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bwest
Administrator

United States
2266 Posts

Posted - 08/22/2012 :  08:51:33 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
There has been a debate on the IC engine thread about propane engines. Pretty funny that it manifested itself there seeing as IC doesn't even offer one. But I digress, it has been mentioned on that thread that propane is more dangerous than other fuels. I contend that it is less dangerous if handled properly.

I wanted to bring the discussion out under it's own heading and ask those that were involved to bring it out on here and invite others to get involved. I think all of us should be open to new technologies when it comes to solving the current fuel crisis we find our selves in. The long and the short of it is, if we wish to stabilize fuel costs in our fleet propane looks to be the answer. Secondary, at least for me, is that this fuel type is very clean for both the air around us and the engine itself. This type engine will outlast any other and will more than likely wear out a school bus chassis and body. Now, that seems to be a hang up for some who only keep their units 5 years or so.

These are the types of discussions I think need to be had to ease our collective minds about new fuels in general and propane in particular. There may come a time when we all agree (generally speaking) that propane is a bad deal (I don't see it, but might be). We may also agree that it's a good deal. Same thing with other types of fuel, but we need to air our concerns and learn from one another.

Some of the smartest people in our business frequent this forum and I believe this to be the place to figure all this out.

What do you all (or y'all in some parts of North America) think?

bbarr
Active Member

21 Posts

Posted - 08/22/2012 :  09:01:35 AM  Show Profile  Visit bbarr's Homepage  Reply with Quote
The thing that gets me is the inclination that Propane is a domestically produced fuel. A majority of propane is a by-product of oil refining, and a majority of our oil refining is foreign oil. Part of the alternative fuel "revolution" is to decrease our dependance on foreign oil and propane does not do that as much as is being touted.
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Wolf0r
Top Member

USA
2177 Posts

Posted - 08/22/2012 :  12:52:01 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
West I know you are the Hank Hill on the forum. I think people should include a propane bus in their fleet if access is nearby for fill-ups. Propane vehicles have evolved tremendously in the last decade. Ford sold a lot of Crown Vickys and E-Vans that were propane in the late 90s. I like the bio-diesels and vegetable oils everyone should run one of these also (one bus off your dedicated to burning cafeteria waste oil). How about getting the science class involved to find the most efficient ways to save the schools on fuel, backed up by research and fact. Tell them uranium and liquid hydrogen doesn't count but should be considered figuring in the most bang per gram.

“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson
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bwest
Administrator

United States
2266 Posts

Posted - 08/22/2012 :  1:35:57 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Wolf0r

Tell them uranium and liquid hydrogen doesn't count but should be considered figuring in the most bang per gram.



Never thought about this but, hey, I'm game! Never know, if we can get a good personal reactor developed, you might be seeing atomic powered buses!

Back to the propane though. I know some propane is produced using crude oil but I think the majority is produced using natural gas. That's the main reason it is cheaper now than in years past. They are developing natural gas wells out in the northwest somewhere the way I understand it.

What might blow a hole in this whole thing is if Romney gets elected. The oil price will dive like a submarine the Wednesday after the election. That would close the spread between diesel and LP. However, that still doesn't dismiss the fact that propane is a better fuel.

I will check into the domestic source thing if I get the time here in the next day or so. Lots of things going on here so I might be tied up.

Bryan
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RD9000
Senior Member

72 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2012 :  2:47:49 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I included a response about propane in the new Blue Bird Propane Powered Bus thread, but I'll recount some of the points here. I do support propane and cng powered buses, however, we need to make it financially/fiscally responsible. We have school district finances and tax payers that we are responsible. I am extremely disappointed at the additonal associated costs due to greed and regulation that are involved in alternative fueled vehicles. Manufacturers ought to be able to keep differently fueled vehicles relatively similar in costs. When propane was more reasonably priced, you could convert most pickups for a few hundred dollars (granted this was a couple decades ago!) You can still add propane injection to diesels relatively cheap. Why is it so expensive to get a propane or cng powered vehicle today? Many mechanics who have taken propane and cng engines apart have made comment to the cleaner nature of the internal parts. One of the biggest determining factors is the fueling station/equipment costs. I can not justify 20-30K for a cng fueling station. You can buy a lot of diesel for that kind of money. Propane is cheaper as far as fueling equipment goes. If you have fueling capability nearby your yard/lot, I think propane or cng is worth looking into.
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bwest
Administrator

