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Old 06-22-2018, 08:00 PM   #1
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New Member Hello, I Need Help

Hello I'm Ken, a new member. I just found this forum it's exactly what I've been looking for. I want to buy a Skoolie to convert to an RV and travel full time mainly out West. I live in Florida.

I don't know a lot about these Skoolies. I have a few questions hopefully somebody can help. . Today I just came across a 1997 International T444E Short Bus. It's a Florida vehicle so no rust, the owner tells me it has a 7.3 L Turbo Diesel with 127,000 miles on it, Allison 4sp Automatic Transmission, Air Brakes, 240 amp alternator, and dual A/C which works. He's asking $3,500 for it.

My questions are: Is this a good bus? Is it worth the price he's asking?, Is this a good motor and transmission? Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated

Thanks
Ken
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Old 06-22-2018, 08:15 PM   #2
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From what I understand from Charlie, Florida runs their uses into the ground before releasing them, rust isn't the issue, upcoming maintenance will be. That said i would question a bus that old with that few mileage on it from Fla. One thing I have learned about buses is there is a 95% chance the speedo has been replaced and to never trust the mileage indicated. Need a number to identify the tranny to tell if it's a good one or not.
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Old 06-22-2018, 09:23 PM   #3
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Thanks for your input. I wasn't aware of the speedo situation. the Bus is in amazingly good condition so I kinda thought the mileage was correct. From what the guy told me the Bus wasn't used by the County school district it was used by a private academy so maybe they didn't run it into the ground. I wish there was a way I could tell for sure.
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Old 06-22-2018, 09:33 PM   #4
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Only way is to go and inspect it and drive it yourself before making that decision.
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Old 06-22-2018, 09:57 PM   #5
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Aside from all that whats your opinion of the 7.3 Turbo Diesel? Is it a good reliable motor? Is this the engine they consider the million mile motor?
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Old 06-22-2018, 10:33 PM   #6
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Aside from all that whats your opinion of the 7.3 Turbo Diesel? Is it a good reliable motor? Is this the engine they consider the million mile motor?
Have no personal experience with that motor. I doubt it's a million mile motor. I am useless to you right now.
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Old 06-23-2018, 06:48 AM   #7
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Aside from all that whats your opinion of the 7.3 Turbo Diesel? Is it a good reliable motor? Is this the engine they consider the million mile motor?
In a school bus its more of a 300k motor. If you take real good care of it.
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Old 06-23-2018, 08:19 AM   #8
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where to find help

I believe it is difficult to find answers that you are looking that do not include bias.

Find a mehanic that works on buses that you can hire to come with you to the bus in question. Start with the big stuff like engine and transmission. Crawl under the bus get numbers for the transmission. Or if you are lucky get the bus on a lift. Check stuff like ball joints, tie rod ends, springs, tires, you know the stuff that makes a truck, a truck. That is what you have, a truck with a really sturdy body on it.

Test drive, have the mechanic drive it.

A good mechanic will have a shop full of machines for repair, people will wait for a good mechanic. I have seen a one man shop, the wait for work was three weeks when he gets super busy. A good mechanics shop is clean, no clutter.
If you are lucky, you will find a bus mechanic, a truck mechanic, a diesel mechanic. But a smart good mechanic of any sort should be able to do a reasonably good job evaluating the machine.

At a minimum I would expect that engine to go to 200,000 miles with out much needing done to it, unless it has been abused.

regards and best wishes to you.
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Old 06-23-2018, 10:29 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenfusion View Post
Hello I'm Ken, a new member. I just found this forum it's exactly what I've been looking for. I want to buy a Skoolie to convert to an RV and travel full time mainly out West. I live in Florida.

I don't know a lot about these Skoolies. I have a few questions hopefully somebody can help. . Today I just came across a 1997 International T444E Short Bus. It's a Florida vehicle so no rust, the owner tells me it has a 7.3 L Turbo Diesel with 127,000 miles on it, Allison 4sp Automatic Transmission, Air Brakes, 240 amp alternator, and dual A/C which works. He's asking $3,500 for it.

My questions are: Is this a good bus? Is it worth the price he's asking?, Is this a good motor and transmission? Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated

Thanks
Ken
Ask for the VIN number from the seller and call the International dealer and ask for the line set ticket. They will give you all the details on the original build. Best guess is that bus has an AT545 transmission which isn't going to be happy out West in the mountains.
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Old 06-23-2018, 12:44 PM   #10
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Thanks for your help. I was an ASE certified mechanic for over 15 years so I know vehicles. suspensions, front ends, gas engines, however technology has passed me by it's been well over 15 years now I haven't been in the business. Diesel engines and Busses and transmissions I know absolutely nothing about. I was mainly hoping I could get some input on the 7.3 L turbo Diesel is it a good motor, Is a bus like this worth $3500? The Short Bus is in stunningly good condition I have to assume it was well maintained. Overall it looks like a great vehicle. I'm going today to look it over again and drive it and I will make a decision.
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Old 06-23-2018, 12:47 PM   #11
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Great Idea I'll do that and get the VIN # and call international. Thanks!
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Old 06-23-2018, 12:49 PM   #12
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Sorry Magnakansas I screwed up and I posted my reply to you under 2martins post
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Old 07-07-2018, 07:15 PM   #13
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So what is the verdict, Ken?

Let's hear it!
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Old 07-07-2018, 09:27 PM   #14
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Power-wise, the 7.3 should be middle of the road.
Might be a little weak for a full-size, should be okay in a shortie.

There should be LOTS of discussion floating around here on the 545 vs 643, or other types of transmissions. The 545 isn't going to be particularly well suited for highway use.

(Don't forget to check the tires. They're not as cheap as car tires. For something that could run $600+, it's a good negotiating

If the condition and the mileage match up, I don't think its a bad price. Working AC is a nice feature. I'd offer $3 first, and see what he says.


The real question is what do you want to do with it - that will determine weather or not its a good fit for you more then anything else.
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Old 07-11-2018, 08:54 AM   #15
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The 7.3L with a turbocharger when it is in a Ford product it is called the PowerStroke.

The same basic engine in an IHC product is called the T444E.

For all practical purposes, the aftermarket support on the PowerStroke will NOT work with the T444E. There are enough differences that stuff doesn't interchange easily.

In school bus service with decent preventative maintenance it is a 300K+ mile engine.

In school bus service the engine was rated up to 250 HP unlike the Ford that had crazy stupid HP ratings. Which is why the IHC engine will go many more miles than the Ford engine.

In a Type 'C' short bus it is a great engine choice just don't be disappointed in the performance. Unless it is the 250 HP engine it will run out of steam long before reaching 70 MPH, on any long uphill grade, and if it has the AT540 transmission it will likely get the transmission hot or the engine hot going up hills.
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