Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 05-18-2017, 05:48 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
samroon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Durango, CO
Posts: 46
Engine: DD 6V92T
Advice on Buying

Hello all,
I'm new to this forum but have been lurking for a while. I have been wanting to convert a bus for a little while now; when I was 15 I purchased a vw bus that I converted to a camper. Now I am planning to move up to a skoolie to live in full time.

I have been keeping an eye out on craigslist, public surplus and gov deals. Recently I contacted a guy on craigslist who has several buses for sale in New Mexico. I wanted to get your opinions on what bus you would go for out of this fleet. Below I attached a photo of the buses he has. Also wonder what you guys think of the T444E.

If this is posted in the wrong place or not appropriate please let me know. Thank you!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 4.42.43 PM.jpg (132.1 KB, 62 views)
samroon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-18-2017, 05:59 PM   #2
Bus Crazy
 
CaptSquid's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Billings, MT
Posts: 1,261
Year: 2003
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: HDX
Engine: Cat C7
Rated Cap: 84 passenger
I went to Northwest Transit.
CaptSquid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-18-2017, 08:21 PM   #3
Bus Geek
 
EastCoastCB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 21,420
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
444E is decent, for a shorty. A DOG in a full size 40 footer.
__________________
.
Roll Your Own Build Thread
EastCoastCB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2017, 01:45 AM   #4
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 2,195
In horse racing circles there is a saying, "horses for courses". No one horse is going to win on every course. The same can be said for buses.

In the school bus world there are four major types of buses and variations in the different types. In other words, there are horses for every course.

In order to end up with the perfect bus you will have to set the parameters for what you will put up with, what you won't put up with, what you really want, and what you really don't want. Those parameters are going to be determined by how you intend to use your bus. It is very hard to hide in plain sight while urban camping if your bus is over 10' tall and 40' long. On the other hand, boondocking for days or weeks at a time in a 4-window mini bus could become very constraining very quickly.

You asked about the T444E engine. It is a very good engine and if treated right it has been known to go well in excess of 350,000 miles in regular school bus service. If the buses at which you are looking have under 200K miles then you have a reasonable expectation of many thousands of trouble free miles. But the reality of that engine is the highest rating it had in school buses, regardless of whether if was in a Ford E-350/450 chassis or in a IC RE, was 250 HP. I know that in Ford products it was jumped way up from those numbers but those engines rarely saw 200K miles without major issues. The most common HP rating was in the 180-210 HP range and was usually mated to an Allison AT540 transmission. A bus with that power package was built to do one job well and that was to/from school route service at a low cost. Which it did very well. But if you expect to convert that same bus and cruise the interstate at 65+ MPH and not slow down on hills you will be sorely disappointed.

You asked for advice on buying.

My advice to you is first determine how you will be driving your bus, where you will be driving your bus, and what sort of campgrounds you expect to visit once your bus is ready to hit the road. Once you have that figured out come back and ask advice about what would be the best choice for you.

Regardless of any other parameter, walk away from anything with rust.

Good luck and happy trails to you!
cowlitzcoach is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2017, 10:38 AM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
samroon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Durango, CO
Posts: 46
Engine: DD 6V92T
Thanks for the help guys. Sorry if I wasn't clear enough in what I'm looking for.

I'm looking for a full size bus to convert to a skoolie. It will function more as a tiny home on wheels than an RV. I don't plan on driving it all the time and touring around the country in it. What I do plan on doing is converting it to live in (wood stove, shower, solar, stove, oven, propane, etc) and driving it to wherever I am working that season. So I need it to be able to do one or two cross country trips (probably) most years. I raft guide in the summers in Durango and I am going to work ski patrol in the winter in Montana and my soon to be wife will be working as a nurse.

Like I said I've owned a VW bus for the past five years and I've definitely experienced what it's like to go very slow and not be very reliable. What I want out of a school bus is to be able to take a lot of weight and go 60mph most places. I really want the engine to be reliable and I enjoy the mechanical side of it and learning to work on a new engine. I've had to rebuild my VW over three times, which is all good and fine for a VW but I would prefer preventative maintenance.

