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Old 11-07-2017, 06:30 PM   #1
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Looked at another bus today... as usual, more (different) questions!

2004 International CE300, DT466E, Allison trans (not sure which), 72pax 12 window, front-engine dog nose. ~155K miles, 7700 hours.

I'm attaching a picture of a "Spiracle" filter unit that I found attached to the engine. What the heck is this thing? Never heard of it before. (Mechanic said that it is no longer necessary and can be removed. He said it had to do with some old EPA regulation - it was a sort of air filter.)

Gearshift read RND421. My guess (let's see how much I've learned) is that that makes the transmission an AD2000 series. Correct?

Mechanic said that the buses in his stable (this was a school district in a rural area, but not TOO rural) have been returning 12-16 mpg regularly on stop-and-go runs, and the newer buses have hit as high as 22 mpg on longer trips. Those numbers seem incredible... but he swore up and down that the fuel reports showed those numbers. Claimed that even an "older" bus like this one should return 16-22 mpg highway at 55 mph. (He said it was governed to 67 mph or so.) Do you think this is even close to feasible?

The bus had rust underneath - I would call it "moderate". It was enough, at least, to require replacement of two unusually large horizontal crossmembers in the frame structure, though I saw no holes. I asked him what is usually the first thing to "go" when a bus gets too rusty... he said that the rust issues make it not worth their while to get it up to the point of being able to pass the state inspection, but since buses are "overbuilt" for safety's sake, it takes a lot to get them to rust out. He said "this bus should serve the purposes of someone like you for the next 25 years" and "you could remove every other rib from underneath and it would still be perfectly safe". (Bear in mind, the bus isn't even for sale yet, and the mechanic wouldn't be getting any money from the sale when it goes... so I don't see why he'd have incentive to lie to me.) Does this sound like a ludicrous pair of assertions or are they accurate?

And - what is the difference between "marine grade plywood" and the regular plywood (CDX) that you can buy at the lumber yard?
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Old 11-07-2017, 06:31 PM   #2
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Spiracle filter
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File Type: jpg 1107171203.jpg (182.4 KB, 15 views)
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Old 11-07-2017, 06:41 PM   #3
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Those mpg estimates sound egregiously optimistic. I'd guess 11 highway on a good day. But I could be wrong. Happens all the time!
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Old 11-07-2017, 07:18 PM   #4
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Those mpg estimates sound egregiously optimistic. I'd guess 11 highway on a good day. But I could be wrong. Happens all the time!
That's what I thought. I asked the guy how those huge buses could get that mileage when my 29' diesel class C only did 11 on a good day. He said that buses are built to be efficient all the time, because they're constantly running... whereas motorhomes don't have to be built that well because they will only be used relatively sparingly.

I guess the only way to find out, would be to get a bus and drive it...
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Old 11-07-2017, 07:39 PM   #5
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That's what I thought. I asked the guy how those huge buses could get that mileage when my 29' diesel class C only did 11 on a good day. He said that buses are built to be efficient all the time, because they're constantly running... whereas motorhomes don't have to be built that well because they will only be used relatively sparingly.

I guess the only way to find out, would be to get a bus and drive it...
He hasn't a clue what he is talking about.

School buses suffer BECAUSE they are low-mileage vehicles that only run maybe 4 hours a day, for 180 days a year. They seem to average about 15k per year, with activity buses doing even less.

The medium trucks built on the same platform often run 10 to 14 hours a day covering upwards of 75k per year.
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Old 11-07-2017, 07:44 PM   #6
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He hasn't a clue what he is talking about.

School buses suffer BECAUSE they are low-mileage vehicles that only run maybe 4 hours a day, for 180 days a year. They seem to average about 15k per year, with activity buses doing even less.

The medium trucks built on the same platform often run 10 to 14 hours a day covering upwards of 75k per year.
I guess it depends upon how they're run. Around here, it seems that there are no buses that are "activity buses", meaning that the buses from the main pool are used for activities.

But is he at least right in that they're "overbuilt"? And that they have to be efficient so that the district isn't spending a lot of money on fuel?
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Old 11-07-2017, 07:59 PM   #7
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I guess it depends upon how they're run. Around here, it seems that there are no buses that are "activity buses", meaning that the buses from the main pool are used for activities.

But is he at least right in that they're "overbuilt"? And that they have to be efficient so that the district isn't spending a lot of money on fuel?
They are built to federal standards for safety, transporting children.

The frames are immensely strong, way tougher than all except coach-built motorhomes.

The high flooring is deliberate. It means that most vehicles will submarine under the bus should they hit one. If I get up behind one of our school buses in the Taurus, my head is the same level as the kids feet.

Although the ribs in the sides are bolted to the floor, the hat-channel shape together with a steel and aluminum skin makes them tougher than every box truck, or Class A motorhome on the road. In a rollover, the standard demands that when turned back onto it's wheel, the vehicle still resembles a school bus. That is, the roof must not come down on the passengers.

It takes something big, heavy and moving very fast to seriously hurt any children not immediately in the area of the impact.

So no, they are not "over-built", they are built right.
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Old 11-07-2017, 08:07 PM   #8
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I guess it depends upon how they're run. Around here, it seems that there are no buses that are "activity buses", meaning that the buses from the main pool are used for activities.

