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Old 10-02-2022, 06:34 PM   #1
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1993 Eagle

Hey folks, been a while. I've been floating the idea of a coach conversion for a while but was putting off the search until sometime in March next year. I've been a fan of the 90's and late 80's MCI coaches and that's where I'd have started, however... some of the connections I built lead me to this rig. Its a 1993 Silver Eagle with a 6V92T and I couldn't identify the Allison in it.

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Owner claims it will do 80-100 and be passing people going up hills, and has receipts/documentation for what looks like a rebuilt/redone 6V92 with dynos. New engine has ~110k on it.

Condition....

Two of the roof ACs have been removed, I'd remove the other two in favor of solar + a split system. The interior has been gutted and the body looks good with the exception of a few small spots. Clear coat is peeling. Aesthetically this thing has seen better days, but it runs and moves no problem.

This seems like a real unicorn based on what I've read so far. Thoughts?

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Old 10-02-2022, 08:34 PM   #2
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It seems like some of the older coaches had really strange suspension set ups that were really expensive to repair. I'm not if it was this brand or another but worth checking on. I'm sure others here will have better info.

Ted
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Old 10-02-2022, 09:19 PM   #3
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I have my brothers 86 in my yard. It has a HT740 trans. The drivetrain is pretty stout. I find that most i see are not converted and sell for very little. As TJones mentioned, their Torsilastic parts are expensive and hard to come by. From what i have read, many people convert them to standard air ride when that wears out. I believe they have issues with the framing rusting out. There's a lot of trussing and thin support members around the back axle that need a lot of welding work to repair. Make sure you crawl yourself up inside those rear wheel wells and inspect all the supports around the rear axle.



Check BusCOnversionMagazine for horror stories before you buy. Theres also a guy on Youtube that has videoed his walkthough pre purchase inspection on what to look at. I watch bus grease monkey and a good chunk of his time is spent on shot axles, suspension, steering, and the entire air system. On these buses, theres a lot of parts.


When completed, they are way cooler and much more luxurious than any school bus conversion i have seen. They are just really expensive to catch up on all the deferred maintenance.. I also think shops wont touch them because they are vastly different from semi trucks or medium duty.
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Old 10-03-2022, 08:24 PM   #4
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All good info in the above replies. HT740/6V92T was standard Coach drive-line for almost 20 years with all manufacturers. Do yourself a lifestyle saving favor and stay away from Eagles. Way too many potential issues and the $$$$ needed to stay on top of them is stupendous. Parts are almost all unobtanium nowadays. The only folks that have and use Eagles regularly have much previous experience with Coach conversions and the insane costs associated with all of them, and usually up close and personal experience with Eagles, so they know in advance what they're getting into.

Eagles are NOT for the new or inexperienced guy. Or the faint of heart. They are the epitome of what it means when I say that ALL Coaches are the most spectacular drain on all your financial and relationship resources, with the Eagle being in a class by themselves for requiring creative solutions in order to keep them up and running reliably.

Trust me on this. Unless you have the $$ resources and many contacts in the Eagle parts and support community, you're in for a never ending world of hurt and may never get the thing where you can really use it for extended trips, or maybe even any trips....

By the way, if it really goes as fast as that guy says it does, which I call total BS on, that means it has such a tall rear end ratio, on the order of 3.55:1, that the engine will NEVER be running in it's optimum rpm speed range. This will mean it's at risk for constant overheating, along with never putting out the rated torque/HP it's capable of, but must be running around 2100 rpm to do it.

ALL DD 2-stokes MUST be driven like you're mad at it. That means you need to keep it in it's narrow power producing rpm range of 1800 to 2200 rpm. Extended times spent at 2100 is to be the goal and the engine NEEDS this for cooling, oil circulation, smooth piston action and internal bearing loads to prevent all the nastiness that lugging will cause. Even if the engine will produce power enough to get it down the road at lower (below 1800rpm) which is what the high rear-end ratio will require it to do, it's definitely not the best thing for the engine at all.

