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Old 06-03-2022, 08:54 AM   #1
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
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Year: 1984
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Chassis: International 36ft
Engine: DT466 w/ Allison MT643
6bt w/ at545 upgrade?

Hello,

I currently own a 38ft 1984 w/ dt466 and mt643. My partner and I are looking at a 1991 flat nose 26ft with a 6bt and a AT545 @ 380k miles. She really wants the shorter body style, and it would allow me to tow a 26+ ft trailer, so we're both interested, but that transmission is scaring me off. I may be loaded down over 12k total in the trailer sometimes, and there's the occasional hill. I also really like how my dt466/mt653 drivetrain handles.

I dont have the facilities to do a swap, so it'd be a shop, so I'm guessing big cash. How bad are we talking here to deal with upgrading that transmission to a mt643 or Allison 1000/2000 series? How much mpg would I lose keeping the at545 @ 60mph, if it can even handle it under load?

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Old 06-03-2022, 09:05 AM   #2
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a 12k trailer would be at or over the max on 545. depends on the weight of your rig.

the 545 is rated for @ 30k lbs. an empty full size bus is right around 20k.

i have pulled trailers with my 545 and the lighter they are the happier the trans is. i burned up my 545 trans pulling a light trailer (atv ~ 3klbs) up a steep colorado mountain pass (monarch pass).


the 545 will work until it doesn't.
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Old 06-03-2022, 09:24 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turf View Post
a 12k trailer would be at or over the max on 545. depends on the weight of your rig.

the 545 is rated for @ 30k lbs. an empty full size bus is right around 20k.

i have pulled trailers with my 545 and the lighter they are the happier the trans is. i burned up my 545 trans pulling a light trailer (atv ~ 3klbs) up a steep colorado mountain pass (monarch pass).


the 545 will work until it doesn't.
This is a 2/3 length bus, and I'm not planning a SUPER heavy build, but I'm sure some weight will be added... Sounds like at the least I'd be right at it's max rating which is... uncomfortable... My current travel plans only have my climbing Turner Falls on I35 in Oklahoma with everything else flat, but plans may change and I like a versatile vehicle.


What did you do about your burned up 545? Upgrade or replaced or new bus?

Has anyone swapped in a Allison 1000/2000/2400 using the same SAE 3 bellhousing?

Perhaps I should find a guy who'll swap my entire 84 dt466/mt643 drivetrain over into the smaller bus, if it'll even fit :P
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Old 06-03-2022, 09:36 AM   #4
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i replaced my 545 with the Allison AT1545

it is the 545 bigger brother with the lockup converter. its military spec, only was available on some cat powered deuce and a halves.

since the 1545 was never installed on a cummins, i had to custom fabricate the flex plate adapter connection for a cummins motor. i would not recommend going that route. i had to cut and fit more parts than i wanted to to make the bigger 1545 fit. i bet an engineer needs to design parts like that. not some shade tree mechanic like me. the longevity of my adapter is unknown. 20k miles later and still going..... knock on wood.

my bus is a 93 BB, with the cummin 6bt, about 30' long, weighs in at ~19K lbs.
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Old 06-03-2022, 09:51 AM   #5
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If your current bus is a front engine why not just whack of part of the rear. You like your current drivetrain and it would be easier and cheaper to cut off the rear of your bus than to buy another bus, build it out AND swap the tranny. I also happen to know there's a guy on the forum that did it and could provide his input. Just a thought.
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Old 06-03-2022, 09:53 AM   #6
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Turf: Yeah that sounds like a difficult to go route, especially for repairs later down the line if needed.

Of course the easiest is "just get a bus with the drivetrain you want" - but I'm not seeing any 2/3 length flat noses w/ 6bt and a better transmission... or any other decent engine and trans combo. And this bus is an hour from here.
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Old 06-03-2022, 09:57 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Oldyeller View Post
If your current bus is a front engine why not just whack of part of the rear. You like your current drivetrain and it would be easier and cheaper to cut off the rear of your bus than to buy another bus, build it out AND swap the tranny. I also happen to know there's a guy on the forum that did it and could provide his input. Just a thought.
So, my current bus is barely built out as a camper, no plumbing, barely electrical, really not much in there. A full remodel/buildout was on the table, as well as other stuff I wanted to do like solar, diesel genset, and more. My 84 is nearly a blank slate build wise. Doing a buildout in a new bus wont be hardly any more work as long as the ceiling height is right and it doesnt need gutted.

