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Old 11-27-2020, 09:52 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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DPF & cracked rear axle housing: dealbreakers?

I found my "perfect" bus! But of course, it's not quite perfect. This is a 2000 Bluebird transit-style bus equipped with a Cummins ISC 8.3, and a HUSS DPF. I've done some digging on DPF in this forum, but couldn't find what I was looking for, so if someone wants to link me a thread I'm happy to read existing content.


Main question: I imagine since it's from 2000, this DPF was added after the fact (the bus is from CA). I know we should prefer pre-2004-emissions buses, which would exclude the ISC, but I'm ready to just accept that the rest of my constraints won't be met with the available buses from that era. However, I'm curious if this DPF system should be thought of as another necessary evil to live with, or if I should avoid it at all costs?


And if you think it should be deleted, my next question is: how common are deletes, really? And if I never register the vehicle in CA, there really shouldn't be a way for me to get in trouble for that right?


Secondary question: I learned that "the rear axle housing has cracks in it and needs to be repaired or replaced." Any ideas what this will cost? I plan to get some quotes near me but I'm going to ask for a deduction in price and want to be reasonable. (I'm also working on the assumption that this fix can be put off until the bus makes the 1770mi journey to its new home - yell at me if this is a bad assumption please).


Also, as a total newbie with this stuff, If I did replace instead of repair this rear axle housing, can I also use this as an opportunity for rear axle changes? E.g. change the rear end ratio? Or swap in a 10sp manual?



Thanks for any help! Excited to get this bus and be a more active member on here!
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Old 11-27-2020, 10:00 PM   #2
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DPF is a retrofit and not required for a 2000, therefore removal is legal. Axle housing crack requires replacement and should be done before driving the bus for safety reasons (good excuse to get a higher gear ratio for highway driving if desired.
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Old 11-27-2020, 10:06 PM   #3
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In my opinion it would depend on exactly where the axle was leaking. If it is a seal, fix it. If it is a damaged axle housing I'd want to know what damaged it. Is it a poor weld or is the axle housing bent and damaged from an accident? If it is from accident I'd be concerned about other damage
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Old 11-28-2020, 12:13 AM   #4
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I would expect a rear axle to go for $2000 plus labor to swap. Might as well choose a reasonable ratio while you're at it.
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Old 11-28-2020, 02:03 AM   #5
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Check your states emissions requirements. If there isn’t any, it shouldn’t be a problem. If there is, start calling around. Ask motor vehicles about importation requirements including possible inspection.

I think I’d actually locate the replacement axle and nail down that labor price before you buy, just to make sure you can get it and so you don’t have a sticker shock gotcha later on. IDK, maybe a bus axle is easier to come by than I’m thinking. I’d also look for the parts and labor where the bus is to avoid paying too much for freight.
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Old 11-28-2020, 02:08 AM   #6
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And a little more food for thought.

Some areas of California have more heavy truck repair capacity. Inland Empire and Bakersfield come to mind. It’s amazing how much less expensive shop rates are in those places.
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Old 11-28-2020, 04:23 PM   #7
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So that info I found about the rear axle housing was from the auction description from when the current seller bought the bus (recently). He thinks the auction people mixed up the descriptions of this lot of buses that they sold, because he searched everywhere and didn't see any cracks or oil leaks, and sent me these photos. I am too much of a newbie to even know what these are supposed to look like, so I'm going to hire a local mechanic to go scope it out. Sounds like he's willing to work with me if they do find an issue, so I'm feeling good about it. Thought I'd post the pics here anyway.
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Old 11-28-2020, 05:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHEESE_WAGON View Post
DPF is a retrofit and not required for a 2000, therefore removal is legal. Axle housing crack requires replacement and should be done before driving the bus for safety reasons (good excuse to get a higher gear ratio for highway driving if desired.

I can't seem to verify this; can you provide a source for the legal DPF delete? Thanks!
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Old 11-28-2020, 05:22 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danjo View Post
Check your states emissions requirements. If there isn’t any, it shouldn’t be a problem. If there is, start calling around. Ask motor vehicles about importation requirements including possible inspection.

The bus will be registered in FL and from what I can tell there are no emissions requirements or inspections here. I'm still curious about the legality of the actual delete itself. Obviously if I bought one of these from somewhere other than CA where it didn't have a retrofit DPF, it would be fine to keep it as is. But everywhere I look on the internet states that removing an existing DPF is federally illegal (unless you register it as off-road, etc.).
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Old 11-28-2020, 06:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slipperysam View Post
I can't seem to verify this; can you provide a source for the legal DPF delete? Thanks!
It's quite simple. DPFs were not federally mandated until 2007. No diesel engine manufactured prior to 2007 is required by law to have one. Retrofits of older engines with such technology are solely at the discretion of the owner, meaning that a pre-2007 with a retrofit is not required to have it by law. The (rare) exception to that rule is if a pre-2007 vehicle is repowered with an engine manufactured 2007 or later.

