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Old 05-07-2019, 01:07 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OlgaAK View Post
Ok, so I've done some more research and I'm thinking of looking for a 40' bus with rear engine, high top, pre-electric era. I still do not really understand the transmission/engine thing. I will be mostly driving on highways. There will be some mountain climbing, but I don't mind going slow.

Can anyone help me narrow this down to specific models or years to be looking at?
I can't offer experienced technical advice on engine or transmission preferences. I can say that you'll likely get all sorts of opinions...like the "ford" vs "chevy" type stuff. I know there are a couple for sure "stay away from" engine and tranny combos. Definitely make sure to stay away from those. I'll let the folks who know weigh in on that so I don't mistakenly share bad information. If you've been reading the forum for a bit you've probably figured out how to sort out the good info from the BS. Beyond that...do your best to sort out how well the equipment has been maintained...that's super important. And ask questions...don't worry about pride...ask dumb ones if you have to...good people on here will understand and help.

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Old 05-07-2019, 01:14 PM   #22
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Is MT545 and T444E to be avoided?
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Old 05-07-2019, 01:28 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OlgaAK View Post
Is MT545 and T444E to be avoided?

You probably mean AT545. Allison's very common school bus transmission, but lacks overdrive and lock-up torque converter. Not an ideal highway cruiser, it will generate heat ascending any mountains (and heat kills transmissions) and it will not "hold you back" going downhill.


T444E has a great reputation for reliability and parts availability, but not the most powerful of engines. Often paired with the AT545, it is basically the "entry level" school bus drivetrain. Think of them as the bus equivalent to a small 4 cylinder engine vs. a V6.


The DT466 or Cummins 8.3 will provide a *LOT* more highway power and both have wide parts availability and good reputations. Most are paired with better transmissions and some have highway gearing too.
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Old 05-07-2019, 01:37 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OlgaAK View Post
Is MT545 and T444E to be avoided?
It's an AT545, stands for Auto Transmission, MT is Medium Truck. The 643 is a MT643. The AT545 is the least desirable of the available Allison trans.
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Old 05-07-2019, 01:40 PM   #25
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Thank you! How about a 2002 Blue Bird with a Cummins ISB 6.7 and an Allison MD3060? [Bus 2]
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Old 05-07-2019, 01:43 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OlgaAK View Post
Ok, so I've done some more research and I'm thinking of looking for a 40' bus with rear engine, high top, pre-electric era. I still do not really understand the transmission/engine thing. I will be mostly driving on highways. There will be some mountain climbing, but I don't mind going slow.

Can anyone help me narrow this down to specific models or years to be looking at?
IMHO: The ultimate highway drivetrain is a Cummins 8.3 or Navistar DT530 and an MD3060 transmission. I am not sure on the Navistar but the Cummins went electronic in1998.
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Old 05-07-2019, 01:56 PM   #27
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Bus 3: 1991 Thomas Saf T Liner, 5.9 Cummins diesel, Allison automatic transmission, high top, rear engine.
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Old 05-07-2019, 02:02 PM   #28
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Thank you all for the info on Bus 1 [AT545/T444E]. It looks like that is not a great choice for my plans.

Now considering:

Bus 2 [2002 Blue Bird/Cummins ISB 6.7/Allison MD3060]

and

Bus 3 [1991 Thomas Saf T Liner/5.9 Cummins/Allison ???/high top/rear engine].
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Old 05-07-2019, 02:06 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OlgaAK View Post
Thank you all for the info on Bus 1 [AT545/T444E]. It looks like that is not a great choice for my plans.

Now considering:

Bus 2 [2002 Blue Bird/Cummins ISB 6.7/Allison MD3060]

and

Bus 3 [1991 Thomas Saf T Liner/5.9 Cummins/Allison ???/high top/rear engine].
Curious about #2. A3002 ISB is a 5.9 not a 6.7. The 6.7 was introduced in 2007.

You mentioned that you want to stick with mechanical engines. The only mech engine on your list is #3.
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Old 05-07-2019, 03:05 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PNW_Steve View Post
Curious about #2. A3002 ISB is a 5.9 not a 6.7. The 6.7 was introduced in 2007.

You mentioned that you want to stick with mechanical engines. The only mech engine on your list is #3.
I just contacted the seller to ask. Maybe the engine was replaced? How can I verify the engine and transmission myself? I have the VIN, but I don't find results when I search the VIN on Google except for when it was bought from surplus.

I said mechanical because I was told that they are easier to repair, but I'm flexible on this. I'm new to this whole thing but just learned that my move to the bus will need to happen by the end of this month, so I'm going to need to buy whatever is the best bus I can afford that comes available in the next week or two. I thought I had 2 months for this search, not two weeks. :/ This also means that my mechanic buddy is not likely to be able to come with me to see the buses.
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Old 05-07-2019, 03:17 PM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PNW_Steve View Post
Depends on the laws in your particular state and particulars of your bus.

OP: Check your local regs.

Here in was I would have to get a CDL to drive my bus if it was not titled/registered as an RV. Here anything that seats 16 OR has a gvrw over 26k requires a CDL.

RV's are exempt.

Solution: Title as an RV immediately while keeping "commercial for personal" insurance until the conversion meets my insurance companies standards then switch to RV insurance.

I have discussed this at length with my insurance agent and they don't care what the body type on the title/registration's. This is the third bus I have done this with and had good success


Good luck!!
Quote:
Originally Posted by OlgaAK View Post
Thank you all for the info on Bus 1 [AT545/T444E]. It looks like that is not a great choice for my plans.

