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Old 10-26-2017, 09:49 PM   #1
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8.3L L6 Diesel

Can someone please tell me if this is a good engine or not? It's on a 2000 Thomas which is currently in Maryland. Was decommissioned recently from Virginia or I've been told. Am going next week to check it out. It suppose to to have 53000 miles on it. Don't know if it's the original miles or not.
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Old 10-26-2017, 10:18 PM   #2
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Skytz,

8.3 are good engines. You just need to determine the contion of the engine you are looking at. Milage is not always accurate, odometers sometimes get replaced. If it is an ISC it should be possible for a shop to check the milage on the engine computer against the odometer. Get the service records if available. If the engine had a history of being overheated beware. Oil sampling can tell you if there are any unseen problems like coolant, fuel, or high levels of wear metals in the oil.

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Old 10-27-2017, 10:05 AM   #3
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I'll go along with Tjones on all points.

The 8.3 is one of the most well regarded engines installed in school buses.
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Old 10-27-2017, 11:05 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by skytz View Post
Can someone please tell me if this is a good engine or not? It's on a 2000 Thomas which is currently in Maryland. Was decommissioned recently from Virginia or I've been told. Am going next week to check it out. It suppose to to have 53000 miles on it. Don't know if it's the original miles or not.
Check the "Hours" meter. at 50k that should be around 3000 hours or so. If it's wildly higher then it's likely the engine has done more miles.

With that engine, anything under 250k is nothing to worry about as long as the oil is good and has been regularly changed. Usual checks apply ... no horrible smoke, not oil in coolant, etc.
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Old 10-27-2017, 07:27 PM   #5
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I ran a blow by test on my 8.3 before buying and while it doesn't prove the engine will last any longer the good results gave me the warm and fuzzy I needed to make the purchase.
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Old 10-27-2017, 07:28 PM   #6
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I ran a blow by test on my 8.3 before buying and while it doesn't prove the engine will last any longer the good results gave me the warm and fuzzy I needed to make the purchase.

how do you perform that? id like to do it on both of my busses just to get an idea of the wear level on the rings / valves..

-Christopher
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Old 10-27-2017, 07:38 PM   #7
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You need a manometer, I used a simple clear hose made into a U shape then a T connected to the crank case vent on your engine one side connects to the manometer and the other side has an orifice ( not sure what size your engines will use). After the engine is warmed up you measure the readings of the manometer at different RPM's. Cummins has the orifice size and desired results available i have never done one on any other diesel.

There is loads of info available on line. You can buy "kits" but my dad made me a slick fitting that does the 5.9 and 8.3 Cummins it has both size orifices and you just tape the one your not using.
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Old 10-27-2017, 07:40 PM   #8
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You need a manometer, I used a simple clear hose made into a U shape then a T connected to the crank case vent on your engine one side connects to the manometer and the other side has an orifice ( not sure what size your engines will use). After the engine is warmed up you measure the readings of the manometer at different RPM's. Cummins has the orifice size and desired results available i have never done one on any other diesel.

There is loads of info available on line. You can buy "kits" but my dad made me a slick fitting that does the 5.9 and 8.3 Cummins it has both size orifices and you just tape the one your not using.
great information!! ill look in my navistar service books for it.. I have a manometer from my days in HVAC (setting gas valves on boilers and furnaces)..

-Christopher
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Old 10-28-2017, 08:29 AM   #9
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"If it is an ISC it should be possible for a shop to check the milage on the engine computer against the odometer." I don't know what that is and I don't think they'll allow to take it to a shop. Was hoping to persuade a shop to let me borrow a mechanic. "Oil sampling can tell you if there are any unseen problems like coolant, fuel, or high levels of wear metals in the oil." Again how do you do that, talking to a newbie so dummie it down please (ha ha). It was recently retired from Va and is now currently resides in Md. Scary part is I to relocate it to the Panhandle area Fl. Never driven before.

Thanks everyone for answering a newbie's question, really appreciate it
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Old 10-28-2017, 08:39 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by skytz View Post
"If it is an ISC it should be possible for a shop to check the milage on the engine computer against the odometer." I don't know what that is and I don't think they'll allow to take it to a shop. Was hoping to persuade a shop to let me borrow a mechanic. "Oil sampling can tell you if there are any unseen problems like coolant, fuel, or high levels of wear metals in the oil." Again how do you do that, talking to a newbie so dummie it down please (ha ha). It was recently retired from Va and is now currently resides in Md. Scary part is I to relocate it to the Panhandle area Fl. Never driven before.
You are making a large investment. Any reasonable seller would be perfectly happy for you to have an independent mechanic assess your prospective purchase. That service is available in most areas, but it can be expensive.

Part of the inspection should include pulling any fault codes from electronic control units. The mechanic knows how to do that and should bring the equipment. This is a little dependent on the bus being in running condition, or at least having good battery power.

Drawing a sample of oil is easy. It can be done with a syringe down the dipstick tube, and you only need 3 to 5 ounces. Blackstone Labs can rush an analysis report in two or three days.

