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Old 09-04-2019, 04:35 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Searching for info on engines

Hey guys I'm doing my research for a future project. Once I finish school I plan to take my career remote and I've been looking at loads of school bus designs. I've also been looking at the mistakes some have made when getting started and the most common one is not getting the engine/ powertrain working at 100% before doing anything else. On the chance I'm looking at a engine and transmission replacement I was wondering if anyone could give me a list of prices,good brands, and specs. I'm looking for 400 horses with single or twin turbo diesel. Can anyone recommend something in that range. I need that much power to haul the weight plus a tow vehicle
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Old 09-04-2019, 04:40 AM   #2
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I think you will find that school busses run 175 horsepower to 300 horsepower with most a little more than 200 horsepower.
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Old 09-04-2019, 04:51 AM   #3
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So in order to get the performance I'll need I'll need I'll have to instead take a brand new engine and modify it with aftermarket exhaust, and single or twin turbos or a better intake system to ensure better horsepower and fuel efficiency. I'll also need to look at the rear axle to make sure it can handle the torque. It still boils down to which engine and transmission to use. I'm leaning towards either duramax or Cummins engine with an allison trans but models and price are what I need.
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Old 09-04-2019, 05:03 AM   #4
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It also depends on what you want to tow. Many skoolies here on this site tow vehicles and most of those are with stock powertrains.
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Old 09-04-2019, 05:36 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Massagestudent52 View Post
I need that much power to haul the weight plus a tow vehicle

What are you planning to tow, retired locomotives? These engines aren't like the engines you'll find in a Ford or Chevy or Dodge pickup. You *DON'T* need horsepower to tow, you need torque.


A racecar might have a 500 horsepower, high-revving engine which will give it great acceleration and high top speeds ... but it'll burn up (or the transmission) when you ask it to pull 20K pounds for sustained periods.


A truck might have a 500 horsepower big block diesel - Cat, Cummins, Detroit, or whatever; it's top end will probably be around 2000 RPM but has long-stroke pistons that generate lots more torque than the racecar engine. These are engineered and built to pull 80K pound tractor-trailers all day long and last over a million miles.


A small locomotive might have a 500 horsepower rating with a much lower RPM engine (top end 950 RPM) but it'll move a number of heavily loaded railcars ...
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Old 09-04-2019, 05:37 AM   #6
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I'm thinking something the size of a sport truck. I'm concerned because my bus will be carrying a lot of weight before I add the vehicle. I'm looking to have a bus used as a home a few weeks at a time as well as a traveling business. That means carrying extra resources. I'm thinking at least 150 and 200 gallons of fresh water, 50 gallon grey water tank, washer dryer combo, possible dark water tank, wet bath or full shower, and room for two adults to sleep separately. Along with at least 1000 watts of solar, 600 amp hours of battery minimum, as well as the other amenities lol. Oh, and I plan on raising the roof of the bus. I'm just worried the bus won't have enough power with a stock engine
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Old 09-04-2019, 06:17 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Massagestudent52 View Post
Hey guys I'm doing my research for a future project. Once I finish school I plan to take my career remote and I've been looking at loads of school bus designs. I've also been looking at the mistakes some have made when getting started and the most common one is not getting the engine/ powertrain working at 100% before doing anything else. On the chance I'm looking at a engine and transmission replacement I was wondering if anyone could give me a list of prices,good brands, and specs. I'm looking for 400 horses with single or twin turbo diesel. Can anyone recommend something in that range. I need that much power to haul the weight plus a tow vehicle
If you're looking for 400 horses get a real class 8 rig.
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Old 09-04-2019, 06:40 AM   #8
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This is why I'm doing research. I'm not familiar with how diesel engines perform obviously. So back to the original question. If I need to replace the engine on a bus with something powerful enough what should I get and how much should I expect it'll cost for parts and labor?
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Old 09-04-2019, 07:54 AM   #9
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This is why I'm doing research. I'm not familiar with how diesel engines perform obviously. So back to the original question. If I need to replace the engine on a bus with something powerful enough what should I get and how much should I expect it'll cost for parts and labor?
Tens of thousands. IF you find someone wanting the headache of a medium duty engine swap.
Best just to find something with the kind of power you're looking for.
A semi truck or coach bus.
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Old 09-04-2019, 08:10 AM   #10
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IF you find someone wanting the headache of a medium duty engine swap.
If you're in Cali, I imagine you'd have an even harder time finding a mechanic to do it. I assume they're booked solid now, what with the mandate to replace all pre-2004 engines.
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Old 09-04-2019, 08:12 AM   #11
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I'm thinking something the size of a sport truck. I'm concerned because my bus will be carrying a lot of weight before I add the vehicle. I'm looking to have a bus used as a home a few weeks at a time as well as a traveling business. That means carrying extra resources. I'm thinking at least 150 and 200 gallons of fresh water, 50 gallon grey water tank, washer dryer combo, possible dark water tank, wet bath or full shower, and room for two adults to sleep separately. Along with at least 1000 watts of solar, 600 amp hours of battery minimum, as well as the other amenities lol. Oh, and I plan on raising the roof of the bus. I'm just worried the bus won't have enough power with a stock engine
You're describing pretty much a standard skoolie build, no need to upgrade your engine. Remember, your bus won't be hauling the five- to ten-thousand pounds of children that it was built to carry.
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Old 09-04-2019, 09:19 AM   #12
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it sounds like what you need is a good solid drivetrain.. remember school busses( the big ones.. ie 37-40 ft) are often GVWR at 30,000 - 33,000 lbs.. which means the total of your bus BEFORE trailer can be close to that (depending on what your tongue weight will be)..



