Journey with Confidence RV GPS App RV Trip Planner RV LIFE Campground Reviews RV Maintenance Take a Speed Test Free 7 Day Trial ×


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 03-01-2024, 01:57 PM   #1
New Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2024
Posts: 1
Newcomer looking for advice on engines and all things Skoolie!

Hey all! I have recently become engulfed with the obsession of getting my own skoolie, and over the past few weeks I have been slowly shopping around and doing bits of research, to start developing some knowledge about all the factors involved with owning and using a skoolie. Iíve slowly been figuring out the overall market, limitations of owning a bus, creative possibilities, work involved with building out and maintaining a bus, etc. By now, Iíve certainly convinced myself that this is something I want to do, and Iím serious about pursuing this. I currently work overseas and wonít return to the US for a few more months, so I do have time to grow my knowledge, and develop my ideal vision for a bus without jumping into an impulse purchase.

In my slowly progressive research, Iíve come across this forum, and I thought it would be a perfect way to jump into some more in-depth discourse with those who are already involved with these types of projects. This seems like a great place to get advice from any or everyone about all things skoolie!

To preface, I am not new to the world of traveling and camping, but I am new to the realm of busses. I have evaluated my own personal needs and wants for my future bus, as well as my limitations on what I can/cannot do in a project.
For example, I am a motocross racer, and one thing that is important to me is that my bus has a toy hauler space in the back, or that it is short enough to reasonably tow a trailer.
I do not think that I have the resources or the knowledge to start completely from scratch, particularly when thinking about electrical setups, plumbing, and insulation. (Perhaps those with experience could encourage me to believe that itís simpler than I think, who knows)

With this being said, I think I fit into a market where a partial conversion has already been done. Maybe Iíll get criticism for ďskipping the hard partĒ, but I just donít know if I have the means to build the essential digestive and circulatory systems properly, without screwing it up. Maybe Iím wrong, and thatís why Iím here to get advice!

While I am here to look for broad advice about all aspects of skoolies, I do have some specific questions about engines. I donít have any particular experience with diesel engines, and therefor I am not sure which ones are thumbs up, and which ones I should avoid.
To get specific for a moment: I found a bus that would be pretty close to what Iím looking for, at a good price, listed as a 2008 International BE 200 with a 6.0L MaxxForce Diesel. From what I could find, it sounds like an engine that I should avoid. Is this true for this specific engine? Also, what other engines do you suggest as good or bad? I would love to hear any input on this subject.

Beyond the engines, please do share any knowledge or advice that you may have for someone just getting started! I would love to hear your tips for things to consider that someone may not normally think of, whether itís something big picture, or something niche. I recognize that owning a bus is not like owning a pickup truck, so what do I need to know about owning a bus? Any and all advice is welcome and appreciated!! Perhaps this could become a running thread to help out all of those who are new to the skoolie world.

Sidebar: If a type of general advice thread already exists to help newcomers, I certainly understand if this thread gets removed.

Iím excited to join the skoolie world with my own soon enough!

Tristinw524 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-03-2024, 10:34 AM   #2
Bus Nut
 
nikitis's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2023
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 854
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 29
Welcome aboard.

Maxxforce is an engine you want to avoid due to EPA regulations requiring the upkeep of those emissions systems, and they can be expensive. They are also some of the first emissions engines and added strain was put onto them and they fail prematurely.

Older Diesel engines are a better bet if you find them in working condition. You can still find DT466E, T444E's DT360's, are older but decent engines which are grandfathered in and do not require emissions.

These engines are still obtainable but are getting harder to find every day. You can still find them around 140k miles roughly for sale, but the engines are rated to go 300-500k.

Also buying an older bus frame in good shape will grandfather you in in case you need to replace the engine with a more modern one down the road, you could disable the emissions legally because the body wasn't designed to house the DPF etc, and no one is going to question it on an older bus.

As far as transmissions go, AT545's are reliable but slow and don't offer overdrive which will greatly limit the speed of your bus which unlocked in the ECM's may go 65MPH tops.

I'd look for a bus with one of the engines listed above, and with AT1000, 2000, 3000, or MT3060's(manual) transmissions.

