Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 08-26-2017, 01:16 PM   #1
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Conneaut, Ohio
Posts: 189
Year: 2004
Chassis: International CE 300
Engine: DT466E
Rated Cap: 71 passenger / 12 window
To bus, or not to bus... that is the question...

Hey y'all... looking into the possibilities. My wife and I want to travel again. We spent most of 2013 in a motorhome, but the problem we're finding these days is that motorhomes are generally not set up to the kind of specifications we'd want. The only way to get around that is to customize one, which is probably best done by getting a bus. We'd probably aim for a mid-sized bus if we went that route.

The motorhome was diesel, and gave us a lot of expensive trouble on account of being diesel. Maybe I'll start out with a question. Is there any compelling reason NOT to buy a gas-powered bus?
RomaniGypsy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-26-2017, 01:44 PM   #2
Bus Geek
 
Tango's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 8,462
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
Cost to operate and maintenance. If your last diesel was troublesome, there was something fundamentally wrong with it. A normally maintained diesel will outlast a gas motor by a large factor. A gas motor is fine for lighter weight, short haul vehicles but you really need the torque of a diesel to move big loads efficiently. There are many ($$$) good reasons why virtually every large commercial vehicle in the world is diesel instead of gas.
Tango is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-26-2017, 01:52 PM   #3
Bus Geek
 
brokedown's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Weeki Wachee, FL
Posts: 3,028
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000 FE
Engine: Cummins 5.9
Rated Cap: 72
+1 on diesel. Don't know what you had but your experience was not typical. Common motors like the T444E and Cummins 5.9 are very easy to live with and have easy and inexpensive parts you can get at any parts shop. Gas is fine for a bus that sits in one place but if you're planning to roll your wheels it's a bad deal.
brokedown is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-26-2017, 06:10 PM   #4
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 6,341
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
I bought my first (diesel) bus with about 40k miles on a rebuild. If I recall, about 450k on the bus.

I put about 250k miles on it. I spent less than $6k in maintenance and repairs INCLUDING oil, belts, filters and hoses. That does not include tires.

I put almost 200k miles on my last diesel truck and, other than normal periodic maintenance/wear items, the only repair I had done on it was to replace a cracked fuel filter cap. If I had realized that it was the cap and not the housing I would have fixed it myself.

Also, look at the fuel mileage factor. I get almost 10mpg in my 40' diesel bus. Basically the same bus was offered with a 454 gas engine. Mileage? About 4mpg.

If you want to park it and use it primarily as a stationary home then go gas.

If you want to drive it then go diesel.

Just my $0.02

Good luck on your quest.

S.
PNW_Steve is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-26-2017, 06:34 PM   #5
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 13,115
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
thus far ive run a collective 25K miles on my 2 busses and havent any issues with the 'diesel" parts of them.. I have done some major upgrades to both of them.. but they were voluntary.. i havent had the engines apart on either.... the closest would be replacing a water pump and an oil pump on my 444E. .. really they werent bad.. I replaced them since I had the radiator and fan already out to do upgrades...
-Christopher
cadillackid is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 08-26-2017, 07:32 PM   #6
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Georgia
Posts: 1,993
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: IH
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 14
I don't know how old (or new) your diesel motorhome was, but ...

School buses are designed and engineered for long life and low maintenance. They have to be by their very nature. Newer diesel engines with all this EPA emissions equipment tend to have the most problems (and the same is true for buses, motorhomes, trucks, road tractors, you name it). Go with an older, non-emissions bus and you should have many miles of relatively trouble-free service.
Brad_SwiftFur is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-26-2017, 09:17 PM   #7
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Conneaut, Ohio
Posts: 189
Year: 2004
Chassis: International CE 300
Engine: DT466E
Rated Cap: 71 passenger / 12 window
I do appreciate the info. My wife's mom drove school buses for 15 years and she has some helpful hints too, so maybe I'll get good info in the end no matter who sources it.

The RV I had was a 1996 Ford E-Super Duty chassis with the 7.3L Navistar/International "Power Stroke" turbo diesel engine. When I bought it in 2013, it had 62,xxx miles on it. It had sat for about 8 years, amassing only a few hundred miles in that time. But, it did seem to run well, so I bought it.

