Originally Posted by ChrisH
My boyfriend and I have decided to take the plundge and convert a school bus! We are very excited and have been doing tons of research on here and other sorces already. We are still in the planning stages, but hope to be purchasing a bus soon. We are thinking that we want a 40 ft bus, a Thomas or Bluebird proferably, with a DT466 or Cummins 5.9 engine with an Allison automatic transmison. We were hoping to get any advise you have for first time skoolie newbies!!
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It sounds like you are already finding good info in your research.
One great thing you are doing is identifying the drive train that you want before shopping.
IMHO: I would keep the DT466 on your list but I would drop the Cummins 5.9 in favor of the Cummins 8.3. The 5.9 is a GREAT motor in appropriate applications (like my last two pickups) but is a bit puny in a 40' bus. The Cummins 8.3 is better suited to the application. "There's no replacement for displacement".
As far as the transmission goes, Allison makes a number of tranny's for buses. Very common is the AT-545. It is a 4 speed, no OD, no lockup transmission. Yuk.... Another likely is the MT-647. 4 speed, no OD but it does have a lockup torque converter. Better. What I prefer: 2000/3000 series. Most common will be the MD-3060. 5/6 speed, overdrive (double), lockup.
The 6 speed Allison's in school buses most all have 6th gear disabled leaving you with a 5 speed overdrive tranny. Some members here have had success getting their's reflashed to a 6 speed. Unfortunately, I am not one of them...Yet...