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Author Topic: Can a Gillig transit bus w/Series 50 get 15mpg highway?  (Read 12786 times)
Kevin Warnock
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« on: December 20, 2006, 02:23:28 PM »

Hello,

There is an interesting bus on EBay right now, a Gillig transit bus, that was a Hertz car rental shuttle. It has a Series 50 engine, though the ad doesn't say so. I called the owner and had a nice chat with him. He claims the bus gets 9-12mpg city, and 15 highway. He claims Gillig specifies this fuel mileage. Is this wishful thinking? He says it has highway gears, and he has personally driven it at 80 mph, and that was not the top speed he thought he could achieve.

Here's the EBay link:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/1996-Gillig-40-foot-Hertz-Shuttle-Bus-Runs-Like-New_W0QQitemZ150072940417QQihZ005QQcategoryZ6728QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

I am seriously considering getting a modern transit with a Series 50, and then transfering the insides of my existing 1967 MCI 5a conversion to the new platform. With the extra five feet of length, I can put the water tanks and inverter upstairs, to account for no or limited underneath storage. I get 6.4 mpg now, and the bus looks awful, with hundreds of dings and peeling paint all over. This Gillig looks lovely by comparison.

I really want a Series 50 RTS, but I read that the transplanted Series 50 engines are trouble prone. I can't do engine work myself, so I am not wild about the prospect of lots of engine maintenance I will have to pay others to do. Do you think the Gillig would be more trouble free? Presumably the Series 50 in it is the original engine, and presumably the bus was designed for a Series 50 to begin with. The steering is tight according to the owner, and the miles are low. The price seems OK too, given the Series 50 is a costly engine still.

Comments please...

Thanks,

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Dreamscape
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« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2006, 03:13:57 PM »

I can't answer your mpg question. I did read the ebay add. According to the gentlman selling it, it runs like a new vehicle. Stops on a dime, 70mph at 15 mpg etc. etc.. I would be careful with his "too good to be true" statements.

Go out and take it for a spin, have a mechanic look at it, check all maintenance records.

Other will chime in that know these buses I'm sure.

Good Luck,

Happy Trails,

Paul

Dreamscape
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tekebird
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« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2006, 03:27:22 PM »

I think the owner is "optimistic" in his MPG calcculations.

IMHO, you will not be happy with the transit.


They ride rough, and generally they are shot when the time comes to sell them (original owner) and they are built with this in mind.

gone are the days of used buses with 3 million miles and another million left in them.

also being a hertz bus I can say it was rode hard and put away wet.

I would also expect a trans and engine rebuild in it's future.

also keep in mind when Hertz selss off their buses...they are bringing less than 5000 no matter the condition

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Buffalo SpaceShip
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« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2006, 04:17:00 PM »

I've seen these same model busses that our local transit authority use, and they can keep up with me going 70mph on the highway between Boulder, CO and Longmont, where we live... so I don't doubt the speed claim. That one looks pretty good! I love the Alcoas. Having an extra door would be nice sometimes, too. I wouldn't discount transits as a potential conversion. They have bigger brakes and more air supply than comparable highway coaches. They also ride lower and drive more like a car, and usually have more head room. The lack of bay storage rules them out for our family, but shouldn't necessarily rule them out for everybody.

The Series 50 is one of DDs "million mile motors" IIRC, so would be nice to have. They do vibrate a LOT at idle. I rode on one of these in Phoenix one time and the thing really rattled at stops. But most folks don't sit and idle an RV much... just scream 'em down the highway.

I do doubt the 15mpg claim. You might get 10mpg on a good day, if you baby it. See how big the fuel tank is, too. Sometimes the transits have pretty small fuel tanks since they get fueled up every day. I like to 900 mile range we have with our 165gal. tank. It gives you more flexibility with stops. YOu could always add more tankage.

Go check it out... but take everything the guy says with a grain of salt... he sounds like a real used car salesman!  Grin It also might be overpriced.

Brian B.
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Brian Brown
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Longmont, CO
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« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2006, 04:34:19 PM »

I can tell you from my own transit, that they ride just as well as the over the road buses.  The Gillig is an excellent bus and will last many years.  It is a high floor that has room under the floor.  I have 22" available and have 85gal gray, 45 gal black, 2-8D deep cycle batteries, 10kw Powertech Diesel gen, and a 22 x 99 x 66 front storage with a small 2 ft cube storage in the back for oil and such.  I like the transit since it only takes 3 steps up to get in the bus.  But, his price is high just because of the Series 50.  It would be worth a look.  Good Luck, TomC
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Tom & Donna Christman. '77 AMGeneral 10240B; 8V-71TATAIC V730.
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« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2006, 06:25:37 PM »

I bought a Gillig for a motor donor which did not work out. It was from the north when new, I think Minnesota.  Had a lot of hidden rust. If you can get the vin # call Gillig and ask if the motor was stock and where it went when new. I have talked to Ken Goldman there. A nice guy.  Gillig 1-800-735-1500  Goodluck  Tom Y
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Tom Yaegle
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« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2006, 07:23:43 PM »

I won't say I "doubt" his 15 mpg claim... but my statement will reference a snowball, and it's chances if it were in hell.   Wink

I would believe an average of 11 - 12 mpg on long highway trips, but in the city you are probably looking at more like 9 mpg tops.  Remember, the S-50 is a 4 cylinder engine so it will get better mileage on the highway; but in city driving, having to bring the bus up to speed time and time again, mileage will suffer.

