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Old 02-18-2021, 12:00 PM   #1
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Engine choice

I've been doing research in preparation of buying a short bus and find myself kind of in analysis paralysis. Iím in San Antonio TX and have found a number of Freightliner/Internationl busses with a variety of engine options. My requirements are a bit different in that Iím really looking for a mobile office and goof off lounge. Iím going to retire in a year or two and just want something I can hang around the hospital where my wife works (I drive her to/from work) and play guitar and write code, and nap on the couch.
A quick search on Craigís list and Facebook market place yields:

2005 Freightliner with a Cat C7
2007 Freightliner with a Cat 3126
2007 International CE 300 with DT466E

Initially my reading of this site indicated the DT466 engine was bullet proof and since this vehicle looks immaculate (And cheaper than the other two) I was leaning that way. HOWEVER, seems that ďEĒ on the end means a lot! The general consensus is run, donít walk away. Too bad cause I really like this one

So, looking at the Cat C7, I see mixed reviews, the newer units not as desirable.

Which leaves the Cat 3126 which (According to google) is adequate but unimpressive.

Most of the units Iím looking at are newer as I want it to be in good shape body wise, but that evidently means a less desirable engine due to DPFís etc. The International above was just released from an Austin area school in 2020 and looks (pics) to be in perfect shape, but the engineÖ

Which brings up the question. Does it NEED to be a diesel? Iíve seen several Chevy ďSplit?Ē Busses but just didnít think a 4.8 liter gas engine would be up to the task. Iíve always been a big diesel fan, but the reality is an injector pump on a diesel could pay for a whole new gas engine (Slight exaggeration but you get my gist).

All things being equal, if I could identify a later model diesel engined short bus that is reliable, Iíd choose it over a gas engine. If that turns out to be the Cat 3126 above, I'll buy it. Itís not in as good of shape as the International, but it seems that if you look long enough, you can find a thread somewhere bashing almost any of the engines I mentioned above. Hence my paralysis, I tend to overthink things (Maybe why Iím an engineerÖ).

Who know doing research could be so exhausting!? Appreciate any advice on vehicle/engine selection. I realize this is an open ended opinion oriented question, but there does seem to be a wealth of knowledge on this site and Iíd be foolish not to ask.

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Old 02-18-2021, 12:15 PM   #2
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All are reasonable choices IMO
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Old 02-18-2021, 01:05 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ISAF2009 View Post
All are reasonable choices IMO
+1
I'm partial to the DT466, but all these are good engines.
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Old 02-18-2021, 01:31 PM   #4
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I like the dt466 as well
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Old 02-18-2021, 02:08 PM   #5
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DT466E is not a bad engine. It's the MaxxForce DT that gets the bad reputation. 2007 is the year the transition happened, so it's possible you still have the 466E.

A lot of people prefer the full mechanical DT466, which you'll find in buses around 1996 or earlier.
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Old 02-18-2021, 02:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffWillis View Post
I've been doing research in preparation of buying a short bus and find myself kind of in analysis paralysis. Iím in San Antonio TX and have found a number of Freightliner/Internationl busses with a variety of engine options. My requirements are a bit different in that Iím really looking for a mobile office and goof off lounge. Iím going to retire in a year or two and just want something I can hang around the hospital where my wife works (I drive her to/from work) and play guitar and write code, and nap on the couch.
A quick search on Craigís list and Facebook market place yields:

2005 Freightliner with a Cat C7
2007 Freightliner with a Cat 3126
2007 International CE 300 with DT466E
First off, I think you got your years mixed up. The 3126 was replaced by the c7 in 2003. So if your years are correct, none of them would have a 3126.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffWillis View Post
Initially my reading of this site indicated the DT466 engine was bullet proof and since this vehicle looks immaculate (And cheaper than the other two) I was leaning that way. HOWEVER, seems that ďEĒ on the end means a lot! The general consensus is run, donít walk away. Too bad cause I really like this one
The dt466 isn't necessarily bulletproof, but it is pretty reliable. Even the E series engines are pretty good. The ones you want to avoid have maxxforce in their name.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffWillis View Post
So, looking at the Cat C7, I see mixed reviews, the newer units not as desirable.
IMO these are similar to the dt466e reliability wise. With these you also want to avoid the later model ones(any mention of acert). Cat parts are slightly more expensive then international ones in my experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffWillis View Post
Which leaves the Cat 3126 which (According to google) is adequate but unimpressive.
The 3126 could be considered the father of the C7. They work well if maintained correctly. They can become a money trap if not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffWillis View Post
Most of the units Iím looking at are newer as I want it to be in good shape body wise, but that evidently means a less desirable engine due to DPFís etc. The International above was just released from an Austin area school in 2020 and looks (pics) to be in perfect shape, but the engineÖ

Which brings up the question. Does it NEED to be a diesel? Iíve seen several Chevy ďSplit?Ē Busses but just didnít think a 4.8 liter gas engine would be up to the task. Iíve always been a big diesel fan, but the reality is an injector pump on a diesel could pay for a whole new gas engine (Slight exaggeration but you get my gist).

