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Old 03-03-2016, 12:34 PM   #1
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Buying The Bus: Mileage and Engine Hours

So, I'm on the cusp of heading down to a dealer to start looking for my final selection to purchase for my conversion. But there is a major question I need some guidance on. I don't want a load of drivetrain work out of the gate. Obviously ideal mileage and engine hours would be 0 and straight off the assembly line. And obviously a very well-maintained 150,000mi or so diesel engine is still tough to kill.

So here's the question: What combination or average of mileage and/vs engine hours should I consider acceptable when buying my used Skoolie for conversion?

Thanks for any and all guidance fellas and ladies...

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Old 03-03-2016, 12:46 PM   #2
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If you go diesel, most bus engines are good up to 500K with reasonable maintenance so gauge it by how many miles you hope to add to whatever number the unit has. Obviously, lower is better, but the maintenance aspect is hugely significant. Anything from 200K down should be OK.

Gas is a whole nuther story and personally I wouldn't even consider a gas engine no matter the mileage for anything other than a twice a year, local tailgating rig.

Just my 2 centavos.
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Old 03-03-2016, 02:01 PM   #3
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Hours will dictate more to you than miles will. Engine model depends on the hours too. An 8.3 with 8000 hrs is a lot different than a 7.3 with 8000 hrs.
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Old 03-03-2016, 08:22 PM   #4
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Just my 2 centavos.
Both your 2 centavos are appreciated Tango & Opus! There was never a question in my mind about my bus being a diesel. It will be for sure. The two buses I am leaning towards are both 2002 T444E 7.3 V8's with about the same stats of 178160mi, 11900h, 14.9mph avg.

Think that's a bad combo?
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Old 03-03-2016, 08:27 PM   #5
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That's a lot of hours!
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Old 03-03-2016, 08:35 PM   #6
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That's a lot of hours!
So what would be a more acceptable amount of hours (or average mph) to start a conversion with a 150k-180k mi diesel?
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Old 03-03-2016, 08:43 PM   #7
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The 444E should be good for 300,000 miles in school bus use.

Anything less than 200K miles should be fine if the bus has had any sort of reasonable preventative maintenance.

The real problem in the school bus world is school buses spend more time at idle than anything else. Between the several times they start up and shut off, the many times they are stopped on route loading and unloading, and loading and unloading at schools it amounts to a lot of time running but not going anywhere. It is exacerbated by the fact most school buses spend their entire service life at less than 35 MPH.

What operators are discovering is the newer emission controlled buses have a really hard time getting hot enough to make the emissions controls (exhaust gas recirculation and catalytic convertor) to work properly. More and more operators are opting for small engines that have to work really hard rather than big engines that only have to lope along.

As long as the price is right I would not be afraid of a bus with a T444E with under 200,000 miles.
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Old 03-03-2016, 08:54 PM   #8
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Thanks for the guidance Cowlitzcoach. Thankfully both of my main potential candidates have their maintenance records fully intact, and ready to be handed over on purchase, and both reflect appropriate TLC in the shop.

Making the plunge soon, whether it's one of these two or another. And I cannot wait.

Ready for road life again.
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Old 03-03-2016, 09:04 PM   #9
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Cowlitz would know better than me. I would never expect the same hours out of a V8 that I would an inline.
I didn't read enough to know you had all the records, that goes a long way!
I've never had much good to say about V8's other than the 3408 or a 2 stroke Detroit. Well wait, the V8 Mack was a nice engine.
Disregard anything I've said. Lol.
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Old 10-30-2018, 11:42 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
The 444E should be good for 300,000 miles in school bus use.

Anything less than 200K miles should be fine if the bus has had any sort of reasonable preventative maintenance.

The real problem in the school bus world is school buses spend more time at idle than anything else. Between the several times they start up and shut off, the many times they are stopped on route loading and unloading, and loading and unloading at schools it amounts to a lot of time running but not going anywhere. It is exacerbated by the fact most school buses spend their entire service life at less than 35 MPH.

