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Old 07-12-2020, 10:30 PM   #1
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Best transmission/engine?

Hi all!

I'm in the process of searching for my perfect bus, but I know absolutely nothing about transmission/engine/etc. stuff. What should I be on the lookout for in regards to those areas? Ideally, I'd like a 5-7 window short bus that could handle going up mountains occasionally. I don't plan to travel rigorously, I just don't want my destination options limited by my vehicle.

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Old 07-14-2020, 09:10 PM   #2
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Location: Lake Forest, California
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We have the same question, as we're desperately torn between living space and access to adventures ;)
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Old 07-18-2020, 02:44 AM   #3
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Chassis: alice
Engine: 3800 466e international
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I worked in a heavy truck repair shop. The answer that Ive gotten from the mechanics is international 3800 466. Legendary motors. Several of the tow trucks have this motor. It is not a high rpm motor , but Its longevity is unmatched.
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Old 07-28-2020, 07:07 AM   #4
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Raleigh, NC
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It depends on if you are looking at full size platforms or cutaway van chassis buses.

If you are looking at cutaways for a diesel I would look for a Ford econoline with the 7.3l.
I would not consider the Ford 6.0l diesel or the 6.5l GM diesel.

For Gas I would look at a GMC / Chevrolet with the 6.0l gas motor or a Ford with the 6.8l (V10). I would avoid any GM with a 5.7l (vortec or TBI) and any Ford with the 5.4l or 4.6l.
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Old 07-29-2020, 03:59 PM   #5
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Location: Atlanta
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Year: 1994
Coachwork: GM Vandura 3500
Chassis: Thomas Minotour GP
Engine: 5.7 L
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Why would you recommend against a gm 5.7?
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Old 08-04-2020, 01:30 PM   #6
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Location: Raleigh, NC
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Originally Posted by sshhaammaann View Post
Why would you recommend against a gm 5.7?
Having had a 5.7l tbi and vortec in full-size trucks, they are OK for what they are, but even with 4.10 gears seemed to struggle with a load behind the truck (which, compared to the aero of a bus, is streamline, so the lack of hp/tq will be more significant).

The 5.7l engine was GM's bread and butter and if the price were right, and you had the ability to swap in an RV cam, some heads (vortec on a tbi is a good, cheap upgrade) and some headers than it wouldn't be all that bad.

My recommendations were mainly focused on reliability, and out of the box performance. If you are ok with plugging along at 55mph and still getting 8mpg than a 5.7l will be fine, if you want to keep up with traffic, some of the more modern mpfi engines with standard overdrive automatics would be my preference. Not to mention, the Vortec only existed in obd2 equipped vehicles for ~5 years....when it comes to roadside diagnostics, I prefer an obd2 equipped vehicle over the alternatives.
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Old 08-04-2020, 02:57 PM   #7
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Location: Eustis FLORIDA
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5.7 does fine in my 87 chevy 4x4. even pulling a trailer and commercial mower its fine. Won't win any races but they'e dirt cheap, plentiful, and very reliable.
If you like simple, older, more crude stuff a 5.7 isn't bad. They're also very choked in stock form. At least the pre-vortecs were. Like you said- Vortec heads, a cam upgrade, and a custom chip will really wake the old tbi up a good bit. But all that takes time and money.
One good thing about em- if you toast the engine a brand new crate engine is like $1500-$2000.
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