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Old 03-03-2021, 07:48 PM   #1
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Problem Bus!

Sorry for the long post, was just trying to give as much info as possible on the issues at hand. I posted once before when I bought the bus. 36FT 1999 International Amtran DT466E 545 transmission 444 rear gear originally out of Tennessee.

I donít know where to start with this thing. We purchased it in January of 2020, that could have been my problem. Anyways I knew it had some transmission issues when I got it, it wouldnít shift very well, you almost had to feather the fuel to get it to shift. It also looked like it had some oil on the radiator cap. Drove it 150 miles or so to the house, on the highway it seemed to run pretty good but felt weak. Our troubles started when we hit the mountains and it was a very slow go, it started getting hot, I could also smell a almost hot smell to it. We were lucky enough to get it pulled over when it did and let it cool down. After getting it home I pressurized the intercooler and plugged the intake and found a split in the intake boot. I replaced it with a new OEM one. After that I kinda ignored the mechanical issues, because our plan was convert it first then tackle the mechanical issues. Since bringing it home it has not been drove but one time down the road a couple of miles and back. Still felt the same, weak and gutless and didnít shift well at all. It also pulls to the left when you hit the brakes, and seems to have bad kingpins on left. So this past year I did a 24Ē roof raise and got it skinned and a couple of windows framed in. I purchased new RV windows to go in it, just havenít installed them yet. Fast forward till now, we have had to move out of our house and been staying with in-laws. Our plans have changed some, we are planning on relocating to Arizona but we need the bus done for the most part. So I am now focusing on the mechanical issues. After checking some things out there seems to be oil getting in the radiator, but I donít see any signs of antifreeze in the oil or transmission. So Iím not exactly sure where to start with that issue.

My second issue is the transmission, our plans were and still are is to swap a MT643 trans in it. I found a used one that he says was in working order when he pulled it, he has two of them that he is willing to sell for $900 each. But Iím nervous getting another problem part, so Iím not sure if that is a good buy or not. I know the rebuilt ones seem to go for close to 3k.

So the next set of issues came when I pulled the codes on the dash and wound up getting 8 active codes. Code 152, 141, 325, 122, 322, 321, 225, and 626. So after checking those Iím not exactly sure where to start, I donít want to just throw parts at it. Didnít know if one sensor could cause another code to trip.

Havenít really even begun to figure out the brake issue or the kingpin problem. But when jacking the driver side front up there is slack almost like a wheel bearing was bad if it was a truck or car.

I guess on the plus side I have periodically came out and started it, even when it was pretty cold out it has always cranked up except for once when it was in the lower teens.
Trying to think positive but Iím at my wits end. Iíve even considered selling it and starting all over but that doesnít seem feasible or practical in my situation. This is just overwhelming, especially the oil in the radiator and all codes itís throwing right now. Any help would be greatly appreciated! I wish I had someone that knew what they were doing to check it out. Sorry the pictures are upside down.
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Old 03-03-2021, 08:06 PM   #2
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Pictures of the raise
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Old 03-03-2021, 08:13 PM   #3
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LKQ used to have MT643s for $650, you might check them again.
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Old 03-03-2021, 08:30 PM   #4
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You have done what looks like a nice roof raise. That is a lot of time and effort. When I called LKQ last month they told me they didn't have any more. Are you sure it has a at545?
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Old 03-03-2021, 09:15 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djdalfaro View Post
LKQ used to have MT643s for $650, you might check them again.
They were out of the Marshfield, MO location.... Go to LKQ.com and search: MT 643 Transmission Assembly" I saw about 5 or 6, but when you click on them it says "please call - item may be out of stock." Darn!

