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Author Topic: Experienced advice requested  (Read 2630 times)
vonprum
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« on: February 07, 2013, 06:18:02 PM »

Thanks to all who read and replied to my newbi intro.  Very helpful. Coincidentally, this bus I looked at and rejected earlier has been re-listed at a much reduced price.

http://portland.craigslist.org/clc/rvs/3601513227.html

I made a tentative offer of $8k to the owner and he countered with $9k. It drives very well and has many upgrades to an older conversion. Batteries are one or two years old and look good, tires are at their half life, great looking holding tanks, newer inverters, new air upgraded air bags and leveling system, three year old Dometic fridge, two older roof A/C's but work fine. Suburban furnace, porcelain toilet, nice oak floor. New blower, clutch, power steering, and upgraded air cleaner. Well maintained by diesel mechanic although it's covered in oil, like most others I've looked at. Points of concern are, cracked windshield, poor fitting entry door, severely damaged compartment door and although most of the conversion wiring looks well done, there are a few odd wires here and there. There are a few other dents and smaller issues but from my description and what you can see when you click on the link above, is this a fair price or is this bus a turkey?

Any advice or info would be helpful.  Thanks.

Lance

I'll upgrade my profile ASAP
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Lance Von Prum
Vancouver, WA
1957 PD 4104
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« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2013, 06:51:50 PM »

I am certainly no expert in GM buses. However this looks like pretty good value for the money. You can't build your own for that kind of money.

Nash Motorcycle Co. in Vancouver Wa. build really nice motorcycles:

 http://www.nmc.tru3.net/

JC
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JC
Invermere, BC
1977 MC5C, 6V92/HT740
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« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2013, 07:18:04 PM »

 I had a 4104 for several years. Power steering? For that money, it looks to be a great beginning unit, without much loss if you decide in a couple of years that coaching isn't for you. Couple of things I would check though....how much play in steering, condition of brake lining and brakes, kingpins, radiator, condition of air bags, rear cross member and strut area for cracks or corrosion where the castings are bolted to body. Salt can get there and weaken, crack. Most of those issues aren't necessarily reason to reject, but might be negotiable on price.There are others, but after all, it is over 50 years old
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GMC h8h 649#028
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bkelly1011
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« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2013, 07:24:49 PM »

Lance -

It sounds like - at least from what you were told - a lot of the expensive stuff is covered. Alcoas a bonus!  There are some GM parts that are no longer available in the aftermarket (some rear windows are a good example) - but you should be able to address the windshield, entry door, and compartment doors pretty easily.  A good source for parts (in Berlin, NJ but ships) is Luke at US Coach - if you do get a GM please memorize his number - 1-888-262-2434.   Luke makes cameo appearances here on the board now and then.

As RJ said, if you go to see the bus please take a bus nut with you who knows GMs - there seem to be a lot out that way.  Each model has its idiosynchrasies.  You'll want an extra set of eyes, and they'll have good questions for you to ask.  Primary always is - why is the owner selling?

Also, if you can get the S/N on that 4104, please share when you can - Jon (siberyd) on this board tracks them in a database.  RJ can get you original delivery info to help figure out what its past life was like (was it always a West Coast bus, for example).

Take care,
Brad
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Busnut wannabe.
siberyd
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« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2013, 07:40:29 PM »

Vonprum,

That is a good price on a converted 4104. Nice looking coach, and an average price. If you want a fancier coach it will cost more. If you got 29k I can point you to a 4104 you can eat off the engine its so clean. Nicer looking coaches 12-16k in California.
Yes the 04's are old, but they have classic lines. I got 1 and know a lil bit about them.

Siberyd
the guy tracking down all the surviving 4104's.

If you got 250k there is a pretty 4104 on the dupont registry.
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1964 White/Carpenter 35' RE 3208 Husky Camp
1957 PD 4104-2240 Converted Siberyd

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« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2013, 05:22:23 AM »

Unless you just want a 4104 I would expand my search JMO,some running around still have the old low block 6-71 with ICC brakes
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« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2013, 06:07:39 AM »

Unless you just want a 4104 I would expand my search JMO,some running around still have the old high block 6-71 with ICC brakes

Welcome aboard, Lance. Glad to have you.

Honestly, I don't know much about old buses. That isn't my thing. However, if Clifford (aka luvrbus) says something, you can go to the bank with it. There are a lot of folks on here that have good thoughts, but if Clifford says something, sit up, listen, and heed his advice.

