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Old 03-15-2016, 10:53 PM   #1
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Talking This could be it!

So, I have a lead on a 1993 AmTran International 3700... she has less than 180k, 7.3 idi, non-turbo, Allison 545. I am hoping to go look at it in the next week. Exterior photos look promising, but if anyone could please share insights regarding this make/model, what to look for, what is appropriate value, etc. it would be greatly appreciated. I am anxious, nervous and even a little intimidated (especially since I have to drive about four hours to merely take a good look at her).

Just in case you care to know... we plan on converting her for full time use, traversing No. America with a healthy dose of boondocking from time to time.
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Old 03-16-2016, 09:12 AM   #2
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Not a very desirable engine/tranny package at all. A less than stellar engine and without a turbo, pretty lame. And the old AT 545's are total dinosaurs. No OD, no lockup, parts are getting rare, no one wants to service them any more and a reputation for being huge fuel wasters. Me...I'd keep looking.

That said...if you go that route, I have a working spare AT545 you can have for free. Just pick it up. I haven't even been able to give it away in the past 3 years.
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Old 03-16-2016, 09:15 AM   #3
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Go get a bus built for mountains if you plan on driving up many of them.
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Old 03-16-2016, 04:22 PM   #4
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Not a very desirable engine/tranny package at all. A less than stellar engine and without a turbo, pretty lame. And the old AT 545's are total dinosaurs. No OD, no lockup, parts are getting rare, no one wants to service them any more and a reputation for being huge fuel wasters. Me...I'd keep looking.

That said...if you go that route, I have a working spare AT545 you can have for free. Just pick it up. I haven't even been able to give it away in the past 3 years.
Thanks! That's exactly the kinda stuff I needed to know... what engine/trans package do you think is desirable, yet relatively prominent (i.e. plentiful)? Does it make things harder that we're basically looking at just 6,7,8 window rigs?
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Old 03-16-2016, 04:24 PM   #5
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Go get a bus built for mountains if you plan on driving up many of them.
We certainly plan on getting up in the mountains. How can I tell if a bus is built for, or at all able to handle, the climbing?
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Old 03-16-2016, 05:01 PM   #6
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Get one from a district that has mountains. Colorado buses all come ready for the mountains. And their climate doesn't destroy buses.
Idaho, Utah, Washington, and Oregon can also have some great buses. Colorado buses have to come with a driveline retarder. Look up those if you're not familiar, there are some demo vids on youtube.
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Old 03-16-2016, 07:29 PM   #7
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Inline engines go up hills better than V-8's. I don't understand why that is true but I have seen buses with V-8's walk away from inline-6's on the flat and then get passed like they were stopped on even gentle grades.

Gearing is important to get right before you purchase. Retrofitting can be a problem and $$$$ after purchase. Some school buses are/have been geared for top speeds of 47 MPH. Others that were purchased specifically for trips had highway gearing and could go well in excess of what would be considered safe in an RV.

Since you plan to boondock I assume that means you not only are going to be off of the interstate but you also plan on going beyond the end of the paved road. A Type 'C' conventional will probably be a better choice for you than a Type 'D' RE. Not that the Type 'D' RE couldn't do it. It is just that most Type 'C' buses have shorter wheelbases and higher ground clearances.

If you are able to do so, get the line setting ticket for the bus or bus chassis. It will tell you which engine, which transmission, which brakes, and which rear end ratio the bus had when it left the factory.

Regardless of the brand of the engine, you want a minimum of 210 HP. Even at that HP rating you are going to be pokey on the hills. 250 HP is better. 285 HP is better still. For your purposes the bigger HP engine will most likely deliver better fuel mileage than the smaller HP engines.

Over the years brakes have evolved like everything else in the industry. Even still, some schools/companies will spe'c the absolute bare minimum to get by. As a consequence you can have two buses sitting next to each other that look identical and one bus will have 2x the amount of braking surface than the other one. It doesn't make either bus unsafe. But big brakes take a lot longer to wear out or get hot and will stop the bus much more quickly than the same bus with smaller brakes. I have seen an IC RE with 7" front brakes and 9" rear brakes. I have seen a virtual twin as far as options are concerned and model year and it had 9" front brakes and 11" rear brakes.

It may take a few trips and several hours of checking buses out but the bus that is right for you at a price you can afford is out there waiting for you.

The most important thing to keep in mind is what does YOUR bus have to have, what would be nice to have, what would not be nice to have, and what you will not have (rust would be in the last category).

Also know what your price range is and what is the most you would be willing to pay.

It never hurts to make a ridiculous offer.

Good luck on your search.
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Old 03-16-2016, 09:52 PM   #8
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RJNYE79, do you mind if I ask where in GA are you? If you are near, and it's a day off I could go with, maybe with our combined new found knowledge we could actually give a potential bus a decent walk thru.

