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Old 01-27-2018, 11:34 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Red face Back again

Looking for mid size bus with headroom!! Recommendations please! I plan to spend most of my time on the wet side of Oregon but to see my best friend I will have to go over the Cascades on 1 of 2 passes- both around 5000 feet. Will a 5.9 cummins do the trick or should I go bigger? I will be scared going up and down for the first time in a bus. Heck The car overheated when i went over 10 years ago!! I keep seeing buses sold midway in build and I am wondering why? That is also scary to me. I will be hauling 3 rescue dogs and 25 parakeets and finches, if I break down nobody will want me in their hotel/motel. I would also like to tow a small car or enclosed trailer-guess I should go bigger if I plan to go over the passes.
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Old 01-27-2018, 12:34 PM   #2
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Welcome!

Welcome to the madness! If you were getting a shorter bus, the 5.9 will do just fine for you. Heck - there are lots of them in full-size buses... while you won't win any races, they are durable and reliable, with easy access to parts. As far as mountain passes - that would be more transmission than anything. I had an AT545 in my 8-window bus and it finally burned up on me. I have since upgraded to the MT 643 and am loving it. What a difference. If you are able to find one with the MT643, that would be your preferred option.
Read as many as the build threads as you can to get ideas as to what works and what doesn't. Ultimately, the bus is yours and you can make it as you want it. That's the joy of it.

Good luck and enjoy the ride!

John
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Old 01-27-2018, 01:04 PM   #3
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Thank you John!

Will check out rear ends! This is such a great place
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Old 01-27-2018, 01:27 PM   #4
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Year: '95
Coachwork: Thomas Vista
Chassis: International 3600
Engine: T444/at545
Rated Cap: 72? 11 window...
I spent a lot of time in seaside and astoria, so say hello to sweet relief when your there lol. Ditto on the trans, or at the very least install a transmission temp sensor (cheap and fairly easy) no matter what trans you get, from my fairly limited understanding an at545 will do fine as long as you dont get it too hot so be prepared to either get a good trans or go 25 up those passes and pull over to cool it off when needed

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Old 01-27-2018, 03:03 PM   #5
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I've got a 5.9 and the dreaded 545. I haven't been over either 26, 22 or 20 yet either. I have done some rather steep long climbing in the coastal range for up to 45 minutes at a time pulling in only 1st and 2nd without any appreciable problems yet. Yes the transmission does feel like a slushbox, but the engine temp rises significantly more than my trans temp. Yes I have a trans guage.

My transmission is getting weak from all the climbing I do so I am also planning an upgrade. Currently I have been experiencing higher rpms for the same speed of travel, with clearly lower fuel mileage. Given all that I wouldn't hesitate to drive any of the passes today. They just aren't that bad of roads.

On the steeper longer pulls you can either learn to drive slower with your 5.9 or you can park on the side of the road with all the RVs until you cool down. I don't mind pulling the steep parts of the pass at 25 mph because that keeps my engine from overheating.

Hauling a small home around is a lot of work on those steeper inclines. You likely would not expect a Dodge pickup with this same engine to haul this much weight over the pass. Give that some consideration when you're doing 25 mph while passing RVs with bigger engines on the side of the road on that same hill.

The steepest part of 26 and 22 are only a couple miles long. Don't try to drive up that at 55 and you'll be fine. These are not cars, and as you pointed out even cars overheat driving at speed on those hills.
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Old 01-27-2018, 03:07 PM   #6
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Year: '95
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Chassis: International 3600
Engine: T444/at545
Rated Cap: 72? 11 window...
It might be worth it to take 30 (i think) along the columbia, if i remember the grades are just hill after hill with gas stations sprinkled fairly often all the way to portland, i climbed 26 often and it was much more significant if memory serves

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Old 01-27-2018, 05:01 PM   #7
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That's 84 along the columbia, and yes it's flat if you're just wanting to get to eastern oregon. This time of year it is frequently icy and even shut down occasionally.

Hwy 30 will get you to Portland though, then you can get on 84 west.

Buy a set of chains for your bus and drive over the pass. It's nice to be able to stop at the ski lodges.
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Old 01-27-2018, 07:33 PM   #8
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What about trans temp? You can kill all your tranny fluid quite literally in a few minutes if it gets too hot. And the rest of the trans won't last long either.

The chart below is pretty much the same as what Allison states...

7 Ways To Destroy Your Automatic Transmission - Clean Machine Car Wash
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Old 01-27-2018, 08:03 PM   #9
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I'd say #2 on your list answers your question.

As with anything commons sense applies. I don't drive through the passes knowing my 545 is already weak, even though it's sporting new fluid. I'm sure I could make it, but I don't think I have very many hard pulls left in this transmission. I'd be planning places specifically for the transmission to cool down for several hours and then I'd be pulling the hard hills at a relaxed pace in a low gear. The pass is way on the other side of the valley and I don't want to break down over there so for me it's best avoided if possible for now. There's been some nice buses over in eastern Oregon that I'd have liked to have looked at.
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Old 01-28-2018, 01:25 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Question You guys are great!!

The bus I was going to look at is a 98 Thomas FE 5.9 Cummings, 545 Alison tran. It has 233000 miles, $5500 price tag. Wolf Creek Bus Sales says they sell about 8 buses a week, they have 2 of these now and expect more. 77 inches headroom!! 35 foot puller? Is this considered a midsize?
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Old 01-28-2018, 06:57 PM   #11
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Year: '95
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Chassis: International 3600
Engine: T444/at545
Rated Cap: 72? 11 window...
Just my 2 cents thats wayyy to much money for anything except a literally perfect school bus. My 95 11 window t444 at545 air ride air brakes cost 2200 with half the miles in great condition, but a low roof. Thats still on the high side of reasonable.

35 feet is getting close to full size, the max is 40 foot. Most measure by how many "windows" as a quick reference, longest is 12 or 13.

If it was me id go look at the bus and unless its absolutely perfect shape walk away. If it is perfect dont pay more than 3k ( 5.9 + at545 ) bonus points for screws not rivets inside.

Generally dealerships are overpriced, try searchtempest.com or govdeals.com

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