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Old 09-09-2019, 02:06 PM   #1
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2004 Cummins 8.3 ISC: Your Thoughts

I might be going to look at a '04 Bluebird All American with the 8.3 Cummins in the next day or two. I believe that in 2003 the 8.3 got the common rail injection, which was a pretty good advancement for the 5.9 in the Dodge trucks. Of course some people have an aversion to anything that doesn't have a mechanical pump, just like some people were reluctant to give up their carburetors when electronic fuel injection became available on gas engines. The gains in drivability, performance, efficiency and reliability soon made that argument moot for gasoline powered engines. Does this hold true for the Cummins 8.3 as well?

I have been looking at Thomas Safe-T-Liner buses, particularly the HDX models. They seem to be almost universally outfitted with Cat engines, the 3126 and the C7. The C7 seems like one to avoid and the 3126 has the HEUI injector issues that are expensive to prevent and prohibitively expensive to repair. So my dream bus, an HDX with extra headroom, air conditioning, air ride, and an 8.3 Cummins is unobtainable.
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Old 09-09-2019, 04:12 PM   #2
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there is a lot of "this engine is bad becuase someone somewhere had one break after it was abused by its owner and ran out of oil" that goes on here..



**ALL** and i mean **ALL** engines have some sort of achille;s heal.. even the venerable mechanical DT-466.. run the temp up to 240 once and lets see how it fairs..



HEUI engines have expensive injectors thats true.. so do common rail engines..

P-pumps are expensive too...


YES some engines were worse than others.. Cst had issues with the first couple years of C7s then they got their act together.. the Navistar Maxxforce DT had issues in its firs couple years (08,09).. the Maxxforce 7 sucked forever.. the VT-365 had issues that are solved with some (yes a bit pricey) updates.. 3126s werent real powerful but were pretty good runners...



most generally yes people are right, the less complex (older) an engine then the easier it is to fix if it breaks.. but it doesnt mean all newer engines arew going to explode 2 days after you buy your bus..
-Christopher
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Old 09-09-2019, 06:36 PM   #3
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Cummins CAPS Pump

Only real issue to avoid on the 8.3 is the early electronic attempt which uses the CAPS pump called the CM554 engine. The CM870 version is common rail and much better for reliability.

I love my DT466E HT 230hp/660tq, larger DT530E injectors and water meth injection.

Later ill be installing the GTA3782 DT530 Turbo.
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Old 09-10-2019, 06:42 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by FamilyCircus View Post
Only real issue to avoid on the 8.3 is the early electronic attempt which uses the CAPS pump called the CM554 engine. The CM870 version is common rail and much better for reliability.

I love my DT466E HT 230hp/660tq, larger DT530E injectors and water meth injection.

Later ill be installing the GTA3782 DT530 Turbo.

family: we need to reprogram your ECM to a 530 tune!!
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Old 09-10-2019, 07:02 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by wrenchtech View Post
I might be going to look at a '04 Bluebird All American with the 8.3 Cummins in the next day or two. I believe that in 2003 the 8.3 got the common rail injection, which was a pretty good advancement for the 5.9 in the Dodge trucks. Of course some people have an aversion to anything that doesn't have a mechanical pump, just like some people were reluctant to give up their carburetors when electronic fuel injection became available on gas engines. The gains in drivability, performance, efficiency and reliability soon made that argument moot for gasoline powered engines. Does this hold true for the Cummins 8.3 as well?

I have been looking at Thomas Safe-T-Liner buses, particularly the HDX models. They seem to be almost universally outfitted with Cat engines, the 3126 and the C7. The C7 seems like one to avoid and the 3126 has the HEUI injector issues that are expensive to prevent and prohibitively expensive to repair. So my dream bus, an HDX with extra headroom, air conditioning, air ride, and an 8.3 Cummins is unobtainable.
I don't think the oil line upgrade for the 3126 is very expensive.
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Old 09-10-2019, 07:05 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
there is a lot of "this engine is bad becuase someone somewhere had one break after it was abused by its owner and ran out of oil" that goes on here..



**ALL** and i mean **ALL** engines have some sort of achille;s heal.. even the venerable mechanical DT-466.. run the temp up to 240 once and lets see how it fairs..



HEUI engines have expensive injectors thats true.. so do common rail engines..

P-pumps are expensive too...


YES some engines were worse than others.. Cst had issues with the first couple years of C7s then they got their act together.. the Navistar Maxxforce DT had issues in its firs couple years (08,09).. the Maxxforce 7 sucked forever.. the VT-365 had issues that are solved with some (yes a bit pricey) updates.. 3126s werent real powerful but were pretty good runners...



