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Author Topic: New to the forum, caught the bug, want the bus!  (Read 8708 times)
LesBerg
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« on: March 21, 2011, 12:22:10 PM »

Hey everyone!

I caught the bug, and bad.  My wife and I are looking for an RV and almost everything we've looked at has been S&S.  Then I saw it:

http://spokane.craigslist.org/rvs/2257300596.html

I'm a gearhead, IT Pro, semi-pro fabricator, and can't get enough of classic vehicles, so the appeal of the bus was nearly instant.

I gave the guy a call, and he says it's a '58 Greyhound 4104. It's a no-propane conversion and 'single-fuel' as the gen is diesel too.

Everything I know about 4104s (and busses in general) I learned here over the last two days researching 4104s.  I did a search for '4104' and I've read every post up to the middle of page 14. I've worked with the DD 671 v6 in the Army in my M113a2, and I was an over-the-road truck R&R mechanic for about 5 years after I got out in '95, so I know a bit about drivelines, electrical, suspension, etc.

I'm not up on the internals of the motor though, as I was the operator for the M113, and the engine work was for a different set of mechanics. The most I've done is basic PMCS (preventive maintenance checks and services) and replaced a blower drive shaft a few times.

If we can scrape the money together for the bus, we'll go over to Spokane and check it out (about a 45 minute drive).
I have a few primary things I want to check out to make sure that the positively work correctly:
  • brakes
  • Engine controls;throttle, gearshift, clutch, and gages & lights
  • brakes & wheel bearings
  • tires, engine fluids, mufflers
  • brakes
  • air beams and suspension (looking for corrosion and malfunctions

We're looking to full-time for a while with the family - myself, Tichelle, my wife, and our two kids, 7 & 9 (ages, not names  Wink ). She's an independent training developer and I'm currently out of work, but we're both looking at relocating from the Boise area.

Reasons for wanting to full-time for a while:
- Poor job market in Boise, we're open to relocation (and hoping to)
- When we land a job or decide to head to a specific area, we don't want to be in a position where we have to take the first rental that would get us out of a hotel.
- We've both been considering full-timing off and on for ten years or more
- Our kids want to
- Staying with my parents is driving us nuts - though it's a short trip.

My reasons for wanting to go the bus route are (tell me if I'm crazy):

*ease of maintenance/serviceability as compared to a S&S rv (good luck with engine work)
* familiarity with the driveline, suspension, and brake systems - very durable and uncomplicted compared to 'light-duty' parts on todays S&S RVs
*load towing capabilities (my M113 with this powerplant was 13 tons empty). I have read the various threads concerning towing with busses, including the 4104, and I'm confident that I could fabricate the necessary subframe if needed.
* better durability than a typical S&S Rv
* we can't get into a diesel RV anywhere near the price this 4104 is listed for.


If we can come up with the finances to buy this bus (assuming it's not shot), is there anyone in the Spokane / Coeur d'Alene area that would help us look this thing over?

Thanks much!
Les Berg
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« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2011, 01:45:35 PM »

Les,
Welcome to the madness! It looks like it could be a great buy! (if it's all that &/or more!)

Clifford will probably be able to point you in the direction of who would be best to go over it with/for you!

Good luck in your up coming ventures and say hello to my kin folk in Nampa as you hit the road! (My uncle Fred used to be an IT guy for HP in Boise before he retired a couple yrs back!)
Grin  BK  Grin
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« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2011, 01:46:28 PM »

Welcome aboard Les, good to see another Army Vet. Do spend some time researching prices as it is very competitive market lately, it is good that you got some skills, will come in very handy indeed. I got out in 95 also! Back in after 911 and out for good in 07, oh the 113's carried a 6v53 by the way Wink Grin. Glad to have ya's on board, welcome to the madness Grin
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LesBerg
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« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2011, 03:06:21 PM »

6v53, gotcha! By the pictures it's a similar engine, correct?

There is another bus local that I want to check out, but I really would prefer this one at the moment. 

Thanks for the input, guys!
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Kevinmc5
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« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2011, 03:25:23 PM »

Welcome Lesberg and family
Sorry to see a busnut leave Boise, got to do what you got to do. I live in Boise. Can't give much help on looking for a bus, still looking for the right bus my shelf. But if you or your family need anything let me know. Good luck Stay safe

        Kevin
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« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2011, 03:33:22 PM »

welcome--don't know much about 4104 but others here are experts.  Bob
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« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2011, 03:41:43 PM »

That bus has been for sale a long time he started out asking 15,000 a year ago the 4104 has a inline 671 Detroit and I don't know anybody up there that could help you if it was back in Boise I could help it's probably a 3 to 5 thousand bus,and I would want some backup on the 18,000 rebuild on a 671
good luck
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LesBerg
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« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2011, 04:07:28 PM »

Welcome Lesberg and family
Sorry to see a busnut leave Boise, got to do what you got to do. I live in Boise. Can't give much help on looking for a bus, still looking for the right bus my shelf. But if you or your family need anything let me know. Good luck Stay safe

        Kevin

we are both still looking for work in Boise, we are just looking to keep our options open. At the moment, Tichelle is working from home and I am hoping to hear back on a state job. We're staying up in Athol right now, as it is cheaper to drive to Boise for interviews than to live there full time.

It's a long story, but it boils down to 'we have to go where the work is'.  Tichelle was laid off last november, and so far the best (other) jobs in Boise all pay less than half of what she was making before. She interviewed with companies in Madison, WI and Minneapolis and all have been better pay than Boise, though Minneapolis has a much higher cost of living.