If there are any indications that you should be concerned about engine condition, and are not competent to do this yourself, these procedures are good insurance against expensive problems. If the seller doesn't want to cooperate, find another bus.

ps. If I were selling a bus that I knew to be in good condition, I'd get this done myself and offer the report to prospective buyers. It only costs about $30.
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Old 10-29-2017, 10:53 PM   #11
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Ok thanks for that info Twigg, really appreciate it. During the interim btw getting that info and now, I decided to go to Tampa, Fl about another bus I'd had my eye on that's being sold by BGA School Buses out of Hudson, Fl. They're original asking price was $8000 before it was cleaned up, $10000 after it was cleaned up. They're are having a clearance sale in October, $1000 off asking price. I went down to check it out. I've been in touch with the owner for awile now. They have another bus, same make and model but cheaper. This is where I hope someone can help me with this info. It's a 2003 Thomas flatnose 28' with wheelchair lift. It has 201,269 miles, it also has 11,300 idling hours on it. The engine is a 3126 Catepillar Diesel. I hope it gets some positive feedback on it and soon. I had an opportunity to test drive this thing on a secondary road (which I insisted on), Greg said I was doing ok until a car appeared in my rearview mirror. Things got a bit hairy after that. It made me realize there is no way I can transport the other bus from Md to Fl on my own. It'd be a different story if I was use to it.
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Old 10-29-2017, 11:01 PM   #12
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Ok thanks for that info Twigg, really appreciate it. During the interim btw getting that info and now, I decided to go to Tampa, Fl about another bus I'd had my eye on that's being sold by BGA School Buses out of Hudson, Fl. They're original asking price was $8000 before it was cleaned up, $10000 after it was cleaned up. They're are having a clearance sale in October, $1000 off asking price. I went down to check it out. I've been in touch with the owner for awile now. They have another bus, same make and model but cheaper. This is where I hope someone can help me with this info. It's a 2003 Thomas flatnose 28' with wheelchair lift. It has 201,269 miles, it also has 11,300 idling hours on it. The engine is a 3126 Catepillar Diesel. I hope it gets some positive feedback on it and soon. I had an opportunity to test drive this thing on a secondary road (which I insisted on), Greg said I was doing ok until a car appeared in my rearview mirror. Things got a bit hairy after that. It made me realize there is no way I can transport the other bus from Md to Fl on my own. It'd be a different story if I was use to it.
The 11300 hours is total hours with the engine running, not just idling.

It seems very expensive. That's not low-mileage for a school bus, and it's a lot of hours. Go look at similar buses from Midwest Transit. They are still dealer prices, but they are a lot more reasonable than that.

MD to FL is Interstate all the way. You should have no problems with a little practise.

Here is an 'o8 with much lower miles and a better engine.

Used 2008 IC RE - Kankakee IL - Midwest Transit
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Old 10-29-2017, 11:12 PM   #13
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I'm sticking to anything that is 30' or under. Mainly I feel that anything bigger would be too much for a single person. My main criteria is a wheelchair lift that can be retrofitted for a motorcycle. Once whatever I decide on, will go into storage while I'm slowly working on it. The interstate might be a straight shot, but your talking to someone who's never driven anything longer than 10'. The only disadvantage with a flatnose is there's nothing to guide you into keeping the darn thing straight on the road. The only way I could keep that bus on the road was to keep looking at the driver's side mirror and using the lane marker to keep away from the edge of the road. I seriously need driving lessons. I can't do this on my own. I want the Md bus though. I forgot to mention, the Tampa bus they're asking $6000 for it. And they'll help me with the paperwork as well.
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Old 10-29-2017, 11:14 PM   #14
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I'm sticking to anything that is 30' or under. Mainly I feel that anything bigger would be too much for a single person. My main criteria is a wheelchair lift that can be retrofitted for a motorcycle. Once whatever I decide on, will go into storage while I'm slowly working on it. The interstate might be a straight shot, but your talking to someone who's never driven anything longer than 10'. The only disadvantage with a flatnose is there's nothing to guide you into keeping the darn thing straight on the road. The only way I could keep that bus on the road was to keep looking at the driver's side mirror and using the lane marker to keep away from the edge of the road. I seriously need driving lessons. I can't do this on my own. I want the Md bus though.
The driving position is simply a matter of practise.

The Transit style buses have a shorter wheelbase usually, making them much more manoeuvrable in tight spaces.

I know the bus I showed you was full length, it was just an example of much lower pricing. Florida dealers do not have the best of reputations when it comes to bus prices.
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Old 10-29-2017, 11:20 PM   #15
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Thank you, I appreciate the help. If I could afford it I'd fly myself and my little brother to Md, mainly he can drive something like that not me.
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Old 10-30-2017, 05:26 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Twigg View Post
The 11300 hours is total hours with the engine running, not just idling.

It seems very expensive. That's not low-mileage for a school bus, and it's a lot of hours. Go look at similar buses from Midwest Transit. They are still dealer prices, but they are a lot more reasonable than that.

