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Old 01-08-2021, 04:48 PM   #1
Join Date: Nov 2020
Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL
Posts: 22
Year: 2002
Coachwork: AmTran
Chassis: Genesis
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 28ft
1986 Bluebird International S1853

I want to learn more about this particular build, but finding conflicting info. Considering buying this as a bus conversion. Not familiar with older buses and in general have limited knowledge of drivetrains/mechanics of all things, including buses.

History of this bus according to current owner:
- meticulously maintained by previous owners
- used by fire crew company in NoCal (where it is still located)
- driven all the way to Maine and other parts of US
- retired couple years ago when current owner purchased
- current owner has maintenance records from fire crew
- engine maintained by owner, no leaks, cracks, issues that they're aware of
- owner sent video of bus running, no weird timing or extra sounds
- mileage: 280,xxx

What comes up for me:
  • Autozone: 1985 International S1853 6 Cylinders 9.0L Turbo Diesel 551 CID
  • see photo attachment (7.6L?)
  • carfax: wouldn't load
What I'm hoping to learn:
  • What is the actual engine in this bus?
  • What do you think of this engine build?
  • What could this transmission be?
    • How could the current owner find this info?
  • If there is something wrong, will it be possible (read: not ridiculously hard, expensive, rare) to get parts, find someone to fix it?
  • Should I run away?
  1. picture from
  2. scanned document from current owner
Attached Thumbnails
vincheck.png   136347233_139466377985312_2326064788513560883_n.jpg  

kuja is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2021, 05:37 PM   #2
Bus Geek
Join Date: May 2014
Location: West Ohio
Posts: 3,645
Year: 1984
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: International 1753
Engine: 6.9 International
Rated Cap: 65
1. Do you have any photos of the actual bus or engine? The 1853 typically came with either the 9.0 v8 or dt466, and it would be pretty obvious from an underhood picture which one you actually have. I wouldn't rely upon vin checkers or maintenance records. A simple typo can mean all the difference.

2. Dt466 is legendary for it's reliability, A 9.0 isn't the greatest option but I would choose it over a gas engine in the same sized bus.

3. Transmission model will be found by reading the data plate off the transmission. Being that it's the 1853 vs the 1753, there is a better chance it's an MT643, but the at545 was also used depending on how the bus was ordered. So the best way to find out what exactly it has is to read it off the data plate. A photo of the trans can at least give us an idea if it's an AT or MT Allison though.

4. You can still find parts for the 80's s-series internationals, not 350 chevy common, but common enough that most parts can be had in a day or two. Finding someone to fix them though might be a little more difficult, but that's with all school buses owned by a private individual. To buy any bus, I recommend to have a basic set of mechanical skills and are comfortable with hand tools. If you're not, ownership will get expensive quick.

5. Depends on the cost and condition of the bus. I like mine, a 1984 s1753. Other's wouldn't purchase a bus this old. To each their own.
My build: The Silver Bullet
Booyah45828 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2021, 05:37 PM   #3
Bus Geek
Jolly Roger bus 223's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Swansboro,NC
Posts: 2,966
Year: 86
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Ford B700
Engine: 8.2
Rated Cap: 60 bodies
if you do get this bus then definitely save the second picture?
you can research the tranny filter part number on it and see if its an external filter or more transmission specific than just allison?
dont know anything about the 9.0 but it has only 180 hp?
next would be rear end gearing and tire size.
the build sheet shows budd rims which is good.
is that inline 6 turboed? i doubt it at 180 hp?
my 86 ford is 175 with the 8.2 detroit n/a with the 545 transmission and 6.50 rear gears and i use a stick as cruise control on flat land and run 49. but you said the forest service had made out of state trips with it so maybe it has better rear gears but i would definitely ask about rear gear size and transmission.
just saying allison doesnt work
Jolly Roger bus 223 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2021, 05:47 PM   #4
Bus Crazy
Ronnie's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Virginia
Posts: 2,323
Year: 1971
Coachwork: Wayne
Chassis: International Loadstar 1700
Engine: 345 international V-8
The trans has a data plate on it passenger side just above the oil pan if it is an Allison. Model number should be on this plate/tag.

9L is a V-8 diesel if I remember right. Older engine not a bad one but not a powerhouse. Have the owner take a picture of the engine. Maybe even find the tag on the engine. Often on the valve covers but not always.

In general old buses are poor choices for those who are not mechanically savvy. If you are hungry to learn then ok, but get service manuals once you are sure of what you have if you get it. Ebay is a good source of older service manuals.

I would also check on tire size. It is possible that it could have split rims. Many shops will not service them, as well as the tire size is no longer common. 9.00x20 or any 20" tire will most likely be on a split rim. These I have changed on my bus to a 22.5 tubeless rim in order to have a servicable tire/rim combo by most truck tire shops.

How do you plan to use the bus, convert it and park it somewhere, or travel a lot, tour the country? Weekend use close to home, or full time live aboard?
Ronnie is offline   Reply With Quote

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