As far as RE or FE and dog nose of flat nose go, My preferred bus would be a FE flat nose cummins 8.3l. Those seem to be kind of hard to coming by. I am open to RE motors; I just talked to a guy with a 2002 Thomas HDX with the CAT 3126 (expensive engine from what I hear). I am not set on one particular floor plan or style. I would like the bus in the 30ft to 35ft range. The most important thing to me is that all I have to worry about is doing the conversion, the engine and transmission will be strong and reliable with the normal maintenance. Thanks for the help!
samroon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2017, 11:09 AM   #6
Bus Geek
 
Brewerbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Essex, MD
Posts: 3,711
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: Blue Bird TC RE 3904, Flat Nose, 40', 277" wh base
Engine: 8.3L Cummins ISC 260hp, MT643, 4.44 rear
Rated Cap: 84 pax or 1 RV; 33,000lbs
Quote:
Originally Posted by samroon View Post
As far as RE or FE and dog nose of flat nose go, My preferred bus would be a FE flat nose cummins 8.3l. Those seem to be kind of hard to coming by. I am open to RE motors; I just talked to a guy with a 2002 Thomas HDX with the CAT 3126 (expensive engine from what I hear). I am not set on one particular floor plan or style. I would like the bus in the 30ft to 35ft range. The most important thing to me is that all I have to worry about is doing the conversion, the engine and transmission will be strong and reliable with the normal maintenance. Thanks for the help!
I would look for one with an MD3060 tranny. I have the 8.3L and the AT643. I had trouble keeping up with the same bus with the MD3060 with the 8.3L. My rear end is a 4.44 which is fairly low as busses go. I have a MAX speed of 65mph at 2500. That's downhill with a tail wind and zero fuel applied. The engine is still turning at 2500 rpm. I could drop it in neutral but I haven't seen hills long enough to worry about that yet. That said, I could live with a 65mph max speed if it would also go UP the next hill at the same speed. I drop to 40mph and get in the right lane to watch the semis go by. On longer hills, the bus will slow and drop to 3rd gear. The AT643 is a 4 speed.

I haven't driven the MD3060 bus but I don't think she had the same problem going uphill as I did. Two busses bought at the same auction and brought back to MD from WV. I own the AT643 bus.
Brewerbob is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2017, 04:16 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
samroon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Durango, CO
Posts: 46
Engine: DD 6V92T
Thanks for the help! This is really helping to clear up some of the confusion with best engine trans combo.

What do you guys think of the buses on this site: Vehicles — Tiny Visions, Inc.

I was particularly looking at the 1998 International with DT466E and the MT-643 with 10,000 hours. Is 10k too high on the hours for a DT466E?

Thanks guys!
samroon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2017, 04:24 PM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
samroon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Durango, CO
Posts: 46
Engine: DD 6V92T
Thanks for the help! I really appreciate clearing up some of the confusion with engine trans combos.

I've been talking to this guy about some of his buses:
Vehicles — Tiny Visions, Inc.

I was particularly looking at the 1998 International with DT466E and MT-643 with 10,000 hours and 146,000 miles. Is that too many miles/hours for the DT466E?

Which bus with engine/trans out of the ones listed would you guys be inclined to buy? All floor plans and FE RE aside, just looking at the engine and trans.

Thanks for the help.
samroon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2017, 04:40 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
samroon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Durango, CO
Posts: 46
Engine: DD 6V92T
Thanks for the help! I really appreciate clearing up some of the confusion with engine trans combos.

Ive been talking to a guy that sells buses out in Commerce City. Heres what he has:
1998 International DT466E MT 0643 146,000 miles 10,000 hours
2002 Thomas CAT 3126B MD 3060 213,000
2005 International DT466E MD 3060 166,000 miles

I was particularly looking at the 1998 International with DT466E and MT-643 with 10,000 hours and 146,000 miles. Is that too many miles/hours for the DT466E?

Which bus with engine/trans out of the ones listed would you guys be inclined to buy? All floor plans and FE RE aside, just looking at the engine and trans.

Thanks for the help.
samroon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2017, 06:52 PM   #10
Bus Geek
 
Robin97396's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Willamina, Oregon
Posts: 6,409
Coachwork: 97 Bluebird TC1000 5.9
I'd choose either the '98 or the '05, unless you like Cat. All things being relatively equal in the engine department, that 3060 is what everyone wants. At the same time the '98 at least has the 643 and avoids the computer.
It comes down to do you want an electronically controlled '05, or would you lean more towards a mechanical engine? The mileage is comparable. All buses are going to have some hours on them, but not all have gages
__________________
Robin
Nobody's Business
Robin97396 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2017, 07:17 PM   #11
Bus Geek
 
EastCoastCB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 21,420
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
98 would be my choice by a mile.
__________________
.
Roll Your Own Build Thread
EastCoastCB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2017, 10:24 PM   #12
Mini-Skoolie
 
samroon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Durango, CO
Posts: 46
Engine: DD 6V92T
Ya that's the one I think I want. He said the check engine light has come on in the 98 "This bus has an electrical dashboard problem. The "Engine Warn" indicator stays on. Our mechanics have checked codes and no code is available to diagnose. The bus has been utilized in this condition since October 2016."
samroon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-20-2017, 04:46 PM   #13
Mini-Skoolie
 
samroon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Durango, CO
Posts: 46
Engine: DD 6V92T
Thoughts, comments on the engine light?
samroon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-20-2017, 06:10 PM   #14
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 6,306
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by samroon View Post
Thoughts, comments on the engine light?
It would scare me. If the buse were local and I could tinker with it a bit before buying I might consider it.