United States
2266 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2012 :  06:33:37 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by RD9000

I included a response about propane in the new Blue Bird Propane Powered Bus thread, but I'll recount some of the points here. I do support propane and cng powered buses, however, we need to make it financially/fiscally responsible. We have school district finances and tax payers that we are responsible. I am extremely disappointed at the additonal associated costs due to greed and regulation that are involved in alternative fueled vehicles. Manufacturers ought to be able to keep differently fueled vehicles relatively similar in costs. When propane was more reasonably priced, you could convert most pickups for a few hundred dollars (granted this was a couple decades ago!) You can still add propane injection to diesels relatively cheap. Why is it so expensive to get a propane or cng powered vehicle today? Many mechanics who have taken propane and cng engines apart have made comment to the cleaner nature of the internal parts. One of the biggest determining factors is the fueling station/equipment costs. I can not justify 20-30K for a cng fueling station. You can buy a lot of diesel for that kind of money. Propane is cheaper as far as fueling equipment goes. If you have fueling capability nearby your yard/lot, I think propane or cng is worth looking into.



I just got a price for a new propane bus. The salesman says it will be $2,000 less than a diesel. With the emissions on the diesels they are beginning to price their self out of the market.

As for the refueling, check with your local propane supplier. They should be able to supply a fueling station for purchasing fuel from them. If you stop buying fuel they come and get it and put it at the next location.

Propane beats ALL alternative fuel hands down. In my opinion it is beating diesel as well.

Bryan
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Fastback
Top Member

955 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2012 :  07:48:06 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by bwest
I just got a price for a new propane bus. The salesman says it will be $2,000 less than a diesel.


So you now have "hard" numbers? A bid for a propane bus and one for a diesel bus? Or still just the pitch from the same salesman who says 8 mpg?

Why yes, the ORIGinal CHARGER is a Fastback

Edited by - Fastback on 09/17/2012 07:51:16 AM
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bwest
Administrator

United States
2266 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2012 :  08:13:21 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Fastback

quote:
Originally posted by bwest
I just got a price for a new propane bus. The salesman says it will be $2,000 less than a diesel.


So you now have "hard" numbers? A bid for a propane bus and one for a diesel bus? Or still just the pitch from the same salesman who says 8 mpg?



I saw a spec sheet with the price at the bottom. He then told me what a diesel is selling for (with same equipment). I guess he could be feeding me a line but he knows me well enough that I would refuse to talk to him if he wasn't dealing me straight on this very important information.

Bryan
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Fastback
Top Member

955 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2012 :  11:39:27 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote


Here are some real "hard" numbers;

CUMMINS ISB10 200 H.P. PARENT BORE 520 LB STD

6.8L V10 362HP 457 FT. LB. PROPANE POWERED $8,500.00

Why yes, the ORIGinal CHARGER is a Fastback
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bwest
Administrator

United States
2266 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2012 :  2:09:08 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I WILL report back to this forum when I get some hard numbers. Where did you get your numbers?

Bryan
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Fastback
Top Member

955 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2012 :  2:49:29 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by bwest

I WILL report back to this forum when I get some hard numbers. Where did you get your numbers?



They can be considered actual bid prices, from a midwestern state that has a statewide bus bidding program.
You can ramp up the price of the diesel by going to higher horsepower options but even the brute 260 hp 660 ft lb torque Cummins with the HD Allison 3000 tranny(a $4000 transmission option) is $1800 cheaper than the propane engine option.

Why yes, the ORIGinal CHARGER is a Fastback

Edited by - Fastback on 09/18/2012 05:10:14 AM
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JustinB
Advanced Member

United States
490 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2012 :  4:55:11 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The alternative fuel options are all about grant capture. The DERA grant offsets the $8,500 state bid premium. The manufacturer captures an artificially high profit from a product that with any resonable conception should cost significantly less to produce than a deisel outfitted with an EPA '10 EPA aftertreatment system.

"See son. The system works...."