you will definitely want one of the solod diesrible drivetrains like the cummins 8.3 / MD3060 trans setup.. or a good high torque DT-466 and same trans..



im not sure what your floorplan is. or if you need back door access.. but we see busses like similar come along in rear-engine format.. you will typically have in the 240-275 HP range.. and good Low end torque with an inline 6 high displacement..



you figure a fully loaded 84 passenger school bus could be carrying 10,000 lbs or more of Kids.. will your convcersion and tongue weight for trailer add up to that?



obviously you have to look at the actual GVWR of a bus and the actual weight of the bus.. (preferrably after you take out the seats.. however you can guess that a seat usually weights in the 30-40 lb range on average).. a 15 row bus will have 30 seats..


like others mentrion do your research..



if you reallty need a 400+ horsepower bus then you are starting to get to the point where a coach vs a school bus may be more fitting.. coaches are often built with larger class-8 (semi) style engines and drivetrains with 350-450 Horsepower..



coaches of course have their completely own set of plusses and minuses ... some here are doing coach builds.. ill let them chime in on those..
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Old 09-04-2019, 09:49 AM   #13
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The research I'm doing is for a bus I'm hoping to buy when I finish school in about 18 months. That answered the question about is it a better to replace or rebuild an engine and transmission. As well as the fact that I now know I need less power than I thought. Now I just need to start the search for a bus with the motor i want. After watching several vids I think I'm leaning towards a retired activity school bus with the underbelly compartments. Next question is if I need to have the engine and transmission rebuilt how much will it cost?
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Old 09-04-2019, 10:34 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Massagestudent52 View Post
The research I'm doing is for a bus I'm hoping to buy when I finish school in about 18 months. That answered the question about is it a better to replace or rebuild an engine and transmission. As well as the fact that I now know I need less power than I thought. Now I just need to start the search for a bus with the motor i want. After watching several vids I think I'm leaning towards a retired activity school bus with the underbelly compartments. Next question is if I need to have the engine and transmission rebuilt how much will it cost?
An 8.x liter engine will easily be $10 to 15 grand to rebuild. Xmsn maybe $5k less...

What's a "sport truck"? Will you be flat-towing or trailering this truck?
(be realistic about how "loaded" the towed truck will be)

Have you ever driven a large truck with trailer to base your "need" on?

pic From my recent move to OH. The rental is a brand new (lucky!) 26' box truck. With the trailer I was almost as long as a semi-trailer! Same frontal area as a semi -- I'm parked next to a full size kenworth...
The '54 Willys Wagon only weighs around 5k pounds but I also had it filled with spare parts... so really between 6 & 7k pounds, and a trailer like that weighs 2500 pounds empty!
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Old 09-04-2019, 10:58 AM   #15
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A sport truck would be things like the ranger, Colorado, Dakota, Tacoma, and canyon. The step down from a half ton truck like the F-150. Estimated weight around 4500 pounds without any supplies inside. Haven't decided on the trailer type but rest assured I'll be finding a huge parking lot to practice in lol
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Old 09-04-2019, 11:11 AM   #16
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Trying to get a transmission to survive at those power levels will likelly be a challenge.
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Old 09-04-2019, 12:08 PM   #17
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A sport truck would be things like the ranger, Colorado, Dakota, Tacoma, and canyon. The step down from a half ton truck like the F-150. Estimated weight around 4500 pounds without any supplies inside. Haven't decided on the trailer type but rest assured I'll be finding a huge parking lot to practice in lol

We've got a retired activity bus from Vail, Colorado. It's got a DT466 high torque 250hp engine and an Allison MT643 transmission. We flat tow our ~5,000LB Nissan Xterra behind it. It's slow going, but it gets the job done. We unhitch when towing in the mountain passes though, as the engine starts getting warm. I'm sure that could be addressed, though, with some mechanical knowhow. A buddy of mine with the same bus from the same school district just had his engine rebuilt at the International dealer and it ran him around $9K for the rebuild plus some misc. odds and ends. As I understand it, though, that's on the expensive side as that shop charges a higher shop rate.
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Old 09-04-2019, 02:51 PM   #18
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Over the last couple of days I have seen 45' MCI's with 350hp Series 60 in Houston and a Bruebird RE with an unidentified 12.7liter I6. I don't recall the location of the Bluebird.

The Bluebird surprised me. I had never seen that kind of powerplant in a Bluebird.
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Old 09-04-2019, 02:58 PM   #19
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We've got a retired activity bus from Vail, Colorado. It's got a DT466 high torque 250hp engine and an Allison MT643 transmission. We flat tow our ~5,000LB Nissan Xterra behind it. It's slow going, but it gets the job done. We unhitch when towing in the mountain passes though, as the engine starts getting warm. I'm sure that could be addressed, though, with some mechanical knowhow. A buddy of mine with the same bus from the same school district just had his engine rebuilt at the International dealer and it ran him around $9K for the rebuild plus some misc. odds and ends. As I understand it, though, that's on the expensive side as that shop charges a higher shop rate.

Did they do an in-frame overhaul or pull the engine?
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Old 09-04-2019, 04:58 PM   #20
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I saw a video where a guy cranked the heater to help with keeping the engine heat down. If you could instead rig the heater to pump the excess heat down in away from the engine it might help keeping the engine cool but that's just an idea
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