That said, I would prefer the '05. The MD3060 would make the difference.
PNW_Steve is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-21-2017, 03:43 PM   #15
Mini-Skoolie
 
samroon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Durango, CO
Posts: 46
Engine: DD 6V92T
Thanks for the help. I'm going to go look at all of his buses on Tuesday. Recently a 1984 Orion One bus came up for sale near me. It has a detroit diesel engine and allison transmission. I'm not sure what model of engine it is. Opinions on Detroit engines?
samroon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2017, 02:12 AM   #16
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 2,195
Quote:
Originally Posted by samroon View Post
Thanks for the help. I'm going to go look at all of his buses on Tuesday. Recently a 1984 Orion One bus came up for sale near me. It has a detroit diesel engine and allison transmission. I'm not sure what model of engine it is. Opinions on Detroit engines?
Detroit engines are some of the best engines on the road. Depending on which one can determine whether it is a good one for you or not.

The older -53, -71, and -92 series engines were workhorses that would go next to forever if treated correctly. The bad thing about them these days is the clean air Nazis in CA are working hard to outlaw them. Their penchant for dripping oil and using almost as much as 2x the fuel of a 4-cycle motor tends to keep them out of the favorite column.

The 8.2L Fuel Pincher diesel was an engine that came out in the late '70's as a cheap alternative to the heavy duty diesels that used a lot less fuel than a big gas V-8. As a consequence it had some built in obsolescence that makes them more like a doorstop or boat anchor these days.


The Series 40 engine was for all intents and purposes the 7.3L/T444(E) that was used in a lot of Ford and IHC products. It tended to be a good engine like the T444 without most of the problems that Ford had when they upped the HP on the engine.

The Series 50 and Series 60 engines are about as good of an engine you will find.

The Series 50 is a four cylinder that was made by lopping off two cylinders from the Series 60. In normal form it had about the same HP as the 6V-92 and was able to do the same work on about half as much fuel. Series 50 engines have been bumped up to 350 HP without any long term issues.

The Series 60 engine is one of the best engines ever put into a transit or highway coach. It is not unusual to see one well past a million miles with zero work done on it. Some of the early models had issues with injectors but most of the problems have field solutions that takes care of the problems. Fuel mileage is one of the biggest reasons why operators like them. They usually can go 2x as far on a gallon of fuel than the same size HP engine in an identical bus.
cowlitzcoach is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2017, 03:54 PM   #17
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 6,306
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
The Orion being a 1984 most likely has a 2 stroke Detroit. I have seen both 71 series and 92 series in 1984 rigs.

As far as fuel economy goes I would agree that the 2 stroke Detroits do not lead the pack but I did manage a consistent 7.25-7.5mpg cross country in a 40k lb bus with an 8v71 and Allison 740.

My Bluebird currently weighs half as much (empty shell) and gets about 2 mpg better with a Cummins 8.3 and an Allison MD-3060.

I have a special place in my heart (or a soft spot in my head...) for the old 2 strokes.

Cowlitz is spot on saying that with proper care they are hard to kill. Proper oil & coolant and they seem to run forever.

Best of luck on your quest.
PNW_Steve is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2017, 04:29 PM   #18
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
Nothing in this world sounds quite like a big bore 2-stroke DD!
Tango is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2017, 06:42 PM   #19
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 6,306
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post


The Series 40 engine was for all intents and purposes the 7.3L/T444(E) that was used in a lot of Ford and IHC products.
.
Straighten me out here.... I have long thought that the Series 40 was based on the DT466/530. How did they manage a 6 cylinder T444?
PNW_Steve is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2017, 06:58 PM   #20
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 6,306
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tango View Post
Nothing in this world sounds quite like a big bore 2-stroke DD!
Do I hear Tim the Toolman out there some where???

I miss my "Screamin' Eagle".
PNW_Steve is online now   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 10:25 PM.


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