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Author Topic: GMC 4905 - Newbie questions  (Read 4348 times)
u2canhave1
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« on: March 22, 2009, 10:23:58 PM »

I consider myself to be educated and capable, but know very little about the mechanical nature of buses. I, like many of you, have a dream to convert a bus, but want to simple work on the interior and not the mechanical items, ie. drive train, transmission, air, etc. With this in mind let me show you what I have found and seek feedback from others who have done this. I have taken on a VW dune buggy and learned a great deal from this. Sold my sticks and twigs fleetwood wanna be bus and miss the available use of it, thus I am looking for something to make my own and put my own stamp of creation on it.

I have found a partially converted GMC 4905. Cant remember if they even gave me the year, but it has a auto transmission if that helps anyone.  The owner states about 30k on a major rebuild - what is major - depends on the person I think. The oil has been changed by the owner every 2k miles - but no receipts or invoices to prove this. Not sure of the background of the seller - thus I am at the mercy of what they state.

I received the following from them:
"This bus is mechanically sound. There is a small amount of rust but is mostly aluminum so does not rust. We drove it for six years after the rebuild probably put 30,000 miles on it. My husband changed oil every 2000 miles. This bus runs great we just are not using it anymore."

As best I can tell from the other pics the interior is started but simply need to be finished. Plumbing for bathroom and kitchen is started and some cabinets are in place. The bedroom is nearly complete.  Not sure if this roof is raised - it looks like it, but difficult for me to tell. I do not know what the mileage is on it. They are asking 10k.

Other than have it looked at a qualified mechanic, what other suggestions can you make? Assuming the mechanicals are all in good condition, what value would one place on this bus? What would be the going rate to have this checked out by a mechanic?

Thanks for your help and advice.
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Busless
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« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2009, 05:01:51 AM »

wonder why someone would change the oil every 2k.

whats the extent of the rust
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cody
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« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2009, 05:20:31 AM »

Anyone thats anal enough to actually change their oil every 2K on a bus will have the proof of it and i can't recall anyone ever selling a bus that hadn't had a major rebuild in the past 20K or 30K miles, thats listed as one of the mandatory claims to make, (it's on page 31 paragraph 3, right under 'only driven on sunday) 10K isn't a bad price for it if it gets the nod from a mechanic, it'll cost a couple hundred for a mechanic to go over it, make sure it's a bus mechanic and not a truck mechanic, draw an oil sample and have it analysised and then if the bus mechanic gives you the nod and the oil sample comes back good, then decide if you want the madness that come with turning over your bank account to a bus, then if it all still makes sence to you, then welcome to the associstion of tilted people and otherwise busnutty group, many here can tell you what a major rebuild costs, it's 10 to 20K or more to have a major rebuild done, I personally don't know of anyone that would invest that kind of money in one and then throw away or lose the paperwork, if I had one done that paper would be framed and hanging on the wall.
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« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2009, 05:23:23 AM »

4104 and Cody, some folks change the oil when it shows a little darkening I have a friend that changes his every 3000 miles with the filter and I try to tell him he is wasting money but he likes clear oil and buys Delo in the 55 gal barrel and filters by the case    good luck
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Airbag
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« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2009, 05:23:42 AM »

I would only advise don't buy a bus that does not have a maintenance log with receipts. Ask me how I know.
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cody
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« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2009, 05:28:47 AM »

Wow, Clifford, your right, I know some crazy people too lol, my oil starts turning dark as I get ready to pour it into the engine lol, but all the crazy people that I know that do that, carefully mark it down, date and mileage and the oil change, I just don't know of any that actually do that without marking it down on a clip board or someplace, generally the ones that are that diligent are also fanatics on recording it too.
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« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2009, 05:35:48 AM »

I know nothing of GMC's, but it doesn't look too bad. I think it even has some solar panels on the roof, kinda hard to verify that though. I'm sure the experts will give to a detailed explanation on what to look for. The mechanicals are important to check out, like brakes, engine and trans. I'm sure there is lots of life in her, just have to empty the wallet and jump in with both feet and pray a lot!