I may not know the answer but I can usually find who does.
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RichBusman
Advanced Member

451 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2012 :  6:59:20 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by JustinB

The alternative fuel options are all about grant capture. The DERA grant offsets the $8,500 state bid premium. The manufacturer captures an artificially high profit from a product that with any resonable conception should cost significantly less to produce than a deisel outfitted with an EPA '10 EPA aftertreatment system.

"See son. The system works...."




Amen on the manufacturer profit part. No way the propane engine and system should cost MORE than a diesel engine outfitted with expensive emissions equipment.

"Going green!"

Edited by - RichBusman on 09/17/2012 6:59:39 PM
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JRob
Senior Member

181 Posts

Posted - 09/17/2012 :  7:23:14 PM  Show Profile  Visit JRob's Homepage  Reply with Quote
There are costs spent on development of the system, training and infrastructure at the dealer level, and you have a middle man in the conversion of the engine between Ford and Blue Bird. Such things in the diesel world are recovered because you spread them over 100,000's of engines whereas the propane engine is produced in much smaller quantities. I don't think it is unreasonable to expect there to be a price premium at this stage. I would expect that it will and has come down from introduction. Hybrid prices have certainly done so.
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Fastback
Top Member

955 Posts

Posted - 09/18/2012 :  05:02:55 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I would add that Bluebird also currently has no sales competition for the propane Vision.....
The saying; make hay while the sunshines comes to mind

Why yes, the ORIGinal CHARGER is a Fastback
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Bmar
New Member

9 Posts

Posted - 09/18/2012 :  05:47:48 AM  Show Profile  Visit Bmar's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Interesting stuff. However, I've been wondering how propane (and CNG, for that matter) performs in terms of engine warm-up in cold climates. Do propane or CNG engines warm up measurably faster, slower or about the same? Or is an auxiliary heater still a necessity?

Full disclosure: I'm the sales manager for Ventech, manufacturer of the Liquid Heat Generator for school buses, and I'm just trying to get a handle on the details of propane/CNG performance that may affect my little corner of the world. Thanks!
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bwest
Administrator

United States
2266 Posts

Posted - 09/18/2012 :  2:05:53 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Bmar

Interesting stuff. However, I've been wondering how propane (and CNG, for that matter) performs in terms of engine warm-up in cold climates. Do propane or CNG engines warm up measurably faster, slower or about the same? Or is an auxiliary heater still a necessity?

Full disclosure: I'm the sales manager for Ventech, manufacturer of the Liquid Heat Generator for school buses, and I'm just trying to get a handle on the details of propane/CNG performance that may affect my little corner of the world. Thanks!



Don't know anything about CNG except it has a large (or larger, depending on your perspective) premium over diesel. Propane is just like a gasoline engine when it come to warm up. It comes up pretty fast and I don't see a need for your product in my location in south/central Illinois.

I do know one thing, with the diesel technology we have today propane is a surer bet.

Bryan
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Wolf0r
Top Member

USA
2177 Posts

Posted - 09/19/2012 :  07:32:22 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
We are going to be seeing more biodiesel soon. I wonder what the cost per mile is going to be there?
http://www.dailytech.com/EPA+Approves+28+Increase+in+Biodiesel+Mandated+for+2013/article27730.htm

“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson
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bwest
Administrator

United States
2266 Posts

Posted - 09/19/2012 :  09:27:02 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Wolf, we already run 5% and I don't even know it's there. I know some farmers that run 20% and say the same thing. You just have to change your fuel filters at the recommended intervals.

Bryan
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wjbusguy
Active Member

United States
24 Posts

Posted - 09/19/2012 :  12:12:00 PM  Show Profile  Visit wjbusguy's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I been browsing through these couple of posts about propane buses and thought I would contribute to the conversations. The local bluebird sales rep was here the other day and left me some info about the new bluebirds, he did say the propane buses will run about 8,000 dollars more than a diesel bus on average but the savings would be seen over the life of the bus on fuel savings. I googled "where does propane come from" and here is one of the first things that came up, pasted:

One of propane's unique features is that it is not produced for its own sake, but is a by-product of two other processes: natural gas processing and petroleum refining.