If I chop the tail, it will still corner like a container ship, and make it less than ideal for maneuvering that trailer into tight spots. I also dont have land available to do that on, the equipment to do it, or a good back anymore. Yay spine degenerating autoimmune disorder.

This 91 short(er) bus has a high ceiling, right length, short wheelbase, efficient engine, air con, basically *every single thing* on our want list EXCEPT the transmission. If I can swap the trans to one w/ lockup at a min, and od ideally, for ~$2500, I'd still be in what I consider an acceptable price for a bus that's otherwise perfect for our present needs.

Did I mention I'm very interested in fuel economy mods? I'm very interested in upping the fuel eco. My other ride is a 2000 Insight that gets 60-80mpg on the regular.
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Old 06-03-2022, 11:55 AM   #8
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If you go newer, looks like bluebird phased out (used less) the 545 in the 2000s. I have a 2003 TC2000. It's found as a 25fter and 28fter commonly with an Allison 2000. I was able to find mine with a 3060. Shorter buses seem to cost more, you would save money by buying an ISB with a good trans. If you want, you could grab a p7100 pump and make that ISB fully Mechanical without having a shop.
If your set on the current available shortbus, then I would look at Cadillackids Allison 2000 swap thread. The 6bt in that bus likely has sae3 housing, and would be similar effort. I bet Chris has more than $2500 in that conversion..
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Old 06-03-2022, 12:04 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by fo4imtippin View Post
If you go newer, looks like bluebird phased out (used less) the 545 in the 2000s. I have a 2003 TC2000. It's found as a 25fter and 28fter commonly with an Allison 2000. I was able to find mine with a 3060. Shorter buses seem to cost more, you would save money by buying an ISB with a good trans. If you want, you could grab a p7100 pump and make that ISB fully Mechanical without having a shop.
If your set on the current available shortbus, then I would look at Cadillackids Allison 2000 swap thread. The 6bt in that bus likely has sae3 housing, and would be similar effort. I bet Chris has more than $2500 in that conversion..
I'm betting you're absolutely right that this 6bt is a SAE3. I didnt see a step down adapter between the 6bt and the 545, or much of any adapter really.

I can get this bus Monday for $6500 cash. I have my doubts I can get a 2003 TC2000 short bus anywhere for less than what, 12k now days? "Inflation"
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Old 06-03-2022, 12:39 PM   #10
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True, they are high priced on the secondary market.. I got mine for $3600 at auction with about 1k spent on a preinspection trip. You might be able to swap a whole drivetrain easier out of a bigger bus though.. I gave up my requirement of a high roof for the tranny though.
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Old 06-03-2022, 12:42 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by fo4imtippin View Post
True, they are high priced on the secondary market.. I got mine for $3600 at auction with about 1k spent on a preinspection trip. You might be able to swap a whole drivetrain easier out of a bigger bus though.. I gave up my requirement of a high roof for the tranny though.
I mean, if my dt466/mt643 would fit that's certainly an option. It might be worth turning my 84 full length to scrap metal for that. I'd heard the dt466 is MUCH taller though, so I didnt figure it would be a likely fit.
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Old 06-03-2022, 01:41 PM   #12
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I'd shorten the 84 if I did anything, Decreasing the overhang behind the rear axle will also give the trailer, and the stuff in it, a better life too. You didn't mention, but is the 84 a conventional or transit bus? What about the 91?

If they're both conventionals, you'll gain little in maneuverability with the shorter unit, and lose a bunch with the 6bt/at545. If they're both conventionals, you can likely swap drivetrains with a weeks worth of work if you're into that.

If the 91 is a transit bus, you'll have to modify the dog house in some way in order to get the dt466 to fit. As the 466 is bigger in every direction compared to the 6bt. I honestly would not even consider this an option.