~Paul~
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« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2009, 06:19:58 AM »

There is a good deal of steel in a 4905 that you need to check condition of.  The panels that surround the side windows, the panel that surrounds the small "D" windows behind the door and the driver's seat.  Check the conditon of the floors.  Pay attention to the torsion bars that hold up the baggage bays.  They tend to be pulled down out of shape.  Also look under the driver's seat side window.  Pay close attention to the window frame here too - mine had really rusted out and caused the floor to rot.  Also look in the electrical panel right there - check to see if the wires have rusted.  The earlier models used cloth wiring - watch the condition of those!  Where is the muffler on this model?  Later models had them in the engine bay between the engine and the radiator - that's a good thing.  Earlier models had the muffler under the floor toward the front of the bus.  When these went bad, they could catch the floor on fire.  Just make sure the condition is good if the muffler is there.  It is a pretty expensive repair.  Does this model have the retractable tag axle?  It's removeable if it does.  These are  nice busses.  I really enjoyed the super big bays.  Good Luck!

Glenn
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Glenn Williams
Lansing, MI
www.threemenandatenor.com
1968 MCI 7 Ser. No. 7476 Unit No. 10056
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« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2009, 06:43:51 AM »

Outwardly, it looks good.

I very much doubt the 2,000-mile oil change cycle, though.  The 4905 drinks 7 GALLONS of oil each time.  And, as has been mentioned, nearly everyone claims a recent overhaul.  Have him start it, put it in gear and hold the brakes while putting his foot on the throttle, to see how much smoke there is.

You don't say what he's asking for it.

The auto trans cuts your mileage by as much as 40%.
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luvrbus
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« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2009, 06:57:32 AM »

BG6, what type automatic does the GM use that would lower your fuel mileage 40% doesn't work that way with a Allison 740 there is only about 1/2 to a 1 mile difference   good luck
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« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2009, 07:52:53 AM »

Being a P8M4905A owner my self perhaps I can add some input. Tongue
Looking at the photos I can see that some one has at one time changed the stock mirrors to the early GMC/MCI type.
Nothing wrong with that looks like a good up grade.
Chances are the transmission is a V730 and that is a good upgrade you can expect between 6.5 to 7.5 mpg on the road at speeds around 60 to 65 MPH.
This model GMC Coach has Sheppard steering from the factory where as the MCI equipment of this vintage still had power assist steering.
Parts for this coach are not that hard to locate.
You will find that the GMC coaches of this style are very easy to work on nothing is computer controlled and you can always get it back home with out to much effort.
Window glass windshields are interchangeable from left to right entrance door glass and drivers side window are the two glasses that might be sort of hard to locate if you have to replace them.
Perhaps you can post more photos of the engine and interior of the coach so we can give you advise from those photos.
As far as driving a P8M4905A it's a very stable coach good ride all the way around.
Also please post the VIN number I will tell you who bought it new from GMC.
Thanks jlv
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« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2009, 09:47:49 AM »

Also, if you include your location in your signature (or profile), you might find one of us around the corner.  I used to instruct on 4905's, (now own a 4107), they're a great coach.  When you first drive one, pay attention to the turning radius. 

I used to instruct new drivers to go by the corner, halfway down the next block, then think about turning the wheel.  Stated differently by the owner of the company I worked for, if you turn with a 35 foot transit so the right rear wheel clears the curb by 6 inches, a 40 foot transit will hit the curb, and turning the same way with a deck and a half (buffalo to you westerners) will run the right rear wheel over the sidewalk.  That said, I used to drive them in downtown Boston, with no problems.

Arthur 
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« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2009, 11:12:40 AM »

U2,

Knowbody answered your question about the roof being raised.  Maybe they will get back to it.

