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Author Topic: Bus Newbie... Advise needed about GM / GMC conversions  (Read 1745 times)
txdennis
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« on: January 27, 2011, 12:38:17 PM »

Hi, I found a decently priced T8H-5307A. Are these suitable for conversions? Huh I noticed they do not have any cargo bays. Pros / Cons? Thanks
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« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2011, 01:08:38 PM »

I noticed they do not have any cargo bays. Pros / Cons? Thanks

  If you like the looks of them, no cargo bays are the only real negative I can imagine. Just so you know, many of those have 14 to 20 ply tires for running over curbs, low gear differentials for drag racing with 40 people aboard corner to corner, and two speed automatics so they cant go over 45 or 50 mph.

  But those were really good Buses, everyone I ever knew who ran them loved them over anything newer. I always thought they were cool looking except for that big glass nose. They didnt get the name fishbowl for nothing.
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Paso One
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« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2011, 01:09:06 PM »

What you have there is  T = transit  8 = 8cyl   53= 53 passenger  07 series.

A few of use have converted a New look or Fishbowl as they are commonly known.

Lots of Parts around lots of cheap parts buses around.

There is a few obsticles encountered converting a transit without the bays. ( not overcoming )

With the price drop of converted Highway buses around already converted it will be money well spent buying a already converted bus.

I personally like the Looks of the Fishbowl and will continue to convert it my way. Smiley

The cost to convert vs the cost to buy a converted bus should be looked at in todays market.
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68 5303 Fishbowl 40' x 102"
6V71  V730 4:10
TomC
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« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2011, 03:43:29 PM »

I converted a '77 AMGeneral which looks alot like the GMC transit.  It has 22" of under floor space that can be used for conversion.  I took out the large heating/air conditioning system and mounted the heater core in my hallway with 2-14" radiator fans powering it-works really well for heat. 
Just to give you an idea what I have under the floor- in the front next to the driver's seat like a front engine is the 10kw Powertech Diesel Generator (had to make the compartment and the generator is serviced from inside-not really a big deal).  Then behind the front tires I enclosed the area for a 99"wide x 22" tall x 66" long storage compartment that really holds alot.  Next to the fuel tank there was enough space on the left to mount a 20 gal propane tank.  Then behind the fuel tank but in front of the rear axle is my 85gal gray water tank, 45 gal black water tank, and 2-8D deep cycle batteries.  Plus on the right behind the rear tire is a compartment that held the A/C equipment that I made into my oil storage-that is about 2ft square.  Don't get me wrong-it is a much harder convert then a highway bus since you have to make all the brackets and hangers to mount all the above.  But-it is also much cheaper.  Good Luck, TomC
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Tom & Donna Christman. '77 AMGeneral 10240B; 8V-71TATAIC V730.
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« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2011, 05:01:41 PM »

Dennis, many of us have been trying to encourage new members to post their location.  It looks like you're in Texas, and a lot of us are.  We could probably give you the opportunity to look at some conversions, maybe get some ideas.

I like fishbowls, but has has been said, you have to know you're getting a transit (not a coach).  There are major differences in design/intent of the vehicle.  So, one of our first questions to you, is how do you plan to use the vehicle?  If it's for tootling around locally, a transit might work well.  Longer distances, perhaps a coach.  Beyond that, if you're off-roading, camping, hunting, the low clearances of a transit, suburban, or coach could be a major problem -- you'd be better off with a schoolbus conversion.

Now, one of your questions --- is it suitable for a conversion?  You might not be aware, but with the market tanking as a result of the economy, there are a lot of ready-to-go conversions out there, much cheaper than you could do the conversion yourself. 

So, please let us have more information on your potential uses, goals, etc. -- and perhaps we can give you better guidance.

Beyond that, welcome to the BB.  We have some great guys and gals here, with a wealth of knowledge and experience (and, from time to time, opinions, but that's ok as long as you develop an "opinion" filter.  One of the best things about this particular BB is that so many are ready, willing, and even able to jump in and help.