most generally yes people are right, the less complex (older) an engine then the easier it is to fix if it breaks.. but it doesnt mean all newer engines arew going to explode 2 days after you buy your bus..
-Christopher
Fwiw the 3126 was available in ratings up to 330hp. That's more than any DT or Cummins in Medium duty applications.
But most school buses got the 190 rated version.
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Old 09-10-2019, 07:19 AM   #7
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true.. and it should be a good torquey engine as it has a longer stroke (this why lower RPM) than a DT466.. 466 is around 4.5 inches and the 3126 is a 5 inch stroke...
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Old 09-10-2019, 07:43 AM   #8
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Wrenchtech: that is precisely the combo I would like! As mentioned already, any engine has its fans and detractors but its important to know what's fact and what's just personal experience. 2004 though the only thing I'd be concerned is whether it has an exhaust aftertreatment system because that's about when those started hitting the bus market but I don't know if the 8.3 ever had that function. For my own opinion, I am less a fan of CAT just because their parts distribution is exclusively through their own network and therefore expensive whereas there's lots of aftermarket Cummins options.
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Old 09-10-2019, 07:54 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Sehnsucht View Post
Wrenchtech: that is precisely the combo I would like! As mentioned already, any engine has its fans and detractors but its important to know what's fact and what's just personal experience. 2004 though the only thing I'd be concerned is whether it has an exhaust aftertreatment system because that's about when those started hitting the bus market but I don't know if the 8.3 ever had that function. For my own opinion, I am less a fan of CAT just because their parts distribution is exclusively through their own network and therefore expensive whereas there's lots of aftermarket Cummins options.
What sort of aftermarket parts we talkin here? I can order aftermarket Cat parts right off Amazon.
I'm not trying to argue here, but this is how internet myths start.
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Old 09-10-2019, 08:02 AM   #10
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any engine or builder that had their engines in pickup trucks always has more of an aftermarket following.. look at International.. even though the only engines used in pickup trucks were their V-8s, the DT's have a good aftermarket following.. cummins is the same..



yeah you can order some CAT parts off amazon.. and as a buddy of mine found out buying Tstats on the cheap proved to be a royal issue till he went to a dealer and got genuine ones.. which werent tons more pricey than his cheapos that didnt work right..


-Christopher
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Old 09-10-2019, 08:06 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
any engine or builder that had their engines in pickup trucks always has more of an aftermarket following.. look at International.. even though the only engines used in pickup trucks were their V-8s, the DT's have a good aftermarket following.. cummins is the same..



yeah you can order some CAT parts off amazon.. and as a buddy of mine found out buying Tstats on the cheap proved to be a royal issue till he went to a dealer and got genuine ones.. which werent tons more pricey than his cheapos that didnt work right..


-Christopher
I wasn't finding much aftermarket support when trying find a solution for the DT problems I had.
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Old 09-10-2019, 09:26 AM   #12
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Cool

Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
What sort of aftermarket parts we talkin here? I can order aftermarket Cat parts right off Amazon.
I'm not trying to argue here, but this is how internet myths start.
Haha, no argument here either! Like I said, my own opinion based on personal experience. I totally get that some people are or are not CAT people and I've nothing against the brand itself but just my experience trying in vain to find what I want when the same solutions seemed much more available for other brands. Of course I'm also in Cummins and Allison HQ backyard so maybe there's just lots more local distribution channels for those than CAT.
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:40 AM   #13
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530 Tune

Cadillac Kid
Can I send you the ECM for that 530 tune or do you need the whole bus?
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Old 09-11-2019, 09:10 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wrenchtech View Post
I might be going to look at a '04 Bluebird All American with the 8.3 Cummins in the next day or two. I believe that in 2003 the 8.3 got the common rail injection, which was a pretty good advancement for the 5.9 in the Dodge trucks. Of course some people have an aversion to anything that doesn't have a mechanical pump, just like some people were reluctant to give up their carburetors when electronic fuel injection became available on gas engines. The gains in drivability, performance, efficiency and reliability soon made that argument moot for gasoline powered engines. Does this hold true for the Cummins 8.3 as well?

I have been looking at Thomas Safe-T-Liner buses, particularly the HDX models. They seem to be almost universally outfitted with Cat engines, the 3126 and the C7. The C7 seems like one to avoid and the 3126 has the HEUI injector issues that are expensive to prevent and prohibitively expensive to repair. So my dream bus, an HDX with extra headroom, air conditioning, air ride, and an 8.3 Cummins is unobtainable.
An ISC is a good engine. So far I like mine. In a 2004 you may have the newer common rail injection but also an EGR system. The common rail is a better fuel system than the earlier CAPS. Though there is a fix for the CAPS to make more reliable. A 2004 bus may have had a 2004 engine or used an earlier 2003 engine.

Ted
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Old 09-11-2019, 09:45 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by TJones View Post
An ISC is a good engine. So far I like mine. In a 2004 you may have the newer common rail injection but also an EGR system. The common rail is a better fuel system than the earlier CAPS. Though there is a fix for the CAPS to make more reliable. A 2004 bus may have had a 2004 engine or used an earlier 2003 engine.

Ted
Ted,

What is involved in upgrading the CAPS pump?

Thanks.
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Old 09-11-2019, 11:15 PM   #16
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Ted,

What is involved in upgrading the CAPS pump?

Thanks.
From what I have read in the RV forums CAPS pump failures are caused by overheating of the high pressure pump due to low fuel flow or air entering the system. The stock system pulls fuel from the tank and through the filters. Any air leak or filter restriction reduces flow and cooling of the injector pump.

The fix is to install an electric low pressure lift pump at the tank that will supply positive pressure (around 10 psi) to the CAPS pump. The electric priming pump is also bypassed. The positive pressure increases fuel flow through the pump which keeps it cooler.

I'm looking at using a Fass pump at the tank and a Fass fuel pressure regulator after the fuel filter at the engine. I would also add an additional fuel return line for the excess from the fuel pressurer regulator. Adding fuel pressure dash gauge would let me know if everything is working right.

Ted
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