There were a couple alarm bells in here but they were not rung loudly enuf to suit me: 

A "MAJOR" overhaul happens with the engine in the shop and out of the bus.  That is an expensive deal and I think the 8V71 starts at $12K.  An "In Frame" is accomplished with the engine still installed and involves less work that a Major and is a tad cheaper.  Its a standing joke that all buses for sale have a freshly overhauled engine in them and some, though relatively few, actually have paperwork and receipts to back that up.

Oil changed every 2 thousand miles....not likely and barely possible.  Here is what may actually be going on:  Rule of thumb is to leave your dirty oil in the engine so the prospective owner can have the oil analyzed to determine if anything is seriously wrong and to access the age of the engine.  Clean oil is a really bad sign and telling someone that you change it every 2K is a cover up story....possibly.  At any rate you won't get much more info from having the oil analyzed than if you were to have some oil straight out of the can analyzed.

NO RUST means some rust.  Some rust means?Huh

You need to have a DD dealer put it on his dyno and have an "old Hand" 2 cycle go over the engine.  Costs like $300 and can save you tons of grief and thousands of dollars or tens of thousands.

My instinct is to RUN from this deal.  Or are they asking 6 grand and throwing in a drum of oil?

Good luck with this,

John
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« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2009, 12:18:00 PM »



I love my 4104 and if i ever decide to try to convert another one it will be a 4905.  has big bays and plenty of room inside with out a roof raise.   and it is a gm.

just have a good detroit and bus nut person to check it out.

uncle ned
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« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2009, 02:41:10 PM »

That bus does not have a raised roof.  No worries there.  Can you post pictures of the insides?  In this market, 10K is probably too high.  For a shell/partial shell, I'd stay closer to 6K.  Let us know what you  find out based on the advice we've given you.  Look for bubbles in the paint around all of the windows - that's a sure sign of rust.  Also look for rows of rivets that seem to dissapear where the panel continues.  That's a good sign that there is body filler.  Also, ask the seller about when the engine smokes, and how much oil it uses in 1k miles.

Glenn
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Glenn Williams
Lansing, MI
www.threemenandatenor.com
1968 MCI 7 Ser. No. 7476 Unit No. 10056
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« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2009, 03:16:37 PM »

U2 -

Being an orphan, being a shell, and with no documentation regarding the engine OH and oil changes, well. . .

Doesn't look like a roof raise, just R&M fiberglass caps front & rear.

As RoadRunner mentioned, find out the VIN on the coach, that's important too, due to rust issues with NE units.  Lots of rot is hidden on these.

BG's 40% fuel mileage figure is not accurate.  The 4905s w/ stickshifts I used to drive got 7 - 8 mpg.  The ones in the fleet with the V-730 automatic got 6.5 - 7.5 on 300 mile runs.  Depends a lot, however, on where you're driving.  City streets and climbing Rocky Top are mileage robbers, big time, with a bus - ANY bus, for that matter.

IIWM, I'd offer him $2500 cash.  If he doesn't take it, well, there's more fish in the sea!  You might also post the approximate price range you're budgeting for a shell purchase, and whether you're open to other makes & models.

I also agree with Arthur - put at least your city/state in either your profile or signature, so others nearby can help.  Also, it can help us guide you to nearby reputable repair shops, etc., w/o sending you 2,000 miles out of your way to Cantua Creek.  Adding that info is easily done by editing your profile from the link above.

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink
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RJ Long
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« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2009, 03:33:50 PM »

I owned a 4905 for 4 years and after replacing brakes, radiator, injectors, turbo, transmission and a million other little parts I personally wouldn't own another GMC. MCI parts are far more accessible and the overall feel, turning radius, road noise etc. of the MCI is a better fit for my personality. Have the brakes checked that's a 12 thousand dollar job in itself.
I would drive an MCI as well and make sure you take them both up a steep hill and put your foot in it while keeping an eye on your mirror. What you see will say alot more about the condition of the motor than a highly motivated seller just trying to get rid of something.