Cheers,

John
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MCI 1995 DL3. DD S60 with a Allison B500.
robertglines1
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« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2013, 06:30:51 AM »

tires looks---age means more.. last 4 numbers in Dot code = week and year of mfg ..they are toast at 9-10 yrs even if they look new. Figure $500 per tire to replace. FWIW  Bob
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« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2013, 07:53:53 AM »

Yes 4104's are classic GMC with it being the first 35ft bus with air suspension. But remember they are 53-60yrs old. The 6-71 is rather anemic as to power compared with newer buses. The 4spd is inherently weak because the angle drive is on the output end of the transmission, compared to the 4106 and all Vdrive automatics where the angle drive is on the input side. A 4104 that has a turbo 6-71 or 6V-92TA with V730 trans would make for a delightful hot rod to drive. I would suggest you find a 4106 if you're set on a 35ft'r.

Personally-my favorite is the MCI102C3. 40ft x 102" wide, large windows, 6'10" of headroom, big cargo bays, normal T drive which will take any engine you want, and is a modern design with parts readily available. Good Luck, TomC
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Tom & Donna Christman. '77 AMGeneral 10240B; 8V-71TATAIC V730.
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« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2013, 10:07:47 AM »

Lance -

The 4104 is a good, solid old workhorse. 5065 of them pounded the pavement all over the USA for years, albeit slowly by today's standards.  With a stock powertrain, 65 mph is pretty close to "flat out."

Remember, they were designed back before the days of the Interstates, so they are at their best when you mosey along on the old highways and byways.  Not to say that you can't run the Interstates - just remember Aesop's Fable of the Tortoise and the Hare when you're behind the wheel and you'll be a happy camper.

Compared to the modern stuff, they're dirt simple to work on - like an old VW microbus on steroids.  Plus a whole lot less plastic, too.

I respectfully disagree with TomC in regards to his comment that ". . . the 4spd is inherently weak because the angle drive is on the output end of the transmission. . ."  GMC built that driveline configuration (6-71/4-spd) for over 24 years, starting with the Yellow Coach 718 in 1935.  It was only during development work on the much higher HP & torque output of the 8V71 / 4-spd driveline that dependability suffered, thus the design change before release.  So if you don't "hot rod" the engine, it will darned near run forever.

Chessie made a very valid comment - a converted 4104 would make a good "starter" coach, sort of like your first car.  It will give you a taste of what's what with a converted coach, allow you to get your feet wet and see if, indeed, this hobby is for you.

As I said before, DO YOUR HOMEWORK before plunking down your cash.  It's very easy to buy a bus, but awfully hard to sell a mistake.

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink
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RJ Long
PD4106-2784 No More
Fresno CA
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« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2013, 11:53:04 AM »

It sure is disapointing to see an item "for sale" and the seller won't spend 5 minuts to clean or tidy it up.>>>Dan
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Utahclaimjumper 
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« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2013, 12:28:55 PM »

They obviously have lost interest in it, and just want to get rid of it. That is why it should be cheap.

JC
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JC
Invermere, BC
1977 MC5C, 6V92/HT740
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« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2013, 02:01:53 PM »

The 4104 is maybe the best bus of all except for the 4106 which has the extra 8V power and better air suspension, otherwise they are very much the same. The original hyd boost steering is a plus. A big plus is the mostly Al construction, almost no steel used in the body. The door can usually be adjusted if the original door closer handle is still in use. Hopefully it is because it is far superior to any type of add on latch.

It is a nice compact size and very maneuverable. I never towed, never saw any use for one.

$8-9K is a good price if it has no major mechanical problems. I paid twice that for mine and it is a modest conversion.

I strongly advise you pay to have the engine steam cleaned and then drive it or have the owner drive it out on the highway at least 60mph for at least 10 mi. This will quickly show up any major oil leaks and where it is leaking. If you find oil covering the rear engine door it is not a good sign. The 671 is an infamous oil thrower, at least mine was. If you can replace leaky seals yourself the expense is slight, to pay someone to do it is not so slight!

I put 64,000 mi on mine in six years, drove it coast to coast and it never let me down. The main reason I replaced it is I needed full-time PS because of my age and shoulders plus a blown front main engine seal. Otherwise I would still be driving it. Speed is not a biggie to me, the whole idea is to cruise and see the country from a nice high vantage point, not to see how many miles I can drive in a day!

Since so many of them were built parts are not a real problem, the only part I ever had a problem with was rear glass and I even found some of them used. Most people cover the rear glass anyway but I like it as original as possible, none of my glass is covered, and I like the sliding side windows.

Steering play adjustment is an easy fix unless it is tie rods or steering shaft U joints, then they have to be replaced.