This will limit your search, but if you have time to monitor for a few months, I'm confident you can find one with those options within that time frame. And be willing to travel to pick it up.
nikitis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-03-2024, 12:11 PM   #3
Bus Nut
 
La Camioneta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2022
Location: CSRA Georgia
Posts: 393
Year: 1994
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: Ford B-700
Engine: 12V 5.9
Part of the fun with Skoolies is taking a blank canvas and making it your own. Your desire for a pre-built toy hauler limits your choices.

Have you considered a box van or truck? Or a horse van? The access and ramps are already in place, they're fairly secure and easier to build inside because of the straight sides and height.

I'm a fan of Cummins power as the 5.9 and 6.7? are common pickup engines and have the potential to make stupid power with relatively inexpensive upgrades. The AT545 swap to an AT2000 takes a 60mph bus to an 85mph bus, or at least it did for me.

It does all depend on budget, time, and talent though. If I wanted a motorcycle hauler, I'd seriously look at a box van as the platform rather than a skoolie.
La Camioneta is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-03-2024, 12:38 PM   #4
Bus Crazy
 
ewo1's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: Central Tx.
Posts: 1,986
Year: 1999
Chassis: Amtran / International
Engine: DT466E HT 250HP - Md3060
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tristinw524
2008 International BE 200 with a 6.0L MaxxForce Diesel.
Another thing to take into consideration besides the issues raised about the Maxxforce motors, from about 2006-2007 busses will have more than engine electronics to worry about going forward.

You got body controllers and telematics in the newer busses that will require special software, besides Servicemaxx, in order to "fix" electrical issues.

No engine electronics is why people search high and low for mechanical diesels and now you have to factor in "Body" electronics alongside the engine electronics.

Again, this is just something you need to understand and evaluate when making your bus decision.

If you want to avoid the "Body" electronics then stay below 2006.
ewo1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-03-2024, 08:19 PM   #5
Bus Geek
 
musigenesis's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 7,000
Year: 2003
Coachwork: International
Chassis: CE 300
Engine: DT466e
Rated Cap: 65C-43A
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tristinw524 View Post
2008 International BE 200 with a 6.0L MaxxForce Diesel.
The MaxxForce DT from 2008 was a 7.6L engine, same displacement as the DT466e that it replaced (and was derived from). The 6.0L Ford Power Stroke is a different engine entirely - probably even worse than the MaxxForce in terms of reliability (unless it's been expensively bulletproofed). Not sure why a seller would merge the two worst engines in the skoolie world into one listing, but regardless this is a bus to avoid.
__________________
Rusty 87 build thread
musigenesis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-04-2024, 11:15 AM   #6
New Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2024
Location: South Florida
Posts: 7
Tristinw524, thanks for starting this thread! I'm sure there's a bunch of similar topic ones on this platform. I'm new to skoolie world too, also bus shopping govt auction sites! Like you researching and reading like crazy! But, me not a clue about motors, diesel or otherwise, or transmissions!! Thanks long-timers! For sharing your thoughts and experiences.

Everyone says allison transmission! What's the consensus on Voight 863.3? There s some 2004 GILLIG, Cummins ISL motor but w Voight transmission. Can transmission brand be changed? should it be?
SilverRosie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-04-2024, 07:41 PM   #7
Bus Crazy
 
ewo1's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: Central Tx.
Posts: 1,986
Year: 1999
Chassis: Amtran / International
Engine: DT466E HT 250HP - Md3060
Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverRosie View Post
Tristinw524, thanks for starting this thread! I'm sure there's a bunch of similar topic ones on this platform. I'm new to skoolie world too, also bus shopping govt auction sites! Like you researching and reading like crazy! But, me not a clue about motors, diesel or otherwise, or transmissions!! Thanks long-timers! For sharing your thoughts and experiences.

Everyone says allison transmission! What's the consensus on Voight 863.3? There s some 2004 GILLIG, Cummins ISL motor but w Voight transmission. Can transmission brand be changed? should it be?
ALL transmission will one day need some kind of support/maintenance. The Voith tranny is used worldwide just as the Allison is. While you can find repair services for the Voith it is usuallY the big repair shops that charge the big money for repairs.

The Allison on the otherhand, can be found everywhere and many smaller shops work on them too.

The Voith is found in most city busses, Gilligs, and the heavy duty usage is the one thing that would concern me. Yes Allison's get heavy duty usage too but finding a used replacement is much easier than finding a used Voith tranny.