***
ALLISON MT643 TRANSMISSION ASSEMBLY
-REBUILT BY OE

More Info
Tag #: 1600028
OEM #: C29507377R
SPEED: AUTOMATIC
TRANSMISSION-RENEWED MT643
417-859-6349
Marshfield MO
***

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Old 03-03-2021, 09:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s2mikon View Post
You have done what looks like a nice roof raise. That is a lot of time and effort. When I called LKQ last month they told me they didn't have any more. Are you sure it has a at545?
Yeah I'm positive, I've got a picture of the tag on the transmission.
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Old 03-03-2021, 11:07 PM   #7
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The first thing I'll say is that if I ever do another conversion, I'm assuring all my mechanical is good before buying the bus, or if I know what the issues are, fixing them before starting the conversion. The thought of doing a conversion and then having a huge drive train issue is kind of nipping at my butt right now.

That leads me to why it's nipping me.

Modulator Woes:
I have an MT643. It uses one of three types of modulators, and of course, the one that is not that reliable is the one I have. It's an electric one. As I've learned over the last few weeks, it's a simple on/off magnetic mechanical mechanism. Yet, as simple as they are, they are pretty unreliable.

Lesson #1 - If you do get an MT643, get one with one of the other types of modulators. I believe those are air and throttle linkage.

The thing about the MT643 and AT545 is they use the same electric modulator, and if this modulator isn't working, the tranny will 1) not downshift properly 2) the fluid pressure can be low and not provide enough lubrication for the demand being put on the tranny.

Lesson #2 - Your shifting issues may be a bad modulator. Ask CadillacKid about how a bad modulator killed his 545.

IF, your 545 has an electric modulator, you should be able to unplug the connection and then carefully connect a 12v battery to the modulator. There are labeled + and - on the modulator.

You should hear a clunk. Now, I've never heard the clunk, so I don't know how much of a clunk there's supposed to be. But, it's what I was told to do and what would happen.

After hearing no clunk, I removed the modulator (careful, tranny fluid will come pouring out, so have a bucket in place). I tested the modulator when it was out, still no clunk and visually verified.


CODES:
If this is the first time you've ever checked out the codes in your system, they may have been addressed but never cleared. If you clear them, then start the engine, shut it off and then check to see if there are any codes.

If there are codes, well, that sucks. But, if there aren't, hopefully that's the end of it.

Best of luck.
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Old 03-03-2021, 11:17 PM   #8
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As part of my tranny modulator issues, I've been thinking about an auxiliary tranny cooler.

In discussing this, what came up is that because my tranny is cooled as part of the radiator system. If that aspect of the system failed, you could use an auxiliary tranny cooler independently.

Having a unit with a fan on it, thermostatically controlled and positioning the unit to get some good dynamic air flow when moving, might be a way to bypass the tranny intercooler / radiator system if there's a problem with leaking oil/coolant.

Just a thought.
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Old 03-04-2021, 07:49 AM   #9
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Thanks for everyone’s input. Anyone know how oil could be getting into the radiator, but no antifreeze in the oil? I’m going to order a scan tool to erase the codes, so in the meantime maybe I could figure out that issue.
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Old 03-04-2021, 07:58 AM   #10
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Check front timing cover for leaks. Timing covers on dt466e motors were a weak spot. Engine oil coolers can fail too. Have seen this in Mack engines.
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Old 03-04-2021, 08:11 AM   #11
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After you find and repair the oil leak you will have to clean the cooling system. Cascade dishwasher liquid plus water is your friend. Get big bottles and drive the bus lightly to operating temperature. I have used this before. Rinse and repeat. You donít want foaming detergent like dawn or ivory. Make sure you protect from freezing. After about 3 cycles you will think you have it clean but next month you will find more.
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Old 03-04-2021, 08:44 AM   #12
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Can a bad timing cover cause fluids to mix? I haven’t heard of that causing fluids to mix. Can bad oil cooler cause fluids to mix?
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Old 03-04-2021, 09:09 AM   #13
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Maybe I should have said timing cover case, Every thing is there coolant and oil.
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Old 03-04-2021, 09:56 AM   #14
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I also think sounds like timing cover

"After that I kinda ignored the mechanical issues, because our plan was convert it first then tackle the mechanical issues. "

no bueno mate, likely the worst way to go about it

but this might help maybe

It's a huge job





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Old 03-04-2021, 11:45 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simplicity View Post
As part of my tranny modulator issues, I've been thinking about an auxiliary tranny cooler.

