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Old 04-22-2016, 06:22 PM   #1
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
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Opinions on this bus...

Hello all,

I've been lurking around the forums and searching for a bus for a while and finally won a bus auction today! The bus is a 1991 Thomas 84 Passenger RE with a CAT 3116 with around 100k on it This bus was an activity bus. I paid $4k which I though was a good deal. After calling the school to schedule a time to pick up they mentioned that it sometimes had a hard time starting and sometimes would not start. After leaving it for a while apparently it starts right up. Sounds like it is an intermittent problem...not sure how intermittent though. I haven't seen the bus in person yet. Does this sound like a some what common problem? Or am I getting into a lemon...

Tried to upload some pics but kept getting an upload fail.
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Old 04-22-2016, 08:23 PM   #2
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Was this problem disclosed in the auction description? If not, I would file a dispute the purchase.
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Old 04-22-2016, 08:52 PM   #3
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Was this problem disclosed in the auction description? If not, I would file a dispute the purchase.
No it wasn't. It just came up in conversation when I was discussing the logistics of picking it up. I'm supposed to hear back from a mechanic on Monday for clarification on the issue, if there is an issue. The guy I spoke to was some sort of school supervisor and didn't work on the buses.

Really want this bus to work out but having second thoughts now.
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Old 04-22-2016, 09:04 PM   #4
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Could be a bad starter........ my s10 had that issue and it turned out to be just that.
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Old 04-22-2016, 09:13 PM   #5
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Could be a bad starter........ my s10 had that issue and it turned out to be just that.
Just did a google search, starters aren't too badly priced.
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Old 04-23-2016, 05:50 AM   #6
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Just did a google search, starters aren't too badly priced.
Might lean on them to throw in a spare if it was a known problem they didn't tell you about.
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Old 04-23-2016, 05:51 AM   #7
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You don't say what "hard to start" means. Does it turn over but, not start? Does it not turn over? Does it not turn fast enough to start? Does it not do anything?
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Old 04-23-2016, 06:36 AM   #8
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You don't say what "hard to start" means. Does it turn over but, not start? Does it not turn over? Does it not turn fast enough to start? Does it not do anything?
Not sure myself. The person I spoke to couldn't really elaborate on what he meant. Hoping to find out more on Monday.

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Old 04-23-2016, 07:42 AM   #9
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the 3116 is mechanical correct?

could be air bubbles getting into the injectors maybe? without more info its going to be hard to tell what they mean by hard start..
-Christopher
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Old 04-23-2016, 09:04 AM   #10
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the 3116 is mechanical correct?

could be air bubbles getting into the injectors maybe? without more info its going to be hard to tell what they mean by hard start..
-Christopher
I believe it is mechanical.

I'm diy inclined when it comes to cars, I do everything myself. Not sure how much different it is working on buses, never worked on big stuff before.

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Old 04-23-2016, 10:55 AM   #11
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I believe it is mechanical.

I'm diy inclined when it comes to cars, I do everything myself. Not sure how much different it is working on buses, never worked on big stuff before.

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alot of it is similar.. only bigger.. often simpler than modern cars...

some of it is more dangerous.. like working on air brake components. . esp spring cylinders..

and alot of it seems unfamiliar to most because most of the busses are diesel with turbo chargers.. some are computerized.. the mechanical ones there is usually something cut and dry..

ie hard starts may be to the fact the glow plugs dont work.. or the fuel may be draining out of the fuel line back to the tank.. or the injector pump timing is mis-adjusted.. and of course dirty injectors, dirty fuel filters.. bad fuel.. electronic fuel solenoid (if equipped) is lazy at opening..

I do a lot of observations and notes of sound, sight, feel (every engine has a rhythm and a vibe), smell. etc when an engine runs correctly.. so that way I can get idea if it seems like its sick or not quite right...


when I bought my bus, I started up a couple with the same engine as mine to see if they all sounded the same.. and they did.. so I felt unless there were 3 with the exact same issue than likely mine is running right...

its all learn as you go and read as much as you can..

-Christopher
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Old 04-23-2016, 05:36 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
alot of it is similar.. only bigger.. often simpler than modern cars...

some of it is more dangerous.. like working on air brake components. . esp spring cylinders..

and alot of it seems unfamiliar to most because most of the busses are diesel with turbo chargers.. some are computerized.. the mechanical ones there is usually something cut and dry..

ie hard starts may be to the fact the glow plugs dont work.. or the fuel may be draining out of the fuel line back to the tank.. or the injector pump timing is mis-adjusted.. and of course dirty injectors, dirty fuel filters.. bad fuel.. electronic fuel solenoid (if equipped) is lazy at opening..