Now considering:

Bus 2 [2002 Blue Bird/Cummins ISB 6.7/Allison MD3060]

and

Bus 3 [1991 Thomas Saf T Liner/5.9 Cummins/Allison ???/high top/rear engine].
unless youre a masochist avoid the 444/545 combo in a fullsize bus!
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Old 05-07-2019, 03:30 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
unless youre a masochist avoid the 444/545 combo in a fullsize bus!
Got it! What engine/transmission should I be aiming for in a bus? I unfortunately have less time to do as much research as I had thought, and need to buy a bus soon. I'm going to be doing a lot of highway driving, but some of those highways are in places like the Rocky mountains and Sierra Nevadas, so I'm not sure if I need a "mountain bus" or a "highway bus".

I want something that I can turn into a comfortable home for at least the next 5 years, probably longer, and that I'll be able to raise my kids in. I want us to be able to go on adventures and see nature. My own childhood was spent in a city where I rarely even saw a tree. I want something better than that for my family.

Reliability is very important. I'm Autistic and I do best when there are few unexpected surprises, like having the bus break down without A/C in the summer in Nevada. I can handle emergencies when I need to, but I'd rather get the right bus from the start to reduce the number of problems that will come up later on. I'm all about preventative medicine, and that includes my home.

I've lived on the road in various machines for years and I want this new one (bus) to be something built to last. I hate that RVs, fifth wheels, TTs and the like are made from such poor materials and are nearly impossible to rebuild. I'd rather start with a basic shell that is strong and durable and then build the interior according to my standards, which don't include using the cheapest materials available to make something that will fall apart in ten years.
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Old 05-07-2019, 04:00 PM   #33
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Your time frame is challenging.

It took me around 18 months of daily searching on the auction sites, CL and other sites before I found my bus.
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Old 05-07-2019, 04:54 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PNW_Steve View Post
Curious about #2. A3002 ISB is a 5.9 not a 6.7. The 6.7 was introduced in 2007.

You mentioned that you want to stick with mechanical engines. The only mech engine on your list is #3.
Here is a photo of the engine compartment in Bus 2. What kind is this?
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 56C135AC-22CB-4497-BAE0-BEBC22254888.jpg (202.7 KB, 6 views)
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Old 05-07-2019, 05:13 PM   #35
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More photos of bus 2 attached. Interior is gutted of seats. Not high top, and engine is front. Not exactly what I was looking for, but the bottom looks low rust, which is important.
Attached Images
File Type: jpeg 96D17282-01AC-4871-8F6E-B43637C671B5.jpeg (147.6 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpeg 0C69B103-81AE-4C94-836D-C99CDC9BE791.jpeg (146.5 KB, 4 views)
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Old 05-07-2019, 06:47 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OlgaAK View Post
Here is a photo of the engine compartment in Bus 2. What kind is this?
Cummins engine, size/model unknown...
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Old 05-07-2019, 07:01 PM   #37
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I am waiting on a call regarding bus 4. I started naming them to keep track.

Bus 1 is Beluga, for sale on here. Not likely going to get that one, it is very far away.

Bus 2 is Sticker bus because there are a bunch of stickers under some of the windows.

Bus 3 is Prison bus because it's painted white.

Bus 4 is Machine bus, because it has a huge amount of mechanical devices added, like a 1,000lb hydraulic lift, 330 gallons of diesel tanks, cameras, generators, custom cooling units. It's got a 12" roof raise and is covered in metal hooks. I want this one. There is so much potential in it. Also they rebuilt the engine and transmission recently and it has new tires and regular factory maintenance records. I very much hope that this one works out. So many possibilities with such a machine!
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Old 05-08-2019, 04:52 AM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OlgaAK View Post
I am waiting on a call regarding bus 4. I started naming them to keep track.

Bus 4 is Machine bus, because it has a huge amount of mechanical devices added, like a 1,000lb hydraulic lift, 330 gallons of diesel tanks, cameras, generators, custom cooling units. It's got a 12" roof raise and is covered in metal hooks. I want this one. There is so much potential in it. Also they rebuilt the engine and transmission recently and it has new tires and regular factory maintenance records. I very much hope that this one works out. So many possibilities with such a machine!

I the call about the engine and transmission? You have not said what it has, so I am assuming that is what you are calling about. It does seem to have a lot going for it.
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Old 05-08-2019, 06:47 AM   #39
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Out of curiosity:
Quote:
Originally Posted by PNW_Steve View Post
Depends on the laws in your particular state and particulars of your bus.

OP: Check your local regs.

Here in was I would have to get a CDL to drive my bus if it was not titled/registered as an RV. Here anything that seats 16 OR has a gvrw over 26k requires a CDL.

RV's are exempt.

Solution: Title as an RV immediately while keeping "commercial for personal" insurance until the conversion meets my insurance companies standards then switch to RV insurance.

I have discussed this at length with my insurance agent and they don't care what the body type on the title/registration's. This is the third bus I have done this with and had good success


Good luck!!
Have you ever had to file a claim?
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Old 05-08-2019, 09:28 AM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haz.matt.1960 View Post
Out of curiosity:Have you ever had to file a claim?
Yes I have.

A tree fell on the Thomas.

Insurance company paid promptly with no issues and contues to provide coverage.
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