School Bus 101, long technical post

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Postby ygmir » Fri Dec 18, 2009 9:25 am

that dang 3208 cat engine, though.......I'd bet it's also N.A...........
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Postby Elliot » Fri Dec 18, 2009 11:11 am

:D
Look for...
International Harvester (Navistar) DT466,
Cummins 8.3 (C-series),
Cummins 5.9 (B-series).

Avoid...
Detroit 8.2.
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Postby gyre » Fri Dec 18, 2009 11:43 am

The box truck I'm looking at has a cat engine I think.
GMC Topkick 6.6, I think.
6 speed, fifth gear bad.
Bad choice?
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Postby Elliot » Fri Dec 18, 2009 12:51 pm

:D
I'm not up on the smaller Cat engines. But I believe they fall roughly in the middle of the field as engines go.

Manual transmissions are generally less expensive to repair, compared with automatics. Also, stick shifts rarely fail suddenly and totally -- which automatics often do.

Stick shifts generally suffer from a bad bearing, or a bent shift fork, or some such. Automatics usually "burn to the ground" once something goes wrong.

Regarding commercial stick shifts in general, the first problem that arises is often that they fail to go into, or begin to fall out of, the two highest gears. This is because unskilled drivers keep forcing the tranny between these two gears when driving in rolling terrain. This MAY be the case with your bad 5th gear. If so, then the repair should be relatively simple.

Sounds like you ought to have a pro truck mechanic look this thing over. If the engine is healthy and the tranny just needs a handfull of mechanical parts, then it could be an OK truck. If the price is right -- as always.
:D
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Fri Dec 18, 2009 6:18 pm

Hell yeah, Kent, WA is less than 50 miles from here! I'm gonna have to see about that bus... that I'm NOT gonna buy... cuz I'm NOT gonna buy a bus... I'm NOT...
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Postby zachass » Fri Dec 18, 2009 9:28 pm

Lead me from temptation, Cap'n?
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Postby Elliot » Sat Dec 19, 2009 10:01 am

:D
Captain, at the moment, Ygmir has dibs on that Kent bus (if it is still there and in one piece.) And as Ygmir points out, there are better engines.

And come to think of it, these days you can get a ten year newer bus for not-much-more $$.
:D
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Postby Elliot » Sat Dec 19, 2009 10:41 am

:D
Just poking around on the interweb a little, I find this fleet of Blue Birds up for auction in Arizona:

http://www.publicsurplus.com/sms/browse ... e=&region=

And the listings show them to have the very desirable 8.3 Cummins engine!

Bet you won't find a spec of rust either.

84 passenger should mean 40 foot overall lenght.

The downside: These buses appear to have the engine in the front, where it is difficult to service.
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Postby ygmir » Sat Dec 19, 2009 10:49 am

I checked the bus info........and, I think, for me, I'll pass......
nice seeming bus. But, I just don't like the 3208..........

*removes dibs*

Thanks a lot, Elliot.....for the heads up.
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Sat Dec 19, 2009 2:13 pm

Yeah my feet are slowly coming back down to Earth on this one too... after seeing that it had been abandoned in a storage yard, I'm a little spooked. I want one that has been run, recently. Extended outdoor parking breeds all kinds of gremlins.

All of which is moot anyway, because I'm NOT gonna get a bus! Did you hear me Elliot?! I'm not buying a bus!!!!
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Postby CapSmashy » Mon Dec 21, 2009 7:06 pm

Captain Goddammit wrote:Yeah my feet are slowly coming back down to Earth on this one too... after seeing that it had been abandoned in a storage yard, I'm a little spooked. I want one that has been run, recently. Extended outdoor parking breeds all kinds of gremlins.

All of which is moot anyway, because I'm NOT gonna get a bus! Did you hear me Elliot?! I'm not buying a bus!!!!


But buses are so wonderful Captain. You can weld up 35 foot long by 8 foot wide steel decks on top for sitting with friends.
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Postby Tiahaar » Wed Dec 23, 2009 8:25 am

Captain Goddammit wrote:Man you know how to put me on the edge of my seat! Post pictures.