I do a lot of observations and notes of sound, sight, feel (every engine has a rhythm and a vibe), smell. etc when an engine runs correctly.. so that way I can get idea if it seems like its sick or not quite right...


when I bought my bus, I started up a couple with the same engine as mine to see if they all sounded the same.. and they did.. so I felt unless there were 3 with the exact same issue than likely mine is running right...

its all learn as you go and read as much as you can..

-Christopher
Good point on checking others with the same engine, wish I could have done that with mine. Depending on what the mechanic says on Monday I should be going to pick mine up first week in may.

I can't help but think if it was something simple surly the school would fix it...or maybe it's just easier to take another bus.

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Old 04-23-2016, 05:47 PM   #13
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Good point on checking others with the same engine, wish I could have done that with mine. Depending on what the mechanic says on Monday I should be going to pick mine up first week in may.

I can't help but think if it was something simple surly the school would fix it...or maybe it's just easier to take another bus.

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sometimes fleet managers look for reasons to dump busses to get new ones.. so if they find ANYTHING wrong with a bus, they plead that its read yt oage out, and please sell it and buy a new bus to replace it...

esp if that bus doesnt match too many others in their fleet.. large school systems have their own service staff as much as they can, so if your bus ended up being one that was becoming an odd-ball, they may have just dumped it when they had any issue with it.. not even spending any time to track it down.. so it could still be something totally simple causing the issue..

-Christopher
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Old 04-23-2016, 06:04 PM   #14
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A Cat being tough to start, especially in the cold, isn't anything shocking. Par for the course.
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Old 04-23-2016, 06:06 PM   #15
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A Cat being tough to start, especially in the cold, isn't anything shocking. Par for the course.

how are the mechanical DT's to start in cold? oh wait you dot have cold you are in florida lol.. just wondering how a diesel with no glow and no grid can start easily in cold unless its plugged in?
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Old 04-23-2016, 06:16 PM   #16
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how are the mechanical DT's to start in cold? oh wait you dot have cold you are in florida lol.. just wondering how a diesel with no glow and no grid can start easily in cold unless its plugged in?
-Christopher
My DT stared IMMEDIATELY in 10 degrees F in KY in Nov. With only ONE G31 battery. After sitting for around six months.
Cat guys need like 2 8D's to think about starting!
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Old 04-23-2016, 06:56 PM   #17
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Join Date: Apr 2016
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Year: 1991
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
sometimes fleet managers look for reasons to dump busses to get new ones.. so if they find ANYTHING wrong with a bus, they plead that its read yt oage out, and please sell it and buy a new bus to replace it...

esp if that bus doesnt match too many others in their fleet.. large school systems have their own service staff as much as they can, so if your bus ended up being one that was becoming an odd-ball, they may have just dumped it when they had any issue with it.. not even spending any time to track it down.. so it could still be something totally simple causing the issue..

-Christopher
I can easily see this being the case. They had two older buses for sale and from pictures it looks like they've replaced the rest of the fleet. I suppose a bus being 25 years old they would be looking for an excuse to upgrade.

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Old 04-23-2016, 06:57 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
A Cat being tough to start, especially in the cold, isn't anything shocking. Par for the course.
Its an Oklahoma bus but I guess it can get cold there too during the winter months.

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Old 04-23-2016, 07:15 PM   #19
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A 1991 would be pre-electronically controlled.

The 3116's were known for their glitches. By the time they got as old as yours most of them had been worked through.

The $$$$ problem is if the problem is in the pump you have to go to a Cat approved repair facility to get the job done.

I had a 3208T that would have intermittent problems of losing prime. I finally parked the bus and eventually sent it down the road because it would have cost more to fix it than the bus was worth.

In order to troubleshoot the problem you have to determine why it isn't starting.
  • Starter turns and turns fast enough but the engine doesn't fire
  • Starter turns and turns fast enough but the engine only fires on one or two cylinders
  • Starter doesn't turn
  • Starter won't turn enough times
  • Starter doesn't turn fast enough
  • Engine fires but doesn't keep running
Each problem would have a different resolution. And the above problems are not all of the problems that could be causing the hard starting problem.

If you got the bus for a low enough price it might be worth the price. But the cost of getting into a pump and injectors on a 3116 can easily be more than what you paid for the bus.

Good luck.
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Old 04-25-2016, 02:34 PM   #20
Skoolie
 
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Engine: Cat 3116
I spoke to one of the mechanics today to get some more info on the 'hard to start' problem.

He said it will always start when cold, but when it is warmed up it will sometimes not start, sometimes it will, just a gamble. However, it sounds as though it will start more times then not. If it doesn't start after being left for 3-4 hours to cool down it will always start. When the bus doesn't start it does still turnover. He believes it to be some sort of electrical fault.

Anybody ever experience anything similar?
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