Remember that you're going to spend the majority of your time at 35-70 mph with traffic and road conditions. With only 4-spds in that HT740 you're going to be lugging the hell out of the engine at those road speeds. One thing you can do is to manually select gears to keep your engine speed up above 1800 but that means you're also going to need to understand the dynamics of your vehicle and be willing to learn to DRIVE it like a professional driver to get the most out of it. Below 40mph you're going to be in torque converter with the transmission and not locked up in gear. This will add TONS of heat to the bus cooling system and could potentially even damage the transmission if you aren't careful in how you drive it. Believe me when I say that the tall rear-end is a very bad idea for many reasons. Just not practical or a real world solution. Where exactly can you ever go 90mph for any length of time???

In fact, with the weight distribution of most all coaches, and the Eagle for sure, you're going to be close to the maximum axle loading on the front and the tires will be near their max. This means in the real world the real limit of vehicle speed will be tire failures caused by excessive speed (above 75 usually), and high outside temps all leading to very bad outcomes.

Even I respect the stresses on the tires when I travel at high speeds cross country. Coaches are heavy on the front, school buses usually not so much. My Crown easily does 90+ and I've driven it at those speeds for long distances, but I know it's also not overly weighted down so the tires aren't carrying a lot, or being stressed beyond what the centrifugal forces are being generated.

I'd seriously consider replacing the rear-end gears and changing it to something like 3.90:1, and no lower than 3.70:1. This will give give good 75-80mph road speed with still good hill climbing power as well as letting the engine operate as it should in it's designed rpm range. By the way, for everyone reading this, this info pertains to any vehicle brand as well. DD 2-stokes are designed to operate a certain way, for longevity and reliability, and as long as you do this they are a very great engine. If you don't you'll suffer the consequences.

They won't pull hills like the newer 4-strokes will and some find this a problem. Actually we've merely become spoiled by the 4-stokes and their much higher Torque outputs. DD's don't have that kind of torque, never did, and all we knew was to climb hills at about 30-35 mph and watch the engine temp gauge like a hawk for overheating. That's what it was like in the good 'ole days. I'm spoiled too, but I learned how to drive the 2-stokes when they were in every single bus in the world. Today it's a lost art and anyone driving one would do well to learn how to do it right or they will learn the many $$$$$ lessons the hard way.

That tall re-end ratio will forever have the engine running too slow in all mph speed ranges which leads to lugging, excessive wear, overheating, and overall just plain crappy performance, along with the eventual risk of seriously damaging the engine and creating another of the manifest joys of Coach ownership, a massive engine repair bill, assuming of course you can even find today a qualified/experienced Detroit Diesel 2-stoke engine mechanic...... Yep, they're the real unicorns today and getting harder to find as the days go by.

Take a cold shower and check with other owners of Eagles what their experiences are like. The BCM Forum is a must to find out about Coach issues in general. Orders of magnitudes more complex and expensive than any school bus vehicle by far.
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Old 10-04-2022, 08:05 PM   #5
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Thank you everyone. With this feedback I've chosen not to proceed. I did look at a few Eagle conversions for reference- many of them are a labor of love so to speak, with lots of polish, high dollar. A little exotic for my use case- I'm after something that is very utilitarian, sort of a workhorse.
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Old 10-04-2022, 11:35 PM   #6
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If you really must have a Coach stick with an MCI. They are the industry workhorse and in most cases will give good service and provide good support for parts and such. The exceptions are that some of the newer ones are getting pretty exotic in their electrical systems and require a College Degree to sort things out when they go wonky. But aside from that the MCI's are built for hard commercial high mileage service and usually are easier to keep repaired and on the road generating revenue. That's the goal.

They are STILL orders of magnitude more complex and expensive to do anything with when compared to school bus vehicles, which for all intents are nothing more than medium duty in-city delivery trucks with a school bus box body strapped on to the frame rails. Even the other bus styles with no hood out front are still using the same medium duty truck components, from the axles up to the engines and transmissions.

