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Old 01-13-2021, 05:24 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2021
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considering the next step

evenin' folks! recently out strolling with the dawgs on a walk we came across this gem. sniffed around it a little bit, did some reading online, called the seller and stopped back to look at it a little closer today. popped the hood, fired it up, drove a few circles around the parking lot. purred like a kitten!
- '04 International 3000 series
- T444E
- older rear tires based on the week/year stamp
- exterior appears to be in really good shape. very little to no surface rust. no visible running rust / streaking rust marks. only a handful of rivets on top have some light surface rust showing.
- all window seals look great inside and out
- floor is clean and looks really good around all the corners and edges
- from underneath the bus, all frame rails and support channels are well coated/treated and showing no signs of significant rust spots or areas of exfoliation
- all drivetrain components look to be in fairly decent shape. again, just some light surface rust on a few things that can easily be knocked off and treated.
- all hinges, doors, latches and compartments work-as-advertised w/ associated seals in good shape (no rot or deterioration noted)
- two new batteries back in october of 2020 appear to be installed and all terminal lugs / wiring showed ZERO signs of corrosion.
- there are several original manufacturing tags still attached to components that are like brand new and the cleanest and easiest to read.
- engine oil seemed to be good (dark, but at right level)
- trans fluid on dipstick was reddish and clean and smelled fresh.
- coolant was filled appropriately and didn't smell of traces of fuel and looked clean at first glance.
- bus fired right up. idled just fine. revved up with no hiccups or traces of smoke out the exhaust.
- shifter was smooth (automatic)... i even did a lap in the parking lot!
- no traces of any fluid dripping or leaking from the engine/trans to the ground. very clean, very dry. oil pan and trans pan drain plug... not a drop of oil to be found.

aiming to take it for a test drive in the next couple days or so with their mechanic. i'll check lights and signals then.
rear tires were made in '06 with a little rot showing, but great tread depth remaining. fronts appear to have been made in '14.. good tread depth remaining, but approaching that 6 year mark..
approx. 7000 hrs??
134K on odometer??
i think this bus is in great shape! sure, i'm pushing 6'4" and i can't really stand tall in 'er.. but that was never a selling point for me.

seller is asking nearly $6800.
the tires got me thinking scared a little bit.. i know those are pricey. what are you thoughts?

i've got a 2002 F350 w/ the 7.3L V8 and nearly 450,000 miles on 'er... my goal is to hit half a million in the next few years (i think i can do it!).
my wife and i simply stumbled across this bus, did some light online reading and youtube watching, and here we are. we got space to park the bus at our house.. got tools to get us started on converting.. will inquire with the state about Class B endorsement for the bus weight, will inquire with insurance companies about some coverage to minimally / safely / legally drive this thing..
and the rest is history... err.. i mean, unchartered territory... then we start the conversion process. we've got no deadline.. but, it would be nice to be wrapped up in about 3 years.

i'll take it for a test drive and report back. tell ya' all about the light and signals. and the transmission!
lemme' know what you think about the tires vs. the asking price.
thanks for listening a minute!

here's some photos we snapped a few hours ago.. hmm.. i'm so new here, i can't even figure it out!! this forum is setup similar to the ford forum i'm a member of..
lemme' do s'more reading and work to figure this out, posting pics and all. maybe i don't have the privilege yet..
i'll be back!
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Old 01-13-2021, 05:30 PM   #2
Mini-Skoolie
 
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there we go.. figured it out!

photos as promised. sellers asking price vs. those tires... (and the pending test drive later this week).
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Old 01-13-2021, 05:46 PM   #3
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It certainly looks rust-free and spotlessly clean, but that's a pretty high price for a bus with a T444E and tires that will need replacing. Is the transmission an AT545 or a 2000-series? A pic of the shifter would tell (I think).
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Old 01-13-2021, 07:47 PM   #4
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musigenesis, thanks for the reply. agreed the price is a little steep and i didn't take the best photo of the cockpit depicting the shifter handle

when i cross paths again with their mechanic and take it for a test drive, i'll ask those detailed questions and crawl back underneath to find out what's labeled or marked.
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Old 01-13-2021, 07:49 PM   #5
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curious to hear your initial thoughts on an offer? my wife and i have been discussing ad nausem since scoping it out.
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Old 01-13-2021, 08:28 PM   #6
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Looks like a fairly good base to start from, based only on your pictures. A thorough undercarriage inspection would be another determining factor in the buy process.

Moving ahead, after determining the underside is truly rock solid/rust free and the mechanicals are in road ready condition, price out 6 new tires. Then deduct that cost from his asking price, and there's your starting point in negotiation.