Request granted! (finally got my camera to work) Now go buy a bus! (I mean a coach, yes that's what you're getting, don't call it a bus, call it a Motorcoach, would be a great partner for the Land Yacht)


Image
It is a beautiful beastie yes? Some rough edges but the important stuff all works. The better to build a new bus roof rack with :-)
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Postby ygmir » Wed Dec 23, 2009 8:48 am

nice rig.......
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Postby carmatic » Wed Dec 23, 2009 5:40 pm

Tiahaar wrote:hmmm. I like the pressurize-the-line idea, I can get to both ends and cap one and put a tire valve fitting on the other. SOMEWHERE there is likely a fatigue crack just waiting to break completely apart and put me out of action.


one thing that they used to show on the gas safety PSA's on the tv was coating the entire line where you suspect the leak is with foamy soap, and see where the sud is bubbling
but hey its 3 months ago, hopefully you would have fixed it by now, thats assuming that you havent blown it up from the pressure
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Postby Tiahaar » Wed Dec 23, 2009 8:37 pm

carmatic wrote: hopefully you would have fixed it by now


hahaha. yes. hopefully. However things can move at a glacial pace at Tiahaar's Automotive and Starship Repair. Budgets get cut, other sparkly new attractions pop up...sometimes the ol' playa rig gets the short end of the stick. I assure you I have no intention of blowing up the fuel line, when pressure tested it will be in the 25psi range, and yes soapy water is part of my repertoire. I still have to install the gauge set sitting on my toolbox that will help with diagnostics.

In the meantime, my bus needs a deck. Nothing big, maybe 4'x8', but a nice shaded viewing platform. Made a bit tricky by the aluminum skin but I think bolting it to the frame ribs will work nicely. Busses are great for custom body work (get a bus...I mean motorcoach Captain! :D )
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Postby Elliot » Sun Feb 28, 2010 4:26 pm

:D
This is going to be alarmingly close to "commerce", but I'll use it as an excuse to bump my thread. :lol:

It is definitely time to start looking for buses to drive to the 2010 burn.

I know of a school bus for sale in Bend, Oregon. It's a conventional (engine under a hood out front), and the roof has been raised 14 inches. He has built a bunch of interior features, but there is also much left to do. The engine is the International DT466 -- best school bus engine around. Transmission is the automatic four-speed Allison MT643, which has torque converter lockup in 3rd and 4th.

I have never seen it, but the specs sound good. I can connect you with him.

Other updates:

First Student has lots of buses available in California, Oregon and Washington, and they are listed on their web site, but the web site no longer shows prices. You have to e-mail or telephone about specific buses from the listings.

The auction web site PublicSurplus.com often has buses -- all over the country.
:D
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Postby shiznicks1 » Mon Mar 01, 2010 7:47 pm

Hey all, if any of you live in the Southern California area, specifically Fontana and want to buy a bus the auction company I work for will be auctioning off about ten surplus school busses ranging from 15 passenger up to the big dogs. If youre interested the auction dates and info are on their website along with a phone number. www.tlcauctions.com It will be on Saturday, March 27. I wish I could buy one but I gotta keep things on a small scale, for now
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Postby Elliot » Mon Mar 01, 2010 7:58 pm

:D
Wondermuss! Can you find out of any of the bigger buses have a stick shift?
:D
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Postby shiznicks1 » Wed Mar 03, 2010 9:14 pm

Ya what I can do is post a list of the busses later on next week with some details about them if thats ok with the eplaya. Ill let you know later on next week. We hauled in three more today and they all ran very well.
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Postby Elliot » Wed Mar 03, 2010 10:10 pm

:D
"If it is OK..."?! It is fabulous! As I understand it, directly peddling of merchandise is not acceptable, but referring to sources is OK. I trust AntiM to fine tune that for us if necessary.

To my mind, a (circa) 15 year old school bus -- and a couple of gallons of paint -- is the perfect Playa-camping-and-art-hauling-mobile.

We are actually planning to paint mine on Playa this year. All mural artists welcome!
:D
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Postby knowmad » Tue Mar 23, 2010 4:28 am