I would also be extremely skeptical of any statement made that is not part of the original EBay posting.  Those "extraneous" statements cannot be used for a "Not As Stated" claim with EBay or PayPal -- so he can tell you any number of lies which you can't do anything about if you fall for them.  So take them with a grain of salt and base your decision on what is stated in the ad.
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John E. Smith
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« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2006, 07:17:35 AM »

Gilligs are built like a tank, almost as good as an RTS.

Ask the guy to look under it and see how many air bellows are on the rear axle.

If only two, walk away - the ride is atrocious.

If four, more acceptable and similar to an RTS.

At the transit agency I worked at, our S-50 Gilligs got 3 - 4 mpg and would top out at 57 mph.  Coach would probably do better with a highway rear axle.

Aerodynamically, Gilligs are bricks, worse than your MC-5.

Most transits sell for $500 - $1,500 at auction.  For what this guy's asking, you could find a nice MC-9.

Your decision. . .

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink
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RJ Long
PD4106-2784 No More
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Fresno CA
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« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2006, 01:58:32 PM »

I will back up Russ's Comments.

I think  you will be lucky to see 10-12 and thats if it has highway gearing......being a rental shuttle it likley is geared low......so I would expect the poorer MPG.......

Gillig will be able to confirm the gearing.....

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Tim Strommen
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« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2006, 06:32:49 PM »

Hey there,

      Well I happen to own an '84 Phantom from Lane Transit District, in Lane County Or. (it was part of their auxiliary fleet so was pretty low-use).  Paid $1,572.54 at auction - drove it all the way home.  I have heard a pretty good deal negative about the S-50 engines - the S-60's are a better bet for reliability and performance, but they add cost to a chassis (S-50 may not have enough "umph" to get on the freeway quickly).  The fuel tank in my rig is 125 Gallons, came with an Allison HT740 automatic (they don't build manuals).

Pro's for the Phantom:

  • Manufactured using truck parts (i.e. very common/easy to obtain)
  • If a west coast chassis, likely to have little rust - as the chassis is mostly galvanized mild steel
  • Designed to run >12 hours per day straight - with lots of stop-and-go (thus larger air tanks and compressor - for fast build up, and frequent brake applications)
  • Not a V-drive setup, so replacement parts are a bit cheaper and easier to obtain than some older highway coaches (not knocking them guys - just stating facts)
  • Designed for quick service turn-around - are very easy to work on (most parts are accesible without the use of a lift or pit)

Con's for the Phantom:

  • Rides like it's manufactured using truck parts - especially when light (empty).  Do you have any fillings you're looking to lose? Smiley
  • Cost efficiency was the point behind the Phantom line - a little known fact is that Gillig doesn't really make very much money building these (and on some contracts they will actually lose money intentionally to prevent a competitor from winning)
  • Some of the key stucture elements are a little chincy - I'm reworking the base rail in the longitudinal walls to add some strength and rigidity - and an replacing the marine birch plywood floor which rotted out around the wheel-wells with a sheet-steel sandwich (remember - cost efficiency with the Phantoms)


Personally I wouldn't recommend buying a Phantom unless you are willing to pull the interior completely out.  When I removed the aluminum sheet just below the windows, I found that the seat rail - along with the exterior sheetmetal created a "tank" for wash-down or rain water that had leaked in the widow seals (widows are a two piece assembly put in absolutely last).  The fiberglass batting they used for insulation turned into a wet sponge (i.e. bad).  Also, over the wheel wells they have some structural support steel flush against the inside of the sheet aluminum which they place a foam-backed limp-mass vinyl sheet to avoid vibrations.  This also turned into a sponge in my bus - but this stuff actually held water in place long enough to rust the support (simple cut and replace repair - but again the interior must go to access this).

