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Old 11-12-2018, 02:40 PM   #1
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Help me understand drivetrains?

Hey Guys,

Making my first bus purchase for conversion. I'm getting TONS of info reading through the forums on engines, but the only things Im seeing for transmissions are "AT545 'insert hatemail'. Really looking to make an informed decision and not buy twice, so have a few questions:

Drivetrain for Pacific Northwest US (not making trips to Canada, or down to South America). I love the 5.9 cummins, but understand that its not always the ideal engine for a bus ... because its twice the size of a pickup.

What transmissions are mated with what? What are my combos?

What will I do the least maintenance on?

I have done some searching with local bus purchase options and found that 96-2003 range busses hit my budget.


Thanks!
Austin
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Old 11-12-2018, 03:22 PM   #2
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In the PNW you could definitely get a good drivetrain. Lots of 8.3 Cummins up that way.
The 5.9 is fine, but more is always better when it comes to moving a bus over mountains and across vast expanses of highway.

If you get an 8.3 you won't have to worry about it having the lame 545.
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Old 11-12-2018, 03:42 PM   #3
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Thanks CB, was looking at a 8.3 Cummins option. Is an Allison 2500 an AT545?
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Old 11-12-2018, 03:47 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by AustinsBigMouth View Post
Thanks CB, was looking at a 8.3 Cummins option. Is an Allison 2500 an AT545?

No. The Allison 2500 is a different transmission.
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Old 11-12-2018, 05:01 PM   #5
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Thanks CB, was looking at a 8.3 Cummins option. Is an Allison 2500 an AT545?
2500 replaced it. Totally different. Computer controlled, has lockup TC, had OD too! A BIG improvement over the 545.
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Old 11-14-2018, 10:42 AM   #6
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I love the 5.9 in my 1 ton pickup.

When it came time to buy a bus I held out for the 8.3/MD3060 combo and I would do the same again.

No replacement for displacement


BTW: My bus weighs almost 3 time what my truck does.
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Old 11-14-2018, 10:45 AM   #7
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I love the 5.9 in my 1 ton pickup.

When it came time to buy a bus I held out for the 8.3/MD3060 combo and I would do the same again.

No replacement for displacement


BTW: My bus weighs almost 3 time what my truck does.
Exactly. Although in an older bus I'd happily settle for a 643. As long as the final drive ratio is ok!
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Old 11-14-2018, 10:46 AM   #8
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We are getting enough skoolies in Idaho, Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington that we should have a skoolie meet up.
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Old 11-19-2018, 12:50 PM   #9
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Thank you for all the feedback guys!

I'm seeing a lot of cat 3126 / Alli 2500 combos out this way, thoughts?

Also, I know everyone has their preference, but what are the real differences between Thomas and Bluebird? I see same drivetrains, similar miles being priced about the same this way.
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Old 11-19-2018, 01:08 PM   #10
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Thank you for all the feedback guys!

I'm seeing a lot of cat 3126 / Alli 2500 combos out this way, thoughts?

Also, I know everyone has their preference, but what are the real differences between Thomas and Bluebird? I see same drivetrains, similar miles being priced about the same this way.
I've got a bus with a Cat 3126. If its been taken care of its as good as any.
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Old 11-19-2018, 01:36 PM   #11
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I've got a bus with a Cat 3126. If its been taken care of its as good as any.
Thanks EC, I'm looking at purchasing one with just shy of 160k on the ODO. You running air brakes or hydraulic?
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Old 11-19-2018, 01:42 PM   #12
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Mine has air brakes. My last shorty had hydraulic discs and they were pretty nice. Either will stop the bus just fine though. I sill prefer air.
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Old 11-26-2018, 02:02 PM   #13
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Also, I know everyone has their preference, but what are the real differences between Thomas and Bluebird? I see same drivetrains, similar miles being priced about the same this way.
From my research, it's mostly brand thing (think Ford vs Chevy vs Dodge).

Thomas busses have a 12-degree slope to the sidewalls beginning just below the windows. Blue Birds have straight sides. Thomas have one gutter above the windows, Birds have individual "eyebrows" above each window. Thomas use screws to attach internal sheet metal. Birds use mostly pop rivets. High-headroom Thomas busses are easier to spot because of the "hump" just behind the driver's seat, visible in side shots. High-headroom Birds use a bigger front cap, so look for at the top edge of the windows (is it taller than the driver's window or door?). Engine and trans combos are whatever the customer wants, so they're all over the place.
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Old 11-26-2018, 02:12 PM   #14
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From my research, it's mostly brand thing (think Ford vs Chevy vs Dodge).

Thomas busses have a 12-degree slope to the sidewalls beginning just below the windows. Blue Birds have straight sides. Thomas have one gutter above the windows, Birds have individual "eyebrows" above each window. Thomas use screws to attach internal sheet metal. Birds use mostly pop rivets. High-headroom Thomas busses are easier to spot because of the "hump" just behind the driver's seat, visible in side shots. High-headroom Birds use a bigger front cap, so look for at the top edge of the windows (is it taller than the driver's window or door?). Engine and trans combos are whatever the customer wants, so they're all over the place.
I think its 6 degrees.
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Old 11-26-2018, 02:18 PM   #15
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I think its 6 degrees.
Sorry, you're right. It's six degrees per side.
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