In discussing this, what came up is that because my tranny is cooled as part of the radiator system. If that aspect of the system failed, you could use an auxiliary tranny cooler independently.

Having a unit with a fan on it, thermostatically controlled and positioning the unit to get some good dynamic air flow when moving, might be a way to bypass the tranny intercooler / radiator system if there's a problem with leaking oil/coolant.

Just a thought.
It has been said here before, and I will say it again:


NEVER bypass that factory tranny cooling system, where the engine coolant cools the tranny fluid. If there is a leak in that radiator (or my bus has a tranny oil cooler box between the radiator and the motor-block intake port) replace it. No aftermarket air-cooled units will come close to the cooling capacity of the liquid cooled unit. Also, they say that the engine-coolant warms the tranny fluid to proper operating specs when it is cold outside, and you are not working the tranny hard.


You can add a second unit, but put it before the factory one in the circuit.


And I added a second unit for my AT545, but I feel I wasted my money and time. If I had a van cutout with a smaller radiator, maybe not. Others have said it helped them, though.


Good luck finding the leak
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Old 03-04-2021, 12:07 PM   #16
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Thanks for the input. I really hope it’s not the timing cover! If it is I’m not sure I will be able to tackle it.
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Old 03-04-2021, 01:12 PM   #17
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Old 03-04-2021, 01:45 PM   #18
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Have you finished the inside of your bus? Or is it still bare metal? If you have not finished the bus it is not going to be any harder to repair it. You will get grease and oil inside working on it but at this point it won't matter. Plus you have a place to put all the parts.
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Old 03-04-2021, 04:51 PM   #19
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from what ive seen the timing covers dont mix oil and water.. the timing cover isnt under oil pressure... the oil cooler is and is a known failure point.. make sure its truly engine oil in the radiator.. not transmission fluid..



your transmission sounds like it gets hor enough to have signifiucantly darkened the fluid.. a cracked trans cooler in the radiator ends up with some transmission fluid in the water.. (sometimes the other way too but not as often)..



calling LKQ is worth it for a transmission.. they are 2600 RPM MT643 transmissions.. I have on in my DEV bus.. best thing I ever did (other than adding A/C) for this bus..
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Old 03-04-2021, 06:41 PM   #20
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Thanks everyone for the help! I really do appreciate the help. Today I cranked it up and let it run for over an hour, I looked over everything and never saw any coolant leaking. I did see one drop on the bottom of the radiator. I did however see oil and transmission fluid leaking. Also saw a intercooler hose that looked like a transmission line squeezing it, and the transmission line was barely touching the harmonic balancer. I attached a photo of that, it doesnít look like that is supposed to be that way.

The oil was mainly coming from the front driver side. Looked like maybe the timing cover, or possibly something else on that side. I was mainly looking for coolant.

Transmission fluid was on the bottom of the radiator on the passenger side, looked like part of it was coming from the fitting on the bottom of the radiator. Is that a transmission line in the bottom of the radiator? Also there was another leak at the transmission were it meets the engine, I didnít look closely at that yet.

After I looked it over I set two large sheets of paper in front of the radiator and intercooler. Doing that I was able to get the temperature up to 215 or so. When it reached that temp I pulled the paper out. I never heard a significant sound difference, so was not sure if the fan engaged or not, it did seem to push more air, and I could here a slightly louder hum to it, but I canít be 100% sure that it was working properly.

So if the timing cover canít mix fluids, and the oil cooler can, how would I know if it was the oil cooler? If it was the transmission fluid mixing in the radiator, how would I test that theory? The oil that I saw and posted pictures of looked just like Diesel oil, itís black, very Black. Off topic of the mixing issues, the oil leak I have, if it is the timing cover, is that something to worry about? Or would you let it ride for now?
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