Good luck and make a thorough search...

Rick
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u2canhave1
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« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2009, 04:59:50 PM »

WOW. I am so surprised at the number of responses.  I have attached pics of the interior.  You see the most attractive this is I get to do the interior for the most part to my taste and that is where I want to spend my time.  I have reached out to get the VIN.

Ok, so here is another Newbie question.  I did not know there are places I can send oil for analysis.  I totally agree with many of the comments here, but I do not think it comes across in the quote that the email was sent from his wife, thus, there may be records, there may be receipts, there may be a log.  I need to speak to the husband.  This is located in Yuma and I am thinking the same as many of you that 10k may be a bit on the high side. I simply guessed about on the roof raise or no raise.  I have not physically inspected the bus yet, thus I am like you all. Making assessments on what is seen in the pics.

I will be posting the last pics I have on this buss in the next post.
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Busless
Scottsdale, AZ
u2canhave1
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« Reply #18 on: March 23, 2009, 05:03:12 PM »

I am completely open to most bus makes, I simply like the stage this one is at assuming that mechanically it is in good shape.  I agree with RJ and agree with his assessment in this market.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2009, 05:18:49 PM by u2canhave1 » Logged

Busless
Scottsdale, AZ
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« Reply #19 on: March 23, 2009, 07:45:05 PM »

U2 -
BG's 40% fuel mileage figure is not accurate.  The 4905s w/ stickshifts I used to drive got 7 - 8 mpg.  The ones in the fleet with the V-730 automatic got 6.5 - 7.5 on 300 mile runs.  Depends a lot, however, on where you're driving.  City streets and climbing Rocky Top are mileage robbers, big time, with a bus - ANY bus, for that matter.

I've learned to take the in-service worst-case and then double it.  A few times, I discovered that I didn't go "worse enough."

Taking your spread, 8 for the stick and 6.5 for the auto, is a drop of 20% -- for a coach in normal service, properly maintained.  Add a few years of private owners who let everything deteriorate and just plain sit . . .all sorts of not-so-goods happen in there.  Few of those improve fuel mileage.  Even just "dead" fluid can rob you of mileage.

None of those things happen in the manual gearbox.  It works or it doesn't.  An oil change works wonders.

So, when comparing an old manual coach to an old auto coach, if you plan on a 40% drop and get a 30% drop, you're happy, but if you plan on a 20% drop and get a 30% drop, it's the end of the world.

The original poster "knows very little about the mechanical nature of buses" -- I would rather that he or she doesn't learn by paying a lot of unexpected bills. 

I put my money where my mouth is, BTW.  I've got my PD4903 on the market, and Sunday night talked a guy out of buying it because he just isn't prepared to take care of the little TLC stuff that it needs.  After all, if you read the ads, it seems that I have the only for-sale coach in the country which hasn't had a recent "complete" overhaul . . !   Wink

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u2canhave1
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« Reply #20 on: March 23, 2009, 09:45:04 PM »

It really never ceases to amaze me when dealing with some people.  I asked for the VIN and was questioned why I wanted it.  I also asked the following (the questions are mine) and got the following back:

The pics are a bit fuzzy, is that two seats in the front? Yes
How does the air work? Yes
I see some other things on top of the roof, what are they? Solar Panels, Roof Vents,
Does it have a Gen? If so, what kind and what shape is it in? No Generator
Does it have a tow hitch? – Cant tell from the pics Yes
Has the roof been raised? No
What type of tread is left on the tires? 90%
What size tanks did you put in? 100 gal fresh water, 110 grey/black combo

This info is still coming from the wife, thus I am not confident in some of the answers, but the investigation goes on.  Thanks to all for the insight.
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Busless
Scottsdale, AZ
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« Reply #21 on: March 24, 2009, 02:01:29 PM »

BG -

I was going to comment on your response to my fuel economy ranges, but decided that would be non-productive for U2.  Too many variables between revenue service and RV usage.