You'll likely have a couple thousand in a trans swap, and will likely have several more thousand and a big ? in a trans upgrade. My suggestion is to go newer with your search, as you can get the better trans and OD gearing a lot easier.

I get the whole built not bought theme, but in skoolies you'll be time and money ahead buying a rig that checks all the boxes vs buying one that needs work to get it how you want it. Unless a bus never came equipped how you'd like it.
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Old 06-03-2022, 02:02 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Booyah45828 View Post
I'd shorten the 84 if I did anything, Decreasing the overhang behind the rear axle will also give the trailer, and the stuff in it, a better life too. You didn't mention, but is the 84 a conventional or transit bus? What about the 91?

If they're both conventionals, you'll gain little in maneuverability with the shorter unit, and lose a bunch with the 6bt/at545. If they're both conventionals, you can likely swap drivetrains with a weeks worth of work if you're into that.

If the 91 is a transit bus, you'll have to modify the dog house in some way in order to get the dt466 to fit. As the 466 is bigger in every direction compared to the 6bt. I honestly would not even consider this an option.

You'll likely have a couple thousand in a trans swap, and will likely have several more thousand and a big ? in a trans upgrade. My suggestion is to go newer with your search, as you can get the better trans and OD gearing a lot easier.

I get the whole built not bought theme, but in skoolies you'll be time and money ahead buying a rig that checks all the boxes vs buying one that needs work to get it how you want it. Unless a bus never came equipped how you'd like it.
The shorter bus in question is a flat nose front engine, I guess you're calling it a transit. It's sheet metal w/ a real frame. The wheelbase just eyeballing it looks to be HALF of what my '84 dog nose has. I assumed that would net me a much smaller turning circle?

I havent seen many transit-style skoolies near Oklahoma, fewer short ones, many many fewer newer ones under $15-20k. This one checks every box but the gearbox
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Old 06-03-2022, 02:19 PM   #14
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Flat noses are transits, dog noses are conventionals. Transits typically have a much smaller wheel base and therefore turning radius then a conventional.

If it checks all the boxes, and it's a deal, then go ahead with the swap. People have done it before, but most of the times they swapped it themselves. If you're disabled, paying someone to do this sounds like a recipe to get taken advantage of, as shop labor isn't cheap, especially when it's custom stuff.

FYI, be careful modding or converting an FE transit, as the front axle on those typically have a lot of weight on them to begin with. Shorter transits will actually install ballast in the back to restore some of the handling back to them.
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Old 06-03-2022, 02:22 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Booyah45828 View Post
Flat noses are transits, dog noses are conventionals. Transits typically have a much smaller wheel base and therefore turning radius then a conventional.

If it checks all the boxes, and it's a deal, then go ahead with the swap. People have done it before, but most of the times they swapped it themselves. If you're disabled, paying someone to do this sounds like a recipe to get taken advantage of, as shop labor isn't cheap, especially when it's custom stuff.

FYI, be careful modding or converting an FE transit, as the front axle on those typically have a lot of weight on them to begin with. Shorter transits will actually install ballast in the back to restore some of the handling back to them.
It's ~26ft, so not short short, but less than a full for sure. It's rated GVWR is actually higher than my dognose. If I can fit an Allison 2400 that gets me a higher weight rating, lockup, overdrive, same 1st gear ratio as 'stock', at about the same weight. I'm reading the Redbyrd thread now. I'm more electrically inclined than mechanical, but I MAAAY be able to get friends to help with the mechanical heavy parts swap if I can do the rest.
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Old 06-03-2022, 03:31 PM   #16
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I noted that you said the bus you're looking at had 380K miles, that's a lot of miles. You didn't mention anything about either bus in terms of rust so lets assume that's a wash.

It doesn't matter to me which way you go with this I've got no dog in this hunt but we're here to provide different perspectives. Maybe you're a professional mechanic and feel really comfortable with and know exactly what is involved with swapping in a different transmission into the FE you're looking at. Personally I'd rather shorten an FE bus twice than swap that 545 for whatever other transmission once. The only 'special' tool I used was a chain hoist that I borrowed and the heaviest thing I lifted was the rear bumper because that day I was alone. The most expensive thing I bought were metal saw blades. If I did another shortening (and I might if I live long enough) I believe I could do it in a lot less time 'cause I know how now.

