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Old 07-02-2019, 09:25 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: May 2019
Posts: 51
New bus or Re-Convert+Repair?

Ok. So right now I've got a "fully" converted 11 window t444/at545 international 3600 (vista) that I've been full timing in for a bit over a year.

I just had the oil pan replaced, and the silicon gasket material the mech used is leaking bad enough to prevent me from running. I also need to replace the rear suspension air bags and the belt driven compressor soon (before next major trip in winter).

Inside, the roof leaks like a mad dog leading to a whole pile of mold/infestation problems. if I keep this bus I'll need to basically completely re-convert the entire interior sans seat removal which isn't really a big deal. I never took up the old school bus flooring, so I'd have to do that as well - including some rust repair (probably a decent amount).

Coachwork wise, the rear end of the bus was hit by Ö something .. at some point leading to a bunch of water seepage and rust issues. it will absolutely last another 3-5 years but then will need to be completely replaced, or I can coat the whole rear end in blackjack and hope for the best.

At this point in life I have a 2nd place to stay, and the finances to get/convert a (better) bus better (actual holding tanks, solar, experienced layout etc.

Lastly, the bus i'm in now has been insulated really well and is fully 4 seasons proofed down to about -50F or so. I can't take the insulation with me lol and it was a huge pain in the @$$ doing it.

So folks, what do you think. If you were in my shoes would you repair and reconvert the 444/at545 vista or buy a nice int. 3800 dt466/OD-trans to start from scratch on? its worth mentioning that I would absolutely tow something if I could - probably a few somethings.
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Old 07-02-2019, 09:40 PM   #2
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Well, at this point, it's about 50/50. You have enough issues to have an entire subscription at this point. All other considerations aside, if you want a better drivetrain, in addition to all the demo and remediation work, it may make more sense to snag a bus with your preferred drivetrain, redo it as you want it, and cannibalize from the old one. Finding one with minimal/no rust would be a plus.
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Old 07-02-2019, 09:41 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
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uhh is it just my internet or did the last 3/4 of the post not get Ö posted?
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Old 07-02-2019, 09:43 PM   #4
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You definitely have a tough decision on your hands.
Since you know what you have and what you have done to your current ride, the defining factor in whether to keep what you have or start anew will likely be roof leak(s), and floor rust.
Depending on the severity of both will it be easier to address the known issues, or start over with something you know little to nothing about in its previous history.

The 545 trans in your current ride is not known for being the greatest most robust/reliable transmission in a few driving situations. If the condition of the trans is excellent/good, meaning rebuilt within the last 1~2 years with less than 10k in mileage, then it might make sense to continue onward with your bus.

Also depending on your financial situation, it would likely be more cost effective to repair the known faults with what you have then diving headfirst into an unknown pool...?
Good luck on your choice going forward...
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Old 07-02-2019, 09:44 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
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ah I see it now, lol yeah just my internet. weird. anyway, yeah i'm kinda really on the fence... I mean if I ever want to tow a flicka 20 behind my skoolie i'm gonna need a better powertrain and a shorter bus. and yeah, the work i'd have to put into this one is about the same as what i'd do to a fresh one so... I guess when you put it like that I need to call my wife and get bus hunting don't I... crap/yay lol
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Old 07-02-2019, 09:49 PM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
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yeah my existing powertrain isn't gonna cut it in the long run. I've had no trans issues, but it isn't fresh by any means. My uncle does block swaps from busses to med-duty trucks for a living and I was always banking on getting the family discount someday.

as far as how bad the roof leaks... man it leaks a lot. the rust on the innards of the walls and ceiling (where I can't see) have gotta be really bad. I pulled about an inch of literal mud from the corners of where the wall meets the floor today after ripping out the living room carpet.. only to realize I need to bust down my kitchen lol.. so now I've got a pile of moldy plywood etc and a half converted bus.

so, on the new bus note - how well do dt466's do with cold starts? at what temp are you on the edge of not firing even after arguing for awhile? how rare is a 466 in a shorter (say.. 7 window) bus? for reference, I've got about 6? 10? starts @ -40F and 1 or 2 at -60F with my t444
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Old 07-02-2019, 10:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by superbusWI View Post
Ok. So right now I've got a "fully" converted 11 window t444/at545 international 3600 (vista) that I've been full timing in for a bit over a year.

I just had the oil pan replaced, and the silicon gasket material the mech used is leaking bad enough to prevent me from running. I also need to replace the rear suspension air bags and the belt driven compressor soon (before next major trip in winter).