Thanks Elliot for this thread. I'm still reading all of it so mind the drift...
I run a convert called Betsy Duck, she's a '82 Chevy 454 big block (GM) with an Alison 5 speed, Body by Thomas, she also uses the "Wierd Break system" vacuum assist/closed loop hydrolic you mentioned in the original post. Two things I love about her (there's more, but then there's hate too!) Parts are easy to find, and She's a stick. I see about 8-14 MPH the big discrepancy comes from fuel (higher octane, obviously better) and Terrain, we scream on the Interstate, but suck on the hills/city. knowing how to shift is vital for Gas consumption being lazy while "Cruising" along can cost you big! I think this is a motor type issue(?) .. one of the more scarry parts is that break system. when motor power dies, I'm on pure leverage and prayers, she likes to konk out while going up hill this is because; some genius at GM decided, fuel tanks should be drained (intake) in the middle.
Now being a bit of a gearhead helps, and honestly If you do go skoolie, bring your own GD wrenches full set metric and standard as well as deep socket and hex.! (wenches also don't hurt. unless they're the mean ones) this being my second bus I can't stress enough, "know where and when you expect to have problems." carry spare starters and solenoids (for Gas types) and a full set of glo-plugs/leads and filters for Diesels.

there are a few things I would like to learn from other skoolies;
noise. when the engine is in the front, 2 and a half feet away. is there a way to quiet it? foaming the fire wall? does that work?
Pre and post playa care? I know I should have hosed her down on our way home, what do I do now? also, I got a good air compressor and used it to blow dust further down into the carb. Is there a trick to blowing down the engine that I missed? "Plug the holes, Duhu!"

Again Elliot, thanks for making yourself the go-to-guy on all topics bus.

I'd be interested in learning the Social/Legal aspects of running a bus crew, but again I've only read half this thread, so that my be covered. maybe we could start swaping "dude, this one time on my bus..." stories.

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Postby Elliot » Tue Mar 23, 2010 10:00 am

:D
Yes, running low on fuel can get you in trouble. Never run a bus below 1/4 tank, since the tank is mounted lengthwise and the slope of the road makes a big difference. I'm ashamed to confess, last November I ran Millicent out of fuel while climbing a long 8 % grade. I don't know why the factory does not put the pick-up-tube in the rear of the tank. Just consider the 1/4 mark to be the empty mark, and you are safe.

I have not heard of an Alison stick shift. Allison makes automatic transmissions. Your stick shift probably has an other name hidden somewhere. Regardless, you are in luck to have the stick shift, because a gasoline engine with an Allison generally gets something like half the fuel milage you report.

Starters are the same basic design on gasoline engines and diesel engines, and they do wear out. Sometimes the starter motor itself goes first, and sometimes the solenoid (which is attached to the starter and considered a part of it). Again, I've been there! Had to go to Reno and buy a new starter to get Millicent fired up after the 2007 burn. And I even suspected -- from the sound of it -- that the old starter was on its last legs! But I hadn't gotten around to dealing with it. Bad.
Carry a spare starter or, better yet, put it in now and be done with it.
Same with the alternator. And belts and hoses.

Noise, heat and fumes can be a nuisance with the engine in the front --both "all the way out front" and inside the bus.
With the engine all-the-way-out-front you can add insulation on the firewall. There is insulation specially intended for this purpose, and I would not fool around with anything else. One brand that comes to mind is DynaMat, but there are others just as good.
With the engine inside the bus, next to the driver, you can buy or fabricate a "slip cover". The old WanderLodge motor homes, which were based on the Blue Bird school buses, had this from the factory.

Post-Playa, I clean the interior with a combination of compressed air (and goggles), vacuum cleaner, and soap-n-water & brushes-&-rags. I pay no attention to the exterior or underside. Everything under a bus is a lot more resistant to Playa-Dust Corrosion than a bicycle chain is.
:D
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Postby Elliot » Sun May 23, 2010 8:53 pm

:D
Shameless bump of my own thread.

I'm too old to keep up with school schedules, but I think many school districts are getting ready to park their bus fleet for the summer. That means it may be high season for selling their oldest buses. Ask -- politely and cheerfully -- your local school district.

One thing I have learned from our many trips in Millicent over the last three years: Make the bathroom larger than you think it ought to be. People need lots of elbow room to towel off and change clothes. Doing this while banging into the walls is very annoying. We don't go to Burning Man to be annoyed.
:D
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lawnmower generator

Postby DiveDogFLL » Tue May 25, 2010 4:31 pm

OT: this is a pretty inexpensive way to charge the batts

lawnmower w/ pulley to one wire alt.