After a few thousand miles, it blew its alternator... not a huge fix, but a real pain in the butt because a blown alternator is an immobilizing breakdown once the battery runs down. By 72,000 miles, it started intermittently hiccupping and stalling as I was driving. Ultimately, the problem was a camshaft position sensor, and it cost $700 to fix... between the one mechanic that couldn't figure out the problem (even though I suggested that from my research, it was probably the camshaft position sensor) and the one that fixed it.

I sold it with just under 75,000 miles. The guy who bought it told me that on his drive home, it was gulping a quart of oil every 100 miles. It never did that for me, but it was a really bad oil leak for him, and he said that his mechanic said it may have been the "high pressure oil pump". A bit of research yielded that that was a repair likely to cost over $2,000. This on top of how it needed an oil change every 3,000 miles... and since it had a huge oil capacity, that oil change cost $80 or so.

I had a diesel 1996 Chevy Silverado that I bought with 147,xxx miles on it. That truck ran quite nicely for a long time but it had its share of big problems. The pump mounted driver went bad... that was a "we barely made it home" problem... fortunately my next door neighbor was able to do that job so I didn't pay as much for labor... the part was three figures. The injection pump went bad... several hundred dollars for a remanufactured pump and a couple hundred for labor. I don't know... every engine needs work... but when the "diesel only" stuff is outrageously expensive and requires that I use a specialized diesel mechanic (who aren't exactly "all over the place"), it makes me yearn for gasoline. I will say this much, though... I sold it with 217,xxx miles and it was running like a top at the time. I did a lot of trips with that truck and it returned good fuel mileage for its size.

I'd do diesel again if it were the best choice. My mother-in-law said that the Cummins engine is the best... seems to echo what I've heard for the past 15 years or so.

Here's my next question...

Why did y'all choose a school bus for conversion, rather than using something like a motorhome that was built to be a motorhome? What advantages did you find that a school bus offered which a standard motorhome just couldn't provide for you?
RomaniGypsy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2017, 05:18 AM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Texas
Posts: 61
Hi there. I have not built my bus yet. But for me it is a must. First I want a wood burning stove, and a full size frig. A shower is must also. In a bus if the bad crash should happen, you will probably walk away. In a motor home you get splinters. Many reasons for a bus, and cost is a big factor.
JM2C.


Quote:
Originally Posted by RomaniGypsy View Post
I do appreciate the info. My wife's mom drove school buses for 15 years and she has some helpful hints too, so maybe I'll get good info in the end no matter who sources it.

The RV I had was a 1996 Ford E-Super Duty chassis with the 7.3L Navistar/International "Power Stroke" turbo diesel engine. When I bought it in 2013, it had 62,xxx miles on it. It had sat for about 8 years, amassing only a few hundred miles in that time. But, it did seem to run well, so I bought it.

After a few thousand miles, it blew its alternator... not a huge fix, but a real pain in the butt because a blown alternator is an immobilizing breakdown once the battery runs down. By 72,000 miles, it started intermittently hiccupping and stalling as I was driving. Ultimately, the problem was a camshaft position sensor, and it cost $700 to fix... between the one mechanic that couldn't figure out the problem (even though I suggested that from my research, it was probably the camshaft position sensor) and the one that fixed it.

I sold it with just under 75,000 miles. The guy who bought it told me that on his drive home, it was gulping a quart of oil every 100 miles. It never did that for me, but it was a really bad oil leak for him, and he said that his mechanic said it may have been the "high pressure oil pump". A bit of research yielded that that was a repair likely to cost over $2,000. This on top of how it needed an oil change every 3,000 miles... and since it had a huge oil capacity, that oil change cost $80 or so.