MD to FL is Interstate all the way. You should have no problems with a little practise.

Here is an 'o8 with much lower miles and a better engine.

Used 2008 IC RE - Kankakee IL - Midwest Transit
I agree, except no 08 has a superior engine.
I'd not touch a tier 2 or 3 unless I were a master diesel tech with a lot of money to play with.
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Old 10-30-2017, 08:30 AM   #17
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the People at BGA are great people... but their busses are way over-priced.. I got a "decent" deal on my carpenter and its been a great bus.. but ive also done work to it as well.. both gregs and betty were great, the busses are well just busses.. they do some mechanical work to them as ive seen them doing itif one is broken, but you still dont always know what you are getting as they are old.. my bus incurred an air compressor failure halfway home (500 miles in).. it sounded fine, no signs of failure so i dont feel they knew it was an issue.. point being the busses are pricey but arent refurbed there..


if you like the convenience and ability to shop at a dealer vs taking chances on auctions.. then shop around online.. there are a lot of them... prices are higher than auctions but you have the convenience of driving different ones..

also think about driving your bus home.. if you are building an RV, you want ot be able to drive it.. getting your bus home is a great experience in learning how to drive it..

the first time I ever drove a school bus (back when I was still in high school).. we went out at night.. when there was no traffic except an occasional car here or there.. I learned a lot about how to tell where I was in the lane.. Adjusting the mirros.. not sure how many times we stopp for me to get the mirrors just right.. the yare more important than in a car and will help you greatly.. .. turning corners.. I played in a closed-up hills dept store lot.. using the parking lot stripes as a way to judge how to turn corners..

once I practiced back then and now, I feel more comfortable in a bus than I do in my car.. (probably why I drive mine nearly every day)..

as for dealers, one forum member here got a good deal at tampa bus market, don brown bus sales in New york seems to get some decent busses that arent all rusty and his selection is good. their inventory online sucks so you need to call up and talk to them.

as mentioned midwest transit has a huge selection of busses as well. think of buying your bus like buying a used car.. you can and Do haggle the price, a dealer may want to intimidate only because they feel what they are selling is "special".. however its a used bus, just like a used car..

if you look at busses from dealers at BGA or around them, Feola's repair shop is fantastic.. i have had some work donr on both busses when im in florida (I dont have my shop tools there to work on them myself).. they are good people. they would probably give you a decent deal to check a bus out for you that you are considering.

-Christopher
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Old 10-31-2017, 11:42 AM   #18
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Thank you Cadillackid for your reply. One reason why I'm hesitant to drive something I'm not familiar with, especially on the highway is because of my previous experience with learning to drive clutch while in Germany. My NCO decided to teach me on one of those WWII looking jeeps. I learned while on post and I got comfortable with it. Then he had me go out into the German economy. That's where I was introduced to the real feel of panic. Thank God he was patient. It definitely was not flat and every time I came to stop light which then turned green, it would stall. I was so panicky mainly because I thought I was conveniencing the people behind me. I did not drive stick again until I got back stateside and eventually bought a stick and retaught myself in isolated areas and thus became very comfortable with it. When I test drove the bus, I was doing ok because I thought the road would be empty. Then a car showed up behind me, and I had an immediate flashback to that time. It made it worse with the way the brake was setup so when I brake, it was with a definite jerk. After that happened twice, I had the other person take over and drove it back to the yard. I had spoken to my brother and he said he'd be willing to drive the bus to Pensacola, where it would be in storage until I finished with it. Somebody suggested that there are people who teaches a person how to drive rv's. To tell the truth, I have no confidence in myself. And I'm leaning toward the bus in Md mainly because my brother would be there(after I convinced him hopefully) and maybe I will try my luck and do some of the driving on the way back. Knock on wood there won't be any mishap.
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Old 10-31-2017, 06:10 PM   #19
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partly you have to think about how you would feel after driving your bus when its converted.. or would you never feel comfortable driving a bus and therefore is a full size bus the right thing for you? or would you feel better off in a van cutaway van?

if driving out of BGA, depending on which side of the street you were on, if on the side with their office trailer and the most busses, then turn right.. you are on 52.. thats a nice 4 lane highay to drive on.. tell greg not to take you in the neighborhood.. when I was there we went back to his house on narrow streets.. Ive driven busses before so no biggie.. but a 4 lane highway is the best place to drive.. dont worry about the cars behind you.. go at the speed you are most comfortable.. I dont worry so much about traffic behind me..

if you were driving air brakes, they are touchy because there is much less pedal travel.. with hydraulic brakes your foot moves a lot of distance up and down as you releae and apply the brakes..(cars have hydraulic brakes). with air brakes, the pedal feels hard and just a little press gives you quite a bit of brakes.. when the brakes are cold they are even more touchy for the first couple presses.. that you get used to.. that you need to press firmly but not expect a lot of pedal movement with air brakes..

-Christopher
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Old 10-31-2017, 11:50 PM   #20
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It may be a small condolence, but a great many 65 year old Grannies learn to drive school buses with ease. They are not that difficult.
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