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Old 09-04-2020, 05:01 AM   #1
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1993 International 3600 - Good buy?

Hello everyone,

I'm new to forums, but have been looking into the nomad life style for a few years. Looking things up on the internet is helpful, but a lot of what I see / learn sounds good on paper put i'm sure putting it into practice will be a entirely different game.

I found a bus on the FB Market place. It is a 1993 International 3600 Vista FE Diesel. The engine is listed as 5.9-L L-6 Diesel, i believe that's Engine size 5.9 and 6 cylinders. It has 188k miles on it, but when it was retired from a NC school districts the church that bought supposedly had engine rebuilt. The rebulit engine has roughly 30k miles on it. Currently trying to see if there is any documentation or copy of a receipt that this was done. The bus is being sold for $4,500

From looking at it there was no heavy duty rust anywhere, just a small pin hole by one of the rear wheel wells, but no visible issues around that spot (above or below) It's already gutted, and ready to start.

I'm new to the bus terminology, but figured this would be a solid place to ask for any advice going into the purchase as we are very interested in it, and couldn't find anything wrong at first glance. There are not many pictures, but I plan on posting those as well.
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Old 09-04-2020, 05:36 AM   #2
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Looks like a vista from Kentucky.
Low headroom, jarring ride, engine noise and heat are pretty bad. They're the bottom of the skoolie barrel.
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Old 09-04-2020, 05:59 AM   #3
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Year: 1971
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Chassis: International Loadstar 1700
Engine: 345 international V-8
5.9 is a good engine. The floor certainly looks clean, and if all else is as rust free as the floor then you have a good starting point.


The trans is what I would check next. On the passenger side of the trans is a tag that will tell you what make and model. It may well be an AT 545. not the best but ok for shorter trips and slower speeds. Not so good at all day highway travel, they tend to overheat.
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Old 09-04-2020, 06:13 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
Looks like a vista from Kentucky.
Low headroom, jarring ride, engine noise and heat are pretty bad. They're the bottom of the skoolie barrel.
Based on the VIN lookup it's a vista from Ohio. not sure if there would a difference.

We did notice the low headroom, but we were expecting on investing in a roof raise. Busses, and just Diesel engines are usually loud so I didn't think anything of it. But this is good to know if there are busses that are not as loud. When you mention heat, is that referring to the inside of the bus, or the engine? If it's the engine I'll hard pass on it since the intention is full time living so with consistent travel I see the issues popping up sooner rather than later.

Quick poking around of the forums I wasn't able to see anything related. If this would likely be something to pass on, what would better types / model of busses, or considered good buys for those semi long travel days?
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Old 09-04-2020, 06:34 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaku View Post
Based on the VIN lookup it's a vista from Ohio. not sure if there would a difference.

We did notice the low headroom, but we were expecting on investing in a roof raise. Busses, and just Diesel engines are usually loud so I didn't think anything of it. But this is good to know if there are busses that are not as loud. When you mention heat, is that referring to the inside of the bus, or the engine? If it's the engine I'll hard pass on it since the intention is full time living so with consistent travel I see the issues popping up sooner rather than later.

Quick poking around of the forums I wasn't able to see anything related. If this would likely be something to pass on, what would better types / model of busses, or considered good buys for those semi long travel days?
The paint job is a kentucky schools style with that black stripe below the windows. I'd consider ANY model of bus to be an upgrade over a vista. For traveling the vista is about as uncomfortable and crude as a bus gets. Also Thomas buses in general don't do as well with roof raises. They have an extra bend making it more difficult to make it look good.
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Old 09-04-2020, 07:25 AM   #6
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Join Date: May 2009
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Year: 1991
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my guess is that ots a 5.9 International.. ie DTA-360, great engine, reliable, and pretty bulletproof. not a lot of power, dont expect to have a 70+ MPH bus.. likely AT545 if its auto trans..


its a church bus, i believe kentucky requires the black stripe on church busses as well as school so it masy have been bought, run and sold in ohio to a Ky church who painted the black stripe..



if it really was an ohio bus, it looks well cared for.. they are usually rust buckets.. the floors in that one look good..



Vista will be noisy and HOT unless you install good engine-driven air-conditioning or never drive it in the summer..



on a DT based vista, you'll have decent engine access threough the doghouse if you need to service the turbo or such.. but getting to the injection pump and such will be a bit tough as it hits right between foghouse access and hood access..



I like the unique styling and large windows of a Vista.. if I get too hot I just install bigger air conditioning


price is **HIGH** for what that bus is... the fact it is already stripped out might be worth something but not 2 grand.. to me thats a $2000 bus tops.. the rebuilt motor is nice, and the fact it is mechanical.. if the bottom and body isnt rusty then maybe it becomes a $2500 bus tops.. but it wont be a mountain cruiser unless its got a magical stick shift or MT643 trans, if you have the VIN, you can call a navistar dealer and ask them what rear gear ratio and transmision originally came on the bus...



-Christopher
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Old 09-04-2020, 08:04 AM   #7
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Year: 1998
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Chassis: Vista 3600
Engine: T444E
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Well I actually have a 1998 Vista bus, and we love it.

Ours is a mid sized (7 window) and we bought it because of the flat floors and we tow a couple different boats and a jeep sometimes so the flat snub nose was initially what drew us to it. It's easy to maneuver in boat ramps.

BUT

Eastcoast is correct about the ride UNLESS you have air ride like we do. I don't think that bus does from the look... so likely will rattle your teeth. Ours rides like a caddy, but again the Air ride. Ours hauled handicapped so I guess they had to make it comfy.

I can't speak for your motor, I have a 7.3 and don't know anything about other styles.. I bought the 7.3 because I am familiar with it. If Chris says its a good motor it is and that's about all the research you really need. Guy knows his stuff.

