we got home that the transmission was getting way to hot, but again as this was the only way we had to get her home I donít know that it would have mattered. We pulled into our neighborhood, I swung her around and went to put her in reverse so that I could back into my driveway, but reverse was gone. Nothing. I grabbed flipped on the cabin lights, and could finally see what had been happening to the temp on the transmission, and understood why I didn't have reverse. I grabbed my tow chain, and had our neighbor pull us backwards so that I could get lined back up to just pull into the driveway headfirst. It worked, and we were home.

There is the entire, complete story of what happened. I donít know a lot about these engines, or the various parts that can go wrong. If anyone has an idea of what has gone wrong, and what kind of damage we are looking at I would love to hear about it in the comments. I am guessing that at the very least, the torque converter is going out. It may have possibly taken the transmission with it after the extreme overheating it went thru. I let her sit for a couple of weeks, then went back out and started her up, just to see if the transmission would engage at all. We do have drive and reverse again, though I didn't move her much at all. She is still mostly full of tranny fluid, it is just horrifically burnt.

So what are our thoughts on this? We do not want to just get rid of her. Whatever it takes to get her going, that is what we are going to do. It might be more cost effective to replace her with a different bus, but we donít like the thought of her going on the scrap heap because we cant get her fixed. We just need to figure out what it is going to cost us, and work towards that goal. While a different bus may be cheaper in the short term, there is no guarantee that it would not have the same or worse issues.

If this is your first time here on The Hippie Geeks it would be wonderful to have you subscribe! This channel is all about helping you unleash your life and create a world that you love. If you enjoyed this video give it a like, and if you have any advice or words of encouragement leave them in the comments down below.

Thanks again, and we will see you on the next one.
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Old 03-15-2017, 03:56 PM   #2
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1st off do not drive that 5.9 at 2800 rpms up hills you will kill it, or tranny

2400 rpm is plenty, also if trans is slipping and trans temp starting rise up on gague, drop down a gear and slow down, you are probably over 20K loaded like that and it is not aerodynamic

You probably have a Allison 545 suto (check on tag on the passenger side of the transmission

I don't want to sound mean, you need to learn terminalogy to help us help you

Your engine doesnt shift, all it does is send power to the input shaft of your transmission, you transmission shifts

That tranny is not a good tranny for long hiway driving, it requires a 2200 rpm input to get full band pressure or it will slip and over heat.

You should not be able to see your torque conveertor, so I have no idea what you saw, any pictures?

What does your transmission fluid look and smell like? Black, Brown or Red?Neutral smell or burnt and rancide?

Was it low when you checked it after you stopped bus? how much, low fluid will allow reverse band to not tighten and no reverse then

Do you know how to check trans fluid?

oops, I gotta go home, I will let some others also chime in

And welcome
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Old 03-15-2017, 04:00 PM   #3
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I did this a couple years ago, and I am GTG now, slow and steady wins the race...she will do 72 mph on hy12 heading south on the outerbanks everywhere else is 45 to 50mph

http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f33/dr...auto-8063.html
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Old 03-15-2017, 04:33 PM   #4
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not shifting to 4th gear shouldnt have caused it to get hot.. I couldnt get the video to load so I only have the transcript tp read one...

I have 2 busses with AT545 transmissions.. and one of them NEVER shifts to 4th gear till 40-45 MPH thats normal.. ive driven it around in traffic for an hour at 35-40 MPH in 3rd gear and my trans temp gauge never went above 160..

if the transmission is dying then it will slip.. slippage WILL get it hot and fast.. the transmission fluid likely Boiled out of the vent inderneath and boiled out of the dipstick.. thats how it got oushed out. it may have only boiled out of the dipstick.. was it by chance over-full?

if you were climbing hills with your foot to the floor then id expect an AT545 to get very hot and boil its fluid out... that transmission isnt made to climb hills at full throttle for more than a couple miles at a time.

if you were on flat ground then something is wrong... either a bad transmission or a Huge drag on your bus.. a stucj brake? this would usually create odor and smoke long before a trans fluid boil..

if your modulator stuck.. that can cause it to fail to shift into hugh gear and also depending on which way it sticks casn cause low line pressure, slippage, and excessive heat..

I dont know how an AT545 connects to a cummins .. I have 2 busses.. on one bus its a cable going into the side of the transmission that then goes to the throttle bracket.. this controls how hard and at what speed the transmission shifts..
on my other bus this is electronic.. and there is a switch under my accelerator pedal.. to actuate the modulator at 65% throttle.. its electric.. and is notorious for having its relay go bad and not actuate..

there are lots of variables which couldve gone wrong here...

one thing is for sure dont run the bus at all until that transmission fluid is fully FLUSHED out and the internal and external filters are changed... and then it may be possible to troubleshoot what happened..

many here will say the transmission is done for.. and I will somewhat agree and disagree.. you did definitely shorten its life (if it wasnt already dead).. but it may not be completely done for.. however the modulator should definitely be tested to make sure its working correctly..

the road-draft tube... its normal for that tube to blow oil at high RPM esp if the pil is a little over-full and on an older engine... there are gasses which escape around the rings when a cylinder fires... on an older engine these gasses are more as the rings wear.. and when an engine is under load these gasses tend to be more as well... at high RPM, there is a lot of oil being slung around inside the crankcase.. bearings, rods, etc create a fine mist of oil in the air... mixed into those gasses and blown out the draft tube will be some of that oil mist.. which ends up getting all over stuff underneath the engine...

there are systems made which capture and recirculate that oil.. CCV, or closed-crankcase-ventilation.. one of my busses has this system... if you are blowing out LOTS of oil.. as in dripping from anythign and everything underneath it can mean theres an engine issue or that you are way-over-filling your engine oil... if you just notice a couple drops on the ground after you drive then its pretty much considered normal..