All things being equal, if I could identify a later model diesel engined short bus that is reliable, Iíd choose it over a gas engine. If that turns out to be the Cat 3126 above, I'll buy it. Itís not in as good of shape as the International, but it seems that if you look long enough, you can find a thread somewhere bashing almost any of the engines I mentioned above. Hence my paralysis, I tend to overthink things (Maybe why Iím an engineerÖ).

Who know doing research could be so exhausting!? Appreciate any advice on vehicle/engine selection. I realize this is an open ended opinion oriented question, but there does seem to be a wealth of knowledge on this site and Iíd be foolish not to ask.
Being from texas, I wouldn't think rust would be something you'd have to deal with concerning local buses. So the specific year of the bus wouldn't be so much of a concern as would be mileage/hours.

Truthfully, for your usage, I'd look at shorties powered by the 6.0 chevy gas engine. I feel that those would work well for your intended purpose. If you're looking for a cutaway/shorty style bus, then a gas engine would be alright.

If I was shopping, I'd try and avoid anything diesel built after 2004, and anything diesel after 2007 wouldn't even be considered. Gas engines are hit and miss all years depending on maintenance and how it was driven. Some of the early to mid 2000 ford engine'd buses will have spark plug issues. So those should be avoided too. The ford 6.8 v10 can be a descent runner as well, so long as it's late enough to not have the aforementioned plug issues. I'd consider the 5.4 ford and 5.3 gm to be underpowered.

But the 6.0 gas with the 4l80e auto is a pretty reliable and stout combo, and it's something that I feel would fit your needs perfect. So that's what I'd narrow my search to. Find a bus just big enough to fit a comfy couch and a desk for working at and you'll be set.
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Old 02-18-2021, 04:31 PM   #7
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engines..

I would rank the 466e and the 3126 about on par with each other. The c7 below that.

newer than 2000 means much more likely to have at least a five speed transmission with lock up torque converter. Better suited to all around drivability.


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Old 02-18-2021, 04:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magnakansas View Post
I would rank the 466e and the 3126 about on par with each other. The c7 below that.

newer than 2000 means much more likely to have at least a five speed transmission with lock up torque converter. Better suited to all around drivability.


william
That's about how I see it too.
I've had DT's and this Cat 3126 is a dandy. After lots of seat time with both I prefer the Cat. Really ANY pre-emissions engine can be good if its taken care of and properly geared.
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Old 02-18-2021, 05:23 PM   #9
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Texas always has buses for auction. Check the following sites;
www.ReneBates.com
www.OnlinePros.com
www.LSO.cc

If you're willing to travel a bit check out
www.PurpleWave.com

I bought mine on Rene Bates out of Sherman TX. Regarding engines, personally, a mechanically injected diesel straight 6 was my number one 'must have' for reliability purposes. I narrowed it to the Pre-E DT466, 408, or 360, or the 12v 6B5.9, as I was looking for a short bus. If I was looking larger I'd have added the 12v 6C8.3 and the I530 to the list, but those are for the big buses. Mechanical injection necessitates shopping pre ~97 if a Cummins engine, or pre ~95 if a Navistar engine.

Not everybody hates electronically driven motors as much as me, and there are MANY satisfied owners of DT466E, and even T444Es. The latter of those being the industrial version of the V8 7.3 "Powerstroke" put in Ford's larger trucks. I will say it helps to know what you are willing to deal with and which bus models/years came equipped with those options to help weed through the hundreds of auctions online. As I was hunting for a mechanically injected motor, I also had to recognize what they look like versus one with an ECM, because there is some overlap of years, and the listing didn't always say, but usually it has a picture of the engine compartment.