All highway Coaches use the heaviest duty components to deliver the million+ mile life cycles the industry demands. School buses, definitely not so much. Except for the Crowns and Gilligs which were built to the same HD Coach level drive-train standards using lots of the exact same components found on Coaches. That's why 40+ year old Crowns are still running strong today and will be for another 50 years with regular maintenance. And we can still get parts for them today. But then again, I'm not biased or anything.....
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Old 10-05-2022, 08:56 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crown_Guy View Post
If you really must have a Coach stick with an MCI. They are the industry workhorse and in most cases will give good service and provide good support for parts and such. The exceptions are that some of the newer ones are getting pretty exotic in their electrical systems and require a College Degree to sort things out when they go wonky. But aside from that the MCI's are built for hard commercial high mileage service and usually are easier to keep repaired and on the road generating revenue. That's the goal.
Yeah, there's an MCI I'm looking at and hoping to go see this weekend if it doesn't sell before then. Series 50, so 4 stroke, but a bit smaller than the Series 60. 40' coaches in general seem hard to find.
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Old 10-05-2022, 06:44 PM   #8
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Series 50's (4 cylinders) are to be avoided if you can get a series 60 (6 cylinders) instead. I'm not aware of any MCI's built with series 50's in them. Even the 40ft D's, (DL's are 45ft), had series 60's in them. I'm on the hunt, and missed a couple recently, for a good condition 40ft D with series 60 (12.7L), there were three engine sizes made, and Allison B500. I've only ever seen series 50's used in some transit bus's and they are fine for that, but never yet in a true MCI Intercity Coach model.

Series 50's are four cylinders and pretty common parts wise to the 60's, but they have a known issue with vibration damper failures and other vibration caused problems that can incur some fairly high repair bills to correct. They put out about the same power as a naturally aspirated (non-turbo) 8V-71 and can be made to fit in the space of a previous 8V-71 engine installation. I've seen more than a couple nicely done re-powers where the 4-cylinder series 50 was installed and produced plenty of power and better torque than the 8V-71 could. A series 60 is just too long for this kind of re-power thus the 50 was a perfect solution.

What's wrong with just doing up your current school bus and get that first hand hard experience on a somewhat lower financial risk level. This will prepare you for the truly awful experiences awaiting you when you decide to dive in to a Coach conversion. Actually, never mind the Conversion, you'll find the adventure of getting the thing to the point of being a reliable, and safe, driving vehicle at all, very illuminating and costly, no doubt. Then you can start on the joys of the actual Conversion, if you still have the stomach, and bank account left, to take it on. Just Saying. Use your current bus as a teaching aid to find out what's in store for you down the road.

If what you've found is truly an MCI Highway Coach I'd really like to know more details on it. Be very cautious and please understand that even an MCI with loads of miles on it in Commercial Service can still reach out and bite you VERY hard on the ass with deferred repair and accumulated damages incurred through day to day operations. They rust and oxidize, and wiring gets flaky and ill repaired and patched together, engines, transmissions, air suspension, axles and brakes, can all provide many splendid ways to soak up all the money you have, or ever hoped to have. Coaches are NOT your friend. I put them in the same class as Yachts, Airplanes, Sailboats, Race Cars, Dragsters, Fixer Upper Houses, Trophy Wives.... well, I hope you get the picture. Be very careful. Buyer Beware. Where Angels fear to tread and all that.
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Old 10-05-2022, 11:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crown_Guy View Post
Series 50's are four cylinders and pretty common parts wise to the 60's, but they have a known issue with vibration damper failures and other vibration caused problems that can incur some fairly high repair bills to correct.
I've heard they eat motor mounts and are noisy at high idle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crown_Guy View Post
They put out about the same power as a naturally aspirated (non-turbo) 8V-71 and can be made to fit in the space of a previous 8V-71 engine installation. I've seen more than a couple nicely done re-powers where the 4-cylinder series 50 was installed and produced plenty of power and better torque than the 8V-71 could. A series 60 is just too long for this kind of re-power thus the 50 was a perfect solution.
Actually that sounds alot like what I might be looking at now. I'll have to dig into the history a bit on this one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crown_Guy View Post
What's wrong with just doing up your current school bus and get that first hand hard experience on a somewhat lower financial risk level. This will prepare you for the truly awful experiences awaiting you when you decide to dive in to a Coach conversion.
You mean a drivetrain upgrade? I am looking for help with that, I simply do not have the facilities to perform a swap. Parked on gravel and I'd rather not pour concrete or asphalt _just_ to haul engines around on. Maybe in 5 years I'll own a large workshop and will hopefully have what it takes to do regular maintenance on a small fleet of vehicles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crown_Guy View Post
Actually, never mind the Conversion, you'll find the adventure of getting the thing to the point of being a reliable, and safe, driving vehicle at all, very illuminating and costly, no doubt. Then you can start on the joys of the actual Conversion, if you still have the stomach, and bank account left, to take it on. Just Saying. Use your current bus as a teaching aid to find out what's in store for you down the road.
Look, I'm 3 years into this build and 2 living in it. Its utilitarian, unorthodox in some ways, but fully functional. Checks all the boxes. I'd like to think I at least have an idea of what I'm getting into.