I had a diesel 1996 Chevy Silverado that I bought with 147,xxx miles on it. That truck ran quite nicely for a long time but it had its share of big problems. The pump mounted driver went bad... that was a "we barely made it home" problem... fortunately my next door neighbor was able to do that job so I didn't pay as much for labor... the part was three figures. The injection pump went bad... several hundred dollars for a remanufactured pump and a couple hundred for labor. I don't know... every engine needs work... but when the "diesel only" stuff is outrageously expensive and requires that I use a specialized diesel mechanic (who aren't exactly "all over the place"), it makes me yearn for gasoline. I will say this much, though... I sold it with 217,xxx miles and it was running like a top at the time. I did a lot of trips with that truck and it returned good fuel mileage for its size.

I'd do diesel again if it were the best choice. My mother-in-law said that the Cummins engine is the best... seems to echo what I've heard for the past 15 years or so.

Here's my next question...

Why did y'all choose a school bus for conversion, rather than using something like a motorhome that was built to be a motorhome? What advantages did you find that a school bus offered which a standard motorhome just couldn't provide for you?
45acp is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2017, 07:17 AM   #9
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Conneaut, Ohio
Posts: 189
Year: 2004
Chassis: International CE 300
Engine: DT466E
Rated Cap: 71 passenger / 12 window
Quote:
Originally Posted by 45acp View Post
Hi there. I have not built my bus yet. But for me it is a must. First I want a wood burning stove, and a full size frig. A shower is must also. In a bus if the bad crash should happen, you will probably walk away. In a motor home you get splinters. Many reasons for a bus, and cost is a big factor.
JM2C.
A wood-burning stove... fascinating. I can see logic behind not using propane... but a wood-burning stove? That wouldn't present a fire hazard?

The reasons why I'm considering a bus are as follows:

1) My wife and I are performing musicians. I remember having to load and offload our equipment from the Class C motorhome that we had in 2013... what a hassle that was. We had to store it on top of the over-cab bed, meaning even the heavy stuff had to be hoisted that high after squeezing it through the relatively narrow door. (I figure that with a bus, it could be loaded in through the back door. It'd still have to be hoisted, but the job would be much easier. Or, we could get a small cargo trailer and pull it behind the bus.)

2) My wife and I are quite tall. I'm 6'2" and she's 6'3". On top of that, she is a rather wide lady... has been for her entire adult life and probably always will be. When we had the Class C, she had to walk down the hallway sideways. The only way we got the shower to work on that RV was because it had a domed skylight above the bathtub, so our heads could go there as we showered. Most RV showers aren't tall enough for especially my wife to stand up straight, and we will need something with an uncommonly large footprint as well.

3) The biggest problem we had with the Class C was roof leakage. It seems that most RVs just don't get the whole roof thing correct. A bus, however, appears to have a riveted metal roof which seems nearly impervious to leakage.

4) We have our first child on the way, and he will need a seat with a belt which faces forward. I know that many RVs have that, but the belts are often hard to access and they seem somewhat flimsy. With a bus, we could keep at least one seat in so that the car seat could be securely fastened and my wife could sit next to it to attend to our son's needs as they arise.

5) A bus seems like it is constructed to be a huge roll cage. To my knowledge, they have metal beam construction. Most RVs are wooden frame construction, so even without water damage one would think that they would easily break apart in an accident.

6) We really like sleeping on our king-size bed. Most RVs have "camper queen" beds which are nowhere near large enough for two people our size and a dog (we slept on one for the better part of a year, so we know). Those that have king beds are enormous, expensive, and require the use of slide-outs... which is something that ought to be avoided if you are "boondocking" (camping without hookups, often in places like Wal-Mart, truck stops, etc). So, with a bus, we could do it up however we'd want.

7) With all of the windows that a bus has, we could get a good amount of airflow... more so and more easily than you can in an RV. Since we don't anticipate using our traveling rig in places where the weather will be all that cold whenever we do use it, I imagine that insulation shouldn't be much of an issue.

If any of y'all think that any of these are poor reasons to get a bus, let me know. My mother-in-law said that the downsides of doing what we'd want to do are the cost of the conversion (which I imagine can be mitigated if we do it ourselves, which I think we can do, mostly if not entirely) and the maintenance requirements of the bus. Maybe y'all could tell me if you know whether or not a bus requires more maintenance than a comparable diesel-powered motorhome. (If not, then at least I know what I'm getting into.)
RomaniGypsy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2017, 08:08 AM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Texas
Posts: 61
Sonds like a bus with a roof raise is in your future. There many conversions on the forums here. Just have a look. You will see that a bus is rite for you.