Natural gas plant production of propane primarily involves extracting materials, such as propane and butane, from natural gas to prevent these liquids from condensing and causing operational problems in natural gas pipelines. Similarly, when oil refineries make major products such as motor gasoline and heating oil, some propane is produced as a by-product of those processes. It is important to understand that the by-product nature of propane production means that the volume made available from natural gas processing and oil refining cannot be adjusted when prices and/or demand for propane fluctuate.

In addition to these two processes, propane demand is met by imports and by using stored inventories. Although imports provide the smallest (about 10%) component of U.S. propane supply, they are vital when consumption exceeds available domestic supplies. Propane is imported by land (via pipeline and rail car from Canada) and by sea (in tankers from such countries as Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Venezuela, and Norway).

There was a comment made about using less gas and diesel and possibly the prices would go down. My thoughts are, first of all, the same greedy people that make gas and diesel also do propane so they still have their greedy little fingers in it anyway. Second, if less gas and diesel is produced or required, will there be a shortage of propane because of it, which will require propane to be imported, and "them," using that as an excuse to raise the price of it.
I remember when Chevy first introduced the Duramax diesel years back. My friend who is a new car salesman, told me that the same pickup with an 8.1 gas motor was about 5,000 dollars cheaper than a diesel and with the mileage per gallon difference it would take about 100,000 miles of driving to break even on the fuel costs of the higher mpg diesel compared to the lower mpg gasser, and I dont think there was as big of a spread in pricing of the different fuels as there is now. My petroleum industry friends have always said that there is less refining of crude to produce diesel that what gas requires, remember years ago when diesel used to be cheaper than gas? I believe the reason that diesel is more now is because of demand. Will the same thing happen to propane prices as time goes by? "They" seem to have a way to get you hooked or committed to a product then jacking the price up because you gotta have it; why do you think fuel prices typically go up every holiday?
I have been around propane vehicles for 30 years and totally agree that its a very clean fuel and have seen first hand how clean motors stay inside when using it. Every vehicle that I had it on, (converted from gas to propane) typically dropped 20% in fuel economy but keep in mind this was with 70's and 80's propane technology. I dont know if I would want to lay bank on the fact that I would be spending 8,000 extra dollars for a bus on hopes that the fuel will stay cheap enough over the next 12 years to offset the initial cost. Going by the thought that diesel engines are more expensive that gas ones, it seems like a ripoff to me that they would charge that much more over a diesel motor price for basically a gas motor.
Anyways, sorry for the novel, just throwing a few thoughts out for discussion.

Mike
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RD9000
Senior Member

72 Posts

Posted - 09/19/2012 :  2:14:10 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I agree Mike. Justified or not- the additional cost is ridiculous. The only way to make this feasible is grants. I am curious, however, what the cost would be if you were to buy a gasoline bus and have it converted after purchase. I'm not even sure if you can buy a full-size gasoline bus anymore lol
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bwest
Administrator

United States
2266 Posts

Posted - 09/19/2012 :  9:23:55 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Couple things wjbusguy, diesel is higher in price today because of additives that are required for sale in the US. Second, if your are correct and a propane bus is higher in price (I contend you have last year's information)I can only assume they are recouping R & D. Although I do agree with others on here that Bird is the only game and they might be taking advantage (that would be a big might). However, I believe my salesman when he says it is now less expensive than a diesel.

Bryan
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Wolf0r
Top Member

USA
2177 Posts

Posted - 09/20/2012 :  08:33:17 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I am wondering why the EPA is mandating 28% production in bio-diesel and not propane. Do they know something we don't? If that's the case then bio-diesel should be lower priced under what we pay for fuel per gallon. So we are then using less of the petroleum diesel due to the blending and paying less on fill-ups. If mpg stays the same using bio-diesel then I would see it as progress. Since we are using 20% or less fossil fuels per gallon.

“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson

Edited by - Wolf0r on 09/20/2012 08:35:42 AM
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bbarr
Active Member

21 Posts

Posted - 09/20/2012 :  11:44:44 AM  Show Profile  Visit bbarr's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Yes the propane engine is more expensive than a diesel. Right now GM is offering the type A chassis in propane as a GM factory option and the upcharge is slightly more than a diesel. I have a hard time believing that a propane engine is cheaper than a diesel. In terms of competition, I believe every manufacturer of type A buses has a propane version, and the C2 gets propane this coming year.
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bwest
Administrator

United States
2266 Posts

Posted - 09/25/2012 :  05:22:07 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by bbarr

In terms of competition, I believe every manufacturer of type A buses has a propane version, and the C2 gets propane this coming year.



