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Old 03-25-2015, 06:06 PM   #1
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How old is to old for a bus?

My wife and I are looking for a school bus and have seen quite a few, but they all seem to be pretty old and I was wondering at what point you are looking at a major engine overhaul. As an example I looked at a 91 Bluebird with a 5.9 cummins (FF, FE). According to the odometer it only had 140k miles (which the owner was proud of and pointed it out as low mileage bus), but the engine hour clock was 89XX hours which raised a red flag for me.

Is there a general rule of thumb regarding hours and overhauls? Is 8900 hours considered a lot?

Thanks in advance for the help!
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Old 03-25-2015, 06:52 PM   #2
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Just doing some basic math, that works out to 370 hours a year for a 24 year old bus. Not much over an hour a day seems pretty low actually.

It all comes down to the actual condition of the engine. If they can provide the maintenance logs, that's a good start, but I would still have a Cummins tech look it over. Going a half-million miles on a 6BT is not uncommon. Good basic motors and even better if they are non-computerized. And don't overlook the transmission. That's the other "biggie".

Good luck with it.
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Old 03-25-2015, 07:02 PM   #3
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Old 03-25-2015, 07:15 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tango View Post
Just doing some basic math, that works out to 370 hours a year for a 24 year old bus. Not much over an hour a day seems pretty low actually.

It all comes down to the actual condition of the engine. If they can provide the maintenance logs, that's a good start, but I would still have a Cummins tech look it over. Going a half-million miles on a 6BT is not uncommon. Good basic motors and even better if they are non-computerized. And don't overlook the transmission. That's the other "biggie".

Good luck with it.

Thanks. I have ruled this particular bus out for other reasons (too short, lot of rust, etc.), but whatever bus I decide on I will probably get my neighbor to look at it first. He has been a diesel mechanic his entire professional life (has a cummins 6bt tattooed on his arm!) so he can help me out there. I figure based on the selection down here (I want a FF bus), I will either get a bus with a 5.9 or a Cat 3126b and an AT545 trans. That seems to be what the majority of the FF buses in my price range seem to have around here.
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Old 03-25-2015, 09:40 PM   #5
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I would try to get one with a MT643 or newer model transmission, at545 does not have a lock up torque converter if you plan on driving on the highway
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Old 03-25-2015, 11:27 PM   #6
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My 23 year old $2200 bus runs great with a quarter million miles on it.
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Old 03-26-2015, 05:18 PM   #7
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I looked at a nice bus today, a Thomas MVP high ceiling, with a mechanical CAT 3116 and an MD3060 transmission. The price is a little high, but it has 6 new tires, new brakes, and quite a few other new parts. The owner runs some routes for the County, and the bus is inspected every 28 days, but has hit the age limit and needs to be replaced. Going to talk it over with my wife tonight and see if I make him an offer tomorrow.
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Old 03-26-2015, 05:31 PM   #8
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That sounds like a good bus to me.
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