Bus Conversion Magazine Bulletin Board

Bus Discussion => Bus Topics ( click here for quick start! ) => Topic started by: vonprum on February 07, 2013, 06:35:34 AM

Title: newbe introduction
Post by: vonprum on February 07, 2013, 06:35:34 AM
Good morning to all.  I'm a newbe and want to introduce myself. My name is Lance. I live in the Pacific Northwest and am looking at busses to purchase for a motorhome conversion. I'm sure these questions have been asked and answered before but a quick search did not show results. So, as a potential bus buyer with a small budget, wt sold I look for, what should I watch out for? One potential candidate is a 1965 GM Fishbowl Bus 5304.  It sounds good in the ad and I will look at it in a couple weeks when the owner returns home. I'm looking for opinions, advice and perhaps links to former posts and/or articles that would be helpful.

Thanks fellas. I'm a former GMC motorhome owner and a quite capable fabricator so I hope in the future to be able to return the favor and answer some of your how-to questions

Title: Re: newbe introduction
Post by: grantgoold on February 07, 2013, 06:45:13 AM
Welcome to the insanity!  ;D

Lets us know your budget to purchase as well as the budget to build so those who jump in can be realistic in their suggestions. $1,000 or $100,000 ?


Title: Re: newbe introduction
Post by: vonprum on February 07, 2013, 07:00:08 AM
Good suggestion.  I have about $10k to start with plus a monthly budget of at least $500 that will soon increase.  I plan to do most everything myself and also not travel much. This will be a full-time home which a may put 500 to 1000 miles a year on the clock.

Title: Re: newbe introduction
Post by: Ed Hackenbruch on February 07, 2013, 07:03:14 AM
How about your exact location? lots of bus owners in the NW, maybe someone real close to you that could show you what to look for.

Title: Re: newbe introduction
Post by: vonprum on February 07, 2013, 07:08:28 AM
I live in Vancouver, Washington.

Title: Re: newbe introduction
Post by: expressbus on February 07, 2013, 07:17:39 AM

Welcome to the insanity of being a Busnut. Once infected there is no known cure. So just relax and enjoy the ride.

You might want to check with a local tour operator(s) who might have or know of someone else that has a coach or more for sale or coming to sale. Don't know about Transits but do know several on this site have converted them. I'm guessing some of your larger municipalities may be a source too.

When asking a question work on providing detailed specific information you are seeking. Generic questions without details results in a wide spectrum of answers that may be a long way off from what you thought you had asked.

Take your time in seeking a bus for conversion. Every bus you look at will be a learning experience. If possible, take someone with you that has experience in converting a bus or perhaps has experience maintaining a bus.

Just sayin'...

Title: Re: newbe introduction
Post by: TomC on February 07, 2013, 09:24:45 AM
Lance-I have a Portland, Or 1977 AMGeneral transit. It is very similar to the GMC 5304. BUT-being a 1965 fishbowl, it most likely will have a 6V-71 and a 2spd Allison in it. Both of which are not sufficient power for cruising safely. If you're looking at a transit, I'd suggest no older then the 1977 like I have. Reason-this was the first year that the Allison V730 3spd was available. The V730 is basically a HT740 without 1st gear and still have plenty of parts availability. The VS2 is far less.

My AMGeneral has a 8V-71 with V730 that I changed the gearing from top spd of 55 to 75, added Jake brakes. I still wasn't satisfied with the performance and had the engine turbocharged with air to air intercooling-big project. Like you, I couldn't afford a big over the road bus at first-my bus was $4,000. But since I spent so much money on regearing, adding Jake brake, rebuilding the engine, then turbocharging the engine, replacing all air bags, changing the air assist steering to Sheppard hydraulic steering-it would have ulitmately been cheaper in the long run to get an over the road bus with the proper engine/transmission in it in the first place. Also, even though the Fishbowl does have 22" of under floor space, I had to make all the hangers for the tanks, batteries, generator, etc. An over the road bus with the cargo compartments is much easier. I'd advise looking at a MCI 102C3.  Good Luck, TomC

Title: Re: newbe introduction
Post by: RJ on February 07, 2013, 10:03:54 AM
Lance -

Welcome aboard the madness!

Help us help you!  Please take a minute to edit your profile to add a signature line similar to mine below.  Include at least your first name and your home based city/state.  Once you obtain a coach, add that to your sig also.  By doing so, we can better refer you to part sources and other services in your area.  No sense referring you to a shop in TN if you're in WA, right?  Added benefit - you might just happen to have another busnut nearby!

First, I'd recommend you pick up a copy of "Beginner's Guide to Converted Coaches" by Larry Plachno, the publisher of National Bus Trader magazine.  You can order it off their website (www.busmag.com (http://www.busmag.com)) under the subscriptions & books tab.  Altho some info is now dated, the concepts Larry talks about are still relevant today.  Spend the few bucks on this book before you spend some big bucks on a mistake!

Second, the market for bus conversions is in the toilet right now, and only seems to be getting worse.  There have been some finished rigs sold lately for not much more than scrap prices.  Thus, it makes NO sense to start from scratch - much better to buy a completed unit and simply do minor remodeling.  I know of a really nice GMC PD4106 rig in FL that's ready to roll with some really innovative features - the market's so bad the owner's dropped the price from $20K to $9,995 over the last year.  (PM me for contact info if interested.) 

Third - If possible, have an experienced BUS technician look at the coach.  Truck stop techs have no clue!

Fourth - DO YOUR HOMEWORK!  It's very, very easy to buy a bus, but one heck of a lot harder to sell a mistake!

Again, welcome aboard!

FWIW & HTH. . .


Title: Re: newbe introduction
Post by: HighTechRedneck on February 07, 2013, 11:17:28 AM
Welcome aboard Lance!  Glad to have you here.  :)

Title: Re: newbe introduction
Post by: grantgoold on February 07, 2013, 04:10:27 PM
Ok, with that budget I would begin to look at a 102 inch wide bus.  I had a transit before my MCI and I am glad I moved to a more commonly converted bus. I was able to get my bus for far less than you are prepared to spend and have been helped tremendously by others with the same style conversion. It is very nice to through out a specific question to this group and get a variety of answers from nuts with the same model bus.  Just a thought. You may also want to seriously consider making a down payment on an already converted bus and then make payments while actively using the bus and making upgrades/repairs as they occur. 

Good luck!


Title: Re: newbe introduction
Post by: Dreamscape on February 07, 2013, 05:23:01 PM

A few bus nuts do live in Vancouver, WA. They do frequent the forum occasionally. I would take the time to look at as many buses as you can, and ask for guidance as you go along in your journey.

Have fun!

Title: Re: newbe introduction
Post by: sdc53 on February 07, 2013, 08:01:57 PM
I'm local to you and own a GM 4107. Although I'm relatively new to bus ownership, I like looking at buses and could help you inspect them on occasion.  If you find something you are serious about locally and it's a two-stoke, have it mechanically  inspected at hillsboro diesel.

Good to connect with locals whenever possible.  Biggest problem I observed around here was hidden water damage. Check wooden floors, walls, carpet, etc for wet areas, mold, or dryrot.  Wooden floors on GM's can be seen from below in the ceilings of the baggage bays.

'69 4107
Gladstone, OR