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Old 01-14-2021, 01:42 PM   #1
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T444 or T444e on long bus skoolies?

Hi,


I'm trying to buy a skoolie at the moment and I am having trouble checking off all of the boxes for my needs. I'm looking for a bus that is as long as possible with, ideally, a DT466 engine. However, I keep finding T444s or T444Es as the closest match. Most of the buses I'm finding are also rear engines, which I would prefer, but don't need. I'm planning to make it a home for my small family, so I want to make sure I get it just right.



I've done some research on the T444 and it looks like it is a good engine engine with replacement parts being on the cheaper side of things. But many people say it's not really strong enough for longer buses. Does this mean that once I build out a skoolie, it won't be able to pull the extra weight? Or does it just mean that the max speed will be a little lower?


Again, making this a home, I don't really want the engine to just crap out on me with no hope of fixing it.


Also, if I can ask two side questions:
- Is a 7.3 diesel a T444, Powerstroke, or something else?
- Is replacing a bad T444 engine possible? How much would it cost?
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Old 01-14-2021, 08:05 PM   #2
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i'm new here as well, but i thought i'd offer what i've experienced and know about the 7.3L V8 powerstroke. these engines are found in F250/350's (made from '99-'03). i have a 2002 F350 w/ a 7.3L V8 in it and i'm nearing 434,000 miles. original engine. mostly stock. no computer chip or tuning or serious aftermarket parts.
the T444E is very similar to the 7.3L. everything is just a little bigger on the T44E.. it's like the commercial heavier duty engine.

I too have found a bus nearby with the T444E in 'er. I am really having a difficult time understanding how unreliable the T444E is when i've had such a reliable engine in my pickup. i'm religious about oil changes, filter changes, coolant flushes, new air filters, pre-pump fuel filters, diesel keen in colder temps, use of block heater anytime around 40 or below.. I think some of these things have kept my truck running this long.
T444E's do seem to be a bit underpowered for the application they're used in. i'm learning the engine coupled with a specific transmission, these buses can really struggle in hills and on highways. there isn't much to 'upgrade' on the engine to give it more power.. maybe a custom computer tune (adding up to about 50 additional horsepower) but you'll need to upgrade other components beyond that. maybe a turbo, larger injectors...

i'm sure parts are readily available for the T444E. and, the engine is fairly 'out in the open' which makes it even easier to work on. (something i love about the 7.3 in my truck) it's easy to work on. as for the cost of an engine replacement? for a shop to do it? easily thousands of dollars. even if you bought a 'crate motor' from someone, having the space, the proper tools to do such a large job is a daunting task..

i'm finding out there's lots of options out there. i'm sorry i don't have more specific advice and this is more like a ramble. i'm on the fence as well about taking the leap with a bus powered by T444E. i want to, i just don't know.
let us know what you end up doing! best of luck with the beginnings.
cheers,
b
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Old 01-14-2021, 08:12 PM   #3
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444E's aren't unreliable. But they're like the bus equivalent of a base model car with a 4 cylinder.

While they last 400k+ in pickups that are well cared for by that mileage in a bus they've almost surely seen their better days and have at least one foot in the grave.

The main reason 444's suck in full size buses is they have a very dismal cooling system in the 3800 chassis. Its half a radiator half an intecooler. Not an ideal setup, especially on the highway.

. The ECU's are different. The redline on the 444 is 2600.
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Old 01-14-2021, 11:54 PM   #4
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The t444 and the 7.3 powerstroke are identical except for the ECM and other application specific features. The long block is the same. Generally in commercial applications the governor will be lower and the oil capacity higher. generally the oil cooler is different in industrial applications and the injectors are usually single shot being that there is no need to mitigate noise. There are plenty of dt466’s that make less power and torque than t444’s. The T444 like most industrial engines make very low power for displacement, that makes them reliable, there is no magic. Generally when power goes up with similar displacement reliability goes down. What kills T444’s is high exhaust gas temperatures experienced when the bus is under heavy load at lower rpm and the turbo boosted up. This can be mitigated with aftermarket intercoolers, modifications to the turbo, appropriately sized and oriented downpipe and modification of driving habits. With appropriate gearing the T444 is a suitable bus engine, the issue is that buses are often not meant to exceed 55-65 mph nor are they designed for extended freeway driving. I have a 1999 powerstroke almost bone stock with 4:10 gears that I have towed weights that I wouldn’t mention here but rest assured were not safe Nor legal. The engine was the least of my worries even with the comparatively puny powerstroke cooling system.
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Old 01-15-2021, 05:13 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ISAF2009 View Post
The t444 and the 7.3 powerstroke are identical except for the ECM and other application specific features. The long block is the same. Generally in commercial applications the governor will be lower and the oil capacity higher. generally the oil cooler is different in industrial applications and the injectors are usually single shot being that there is no need to mitigate noise. There are plenty of dt466s that make less power and torque than t444s. The T444 like most industrial engines make very low power for displacement, that makes them reliable, there is no magic. Generally when power goes up with similar displacement reliability goes down. What kills T444s is high exhaust gas temperatures experienced when the bus is under heavy load at lower rpm and the turbo boosted up. This can be mitigated with aftermarket intercoolers, modifications to the turbo, appropriately sized and oriented downpipe and modification of driving habits. With appropriate gearing the T444 is a suitable bus engine, the issue is that buses are often not meant to exceed 55-65 mph nor are they designed for extended freeway driving. I have a 1999 powerstroke almost bone stock with 4:10 gears that I have towed weights that I wouldnt mention here but rest assured were not safe Nor legal. The engine was the least of my worries even with the comparatively puny powerstroke cooling system.