Also, GREAT suggestion by some of the members here for when I want to finally make the $$$ plunge. Take a video of the bus, of everything, post it here. Members will see things you can't or don't know about.
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Old 03-17-2016, 09:55 AM   #9
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EastCoast is spot on. If you are thinking about spending much time in the mountains...buy a mountain bus. Colorado buses are fully equipped to handle them and offer many advantages over flat-landers.
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Old 03-17-2016, 10:48 AM   #10
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a little about retarders
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Old 03-20-2016, 09:58 AM   #11
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Thanks so much, Coach! I'll do some research on those type C buses. It sounds like the decision to be made in this case is between highway riding comfort and agility off paved roads? I say that because it is my understanding that shorter wheelbases give a bouncier ride on highways. Also, is there a way that one can tell a bus' gear rating (or top speed) without seeing it in person? I guess what I mean is, I imagine that just knowing the engine type doesn't necessarily mean you can know if it is geared for highway travel. Correct?

BigPaul, I am in Savannah. Where are you? Also, great suggestion about making a video of the buses you scout.

Thanks everyone for the great information! EastCoast, I'm about to check out that video now. Also, Althea is a potential name for our bus. ;) I thought about Rambling Rose too, but surely there are a few of those out there already!
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Old 03-20-2016, 10:27 AM   #12
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The only way I know (other than driving it) to determine any units top speed is to work it out on a speed calculator like the one below. But to do that, you need all the critical numbers...
Axle gearing
Trans final gearing
Tire height
Preferred engine RPM

Get those and you can nail it.

Engine RPM Calculator
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Old 03-20-2016, 02:17 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tango View Post
The only way I know (other than driving it) to determine any units top speed is to work it out on a speed calculator like the one below. But to do that, you need all the critical numbers...
Axle gearing
Trans final gearing
Tire height
Preferred engine RPM

Get those and you can nail it.

Engine RPM Calculator
Thanks Tango. Are you sinking or swimming? Obviously high and dry so far if your posting.
I want your 545 for free I just need to figure out when and how?
I have family all over your area and my cousin closest to you moved 2-weeks ago? Don't scrap it yet.
Back to the post
I know my rear end, my 8.2 say's max rpm nl (I assume no load) 3050 rpm.
I want to pull a trailer/car/something at least through Georgia, Alabama on I-20 between nc and texas is what I am trying to build for.
I have all the info for the calculater except the at-545 gear?
I do have the original build sheet that has a lot of info. That don't match anything on the WWW?
Part#E4HS 7003 DMA
TSL
Trans Assy (MN)
Part description.
At545-2301/5189
Type
DSO 4857418?
I understand cowlitz, deezle and you.
Don't have/cant find the preffered rpm for the 545 tranny?
Gonna do a rear gear/end change just can't find the info?
I started out looking at chicken coops butt as always I end up here?
I work outside for a living and I was suppose to finish my coop today but the weather sucked?
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Old 03-20-2016, 05:15 PM   #14
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The final gearing on an AT545 is direct.

If you are looking for the ratio for your rear end there is supposed to be a little tag that is held on by one of the rear cover bolts. It is usually at the top curbside on either the front or the rear of your rear end.

It that tag is gone, which would not be unusual, you are going to have to figure it out the hard way.

You will need to block the bus and lift one of the rear tires off of the ground. Mark the tire and the driveshaft. Rotate the tire one full revolution while counting how many times the driveshaft rotates. It won't be exact but it will give you an idea as to what your final gearing is on your differential.

Anything under 5 will give you at least 60 MPH.

Anything under 6 will give you at least 55 MPH.

Anything under 7 will give you at least 50 MPH.

Anything over 7 will give you a max speed of about 45 MPH. And yes they make them that way. I had a 1977 IHC/Blue Bird that had a max speed with the foot to the floor of 47 MPH. To be fair, it would do 47 MPH all day long regardless of the hill or the load. But 47 MPH makes for a really long trip anywhere!
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Old 03-20-2016, 08:36 PM   #15
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Ya...all AT's are a simple 1:1 final drive. And I didn't go back to see what engine you are running but 3050 is a LOT of RPM's for most diesels. My old Detroit 6V53 ran at 3000 but then it was one of the tightest winding diesels ever. Most newer engines need to stay around 2000 or less (My Cummins sweet spot is only 17-1800 RPM).
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Old 03-31-2016, 08:56 PM   #16
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Back again and hope that everyone's having a great week! Just wanna know if y'all have any thoughts on the combo of a DT466E and Allison 2000 in a 2004 IC CE 300? She has about 160k on her...
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Old 04-01-2016, 01:08 PM   #17
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Get one from a district that has mountains. Colorado buses all come ready for the mountains. And their climate doesn't destroy buses.
Idaho, Utah, Washington, and Oregon can also have some great buses. Colorado buses have to come with a driveline retarder. Look up those if you're not familiar, there are some demo vids on youtube.
I may be in some trouble with my Florida bus
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Old 04-01-2016, 01:10 PM   #18
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Back again and hope that everyone's having a great week! Just wanna know if y'all have any thoughts on the combo of a DT466E and Allison 2000 in a 2004 IC CE 300? She has about 160k on her...
If I remember right, the DT466E is an okay engine. With that said, I don't know too much about this stuff yet. I'm learning..

I also bought a bus without a transmission and an engine (that I pray works).

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Old 04-25-2016, 03:06 PM   #19
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Thoughts on the look of this undercarriage??
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Old 04-25-2016, 05:39 PM   #20
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Thoughts on the look of this undercarriage??
Looks pretty good. And AIR RIDE is great.
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