I am shopping for a bus, and saving up to get the rite one. The Hurricane has hit here and hit hard. So the bus search is at a stop for now. Flood water every where. Good luck with the bus search.
45acp is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2017, 10:05 AM   #11
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Georgia
Posts: 1,993
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: IH
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by RomaniGypsy View Post
I do appreciate the info. My wife's mom drove school buses for 15 years and she has some helpful hints too, so maybe I'll get good info in the end no matter who sources it.

The RV I had was a 1996 Ford E-Super Duty chassis with the 7.3L Navistar/International "Power Stroke" turbo diesel engine. When I bought it in 2013, it had 62,xxx miles on it. It had sat for about 8 years, amassing only a few hundred miles in that time. But, it did seem to run well, so I bought it.

After a few thousand miles, it blew its alternator... not a huge fix, but a real pain in the butt because a blown alternator is an immobilizing breakdown once the battery runs down. By 72,000 miles, it started intermittently hiccupping and stalling as I was driving. Ultimately, the problem was a camshaft position sensor, and it cost $700 to fix... between the one mechanic that couldn't figure out the problem (even though I suggested that from my research, it was probably the camshaft position sensor) and the one that fixed it.

I sold it with just under 75,000 miles. The guy who bought it told me that on his drive home, it was gulping a quart of oil every 100 miles. It never did that for me, but it was a really bad oil leak for him, and he said that his mechanic said it may have been the "high pressure oil pump". A bit of research yielded that that was a repair likely to cost over $2,000. This on top of how it needed an oil change every 3,000 miles... and since it had a huge oil capacity, that oil change cost $80 or so.

I had a diesel 1996 Chevy Silverado that I bought with 147,xxx miles on it. That truck ran quite nicely for a long time but it had its share of big problems. The pump mounted driver went bad... that was a "we barely made it home" problem... fortunately my next door neighbor was able to do that job so I didn't pay as much for labor... the part was three figures. The injection pump went bad... several hundred dollars for a remanufactured pump and a couple hundred for labor. I don't know... every engine needs work... but when the "diesel only" stuff is outrageously expensive and requires that I use a specialized diesel mechanic (who aren't exactly "all over the place"), it makes me yearn for gasoline. I will say this much, though... I sold it with 217,xxx miles and it was running like a top at the time. I did a lot of trips with that truck and it returned good fuel mileage for its size.

I'd do diesel again if it were the best choice. My mother-in-law said that the Cummins engine is the best... seems to echo what I've heard for the past 15 years or so.

Here's my next question...

Why did y'all choose a school bus for conversion, rather than using something like a motorhome that was built to be a motorhome? What advantages did you find that a school bus offered which a standard motorhome just couldn't provide for you?
The 7.3 engine, and it's brother the T444 generally have good reputations. However, alternators can and do fail, no matter what engine they are on. The cam sensor is a known failure point on these engines; goon on you for knowing that and suggesting it to the mechanic.

I do not do oil changes every 3000 miles, not even on my '98 Suburban. It gets more like 8-10K miles between changes. I have yet to change the oil in my '01 IH bus (T444 engine); I have only driven it home, and around town a couple times.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 45acp View Post
Hi there. I have not built my bus yet. But for me it is a must. First I want a wood burning stove, and a full size frig. A shower is must also. In a bus if the bad crash should happen, you will probably walk away. In a motor home you get splinters. Many reasons for a bus, and cost is a big factor.
JM2C.
This is one reason I bought a bus, these things are built like tanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RomaniGypsy View Post
The reasons why I'm considering a bus are as follows:

1) My wife and I are performing musicians. I remember having to load and offload our equipment from the Class C motorhome that we had in 2013... what a hassle that was. We had to store it on top of the over-cab bed, meaning even the heavy stuff had to be hoisted that high after squeezing it through the relatively narrow door. (I figure that with a bus, it could be loaded in through the back door. It'd still have to be hoisted, but the job would be much easier. Or, we could get a small cargo trailer and pull it behind the bus.)