In an effort to get us into an RV, I have my 74 Dart Sport and my 67 F100 up for sale locally, but no luck so far. (<--- not an attempt to try to sell them here). I'm going to head over to Glenn Vaughn's Restorations tomorrow and see if he's hiring - I worked for him about 7 years ago.

BTW - If any of you ever find yourselves broken down up in the Spokane, Coeur d' Alene area, stay away from Ross Point Truck Repair. I worked there for a few months back around 2001 or so. The lead mechanic (a guy I went to school with) told me a horror story that happened just a few months before I started there:

An old couple in their 80s from Portland had been saving for a vacation for ten years or so had their RV overheat on I90 in Post Falls. They had the misfortune to be towed to Ross Point Truck Repair, where the shop foreman discovered that the problem was a failed thermostat.  The owner and service writer bullied the couple into completely replacing the cooling system in the RV - radiator, heater core, water pump - everything.  The final bill came to $3000, very close to what the couple had saved to go on vacation. The owner and the service writer knew how much money the couple had, as they sat in the office with them talking for the two days it took to complete the 'repairs'. The morning after repairs were completed they headed back to Portland, the vacation was over.

I have no first-hand proof that this happened, but there were many other things that happened at the shop that give me no reason to believe that it didn't happen exactly as told to me. For example:

He even got his dad. The owner's dad called one day asking if we could come out and air up a flat so he could drive to a local tire shop. I was on call that day, so I drove out, aired up the tire, and sent him on his way. There was no way I was going to bill the guy for airing up the tire.

I passed the office on the way to lunch that day and I overheard him billing his dad $75 for the callout - $25 callout fee and $50 for the 1/2 hour minimum. He was nice enough to waive the $5 per mile charge.

The crazy thing is, if his dad had just called the tire shop he was heading to in the first place, they would have come and aired the tire up for free, then repaired the tire at the shop - also for free.

Anyway, sorry for the rant. I just wanted to warn you all away from that place.
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LesBerg
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« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2011, 04:13:40 PM »

That bus has been for sale a long time he started out asking 15,000 a year ago the 4104 has a inline 671 Detroit and I don't know anybody up there that could help you if it was back in Boise I could help it's probably a 3 to 5 thousand bus,and I would want some backup on the 18,000 rebuild on a 671
good luck
That's good to know, thanks! I had planned on asking if he had any paperwork on the engine rebuild, and I suspect he won't. 

Hmm.  He offered to knock off another $500 if I bought it this week. I'm starting to wonder if I should start looking elsewhere. We are on a very short budget, but I don't want to buy into something that needs high dollar maintenance right off the bat.
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MEverard
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« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2011, 04:31:31 PM »

Les,

If the bus runs as good as he says and has paperwork it is not a bad deal. Right now you can get a lot of bus for the money. I have a 1960  4104 that I paid $5,000 for and it had a rebuilt motor and was well taken care of. I like the older buses because there is a lot less to working on them. However, you have to remember that some parts are harder to find. My bus is perfect for long weekends and week vacations, but I might like a bigger coach if I was going to fulltime. I just don't think you can beat the nostalgia of the 4104.

Good Luck
Mike
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Mike Everard
1960 GMC PD4104-4520
Antioch, CA
Bill in KS
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« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2011, 05:11:07 PM »

I spoke to Micheal about his bus.  he was all about setting a 7-10 day time line and trying to cut me a deal.  I got tired of his pressure and constant repeating of the deal he was willing to do if we could complete in 7-10 days.  
He has NO receipts for the " 18K engine work".  I asked about the turbo and he confirmed there was a turbo in addition to the blower.

He told me the Gen set had 7000 hours, yes 7 thousand.  

I love my 4104 and bought a nice one to begin with, however it is very easy to spend 2-4K just having some suspension parts swapped, valves adjusted, servicing all of the fluids and filters and buying a set of tires that are safe. 

I was going to buy it for the turbo setup and have a spare bus to pull parts off of but he didn't like my offer but I was willing to close in 7-10 days Smiley

Bill in KS

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PD4104-4797 in SE Kansas
LesBerg
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« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2011, 05:38:00 PM »

Wow!

Did you ever get a chance to actually check the bus out and hear it run? I suspected that he wouldn't have the paperwork on the rebuild.

If you got a chance to see it, what was your impression of the condition of the bus?
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Bill in KS
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« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2011, 06:05:29 PM »

Hey
I did Not look at it. 

After I made my offer I advised him on some options he might take to present the bus a little better and draw in a buyer.  From the looks of the add he didn't like my suggestions. 

You are just a short drive away, take the wife and at least go get some grease on ya.  He is very pushy on the phone and acts like it is a big deal to spend anytime dealing with his bus. 

If he was closer I'd go look just for fun and fan a short stack of dead presidents in front of him just to watch him flip and flop around.   

There are a ton of buses that show up along the west coast, I wouldn't get in any hurry.  Get ya steal of a deal.

Bill in KS
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PD4104-4797 in SE Kansas
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« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2011, 07:07:50 PM »

Welcome! If you are in the market you need to go look at that bus even if there is a good chance you will not buy it. It helps to have some real tire kicking experience, and you learn a lot by doing it. The fact this one has a turbo is intriguing and could be the kick in the pants a 4104 needs. If that bus is mechanically sound the price is in the ballpark. Good luck!
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« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2011, 07:08:43 PM »

No documents on anything rebuilt basically means nothing. If it was that important they would at least have some scrap of evidence. New clutch and easy fix are other big tip offs! It's hard to get rid of one of these even in great condition so someone that has been trying to rid himself of one for a while will probably tell you anything they can to get it sold. When they are cheap one can take a chance but even a free one with problems could cost you more than it's worth.
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