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Old 10-12-2016, 12:59 AM   #1
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Louisiana
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Back again...now with bus!

Howdy folks,

Last time I posted I was still on the lookout for a bus, well by pure luck I won an auction that I submitted a ridiculously low bid on. I guess nobody at the farm equipment auction was looking for a skoolie

Anyway, The bus is an 2003 RE3000 with 135k miles. 84 passenger so nice and long, just like I wanted! It was listed in auction as having a DT466, although pulling up the VIN shows it as having a T444, so not sure whats going on there.

Otherwise I dont really have much more information! The bus is located in Maryland and I am in Louisiana, so I will try and drive over this weekend to try and figure out if it will make the 1100 mile drive back here. The auction company tell me "it runs" but wont commit to anything further.

Anyway...fingers crossed this works out!
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Old 10-12-2016, 02:20 AM   #2
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The vast majority of First Student RE buses have the smallest available engines with low HP ratings. They do this to keep the original investment down.

In reality, when the majority of the miles driven by a school bus during the service life is at 30 MPH or lower there is no need for HP and gearing to go 80 MPH with a full load.

In many states the smaller contractors and schools follow the same formula. If you can save $10K per bus that means every 9th or 10th bus is free.

So while your new-to-you bus was purchased at a really good price, don't expect to much out of that T444E. It is a great little engine but it does much better in a Ford pickup than in a bus that is rated at over 20,000 GVW.
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Old 10-12-2016, 11:03 AM   #3
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
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Year: 1991
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Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
The vast majority of First Student RE buses have the smallest available engines with low HP ratings. They do this to keep the original investment down.

In reality, when the majority of the miles driven by a school bus during the service life is at 30 MPH or lower there is no need for HP and gearing to go 80 MPH with a full load.

In many states the smaller contractors and schools follow the same formula. If you can save $10K per bus that means every 9th or 10th bus is free.

So while your new-to-you bus was purchased at a really good price, don't expect to much out of that T444E. It is a great little engine but it does much better in a Ford pickup than in a bus that is rated at over 20,000 GVW.
my latest bus is a shortie with a T-444E in it, the mid grade at 190 HP.. with an AT545, it moves that little short bus decently, that bus is only 17,500 GVWR..

the DEV is a DT-360 with (according to jasper) 185 HP, and an AT545.. that bus is rated at a GVWR of 27,500..

both busses max out top speed at about 68 MPH at 2600 RPM.. the new one might be a couple MPH faster..

the DT-360 being an I-6 has More brute off the line than the 444.. though once my revs are up, the seat of my pants feel is that the 444E will run faster than the DEV..

that 2003 Bus likely has a 2000 series allison so you wil have 5 gears ad a Lockup converter.. and you may have the 210 HP version in an 84 passenger bus.. im not sure ive seen one rated at the mid or low grade in that large chassis...

I dont think you'll have a hard time with it...

NOW as mentioned in various threads.. Dont get your 444 Hot..

BOTH of my Busses have come with bad fan clutches.. I jyst fixed the new bus yesterday and now it runs nice N cool..

you may be lucky and have a horton Air-electric fan clutch which have much lower failure rate than viscous clutches do..

many schools dont realize this because the fans run at the minimum rated speed all the time which in stop N go / idle traffic will cool a 444E 210 or below..

444's LOVE to get hot on the freeway if the fans dont turn on or if the radiator fins are clogged..

wheb you fly up and bring your bus back pay attention to your oil pressure and your temperature.. a temperature of 190-200 is optimal.. 210 is pushing it.. 230 and its time to take action.. in fact most of them have the computer programmed to turn on the temperature alarms and set a code at 230 or over..

you are bringig it from up north past the heat of the summer which will help but just pay attention..

if it slowly starts to get hot as your driving, turn on your heaters.. they will help dissipate engine heat.. on my new bus coming from houston to florida in mid 90s heat I had one stretch of time where I ran the rear heater on high to keep my temp at 210-215..

just something to pay attention to closely.. esp when you first start out on a long highway trip..

be sure your heater valves are open (if the yare closed when you buy the bus, open them and check for leaks by driving around for a while in town and then sniffing for coolant smell around the heating units..if they dont leak leave the valves open.. this gives you more coolant to circulate as well as a way to dissipate heat if you should need to)..

yours may be fine but theres been a few bad fans on here and ive now gotten 2 busses with bad fan clutches. hopefully yours has the nice Horton clutch that engages.. they go bad a Lot less than the viscous.

-Christopher
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Old 10-15-2016, 05:33 AM   #4
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
my latest bus is a shortie with a T-444E in it, the mid grade at 190 HP.. with an AT545, it moves that little short bus decently, that bus is only 17,500 GVWR..

the DEV is a DT-360 with (according to jasper) 185 HP, and an AT545.. that bus is rated at a GVWR of 27,500..

both busses max out top speed at about 68 MPH at 2600 RPM.. the new one might be a couple MPH faster..

the DT-360 being an I-6 has More brute off the line than the 444.. though once my revs are up, the seat of my pants feel is that the 444E will run faster than the DEV..

that 2003 Bus likely has a 2000 series allison so you wil have 5 gears ad a Lockup converter.. and you may have the 210 HP version in an 84 passenger bus.. im not sure ive seen one rated at the mid or low grade in that large chassis...

