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Old 05-03-2015, 10:29 AM   #21
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And...swapping the ring and pinion for something more highway friendly is not all that big a deal. If...you can find the right set. And they don't have to be new. Most R&P gears are seriously tough and should easily be good for 500K + miles so you might find a solid set at a bargain price by junkin.

That said, it is often easier to swap axles.
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Old 05-03-2015, 01:10 PM   #22
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In reply to bansil's question 9.00r20's on split rim's I do want to change the rim's but I don't know if I can go that much bigger and I would also like to go wider for getting off of the pavement every now and then?
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Old 05-03-2015, 02:12 PM   #23
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Nat just trying to listen to the old schooler's advice. He also said that his church bought one and followed his advice with no problem's and bought two more later and didn't follow the advice and they are constantly getting the two rear's and transmission's worked on? Just trying to heed a warning from a man that spent his life working on these thing's and asking for opinion's on how to address my issue? I am to far involved to start over just because of speed! I don't care how many people get pissed off because they are stuck behind me? I piss people off at my work on a daily basis ( commercial steam fitter,plumber,HVAC superintendent) on several military bases. I am looking for a group to agree on a fix to my power train issues? Right now I figure it is everything I have and don't know where to start wasting money and time that I don't have either way?
I am up for a rear end swap but if that is going to kill my tranny then why don't I just adjust the governors and run the rear until it is gone and change the rear then or is changing the tranny the issue? Both motor and tranny are used in higher speed application's which once again lead's back to the rear gear's? I was just looking for logical agreement from the one's that are building there own! Please don't just agree with me just to shut me up? I hate that I get it every week at work. Educated opinion's only please?
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Old 05-03-2015, 07:13 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jolly Roger View Post
Educated opinion's only please?

I have worked on trucks and such my entire life. I currently work part time at a bus shop.

Change the rear axle first.

Transmission second.

After you swap the rear axle, you may find no need to swap the transmission.

Again, the AT545 transmission dose not care about speed. To much Input power from the engine, low RPM, and over heating due to lack of cooling are the only things that kill the AT545.
As long as you keep the RPM's of the engine at 2000 RPM or higher, the bands in the AT545 will have full holding power. Anything under 2000 RPM will cause band slippage, causing heat that will burn up the transmission.

Nat
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Old 05-03-2015, 07:31 PM   #25
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Quote:
Educated opinion's only please?
Please spare us. This is a public forum. What you get is what you get. You want educated opinions, go to the dealer a pay for that opinion.

Quote:
I don't care how many people get pissed off because they are stuck behind me? I piss people off at my work on a daily basis ( commercial steam fitter,plumber,HVAC superintendent) on several military bases.
This says more than you know. You want an answer to your question. How much money do you have? Go buy a mechanically injected 8.3 Cummins. Go buy a MD3060 transmission. Go to an Allison dealer and pay them to program for the double overdrive. Go get yourself a rearend with a 4.10 ratio and put it all in your bus. You will be able to go faster then would ever feel safe driving in your bus. Does this answer your question and make you happy?
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Old 05-04-2015, 07:23 AM   #26
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So, I've got a few questions for yall in this forum. Being new to this, I've done a little lurking and have seen a few opinions but no overwhelming consensus.

First: What do I look for when purchasing a bus? My budget for the bus is in the $3000-5000 range. Is that appropriate?

Second: There seems to be several different engines I can go with. I've seen people talk about the 8.3 Cummins, and haven't really seen anything bad said about it. I haven't seen an 8.3 Cummins on Craigslist in my area though. It looks like the most prevalent engine is the 7.3 Navistar/Powerstroke. What would be the best engine to go with?

Third: what about the coach manufacturer? I've seen a lot of blue birds. Does the manufacturer of the coach make a difference?


Just looking for some opinions. What should I be looking for?

Thanks,

-Austin

PS: I'm sure there are other threads where these things may have been discussed. Feel free to post helpful links.
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Old 05-04-2015, 10:12 AM   #27
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Opinions? We have plenty of those here so be prepared to filter them all.

I'll pre-qualify mine as "strictly my own"...

You can't do much better than a Cummins. I prefer the purely mechanical engines over anything that relies on a half dozen computers.

The NaviStar engines by International seem fine. I don't consider the Powerstokes by Ford as "real" diesels.

As for Skoolie coach companies, BB & Crown are top of the line. Some of the others have multi-piece ribs that seriously weaken the overall structure. BB's are one piece.

Don't forget the tranny. Avoid the old Allison AT545 if you can and look for a later model 5-speed. Many of them can be reprogrammed into 6-speeds.

Overall condition...if it came from salt-road country, check it really close. The frames can be practically rusted through after just a few years. Better yet, find one from a salt free part of the country..

There are tons of other considerations and other folks here will no doubt chime in with their own opinions. Just keep in mind what opinions are like...and everybody has one.