If he's unwilling to "dicker" any on his price, personally I would walk.
But if you are favoring this one, and can afford the cost of tires on top of the current asking price, then go for it! It's only money, right?

Good luck...
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Old 01-13-2021, 09:40 PM   #7
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I'd be less worried about the tires, at this point, than the engine and transmission combination. From what I can see of the dash/cab, I'm guessing it's got an At545...like Musigenesis was getting at. I think, for that money, you can find a bus with a stronger engine and transmission combo. But, if this is the right bus for you, then consider this about the tires - how many miles are you going to put on the bus in the next couple (few?) years while you convert it? If you can get a discount for the tires, and live with them during the conversion, you can get new tires before you hit the trail. And, you can probably get good recaps for the rear pretty cheaply. Tires are temporary...the engine/transmission combo is "forever" so make sure it's what you want.

It's a fun time, for sure.
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Old 01-14-2021, 06:05 AM   #8
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peteg59 and rossvtaylor -

you both bring up good points about the tires and what that means for the asking price. we know we don't need the tires immediately, they will need to be purchased before the finished product hits the road. so the tires on there now will suffice for conversion and probably short small distance weekend trips to get warmed up to driving 'er.

w/ regard to the T444E and the associated transmission, i'm a little new here. reading some of the discreps others have, they sound fairly familiar to me and what i've similarly experienced on my truck engine.
this is a tough call to make. i think the motor is reliable and seems to be in great shape. i'm also comfortable enough getting in there and taking things apart to replace numerous components should something stir..
the associated transmission? yeah, i know nothing about. that'll take some time to learn. we know we've got no plans to speed across the country at 60-65mph. 55 on state roads less traveled might be our jam for awhile.

like so many others on here, if we decide to politely pass on this bus, our search starts over at the drawing board... and it's a difficult task to shop and personally inspect each potential better buy..

last thought - what's a reasonable starting point? $4k? $4500?

appreciate the input! too many blogs and threads and youtube videos watched... i think it's safe to say 'we're enchanted' by this idea!
cheers.
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Old 01-14-2021, 09:35 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by potterfield View Post
peteg59 and rossvtaylor -

you both bring up good points about the tires and what that means for the asking price. we know we don't need the tires immediately, they will need to be purchased before the finished product hits the road. so the tires on there now will suffice for conversion and probably short small distance weekend trips to get warmed up to driving 'er.

w/ regard to the T444E and the associated transmission, i'm a little new here. reading some of the discreps others have, they sound fairly familiar to me and what i've similarly experienced on my truck engine.
this is a tough call to make. i think the motor is reliable and seems to be in great shape. i'm also comfortable enough getting in there and taking things apart to replace numerous components should something stir..
the associated transmission? yeah, i know nothing about. that'll take some time to learn. we know we've got no plans to speed across the country at 60-65mph. 55 on state roads less traveled might be our jam for awhile.

like so many others on here, if we decide to politely pass on this bus, our search starts over at the drawing board... and it's a difficult task to shop and personally inspect each potential better buy..

last thought - what's a reasonable starting point? $4k? $4500?

appreciate the input! too many blogs and threads and youtube videos watched... i think it's safe to say 'we're enchanted' by this idea!
cheers.
Both Ross and Pete know more than I do, however I think that T444E has plenty of life left in it. They can be turned up slightly for more power as well. The AT545 is an issue for sure but the engine would not scare me off. I have a T444E in my 38' RE rated at 210hp. Its not a powerhouse but it works and has 200k miles on it.

The AT545 will not do well with more power added and its not geared well for highway cruising or hills. Depending on your plans for the bus, it may still work for you. Any bus with a push button transmission shifter will have an MD3060. Thats the trans you want, but an Allison 2000 series will serve you well also. Someone will chime in, but the 2000 series shifter is slightly different than the AT545. Both are t-handles but the gear labeling is different if I recall.

The price is high. We paid $3800 for our 2002 Amtran RE 78 pass 38' T444E/MD3060 for reference. While its not in the shape this bus is, it has no damage rust or damage to the exterior. Slightly rusted frame rails and a couple small rot areas in the floor.

