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Old 03-17-2020, 08:30 PM   #1
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Help me make a decision.

Been considering a Skoolie for awhile now. 3 weeks ago my house burned and left me with nothing so im starting over on a severely limited budget. I looked at a couple pusher rvs and end up outta my price range. Currently looking at a couple buses local to me. Ive found a 93 chevy cutaway gas engine. A couple conventional with dt365 and allison trans and a RE activity bus. Im pretty handy but im sure ill have lotsa questions once i get started. But for now. My plans are to fix up well enough to live in doll up as time and funds allow. I know theres more floorspace with a RE, what about turning radius between the two? How much difference are there. What about towing capabilities between the two. Anything else considerations you may know. Thanks in advance.
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Old 03-17-2020, 08:59 PM   #2
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Join Date: May 2016
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Sorry to hear about your house fire.


The 93 Chevy with a gas engine is a good drivetrain, readily available parts, well known, and easily serviced. However, most are limited for weight capacity and can be overloaded fairly easily. Also, not a lot of room, if you want/need more living or storage space. Very little room or weight capacity for water tanks (fresh and soiled).


The "DT365" doesn't exist in the bus world. It's either the DT360 (last produced in the early 90's) which are good engines, or the VT365 which began around 2004-ish, very similar to the Ford 6.0 (which was a nightmare as built). The 6.0 can be "bulletproofed" at considerable cost and effort, making them good runners afterward. Some folks have had good luck with the IH version (which were tuned and adjusted differently than the Ford version) but more than one forum member bought an IH version only to suffer a catastrophic failure on the way home, completely ruining their engine. Do a *LOT* of research on this engine before buying one! You have been warned. Also, Allison makes several different transmissions so don't just accept "Allison trans" as an answer. The old AT545 serves well for puttering around town and limited highway usage, but lacks overdrive or a "lockup" (translates to they will generate a lot of heat pulling heavy loads and ascending mountains, and heat kills transmissions).


You don't say what engine or transmission the activity bus has but most are set up for highway cruising and many are painted something "other than yellow".


Turning radius for a conventional vs. a RE will be comparable, even a 45' city bus is fairly nimble in city streets. Check the RE for a full length frame (many have them, city buses and motorcoaches sometimes do not), as you'll want a *VERY* solid point to mount a hitch. How much weight do you wish to tow? Up to 5K pounds you should be alright (I'm mounting a 12K hitch to mine, but I also realize I have to be very sensible about pulling that much weight).
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Old 03-17-2020, 09:50 PM   #3
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Im not 100% sure transmission specifics. As far as towing id be looking at either a enclosed trailer or toad. Eventually looking at traveling to different job possibilities since i dont have much holding me here. Considering Alaska at some point so definitely need ability to hit the road and be dependable. The conventionals are a 2006 and 2007 with less than 120k. The RE activity is a 2012. All are international.
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Old 03-17-2020, 10:37 PM   #4
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Most of us here tend to avoid diesel powered buses after around '04. Around that time, new EPA emissions regulations went into effect and just like gas engines around 1977 with then-new catalytic converters, the new diesels with DPF (Diesel Particulate Filters) had their share of issues. There's a *REASON* many of these are retired before accumulating much age and mileage, and why IH eventually discontinued the MaxxForce engines (hint - the emissions related hardware was a total nightmare, even IH had great difficulty keeping them on the road). IH discontinued building engines altogether and relied on Cummins and Ford for diesel and gas engines, respectively.


Personally I'd avoid anything with EPA emissions for some years. Just like cars from the 70's, eventually manufacturers figured it all out and got everything working well and the diesel truck and bus industry did/will do the same thing.
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Old 03-17-2020, 10:41 PM   #5
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Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: CA
Posts: 29
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466, AT545
Rated Cap: 8 windows
rather have something older mechanical than electronic even if it was in worse condition personally
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Old 03-19-2020, 01:34 AM   #6
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Well i go tomorrow to look at a 2002 flat nosed. Ill let you guys know if i come back an owner. Appreciate the info and nudge in the right direction.
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Old 03-19-2020, 07:32 AM   #7
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Year: 1998
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I'd be worried about a 2004, 2005, 2006 diesel because of the EPA mandates. However, didn't they fix the reliability problems by 2012?
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Old 03-19-2020, 09:14 PM   #8
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Ok. Well long story short i did buy a bus. Pics to come. Anyway. I got there the flat nose bus had already sold. And he said i do happen to have another. More money of course. Anyway. It turned out to be a 2003 international 3800. Has the powerstroke 7.3l and what looks to be an alison trans, couldn't tell exactly it has the spin on filter. But its got 140k on the clock. Its a mid length handicapped model w/side door and ac. I made a 60mile trip home with it and it seemed to do just fine. Start demo of interior hopefully this weekend.
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Old 03-19-2020, 09:47 PM   #9
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Join Date: Dec 2017
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Engine: T444e 7.3L
Congratulations.

Have fun.
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Old 03-19-2020, 10:13 PM   #10
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Engine: Caterpillar 3126E Diesel
Rated Cap: 71 Passenger- 30,000 lbs.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hayesgeorge View Post
Ok. Well long story short i did buy a bus. Pics to come. Anyway. I got there the flat nose bus had already sold. And he said i do happen to have another. More money of course. Anyway. It turned out to be a 2003 international 3800. Has the powerstroke 7.3l and what looks to be an alison trans, couldn't tell exactly it has the spin on filter. But its got 140k on the clock. Its a mid length handicapped model w/side door and ac. I made a 60mile trip home with it and it seemed to do just fine. Start demo of interior hopefully this weekend.
That is great! Please post a link to your build thread here so we can see it.


As soon as you can, crawl under and take a picture of the transmission nameplate. That will give us all the info we need to identify your transmission and provide advice.
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Old 03-19-2020, 10:23 PM   #11
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Join Date: Jan 2019
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Posts: 2,343
Year: 2003
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Chassis: CE 300
Engine: DT466e
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Originally Posted by Native View Post
That is great! Please post a link to your build thread here so we can see it.


As soon as you can, crawl under and take a picture of the transmission nameplate. That will give us all the info we need to identify your transmission and provide advice.
Ooh, I'm going to do this tomorrow. I still don't know exactly what mine is, other than it's a 2000-series. I've spent a couple of weeks on my back in the mud under my bus, can't believe this hasn't occurred to me yet.
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