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Old 01-07-2011, 08:47 PM   #1
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Default 800,000 miles ... problem or not?

Looking for opinions and experience ...

Am I buying someone else's trouble by buying a 1999 International converted to a motorcoach with 800,000 miles? See below:

RV 99 International Pro Sleeper-converted For Sale

I keep reading that these trucks "last forever" ... but when is "forever end"? I expect that need to find out what kind of engine and trans it has, get the maintenance records, and then sit down with a knowledgeable truck guy for an opinion.

Confirm this ... I presume there are "good and bad" engines and transmissions. Some are much more trouble than others. Is that correct? Were International tractors from 1999 good tractors? Or problems?

I'm hoping to find something that won't nickle and dime me to death. I plan on pulling my 24' enclosed trailer and race car; maybe get a 30' trailer.

Thanks!

Dick
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Started looking for 379 Peterbilt TC, 24' to 30' box, bumper pull--but ended up w/1999 Liberty Coach conversion of 45' Prevost XLV bus. 1,000sf heated/AC'd race shop w/dump station, 50amp shore pwr where bus parks, 3 NASCAR/ARCA race cars & 26' Bravo trailer.
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Old 01-08-2011, 02:24 PM   #2
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If I were in the market for one I would certainly take a serious look at that one. That is actually fairly low miles for a 1999. Cummins is a good engine and that trans is bullet proof. Both have been around for many years. Sounds like it has been well maintained and history is available. I would want to know if it was airride or sping suspension.Spring ride can be quite harsh in that application.It looks in the pictures to be a well built,clean unit. You sure can't build one for that price and that should leave you some room to modify repair if needed. Heck,you can't buy a new diesel pickup for that price. I wouldn't worry about the miles at all if it has been maintained. As a point of reference,I am building a toterhome on a 1995 W900 KW with 1.1 million miles! Just my opinion.
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Old 01-08-2011, 11:15 PM   #3
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almost looks to cheap to me. i would check it out and have a shop look at it. times are tough and may be a great deal.
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Old 01-09-2011, 09:49 AM   #4
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You can also do an oil analysis on it. They're pretty cheap, like less than $20. That will give you a good idea how good the engine is built. I like the looks of it too. Where is it? Anybody on here that's close that could go look at it for you to make sure it's worth a trip for you? I'd take it to a good truck shop and have them do a pre-purchase inspection.
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Old 01-09-2011, 03:50 PM   #5
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hay 90 give me a call i got one like it 2407935740
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Old 10-16-2011, 09:56 AM   #6
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Well? what was the outcome.
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Old 10-17-2011, 09:21 AM   #7
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Default Lots of miles!

It took ten years of searching for me to find my "perfect" truck; it was worth the effort and wait. Mine had 879,000 miles on it, a rebuilt transmission, "the best ever made" Cat C-15 6NZ engine, although no maintenance records were available. I thank the "mechanical gods" every day that I waited to find this unit. It has not been flawless, but its been pretty darn good! I have added another 10,000 miles during the past year. No major problemsd with engine, trans, or rear end.

Thnigs I did do? New drive tires to get rid of the recaps (lost the left outside rear at 60 mph, not a pleasant experience); new brake chambers all around; complete oil and fluids change; replaced the clutch linkage bar (no adjustment left and the flywheel brake was not engaging). That's about it, mechanically. Of course, this was all done in addition to extending the frame, dropping the front drivers, and adding the 16' box.

I have found working with these big trucks is that things take twice as long and cost twice as much as you expect, whether you do it yourself or have someone do it for you. Conversely, when things are done right, they will last a LONG time.

I would make two suggestions to you:

First, take the unit to an International dealer for an evaluation inspection and them go over it with a fine tooth comb. What's needed immediately, and what needs to be done sometime in the future. Make a list.

Second, regardless of engine or transmission you get, purchase ONLY a "pre-emmissions" vehicle. For my Peterbilt and Cat, this means the newest years are going to be 2003/2004. Stay away from twin-turbos, ACERT, and any emmissions based engines; they are problematic.

With your '99 International, this will not be an issue, regardless of the engine. However, an electronically controlled engine is better than a mechanically controlled one. For Cat, that means stick with a C-15, not a 3406. Talk to your International dealer, find some fellow back in the shop would be best, and listen to what he says.

One last point I have found through my "experience" so far. These class 8 rigs, when converted, are hardly "working" at all going down the road. You are not taxing or straining the drivetrain. They will last a long, long time if given basic maintence once you get all the bugs out. My pyro never goes over 600 degrees; my trans temp seldom over 150. Manifold pressure never over 20 psi and running down the road its like 5! These engines are just not working hard in our type of application.

Get a good one you like, and take care of it!

