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Old 02-08-2019, 11:40 AM   #1
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NEW and Need advice please!

Hello!
I am looking to buy my first bus and was hoping some more expereinced folks could give me some feedback on this 2002 Thomas Freightliner with a 5.9 diesel cummins engine. Only 60,000 miles. Would really appreciate anyones opinion or experience.

Thank you!
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Old 02-08-2019, 12:05 PM   #2
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Bus speedometers often fail in the first 20k miles and they are replaced more often than not. I would suspect your 17 yo bus has more than the stated miles. Buses normally average 10k miles a year, your bus should have nearer to 170K. 1/3 of the normal mileage is not reliable. The 5.9, while not a bad motor, is the least desirable, most often because it is backed by an Allison 545, which is not desirable.
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Old 02-08-2019, 12:08 PM   #3
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Thanks for your input. Do you think this would be a good buy, overall? Or do you think the engine or trans will give out on me? It only has 60,000 miles on it.
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Old 02-08-2019, 12:09 PM   #4
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Bus speedometers often fail in the first 20k miles and they are replaced more often than not. I would suspect your 17 yo bus has more than the stated miles. Buses normally average 10k miles a year, your bus should have nearer to 170K. 1/3 of the normal mileage is not reliable. The 5.9, while not a bad motor, is the least desirable, most often because it is backed by an Allison 545, which is not desirable. Would value that bus at no more than $3k.
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Old 02-08-2019, 12:13 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kain View Post
Thanks for your input. Do you think this would be a good buy, overall? Or do you think the engine or trans will give out on me? It only has 60,000 miles on it.
Did you read my reply? I doubt very seriously if the mileage stated is correct. When the seller bought the bus they believed what they were told and reflected by the speedo. Fact is I bet 75% of every bus out there has had the speedo replace sometime during their life. Will the engine and trans give out on you? Well that depends on your intended use. If you plan on cross country trips via mountain ranges, you will find the trans lacking in performance.
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Old 02-08-2019, 12:19 PM   #6
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Yes, definitely planning on cross country, Colorado trips. Im bummed because i thought i found a good bus! Oh well.
Thanks for the response
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Old 02-08-2019, 12:23 PM   #7
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Old 02-08-2019, 12:29 PM   #8
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Tell us more about your plans and we will help you find a decent bus.
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Old 02-08-2019, 12:49 PM   #9
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Well i live in Michigan and would like the bus to convert to a camper/RV for long distance travel in the U.S. and Canada. I would possibly like to live in it full time in the future as well.
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Old 02-08-2019, 01:00 PM   #10
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To clarify what marc said, the speedometer goes out but this does not show your total miles traveled. Instead of replacing just the speedometer, often the entire panel is replaced - along with the odometer.

For instance, I purchased my bus with an odometer reading of 108,000. I got a new dash with extra gauges instead of installing the individual gauges. The new dash I installed had 119,000 miles on its odometer.


That's just a minor example of variation, but you may find 500,000 mile buses with a replaced panel reading less than 100,000 on the odometer. Likewise, you may have a bus with verified 50,000 miles on it, but the panel was replaced with one where the odometer read 350,000.

You should also consider the maximum range of the vehicles odometer - it can and will "roll around: back to zero after it reaches it max miles the odometer can display. Again, reasons you'll find oddities like classic cars from the 60's and 70's with super low milage - the odometer rolled over and essentially "reset".
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Old 02-08-2019, 01:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geminusprime View Post
To clarify what marc said, the speedometer goes out but this does not show your total miles traveled. Instead of replacing just the speedometer, often the entire panel is replaced - along with the odometer.

For instance, I purchased my bus with an odometer reading of 108,000. I got a new dash with extra gauges instead of installing the individual gauges. The new dash I installed had 119,000 miles on its odometer.


That's just a minor example of variation, but you may find 500,000 mile buses with a replaced panel reading less than 100,000 on the odometer. Likewise, you may have a bus with verified 50,000 miles on it, but the panel was replaced with one where the odometer read 350,000.

You should also consider the maximum range of the vehicles odometer - it can and will "roll around: back to zero after it reaches it max miles the odometer can display. Again, reasons you'll find oddities like classic cars from the 60's and 70's with super low milage - the odometer rolled over and essentially "reset".
In regards to the speedometer, that makes total sense, thank you. But I am still wondering if the 5.9 cummins woild be enough power for my intended purposes.. or if i will regret it later.
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Old 02-08-2019, 01:39 PM   #12
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Since it's a 2002 I would expect that a diagnostics reader would be able to read both the actual miles as well as the engine hours. I wouldn't trust that it has 60k.
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Old 02-08-2019, 02:27 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kain View Post
In regards to the speedometer, that makes total sense, thank you. But I am still wondering if the 5.9 Cummins would be enough power for my intended purposes.. or if i will regret it later.