The problems with your suggestion as I see it:

  • There are long term annoyances in our build's layout that I cannot correct while living in it. I'm not going to break something that works while it needs to be working supporting our lifestyle.
  • The T444e+AT545 drivetrain just cannot support long treks reliably. Could I get it there? Potentially by adding aftermarket cooling capacity to the transmission and really treating the power plant and transmission like a princess. That wont however fix my top speed of 55 and slogging through hills.

    An engine + transmission swap is on my TODO list and will be as long as I own this. However I just do not have the facilities to do this at my current location or proper knowledge set to see this through. Plus I need to live in it while any such work would be going on, adding another hoop to jump through.
    I would love to recruit someone or some shop to help plan and execute this, if you or anyone knows someone around TN that can help, I would much appreciate it.
  • The complete lack of underbay storage and my original decision not to go through with a roof raise caused me to have to use cabin space in ways I would otherwise not. I have no problems with headroom but also cannot fit cabinets and applicances in places I could had the ceiling been higher, and I would not have needed space for infrastructure in the cabin if I had areas underneath that could accommodate them. Compromises were made, ones that routinely annoy us.

Thus I think a fresh build may allow me to address all of the above at once rather than trying to just go after the drive train. Maybe I just haven't put enough thought into another skoolie with the right internals and should look in that direction instead, idk. But it does seem like ~40' + underbay storage + highway drivetrain + decently high ceilings + 2004 or older to avoid emissions nightmares is a hard combo to find / lock down nowadays. Also, coaches seem like the "right tool for the job" when it comes to approaching a conversion as they're largely designed for long highway hauls. Maybe again there's a better option and I am a fish slap in the face away from seeing it. Wouldn't be the first time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Crown_Guy View Post
If what you've found is truly an MCI Highway Coach I'd really like to know more details on it. Be very cautious and please understand that even an MCI with loads of miles on it in Commercial Service can still reach out and bite you VERY hard on the ass with deferred repair and accumulated damages incurred through day to day operations. They rust and oxidize, and wiring gets flaky and ill repaired and patched together, engines, transmissions, air suspension, axles and brakes, can all provide many splendid ways to soak up all the money you have, or ever hoped to have. Coaches are NOT your friend. I put them in the same class as Yachts, Airplanes, Sailboats, Race Cars, Dragsters, Fixer Upper Houses, Trophy Wives.... well, I hope you get the picture. Be very careful. Buyer Beware. Where Angels fear to tread and all that.




I will PM you a link for more context.
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Old 10-06-2022, 12:54 AM   #10
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Oops. I owe you a giant Mea Culpa. I failed completely to notice your build thread link. I wasn't trying to be insulting, I've only seen and responded to this thread and it looked like you were a newby sitting on your school bus and looking at it... without doing much to it, and being enthralled with the idea of a Coach in your future. My Bad. Sorry.

You have quite obviously been through the Wars by doing your conversion already and are indeed ready to look at a Coach, and your reasons all seem sound and well thought out. Nothing beats Experience.

I wasn't even thinking of trying to swap out your current engine and trans in that school bus. Way not worth it. I was only mentioning it in regards to the availability and advisability of the various engines used in coaches. I was interested in your finding an MCI with a Series 50, still am, so when you can, please expand on that find if you can for my edification. Thanks.

You are properly prepared to look around for a GOOD Coach with minimal problems that will give you the best foundation vehicle on which to build. All you lack is more information and guidance on what to look for and what to be avoiding. It's a long and arduous process fraught with all kinds of well intentioned advise from folks who mean well but may not have all the correct answers, so go slow and seek out as much information as you can before making a decision and locking yourself into a particular Coach.

I'd strongly suggest you check out and lurk around on the busconversionmagazine.com forum to see what they have to say and pick their brains for Coach ideas. They know Coaches and can be real helpful.