I dont think you'll have a hard time with it...

NOW as mentioned in various threads.. Dont get your 444 Hot..

BOTH of my Busses have come with bad fan clutches.. I jyst fixed the new bus yesterday and now it runs nice N cool..

you may be lucky and have a horton Air-electric fan clutch which have much lower failure rate than viscous clutches do..

many schools dont realize this because the fans run at the minimum rated speed all the time which in stop N go / idle traffic will cool a 444E 210 or below..

444's LOVE to get hot on the freeway if the fans dont turn on or if the radiator fins are clogged..

wheb you fly up and bring your bus back pay attention to your oil pressure and your temperature.. a temperature of 190-200 is optimal.. 210 is pushing it.. 230 and its time to take action.. in fact most of them have the computer programmed to turn on the temperature alarms and set a code at 230 or over..

you are bringig it from up north past the heat of the summer which will help but just pay attention..

if it slowly starts to get hot as your driving, turn on your heaters.. they will help dissipate engine heat.. on my new bus coming from houston to florida in mid 90s heat I had one stretch of time where I ran the rear heater on high to keep my temp at 210-215..

just something to pay attention to closely.. esp when you first start out on a long highway trip..

be sure your heater valves are open (if the yare closed when you buy the bus, open them and check for leaks by driving around for a while in town and then sniffing for coolant smell around the heating units..if they dont leak leave the valves open.. this gives you more coolant to circulate as well as a way to dissipate heat if you should need to)..

yours may be fine but theres been a few bad fans on here and ive now gotten 2 busses with bad fan clutches. hopefully yours has the nice Horton clutch that engages.. they go bad a Lot less than the viscous.

-Christopher
Thanks for all of the info! Information like this is what makes this site so valuable.

I actually am in the middle of the long drive up to MD and should see it for the first time today. Will give it a good going over to make sure it is fit to make the 1200mile drive next week!
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Old 10-16-2016, 01:19 AM   #5
Skoolie
 
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Ok, so I made the drive up from Louisiana and spent the morning giving the bus a going over...

It has the T444 as expected, not the DT466 as advertised. It is also a 78 seater. No rust anywhere on the bus, great tires (although didnt check the dates) and fired right up after a jump start. Not too bad for a $150 purchase!!







The only issue I can see is that there is some white smoke from the exhaust. Nothing much at idle, but under acceleration it is quite a lot. However it is not down on power (from what I could tell driving around the yard) and doesnt appear to miss. I spoke with the driver who brought it in (an auction employee) and he informed me it smoked the whole way, however in the 150mile drive it ran fine and used no oil. I also checked and could find no evidence of oil in coolant or coolant in oil. The only thing of note in the engine compartment was that it has an apparently new turbo fitted.

Would I be right in thinking a bad injector could be the issue? If so, how would I go about identifying which one it is? I may start a separate topic in the technical section to discuss. Would it be safe to drive it home like this other than what I assume will be reduced MPG?
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Old 10-16-2016, 04:17 AM   #6
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Before I started throwing $$$ at the engine I would first give it a good hard run of 300-500 miles. If it has been sitting any length of time the rings may not be seating properly any longer.

A little wear and a little heat can make a world of difference on smoke.

Back in the day at the ski areas drivers used to sit and have the buses running all day long. By the time the started to head down hill the buses were putting up smoke screens. By the time they all got to the bottom of the mountain after several miles at speed most of the smoke was eliminated.

If you really think an injector is bad, I would pull all of them and take them in to be tested. They can clean up the dirty ones and rebuild the faulty ones.

And if you only paid $150.00 for it then you ought to be ashamed of yourself for stealing it from someone!
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Old 10-16-2016, 08:19 AM   #7
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
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Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
this is an HEUI engine... first thing to do is check for engine codes... bad injectors do happen on these.. as do a lot of electronic issues...

I just bought a 444E, ive spent a lot of time reading up and learning about them... I also have one that works right that we can use as a reference to look at sensor values and what not, if you need help with it..

-Christopher
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Old 10-16-2016, 09:06 AM   #8
Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
Before I started throwing $$$ at the engine I would first give it a good hard run of 300-500 miles. If it has been sitting any length of time the rings may not be seating properly any longer.

A little wear and a little heat can make a world of difference on smoke.

Back in the day at the ski areas drivers used to sit and have the buses running all day long. By the time the started to head down hill the buses were putting up smoke screens. By the time they all got to the bottom of the mountain after several miles at speed most of the smoke was eliminated.

If you really think an injector is bad, I would pull all of them and take them in to be tested. They can clean up the dirty ones and rebuild the faulty ones.