Sorry this was so windy!
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Old 10-17-2011, 08:41 PM   #8
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"One last point I have found through my "experience" so far. These class 8 rigs, when converted, are hardly "working" at all going down the road. You are not taxing or straining the drivetrain. They will last a long, long time if given basic maintence once you get all the bugs out. My pyro never goes over 600 degrees; my trans temp seldom over 150. Manifold pressure never over 20 psi and running down the road its like 5! These engines are just not working hard in our type of application."

Highway
The above statement is exactly why I have recently begun to search for my class 8 retirement vehicle.
Mike
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Old 10-18-2011, 06:51 AM   #9
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Hi Mike:

Hey, the "searching" is part of the fun. I started with how much I wanted to spend, and went from there. My wife started from what looks cool. In the end, we spent just a bit more than I had planned, but got a great looking rig with which to start our conversion; at much newer tractor than I had expected to buy because we found a seller who had already gotten a new unit and wanted out from under his old one ASAP.

I am "over the hump" now on major expenses, and am now just enjoying working on completing the camper, and mostly, just driving the thing around!

Keep us all posted on you project, Mike.
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Old 10-18-2011, 07:55 AM   #10
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Highway
I'm a transplanted Michigander myself. Lived in Kentwood for a couple years.
More important
Looking at a 92 peterbuilt with Cummins L10 and Eaton Fuller 9 speed. KC converson done in 2002.
interested in your opinion of engine and trans combo. Owner claims 14mpg unhitched. Don't have the gearing info yet
Mike
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Old 10-18-2011, 12:37 PM   #11
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Mike:

I am flattered you want my opinion; its worth exactly what you are paying for it!

I am not real familiar with Cummins engines of that vintage. Is that a mechanical engine; probably is. Do the normal stuff; check maintenance records, rebuilts, etc. EF ten speed is a nice trans. Just check the overall condition of the rig to see if it was taken care of or just sat and abused.

Can you get some pics?

However, sounds like you are onto something which sounds good.

Cummins has really gained some market share in the HD engine arena with Cat going out of the road business a few years ago. Their new engines, the ISX series, get good reviews and opiions.

I'll do some research.

Keep us posted.
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Highway OPie (Speed Gray) Grand Rapids, MI: 2003 Peterbilt 379 Motorhome; 550 hp 6NZ Caterpillar C15, Eaton-Fuller 18 speed transmission, 3.36 rear; 63" sleeper and 16' Morgan box.(highwayopie@aol.com). There are many Peterbilts, but this one is mine!
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Old 10-18-2011, 08:01 PM   #12
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"My wife started from what looks cool. "

Your wife has a good eye. There is NOTHING cooler on the road than Peterbilt 379!
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Started looking for 379 Peterbilt TC, 24' to 30' box, bumper pull--but ended up w/1999 Liberty Coach conversion of 45' Prevost XLV bus. 1,000sf heated/AC'd race shop w/dump station, 50amp shore pwr where bus parks, 3 NASCAR/ARCA race cars & 26' Bravo trailer.
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Old 10-19-2011, 08:21 AM   #13
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Default More on Mike's find . . .

First of all, thanks #90 for your nice comments! My daughters are all grown, so whe someone asks me for a picture of my family, I pull out a shot of my wife sitting in my 379. Ha!

Here's what I learned about Cummins L-10 engines that Mike asked about: Mid-displacement, mid-horsepower applications, 300-350 hp used in buses, dump trucks, transit mixers, etc. Generally used in road applications, not highway applications, so check the gearing with the EF 10 speed to make sure its got the highway cruising speeds you need. It is a mechanical engine, and was produced from 1982 until 1998 when it was replaced by the ISL seriers. It comes with or without a turbo, known for its great fuel mileage and reliability. Maybe a bit light on high end torque, so don't use less than a ten speed with it. Cummins parts are cheaper than Cat parts, but then again, gold is cheaper than Cat parts, too! Except that the fuel pump can be sometimes problematic, it is considered a "good" engine.

Hope this helps.

Curious, what model Pete is the engine installed in, and what was the application before the conversion. Any pics?

Mike, keep us posted!
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Old 10-19-2011, 06:08 PM   #14
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Attempting to upload a couple of images. Trans was listed as a 9 speed. However owner claims it gets 14 MPG unhitched.
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Old 10-19-2011, 08:11 PM   #15
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Default Truck terminology question

"Generally used in road applications, not highway applications"

What is the difference?

I saw that truck Mike is looking at on RacingJunk.com (I think); looks like a 378 Peterbilt. Am I right?

The "big trucks" appear to come with 450 to 515hp and a commensurate amount of torque. I presume those trucks are designed to haul 80,000 loads medium to long distances.

