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Author Topic: What to do with the bus(es)?  (Read 4687 times)
TrevorH
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« on: December 17, 2008, 05:13:26 PM »

Howdy all!  Its been awhile since I posted here.  I need some advice and guidance.  I dont know which bus to convert.  I have a 1987 102A3 with a 8v92ta 5 spd manual.  The engine was just rebuilt and runs perfect but as you all know, the best mileage I can see is 6 mpg.  The entire mechanical aspect of the bus is pretty much perfect and needs no work to start converting.  What engine/tranny combo would you recommend (within a reasonable amount of $$) and what is the best foreseeable mpg with this combo?  The other bus I have is a 1995 Bluebird conventional front skoolie with a cummins 5.9L 12v, 5 spd manual and a 2 spd rear.  The tranny works but not perfect so if I keep this bus I will be installing a NV5600.  I would need to fabricate a complete air ride suspension and build an entire body for this bus as a "skoolie" is NOT what I am after.  I know that the MCI is SUPER well built, to the point that it is overkill for me.  All that heavydutyness translates to weight.  I plan on turning this into a toyhauler/motorhome and will be doing freeway driving.  My desire is to build something that will drive 75 mpg and get 12-14 mpg.  What you all think?
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1987 MCI 102A3 8V92TA 5 spd MT
Tucson, AZ
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« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2008, 05:23:23 PM »

Well, it seems kind of hard to convert the MCI into a toy hauler but it would make a superior motor home by a factor of ten (at least)  There is no comparison there.

The 5.9 is pretty small for the bus and I doubt it will make 75 mph.  I have one in a Dodge pick up and it works it's heart out with a 10,000 pound trailer.

I would look for a flat front schoolie with at least an 8.3, much easier to build a toy hauler from.  I doubt very much that you will ever see 12 mpg with anything you build.  You still have to push that big brick down the road.
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TrevorH
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« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2008, 06:02:45 PM »

What engine tranny combo would you all recommend for the MCI then?  What would be the best fuel economy that you all think I could achieve with such a bus/engine/tranny?
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1987 MCI 102A3 8V92TA 5 spd MT
Tucson, AZ
RJ
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« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2008, 06:09:43 PM »

Trevor -

Actually, you can get 12 mpg with your MCI:  6 mpg in town and 6 mpg on the freeway.  6 + 6 = 12   Grin

(Isn't that the way politicians teach math???)


Seriously, the MCI will not make a good toy hauler conceptually similar to what you can buy at the RV store.  Minor little thing called the engine & cooling system create just a few problems. . .

OTOH, the MCI will make a great toy hauler if you pull a double-stack 25-foot cargo trailer behind you.  Just be sure the trailer has a Tuff-Tow unit on the tongue to keep tongue weights on the coach in check.

The stock 5-speed is fine, if you want to stick with a stick.  Otherwise, an HT740 or HT754 would be a good Allison automatic for you.  If your 8V is a DDEC, then you'd want either an HT748 or a B500 World.

Another option would be a Crown or Gillig skoolie with the mid-ship powerplant.  A 40-footer like the one pictured below would allow you to open the back up to get the toys inside and still have some room for living quarters.  Basement storage and equipment would be a greater challenge, but it's an idea.  Even though they're steel spring suspension, they actually ride quite well, especially loaded.  Brakes are outstanding, too - they use the big 16" truck brakes on all axles.

Personally, I wouldn't waste time or $$$ on the BlueBird - you'd still have an underpowered box on a truck chassis.

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink



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RJ Long
PD4106-2784 No More
Fresno CA
TrevorH
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« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2008, 06:16:47 PM »

I definitely dont mind throwin gears, especially since this generally saves me a decent amount of fuel.  Whatever I build, I plan on keeping for the next 20 years.  SOO  I am gonna spend my time and money and do things right the way it should be the first time.  I would really like to get the MCI over 10 mpg, the jump from 6 to 10 is a HUGE difference.  I know that it isnt gonna be a piece of cake and thus the reason I am thinking I might have to sacrific some with a little lighter coach, such as the bird
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1987 MCI 102A3 8V92TA 5 spd MT
Tucson, AZ
John316
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« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2008, 06:27:20 PM »

MCI, man.

You will be much more pleased with the result. Keep the schoolie, and convert it for really low $$$$. Then mount winches on the front and back, and use it when you go off-roading...OK OK, that is something that I want to do someday. I think that it would be really neat to have a tough bus, with the clearance.

Otherwise, the schoolie will be under powered. I have heard that they are designed to haul a load of children, not even adults.

Your biggest problem with the MCI will be the mechanics. The schoolie would be better, in that it is a lot more simple. Your MCI will take a lot more maintenance, but you will have a much better road warrior. Me, I would go with the MCI.

JMHO,

God bless,

John
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MCI 1995 DL3. DD S60 with a Allison B500.
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« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2008, 06:32:53 PM »

I would go with the MCI, Forget the worry over MPG, Ride softly and safely in the MCI for a lot longer than most other choices.

The comfort level on long drives IS a factor. The MCI will go and go and go and not wear you out on long runs. Get a nice trailer with the right tow setup and you will be glad you went with the MCI....