2) My wife and I are quite tall. I'm 6'2" and she's 6'3". On top of that, she is a rather wide lady... has been for her entire adult life and probably always will be. When we had the Class C, she had to walk down the hallway sideways. The only way we got the shower to work on that RV was because it had a domed skylight above the bathtub, so our heads could go there as we showered. Most RV showers aren't tall enough for especially my wife to stand up straight, and we will need something with an uncommonly large footprint as well.

3) The biggest problem we had with the Class C was roof leakage. It seems that most RVs just don't get the whole roof thing correct. A bus, however, appears to have a riveted metal roof which seems nearly impervious to leakage.

4) We have our first child on the way, and he will need a seat with a belt which faces forward. I know that many RVs have that, but the belts are often hard to access and they seem somewhat flimsy. With a bus, we could keep at least one seat in so that the car seat could be securely fastened and my wife could sit next to it to attend to our son's needs as they arise.

5) A bus seems like it is constructed to be a huge roll cage. To my knowledge, they have metal beam construction. Most RVs are wooden frame construction, so even without water damage one would think that they would easily break apart in an accident.

6) We really like sleeping on our king-size bed. Most RVs have "camper queen" beds which are nowhere near large enough for two people our size and a dog (we slept on one for the better part of a year, so we know). Those that have king beds are enormous, expensive, and require the use of slide-outs... which is something that ought to be avoided if you are "boondocking" (camping without hookups, often in places like Wal-Mart, truck stops, etc). So, with a bus, we could do it up however we'd want.

7) With all of the windows that a bus has, we could get a good amount of airflow... more so and more easily than you can in an RV. Since we don't anticipate using our traveling rig in places where the weather will be all that cold whenever we do use it, I imagine that insulation shouldn't be much of an issue.

If any of y'all think that any of these are poor reasons to get a bus, let me know. My mother-in-law said that the downsides of doing what we'd want to do are the cost of the conversion (which I imagine can be mitigated if we do it ourselves, which I think we can do, mostly if not entirely) and the maintenance requirements of the bus. Maybe y'all could tell me if you know whether or not a bus requires more maintenance than a comparable diesel-powered motorhome. (If not, then at least I know what I'm getting into.)
1. Why not consider getting one with a wheelchair lift?

2. Add to #1, look for one with 78" headroom, you might not feel the need for a roof raise in one with that ceiling height.

3. Bus roofs can leak but they aren't as common, and can be remedied more easily.

4. Not all school buses have seat belts at all seats, it depends on how it was ordered. It's not hard to find school bus seats with Integrated Child Seats as well as seat belts, if that's what you prefer.

5. As I mentioned above, school buses are built like tanks. Safety is probably the #1 factor when these things are designed and engineered. It is for this reason they are primarily built out of steel.

6. A fair point. Perhaps the only drawback to a king size bed is ... well, there's 2. The first is simply getting it into the bus in the first place. The other will be the rather narrow space between it and the wall, but if this is a compromise you are willing to accept, then go for it.

7. I'm assuming you're referring to times when parked. You might want to consider screens over the open windows to keep insects out. For warmer times, window tint will help, or curtains if that's more your style. When driving, I felt open windows did not change airflow enough to keep me any cooler than simply using the driver's fan. Since you're traveling people, it would be wise to consider an engine-driven A/C system.

Buses do require maintenance but probably no more so than any comparable motorhome. I'd hazard to guess less so, because school buses are designed and engineered for long service life and requiring minimal maintenance. They also use fairly common "off the shelf" parts because school districts have to keep them on the road. Bust a tail light? Any Napa can order one (and some will even have it on the shelf). Driving one of those late-model motorhomes? The factory may not even have an original style tail light any more.
Brad_SwiftFur is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2017, 11:28 AM   #12
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Texas
Posts: 61
I have been a mechanic for over 40 years. I change my oil every 3 thousand miles. On a bus with a Diesel I would go 5 or 6.
I am old school, and I drive a gas powered truck. I know that a lot of manufactures say 5 thousand, and some say 10 thousand. And we have synthetic oil now, and that is OK.
But I have been in too many motors then most, and oil change is the most important thing you can keep up with. It is the life of your engine. I have to say that I can not stress it enough. Changing your oil is so important. And so many people neglect it. You might get away with it, but it is cheap insurance.