The Onan gen, if it is anything like the one that came with my 4104, is a shaky, noisy monster. I got rid of it pretty soon because it drove me nuts!
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PD4107-152
PD4104-1274
Ash Flat, AR
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« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2013, 03:22:58 PM »

I am 99.99/100% sure it's a Ex Greyhound PD4104 by the photo.
Give us old GM folks the serial number and RJ Long or my self can tell you which division of the Greyhound Corp. got it from GMC.
I have owned 2 PD4104's and they were wonderful old buses.
Wish I still owned one today but the 4905 that I have now will do just fine.
RRtex
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luvrbus
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« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2013, 03:36:14 PM »

You still need to check the engine if still has the old 2 valve head they are not much on power less than 180 hp and not much can be done to help with more
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« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2013, 06:18:18 PM »

Two valve head versions didn't run that bad and had better low end torque for starting out with the 3:55 rear. In any case, 4 valve heads with all parts are easy to score nowadays. Be nice if it had the newer high block. The low block had a one piece head gasket and lower compression from what I can remember. Ours came originally to us with a  high block and 2 valve head, with HV7 injectors. 4 valve head N65's and advanced timing made quite a difference. We had a Hydra shift in it for a couple of years until we had some problems and couldn't obtain clutch plates for it. With no internet yet, help and information was almost impossible to locate. We found a 4:55 chunk out of a city bus and installed it a short while. It would have been the perfect setup; you could back up at idle by just letting out the clutch and top speed was approx 80. Unfortunately, the ring gear had large pits in it and noisy and another chunk was not to be found, so the 4:11 went back in. It would run to 92 on the level Later years, we had Leid diesel rebuild it and add a turbo. It would  run with a 4106 and early MCI's then, before the 92's. What a difference.
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GMC h8h 649#028
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« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2013, 06:20:51 PM »

I am not a GM enthusiast. I have an MC5a, but do not consider myself to be necessarily loyal to MCI either, so I will only address generic concerns.  If you have a bus that is low on power, has a manual transmission, and may be difficult to get parts for, you live with, and work with those attributes.  However, if you are looking to buy a bus, you have the oportunity to get as many features as you want upfront.  Unless you really desire the joy of a manual transmission that is ill suited to RVing, look for one with an Allison.  Unless you want to be the absolutely most anemic vehicle on the road, look for one with more power.  Just so you understand, an 8V71 is underpowered unless it has a turbo.  The one joy you will have when slowly chugging up a grade with an 8 is the knowledge that at least you do not have a 6!  

The purchase price is really important, but is unlikely to be your biggest expense over the first couple of years.  It is far cheaper to get what you want to begin with, even if it costs a bit extra, than to try to upgrade later on.  For example, you may have to pay an extra thousand or two for an Allison and bigger engine when buying the bus, but upgrading will cost a prohibitive amount more.  
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« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2013, 09:28:44 PM »

  I like the 9 to 11 MPG I get with the 4104. Mine has the high rear end ratio, 70+ according to the GPS on the interstate. Climbs the 7% grade up Round Top Mountain south of here in 2nd gear keeping up just fine with the trucks and never gets over 180 degrees with no water mister. Then I can turn around, drop off the mountain with the old Splicer in 1st gear, enjoy the view and never touch the brakes on the way down. I like the looks of the bus with all the original windows, the round front and rear and the bullet shaped exterior marker lights. I like the 35' length, it's very easy to get down the road and navigate thru a Wal Mart parking lot.  Its a 35' 23,000 pound bus, when I want to go real fast I drive the 70 Olds. Love mine.

  I think you will find that most of the folks on the forum that own or have owned one of the old GM's love and will sing praises to them,and most of the folks here who have something longer, squarer, with more HP/automatic transmissions/bells and whistles wonder why we do. Wink
 
 Having said all this I think the bus that appeals to you is the bus you should  buy.  I and several others here like the looks/style/simplicity of the old 671 GM's, (silversides, 4103's, 4104's) so we are content with less power and all the "shortcomings" of the 671 and the 4 speed Splicer. If more HP, getting there faster in a more modern looking bus is what appeals to you then you will probably not be happy with one of the old tortoises. But then again you might want to go back and read my first sentence.