For our purposes, do we really need 450 to 515hp and around 2,000ft/lbs of torque? What does this truck that Mike is looking at weigh in at? 20,000 pounds (I'm just guessing). What does your 379 weigh? My trailer fully loaded with the stock car, tools and stuff is probably around 11,000 ... I might go to a 28' trailer and some more "stuff" and now I'm at 12,500 or 13,000. 20+12 = 32,000 pounds. Shouldn't 300hp (and what 1,200ft/lbs) pull the whole load pretty nicely? Yes going through the Rockies I'll be in the right lane at 30mph. But I expect to run around the Midwest; want to run Daytona once, Bonnevile once, & Pikes Peak if they continue racing there. But those will be one shot deals.

But wouldn't I pay a huge penalty in fuel mileage to run 450 to 515hp when I could really get by with say 300hp running in the Midwest?

Your thoughts. Thanks! I'm learning quite a bit here!

Dick
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Old 10-20-2011, 12:34 AM   #16
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I think of the L series engine as intended to be used more in local delivery trucks, mostly solo, or pulling light trailers, maybe 48,000 to 60,000 gross. I agree with Highway OPie that you will want to check the gearing especially if the truck started out life as a local delivery., you may find that a 400+ hp engine with taller gears will give as good or better milage on a long run, and yet have that reserve for pulling the big hills. However if you are not going to pull a heavy trailer, and the gears are not to low you should do fine. I ran a L series cummins with 350 hp and had no problems at 80,000 until i hit a mountain pass, then got passed by bicycles...lol. I am planning on basing my conversion on a 450+ hp powerplant coupled to an 18speed. Realizing that I may give up a lot of resale value by not going with a freightshaker/volvo with an automatic, but just love the look of a classic Pete or KW.

Dave
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Old 10-20-2011, 08:41 AM   #17
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Default More on the L-10

Dick:

Well, Dragonslayer is obviously the expert here, and we are fortunate to have someone of his experience to tell us "how it really is." His comment about mountain passes with the L-10 is exactly what I found other driver's comments to be.

Dick, for your application as a motorhome, it sounds like the L-10 is perfect for you; enough torque and hp to get the job done along with a good reputation for fuel mileage and low cost of repair parts. You're a winner all around! And, the 378 Pete is a real classic. Also, although you have not said, all the titling hassle is also done, so no problem getting it registered as an RV.

Road applications are local delivery, like Dragonslayer mentioned, plus other "vocational" uses such as cement mixers, stakes, and misc. construction uses. Highway applications are for tooling down the Interstates hour after hour and mile after mile. Because these class 7 and 8 trucks are designed and built for specific uses, proper gearing, hp, and other equipment can vary greatly.

My Pete runs 1300 RPM at 60 mph, which is the speed I drive (I'm never in a hurry, plus that's the speed limit in Michigan). On the Interstae I'm getting almost 12 mpg. The engine is 550 hp, but is not "working" at all, so I am very happy with the total setup. In the future I might switch the rear end from a 3.55 to a 3.36, which will increase the fuel mileage to maybe 13 to 14 mpg. Although my "camper box" itself is far from complete, mu unit only weighs 21,600 pounds. Pretty light, actually. This thing outta last long after I am dead and gone!

You have found a beautiful rig there, Dick. Thanks for the pics. Looks like its all ready to hit the road!

You still might consider taking the rig to a local cummins or Peterbilt dealer to have them "check it out" before you buy.

Hope all works out. This has been a great thread!

Dave, good luck on your project: Keep it classic and old school!

Speed
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Old 10-20-2011, 08:43 AM   #18
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Default Correction

I think that Pete is a 377 with the side fairings removed. Check the front fenders and headlights. Dragonslayer?

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Old 10-20-2011, 10:10 AM   #19
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Highway, I think you may be right, Looks a little different with the sides removed, but I think it is a 377, I believe the 378 has the same headlights as the 379, but more of a slope to the hood. The 377 was the only one of that vintage to have intergral headlights. If i recall correctly the 377 turns a little tighter and rides a bit smoother also.

Dave
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Old 10-20-2011, 01:35 PM   #20
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Speed/Dave
Outstanding info. Makes me think it will work. Only concern is lack of power headed into the mountians. I will be pulling a 24 enclosed with a 3800 lbs drag truck and assorted tools. Everybody needs a Pick up that will do 170 in the quarter mile. New motor in process. Not Diesel, 109 octane.
Like the 14MPG but hate 30MPH up a grade. Couple of 6% heading to Flag from Phx. When racing in the midwest gotta go that way.
I did a search myself on the 377 and I think your right. I'm putting together a list of questions to ask the current owner now.
Model, Gearing, Miles, Rebuild at any time. maintanence records, original use prior to conversion.
Thanks for all the info, you guys have been great.
Mike
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