I get well over 200 thousand miles on my cars, if you pop a valve cover of, it looks like new inside.
Like I say I am old school.
45acp is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2017, 11:46 AM   #13
Bus Geek
 
brokedown's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Weeki Wachee, FL
Posts: 3,028
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000 FE
Engine: Cummins 5.9
Rated Cap: 72
Interestingly you seem to have had very bad luck with very good engines. The T444E is a very well regarded engine, and what I have myself. You didn't mention the engine in your Silverado but I assume it was the 6.5. That's also a well regarded engine with the injection pump being a known weak spot (I met a bus rebuilder who was buying "dead" 6.5 buses cheap and retrofitting the pump from the 6.2)

Ultimately it's up to you which way to go. My experience with the T444E is overwhelming positive, I'm thousands of miles from home right now with my T444E powered bus and have been on the road since February. My experience with the GM 6.5 isn't direct but I know many people who rely on them year after year without being let down.

Which ever way you ultimately go, I wish you the best of luck and look forward to hearing about it.
brokedown is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2017, 12:31 PM   #14
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Texas
Posts: 61
Hi there BD. It is good to hear that the T444E is a good engine. I am shopping for a bus and that motor is common. Thanks.


Quote:
Originally Posted by brokedown View Post
Interestingly you seem to have had very bad luck with very good engines. The T444E is a very well regarded engine, and what I have myself. You didn't mention the engine in your Silverado but I assume it was the 6.5. That's also a well regarded engine with the injection pump being a known weak spot (I met a bus rebuilder who was buying "dead" 6.5 buses cheap and retrofitting the pump from the 6.2)

Ultimately it's up to you which way to go. My experience with the T444E is overwhelming positive, I'm thousands of miles from home right now with my T444E powered bus and have been on the road since February. My experience with the GM 6.5 isn't direct but I know many people who rely on them year after year without being let down.