The odds of it NOT having an At545 are slim. It's very likely what is stuffed under there. Mine came with one, and I despised it. Every thing you will read and be told about how it sucks is true.

Which brings me to the noise. When I had the AT545 I would concur with all the lads here the vista was pretty damn noisy at 2500 rpm down the motorway. Had I not swapped out my transmission to an Allison 2000 with OD I likely would've sold the bus maybe and given up.

However after the trans swap the noise and heat isn't bad at all.. we can talk at a normal volume as we cruise down the motorway at 65 mph @1900-2000 revs. But again, my bus is now a one off, and a trans swap on yours I am unsure what will mate to your motor... as chris stated the MT643, but even locked TC it will still be 1:1 and loud in there. Transmission swaps are not for everyone, so depends on your skills whether you want to attempt one.

Heat from the doghouse so far not as bad as i would've expected. In stop and go and city or traffic jams it likely will get a bit stuffy, but we just took a trip to WV and it was in the 90's and muggy and on the motorway with windows down and the fans the bus came with on we were just fine. I also had so much room under the dog house I put 2 inches more insulation to the cover and it's much better. I plan to add driving Air con eventually, but so far it's a not been a dealbreaker, and most buses do not have air con.

I dunno about roof raising.. we are short, so didn't do this.

Curious yours has wheel humps in the rear and ours is a complete flat floor, one of the reasons we wanted it, as well as the wheelchair lift I use to load a motorcycle.

And $4500 is too high I agree

So as a Vista owner, that LOVES our vista, I would also agree with the others and pass on this particular Vista
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Old 09-04-2020, 08:10 AM   #8
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Engine: T444E
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Quote:
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They're the bottom of the skoolie barrel.
It was a long way, to the top, if you want to rock and roll indeed it was mate
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Old 09-04-2020, 10:26 AM   #9
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Thanks everyone for the replies. Sounds like this would a pass if we can't get it for a lower price, and for the comfort and piece of mind we would want we're better holding out and waiting for the next catch. Glad I posted here, everything that was mentioned was very helpful. Thanks again.
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Old 09-04-2020, 10:45 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by RolesvilleMarina View Post
It was a long way, to the top, if you want to rock and roll indeed it was mate

ha! you know me i love building what I want!.. it may be more work but you get exactly what you want
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Old 09-04-2020, 11:15 AM   #11
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From a noise and heat from the engine perspective, you can not beat a rear engine bus. I have insulated my fire wall a lot and that really helps. Not as quiet as a rear engine though, and we do get some heat in.


Rear engine buses also seem to be speced better, larger engines better trans like the 2000 or 3000 series Allisons. I love our bus and would not trade it, but having driven some other buses, a rear engine safe T liner, or a Crown with a Detriot would be our other choice
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Old 09-04-2020, 12:02 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Jaku View Post
Thanks everyone for the replies. Sounds like this would a pass if we can't get it for a lower price, and for the comfort and piece of mind we would want we're better holding out and waiting for the next catch. Glad I posted here, everything that was mentioned was very helpful. Thanks again.
Surprises me how many will except a bus everyone says is a bad deal just because the price got lowered. It reminds of a commercial I saw recently that asked "How much would you pay for something you don't want?" If they came down $2500 I still wouldn't want it.
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Old 09-04-2020, 01:11 PM   #13
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ha! you know me i love building what I want!.. it may be more work but you get exactly what you want
I agree.. We love our vista now..
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Old 09-04-2020, 01:34 PM   #14
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Surprises me how many will except a bus everyone says is a bad deal just because the price got lowered. It reminds of a commercial I saw recently that asked "How much would you pay for something you don't want?" If they came down $2500 I still wouldn't want it.
Yeah. If I know I'd be investing to make it something it's not, I'd rather use the same money for something worth the price. I'll continue my search for something that works.
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Old 09-04-2020, 03:30 PM   #15
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Yeah. If I know I'd be investing to make it something it's not, I'd rather use the same money for something worth the price. I'll continue my search for something that works.
If you're building from scratch and plan on investing $20-$30K in a build, it pays to start with the correct base. There is nowhere in the lower 48 that is too far to go for the right bus. I've bought 2 buses from Wash. and Ore. to bring to Atl. While it cost me another $1000 in expenses, I'm sure I'm $1000 ahead still.
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Old 09-04-2020, 03:40 PM   #16
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if it was specified and built for NC i can almost guarantee a 545.
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Old 09-04-2020, 03:43 PM   #17
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and depending on where your at.
my local school district has newer models for sale for alot less and will provide full records from the day it was specd/build sheet,wiring diagram,full maitenance until the day it was sold to you.
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Old 09-04-2020, 06:13 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
Surprises me how many will except a bus everyone says is a bad deal just because the price got lowered. It reminds of a commercial I saw recently that asked "How much would you pay for something you don't want?" If they came down $2500 I still wouldn't want it.

sometimes it becomes worth it.. the last hotrod I built, I was looking for candidates for builds.. i had in mind an early 80s G-body car. with V8 and factory A/C (so id have dash vents and all already there)..



I went to look at a nice rust free car that needed engine help and had no A/C.. I walked... few weeks later my phone rang and dude asked if i was still interested... "not without A/C".. 'cant you add it?', "its gonna cost me $750 to buy good parts and quite a bit of labor".. '1500 off the price for no A/C?' sold..



cost me $750 to buy the A/C parts to add it.. oh and I ended up getting $800 off of ebay for the old heater.. seems hotrodders and restorers wanted to rip out A/C and have it look like their car never came with it.. win-win..



if the price handt come down i wouldve never bought it.. but for the $$ off it became worth it to Build what i want vs buy it..
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