Arthur
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Arthur Gaudet    Carrollton (Dallas area) Texas 
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Working in the bus industry provides us a great opportunity - to be of service to others
TomC
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« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2011, 07:41:22 PM »

As far as speed goes with a transit-they have exactly the same drive train as other GMC coaches with V drives.  The difference is the rear end ratio.  When I bought mine, it had the 5.57 rear end ratio and topped out at 55mph.  I changed it to 4.56 and now I run at 58mph at 1850rpm all day long.  2150 is 65mph if I'm in a hurry.  Can top out at 75, but only for a short time since the engine is turning 2400 at that speed.  Good Luck, TomC
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Tom & Donna Christman. '77 AMGeneral 10240B; 8V-71TATAIC V730.
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« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2011, 08:25:51 PM »

Quote
Hi, I found a decently priced T8H-5307A.

We could better help you if you posted some photos and listed the price.

The short answer is don't do it. Cheaper and easier to convert an intercity (highway) coach. Cheaper and easier yet, to buy it already done.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2011, 06:53:25 AM by Barn Owl » Logged

L. Christley - W3EYE Amateur Extra
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trucktramp
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« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2011, 04:25:07 AM »

FWIW, my brother in law has a 66 fishbowl that he bought with the seats still in it.  He did the conversion himself and loves it.  I had the chance to buy it recently, and but opted for a coach.  I like the ability of putting things in the belly whereas he had to get creative mounting things like holding tanks, genny, etc.  Freshwater is inside under somebeds I believe.  You don't have to worry about a roof raise because there is a ton of head room, but there are humps over the tires so your floor plan has to take this into consideration.  He changed out the motor to an 8v71 and the 2 speed tranny to a three speed.  He had to change the rear gears so it would do more than 45 mph.  The bus was fast off the stop light but the "normal" 10 hour drive to Tennessee seemed as if it would never end.  I never left the right lane. Grin  He got the bus sometime in the 80's (I don't recall exactly when) and paid very little for it then but has put a ton of money into over the years.  It is his money pit. Grin  If you decide to buy, have someone check it over or buy two (since they should be about giving them away) so you have a parts bus.  Another upside is that they drive like a car so they are easy to get around in.  Good Luck with you decision.  This is a great place for advice.  Ultimately, though, the choice is yours.
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Dennis Watson
KB8KNP
Scotts, Michigan
1966 MCI MC5A
8V71
Spicer 4 Speed Manual
txdennis
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« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2011, 11:39:39 AM »

I'm located in Washington state... I would be using it as a fulltime living space and would probably put less than 10k miles on it per year.

The guy says it has a VS2 three speed and does 60 mph easily on the highway. Bus is priced at $4k. He has yet to email me photos, but ensures that it is in very good shape. I like the way the fishbowls look, but am concerned about the added difficulty in order to convert it. Also, what kind of steering is in them? Power? Power assist?

I would love to find an MCI 5 or 7 that's already been converted, but seems all the ones I find, people are still asking way too much, have little or no maintenance records or the conversion looks like it was cobbled together. Even if I find one that is already converted, I plan on remodeling it and making my own furniture/kitchen for it.
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txdennis
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« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2011, 11:55:56 AM »

Oh yeah, after little research online, it seems Texas is the best place to register a Bus/RV. Luckily, I still have TX residency, so a conversion anywhere between Texas and Washington would be great as I would have drive it to TX to transfer the title and have it inspected if it has a non-TX title.
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Paso One
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« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2011, 11:56:51 AM »

The 8V71 coupled to the VS2-8 transmission is easily capable of cruising at 75 MPH.

I drove Fishbowl Brians bus back from Colorado and was clocked by my son at that speed on the flatin his truck.

Tom C listed above what he did with his transit. I put my tanks underneath propane and water at front 6.5 onan @ the very front.

The back door I made a mechanical room with all the panels, pumps, switches, waterheater, webasto.etc that i access standing uprite Smiley

I used Brians bus as a donor bus and converted my fishbowl.

If the fishbowl your looking at is not converted the 4K maybe high. ( not knowing much about it )

Post the #'s after the T8H 5307- XXXX  and someone can tell you where it orginated.

The Seattle transits with 8V71 all had Jakes etc.......  SIT Smiley
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68 5303 Fishbowl 40' x 102"
6V71  V730 4:10
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