-no affilation:
http://www.theepicenter.com/tow082099.html


-btw cool thread!
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Postby Elliot » Tue May 25, 2010 5:51 pm

:D
That's acceptably relevant in the bus conversion context. :D

I'll have to take time to read all of that site, but for now:

The "one-wire" GM alternator is also known as the marine (for boats) alternator. They are almost standard equipment on hot rod cars, thanks to the simplified wiring. (I suspect the reason normal cars use the three-wire setup is that this gives us the low-charging warning light on the instrument panel. But it's been some decades since I learned that stuff.)

A normal GM alternator from an automobile can be converted to one-wire by replacing the regulator. The "one-wire" regulator is known as the SE -- Self Exiting -- regulator (I think... something like that). Or marine regulator, I suppose. Replacing the regulator takes automotive mechanic skills, but the regulator is cheap.

I've performed this regulator swap and used the one-wire setup on a car -- works great.

In a moment, Captain Goddammit will be here to tell us about the GM CS-130 alternator that puts out good power at idle. I do not know if it is compatible with the SE regulator. Capt'n?

Gotta run to a Lions Club meeting....
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Postby Elliot » Tue May 25, 2010 10:40 pm

:D
I'm back. We were working on charging the "house" batteries in the camping bus.
One comment about lawn mower engines and similar engines at Burning Man: Those darned things are darned noisy, darn it! (Was that three comments?) And generator noise is a major problem at BM.
Much better to use a Honda EU series generator. They are expensive, but amazingly quiet. They are made primarily to generate 110 VAC, but do have a 12 VDC outlet for battery charging. If you need to charge a bunch of batteries at once, you will need to buy a separate battery charger of adequate capacity, and you power that out of the 110VAC outlet on the Honda.
If you want to try the lawn mower engine arrangement that DiveDogFLL showed us, please consider installing a muffler from a Cadillac on it.
:D
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Postby illy dilly » Wed May 26, 2010 7:45 am

Ok Elliot I think I'm the next contestant on "Evaluate my Maybe Bus"
What do you think?
http://wesellchurchbuses.com/1187/5.html
I don't like that its Gas.
But I do like that it has recently been readied for a journey, made such journey, and survived such journey.
I've been checking Florida Church Bus monthly since you posted the link a while ago, and I've been watching them drop the price on this one for a while.
Its cheap, so I think something could be wrong. But since its cheap, how much would new tires cost?
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Postby Elliot » Wed May 26, 2010 11:54 am

You are in Colorado and that bus is in Florida? That's faaaaaar!

And that dealer is known to buy much of his inventory in the north-east, where rust is a major problem.

You have a much better chance of finding a rust free bus in Colorado.

Gasoline engines get horrible fuel milage and lack hill-climbing power.

With a gasoline engine, that automatic transmission is almost certainly the least desirable "small" model without torque converter lockup (the AT545).

Advantage: It is already Not Yellow.

I see no traces of school bus lights, so it may never have been yellow.

Tires look OK. What are you worried about there? The pictures may be lying to me. The front tires look like somebody took a black felt tip marker to the grooves to make them appear deeper. But all six tires look usable.

$3.700 is not cheap for that bus.

Again, why 2.000 miles from home?
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Postby illy dilly » Wed May 26, 2010 12:14 pm

Seemed like a cool bus. Already carpeted on the inside. Already had the inverter hooked up (I know not hard to do). You're right the tires do look better than I remember. I must have had it confused with another one.
If you're gonna throw down a couple grand, whats another couple hundred for a plane ticket. If something is worth it, its worth extra cash even if it is far away.
Its awesome that you know they get a lot of their buses from the north east. I wouldn't have known that from the web site.
So apparently I'm not a winner on the "Appraise my Bus" show
Why don't ya stick your head in that hole and find out? ~piehole
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Postby Elliot » Wed May 26, 2010 12:34 pm

:D
All right, I suppose you have a point about air travel. But I would suggest you be prepared to fly home again also -- if the bus fails your inspection.

A similar bus with a highly desirable diesel engine and the desirable tranny, and the roof already raised 14 inches, and much conversion work already done inside, recently sold for $3.500 or less i Bend, Oregon.

Methinks you have fallen in love with the curtains or something of that bus in Florida. I'm capable of seeing a young lady's face for one second and becoming utterly irrational for a couple of weeks. Must. Resist.

If I were you, I'd invest a few hours, and a couple of pages out of a 49 cent note pad, in telephoning Colorado school districts. If you feel shy on the telephone, just say "Hi, this is Joe in Denver; may I speak with the Transportation Manager, please."
:D
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