Or repower the MCI with a Big Cummins and World 6-speed automatic.... Better power and better mileage in that setup.

Just my Opinion if I had a brain..... I drive an MCI myself...
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« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2008, 07:09:39 PM »

Trevor
You say that you have a 102A3 that has a perfectly good solid drive line and you are thinking about spending money to re-power it for more fuel mileage?  I would give that some more thought.
Consider that you would spend upwards of what? 15K? (maybe 20K with gearing and or tranny change) to re-power for the extra mileage. Stop and figure how much fuel you can buy for that money if you put it into the bank, or how nice a start you would have on your conversion.

I would not hesitate to do the MCI and I would leave the drive line alone, do a nice conversion, buy a nice trailer for the toys and travel in style while having fun. But like they say, do it your way, its your dime.
Jim
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4106 - 8-71/730
Oconomowoc, Wisconsin
between Milwaukee & Madison
Lonnie time to go
Lonnie
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« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2008, 09:08:53 PM »

ok guys along the lines of skoolie and mci. Well i have a 4905 with a good motor etc. But i have wondered about a skoolie with a hood and tires in front of the driver.  This has a better driving feel for me but i just dont know about the rest of the ride. Hope your answer helps us both.
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1976 4905
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« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2008, 09:17:52 PM »

I've driven skoolies, and they just don't compare to my 4903.  With so many intercity shells available, I wouldn't ever CONSIDER converting a school bus into anything except dog food cans.

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TrevorH
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« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2008, 09:31:36 PM »

Well, I just got home from driving the skoolie 1200 miles.  Def does not compare to the ride of the MCI as it sits.  However I build custom truck suspensions for a living and can build an air ride setup for the bus relatively easily (I have about 110 semi rolling lobe air bags).  The advantage I see with the skoolie is the ability for me to take the entire body off and replace with one that I build.  This would allow me to build it to the size and with the functions that I need (toyhauler).  All while not having to worry as much about the structural integrity since it will be resting on a F-800 frame.

The cummins 5.9L while being small in comparison to most of the engines that go in our buses can be built to a reliable 400 hp and 800-900 ft lbs trq.  All while weighing much less.

Another advantage I see with the skoolie is aerodynamics.  While it looses the space of a flat nose, it makes up alot in the way of being much less of a "brick".  I can also build the skoolie to weigh far less than the MCI and thus take less fuel and power to move it.

With so many possibilites I find myself lost as to what to do.  At some point I am going to get fed up and either jump into one or give up on the idea entirely.  I am tired of buying/selling buses as I decide to go a different route (this is my second skoolie and I have 2 buses currently while I decide which one to sell).
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1987 MCI 102A3 8V92TA 5 spd MT
Tucson, AZ
JohnEd
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« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2008, 10:51:17 PM »

Trevor,

The best results I have heard of was a Cummins M11 that got 12+ MPG.  One of the things that Knut did was to install an oversize radiator and install a superefficient fan and then run the fan at a much reduced speed.  That made possible by the rad upsize and fan install. 

The 4106 with a stick gets 14 or so from what I am told.

You may want to talk to Don Fairchild as he has a 8V92 and I have heard he gets 8 mpg at a 70 mph cruise.  He is a two stroke guru and knows tricks in both driving and mech upgrades.  Contact him or maybe Songman.

John
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« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2008, 11:18:09 PM »

I would keep the MCI with the 8V-92 and install 80 injectors that will still give you 400hp, and good mileage.
Also, you should reconsider the schoolie.  Many insurance companies will not insure a schoolie for motorhome use, and if you rebuild the rear end will no doubt have a hard time insuring that also.  I am converting my Kenworth 3 axle truck into a motorhome.  I will have a professional body builder build my 32ft x 102 wide x 108'' tall van that is fully approved by all FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) and already know that Progressive will insure it based on that fact.  If I had built the box, all bets would be off.  Good Luck, TomC
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Tom & Donna Christman. '77 AMGeneral 10240B; 8V-71TATAIC V730.
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« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2008, 07:48:45 AM »

Trevor, here is what I think you should do. Give me the MCI as a Christmas present. Convert the schoolie because you are in love with it. I'll convert the MCI and we'll all be happy for Christmas.

Now what I really think, is you would be nut's to do the schoolie when you have such a sweet MCI with a perfectly good engine and tran's in it. Man there are guys on here that would trade their first born for what you have with that MCI. But then that's why they call this busNUT"S I guess, so if you do decide to go with the schoolie I want first dibs on the MCI ok, LOL.

WVaNative
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Dean Hamilton Villa Grove, IL East Central IL. Near Champaign
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« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2008, 08:57:35 AM »

Trevor,

As RJ said, the best possible choice for what you want to do would be a Crown.  Mid engine so you can do what you want with the back of the bus, best fuel economy of any bus I know of, and far better built than any other schoolie except maybe the Gillig.

But, as most everyone else has said, keep the MCI.  Just do the numbers.  The difference between 6 MPG and your dream of 12 MPG is about $3300 per 10,000 miles at $4.00/gal.  You would have to drive an awful lot to justify that expense and by the time you have driven far enough, the schoolie will be junk and the MCI still rolling.
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