To be fair, it will help avoid poisoning others around if your engine is idling (recommended periodically to keep batteries, fuel system and component seals in good condition), but ultimately not required on a pre-2007 engine. Which means you can legally remove it if you wish. Tampering rules only apply to factory-installed equipment per federal law.

Not to mention that once seats are out and the bus has been retitled as an RV, it is from that point exempt, even in CA, though CA is trying to change that.
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Old 11-30-2020, 06:41 PM   #11
Mini-Skoolie
 
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So, I got the bus to a shop and they did find the cracks in the axle housing.
The shop quoted me $800-$1000 to weld this crack. Seller is only willing to cough up half of that. It seems like a lot, but maybe there are complications with welding the axle housing? I'm not sure. They also said that welding this won't be a guaranteed fix, because after they crack in one spot they are likely to crack in other spots too.


I also learned that, although the dashboard odometer reads 144k miles, the ECM pulled 91k miles and 11.5k hours.. So there must have been a rebuild at some point, and there might be close to 20k hours overall. Does it matter that there are so many hours on the body?
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Old 11-30-2020, 07:13 PM   #12
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That kind of looks more like cracks in the paint on the housing, than cracks in the actual axle housing, though I wouldn't tell the seller that (use their assessment to bargain the price down).

If it is indeed a crack in the housing, I wouldn't waste money welding. Replace it. Gives you an excuse to upgrade to a different gear ratio if you would like, as well. Use the defect to negotiate the price of the bus lower, and have it replaced with something more suited to your planned use, if you like.
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Old 11-30-2020, 07:41 PM   #13
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I think it must be cracked, because the mechanic said it is leaking oil from there. He also said, assuming I can find a used differential, it would probably be greater than $5k to replace the entire thing... but maybe that's just this shop. The seller seems pretty adamant he'll only take off $500 for this repair. Ah I just don't know the right call. I was also considering a few crowns. The few I was looking at are more expensive than this Blue Bird, but maybe I wouldn't have as many headaches, I'm not sure.
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Old 11-30-2020, 07:53 PM   #14
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I'd take a big pass on that bus! I can't imagine the force required to stress crack an axle housing like that. The usual place to find crack in an axle is where the tube goes into the cast steel differential housing. That with the not explainable hours vs miles situation and not personally looking at the bus makes the deal way too risky.
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Old 11-30-2020, 07:58 PM   #15
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If it is leaking oil from that location (not in the pic), then it is likely a crack. Agree with ol trunt as far as the force needed to crack a differential. Of course, cracks can come from poor metallurgic composition as well. If the seller is not willing to make a reasonable price adjustment to reflect the needed repair, it is what it is.
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Old 11-30-2020, 08:35 PM   #16
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I would look fo another bus. The cost of installing a new axle housing is likely to be as much as the bus is worth. The cracking looks like metal fatigue. A weld repair would not last very long. To do that kind of damage to the axle I would suspect other components could be damaged.

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Old 11-30-2020, 08:54 PM   #17
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Yea bad cracks. Not good. If you were handy yourself sure swap an axle before the trip. Not hard to do but very heavy parts, a forklift would be nice. Bottom line if you can find someone to do it for you at a price you can afford great but otherwise this is not the bus for you. Do not drive it cross country!
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Old 11-30-2020, 10:02 PM   #18
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Hmm okay, I see there is a general consensus forming. All these points seem reasonable to me.



For what it's worth, I was able to pull up the Public Surplus descriptions of the other buses from this lot (all the same model) and each of them appears to have the same issue of a cracked rear axle housing (304 305 306). So, it seems unlikely that this is from a collision, but rather just a gradual defect of this model and/or how they were being used.
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Old 11-30-2020, 10:22 PM   #19
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Thats the same model and close to the same year as my bus. I've never heard of cracked axles being a problem with this model or on any busses. I better carefully check my axle housing out anyway. It is strange that three of these busses have cracked axles. I wonder if it was how they were driven or if the manufacture got a bad batch of axles. Or did the seller copy and paste the descriptions for all the busses?

Ted
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Old 11-30-2020, 10:38 PM   #20
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Ha, that's exactly what I thought at first, probably just lazily copy-pasting, but upon looking closer I realized the text is not verbatim, and they would have had to go out of their way to do so. But, it's still possible this was done in error; I'm going to try to get in touch with the fleet manager over there tomorrow and get more info.
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