Single shots were only used on the high torque variants up through 97, Im a little unsure on 98s but by 99.5?all injectors were AD split shot on all variants

The 444e is a great engine and can be pretty powerful if you tune it and deal with the mentioned wimpy cooling system issues.

To also be noted the 466e also was sold in a lot of front engine busses with its power set at dismal low levels and that same crappy split radiator setup.
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Old 01-15-2021, 09:33 AM   #6
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Thanks for the responses everyone. So does this all mean that a T444 could be fine as long as you don't plan to go faster than something like 60mph? Or should it just be avoided entirely with the longer buses?
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Old 01-15-2021, 06:14 PM   #7
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No, not necessarily, the engine does not dictate The speed the gearing does.
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Old 01-15-2021, 06:30 PM   #8
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treetrnk, you can do 60 in a bus w/ the T444 all day long if it's been well taken care of. i guess my question is, how many days straight are you gonna' do 60mph all day long?

EastCoastCB made a good comparison earlier about T444's not being a bad or unreliable, or poor engine... they just aren't as strong or robust as other engine options. i had a '99 jeep wrangler w/ a 2.5L 4cylinder 4 or 5 spd manual transmission. great little jeep. peppy, in the first couple of gears.. but trying to do a comfortable 65 or 70 on the open hwy is where it really struggled. for that i should've had the 4.0L inline 6 cylinder... but hey, i was kid. i didn't know any better.

i'm still not totally convinced a T444 is a bad way to go. i baby my truck. i would baby the bus too. take the 'backroads'. state hwys, roads less traveled. roads where the limit is usually 55. only hitting the interstate system for ease of access and 'hurry up' occasions. its a skoolie! slow down, enjoy the ride.

keep us posted on what develops on your end!
cheers,
b
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Old 01-15-2021, 06:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ISAF2009 View Post
No, not necessarily, the engine does not dictate The speed the gearing does.
THIS 100%^

gearing is what determines a bus' top speed.

Even a 40' with an IDI 6.9 non turbo can do 65 on the highway if its geared for it.

My bus isn't one that would normally wouldn't have highway gearing, but I got a really unique bus with 3.42 in the rear end. Sucker does 65 down the highway at 1700 rpm.
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Old 01-15-2021, 08:22 PM   #10
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As far as cooling goes, the rear engine T444s have a full size radiator. The split setup is only found in the front engine buses.

Power levels in the front engine buses are usually lower. They rated 7.3s up to 250hp from the factory. Our RE is a 210hp variant. It does have 6.17 gears for it to be able to get out its own way. Without the availability of a 6th gear I would probably be pretty disappointed.

Reliability, parts availability, and ease of access to service the T444 were main selling points for me.
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Old 01-16-2021, 01:05 AM   #11
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It is amazing when people talk about ONLY 215 horsepower the key is mechanical advantage, consider my friends generator it is a Witte diesel it is 50kw with only 8 horsepower operating at like 300 rpm but it has 2 410lb flywheels which when they get spinning carry its momentum. Massive loads were moved and carried using very low power. There is no reason why a T444 wont carry you down the road at any practical speed efficiently.
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Old 01-17-2021, 04:19 PM   #12
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As far as cooling goes, the rear engine T444s have a full size radiator. The split setup is only found in the front engine buses.

Power levels in the front engine buses are usually lower. They rated 7.3s up to 250hp from the factory. Our RE is a 210hp variant. It does have 6.17 gears for it to be able to get out its own way. Without the availability of a 6th gear I would probably be pretty disappointed.

Reliability, parts availability, and ease of access to service the T444 were main selling points for me.
What is your top cruise speed? Looking at a 444e md3060 re3000 with 6.17 gears.
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Old 01-17-2021, 05:26 PM   #13
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When we got it, it did 55mph at about 2000 or 2100rpm. I think it was something like 63 at the same rpm with 6th gear unlocked if my math was correct. I have yet to unlock 6th but I did bump my speed governor to 70 or 75 in preparation of that.
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Old 01-17-2021, 06:36 PM   #14
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Thanks for the responses everyone. So does this all mean that a T444 could be fine as long as you don't plan to go faster than something like 60mph? Or should it just be avoided entirely with the longer buses?



I haul ass in my T444E.. it doesnt even think twice about cruising at 70..


IMG_1830.jpg


-Christopher
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Old 01-18-2021, 03:58 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by RamRod4 View Post
When we got it, it did 55mph at about 2000 or 2100rpm. I think it was something like 63 at the same rpm with 6th gear unlocked if my math was correct. I have yet to unlock 6th but I did bump my speed governor to 70 or 75 in preparation of that.
So that md3060 has a lock on 6th probably? Will 5th be available from factory?
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Old 01-18-2021, 06:40 AM   #16
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So that md3060 has a lock on 6th probably? Will 5th be available from factory?
Yes. 5 speeds are available. 6th is electronically locked out but can be unlocked if you reach out to the right person. There's a thread on here called the "6th gear unlock tutorial" or something of that nature. It's a long one but has good info.
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Old 01-18-2021, 07:05 PM   #17
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Weak. I think its a .75 5th and a .65 6th gear. That will definitely make it a lot nicer on the highway.
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