-Christopher
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Old 03-15-2017, 04:46 PM   #5
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are you sure you were in drive and not 3,2, or 1. if the transmission was overfull, it may have boiled fluid out.
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Old 03-15-2017, 04:49 PM   #6
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Bansil, thanks for the response! I should also say that the huge block of text is the transcript from my Youtube video, and as such will likely not make a lot of sense if you are strictly reading it on the forum. I just wanted to put it up to get a conversation going, and to get input from folks that do not look at Youtube at all. I am going to just copy your post, and then bold my responses.

1st off do not drive that 5.9 at 2800 rpms up hills you will kill it, or tranny
Understood, and I will definitely watch for that in the future. The hills mentioned were quite small.

2400 rpm is plenty, also if trans is slipping and trans temp starting rise up on gague, drop down a gear and slow down, you are probably over 20K loaded like that and it is not aerodynamic
Thats the odd thing, on the way out of town the trans temp gauge had not risen far. What temp on the gauge is "too high"? It was dark when we brought her home, and as the trans temp gauge isn't lit in our bus I didn't see how high it was until we arrived and I was about to park her.

You probably have a Allison 545 suto (check on tag on the passenger side of the transmission
I will check this when I get home. The Cummins shop that we had look at the engine told me that it was an Allison 1000

I don't want to sound mean, you need to learn terminalogy to help us help you
I completely agree =) I will try to clarify as best I can.

Your engine doesnt shift, all it does is send power to the input shaft of your transmission, you transmission shifts
I do understand this, but looking thru the transcript I can see how I have improperly said what was happening.

That tranny is not a good tranny for long hiway driving, it requires a 2200 rpm input to get full band pressure or it will slip and over heat.
Are the 545 and the 1000 different names for each other? If not, does this also hold true for the 1000?

You should not be able to see your torque conveertor, so I have no idea what you saw, any pictures?
Correct, not the torque converter but area where the torque converter is housed. I am still learning and apologize for not being more clear. After looking some more online, it appears that they are bolt access holes for that area? I do have pics at home, but they are also in the Youtube video if you get a chance to look at it.

What does your transmission fluid look and smell like? Black, Brown or Red?Neutral smell or burnt and rancide?
Brown/Red and smells burnt. It has not moved to black yet =)

Was it low when you checked it after you stopped bus? how much, low fluid will allow reverse band to not tighten and no reverse then
It was a bit low but not below the hot range, however the parking lot I was in was also not perfectly level. I knew that I had lost some fluid as it was all over the place, but I was unsure where it would have come from. Someone has mentioned breather tubes being clogged, could that have led to the fluid being pushed up and out of the dipstick?

Do you know how to check trans fluid?
Yes, again sorry about that I could have clarified it more in the transcript.

oops, I gotta go home, I will let some others also chime in
Thank you for taking the time to reply!!
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Old 03-15-2017, 04:52 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turf View Post
are you sure you were in drive and not 3,2, or 1. if the transmission was overfull, it may have boiled fluid out.
Yes, that was the first thing I checked as we were moving and I started getting worried. The gear indicator was in the proper position however. Tranny wasn't overfull (checked by myself when we picked it up, then also by the Cummins shop we had her looked at).
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Old 03-15-2017, 09:20 PM   #8
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well if it is an allison 1000 then thats an issue right there.. as the engine shouldnt rev on an allison 1000 in 3rd, 4th, or 5th gear.. which could indicate the torque converter never locked up.. and unlocked torque converter on a lockup transmission will generate tons of heat as it not made to properly cool itself under those conditions.. as it normally wont operate that way..
-Christopher
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Old 03-15-2017, 09:22 PM   #9
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the other thing is the allison 1000 is a computer controlled transmission.. if someone retrofitted it into the bus from say a GMC pickup truck (tghey used them in the HD2500, and 3500 trucks).. and they didnt have a properly programmed computer that would cause mega issues as well..

but first is to wipe the grease off the silver / aluminum tag on the transmission and see if you can read a number off of it...
-Christopher
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Old 03-16-2017, 06:02 AM   #10
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Ahh, now I understand the wall of text

Def. check out tag on tranny

As for temp. my bus trans temp gauge reads "convertor out" temperature so it will see spikes, like when I pull out into traffic or onto a highway, it will spike to 230* or so for a minute or two and then settle down to 190* when I am cruising with no or light load.
I pull out kind of hard, to ensure I have 2200/2400 rpm to max out line pressure for less slippage, when I first got bus I would pull out real easy and noticed trans temps would rise

I travel at 45/50 mph 90% of the time and we use secondary roads mostly

We have a lot of "hills here" there are four 8%+ I travel up and down within 25 miles of my house, most are between 1 and 6 miles long

When we travel we like to run at night when air is cooler and traffic is less, once into the flat lands (relative) I will run 55/60 with a tranny temp of about 205/210*

will be watching this, good luck
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