But is he at least right in that they're "overbuilt"? And that they have to be efficient so that the district isn't spending a lot of money on fuel?
Overbuilt compared to an RV I would say yes they are typically built stronger to keep kids safe, more efficient seems like a stretch honestly. Engine, transmission and gear ratio would all play a part in economy and I'm sure RV's are all trying to better economy as well.
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Old 11-07-2017, 08:56 PM   #9
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the spiracle is similar to my RACOR on the red bus.. it takes the draft tube draft and recycles it into the engine... and normally filters the oil out of the draft tube emissions and puts it back in the engine.. on older engines the draft tube can blow oil out.. esp at higher speeds. or engine loads.. I kept mine in place only because of the oil return.. I have no idea how much oil id blow out the draft tube.. but I do know the filter inside my RACOR unit is oily. so it does something..
-Christopher
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Old 11-08-2017, 07:37 PM   #10
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So I guess I'm left with two questions; one that went unanswered from my first lot and one more.

1) The gearshift pattern RND421 - is that an Allison AD2000 series?

2) This bus is going to be auctioned by "sealed bid". I'm not sure I like that because it means I could overpay, or lose completely. What would YOU bid for a bus meeting the description I just gave? (If you need more information, ask and I will provide what I can.)
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Old 11-08-2017, 07:49 PM   #11
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So I guess I'm left with two questions; one that went unanswered from my first lot and one more.

1) The gearshift pattern RND421 - is that an Allison AD2000 series?

2) This bus is going to be auctioned by "sealed bid". I'm not sure I like that because it means I could overpay, or lose completely. What would YOU bid for a bus meeting the description I just gave? (If you need more information, ask and I will provide what I can.)
Transmission is not an AT545, so that's good. Any of the others will be fine, but the MT643 doesn't have overdrive so I'm guessing that's what the bus has.

How much to bid is simply a function of how much it is worth to you, and how badly you want it.

Check the comps and bid between half and two thirds of the dealer selling prices, or around the average auction price for a similar bus. If you are not bothered about losing it, put in a cheeky low-bid. You might win. You might be the only bid.
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Old 11-08-2017, 08:11 PM   #12
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Transmission is not an AT545, so that's good. Any of the others will be fine, but the MT643 doesn't have overdrive so I'm guessing that's what the bus has.
Yeah, I got at least that far... seems like the hallmark of AT545 is RND321. Doesn't the MT643 have only three gears with lockup? This transmission obviously has at least five... otherwise why would it have a "4" setting on the shifter?

Quote:
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Check the comps and bid between half and two thirds of the dealer selling prices, or around the average auction price for a similar bus. If you are not bothered about losing it, put in a cheeky low-bid. You might win. You might be the only bid.
Yeah, but that doesn't mean they'll sell it. If I bid too low, they might not sell it to me. I already know that a bus will go for around $2,000 (and the mechanic said up to $3,200) in trade on a new bus depending upon its age and condition. (I looked at a bus in my local yard that the mechanic said they'd sell for $2,000 because that's what they'd get for it in trade. This second mechanic from another district said $2,000 - $3,200 for a trade-in.)

The guy at the office said he'd be surprised if they got any bids on the bus, other than mine if I was interested. (Frankly, I think that my interest catalyzed their motion to sell the bus. That's the vibe I got from listening to the guy talk.)

I don't want to overpay, but it seems to be near perfect for us... the only imperfect characteristics are: 1) regular seats not coach seats, 2) it's a bit big, 3) no underbody storage. But... who knows... maybe regular seats would be good... or maybe I'll just rip most of them out and then install a La-Z-Boy for my wife to sit in. (Why not? Motorhomes have them. Theoretically I can bolt it into the floor like the regular seats, and install a seat belt, and my wife can ride in first-class comfort. Or am I just a starry-eyed ignoramus?)
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Old 11-08-2017, 08:21 PM   #13
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If everyone seems to expect it to sell for $2000, offer them $2000.

There will be no 10% auction fee to pay.
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Old 11-09-2017, 03:14 AM   #14
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IS this one of the 20mpg rigs the "mechanic" was telling you about.
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Old 11-09-2017, 06:11 AM   #15
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IS this one of the 20mpg rigs the "mechanic" was telling you about.
No - he said the newer buses get 20+ occasionally on longer trips. This is the oldest one in the fleet, but he still thinks I should be able to get 16-20 on the highway at 55 mph. (I'd be happy to get 12... but ecstatic to reach 16!)
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Old 11-09-2017, 09:20 AM   #16
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(I'd be happy to get 12... but ecstatic to reach 16!)
Prepare to resign yourself to getting 8-10 going 55. That's what I've done.
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Old 11-09-2017, 09:34 AM   #17
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ther RND421 is the standard shifter used on the allison. 2000 series.. most school busses have 2500 PTS transmissions.. lighter duties might have a 2100..

with my 6 speed trans. I now sometimes get 11-13 on the highway at 65 MPH in my short bus.. 55-60 is 12-14 MPG..
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Old 11-09-2017, 01:16 PM   #18
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ther RND421 is the standard shifter used on the allison. 2000 series.. most school busses have 2500 PTS transmissions.. lighter duties might have a 2100..

with my 6 speed trans. I now sometimes get 11-13 on the highway at 65 MPH in my short bus.. 55-60 is 12-14 MPG..
-Christopher
I wouldn't trust the "mechanic" who says school buses get 20 mpg.
He CAN'T know what he's talking about.
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Old 11-09-2017, 03:15 PM   #19
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I wouldn't trust the "mechanic" who says school buses get 20 mpg.
He CAN'T know what he's talking about.
I **WANT** that full size school bus that gets 20 MPG.. esp with the miles I put on my busses!
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Old 11-09-2017, 03:24 PM   #20
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I **WANT** that full size school bus that gets 20 MPG.. esp with the miles I put on my busses!
-Christopher
20+mpg buses may exist- in some country where they're trucking kids around in VW's.
20mpg school buses?
I'd say "gimme some of what he's smoking" but he may be smoking something entirely different that I'd be after.
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