How much power do you want/need? How much bus (and "everything else") will you be moving? The 5.9 will provide lots of power in a pickup (and plenty of "go-fast"). It'll *MOVE* a very heavily (over)loaded road trailer (not very fast) (think yard switcher trucks). In an empty full length bus, you'll probably drop to 40-50 MPH or so ascending steep hills. In a loaded (or converted) bus you'll drop even more on the hills.
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Old 02-08-2019, 02:34 PM   #14
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Its a Thomas Freightliner with the 5.9 cummins 24 valve. Its not a full sized bus, as its length is at 28ft. I dont plan on hauling anything too big. Just a motorcycle.
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Old 02-08-2019, 02:39 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geminusprime View Post
To clarify what marc said, the speedometer goes out but this does not show your total miles traveled. Instead of replacing just the speedometer, often the entire panel is replaced - along with the odometer.

For instance, I purchased my bus with an odometer reading of 108,000. I got a new dash with extra gauges instead of installing the individual gauges. The new dash I installed had 119,000 miles on its odometer.


That's just a minor example of variation, but you may find 500,000 mile buses with a replaced panel reading less than 100,000 on the odometer. Likewise, you may have a bus with verified 50,000 miles on it, but the panel was replaced with one where the odometer read 350,000.

You should also consider the maximum range of the vehicles odometer - it can and will "roll around: back to zero after it reaches it max miles the odometer can display. Again, reasons you'll find oddities like classic cars from the 60's and 70's with super low milage - the odometer rolled over and essentially "reset".
I'm pretty sure most of our buses have 100,000 mile odometers. you won't turn it over till it hits 1 million miles.
Again, I'll mention, it's not the negative of that particular motor, but the tranny is critical. It is most likely a 545 and not conducive to their application. Need to verify the tranny model.
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Old 02-08-2019, 02:40 PM   #16
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The 5.9 in anything less than 40' not hauling a toad or trailer should be OK. Never gonna be a racer but then, hey...it's a bus.



And the 5.9 can be turned up a bit. Not sure about the process for a 24 valve but the all mechanicals are a piece of cake to darn near double in power. You might check in with the crowd at 4BTswaps.com. Some really savvy & helpful Cummins builders over there who can walk you thru a tuneup for more ponies.
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Old 02-08-2019, 02:49 PM   #17
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Awesome! Thanks for the info!
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Old 02-08-2019, 03:05 PM   #18
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And you definitely need to verify the tranny model. Most likely an AT 545. Not anyone's #1 pick but they came in probably 80% of all the Skoolies built in the past couple of decades.


If so, then learn how to live with one or be prepared to do a transplant. They will only handle so much torque or HP. They do NOT have any lock-up. Only four speed with no OD. And they are fairly easy to overheat. That said...they can go almost forever if taken care of. Just know what you are dealing with and learn how to get the most from it. Check the fluid. If it looks or smells toasted...not a good sign. If you buy one...add a cooler.
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Old 02-08-2019, 03:55 PM   #19
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I have a 12 valve 5.9 with a 545 it is not the most powerful high speed bus ever built but with a roof raise and build out almost finished it pulled the Mineola Hill (the closest thing to a mountain around here) at 54 mph it will cruise 72 on a flat it has a homade monster trans cooler on it never misses a beat and gets about 7.5 mpg. Gene
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Old 02-18-2019, 10:33 AM   #20
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The 466 in my short bus is rated at 190 hp, same as the 5.9 Cummins. Both engines will cheerfully make 250 hp with a couple clicks of a laptop, but as they are almost always hooked to a 545 Allison, the hp and torque are detuned to make the trans live. That said, either engine at 190 hp. will make the bus go 70 mph + on flat roads, provided the gearing isn't limiting it. Just need to reset the speed governor. And it will be slower in the mountains and the trans temps will get high enough with only 190 hp on a long hill that you will have to take it easy. I would like to put a trans cooler on my bus and keep the engine at 190 hp so I am not always having to monitor the temp gauge. If I was going to drive in the mountains, I would love a better trans, but swapping one in will probably exceed the worth of the bus as it don't appear to be an easy remove and replace job. I have driven in the Porcupine mountains in MI and climbed some grades that some motor homes wouldn't, but have never been in real mountains like the Rockies.
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