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Old 09-19-2021, 05:48 PM   #1
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New member (but have already made a bad choice . . .)

Hi everyone. My name is Andrew. I've been thinking about making my own DIY camper for a few years now to do long cross-country journeys, and just last week I bought a 1993 international 3800.

However, after driving it from the place of purchase to where I'm storing it, it is clear that this thing is unable to keep up with traffic to a very dangerous degree. The previous owner already removed all the seats, and it still struggles to reach 50 uphill, and even on flat stretches only goes 65 while reading 3100 on the tachometer. I know these busses came with other engine options (mine is 7.3 NA IDI w/ AT545) but I seem to have bought the least powerful option. The rear end is also definitely not geared for work outside of city limits. It was nice for all of 25 minutes of ownership pre-drive, but I think I'm going to have to take the L on this purchase and see if I can sell it off to find a bus more suited to highway driving. Lesson learned: don't get hung up on work already done (seats out) and miss other important aspects of the vehicle you're buying.

So while my first buy might have been too starry-eyed, I thought I'd at least make an account to more get more closely integrated into the skoolie community. I'll also be able to ask more questions and prevent myself from making more mistakes.

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Old 09-19-2021, 06:56 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: Suburbs of Winterset, OH
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Year: 2005
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Chassis: FS65
Engine: Mercedes 6.4L
I'm sure there are more than a few of us that have learned some lessons the "expensive" way.
welcome to the madness.
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Old 09-19-2021, 07:40 PM   #3
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Location: Philadelphia
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Year: 2003
Coachwork: International
Chassis: CE 300
Engine: DT466e
Rated Cap: 65C-43A
I wish this could be sticked somewhere for everyone interested in starting on a skoolie project. As far as skoolie tasks are concerned, removing the seats is absolutely nothing, not even 1/100th of 1% of all the work that has to be done. It just seems daunting because it's literally the first thing everybody has to do.

From your numbers, it sounds like you have a rear gear ratio in the neighborhood of 7.25 to 7.5, which is indeed not going to be conducive to highway travel. It's possible to get that swapped out to a numerically-lower ratio, which could improve your cruising speed substantially. But your 7.3/AT545 drivetrain is already not great so the swap might not be worth your while. It might be worth calling around to shops in your area to see what kind of price you can get on it, however - maybe they have something sitting around collecting dust and a mechanic with no work lined up and it won't be some huge amount of money.
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Old 09-19-2021, 08:13 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by musigenesis View Post
I wish this could be sticked somewhere for everyone interested in starting on a skoolie project. As far as skoolie tasks are concerned, removing the seats is absolutely nothing, not even 1/100th of 1% of all the work that has to be done. It just seems daunting because it's literally the first thing everybody has to do.

From your numbers, it sounds like you have a rear gear ratio in the neighborhood of 7.25 to 7.5, which is indeed not going to be conducive to highway travel. It's possible to get that swapped out to a numerically-lower ratio, which could improve your cruising speed substantially. But your 7.3/AT545 drivetrain is already not great so the swap might not be worth your while. It might be worth calling around to shops in your area to see what kind of price you can get on it, however - maybe they have something sitting around collecting dust and a mechanic with no work lined up and it won't be some huge amount of money.
Yes that's definitely right on the whole 'step 1' thing. I have a bad tendency to make impulse purchases based on my interests at the time, and got hooked on the fact that it was a blank canvas and didn't bother to do more research before purchase. It was a foolish waste of a few thousand dollars and I haven't even been able to title it yet.
I think it would just be better to find a later model bus with a better powertrain choice; at least something with a T444E/MT643 combo and then worry if it has the right gearing. The rear center section would be a lot easier to swap than a whole drivetrain.
I'll make a FS post later when I get some photos and the title in my name.
Oh well.
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