Which ever way you ultimately go, I wish you the best of luck and look forward to hearing about it.
45acp is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2017, 12:33 PM   #15
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Texas
Posts: 61
Oh yea did I say Hurricane. And Flood.
45acp is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2017, 01:23 PM   #16
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Georgia
Posts: 1,993
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: IH
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 14
It may be that being parked so much is not good for an engine. Things begin to gum up, corrode and stick.
Brad_SwiftFur is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2017, 07:22 PM   #17
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Conneaut, Ohio
Posts: 189
Year: 2004
Chassis: International CE 300
Engine: DT466E
Rated Cap: 71 passenger / 12 window
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
The 7.3 engine, and it's brother the T444 generally have good reputations. However, alternators can and do fail, no matter what engine they are on. The cam sensor is a known failure point on these engines; goon on you for knowing that and suggesting it to the mechanic.
Maybe I just got a bad one... or it was poorly maintained before I got it. The RV was 17 years old when I bought it, and the guy did admit that it had been sitting for most of the previous 10 years, amassing only about 800 miles in that time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
I do not do oil changes every 3000 miles, not even on my '98 Suburban. It gets more like 8-10K miles between changes. I have yet to change the oil in my '01 IH bus (T444 engine); I have only driven it home, and around town a couple times.
The "diesel supplement" to the owner's manual for that RV said that the oil had to be changed every 3,000 miles. Whenever it came out, it was as black as tar. I didn't worry, because mechanics had told me before that it was entirely normal for diesel oil to come out black... but that black color represented all the crud it had accumulated in those 3,000 miles. Surely that reduced its lubricity. I wouldn't want to stretch the change interval out to twice that and build up twice as much crud. I'm the guy who reduces his oil change intervals as his engines get older.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
1. Why not consider getting one with a wheelchair lift?
I am considering it. Saw one on the road today and thought "that'd be good for loading and unloading gear".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
2. Add to #1, look for one with 78" headroom, you might not feel the need for a roof raise in one with that ceiling height.
Good, because I really don't want to do a roof raise. I can't do it myself and I wouldn't want to pay someone to do it even if I could find someone who could. Plus, even if I did it, what would I gain that would be of much value to offset the increased instability in crosswinds, the decreased gas mileage due to air drag, and the increased demand on the heating and cooling systems due to more interior air volume?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
3. Bus roofs can leak but they aren't as common, and can be remedied more easily.
Good to know. RV roof leaks are a serious nuisance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
4. Not all school buses have seat belts at all seats, it depends on how it was ordered. It's not hard to find school bus seats with Integrated Child Seats as well as seat belts, if that's what you prefer.
They probably wouldn't have them with an integrated rear-facing infant seat though. My son has not yet been born - he is due in late November. Though with my height and my wife's height we expect him to grow like a weed, he will start small and so must his car seat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
5. As I mentioned above, school buses are built like tanks. Safety is probably the #1 factor when these things are designed and engineered. It is for this reason they are primarily built out of steel.
I'd trade a bit of fuel mileage for that. But, maybe I won't have to. My mother-in-law said that her bus would do 12 mpg (governed to 60 mph) on long trips. My diesel class C 29' RV did 11 mpg at best under the same conditions, without using the generator.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
6. A fair point. Perhaps the only drawback to a king size bed is ... well, there's 2. The first is simply getting it into the bus in the first place. The other will be the rather narrow space between it and the wall, but if this is a compromise you are willing to accept, then go for it.
If we couldn't manhandle a king mattress through the rear door, we'd do a queen bed. Even a standard queen bed is bigger than most RV beds.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
7. I'm assuming you're referring to times when parked. You might want to consider screens over the open windows to keep insects out. For warmer times, window tint will help, or curtains if that's more your style. When driving, I felt open windows did not change airflow enough to keep me any cooler than simply using the driver's fan. Since you're traveling people, it would be wise to consider an engine-driven A/C system.
True. By "engine driven A/C system", I have to ask - are any buses equipped with ducted A/C and heating systems? It would seem as though a dashboard-mounted system would not be adequate to keep a full-size bus at a tolerable temperature in extreme conditions of heat or cold.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
Buses do require maintenance but probably no more so than any comparable motorhome. I'd hazard to guess less so, because school buses are designed and engineered for long service life and requiring minimal maintenance. They also use fairly common "off the shelf" parts because school districts have to keep them on the road. Bust a tail light? Any Napa can order one (and some will even have it on the shelf). Driving one of those late-model motorhomes? The factory may not even have an original style tail light any more.
Good to know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 45acp View Post
I have been a mechanic for over 40 years. I change my oil every 3 thousand miles. On a bus with a Diesel I would go 5 or 6.
I am old school, and I drive a gas powered truck. I know that a lot of manufactures say 5 thousand, and some say 10 thousand. And we have synthetic oil now, and that is OK.
But I have been in too many motors then most, and oil change is the most important thing you can keep up with. It is the life of your engine. I have to say that I can not stress it enough. Changing your oil is so important. And so many people neglect it. You might get away with it, but it is cheap insurance.

I get well over 200 thousand miles on my cars, if you pop a valve cover of, it looks like new inside.
Like I say I am old school.
I've only had one new car - this Prius that I drive. (I know - "he drives a PRIUS and he's looking to buy a BUS?!?!? HAHAHAHAHA!") I do A LOT of driving... hence why I'd like to get a motorhome/RV/bus/whatever of some kind. These round trips for performances are putting 50,000+ miles per year on my vehicles... usually the Prius. It's sitting at over 143,000 miles right now and I've had ZERO trouble with it, mechanically at least. The oil still looks okay when it comes out, but I've reduced the change interval from 10,000 miles down to the 8-9 thousand mile range. I think I treat my vehicles well... I'm the guy who can get 70,000 miles on a brake job for a normal car. I got 99,000 miles on the factory brakes on the Prius before having to change them. I don't know how my older used cars were treated before I got them, but I think I do all right.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brokedown View Post
Interestingly you seem to have had very bad luck with very good engines. The T444E is a very well regarded engine, and what I have myself. You didn't mention the engine in your Silverado but I assume it was the 6.5.
You assume correctly. 6.5, turbo, non-Duramax.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brokedown View Post
That's also a well regarded engine with the injection pump being a known weak spot (I met a bus rebuilder who was buying "dead" 6.5 buses cheap and retrofitting the pump from the 6.2)
I think the injection pump had been replaced twice. Once was at 70-some thousand miles according to the CarFax report I got, and the second time was when I had to get it done at just over 200,000 miles. I read that the pump-mounted driver was the big trouble spot, because it was mounted in an area that subjected it to engine heat regularly. When I had it replaced, I got a conversion kit to mount it atop the engine so that it wouldn't get so hot. That seemed to work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brokedown View Post
Ultimately it's up to you which way to go. My experience with the T444E is overwhelming positive, I'm thousands of miles from home right now with my T444E powered bus and have been on the road since February. My experience with the GM 6.5 isn't direct but I know many people who rely on them year after year without being let down.

