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Old 11-06-2018, 09:08 PM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: frederick md
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Rear engine manual Thomas?

I have been doing lots of research on what the ideal bus for me to buy would be, and I'm pretty sure a rear engine Thomas with a mechanical Cummins 8.3 and mt643 transmission or larger (so not the 545) is best. However, I would prefer a manual transmission if I can get one. My question is, were Thomas rear engine busses ever made with manual transmissions? If so, what is the shift linkage like? How hard are they to find? Were [I]any[I] rear engine busses ever manual? I haven't been able to find any definitive answers here or elsewhere, only that manuals in general are hard to find. Any help would be appreciated
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Old 11-06-2018, 10:05 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Orange County, CA
Posts: 832
Year: 1990
Coachwork: integral
Chassis: Crown Supercoach II (rear engine)
Engine: Detroit 6V92TAC, DDEC 2, Jake brake, Allison HT740
Rated Cap: 37,400 lbs GVWR
Very few manual pushers at best. I've been in an old Gillig like that, I know of a White pusher with a manual, Crown's high-level tour buses such as the Atomics had 8V71s with 5-speeds, and there may have been an odd Crown Super II with a Cummins CTA and manual, but otherwise I can't think of any others. Good luck in your quixotic search!

John
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Old 11-07-2018, 12:50 AM   #3
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
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In WA state the automatic transmission has been in the basic spe'c for more than 20-years. If you wanted a manual transmission you had to pay extra to get one.

To be honest I haven't seen a new bus with a manual transmission for a very LOOOOOOOOOONG time. But occasionally I hear about one that was spe'c'ed with a manual.

The last Thomas Saf-T-Liner ER that I have seen with a manual transmission was made in the '70's. Trust me when I say you would not want that bus even if you got it for free.

Could you install a manual transmission in a Thomas Saf-T-Liner ER? Probably. But it will cost you more than what you would pay for the bus. You would need to find a donor transmission that will mate to your transmission. You would need to swap the flex plate for a flywheel. You would have to design and build proper transmission mounts. You would have to have a new driveshaft made that would mate up to both the transmission and rear end. And then the fun part would begin as you would then have to design and build a clutch and shift linkage in excess of 35'.

You are more likely to find a Crown or a Gillig with a manual transmission. The only caveat to that is the newest Gillig Schoolcoach is a 1982, the newest Crown is a 1991, and the newest Gillig Phantom Schoolcoach is about 1992.
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Old 11-07-2018, 10:22 AM   #4
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 11,656
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
what did they use for shifting? was it just sloppy as heck or was it an air shifter?
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Old 11-07-2018, 11:09 AM   #5
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Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 4,798
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
My Eagle RE came from the factory with a manual transmission.

It had a 34' long mechanical rod linkage.

The throttle was similar.

Ultimately I wound up with an Allison and an air throttle. Too many problems with the long mechanical linkage.
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Old 11-08-2018, 01:56 AM   #6
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Join Date: Jul 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
what did they use for shifting? was it just sloppy as heck or was it an air shifter?
Most of the eastern built Type 'D' buses that were sold in WA state before about 1985 were on OEM vendor supplied chassis. The most common one in WA state was on the GMC RE bus chassis. The shift linkage consisted of two bell cranks that went through a pin and clevis every 5' to 10'. By the time the bus had 100K miles on the bus that each hole a pin went through was wollered out a little. Multiply that slop over the multiple number of pins and you ended up with a LOT of slop. The gear shift lever could move more than 12" before anything in the transmission started to move.

We had one Carpenter Corsair RE that when the driver, who was about 5' tall, would reach to grab 4th gear her head would go down below the dashboard. The bus garage got many calls about the driver driving down the road with her head not visible to other drivers. On that bus reverse was up and to the right. When she had to go into reverse she sort of threw the gear shift in the general direction of reverse and then kicked it with her foot the rest of the way. She would hook her foot on the gear shift to pull it back out of reverse. Her arm was just too short to reach that far while keeping her seat belt fastened. We looked at adding an extension on the end with a bend to come back towards the driver's position. But it was just as sloppy on the near side. You never used deep low which was up and to the left. When you shifted from 2nd into 3rd which was down and to the left you would have to lift your hip a little to get the gear shift over and down far enough to go into gear.

The IHC OEM vendor supplied RE bus chassis used a single shaft to shift the Fuller transmission. The IHC chassis was heavier duty than the GMC so everything about it felt more solid.
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Old 11-08-2018, 04:32 AM   #7
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 11,656
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
Fun stuff!!
While I dig old busses and admittedly I like my busses to stay busses, I surely am glad they are all automatics .. even if I am hard on At545s( I seem to ruin them ).

It seems like even the CE style busses with stick are spicers and sloppy. Eaton fuller like in trucks seem tighter.
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