Being that the Hertz bus is a Shuttle - it's been used for short agressive trips most of its life.  I'd doubt that this rig will get the 15mpg he's claiming (and is this peak or avereage? Was he coasting down hill when he figured this out?)  My trip from Oregon to the SF Bay Area got me about 6.8mpg (average - empty) at 65MPH (average - verified by GPS).  I was running pretty high revs (about 1950rpm) so I think I can get about 7.25 if I do some rework of the drive-train and replace the 740 transmission with a 750 (read $$$ investment) to get the revs down a hair below 1800.  Oh - and my rig has an MUI 6V92TA (not a DDEC S-50).  When I purchased my rig - I received (upon request) the LTD maintenance logs (including oil/anti-freeze sample reports) for the entire service life of the vehicle (this was a major selling point) - and I found them to be very complete (nothing hidden, even the bad stuff).

There is tons of space below a Phantom.  About 22" from the bottom of the exterior skirt to the floor, and 18" from the bottom of the exterior skirt to the bottom of the frame rails.  With some creative placement - some of the space that would otherwise be lost due to suspension configuration can be used for components that don't need to be serviced frequently.  The Heater and/or Air Conditioner takes up a majority of the rear cap (about 31" deep) with the muffler and intake plenum/filter cover taking up about 16 inches side to side each (with the heater-A/C taking up the rest of the center space).  If you ditch the Heater-A/C there's a bunch more space to put stuff (just try to keep it light - no water tanks).

Most of the older large fleets of transits are being replaced by the new Gillig Low-Floor Hybrid-drive busses (and they are damn sexy).  I'd probe a bit deeper into why the bus is avaiable for sale (and do a vin check and history too).

Hope you find this info useful.

Cheers!

-Tim
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Fremont, CA
1984 Gillig Phantom 40/102
DD 6V92TA (MUI, 275HP) - Allison HT740
Conversion Progress: 10% (9-years invested, 30 to go Smiley)
larryh
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« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2006, 04:22:33 AM »

Don't buy this bus just on the claim of 15 MPG it ain't going to happen captain the 60 series might get 10 - 12 but that would be with a owner operator trying to squeeze every mile per gallon he can.

If you believe all his hype I have some waterfront property here in Quartzsite you might want to look at LOL

LarryH
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« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2006, 08:06:03 AM »

Tim- a bit off subject, but top gear in both the HT740 and HT750 or HT754 is the same of 1:1.  The HT740 and HT750 or HT754CR both have the same low gear of 3.692 (the HT750DR has the 7:1 deep low) and second.  The difference is in the middle.  The HT750 or HT754CR has split the difference of 3rd on the HT740 and made two close gears.  If you want overdrive, you have to go to the HD4060 world transmission 6 spd-which is about the same size as the HT740.  Good Luck, TomC
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Tom & Donna Christman. '77 AMGeneral 10240B; 8V-71TATAIC V730.
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« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2006, 10:13:55 AM »

Yup - 1:1 top gear is known - I have da' book for the HT7xx series (but good point for the board Tom).  There was an "and" which vaugely referred to the drive-train in my above comment.

Way off topic - I'd replace the ring/pinion in the diff. to get the final "over-drive", and the 754 just to get another gear to make my starting-from-stopped and city driving a little easier with the new lower ratio final "highway-esc" gearing.  I have a fairly lengthy MS Excel spreadsheet that goes from the throttle position on the block to the rubber on the asphalt - taking into account aerodynamics of the rig (can give it a headwind too) and road incline - to better pick out a gear setup as I build up the rig (it gets heavier every day Smiley).  The original intent was to help pick out springs for the transmission valves, to better match the tranny to the workload/engine.  I liked the thread about doing the converter lock-up earlier - that'll be something I'll want to do while I have the drive train out.

Back on topic - the MPG quote is a bit high (about 2-8MPG high) for that rig.  "Stop on a dime" - I dunno, my bus weighs in at around 24klbs and it takes me about 112 feet to stop from 60MPH (but I don't know what that equates to in dimes... Roll Eyes).

Cheers!

-Tim
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Fremont, CA
1984 Gillig Phantom 40/102
DD 6V92TA (MUI, 275HP) - Allison HT740
Conversion Progress: 10% (9-years invested, 30 to go Smiley)
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« Reply #13 on: December 22, 2006, 11:07:34 AM »

I am amazed.

Ferrari 550 Maranello stops in 33.6 meters from 90 km/hr thats about 110 feet from 55 mph.
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Lee Bradley
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« Reply #14 on: December 22, 2006, 11:18:50 AM »

Stopping Distances Required for Trucks


Speed     Reaction/Braking Distance   Total Stopping Distance
 
30 mph           33' / 67'                             100'
 
40 mph           44' / 125'                           169'
 
55 mph            60' / 275'                           335'
 
60 mph            66' / 360'                           426'
 
65 mph           71' / 454'                            525'
 

* Above estimates are for 80,000 lb., loaded tractor-trailers traveling on a dry, level road. Source: National Safety Council's Defensive Driving Course for Professional Truck Drivers.

Granted this is not a bus but....
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