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Old 10-01-2020, 12:23 PM   #1
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Which bus to look for?

I'm currently selling my home and I'm 90% sure my next "home" will be a converted bus, capable of 100% off grid, on the nomadic trail.
So far I'm reasonably certain I want a 40' pusher with an Allison transmission and a roof raise. I intend to pull a trailer with a Jeep on it and I don't intend to be crawling up hills at 15mph. Seems like the correct solution is opening up the 6th gear on the tranny and changing the axle gear ratio to get the proper power/weight/rpm ratio.
After that, it's a confusing tangle of engine numbers, transmission models, and discussions about what years which pollution controls went into effect.
I've worked with my hands all my life and I have the "mechanical gene." I'm a pretty fair driveway mechanic and I'm not afraid of a little work or maintenance. That being said it seems to me that it might be difficult to find a "pre-2004" bus that's not worn out and/or rusted out. I'm not scared of turbos or computers unless they cause reliability issues beyond the normal for the increase in complexity, or I can't read the trouble codes with my trusty OBDII tool.
I'd like to hear any advice from the community on what to look for so I can start the search now. Specific brands and model numbers are greatly appreciated. Advice from experienced bus mechanics is hugely appreciated.
Thanks in advance.
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Old 10-01-2020, 03:54 PM   #2
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Pre-04 isn't impossible to find, but getting harder. Just have to know where to look.

You'll want at least an MT643 or 2000 (MD3060 would be nice) transmission, at least a Cummins 8.3 or Caterpillar 3126. Navistar DT466 (E), Caterpillar 3208 are nice alternatives. A post-04 gasser could be worth a look if 6.8L V10 or 8.1 Vortec-equipped, but must be dual-fuel if it is propane-equipped (some are propane only), and will be thirsty.
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