Just food for thought. Sometimes it's better do dance with the one what brung ya, especially if it's got a mechanical 466 and a 643.
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Old 06-03-2022, 03:44 PM   #17
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I noted that you said the bus you're looking at had 380K miles, that's a lot of miles. You didn't mention anything about either bus in terms of rust so lets assume that's a wash.

It doesn't matter to me which way you go with this I've got no dog in this hunt but we're here to provide different perspectives. Maybe you're a professional mechanic and feel really comfortable with and know exactly what is involved with swapping in a different transmission into the FE you're looking at. Personally I'd rather shorten an FE bus twice than swap that 545 for whatever other transmission once. The only 'special' tool I used was a chain hoist that I borrowed and the heaviest thing I lifted was the rear bumper because that day I was alone. The most expensive thing I bought were metal saw blades. If I did another shortening (and I might if I live long enough) I believe I could do it in a lot less time 'cause I know how now.

Just food for thought. Sometimes it's better do dance with the one what brung ya, especially if it's got a mechanical 466 and a 643.
Not a speck of rust I've spotted thus far.

Literally would have to shorten it twice to shorten the wheel base. Would have less interior space on account of dognose too.

I live on a "small lot" in town, I'm preeeeetty sure the eyesore police will get me if I tried to shorten it in my driveway.

Hard decision.
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Old 06-03-2022, 04:02 PM   #18
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Not a speck of rust I've spotted thus far.

Literally would have to shorten it twice to shorten the wheel base. Would have less interior space on account of dognose too.

I live on a "small lot" in town, I'm preeeeetty sure the eyesore police will get me if I tried to shorten it in my driveway.

Hard decision.
I understand your perspective. My bus started out as a 35'er, now it's a skosh under 30' with 20'6" behind the driver's seat. I shortened mine for the same reason you're looking at the shorter bus, pulling a trailer though I'm only going to be pulling a 12' motorcycle trailer, at least initially.

If I had known then what I know now, I think I would have moved the rear axle forward to the next set of mounting holes before I wacked off the rear. I never figured out what the length would have been then but it's only me, I don't think I need much interior space. The most complex thing I would have had to do would have been 'correctly' measuring for a driveshaft, though it's conceivable that I could have found a stock drive shaft for the correct wheelbase bus at salvage.

The neat thing about these buses is you can do pretty much anything you can think of. Swapping drivetrain, shortening, whatever. You'll undoubtedly put more money into what you're going to do than to shorten what you have . . . BUT . . . you could conceivably sell your current bus and get back a significant portion of your costs. Just be sure to wave goodbye to that DT466 and the 643 as they leave, you'll probably miss them.
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Old 06-03-2022, 04:06 PM   #19
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Just be sure to wave goodbye to that DT466 and the 643 as they leave, you'll probably miss them.
You're probably right

But I bet I can turn up that 6bt to more HP than my stock 84 dt466 (185hp) as long as I can cram in a gearbox that can handle that!
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Old 06-03-2022, 08:10 PM   #20
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Hello,

I currently own a 38ft 1984 w/ dt466 and mt643. My partner and I are looking at a 1991 flat nose 26ft with a 6bt and a AT545 @ 380k miles. She really wants the shorter body style, and it would allow me to tow a 26+ ft trailer, so we're both interested, but that transmission is scaring me off. I may be loaded down over 12k total in the trailer sometimes, and there's the occasional hill. I also really like how my dt466/mt653 drivetrain handles.

I dont have the facilities to do a swap, so it'd be a shop, so I'm guessing big cash. How bad are we talking here to deal with upgrading that transmission to a mt643 or Allison 1000/2000 series? How much mpg would I lose keeping the at545 @ 60mph, if it can even handle it under load?
the 380k miles would scare me off. I wonder how many 545's it takes a bus to even get to that mileage.
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