Every company does not have a propane option. However, you are correct on the C2. I believe IC will have one soon because when the dollar is no longer used for world trading our oil price will double over night. Propane might increase but will have more pressure to stay low because it is used for heat in many areas of the US. Do I think propane is a good alternative for every area? No. I think school buses are perfect for this type of fuel. Eventually cars and trucks will be well suited for it, that being when fuel stations are more widely available. As for over the road trucks & farm/ industrial equipment, I can't see it at this point. I might be proven wrong someday.

Bryan
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bbarr
Active Member

21 Posts

Posted - 09/25/2012 :  6:14:07 PM  Show Profile  Visit bbarr's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by bwest

quote:
Originally posted by bbarr

In terms of competition, I believe every manufacturer of type A buses has a propane version, and the C2 gets propane this coming year.



Every company does not have a propane option. However, you are correct on the C2. I believe IC will have one soon because when the dollar is no longer used for world trading our oil price will double over night. Propane might increase but will have more pressure to stay low because it is used for heat in many areas of the US. Do I think propane is a good alternative for every area? No. I think school buses are perfect for this type of fuel. Eventually cars and trucks will be well suited for it, that being when fuel stations are more widely available. As for over the road trucks & farm/ industrial equipment, I can't see it at this point. I might be proven wrong someday.



Well, if the type A guys don't offer it, they can since it is a GM factory option and everybody has access to the chassis. I know Girardin, Collins, Trans Tech, and Thomas offer propane, that leaves only Starcraft.
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bwest
Administrator

United States
2266 Posts

Posted - 09/27/2012 :  05:44:40 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
OK, I was talking a full size bus, I don't do toy buses. lol

Bryan
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BusCave
Active Member

18 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2012 :  08:40:06 AM  Show Profile  Visit BusCave's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Bmar

Interesting stuff. However, I've been wondering how propane (and CNG, for that matter) performs in terms of engine warm-up in cold climates. Do propane or CNG engines warm up measurably faster, slower or about the same? Or is an auxiliary heater still a necessity?

Full disclosure: I'm the sales manager for Ventech, manufacturer of the Liquid Heat Generator for school buses, and I'm just trying to get a handle on the details of propane/CNG performance that may affect my little corner of the world. Thanks!



How does you Liquid Heat Generator work?
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Thomasbus24
Administrator

USA
3298 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2012 :  09:19:42 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by bwest

OK, I was talking a full size bus, I don't do toy buses. lol



HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Next time a salesman tries to talk to me about a type A purchase, I am going to use that line.
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bluebirdvision
Top Member

USA
992 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2012 :  11:49:56 AM  Show Profile  Click to see bluebirdvision's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
I drove a Roush Propane Vision. Very impressed. I'd still miss the sound of the Cummins engine tho.

Shane Kirley
New York Bus Sales Delivery Driver. (I know its not much, but its a start)


Facebook Page: Blue Bird Corporation Fans
https://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_212311114614&ap=1


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bwest
Administrator

United States
2266 Posts

Posted - 10/04/2012 :  10:00:56 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by bluebirdvision

I drove a Roush Propane Vision. Very impressed. I'd still miss the sound of the Cummins engine tho.



How does Allen Jackson say it? Dual exhaust Thrush Tubes.

What do you think about the "off the line" response?

Bryan
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bluebirdvision
Top Member

USA
992 Posts

Posted - 10/04/2012 :  6:39:07 PM  Show Profile  Click to see bluebirdvision's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
I was very impressed with the performance of it all the way around. THe engine seems better "mated"(I hate that term) to the transmission than the GM unit I rode in once. It was smooth as glass actually. I got stuck behind a slow moving vehicle and it wasn't jumpy, nice and smooth.

Shane Kirley
New York Bus Sales Delivery Driver. (I know its not much, but its a start)


Facebook Page: Blue Bird Corporation Fans
https://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_212311114614&ap=1


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