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Old 01-21-2019, 09:31 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: Vermont
Posts: 53
Year: 2002
Engine: T444E/Allison 2000
Need Help!! About to Buy!!!!

Hello Everyone!!!

My wife and I are about to embark on the journey of converting a skoolie and couldn't be more excited. I'm pretty confused on the hours vs. miles and want to make sure we get at least the engine situation right before beginning...

I found a 2002 International with 96K miles BUT 17K hours. It has a dual a/c so I suspect significant idle time and it puts the bus roughly at 5.5 mph for life span if my math is correct.... Is this an idiotic buy? I don't/can't afford for us to have to do an engine rebuild right off the bat and we want to live in this for at least a year or two to travel/pay off student loans.

Any help/recommendations is greatly appreciated!!!

Best,

K&L
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Old 01-21-2019, 10:17 PM   #2
Bus Geek
 
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Dawsonville, Ga.
Posts: 5,266
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Genesis
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Engine: DT466/3060
Rated Cap: 77
Can you verify it's the original speedometer? It is very common that they get replaced. time wise it works out to 115miles a week
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Old 01-22-2019, 12:26 AM   #3
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Georgia
Posts: 1,325
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: IH
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 14
Details are lacking. It's not uncommon for these instrument clusters to stop working after some years and they are usually just replaced. The most common failure is solder joints and if you're handy with it, you can re-flow the solder easily enough for a free fix (I just had to do this on my own bus. LED lights were installed while I had it out).


Miles are reasonable but hours is another matter. And just as importantly, what engine and transmission does this bus have. "Diesel" and "Automatic" answers are *NOT* good enough! What type of brakes? (Hydraulic or air). Does the rear suspension have air-ride (gives a better ride if it does)? Engine options are T444E or DT466E. Check to see if it has the AT545 transmission (undesirable model), pretty much any other automatic should be fine. Check the rear end gear ratio, too low of a gear (higher numerically) will limit your top speed. With a non-overdrive transmission, you'll want something in the low 4's; with an overdrive transmission you'll be fine with something in the low 5's. (Example gear ratios include 4.10, 4.44, 5.38. There are others.)
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Old 01-22-2019, 10:31 AM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: Vermont
Posts: 53
Year: 2002
Engine: T444E/Allison 2000
The engine is a DT466E, it has a Allison AT545 automatic transmission. The transmission has 1 to 3 on the shifter, air brakes... Pretty much all I know. This is starting to sound like it may be a money pit. With all the hours on it and now the tranny being the 545 I'm a bit sketched out!!!
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Old 01-22-2019, 10:37 AM   #5
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Location: Dawsonville, Ga.
Posts: 5,266
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Genesis
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466/3060
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinDarcy11 View Post
The engine is a DT466E, it has a Allison AT545 automatic transmission. The transmission has 1 to 3 on the shifter, air brakes... Pretty much all I know. This is starting to sound like it may be a money pit. With all the hours on it and now the tranny being the 545 I'm a bit sketched out!!!
The 545 has no lock up converter to slow you down on downgrades, therefore it's always heating up the fluid causing it to overheat and eat itself if subjected to long highway speeds or mountain passes. It is a tranny only considered for short runs or stationary living.
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Old 01-22-2019, 10:41 AM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: Vermont
Posts: 53
Year: 2002
Engine: T444E/Allison 2000
Great to know. Are there any engines/transmissions you recommend? We definitely will be driving long distances. We are currently in VT and our first stop will either be AZ or MT but obviously camping a long the way!
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Old 01-22-2019, 10:43 AM   #7
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Dawsonville, Ga.
Posts: 5,266
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Genesis
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466/3060
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinDarcy11 View Post
Great to know. Are there any engines/transmissions you recommend? We definitely will be driving long distances. We are currently in VT and our first stop will either be AZ or MT but obviously camping a long the way!
IMHO the best combo is the DT466E and an Alisson 3060 with 6th gear unlocked. That bus has the right engine, just completely the wrong tranny.
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Old 01-22-2019, 10:52 AM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: Vermont
Posts: 53
Year: 2002
Engine: T444E/Allison 2000
Ahhh what a bummer. Any input on other tranny/engines to keep an eye out for? From some research, I've seen that Cummins are pretty good but to stay away from CATS.... Thank you so much for the help in advance, it's greatly appreciated!
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Old 01-22-2019, 11:09 AM   #9
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Dawsonville, Ga.
Posts: 5,266
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Genesis
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466/3060
Rated Cap: 77
CATs had a "stay away from" stigma mostly from those who have never owned one. One our members, I won't name names Charlie. Used to not have good things to say about them until he bought one and found out it's not near as bad as the rep it carries at times. Cat parts may be a bit pricier and service is usually required from a CAT mechanic. Cummins makes different engines. The 8.3 I've heard good things about, but the 5.9 is probably the most common engine out there, but the least desired. It is the most common engine for school bus routes and is usually governed to around 55mph max.and is usually backed with an Allison 545. Others will chime in with their experience with other drivetrains.
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Old 01-22-2019, 11:22 AM   #10
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 4,055
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
I mostly agree with Marc.

I do feel a little different about the Cummins 5.9.

I have owned several 5.9's and in the right application it is one of my favorites. In a shorty, I would take a 5.9 over a T444e.

In a full size bus I would stick with an 8.3 or DT-466/530 and either an Allison 2500, MD-3060 or MT-643.

If by any chance you happen across a 5.9 powered 5-6 window please ping me?
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