At least he has an idea of the rate he's going to have to pour diesel into it.

Or, like many of the rest of us, just to be on the safe side, NEVER driving more than 500 miles w/o fueling - it's not fun trying to reprime an old two-stroke!  BTDTHTS!!

Say, BG6, how about following up on Arthur's suggestion to U2, and put your city/state in either your profile or your signature - you might find some fellow busnuts nearby who'd love to swap bus war stories over a cold one!

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink

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RJ Long
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Fresno CA
u2canhave1
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« Reply #22 on: March 24, 2009, 09:17:54 PM »


Also please post the VIN number I will tell you who bought it new from GMC.
Thanks jlv

The vin is P8M4905A1653.  I appreciate all the help you and this board have provided for me.
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Busless
Scottsdale, AZ
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« Reply #23 on: March 24, 2009, 10:40:35 PM »



The vin is P8M4905A1653.  I appreciate all the help you and this board have provided for me.



U2 -

P8M4905A-1653 was delivered new in May of 1977 as fleet number 500 to Chicago Sightseeing Co, based in Chicago, IL.

According to another, specialized, list that I have, it was also one of 53 4905s delivered new from GMC in 1977 equipped with the optional V-730 automatic right out of Pontiac.  So this is not a coach that has had the bulkhead cobbled up to install the automatic by some subsequent owner, it came that way originally.

OTOH, it IS a Rust Belt unit, so I, along with a whole lot of others on this board, would be very, very diligent inspecting the chassis.  Two places to look:  Inside the exterior compartment directly under the driver, and also the engine compartment tailgate.  Look closely at the framing for both - if they're rusted out, or show signs of major repair, say thank you and continue shopping.  Or wave $1500 cash, and tell them the difference between what you're offering and what they are asking is what it's going to cost to repair all the hidden rust & corrosion.

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink
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RJ Long
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« Reply #24 on: March 25, 2009, 06:40:31 AM »

BG -

I was going to comment on your response to my fuel economy ranges, but decided that would be non-productive for U2.  Too many variables between revenue service and RV usage.

Truer words were never spoken.

Quote
Say, BG6, how about following up on Arthur's suggestion to U2, and put your city/state in either your profile or your signature - you might find some fellow busnuts nearby who'd love to swap bus war stories over a cold one!

Well, since I fulltime and where I am today may not be where I am tomorrow, I'm not sure this would help . . .currently I'm running around in northern California . . .
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« Reply #25 on: March 25, 2009, 09:38:45 AM »


Well, since I fulltime and where I am today may not be where I am tomorrow, I'm not sure this would help . . .currently I'm running around in northern California . . .



Well, now. . . if you're going to meander thru Yosemite or Kings Canyon National Parks, or just heading thru Fresno on 99, give me a holler.  We could swap bus war stories over a couple of cold Pepsis.  Contact info's in my profile.  Overnight parking's available out front, no hook ups other than a long extension cord, tho the price is right!

 Wink
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RJ Long
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« Reply #26 on: March 25, 2009, 05:54:54 PM »

Thank you all.  I still think in this market it is worth taking a look at it.  Who know it may be the one out there that has limited rust, but now, through many of you, I am educated what area's to focus on.  So in obtaining a sample of the oil, where should that be sent? How much should I try to obtain?

Thanks again!
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Busless
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« Reply #27 on: March 25, 2009, 07:07:04 PM »

Don't worry about it going away so fast.  There are lots of buses around and lots more wherever they came from.  If, after having it thoroughly inspected you still like it, low ball the offer.  It is scary how fast what seems like a fair deal can turn white elephant as you drive home.  It is worth questioning why the wife is handling this.  If my wife were selling our bus, she would know absolutely nothing of any value.
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« Reply #28 on: March 26, 2009, 02:02:53 PM »


What type of tread is left on the tires? 90%


The age of the tires is probably more important info.  Ten year old tires with 100% tread are worthless.
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