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Old 04-05-2017, 12:34 AM   #1
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Is it worth $2,000?

Hello, I'm new! I'm from South Dakota and My wife and I are selling our rental property and moving into an apartment for a year until we decide what we want to be when we grow up. We've always been fascinated by bus conversions and want to do our own. With a little Facebook browsing, we found one about 80 miles away.

The bus is a 1997 international with the 7.3 turbo diesel. (Is this the same powerstroke in the f250s?)
It has 277,000 miles and the guy said it is road ready. It's been sitting since last summer in his yard. He used the bus for a ragbrai biking event in 2015.

What I need to know:
Should I try to negotiate the price?
If I do buy:
Should I bring fresh fuel?
Should I bring oil?
What tools should I bring?

Thanks everyone!
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Old 04-05-2017, 02:00 AM   #2
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Hey, Yokel, welcome to the forum!

As always... anything is worth exactly what someone is willing to pay for it.

Fuel FILTERS. Both of them. Two each.

A buddy with appropriate skills and tools.
I'm not picking on you. But a bus is a major mechanical implement. Too many perfectly good human beings who happen to have different kinds of skills... buy a bus... and get nowhere with the project.

I've done it myself plenty -- with Stuff where my diesel rig skills where irrelevant.

The 7.3 which is found in some Ford pickups... is also known as the DT444 (or DTA444). It is built by International (Harvester). And it is a good engine -- no terrible weaknesses (which cannot be said for some other diesel engines found in Fords).

In a 1997, the engine is perhaps controlled by a computer. This would be a drawback. But mechanically controlled engines went out of fashion around that time. Try to find out which it is.

Tires matter. A set of six tires can set you back something like $2,500.
Learn to read the age code on tires. (Plenty info online.)

If everything checks out pretty OK, then $2,000 is a good enough price.

Unless it is rusty. Then.. run, don't walk.

More info might help us help you, but what you really need is a mechanic with relevant skills to look it over with you.
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Old 04-06-2017, 12:10 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Elliot Naess View Post
Hey, Yokel, welcome to the forum!

As always... anything is worth exactly what someone is willing to pay for it.

Fuel FILTERS. Both of them. Two each.

A buddy with appropriate skills and tools.
I'm not picking on you. But a bus is a major mechanical implement. Too many perfectly good human beings who happen to have different kinds of skills... buy a bus... and get nowhere with the project.

I've done it myself plenty -- with Stuff where my diesel rig skills where irrelevant.

The 7.3 which is found in some Ford pickups... is also known as the DT444 (or DTA444). It is built by International (Harvester). And it is a good engine -- no terrible weaknesses (which cannot be said for some other diesel engines found in Fords).

In a 1997, the engine is perhaps controlled by a computer. This would be a drawback. But mechanically controlled engines went out of fashion around that time. Try to find out which it is.

Tires matter. A set of six tires can set you back something like $2,500.
Learn to read the age code on tires. (Plenty info online.)

If everything checks out pretty OK, then $2,000 is a good enough price.

Unless it is rusty. Then.. run, don't walk.

More info might help us help you, but what you really need is a mechanic with relevant skills to look it over with you.
Thank you very much! I'm excited and extremely nervous. I'm not a mechanic by any stretch of the imagination but I have a few ASE certified mechanics and a friend that's a diesel mechanic so I'm pretty confident we can get her done. Also since we are selling our house, we will have a pretty open budget. The one thing that worries me is storing the bus while I work on it...
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Old 04-06-2017, 10:26 AM   #4
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Engine: 5,9 Cummins
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Well, I suggest you resist the temptation to throw money at a bus, just because you feel flush from selling the house. To my mind, that is money you will need to buy your next house when the day comes.

(I do not understand what you mean by selling your "rental property and moving into an apartment". Around here, a rental is where someone else lives and pays you money, generating net income for you.)

You are thinking correctly about park- and work-space. Make sure the space is suitable in every way -- a solid agreement with the owner, conformance with any zoning or other regulations, and whatnot.

Best of luck!
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Old 04-06-2017, 10:34 AM   #5
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its a T-444E (Not DT444) and *IS* controlled by computer... and is Similar to the 7.3 powerstroke in the fords but NOT the same...
some of the 97s had the older style 3-box computer system prone to more issues.. esp communications issues between modules. later 97s on up have the Diamond computers... this Single module computer seems to be more reliable.

there is ONE main fuel filter on a T-444E, it is in a round canister on top of the engine.

there IS a check-engine (WARN ENGINE) light.. that light should illuminate during starting procedure (you'll see its gold self on the left side of the dash).. and then go off a few sexconds after start... if you Never see it light up, be careful.. the bulb couldve been removed... if it is on Solid then some part of the computer system isnt happy..


277k Can be a lot for a 444E or a little depending oin how it was driven and how it was cared for... in a Big bus the 444E is often underpowered.. (unless you got one of the 210 HP variants... or even luckier got the rare 230HP variant.. {never seen that 230 in a school bus}..

-Christopher
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Old 04-06-2017, 02:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
its a T-444E (Not DT444) and *IS* controlled by computer... and is Similar to the 7.3 powerstroke in the fords but NOT the same...
some of the 97s had the older style 3-box computer system prone to more issues.. esp communications issues between modules. later 97s on up have the Diamond computers... this Single module computer seems to be more reliable.

there is ONE main fuel filter on a T-444E, it is in a round canister on top of the engine.

there IS a check-engine (WARN ENGINE) light.. that light should illuminate during starting procedure (you'll see its gold self on the left side of the dash).. and then go off a few sexconds after start... if you Never see it light up, be careful.. the bulb couldve been removed... if it is on Solid then some part of the computer system isnt happy..


277k Can be a lot for a 444E or a little depending oin how it was driven and how it was cared for... in a Big bus the 444E is often underpowered.. (unless you got one of the 210 HP variants... or even luckier got the rare 230HP variant.. {never seen that 230 in a school bus}..

-Christopher
Chris, I haven't climbed around under the hood yet and REALLY inspected thoroughly other than looking at the Allison to see which one I have. (643). How do you check for the HP ?
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Old 04-06-2017, 02:16 PM   #7
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$2k is a decent price for a bus.

they could sell it for scrap which would net them a similar amount.

scrap means they know how expensive it is to maintain and its cheaper to be rid of it.

no matter if you get this or a different bus, you'll keep putting money into after you pay the purchase price. the $2k is only the beginning.
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Old 04-06-2017, 02:36 PM   #8
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Last year I put $2,050 in Millicent -- king pins and steering linkage joints, and front brakes.

Wonderful info, Chris!
I don't even try to keep up with everything.

Of course, Yokel... the D (as in DT444) stands for Diesel. T for turbo. If there is an A, it stands for aftercooler. Of course, most modern diesel engines are turbo-charged and aftercooled.
And the E for electronic.

But the manufacturers fool with the nomenclature constantly, trying to make their products seem "New and Improved, Longer, Lower, Wider....
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Old 04-06-2017, 02:59 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Phatman View Post
Chris, I haven't climbed around under the hood yet and REALLY inspected thoroughly other than looking at the Allison to see which one I have. (643). How do you check for the HP ?
Check on the valve cover, there's often a placard indicating the HP rating.
In mine, the ECM has the hp rating on a sticker.
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