What operators are discovering is the newer emission controlled buses have a really hard time getting hot enough to make the emissions controls (exhaust gas recirculation and catalytic convertor) to work properly. More and more operators are opting for small engines that have to work really hard rather than big engines that only have to lope along.

As long as the price is right I would not be afraid of a bus with a T444E with under 200,000 miles.


I am a newbie and not a mechanic,
very sorry to bring up this ancient post but... Does this mean a bus with 9 MPH is a bad choice? (using the calculation mileage divided by hours)
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Old 10-30-2018, 11:55 AM   #11
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I am a newbie and not a mechanic,
very sorry to bring up this ancient post but... Does this mean a bus with 9 MPH is a bad choice? (using the calculation mileage divided by hours)
Total hours/miles would be a better way to look at it.

A bus with 1000 hours and 9000 miles would average 9mph as would a bus with 30,000 hours and 270,000 miles.

The common thread above seems to be "under/around 200k miles with good maintenance " is most likely to have a reasonable amount of life left in it for our application.
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Old 10-30-2018, 12:05 PM   #12
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Hi PNW Steve,
I am looking for a bus to convert to a kitchen. One bus I am looking at has 84000 miles and 9745 hours making it 9 MPH. While I don't really understand what that means, everything I read says that it would have idled a lot. It is a handicapped bus, meaning while loading, it needed to be running.
Does a lot of hours reduce the effectiveness of the motor? If so how?
With that said, the seller is asking a $11,500 for it. Now I think that is a lot of money for a '99, maybe I am wrong?
I do appreciate any input.
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Old 10-30-2018, 12:17 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Hi PNW Steve,
I am looking for a bus to convert to a kitchen. One bus I am looking at has 84000 miles and 9745 hours making it 9 MPH. While I don't really understand what that means, everything I read says that it would have idled a lot. It is a handicapped bus, meaning while loading, it needed to be running.
Does a lot of hours reduce the effectiveness of the motor? If so how?
With that said, the seller is asking a $11,500 for it. Now I think that is a lot of money for a '99, maybe I am wrong?
I do appreciate any input.
$11,500 is extremely high for a 19 year old school bus.

Has it been in regular school bus service? If so, I would suspect the low miles for the hours that it has. It is fairly common to have a failure that causes the replacement of the instrument cluster. Including the odometer.

I see quite a few buses of that vintage sell for $1600-$6000. Most in the $2000-$4000 range.

Take a look at the classifieds here as well as the auction sites. You can definitely find a good bus for less money.
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Old 10-30-2018, 12:20 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PNW_Steve View Post
$11,500 is extremely high for a 19 year old school bus.

Has it been in regular school bus service? If so, I would suspect the low miles for the hours that it has. It is fairly common to have a failure that causes the replacement of the instrument cluster. Including the odometer.

I see quite a few buses of that vintage sell for $1600-$6000. Most in the $2000-$4000 range.

Take a look at the classifieds here as well as the auction sites. You can definitely find a good bus for less money.
My thoughts exactly.
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Old 10-30-2018, 12:22 PM   #15
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I thought so too. Thanks for your time.
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Old 10-30-2018, 01:07 PM   #16
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A school bus with an average of 9 MPH is not unusual, it is especially not unusual for a bus with a lift.

A school bus will start up at a bus garage and idle for a while during pre-trip and warm up. It will then travel to the start of the route, usually over surface streets with multiple traffic lights where it will commence to go and stop and load, go and stop and load, and go and stop and load multiple times until it gets to the school where it will unload. After unloading at the school it will head out once, or twice, or more times before it parks back at the bus garage where it will idle while doing post trip and log book entries. In the afternoon it will do the same in reverse. All told the bus probably spent more time running while stopped than actually driving down the road.

The last year I drove a big bus on a daily route the total number of miles driven was 27 miles per day and it took seven different routes through the day to achieve that number of miles. I calculated I spent 15 minutes every day stopped at traffic lights.
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