 

Just my 2 cents worth.
Rick
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NW Arkansas
1959 GM 4104  No. 4115
1972 Grumman Kurbmaster Stepvan Conversion
1957 Airstream 13 panel Overlander
vonprum
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« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2013, 05:44:05 AM »

Thanks for all the info, guys.  You really helped make this decision an easy one. After having a mechanic look the bus over I bought it for $9k.  It has its issues but I build and restore custom cars for a living.  So, this is my custom car. I'm not concerned about the low power as I don't intend to drive it across country, just to the coast now and then, just 100 miles away.  And hey, when I get there I'll be home!
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Lance Von Prum
Vancouver, WA
1957 PD 4104
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« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2013, 05:56:15 AM »

Thanks for all the info, guys.  You really helped make this decision an easy one. After having a mechanic look the bus over I bought it for $9k.  It has its issues but I build and restore custom cars for a living.  So, this is my custom car. I'm not concerned about the low power as I don't intend to drive it across country, just to the coast now and then, just 100 miles away.  And hey, when I get there I'll be home!

You da man! Glad to hear you did. Now for long life for the bus Grin

Enjoy...and don't forget to use it.

John
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Rick59-4104
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« Reply #20 on: February 09, 2013, 08:49:38 AM »

 Congratulations and have fun with her, you are 10-11 gallons of diesel and under 2 hours to the coast with the old girl. And not a lot of $$ up front.

 Read up and get a good understanding of the air brakes, how the brakes work, and what if any modifications have been made to the original brakes on the bus. Not understanding how the air brake system on your bus operates or should operate could get you or someone hurt. Also never crawl under the bus without the bus being on run up blocks. If the air bags deflate not enought room between the bus and the ground for you unless your built like Twiggy.

Rick
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NW Arkansas
1959 GM 4104  No. 4115
1972 Grumman Kurbmaster Stepvan Conversion
1957 Airstream 13 panel Overlander
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« Reply #21 on: February 09, 2013, 10:16:34 AM »

Lance -

Congrats, you are now thoroughly infected with busnut fever!   Grin

So, what's the VIN on your new toy?  PD4104-XXXX?

If it's not on the title, look inside the exterior compartment underneath the driver, you'll see it stamped on the "frame rail."

Oh, and since you're in Vancouver, WA, you're in the same town as a major glass supplier to the RV hobby - Motion Windows, a division of Peninsula Glass.  They're on NE 121st, near NE 4th Plain Rd.  Strong supporter of our crazy hobby, btw.

Welcome aboard!

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink
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RJ Long
PD4106-2784 No More
Fresno CA
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« Reply #22 on: February 09, 2013, 01:50:54 PM »

if no maintenance or parts manuals came with the bus, find them now, before you need to start working on it. Look on Ebay or on this classifieds site or over on Busnuts.
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« Reply #23 on: February 09, 2013, 03:31:48 PM »

I second the manuals post, they are absolutely necessary for these old guys.
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PD4107-152
PD4104-1274
Ash Flat, AR
vonprum
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« Reply #24 on: February 09, 2013, 04:10:24 PM »

My SN is PD4104 2548.  Let me know what you find out.  I'm guessing it's an old Trailways because I see traces of original red paint, not blue paint.
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Lance Von Prum
Vancouver, WA
1957 PD 4104
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« Reply #25 on: February 09, 2013, 04:52:01 PM »

Congratulations on you purchase!

The guys who know these metal beasts will continue to give help when asked. A great bunch of free information to learn from. RJ and crew know what they are talking about!

Next time we are in Vancouver we'll look you up!

Have fun and be safe!
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« Reply #26 on: February 09, 2013, 09:27:56 PM »

Lance -

Well, you're close, but no cigar.  It was a line-haul coach, just not a Trailways, at least when first delivered.

OTOH, you can now tell all your friends, enemies and relatives that you own a "jen-u-wine retired Greyhound bus."  Yup, that's right.  PD4104-2548 was delivered new in June of 1957 as fleet number E-3066 to Eastern Greyhound Lines, HQ'd at that time in Cleveland, OH.

Back then, Greyhound kept their coaches in the fleet for approximately 10 - 11 years before selling them off to second-tier operators.  Thus yours most likely was sold off after the 1967 or 1968 summer peak season, traditionally considered after Labor Day.

I don't have any further info on subsequent owners, you'll have to work backwards from the PO.

The red paint is most likely from a later owner.  If you poke around in all the exterior compartments, you might find some Greyhound markings, including the fleet number.

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink
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RJ Long
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« Reply #27 on: February 10, 2013, 04:30:18 PM »

RJ speaks with straight tongue.

On the Al sides and front, when it is in bright sunlight, I can still see the shadow of the identifying signs the two Trailways bus Co owners put on my 4104.
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PD4107-152
PD4104-1274
Ash Flat, AR
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