Originally Posted by Bpantani
Ok guys, thanks for saving me from myself.
Is there a certain chassis, engine, transmission combo that I should be looking for?
For example in my area Iím currently seeing:
2003 bluebird with a Cummins, unknown size,unknown transmission, unknown mileage (iíd get details before looking at it)
2000 international re3000. No details but it probably has a Navistar. Not sure if thatís a deal breaker pre 2004.
Finally a 2002 freightliner/Thomas with a cat 3126 engine.!72k miles.
I appreciate any thoughts. Thanks again for your input.
Cummins engines - common version for buses is 5.9 - often mated to an AT545 transmission. Not a powerhouse in a full size bus but lots of parts and performance upgrades for it. A few had some fatal flaws - research the 53 block castings and KDP (fixable issue). 8.3 is also in some buses, has an excellent reputation and usually with some transmission other than the AT545. You may occasionally see a very few N14 equipped buses - this is a very powerful road tractor engine that also has plenty of parts availability and a good reputation.
The T444 and later "E" variant also have good reputations. Essentially the same thing as the Ford 7.3 (a few minor differences, many parts interchange). Fair power in a short bus, merely adequate in a full size especially if you travel many hilly areas. Often has the AT545 transmission. The DT466 produces a lot more torque, has excellent reputation and parts availability. Most did not see the AT545 (generated too much torque for it, except the tuned-down HP version).
Cat engines, mostly you'll see 3116/3126 versions. Mechanical/electronic versions, respectively. Older buses may have the 3208 (not ideal for a school bus even when new - it was better engineered for vehicles that ran all day, rather than the more frequent start-up/shut-downs of school bus life, most tend to be very worn out and smoke/use a lot of oil by now).