Hope that helps.
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Old 01-14-2021, 06:17 PM   #10
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ramrod, appreciate the add'l info about the trans.
tomorrows test drive is slated for 10am. we'll see what more i can learn then. i asked the seller today about the title and was told they expect it any day. they were going to check w/ the DMV about its status... which kinda' raises a yellow flag a bit..

how long have they owned this bus? and never had a title in hand? why not.
what's the hold up i wonder? so many questions. not as many answers.

keep ya' posted when i know more.
cheers!
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Old 01-14-2021, 08:06 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by musigenesis View Post
It certainly looks rust-free and spotlessly clean, but that's a pretty high price for a bus with a T444E and tires that will need replacing. Is the transmission an AT545 or a 2000-series? A pic of the shifter would tell (I think).
an 04 wouldn't have a 545.
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Old 01-14-2021, 08:07 PM   #12
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Price is way high for what it is. High headroom buses were made, so if you're 6'4 I'd look for the high headroom models. They're 6'6-6'8 depending on the manufacturer.
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Old 01-14-2021, 08:10 PM   #13
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EastCoastCB, i didn't get the best picture of the shifter handle. when i crawled under the rig, i didn't play close attention to the trans model. tomorrow either before or after the test drive i'll get under there and take another look.
man! i really want this bus to work out... i just don't know.

i'll post more info post-test drive along with the photos.
thanks everyone for offering the input.
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Old 01-14-2021, 08:15 PM   #14
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EastCoastCB, i didn't get the best picture of the shifter handle. when i crawled under the rig, i didn't play close attention to the trans model. tomorrow either before or after the test drive i'll get under there and take another look.
man! i really want this bus to work out... i just don't know.

i'll post more info post-test drive along with the photos.
thanks everyone for offering the input.
By 04 the 545 was replaced by the 2000. The CE300/200 came with 2000's.
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Old 01-15-2021, 11:56 AM   #15
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back for a few more post updates..

test drove the bus today. we discussed with the mechanic, but realized the bus doesn't even have plates! the sellers only owned it for six months or so, has yet to receive title and didn't really work to get plates. so we drove it down the highway a bit with the for sale signs on it.

it was a nice ride. shifted real smooth, sounded smooth. held straight line down the lane (didn't drift to one side or the other).. only issue was the few times the engine sputtered and hiccuped and died. it did it as we pulled from the parking lot, stopped at a red light to make a left across two lanes of oncoming traffic :/ and that was it. each time we were able to fire right back up with the key. no hesitation at all.
the bus hasn't been driven for nearly six months. just been moth-balled in the parking lot. i'm inclined to believe whatever the issue is, it isn't major. moisture in fuel tank, moisture in filter bowl, slight corrosion on any number of 'cannon plug connectors (accelerator pedestal, ICP, CPS,... could be any number of things). troubleshooting it doesn't really give me the heebie jeebies..

the trans is an Allison 2000 series which i don't think equates to a 545. so that's a good thing?

so now, i think it's just a matter of how much we want to offer the seller taking into account the tires for later. and slightly more, the fact there's no title with the sale. i understand it's 'in the mail w/ the DMV', but it's just another hurdle to get over in any attempt to register the vehicle.
and then there's the idea of working w/ the T444E. not to keep beating a dead horse, but i need to determine if i'm ready to take ownership of this beast.

as we mull it over out here, just another thanks to those of you offering advice and input on this bus. it's nice to join a forum and make a few posts and have instant replies that are friendly and very knowledgeable. it makes being here more fun and hopeful that one day we might be able to cross paths! it means a lot to hear what you've got to say. THANK YOU!!
keep ya' posted if we pull the trigger or pass. have a good weekend!

cheers,
b
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Old 01-15-2021, 11:59 AM   #16
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photo of transmission data tag...
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Old 01-15-2021, 12:50 PM   #17
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No title is a red flag.

Maybe it is in the mail, but maybe its not.
The seller cannot legally sell it without a title. Heck, he can't even scrap it, as they now require titles for every vehicle they take in. Unless it goes to a "backwoods" junkyard.

I'd be really careful with this one, not paying anything unless/until the seller has title in hand.

Good luck, going forward...
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Old 01-15-2021, 04:12 PM   #18
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thanks peteg59. agreed, this red flag has brought us to an all-stop. until the seller can provide one, we're going to have to politely pass on this project.

have a good weekend!
cheers,
b
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Old 01-15-2021, 04:23 PM   #19
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thanks peteg59. agreed, this red flag has brought us to an all-stop. until the seller can provide one, we're going to have to politely pass on this project.

have a good weekend!
cheers,
b
It not running 100% perfect and being top dollar don't jibe especially since low headroom.
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Old 01-15-2021, 07:30 PM   #20
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It not running 100% perfect and being top dollar don't jibe especially since low headroom.
The bus looks very nice and clean and I think the sellers think that by itself is worth a few thousand more. But a skoolie gets gutted and repainted anyway so there's not much value in pretty.
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