Which ever way you ultimately go, I wish you the best of luck and look forward to hearing about it.
If I have the choice, I will probably get a straight-6 Cummins engine just to say that I tried it out. If it's as good as people say it is, maybe it's worth my while. At least then I can say I tried one engine in each major family, and can pick my favorite.
RomaniGypsy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2017, 08:06 PM   #18
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Georgia
Posts: 1,993
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: IH
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 14
(I'm not going to quote the whole previous post)

"Maybe I just got a bad one... or it was poorly maintained before I got it. The RV was 17 years old when I bought it, and the guy did admit that it had been sitting for most of the previous 10 years, amassing only about 800 miles in that time."

The cam sensor failure is a known issue and for a DIY sort of person, is not terribly expensive. The oil issue I'm not sure about; just as well it wasn't your headache to deal with at that point. I'd say all the sitting and lack of maintenance had something to do with it, and I'd further be willing to bet that with some driving and TLC it would have been a good engine, once the issues were straightened out.

"The "diesel supplement" to the owner's manual for that RV said that the oil had to be changed every 3,000 miles. Whenever it came out, it was as black as tar. I didn't worry, because mechanics had told me before that it was entirely normal for diesel oil to come out black... but that black color represented all the crud it had accumulated in those 3,000 miles. Surely that reduced its lubricity. I wouldn't want to stretch the change interval out to twice that and build up twice as much crud. I'm the guy who reduces his oil change intervals as his engines get older."

Diesel engines (especially those prior to 2007) were well known to have black oil during oil changes. Much of this blackness is soot formed by the combustion process, and as the cylinder rings wear, more soot will get into the oil. With the advent of tighter emissions, DPF and DEF systems, they capture more of the soot (not all of it) and oil changes can go longer. Or so say the "experts".

I won't say *not* to get a 5.9 Cummins. I've said my opinion about the merely adequate power, and mentioned in another thread about the 2 known issues with the 5.9's. Just make an informed decision is all I'll say.
Brad_SwiftFur is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2017, 08:56 PM   #19
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Conneaut, Ohio
Posts: 189
Year: 2004
Chassis: International CE 300
Engine: DT466E
Rated Cap: 71 passenger / 12 window
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
I won't say *not* to get a 5.9 Cummins. I've said my opinion about the merely adequate power, and mentioned in another thread about the 2 known issues with the 5.9's. Just make an informed decision is all I'll say.
Is it more, less, or equally, reliable compared to the 8.3? And is the 8.3 a straight 6 as well?
RomaniGypsy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-27-2017, 09:34 PM   #20
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Georgia
Posts: 1,993
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: IH
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by RomaniGypsy View Post
Is it more, less, or equally, reliable compared to the 8.3? And is the 8.3 a straight 6 as well?
The 8.3 is a straight-6 but is a sleeved engine, which means it can be rebuilt in-frame. The 5.9 must come out for a rebuild. Overall reliability I would hazard to guess about the same (notwithstanding the KDP and 53 Block issues on the 5.9). The 8.3, however, will provide more power on the road and will be much more of a pleasure to drive. Most 8.3's will also be equipped with highway gearing and overdrive transmissions.
Brad_SwiftFur 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 10:40 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
×