Happy Hunting
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Old 02-18-2021, 05:35 PM   #10
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No engine is bulletproof.
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Old 02-18-2021, 06:32 PM   #11
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ANY ENGINE YOU WANT TO KEEP requires religious maintenance to keep it healthy.
especially if you dont know it previous record of maintenance before you bought it.
for example.
the shorty i went to by sight unseen for my wife.
but i have years of mechanic experience and i took my oldest son who is a mechanic.
because his care gets alot better gas mileage than my truck whether loaded down with tools or not.
we both climbed in around and under it and didnt find any major seal leaks or really anything wrong and it was only 2 hours from us.
so we got it.
wish the wheel chair lift was there and a few other things i wanted to play with that werent there but even with previous wire deletes the previous owner did it correct and now i have deleted the almost all vandalock system.
everything related is gone except i ended up twisting the vandalock pilot and van relay together to make everything happy with nothing else connected.
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Old 02-18-2021, 07:15 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by ISAF2009 View Post
No engine is bulletproof.
Agreed. There are those that are far more resilient than others, but bottom line is, you can kill even the best of the best if you do stupid things like not keep up on maintenance, exceed recommended RPM / load ratings, operating temperatures, let the vehicle fall into disrepair without addressing it, etc.
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Old 02-18-2021, 08:30 PM   #13
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I don't know enough to pipe in about the engines, but I will provide input about International.

I've found, and I think many will conquer, IC as a company and it's related dealers, doesn't give a rip about helping Skoolie peps. I've experienced, as have others, that a dealer has to ask corporate for permission to do certain "upgrades" to the engines. And, IC has a tight grip on their actual dealers.

I get why IC does this to a point, especially with a school bus, but we're talking 2nd, 3rd or 4th hand 20+ year old buses most of the time. If I want to blow up my engine, what do they care, it's more money to them to fix it.

Now, some of the IC engines do have aftermarket tuners and such, but I don't know what those are. So, if you're looking to do anything special or out of the normal with an IC engine, beware.


Rant over.

Best of luck!
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Old 02-18-2021, 10:03 PM   #14
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No engine is bulletproof.
I learned that when I went to work in a stealership. Some of those idiots could break an anvil.
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Old 02-18-2021, 10:04 PM   #15
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And then there were the customers.
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Old 02-18-2021, 11:38 PM   #16
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I have seen fleets of 24v cummins with problems (Fed Ex) and fleets of trouble free 6.0 powerstrokes (UST testing). It all boils down to maintenance and driving habits. Never take a bus to the dealer unless it is the last resort, they all suck IH, cummins, Cat, ect. Always use independents on anything out of warranty and not being paid For with a company card. Keep fresh fluids, change out coolant a lot, cavitation kills sleeves in internationals and cats especially understand that every time you go to any repair facility 3k is the bare minimum for almost any repair on a vehicle like a bus or anything with air brakes or class 8 running gear. For most people a class A with a 6.8 v10 is a far better option than a worn out school bus.
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Old 02-19-2021, 10:05 AM   #17
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Thanks to all

What a wonderful forum! Thanks to all who responded, sorry to take a while in responding, no TV or internet at home last 3 days due to storm, gotta do this at work.

Booyah45828 you really broke down my questions and answered them all. Much appreciated. I'd already seen your Silver Bullet rebuild from my earlier poking around, quite impressive! As many stated, the PM on diesels are so important, and you just don't know what you're getting when you buy at an auction. That really is my deciding factor, I WANT a diesel, but I don't want a 4-6 thousand dollar gotcha down the line either.

Looks like I'm going gas. At least that part of my decision process is done, and another obsession is born. Thanks again to all who chimed in, I'll probably reach out when I identify some candidates locally.
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Old 02-19-2021, 10:16 AM   #18
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Thanks for the compliment.

But if you think mine is impressive, there's others on here that will blow your mind. Buses are neat in that one can go mild to wild with what they want to do. Mine is on the milder end of the spectrum being only a weekend camper. Others full time with theirs and have hydronic heat, lithium battery banks, and their craftsmanship is out of this world.

Sounds like your set on what you want. The hard part is searching and waiting for the right one to appear.
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Old 02-19-2021, 07:32 PM   #19
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I am looking for vehicles

any type, but shortie preferred, 4WD ideal

powered by the GMC/Chevy 8.1L

it's a gasser but has the oomph (specifically torque) of a good diesel.

Stopped production a few years ago, so hard to find at reasonable pricing.

Any assistance, search tips, leads on dealers/agents that can help would be greatly appreciated

nationwide but less salty places of course would be best, I'm in the horrible-that-way snowy Northeast
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