Pathfinder Club Bus
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Author:  WalterJohn [ Mon Mar 27, 2006 7:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Pathfinder Club Bus

We need a forum to exchange information between the clubs that have bought a bus and the clubs who need information. Some clubs who need a bus will not buy one because there is nowhere they can get trustworthy information about what to look for and how to maintain etc. We bought a bus and would like to answer any questions other clubs have about what we learned.

Author:  sheika21 [ Tue Mar 28, 2006 11:34 am ]
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Is it a us or a van, and how muchh did it run you?

Author:  jomegat [ Tue Mar 28, 2006 1:20 pm ]
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I agree with pfcamper. If we had a whole forum dedicated to buying a bus, my guess is that it would have exactly one thread in it.

Author:  MaderaPF [ Wed Mar 29, 2006 12:53 am ]
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If it's moved, then it'll be moved... but for the time being...

It's gonna vary from club to club. Some clubs buy those huge charter busses that are absolutely amazing! I think Winter Park Spanish either rented one, or had a BEAUTIFUL charter bus that they took with them to Discover the Power.

For what I'm thinking of...

You should look for a farmworker bus. I assume that you're in Idaho, and u should find one at a relatively decent price. if you want a newer charter bus, you're looking in the area of $20,000. If you're willing to settle for a mid 80's bus in relativly decent condition and decent miles, it'd be in the ballpark of $5,000.

The advantages to a charter bus is that you have all the seats availabl;e for passengers with storage underneath. A older school bus type, you'd have to take out a few back seats, or have a following vehicle with trailer in tow.

Because diesel mechanics can be expensive, it would be best to have a Pathfinder Staff member that was a diesel mechanic...

What I recommend?

I know for sure that Monterey Bay Academy in Monterey, CA has had several charter busses over a number of years. You may gain some valuable information from contacting them.

That would be my first choice.

Author:  sheika21 [ Wed Mar 29, 2006 10:44 am ]
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I am in Florida. Is the Winter Park Spanish you are talking about also in FL? If so I'll contact them. I have no idea what a farmworker bus is? We have a smaller club - about 25. We'd want something that we could take to local campouts as well as long distance outings. Any other suggestions.

Author:  pathfinders [ Tue Apr 04, 2006 11:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Bus f orum

This is the kind of level of question that doesn't (I don't think) need a whole forum, but rather, can be part of a "staff forum" discussion thread or two.

Mark O'Ffill

Author:  WalterJohn [ Tue Apr 11, 2006 5:51 pm ]
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We bought an old school bus, it has 11 rows of seats giving it a 44 or 66 passenger rating, depending on who you talk to. It has been our experience that two to a seat is all you're going to get unless you are hauling first graders. It is an International/Thomas with a DTA 360 engine rated at 190 horsepower, and MT640 Allison automatic transmission.

Our club is 29 kids and by the time you pack all the kids, their stuff, and staff in there it is none too small. We are planning on building some luggage boxes under the sides like the transit busses have.

Overall it achieves 7.8 mpg. Hauling the kids from the school to the church and back in Brewster it got less.

We have had the injectors flowed and are planning to turn the fuel up to achieve 240 horsepower and put taller tires on it to bring the cruising RPM down into the torque range. We are shooting for at least 10 mpg. Both I and my fuel systems specialist think it's possible.

A farmworker bus is just an old school bus.

I am a diesel mechanic and I love the fact that God has found a good use for my skills.

Mark, you can move this thread if you want, I don't care. If one thread is all it ever grows to, then that's fine as long as PF clubs can find the honest information they want.

The purchase of the bus really made a big difference in our club. We had some nay-sayers who claimed we didn't have enough use for it. The opposite has been true; other clubs have benefitted from the bus also. We used it at TMA and Rock Climbing to shuttle kids to and from.

We love our bus.

God Bless

Author:  pathfinders [ Tue Apr 18, 2006 11:35 am ]
Post subject:  Bus forum

I believe that this thread and ones similar to it belong either in the "buy / sell" forum or in the Staff/Director's corner. I am moving it to the STaff/DIrector's corner forum in fact. Thank you for this worthwhile discussion.