That would be my only concern.

Can the tranny be changed from Voith to allison, probably but not worth the effort to me.
ewo1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-04-2024, 08:42 PM   #8
New Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2024
Location: South Florida
Posts: 7
Thank you EWO1!!! for your thoughts. Definitely want to stay in the lane of easiest, most available parts and lesser costly repairs!
SilverRosie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-05-2024, 08:53 AM   #9
Almost There
 
Join Date: Dec 2023
Location: North Georgia
Posts: 92
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Thomas (Thomas Vista)
Chassis: International 3600
Engine: DT360
Rated Cap: 60
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...Peg/edit#gid=0

This isn't perfect and some say it's biased but from my research there is some truth behind this, personally my rig has the Navistar DT360 (fantastic motor for what it is) and the Allison AT545, it's not a bad transmission in the sense of longevity, but it's not a fast one. 4 speed no overdrive and in steep grades if you over work it, it may overheat. I'm adding a trans temp gauge and an aftermarket cooler which should fix any issues (so far in the mountains of GA I haven't over heated it) Just know everyone is different and will swear by different drivetrains. The important bit is making sure you know what to look for when going to look at a prospect bus. Check the fluids, color, smell, consistency. Oil in the coolant or coolant in oil, consider that one dead. Transmission fluid looks brown or smells like burnt hair...it takes seconds for an overheated trans to turn into glitter. It's a lot to consider especially if you're really excited to dive in but know the advice I see being shared is to keep you from getting stuck with something that will suck more money from you than needed. I'm no expert but feel free to ask anything and everything, and if CadillacKid says something, chances are high he is 1,000% right, dude knows A LOT
Malevolence4845 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-06-2024, 05:43 PM   #10
New Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 4
Dt466e

I was in the same situation in 2015, my opportunity was presented with a 1999 3800 Bluebird HandyBus, DT466E, MT645, air brakes, AC, Air ride, 255/70R/22.5 tires.
Someone on this site suggested 3:08 gears "and forget about it" and that's what I did. 65 MPH at 2100 rpm, 75 MPH (which is too fast in a 30ft bus) at 2300 rpm. At less than 12,000 lbs, it drives like a pick-up truck.
I have put on 16,000 miles since with no problems from Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Colorado towing other bus projects home and hunting.
This forum has been fun to be engaged with and the best for bus resources and meeting people.
Attached Thumbnails
2017HUNT.jpg   20230418_194829.jpg  
maloiselle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-07-2024, 12:02 AM   #11
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: Baja often, Oregon frequently
Posts: 427
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Our hot little grubbies...
Chassis: Ford CF8000 ExpeditionVehicle
Engine: Cummins 505ci mechanical
Rated Cap: Five Heelers
a -- get the smallest interior dimensions, shortest wheelbase.
This increases your options for manouveurs, fuel range... and parking.
.
b -- get standard powertrain for the regions you frequent.
In fUSA, common are Cummins and Allison.
.
c -- Holes! In! The! Roof! tend to occasionally sometimes leak.
Accordingly, we are founding members of the No! Holes! In! The! Roof! club.
.
d -- get the stoutest suspension with the tallest tires.
Example:
... our rig GVWR -- 29,000#/13,000kg.
... our weight across the scale -- 14,000#/6,000kg.
... our cargo capacity -- about seven ton.
Our tires were standard for heavy-trucks -- 22.5, but for additional ground-clearance, we easily and quickly swapped them for 24.5 wheels and tires engineered for back-country loggers.
This added about four inches/one fist to our previous twelve inches/31cm of ground-clearance.
.
e -- vehicle needs change.
Do the quick-n-easy conversion:
... 1 -- toss in some car-camping gear, then
... 2 -- go have fun.
LargeMargeInBaja is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-11-2024, 01:11 PM   #12
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Location: New England
Posts: 144
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Michael Corbier
Chassis: GMC Savana 3500
Engine: 6.5 Diesel
This is an interesting thread, thanks! My two cents? Old vehicles can expect to have problems. Nothing good comes without some cost. If not money, then labor. Persist, persist, persist.
__________________
There are no mistakes, just problems awaiting solutions
Corbi is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:53 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2024, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.