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Old 11-22-2015, 03:13 PM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: The Evergreen State
Posts: 12
What the noob would like to see

Five years ago I was beginning to look around for a bus. Then I got a new job that required lots of travel, and I decided not to jump into that kind of project. I no longer travel, so I'm beginning my search again.

In the process, I'm reading everything I can, but I'm finding myself spending way too much time googling stuff related to school buses while I'm at work. I'm a bit surprised that there isn't (unless I missed it) a buyers guide of any sort. I know there's too many variations on chassis and drivetrain configuration from all the manufacturers to make any such guide truly comprehensive, but some basic stuff would be cool. Like...

Transmissions. I see posts that say stuff like "I'd get bus A, since it's got the XYZ transmission. Bus B has the PQR transmission, and those are known for having issues".

Well, not really known to everybody. Maybe all you wise veterans. So that just sends me into an hour or so of googling everything I can about the XYZ transmission and the PQR transmission, and next thing you know I'm slacking at work.

Same thing with engines. I saw something about not getting the E engine, because it's got the electronic (hence the E?) controls. Some basic info would be appreciated, from those of you for whom this is all considered common knowledge.

And, as a disclaimer, if this is all posted somewhere and I've somehow overlooked it, apologies. If you could point me in that direction, I'll try not to let the door hit me on the way.

Also, I'd love to see a thread on just paint jobs. Just one or two pics showing the color scheme would be cool. I'm curious how everybody incorporates their rub rails, by either trying to disguise them, or highlighting them as stripes on the side. Searching through pages and pages on dozens of different build threads takes a ridiculous amount of time.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program, already in progress

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Old 11-22-2015, 05:54 PM   #2
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: WA
Posts: 31
Year: 1997
Chassis: International 3800 AmTran (wish it was a TransAm)
Engine: DT466E
I am definitely all for a thread like "Post your bus color scheme" or something and everyone just posts a pic of their bus if it has been painted. Google image search only goes so far!
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Old 11-22-2015, 06:15 PM   #3
crazycal's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: NUNYA
Posts: 4,236
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: 3800
Engine: DT408, AT545
Rated Cap: 23 500 gvw
Start here.
I'm hungry!

You Gotta Let Me Fly
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Old 11-23-2015, 09:31 AM   #4
Bus Geek
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 8,462
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
My 2 cents...

"E" (Electronically controlled) engines are far more complex. When they work properly they are great (a tad more hp & mpg). But...when any of the many "E" doodads goes south...they get REAL complicated and costly to repair. The older "one-wire" motors are famously easy to work on without having to have access to all the mega-dollar analyzers, codes and computer replacement parts.

there are a lot of them. Both auto and standard. The multi-speed standards are easy to repair but you have the clutch that can go away. And unless you are accustomed to properly shifting through 5-10 gears and/or dealing with a two-speed axle...I'd suggest a commercial duty auto. The majority of big rigs today run them and the newer generation models are built tank tough.
Allison is probably the best in the world but some of their older models are less than desireable. I think most folks here will probably agree that avoiding the AT540/AT543/AT545 series is wise. I have a perfectly good AT543 that I cannot give away...literally. No one wants it, even for free. They were fine in their day, but their days are over and they are being completely phased out. A number of shops in my area won't even work on them any more as they can't get parts, seals etc. any longer.
Any newer Allison, especially the 5 & 6 speeds will be around for a couple of more generations and are outstanding units.

As for color...well...all I can say there is that if you are married, Mama better like it.
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Old 11-23-2015, 12:14 PM   #5
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: The Evergreen State
Posts: 12
Awesome. Thank you all for the info.
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