Mark O'Ffill

Author:  M Koskenmaki [ Fri Apr 21, 2006 10:13 pm ]
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Well, if you're going to buy a bus... I have some limited history in this regard, AND I have quite a bit of mechanical knowledge... But, here's suggestions you can hopefully use to help you make better choices:

1. Diesel: Unless it's just a smallish van, even with the price of diesel being well more than gas, the fuel economy improvement over gas is night and day. Not to mention the performance improvement.

2. Diesel engines: preferred order... Cummins C series. Cummins B series. IH DT 466 and related, like DT 360. Cat 3208, most anything else... then, Detroit. Detroits are likely to give you the worst fuel economy and worst reliability. Recently serviced CAT engines are a decent bet, too, but if you DO have to fix them, they cost ... BIG TIME. There's a long list of reasons I put the two Cummins engines at the top, and they are a big step ahead of everything else.

3. Manual transmission over automatic. I would reject any bus purely on the basis of having an auto, due to performance loss and fuel economy loss.

4. Final drive ratio. Many pathfinder busses are school busses, and geared to reach max engine speed at 55 to 65. They get poor fuel economy and are noisy at highway speeds. You want something with max gearing for a theoretical 75 or better. Even better, a 5 speed and 2 speed axle.

5. DRIVER! Yes, not just anyone should drive a bus. Please don't consider yourself qualified if you've driven a moving van once. Those big busses require licensing for thier size and so on. Don't even think of buying a bus unless you have DRIVERS. Not just a driver... one gets far too worn out on any long trip.

Ok, other things to think about... Yes, you can get the bus. Can your club afford to license and insure it? Sometimes those are pretty hefty. Gencon insurance isn't horribly expensive, but it's not free. Nor is licensing for a church bus. Do you have some place to store it?

Consider renting it to summer camps, schools, etc, as a back-up bus, to help bring in some $$$ to pay for that license and insurance.

Auctioned surplus school district busses are often a good buy. They're old enough no other school wants them, but usually are still in good mechanical condition, have had extremely regular and professional maintenance.

Your driver will appreciate, in words I can't muster here, if you put in an air-ride seat for him. Driving a bus is exhausting on a long trip. That better riding seat is worth its weight in gold in reducing fatigue and keeping him a safe driver.

Every bus should be driven AT LEAST every two months. And at least 30 to 50 miles, too. This does a lot to extend mechanical parts life, and to keep the lubricants in place, etc.

Author:  Mitch [ Sun Apr 23, 2006 3:41 pm ]
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WalterJohn wrote:
The opposite has been true; other clubs have benefitted from the bus also. We used it at TMA and Rock Climbing to shuttle kids to and from.

We love our bus.

God Bless

:smt038 Yes!! I really appreciated Waiilatpu & your clubs bus to UCC's TMA (Teen Mission Adventure) and the Rock Climbing honor weekend. It really made it a lot easier to transport 100+ teens and staff!

:smt023 Thanks for all the valuable information everyone is sharing! Our club has thought about getting a bus, and we are still praying and thinking about it. It is helpful to have other club's experiences to help our inexperience.

Author:  sheika21 [ Sun Apr 23, 2006 4:55 pm ]
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Good info. You mentioned a lot of things that I hadn't even thought of. I'll get to working on it soon.

Author:  WalterJohn [ Tue Sep 19, 2006 9:23 pm ]
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Update on our bus:

We had the injectors flowed and turned the pump up 15% (a full turn on the aneroid control rod) and hooked the 14ft tandem axle trailer behind it. It now runs loaded with the trailer behind it like it did empty. Really a big difference. I haven't checked the mileage yet.
I had to turn the exhaust pipe out to the side to prevent it from blackening the front of the white trailer. It was pointed straight out the back right at the trailer.

Before I give it more fuel we will need gauges (boost pressure and pyrometer) then taller tires to bring the cruising RPM down into the torque range.

