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Old 01-04-2019, 03:22 PM   #1
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Advice Request: Are Refurbs/Rebuilds Risky to Buy?

Hello all! Question regarding certain mechanical issues in a conversion I'm considering: refurbished engine, needs rebuild of turbo. Details below.



I've been enjoying learning from you all. I am strongly considering purchasing an already converted skoolie. The DIY approach is cheaper, I understand, but a) I'm new to the skills needed, and b) I'm trying to downsize significantly so that I can save the capital needed to eventually do my own build or take the purchased conversion on the road with confidence.


I'm looking at a completed conversion for which the owner has agreed to $22k if the mechanical situation checks out. Here's the bus:


2001 Thomas Saf-T-Line, 30ft

24V 5.9L Cummins turbo diesel
Allison 545 transmission
146,000 miles
Engine: EFISB190
Front Axle: DANA E1320I
Rear Axle: DANA J190

The owner is checking for me whether it's a 53 block.

The engine was remanufactured in 2011:
Cummins ReCon Engine. Model ISB 190-2600, date of mfg. 02/04/11.
Valve Lash Cold Int .010 Exh .020
Firing Order 153624
Low Idle RPM 800
Rated H 190 @ 2600 RPM.



It was a church bus prior to its conversion.


The owner took it to a diesel mechanic two weeks ago and learned that it has an oil leak on the cold side of the turbo. A shop quoted the owner $600 to rebuild the turbo, and the owner is taking care of that before we finalize an agreement.



My question:
Are either the engine refurb in 2011 or rebuild of the turbo to repair the current oil leak on the cold side of the turbo red flags?


I'll have it checked out by another mechanic before I finalize a purchase if we get that far, of course, but the bus is 500 miles away so I'd like to have a good sense of it before I fly up there.



My needs:
I'll be keeping my skoolie in a mostly static location in the Austin area. I'm planning to keep it parked most of the year and live in it full time. Use it to learn more of about bus maintenance and conversion. This is not going to be hitting the long-term travel road quite yet; I want to have sufficient capital saved for emergency maintenance before I go far with it. But I do need to get it to where live (500 miles drive) and keep it in good working order.
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Old 01-04-2019, 03:41 PM   #2
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Location: Houston, Texas
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Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
Am I reading that right? $22 grand?


You can buy four similar buses all with better trans for that amount!
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Old 01-04-2019, 03:45 PM   #3
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Tango--it's an already converted bus. Sorry if I didn't make that sufficiently clear--I'll add an edit to my post. Insulated (reasonably, but not perfectly), wired, constructed, with solar and shore power. There are upgrades and adjustments I'd make to suit my preferences, but thus far it does not look like there are many I would need to make.
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Old 01-04-2019, 03:50 PM   #4
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Location: Houston, Texas
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Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
Ya...that does make a big difference. But I suggest anyone buying someone else's build spend as much time as possible going over all the ins & outs of the construction with the builder in detail. Especially electrical, plumbing, gas (propane) and any other such critical features.


Since no two are alike...they can often come with mystery elements.
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Old 01-04-2019, 03:54 PM   #5
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Makes sense--good advice. I'm also asking for all possible photos of the build process. That's already helped me judge the quality of the work.



My primary question at this stage--and I'm sure that this speaks to my very introductory knowledge about such things--is whether either the engine refurb in 2011 or rebuild of the turbo to repair the current oil leak on the cold side of the turbo are red flags?
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Old 01-04-2019, 04:00 PM   #6
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Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 8,460
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
As long as the refurb & turbo work were done correctly, they should be seen as a plus in my book. Can you get full records of the work done?...and by whom?
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Old 01-05-2019, 10:57 AM   #7
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Thanks, that helps! I can get records for the work done since the present owner bought and converted it. He doesn't have records for the engine refurb in 2011. I'm going to contact the church that owned it before him, though, to see if they have info.
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Old 01-08-2019, 06:41 AM   #8
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Location: Goose Bay NL
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Year: 1997
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 72
I'm with Tango on this. Unless the guy told you he refurb'd it, which I doubt is the case then I would be way less concerned with a shop Refurb and a turbo rebuild, than I would be with the internal conversion.
The plus you have is that you don't plan or long hauling it once you get it back to your neck of the woods, which will let you work out the kinks, comb it over and such.
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