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Old 10-03-2019, 06:25 AM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 119
Year: 2004
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner
Engine: MBE 906 Mercedes Benz Diesel
Question Newbie questions

I'll try to keep this brief, and not be annoying. I just began researching bus conversions this week as I'm quite serious about relocating back to the US in April 2020. I'm drawn to the shorter school buses for two reasons. 1. I'm a single guy living alone, so I don't need much space and 2. I think it would be MUCH easier to drive a 18 - 22 passenger bus around (both short and long trips) than a 72 passenger, or city bus.

For now, Just one basic questions, and again, apologies if this is annoying or redundant. I'm not a mechanic, or a bus aficionado, and I just want to know if there are certain manufacturers, or drive trains, or configurations that I should absolutely avoid when shopping for a bus. Also, if there are any profound changes at certain times that would make, say, a 90's bus much less desirable than an early 2000's bus.

Thanks in advance for any consideration. If this is in some way an inappropriate question, I apologize in advance, and please direct me to any preferable forum topic, or even other site.



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Old 10-03-2019, 06:46 AM   #2
Bus Nut
farok's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 373
Year: 2003
Chassis: Chevy cut-away 6-window shortie
Engine: 6.0L Gasser
There are a number of threads about the issues with diesel vehicles from 2004 and newer. I'd suggest staying away from them unless you know what you're getting into. 2003 and older diesels don't have all the new emissions garbage. For gas engines, this doesn't apply.

For a short bus, you'll get differing opinions on the Allison 545 transmission, which from what I understand is common on these. It doesn't have lock-up in 4th gear, but many have reported in the smaller buses that this isn't as critical as the larger ones. There's lots of threads on the 545 vs 643 and other transmissions as well.

Hope this helps start you on your journey!

My build thread:
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Old 10-03-2019, 08:52 AM   #3
Bus Crazy
banman's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: Moved to Zealand!
Posts: 1,517
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freightliner FS-65
Engine: 7.2L Cat 3126 turbo diesel
Rated Cap: 71 passenger 30,000 gvwr
If you're doing a lot of driving I'd hold out for a bus with o/d transmission and lock-up converter. better mpg and less wear on the engine!

My 2002 has anti-lock brakes -- being a full size bus that will mostly be empty (till a build plan develops), this is a good feature for me.

Pre-2004 avoids newer emissions add-ons... After 201* the emission designs are better integrated into the mechanical package rather than an engineering afterthought...
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Old 10-03-2019, 11:20 AM   #4
Bus Geek
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Dawsonville, Ga.
Posts: 10,472
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Genesis
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466/3060
Rated Cap: 77
Just start reading everything in this forum, your answers are here.
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Old 10-03-2019, 12:45 PM   #5
Bus Crazy
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 1,335
Year: 1990
Coachwork: Thomas 4 window w/lift
Chassis: G30~Chevy cutaway
Engine: 5.7/350 Chevy Vortec
Rated Cap: Just me and my "stuff"?
Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
Just start reading everything in this forum, your answers are here.
X2 on that...^
Welcome to the site, by the way!
Lurking or simply just reading old threads on builds, powerplants, you name it, are invaluable in learning from others on what works and what might work with hefty amounts of $$ thrown at it.

Making the best for you decision on just the right bus the first time, is good for morale throughout the build out process. You really don't want to spend $3,000+ on a bus with underlying rust issues or mechanical issues only to find out remedial works will bankrupt you before you even get to converting it to your liking.

Good luck on your research and ultimate decision on getting into the hobby.
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