Inside, the roof leaks like a mad dog leading to a whole pile of mold/infestation problems. if I keep this bus I'll need to basically completely re-convert the entire interior sans seat removal which isn't really a big deal. I never took up the old school bus flooring, so I'd have to do that as well - including some rust repair (probably a decent amount).

Coachwork wise, the rear end of the bus was hit by Ö something .. at some point leading to a bunch of water seepage and rust issues. it will absolutely last another 3-5 years but then will need to be completely replaced, or I can coat the whole rear end in blackjack and hope for the best.

At this point in life I have a 2nd place to stay, and the finances to get/convert a (better) bus better (actual holding tanks, solar, experienced layout etc.

Lastly, the bus i'm in now has been insulated really well and is fully 4 seasons proofed down to about -50F or so. I can't take the insulation with me lol and it was a huge pain in the @$$ doing it.

So folks, what do you think. If you were in my shoes would you repair and reconvert the 444/at545 vista or buy a nice int. 3800 dt466/OD-trans to start from scratch on? its worth mentioning that I would absolutely tow something if I could - probably a few somethings.
I think at some point every Vista owner decides to try out a really NICE bus.
If you want one, you should go for it.
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Old 07-02-2019, 10:05 PM   #8
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Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
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Quote:
Originally Posted by superbusWI View Post
yeah my existing powertrain isn't gonna cut it in the long run. I've had no trans issues, but it isn't fresh by any means. My uncle does block swaps from busses to med-duty trucks for a living and I was always banking on getting the family discount someday.

as far as how bad the roof leaks... man it leaks a lot. the rust on the innards of the walls and ceiling (where I can't see) have gotta be really bad. I pulled about an inch of literal mud from the corners of where the wall meets the floor today after ripping out the living room carpet.. only to realize I need to bust down my kitchen lol.. so now I've got a pile of moldy plywood etc and a half converted bus.

so, on the new bus note - how well do dt466's do with cold starts? at what temp are you on the edge of not firing even after arguing for awhile? how rare is a 466 in a shorter (say.. 7 window) bus? for reference, I've got about 6? 10? starts @ -40F and 1 or 2 at -60F with my t444
DT466 is as good as it gets in a short bus.
A Cat 3126 is a great engine, too. I like mine a lot.
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Old 07-02-2019, 10:09 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
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https://milwaukee.craigslist.org/hvo...915514042.html

I do love my snub-nose but man they could've done better with the details on the coachwork... oh yeah forgot to mention in 1st post. I've got 3 of 4 door glass panes broken, 1 upper window pane, and (the biggie) the right windshield is pretty badly busted up. I still drive it, but I watch it, ya know?

that one I posted, hows the 2000 series ally? the true test in my eyes is could it tow a 3300lb boat + it's trailer + maybe another ton of passagemaking gear? so like... can that trans handle bus+conversion+8000lbs without batting an eye?
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Old 07-02-2019, 10:14 PM   #10
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 19,326
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Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
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Quote:
Originally Posted by superbusWI View Post
https://milwaukee.craigslist.org/hvo...915514042.html

I do love my snub-nose but man they could've done better with the details on the coachwork... oh yeah forgot to mention in 1st post. I've got 3 of 4 door glass panes broken, 1 upper window pane, and (the biggie) the right windshield is pretty badly busted up. I still drive it, but I watch it, ya know?

that one I posted, hows the 2000 series ally? the true test in my eyes is could it tow a 3300lb boat + it's trailer + maybe another ton of passagemaking gear? so like... can that trans handle bus+conversion+8000lbs without batting an eye?
Allison 2000 is great. As good as it gets in a shorty. In a full size the only better one is the 3060.
My last bus was a 2003 with DT466E and Allison 2000. Sold to a buddy. Was just driving it a bit recently. Man that thing is a hot rod by bus standards. Pulls hard and has plenty of power on the highway. That's a 6 window IC.

My bus now is a 99 Thomas 5 window with Cat 3126B and a 545 transmission. Its pretty good for having a 545. No overheating issues and it will do 80. Its happy at 65 doing around 1700 rpm's or so.

Either would pull 3300+++ lbs like it wasn't even back there. The 545 would be my last choice for towing but I'd tow with it till it broke and then upgrade to a 643.
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Old 07-02-2019, 10:27 PM   #11
Mini-Skoolie
 
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I think that bus was a 10 window. longer than i'd like for sure, but shorter than the wife would haha
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