I still say a well maintained MCI may be your best bet. As an unconventional alternative you might look at a Gillig Phantom. They were made as school buses and Transit buses. They are not equipped with underfloor luggage bays like an inter-city bus is, but they are still extremely well built and in production and supported today. If you require the underfloor storage space then they won't work for you and you'll need to stay in the inter-city bus market.

There are many brands of highway-tour buses to choose from but for my money the only ones worth considering for an individuals budget would be MCI, maybe Prevost if you get real lucky and find a decent used one. I don't care much for the many European and other imports out there even though I end up driving them still in service with the companies I work for. Van Hools are common, Volvo's gaining round, Setra's not so much, any of the others aren't a good choice, in my opinion. They all tend to have too many complicated systems that keep breaking, parts and support are not what I'm used to and they tend to be finicky and troublesome in normal day to day operations.

To each his own but I'd avoid the exotic imports as much as you can. MCI and Prevost are considered good 'ole American standards, even though they are Canadian in heritage. They've been around long enough to adapt and build what the American Industry requires to get the job done.

Good luck and by all means feel free to PM me or better yet email me and I'll help with any questions you may have. Just so you know I've been driving Crowns and all Coaches in service for more than 50 years now and still drive buses in commercial charter service today.
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Old 10-09-2022, 08:25 PM   #11
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Mci-12

Continuing my search, I found an "MCI-9" (in reality an MCI-12) in NC we went to go look at with mixed results. I had some questions folks here might be able to help me out with....
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Overall its height is 11' or so, as tall as one of the roof raises I saw at the lot (it is parked at a fabricator). Scheduled for a roof raise of its own, but that's not going to happen for a few reasons.
Looks like it was a prison bus at one point.

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Engine is a Detroit Series 50 paired with an Allison B500R. Clean engine compartment, with one exception below. Underbay, i only had access to one bay opposite the generator, and that looked clean.

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Yeah, that's a black tank with a standard RV waste gate. Straight shot down too with no valves or anything... must have been quite the odor with the engine right next to cook it. Disgusting.

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Interior height was disappointing as it matches the height in my current rig, maybe an inch or two taller. Lights down the hall over the seats, and a couple roof top ACs down the middle. Seats look really easy to remove- couple bolts that don't look rusted to crap, done.

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Question #1: Diamond patterned floor, does this need to be removed? Anything under this at all like wood that could rot, or could I ignore/cover it? Is the floor raised on these (could I remove it to get more headroom?)

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Question #2: This raceway exists down each wall, can that be safely removed?


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Going back to the rear, there's the prison bathroom. Looks like I can pretty easily remove this wall.


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Question #3: I could use the wall material to cover the toilet, however there's a box right next to it (right) that I'm not sure what it is. Its _above_ the engine in that compartment, and I see no access inside from within the compartment. Right outside the wall where the toilet is there is a fresh water inlet, I'm guessing this is the fresh tank?

Looks like a pain to remove.

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Question #4: The glass has this issue where it looks like it has shattered, but hasn't? Is there any treating / fixing this condition? I'm more or less assuming I'm going to delete / replace them all, but figured I'd ask.


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The driver's area looks pretty cool, however it is a bit cramped. Hoping I can move that seat back 3-4 inches. I couldn't get a response from the coach, assuming the batteries were dead. I will not be making any kind of purchase if i haven't seen it run. The pic to the right looks like a master electrical switch to prevent parasitic loads (outside near the fuel cap), flipping that didn't work. HOWEVER- in hindsight I didn't look for a master dashboard switch to power the gauges. I may have just been missing that.

Question #5: Think I can move that seat backward somehow? Not sure how it is bolted into the floor.
Question #6: I may go see this next weekend again to try to see it run. Anything to look for electrically?

Thoughts guys? I'm cautiously optimistic about this one. Its 2' longer than my build, same ish ceiling height, but without wheel wells intruding into the cabin which means more options for using all of that space.

Buyer was asking $19k but I told them its not happening. Half the information they gave me was wrong (listed as an MCI-9), some of the tires need airing up, and its certainly not pristine. Most of these seem to go for $7k-$9k, and I told him I wouldn't be going much higher if at all. Felt sorry for the seller who obviously got shafted by some dude who simply flipped this off govdeals or something. They seemed to take it well.

For me to even think about it I have to see and hear it run either way, but I could use any input. Thanks in advance guys.
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