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Author Topic: 1979 TMC MCI 9 Newbie questions continued  (Read 2773 times)
u2canhave1
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« on: March 30, 2009, 11:04:08 PM »

Well imagine, I followed some of the advice of many of you and found yet another fish in the sea of buses.  Many of you posted a bunch of good responses on the GMC 4905 (which I liked the stage of conversion it was at).

 Now I have ran across yet another bus.  This is a 1979 TMC MCI 9 that my Church has had sitting for .....well at least the last four years I have gone there.  They just had it serviced and I am going to get the information of who serviced the coach to see if I can pick their brain about the overall condition of the drive train.  Here is what I know so far - they spent 3K to service the bus to pass emissions testing. It is an automatic, but I suspect many of this make were. The door latch (minor repair) and at least one of the bottom storage doors (replaced) needs to be addressed. The factory Air is out and they have a $3500 quote to have the compressor repaired/replaced.  I see some of the back windows need to be addressed, but since this would need to be sheeted and new windows with screens that may not be all that big of deal.

I know this may be a lot of personal choice, but can some of you give me your opinion of the MCI-9's vs GMC 4905's. In regards to the AC, how many people really continue to use this? Doesn't this take valuable space inside during the remodel, thus people go with multiple AC's on top? I see there is a plug in the front of this bus and I assume that to be for power to something but what would that be? Is this something that would be further used through the conversion?  I think due to the lack of the factory AC I may be able to pick this up at a very reasonable price - less than 5k. I also would have to check with my CPA but this might even be a tax deduction  .... na probably not, but one can dream.

My concern here is the stage it is at.  I am a quick learner, but impatient.  Thus I think I may need something further along in the process.  The price range of this just seems right though and I know the owners.....oh wait in some respects I already own a portion of it as a member of the church.

Thanks for the comments!

Busless
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Busless
Scottsdale, AZ
TomC
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« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2009, 11:15:23 PM »

The big difference between the GMC and the MCI is that the GMC uses an obsolete V drive drive train, and the MCI uses a conventional in line engine transmission setup-think of a normal truck just rotated around the rear axle to behind the axle now.  With the MCI, there are almost endless combinations of engines and transmissions you could use as a re power, the V drive is limited to about 5 engines and three transmissions.  The one advantage to the V drive (I have a V drive bus now) is that the engine is slanted over to face out towards you and everything is easily accessible for servicing, compared to the MCI that is buried in the center of the bus.  No correct yes or no answer on this one.  Good Luck, TomC
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Tom & Donna Christman. '77 AMGeneral 10240B; 8V-71TATAIC V730.
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« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2009, 05:58:15 AM »

NEVER ever buy a used bus from a church. Cry
Very little to no maintenance is done on a church bus. Huh
If it's been sitting for 4 years is going to take some big dollars to make it road worthy.
Been there and done that I look back and wish that I would have ran the other way when I bought my first bus from a church. Tongue
jlv Grin

 
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John316
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« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2009, 07:13:21 AM »

If they want 3k to bring up the emissions, don't bother. That emissions stuff is crazy anyways. Unless you live in CA, spend you money on actually getting the bus up and running, not emissions.

And yes, generally church buses are not well maintained.

God bless,

John
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MCI 1995 DL3. DD S60 with a Allison B500.
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« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2009, 08:32:57 AM »

Yup, there are a limited few exceptions, but for the most part, church buses are no value at all.

Shared responsibility for maintenance by a group of volunteers, or some low paid second string worker has it dumped on their plate as yet another thing that needs done.

Churches, for the most part, are horribly lacking in accountability for things like bus maintenance.

And a busload of compliant and forgiving customers when it brakes down, and God is the Ultimate Maintenance Director anyway....

Unless you get it for free, and plan to leave the church, with the real sense that this is likely your parts bus for the better one you will buy to run....

And this from a church member hisself...

happy coaching!
buswarrior
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Frozen North, Greater Toronto Area
u2canhave1
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« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2009, 10:57:07 AM »

Here is a list of what was done to the bus recently.  Additional comments are welcome.  Interesting that all of you say to walk away from Church buses.

Thanks again for the comments!
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Busless
Scottsdale, AZ
Lonnie time to go
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« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2009, 10:58:50 AM »

First i will say not a expert.
   V-drive engines may be out dated but chances are you will never need to replace the engine or trans.  A big plus if you do there are engines (8V71N) in good shape for under $1000.00   You will have to add to that the cost of putting it in of course.  If you really like the 4905 then make a low offer 2 or 3 grand
Towing with the 4905 has limits of under 10.000 lbs i heard.
On the plus side they only have one axle in the back so cheaper on tires lol
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1976 4905
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« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2009, 03:25:31 PM »

Every moving part on that bus is suspect, in part due to church ownership, the rest due to it having been run a couple million miles by the original commercial operator.