Best of luck, read up, research and go for it!
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Old 05-04-2015, 10:29 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by austin1989us View Post
So, I've got a few questions for yall in this forum. Being new to this, I've done a little lurking and have seen a few opinions but no overwhelming consensus.

First: What do I look for when purchasing a bus? My budget for the bus is in the $3000-5000 range. Is that appropriate?

Second: There seems to be several different engines I can go with. I've seen people talk about the 8.3 Cummins, and haven't really seen anything bad said about it. I haven't seen an 8.3 Cummins on Craigslist in my area though. It looks like the most prevalent engine is the 7.3 Navistar/Powerstroke. What would be the best engine to go with?

Third: what about the coach manufacturer? I've seen a lot of blue birds. Does the manufacturer of the coach make a difference?


Just looking for some opinions. What should I be looking for?

Thanks,

-Austin

PS: I'm sure there are other threads where these things may have been discussed. Feel free to post helpful links.
I'd say that budget is fine for finding a good solid bus.

DT466 or Cummins 8.3 would be the two engines I'd be looking for.

As far as the manufaturer- I think they're all about the same. Splitting hairs if you ask me. I expected my Ward to be much crappier than it is. In my opinion its better built than my 85' Thomas was.

Just look for signs of rust. Rust is the enemy and will add lots of time, money, and aggravation to the project. Also finding a bus with really good tires is a huge plus. Six new tires will cost somewhere in the 1500-2000 ballpark.
Transmission is an important choice. Avoid the 545 if you're going to be hitting any hills or mountains.
Just my 2cents.
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Old 05-04-2015, 10:53 AM   #29
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There has been quite a bit of discussion on this thread that goes way beyond just saying Howdy!

I will try and address some of the questions and comments.

Split rim tires have nothing to do with rear gearing outside of the size of the tire on the rim. If the wheel is a Dayton spoke wheel you are limited to a 20" split rim or 22.5" tubeless rim. With spoke wheels the size of the tire is limited to how wide the center spacer is (you don't want side walls to touch) and how much fender space you have. If you have room you could go as tall as 12X22.5. With Budd wheels, if you have the 10-lug hole pattern, you can swap the 20" split rims for 22.5" or 24.5" wheels without any problem. Again, the size of the tire would be limited to how much room you have in the fender. A 10X22.5 tire would be equivalent in size to a 9X20 tire.

I have never heard or seen a medium duty truck rear end have problems that were not maintenance related. If the wrong oil is used, if the oil level is allowed to get low, or if the oil is contaminated the result could be very bad. But speed has never been an issue in regards to rear end issues in my experience. Allison may have some issues with output shaft speeds but that is on the transmission end and not on the rear end.

Getting back to the original posters phases of construction, do the mechancial part first. Or rather, purchase a bus that doesn't need the mechanicals addresses unless you can get the bus for free. You will spend a lot more $$$ and a lot more of your time than you will care to spend if you don't purchase a bus with a good power package at the start.

There are enough buses out there for sale that you shouldn't settle for something just because it is cheap or close by.

While the prospect of driving several thousand miles to pick up a bus and drive it back home can be a bit daunting you may actually save time and $$$ by doing so. The amount of time and $$$ it takes to repair the power package or rust could be more than balanced by going further afield to find a bus with no rust or a better power package.

In regards to preferences for body makers or engine makers most of the opionions are more Ford vs. Chevy vs. Mopar than anything else.

I personally do not like blue Birds and would not choose one if
there was a Thomas, Carpenter, or IC bus with the same power package, condition, and price. But if it had a preferred power package and the price was right I would purchase a Bllue Bird.

I personally do not like Cat engines. In my experience they cost a lot more to operate than the others--they don't call it Caterpillar gold for no reason.

Mercedes-Benz and Ford of Brazil make good engines but getting parts, service, and people who know how to work on them can be few and far between.

The champion in the medium duty truck engine category has to be the IHC DT466. It is a super reliable engine that given even minimal care will see in excess of 350,000 miles. With reasonable care they can go 500,000 miles without any major hiccup.

All things being equal I would purchase an inline engine before a V-type engine just because they pull harder on hills. But then I live in western WA where nothing is flat. If I lived in a different locale where it was comparatively flat it wouldn't be an issue.

At the end of the day, before you purchase any bus you need to make a list of the must haves, must not haves, it would be nice to have, and the is doesn't make a difference haves. The more specific your list becomes the more informed your purchase will be.

Contact me directly if you would like to chat about your alternatives.

Good luck and happy trails.
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Old 05-04-2015, 12:05 PM   #30
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Regarding the transmissions: While it's true that an electronic Allison automatic can technically be reprogrammed to have double overdrive, I have yet to hear of a Blue Bird owner achieving that. Allison requires approval of the OEM before making the change, and I haven't heard of anybody obtaining that from Blue Bird. We do have a few forum members with Thomas buses who have made it to the 6-speed utopia. Maybe some day.. but for now, it's prudent to assume the electronic Allison in a Blue Bird is going to remain a 5-speed.
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