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squeak 08-26-2017 09:22 AM

School me on 8.3L Cummins
I want to build a bus styled toterhome. I plan to use it mostly to camp in and pull a trailer around to off-road parks. Ideally I would like to be able to pull around 8,000 lbs but it would be more common to pull 5,000 lbs or less.

Does the 8.3L come in anything but a RE full length bus? I think I could get away with something in the 20'-25' length as far as living space goes. I really don't want a full length, but I think I would really benefit from the power of a 8.3 over a 444. If full length is the only option, I guess I would be looking into adding a flat bed and possibly shortening it in the process.

Any ideas, suggestions, or similar builds are welcome. I haven't really nailed any major details down, but I would like to get rolling on this build in the next month or two if I go through with it.

PNW_Steve 08-26-2017 10:04 AM

Welcome Squeak,

I have not seen any mid sized buses with 8.3's. Only full size.

I have seen plenty of mid & short buses with DT-466's. A good second choice.

Or, you could start with something like a full size Bluebird FE with an 8.3 and bob the tail.

Good luck on your quest.

squeak 08-26-2017 10:45 AM

Hmmm...upon some quick, initial findings I may need to change this to school me on DT466 buses. I didn't realize how similar the DT466 was to the 8.3L. I do like the familiarity of the 444 since I have owned a 7.3L Powerstroke, but I think it would be on the lower end of the spectrum for the expected weight and speed I am targeting.

PNW_Steve 08-26-2017 10:57 AM

The 444 is a dry sleeve motor. The 8.3 & 466 are wet sleeve motors.

For your goals, I would stick with the DT466 or the 8.3. Both good motors.

Personally, I am a big Cummins fan. My 8.3 is the 4th Cummins I have owned.

I eyeballed a Bluebird All American FE and it looks like you could take 9'-10' off the back end if you wanted to bob it right behind the rear axle if that would achieve your goal.

squeak 08-26-2017 11:17 AM

I need to do some more looking at specs, but ideally I would do a 10' flatbed. It would be perfect if I could find a wheelbase that would give me 15'-18' of living area and keep the rear wheels under the flatbed. It would be awesome to be able to do a gooseneck ball on the flatbed over the rear axle. It looks like a Bluebird AA FE may just fit that bill.

PNW_Steve 08-26-2017 11:29 AM

If you want a 10' flatbed and 15'+ of living space then a full size FE will accommodate.

Bob just enough to get the gooseneck over the rear axle, build the flatbed and you will have about the right amount of space left to fit your living space.

At least it looks that way.... Take a tape measure to your nearest bus dealer and check first hand...

Also, keep in mind that max combination length in some states is only 63'. I ran almost 67' through 40+ states and never got caught but it can happen.

cadillackid 08-26-2017 04:52 PM

I love my T-444E. *But* I would not want to tow with it... the ford 7.3 was tuned up more than the 444E, if I were towing id take a DT-466 or cummins 8.3 over a 444E any day..

though jkust because the 444E is dry sleeve doesnt mean its not rebuildable.. as long as you dont totally nuke a cylinder wall. its rebuilt like a car engine..
issue is you cant tune it... the navistar computers for the 444E have zero tuner community support. I dont even think the bullydog big-rig works on it..

squeak 08-26-2017 07:57 PM

Seems like the bigger thing is to find a 3060 and someone to unlock 6th gear. Anyone have any input on which years and models are rated for higher power outputs? Wikipedia says the 8.3L can range from 260HP/660TQ to 300HP/860TQ.

squeak 08-26-2017 08:27 PM

I'm still trying to work through my needs and wants, but does anyone have any information on which models or years would have the various power ratings?
Wikipedia states the 8.3L can range from 260HP/660TQ to 300HP/860TQ in a school bus.

Also, any other tips on finding one that would be easier to set up for towing like air ride, better brakes, etc. All I know to look for at the moment is a 466 or 8.3 with a MD3060.

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