We took it on a 254 mile round trip last weekend and first impression is really good.

Oh, yeah, federal regulations now state that there will be no more school busses with standard transmissions, if it's a school bus it will have an automatic. I don't know when this becomes effective, or even if it already has.

Author:  WalterJohn [ Sun Oct 29, 2006 11:20 pm ]
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We just returned from Teen Extreme Caving Adventure and we're loving our bus more and more. We still have to put on the taller tires to give it more top speed, but the modifications have so far netted us an increase in mileage from 7.3mpg when we got the bus, to 8.4mpg pulling the trailer.
I still need to get the gauges installed and the taller tires before I tweak the pump any more. We are going to do the taller tires to increase speed and decrease engine speed and noise, however I know of another club who installed a three speed "brownie" behind the transmission. This gives them an overdrive gear, they tell me it decreased engine speed by 500 rpm at cruising speed. This should get them a nice increase in mileage.

Oh yeah, the new federal regulations on the formulation of diesel fuel go into effect in January '07. Most of the fuel we are buying now is the new super-low sulfer formulation. This is like everything else the government gets it's fingers into: it has minimal benefits for the environment and maximum downside for consumers. My diesel pump friend says he is rebuilding pumps that are worn out in places that pumps have never worn before. There is no lubricating quality left in the new "dry" fuel. He is ordering parts for pumps from Bosch and others that he's never had to replace before. He recommends we mix some additive with our fuel, so we are using Lucas Lubricity additive. At work (Heavy Equipment Rental Company) we are using another additive that adds lubricants to the fuel. Any good additive will work, just not automatic trans fluid (ATF). ATF is a detergent and will work very will to clean deposits from the tank, lines, pump and injectors, but doesn't do much for lubricity.

Author:  fish [ Mon Oct 30, 2006 2:57 pm ]
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Sounds like it is going well. Have you considered changing out the exhaust system for more HP? Does a brownie work with an automatic? Your group is fortunate to have someone competent to be able to do the work that needs done, most people would not have even been able to pull the full one mpg you have gotton.

The traditional activity of many I have encountered over the years has been to use engine oil or break fluid as an additive. For those who do or have, don't. The compression rate will be way too high and you will take life off of the engine. Another down side to transmission fluid and similar fluids is that if left sitting the will acidify, ultimately if your vehicle were parked more than running this means eating at the fuel system.

There are a lot of diesel additives that work, just follow the previous suggestion and use a good one that is made for the purpose, no other auto fluid is comperable.

Chris Fishell
Xtreme Youth Resources International

Author:  WalterJohn [ Mon Oct 30, 2006 9:07 pm ]
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Yes, a brownie will work with an automatic. You will not be able to shift the brownie while moving with any ease at all. You would just select the range you wanted and use the full range of gears in the automatic. For example if you were loaded with 30 some kids and pulling the trailer out of some National Forest campground in steep country you would select the low gear in the brownie and then just drive out to the road. Then shift the auto to neutral and select high range in the brownie and then just drive like normal.

Yes, we will change the exhaust, if we have to. Our goal is 10mpg. We are taking it step by step, one never wants to make two changes at once for fear of not understanding which change helped and which didn't. With a turbo boost gauge and a pyrometer I will be able to tell if I need an exhaust change. If I can't attain and hold full boost without heating the exhaust then a larger exhaust is in order. This engine should withstand 250 horsepower without shortening engine life, and that's what I want to accomplish without just cranking up the fuel. To tell you the truth, I know we will need 5 inch exhaust to get there.

You are sure right on the additives. ATF is used as a detergent only and only about once a year, and then you must burn the whole tank as quickly as possible. Other than that, mix nothing but an additive formulated to accomplish what you want into your tank.

Author:  fish [ Tue Oct 31, 2006 3:38 pm ]
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Once upon at time I ran Rural/Metro's fleet in Arizona so I have a novice understanding of mechanics. I did not really know a brownie would work that way thought the auto might toss it out of gear under torque.

Good information thanks for keeping us up to date on your progress.


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