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Old 10-23-2016, 05:50 PM   #1
Skoolie
 
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Advice on bus purchase for a Noob

Hey all...First real post! I've been lurking for a few weeks and reading up on skoolies. I found a local bus that seems like a great fit, but I'm hoping those of you who know WAY more than me will chime in.

My purpose: Full time living/travel. I live in Colorado, and want to tow my Suby Forester, so something that will make it in the mountains is a must. I am pretty sold on a roof raise, partly so I can add enough insulation to make 4 season mountain-states living viable.

So I found this auction going on (a 1997 TC2000 8.3l with lower storage *squeee*), and this bus seems like right in the sweet spot. My only hesitation is that I can't tell what transmission it might have (other than "automatic"). Anybody have any idea what this combo usually comes with? The price looks like it might be right, too.

Gov Deals 1997 TC2000

Thanks in advance!
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Old 10-23-2016, 07:18 PM   #2
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Given the push button shifter, I'd say it's probably an Allison of some kind, probably a 2000 or 3000 series, though an MT643 is also a possibility (did those come with push button shifters?)

I would certainly go inspect it first, if you're close enough.... maybe see if they'll let you take it for a couple of laps around the parking lot just to see how it runs and drives. Crawl all over it, looking for rust... some on the body is not desirable but is acceptable since it can be fixed.... rust on the frame, not so much. If it's very minor and can be fixed with relative ease then ok, if not RUN AWAY! Rust is something you do not want to deal with if you don't have to.

Check the engine well for fluid leaks.... there again a minor drip of engine oil is ok as long as you keep tabs on it, but if you start it up and it's gushing, RUN AWAY! If it's leaking around the turbo, RUN AWAY!

Also, see if you can get access to the maintenance records, see what kind of problems it's had in the past and when... you especially want to know if it was in the shop multiple times for the same thing.

Overall she looks nice, with plenty of room to work with, and some decent rubber.
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Old 10-23-2016, 07:19 PM   #3
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I went through Midwest Transit to purchase my Thomasbuilt HDX. Good reputation, bus is solid transit-style. Drove it from Kankakee to Billings with no problems.
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Old 10-24-2016, 08:30 AM   #4
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Thanks, AlleyCat! I'm going to see if I can go down there later today and look at it. What you say is all great advice, and makes perfect sense. I didn't even think about asking about service records, which is brilliant.

I'm comfortable looking for rust (doubt that'll be an issue, thank goodness we don't have a lot of problem with that here), and looking for major leaks in the engine. But I'm not very knowledgeable about mechanics (I can check fluids, change oil, and point out the major pieces, but that's about it) in "regular" vehicles, much less giant ones.

So........Where's the turbo? Where should I be looking for it to leak? If someone could maybe put up a picture, that would be awesome?

Thanks again!
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Old 10-24-2016, 08:54 AM   #5
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I put in a bid on that bus. I think a few of us are watching it.
I'm topping out at 1750. I low bid, but hey that's how the real bargains come. I bid early on with what I feel would be a good deal. Anyone that wants it more than me can have it, they just have to pay more than what I'd pay.
I use the opposite of ebay tactics when bidding on GovDeals.
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Old 10-24-2016, 09:13 AM   #6
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Haha.... Yeah, I figured some here would already see it. I'm of the same mind...... I will likely try, and see what happens, and if someone wants it more than me, I'm sure they'll end up with a great bus!
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Old 10-24-2016, 09:28 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FuzzWantsABus View Post
Thanks, AlleyCat! I'm going to see if I can go down there later today and look at it. What you say is all great advice, and makes perfect sense. I didn't even think about asking about service records, which is brilliant.

I'm comfortable looking for rust (doubt that'll be an issue, thank goodness we don't have a lot of problem with that here), and looking for major leaks in the engine. But I'm not very knowledgeable about mechanics (I can check fluids, change oil, and point out the major pieces, but that's about it) in "regular" vehicles, much less giant ones.

So........Where's the turbo? Where should I be looking for it to leak? If someone could maybe put up a picture, that would be awesome?

Thanks again!
The turbo will be bolted to the exhaust manifold right by the engine, and it'll kinda look like two huge metal snails side by side.



edit: pic doesn't want to work, click here.


In that picture, the only rusty thing you see, that's the exhaust side of the turbo. There'll be an exhaust pipe coming out the side of that "snail shell". The round piece right next to the rusty part with the intake tube going into the side of it is the compressor side of the turbo. The part of the shell where the snail would come out is where another tube will be connected. This is where the charged intake air exits the turbo.

Where those three tubes connect is the worst place to see oil, but if you see any signs of oil anywhere on it, just snap a picture and post it here.
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Old 10-24-2016, 09:59 AM   #8
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Ah! Perfectly explained. Got it. Thanks so much for taking the time to do that. Love how helpful folks here are.
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Old 10-24-2016, 11:59 AM   #9
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Tranny

So I called and found out that it has an Allison World tranny. Will that tranny perform well for towing in the mountains?
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Old 10-24-2016, 12:24 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by FuzzWantsABus View Post
Ah! Perfectly explained. Got it. Thanks so much for taking the time to do that. Love how helpful folks here are.

Glad that worked. I wasn't sure if I was actually doing a decent job describing it, or if it only made sense to me because I already knew what it was that I was trying to explain.


Quote:
Originally Posted by FuzzWantsABus View Post
So I called and found out that it has an Allison World tranny. Will that tranny perform well for towing in the mountains?
Yeah. "World" is a series of Allison transmissions. The exact model is most likely an MD3060.

They're all 6 speed, double overdrive transmissions with lock-up torque converters. However, the ones installed in school buses have sixth gear electronically eliminated. It's theoretically possible to get it unlocked by an Allison dealer, but only if you can get a letter from the vehicle manufacturer approving the modification. Good luck with that. To my knowledge, nobody's ever had any success in that endeavor, because the bus manufacturers aren't willing to accept that liability.
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Old 10-24-2016, 12:32 PM   #11
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Ok, that's kind of what I figured. Even with the 6th gear locked, though....Seems like from what I've read they'll stand up ok to the mountains and towing? I've seen a lot of people talking about tranny coolers (seems like generally when talking about the AT545), too. Is that something to think about with the MD3060 for the use I intend?

Sorry for all the questions. I appreciate everyone's time.
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Old 10-24-2016, 02:47 PM   #12
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Heat is the worst enemy of an automatic transmission. As soon as one gets hot, wear on internal parts is greatly accelerated. Any automatic used for towing would benefit from having an auxiliary cooler installed, but especially the AT545. The AT's non-lockup converter generates a tremendous amount of heat under heavy load.

As far as sixth gear goes, having it unlocked won't benefit you at all in the mountains. What makes that proposition attractive is that it will raise your top end and lower your engine rpm at any given cruising speed. The latter equates to better fuel economy.

If most of your driving is going to be in the mountains with a load behind you, a bus with a MT643 would suit you well also. It's just as stout as a MD3060 and also has a lockup torque converter. It doesn't have an overdrive, which wouldn't really hurt you in the mountains, and buses with those transmissions generally sell cheaper than ones with MD's.
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Old 10-24-2016, 03:17 PM   #13
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Ah! Good to know. Thank you for making those comparisons. It's hard to pull all the widely varied information together at first. That helps big time! I am also keeping eyes open for busses with the DT466 & MT643, which seems to align with your advice, so we'll see what happens.
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