Think about that for a minute...you ever run a car that far?

The axles, the wheel end bearings on all axles, the drive shaft u-joints, the entire front suspension steering king pins, the cam shafts in the brakes, the pins in the accelerator pedal....

EVERY MOVING PART.

Not to mention the more mundane consumables like brakes and all the fluids...

It has passed an emissions test, which is a plus for the engine.

If any of that other stuff is worn out, it will nickle and dime you to death.

Triple, if you have to pay someone to do the work.

This isn't your father's Oldsmobile.

happy coaching!
buswarrior
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Frozen North, Greater Toronto Area
Kwajdiver
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« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2009, 05:34:51 PM »

Before you purchase this MCI-9, remember there are a LOT of parts, as mentioned.  Also, once you fix something, you will never use the bus enough to fix it a second time.  Nothing is cheap on these units,

Have the motor and tranny checked by an expert.  Also, pay if you must to pull the wheels, check the brakes and wheel bearing.  I would have the rear end checked also.  They only last 2 million miles.  My third member, had to be replaced.

That's the big stuff.  You have at least three air tanks, that could cause you a problem, not sure how many air regulator.  I just rebuild two of mine.  Fifty for two rebuild kits.  Thirty minutes to remove them, 15 minutes to rebuild them.  An hour to reinstall.

You just need to know what your getting into.  Church bus,, beware.....

Bill
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Auburndale, Florida
MCI-9
V-6-92 Detroit, Allison 5 spd auto
Kwajalein Atoll, RMI
John316
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« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2009, 07:09:06 PM »

Agreed to what has been said. Also, that is a little start on eating the elephant. Looks like they have taken a couple of bites (which is good), but check it over thoroughly. Get a bus mechanic to look it over thoroughly (preferably not a truck mechanic, they are more common, but a bus is a whole different animal). And remember to take you time. The lesser the hast, the lesser the waste (on some occasions).

God bless,

John
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MCI 1995 DL3. DD S60 with a Allison B500.
Kwajdiver
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« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2009, 07:23:22 PM »

2u,

What is your budget?  Do you plan to do most the work yourself?

Bill
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Auburndale, Florida
MCI-9
V-6-92 Detroit, Allison 5 spd auto
Kwajalein Atoll, RMI
u2canhave1
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« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2009, 11:03:48 PM »

2u,

What is your budget?  Do you plan to do most the work yourself?

Bill


Most of the drive train, I would have someone else do.  If it is something I think I could take on I would try.  I need a manual that would walk me through each step as I can follow directions well.  I know it would take me 1 hour to do what a professional would do in 10 minutes - Breaks, thinking through the task, etc.  I have owned a Class A RV, but bought it new and had no drivetrain issues to be addressed during my short 5 year ownership. Because I had a warranty, it was easier to have someone else address the minor issues.  As for my budget, I am looking for less than 10k on the shell. I would like to get a solid mechanical bus and spend the money on the conversion.  I know that over time I will likely spend more than 40K to do what I want.  I am just anxious to get started and have no idea about the different models.  For obvious reasons, I am anxious to have something that could be up and running in a short period of time and move the conversion through the steps over time.

Any additional info is helpful.  I never would have thought about a church bus in the fashion described here.  I even thought I might be able to take advantage of a charitable contribution (haven't checked with the CPA).
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Busless
Scottsdale, AZ
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« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2009, 09:03:21 AM »

I'm going to disagree with most of the other guys here, but only regarding THIS coach.  I agree in principle that buses belonging to nonprofits are generally a bad idea.  This one might also be.  But every coach is different.

In your favor:

A), it's in Arizona.  If it's been there its whole life, you're not likely to find any rust.  THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. 

B), it was DOT'd (I'm assuming that it passed) and not run since.  That means the brakes are good, the kingpins are good, etc, and nobody has had a chance to wear them down after that.

C), it got 6 new injectors and not run since.

D), it was driven BY A MECHANIC, who then inspected it and didn't find anything else that needed to be fixed.

Engines are relatively cheap.  If you can get a coach with little or no rust, and engine which was given new injectors a year ago and not run since, and which passes DOT, 5K is a great price.  I would have it DOT'd again, and ask the mechanic to look for rust.  Maybe even get down in the pit and shoot a bunch of pics of the underside of the coach, these might come in handy some day.