And if you only paid $150.00 for it then you ought to be ashamed of yourself for stealing it from someone!
Well the ride home is 1200 miles, so hopefully that's enough

And yes, I won it at auction for $150. Someone consigned it to a farm auction and I guess the farmers didn't want a skoolie So thanks to my favorite website (proxibid) I am the new owner!
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Old 10-16-2016, 09:09 AM   #9
Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post

I just bought a 444E, ive spent a lot of time reading up and learning about them... I also have one that works right that we can use as a reference to look at sensor values and what not, if you need help with it..

-Christopher
Sounds like we are about to become best friends

What tools are people using to read the codes? Heavy diesels do not use OBDII right?
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Old 10-16-2016, 10:03 AM   #10
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Join Date: May 2009
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Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
you can read the 'flash codes' typically by turniungthe key to on... engine off... then pressing the diagnostic button on the dash next to the circular gray diagnostic connector... and ti will flash out the codesio n a sequence.. (remember the old GM's flashing the codes on their check engine light? )..

the International software for the 444E is free now.. its called Servicemaxx J1708.. but you need a hardware interface.. i have a NEXIQ USB link 2 but its a pricey device.. there may be dvices that are cheaper.. hopefully thats the case.

I took some baseline runs with my engine so when it breaks i have a reference...

white smoke can be a lot of things on a diesel..

it sounds like an injector might be dumping fuel in since it happens well after the engine warms up.. it coulkd be compression also..

does the engine run smooth? or does it have a noticeable 'skip' like it may be missing on one or more cylinders? is the 'WARN engine' light come on at any time while driving? does the engine temperature come up to normal? these engines were known to run hot so some people took the thermostats out altogether thinking it would make them run cooler..

-Christopher
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Old 10-16-2016, 10:12 AM   #11
Skoolie
 
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Engine runs fine, no misses or apparent lack of power, which makes me feel a little more confident that it's not about to completely die on me. No warning lights are illuminated and temperatures seem fine.

I didn't notice a diagnostic button (or the port) at the dash, perhaps it was under the dash and I didn't notice. I did notice a metal box in the engine compartment with a diagnostic port, keyed switch for starting the engine etc.
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Old 10-16-2016, 10:18 AM   #12
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Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
since your is RE the port and button may be only in the back.. or there may niot be a button.. I have almost no knowledge of RE busses.. ive only ever had dognose busses...

one thing to keep an eye on is oil-level.. if an injector over-fuels it can send fuel into the opil pan and make your oil level go UP and your oil may smell like diesel-fuel after a bit and be thinned..

I run some diesel-KLEEN in mine just for kicks.. you should have all your bad fuel worked out after a long trip like that... but injector cleaner shouldnt hurt.
-Christopher
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Old 10-16-2016, 06:19 PM   #13
Skoolie
 
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I will have a look for the port under the dash when I go back to pick it up. I only had a short time before I had to take off to Georgia for work so I may have just overlooked it.

I plan on throwing some injector cleaner through it before leaving on the journey home. I also will take some oil for the journey in case I am actually losing some. What would be a good oil for topping up with on the T444e?

Also one thing I forgot to mention before. I was pleasantly surprised that at 6'3" I can't stand upright and still have a little head clearance. I didn't realize that they made them with tall interiors like this.
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Old 10-16-2016, 07:08 PM   #14
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Shell Rotella T 15W40.... when I was driving my big rig that's all I ever used in it.
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Old 10-16-2016, 08:36 PM   #15
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+1 for Rotella T.. we ran it way back when in our international scout diesels.. they ran better on that than they did with the DELVAC 1 synthetic..

6'6" is a standard height on a lot of the "tall window" busses... esp handicap busses were made this way so the workers could easily work with and move around handicap children either in their wheel chairs.. or help them to their seats..

-Christopher
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Old 10-16-2016, 10:05 PM   #16
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Year: 1991
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Rated Cap: 65 passenger
Wow! Congrats on that price!
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Old 10-17-2016, 04:23 AM   #17
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Delo 400, Delvac, Ursa, and Rotella are all good oils. You should be able to use any of them with confidence.

You will want to use 15w-40 weight oil.

And DO NOT use the LE formula of any of those oils. It isn't reverse compatible for engines built to run on pre-2007 emissions.
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Old 10-22-2016, 05:26 PM   #18
Skoolie
 
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Well it looks like there is a plan coming together.... due to a storage fee about to kick in at the auction yard I will be driving up tomorrow to pick up the bus and driving it back to Louisiana over Monday/Tuesday.

If you see a smokey bus on the side of the road on I-85 on Monday stop and say hi
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Old 10-22-2016, 05:34 PM   #19
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I might be on I-75 monday in georgia as I head back to FL (but not in a bus)
-Christopher
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Old 10-22-2016, 06:40 PM   #20
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Do a double-dose of Diesel Kleen (grey bottle) and an oil change, then run it hard. I had a "sticky" injector on mine, and after a few hundred miles with good oil and injector cleaner, it was a new machine.

Absolutely wont hurt a thing to try it.
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