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Old 09-20-2019, 10:47 AM   #1
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New and looking for some informative help

Hello all, the name is Cora and i'm looking for a bit more info on some stuff

First a bit about me and my background, I'm former carpenter, so i have plenty of experience in all sort of trade skills from carpentry, plumbing, electrical, even helped install some solar panels, i even have a bit of wielding even experience when I had a job as a mechanic working on trailer chassis that hauled connex, So i like to think i have some very well rounded experience to convert a bus. However when it comes to engines, i know the basics and and no clue in pull/ towing strength.

I also have years of experience living in a small space, I lived in alaska with a 8/12 cabin, wood heat, electricity, no running water and an out house and even in a 8/16 trailer in the winter. So i know i can handle the bus or tiny home life.

I have been watching alot of youtube vids lately and i'm not really getting alot of info for my query.

So my goal/plan is I want to got back to working in national parks resorts again, i did so when i was 19 and 20, but now i have alot more experience and skills, so why not put those skills to use and see the country?

So through my research majority of parks have a 27' rv limit, that limits my choice if i want to be able to work in any park i want. But I also want to be able to tow a jeep or a Baja Bug behind it, bug being more of choice cause i love em, and they are lighter in weight and maintenance is super easy on em. So what I'm looking for is knowing what kinda of bus model, engine,transmission i would need to be able to full fill this criteria.

I do know that flat nose does give me more living space, I also was thinking doing a possible pop out feature, and even adding exterior storage on the sides by the skirting, and maybe even a fold down deck on the side, that one is a we will see. but the first thing is knowing what kind of bus I am needing to accomplish my criteria.

anyways any help or information would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 09-20-2019, 06:30 PM   #2
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After doing a bit of digging, i think have i found a type of bus that would meet my needs, which would be a Blue Bird TC/2000 for my size limit and has a front flat nose whit front engine ( seems toe be roughly 27' although i could get something longer and lop off part of the back, which would be no big deal, just more work ) it comes with a 6BTA5.9 Cummins 24V ( if i'm not mistaken ) and an Allison transmission ( unspecified what kind), so the question is pros and cons of that engine, and can it do what i want, which would be hauling a light weight 3k ish vehicle behind it easily? I don't know squat about diesel or commercial diesel engines.
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Old 09-20-2019, 06:39 PM   #3
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The con is going to be the most likely AT545 transmission. Okay as long as it never sees severe duty. A TC2000 is worth $2-$3k
With your previous experience a bus at 8x20 will seem like a mansion to you.
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Old 09-20-2019, 10:03 PM   #4
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The con is going to be the most likely AT545 transmission. Okay as long as it never sees severe duty. A TC2000 is worth $2-$3k
With your previous experience a bus at 8x20 will seem like a mansion to you.

I'm guessing when you say "severe duty" you mean like steep terrain? but should handle highway mountain passes well otherwise it should be fine, right? sorry, just wanting a little clarity for that, cause it could mean anything haha
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Old 09-20-2019, 10:25 PM   #5
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I'm guessing when you say "severe duty" you mean like steep terrain? but should handle highway mountain passes well otherwise it should be fine, right? sorry, just wanting a little clarity for that, cause it could mean anything haha
Depending on how big your bus is, it may still not like long term highway speeds. Some have not had issues, but these are known deficiencies.
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Old 09-20-2019, 11:10 PM   #6
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Depending on how big your bus is, it may still not like long term highway speeds. Some have not had issues, but these are known deficiencies.
hmm good to know, tho a bus could come with a M643 transmission too, as it didn't specify, does the mt643 have about the same issues?
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Old 09-20-2019, 11:50 PM   #7
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also a 2005 Thomas MVP fist my criteria, has a Caterpillar C7 207 HP and a llison AD2500, which i'm assuming would be an over all option?
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Old 09-21-2019, 01:05 AM   #8
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hmm good to know, tho a bus could come with a M643 transmission too, as it didn't specify, does the mt643 have about the same issues?
No, it doesn't. It has a locking torque converter that solves all the bad issues of the 545 without going into too much detail.
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Old 09-21-2019, 09:22 AM   #9
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Hi Cora,

We've got a TC2000 so I can help you with your questions.

Almost all front engine TC2000s have the AT545 transmissions. Until recently I believed they all did, but I found a couple that were specially manufactured with the MT643. Don't plan on finding one of those.

The engine on a front engine model will almost always be a cummins 5.9. Depending on year, either the 6BTA 12 valve mechanical or the ISB 24 valve electronic (after 1998 I believe). Early models also had a gas option, you don't want that and neither did anyone else, they dropped it from the product after a year or two of not selling any.

if you look at a rear engine, the MT643 and Cummins 8.3 were both available options. Lots of prison buses had that setup.

The MT643 is twice the transmission the AT545 is. Literally, it weighs twice as much. The 643 is a much heavier duty unit, and the lock-up in 3rd and 4th can be a huge difference. If you plan to tow, I'd say write off a bus with the AT545.

A 32 foot front engine TC2000 will have similar living area to a 40 foot dog nose bus, due to the engine being under the floor. Iin exchange, you get to learn to drive a bus where the front wheels are a few feet behind you.

Overall the TC2000 is a great bus. They made a million of them and they're good reliable solid buses. They're not great on the highway, but I've been through mountains in mine with no real problems. I have the AT545 in mine and a big upgrade would be to add a transmission cooler and a transmission temperature sensor, as heat is what kills them.

Rear engine models won't have a back door which many of us use for garage space. They will also be a bit quieter and cooler for the driver since the motor will be way behind you instead of right next to you. I haven't seen any rear engine TC2000s that weren't bigger than 32 ft.

The Thomas MVP is also a great bus, but you have to go older than 2004. The Cat C7 has a very poor reputation for reliability and cost of repair. 2004 introduces a new set of EPA restrictions that ultimately ended the golden age of reliable diesels.
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Old 09-21-2019, 11:44 AM   #10
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Thanks Brokedown for all that more detailed info, i have also seen early 2003 thoams s-tliner mvp mid chassis, that fit what i might be looking for, the more information i have always the better, that you so much for all that insight! This isn't going to a rush jump decision, i want to make sure i know exactly want i want and need for my needs, so yea, i'mm all about getting as much info as possible.
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Old 09-21-2019, 12:20 PM   #11
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also a 2005 Thomas MVP fist my criteria, has a Caterpillar C7 207 HP and a llison AD2500, which i'm assuming would be an over all option?
I'm only kinda half-informed, so take it with a grain of salt, but I think the C7 is a known troublemaking engine and it's been advised to avoid it. Also, apparently post-2004 buses have expensive emissions control-related issues. That transmission, though, is a winnah!
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