As far as the factory aircon, most people take them out when doing a conversion, because they only work when the engine is running.  If you decide to buy the MCI and decide that you want to put it back in, however, I have a TMC 96A3 that still has factory air and I am looking for a buyer for the whole system.  That coach is in Tucson, and I will be picking it up in a couple of weeks or after the first of May (not sure yet).

The bay doors aren't a major issue.  Don't buy a replacement until you know that you need to (you might find yourself cutting vents in it and/or bolting it in place, etc).  Same for the windows, you may find yourself with extras after skinning the side.

It's not a tax deduction when you are taking ownership of something in exchange for the money.  OTOH, if they sell you the coach for $2K, and you give them another couple of thousand as a donation . . .

The bottom line, THIS coach is probably a good deal.



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John316
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« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2009, 10:02:59 AM »

I guess that I would have to carefully agree with BG6.

This one might be a decent deal...

God bless,

John
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MCI 1995 DL3. DD S60 with a Allison B500.
u2canhave1
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« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2009, 08:42:25 AM »


As far as the factory aircon, most people take them out when doing a conversion, because they only work when the engine is running.  If you decide to buy the MCI and decide that you want to put it back in, however, I have a TMC 96A3 that still has factory air and I am looking for a buyer for the whole system.  That coach is in Tucson, and I will be picking it up in a couple of weeks or after the first of May (not sure yet).


Even if I end up not purchasing the TMC, I know the Church would likely be interested in the purchase of this.  I appreciate your response, because there are some very valid points.  I believe the bus spent most of its time in CA and AZ.  I am still trying to determine this.  I have not tried to find it, but I would like to obtain your number to discuss the Factory Air.
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Busless
Scottsdale, AZ
RJ
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« Reply #15 on: April 06, 2009, 12:38:32 AM »


I am just anxious to get started and have no idea about the different models.  For obvious reasons, I am anxious to have something that could be up and running in a short period of time and move the conversion through the steps over time.



U2 -

Really THINK about what you've written here.  For those of us who have been around these bus conversion bulletin boards for any length of time, what you've written is a HUGE red flag.

Why?

You've said why yourself - "I am just anxious to get started. . ."

Time and time again we "old timers" have seen newbies jump in BEFORE they really do their homework, only to get burned and/or burned out on a project that was far greater than what they had in mind.  The fact that you have no idea about the different models tells us that you haven't been doing your homework before tackling this project - you're still in the dreamer stage!

You'd be far better off to follow the latter half of your own advice about having something "that could be up and running in a short period of time" by picking up one of the many, many conversions that are out there on the market right now, and then modifying it to suit your own needs.

You say your budget's 10K for the shell and another 40K (WAY too low, btw) for the interior - there's some awfully nice rigs out there in the $50 - $100K range you should be considering.

Now I'm going to suggest something different than everybody else:  STOP what you're doing now, and start studying.  First homework assignment - pick up a copy of "Beginner's Guide to Converted Coaches," written by Larry Plachno, the publisher of National Bus Trader, one of the industry trade journals.  Although it's a little dated, conceptually it's right on the money.  Read it thoroughly, cover to cover, then read it again, BEFORE you spend a dime on a real bus - or a real mistake.  Available from Amazon, sometimes on eBay, or directly from the publisher (www.busmag.com)

As for the TMC, get me the Serial Number and Unit Number of the coach, (or the whole VIN, or both), and I'll see if I can dig up who originally purchased it from the factory for you.

Now, go do your homework!

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink
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RJ Long
PD4106-2784 No More
Fresno CA
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« Reply #16 on: April 06, 2009, 04:03:50 PM »

While I disagree that 40K for the interior is too low (much less "WAY too low") I pretty much agree with the rest.  We've all been talking about the hardware without considering the other factors. 

There is several million dollars' worth of research here for the asking -- things that we have all learned, sometimes expensive lessons.

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DaveG
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« Reply #17 on: April 08, 2009, 06:33:02 PM »

I have to agree with RJ...you don't want to jump in too deep too quickly unless you have a bail-out plan. I read some years back that most folks buy a bus and spend the next few years getting it ready only to never get to use it. The suggestion was to get the bus home, pull the seats, throw in an ice chest, camp stove and sleeping bags and folding chairs and take a trip. That is the mindset I've been  using. I have to say that I have gathered some very useful information from the bus boards/forums that has really enabled me to narrow my search for what I want.
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