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Old 01-07-2018, 04:09 PM   #1
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Newbie to skoolie

Hello all and thanks for this forum!
My wife and I have been living in our Subaru converted 1990 VW bus for 4 years and have been thinking about up-sizing to a skoolie and have some questions before we make the plunge!
We have been reading up on what to look for as far as chassis/rust/leaks/etc. but still feel like we aren't asking ourselves the right questions on what to look for.
What we are looking for is something the size of 6-8 rows of seats. I have my eye on a 1988 International S Series 1753 School Bus, (that is about the right size). The bus has a 7.3l Diesel, 3 speed Allison transmission, but the owner doesn't have any maintenance records or history for the bus.
Our questions are these:
What should we be looking for as far as a very reliable engine/transmission combo, (we won't be towing anything).
What should we avoid like the plague? Meaning what engines/transmissions don't have easily attainable parts.
Any advice from the skoolie collective would be beyond appreciated!! Thanks so much in advance.
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Old 01-07-2018, 04:23 PM   #2
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intern..._Harvester_IDI
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Old 01-09-2018, 12:50 PM   #3
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Thanks for the link, it helps with the engines used in Internationals but sill leaves my original questions unanswered.
I should have been more specific when I gave the example of the 1988 International. The size is what I was referring to.
Hindsight is always 20/20, and just wanted to know as much as I could about the " holy Grail" of engine/ transmission combos before jumping into anything.
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Old 01-09-2018, 01:28 PM   #4
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If you're looking for a full size bus, go with either a DT466 or Cummins 8.3...with either of those engines, anything but an AT545 transmission will be fine. Ask me how I know...(just blew an AT545 a few days ago. Upgrading to an MT643...

In a shorter bus a T444 with an AT545, while not ideal, will do OK. Lots of that combo on the road doing just fine...

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Old 01-09-2018, 01:36 PM   #5
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The 7.3 is the predecessor to the T444 (and for all intents and purposes, is the same engine). Very common engine, widely available parts and has a good reputation. Be advised, in a full size bus, it's no powerhouse so it won't ascend a hill quickly, but it will do the job.

I'm guessing it's mated to the also-very-common Allison AT545 transmission. Not an ideal choice for much long distance travel, but many thousands of these served for years on thousands of school routes covering millions of miles. It'll be fine for riding around town and short trips.
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Old 01-09-2018, 01:46 PM   #6
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[QUOTE=johnbloem1974;244170]If you're looking for a full size bus, go with either a DT466 or Cummins 8.3...with either of those engines, anything but an AT545 transmission will be fine. Ask me how I know...(just blew an AT545 a few days ago. Upgrading to an MT643...

In a shorter bus a T444 with an AT545, while not ideal, will do OK. Lots of that combo on the road doing just fine...


Would you recommend a manual transmission over an Automatic for a mid-size bus? I've heard to shy away from manuals, but not sure. I can see the perks of a manual for sure.
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Old 01-09-2018, 02:16 PM   #7
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Just found the thread on transmission swaps. I'll answer my own questions.haha
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Old 01-09-2018, 02:18 PM   #8
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Mine actually has a 5-speed manual.

Advantages - it's not an automatic and won't suffer the same failures automatic transmissions will (they can still break, but it's rare). You have full control over changing gears.

Drawbacks - shifting gears. Not bad on the highway but becomes a chore when driving around town. Clutch will wear and eventually need adjustment/replacement.

Some folks don't know how to drive a manual and others are just lazy and don't want to. A few can't due to physical disabilities. Myself, I prefer one. It's really more of a personal preference than anything else.
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Old 01-09-2018, 02:19 PM   #9
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I think it depends on the kind of driving you will do. If you will on the road a lot, go with an automatic. If you'll be doing shorter trips with shorter durations, a manual would be pretty cool. Driving through any kind of traffic or stop/Go would get really old really quick in a manual in a bus...

My $.02

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Old 01-09-2018, 02:26 PM   #10
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Just be advised that the clutch in large vehicles, by its very design and nature, needs a lot more leg effort than a clutch in a car. The heavy vehicles need more pressure on the clutch, and stronger springs for that, so it takes more effort to compress those springs to release the clutch.
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Old 01-09-2018, 02:41 PM   #11
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All of my vehicles I've ever owned have been manuals- except for a Datsun I once owned, and am use to a clutch. We generally have been traveling up to the PNW for summers and Arizona for the winters. So it sounds to me like a manual is the way to go.
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Old 01-09-2018, 03:45 PM   #12
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Just be advised that the clutch in large vehicles, by its very design and nature, needs a lot more leg effort than a clutch in a car. The heavy vehicles need more pressure on the clutch, and stronger springs for that, so it takes more effort to compress those springs to release the clutch.
Are they not hydraulic clutches? They should only need the effort required by the piston diameter ... which of course affects the stroke.
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Old 01-09-2018, 04:00 PM   #13
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If you're driving in traffic a lot, muscle growth in your left leg will be obvious. I guess you just have to try it.
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Old 01-09-2018, 05:38 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
Just be advised that the clutch in large vehicles, by its very design and nature, needs a lot more leg effort than a clutch in a car. The heavy vehicles need more pressure on the clutch, and stronger springs for that, so it takes more effort to compress those springs to release the clutch.

So true Brad re stiff clutch pedal, I can vouch for that. It surprised me at first but hardly notice it anymore. Left leg is as thick as a hydro pole but I would never buy an auto in a bus. Depends on driving style and I avoid cities and traffic jams like the plague anyway. Mostly highway miles here and feel a lot safer knowing you can drop a gear and have power to spare when passing or climbing or braking.

John
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Old 01-09-2018, 05:48 PM   #15
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Mostly highway miles here and feel a lot safer knowing you can drop a gear and have power to spare when passing or climbing or braking.

John
I can do that with my MD3060. I just press a button
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Old 01-09-2018, 06:24 PM   #16
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I can do that with my MD3060. I just press a button

Where is the fun in that Steve? lol And besides I may have a second career kicking field goals with my huge left leg. Watch your thumb doesn't enlarge too much. What good would that be? lol

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Old 01-09-2018, 06:50 PM   #17
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Are they not hydraulic clutches? They should only need the effort required by the piston diameter ... which of course affects the stroke.
My Volvo has a hydraulic clutch (and self adjusting too, I think). I don't remember on the bus, I'd have to go check. Yes, the factory could have engineered they system by changing piston diameters and such, but the end result is you still need to push big springs a few fractions of an inch. There's only so much clutch pedal travel that should be used for that, the rest must be done by pedal effort.

I have seen power assist for brakes, but never for a clutch. Show pics if you find one.
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Old 01-09-2018, 07:00 PM   #18
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My Volvo has a hydraulic clutch (and self adjusting too, I think). I don't remember on the bus, I'd have to go check. Yes, the factory could have engineered they system by changing piston diameters and such, but the end result is you still need to push big springs a few fractions of an inch. There's only so much clutch pedal travel that should be used for that, the rest must be done by pedal effort.

I have seen power assist for brakes, but never for a clutch. Show pics if you find one.
So on a 200 hp bus, the clutch plate and springs shouldn't have to be any more highly rated, or bigger than on a similar powered manual car.

You want a fairly long pedal travel because that aids in gently engaging the clutch ... longer travel at the pedal decides the rate of travel of the plate, that setting being governed by cylinder diameter. That all helps, because smaller cylinders exert more pressure but require more travel.

I was just wondering what else could be causing this issue in a bus, when it was never an issue in my cars.
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