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Author Topic: Buy the Bus you want with the right engine/transmission.  (Read 1619 times)
TomC
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« on: April 19, 2007, 09:04:13 AM »

I looked a long time for my bus.  I wanted a cheap bus with big windows, at least a 8V-71, did not want a 92 series since they can leak coolant into the crankcase with their wet cylinder liners, and wanted one on the west coast since that would eliminate salt rusting.  I found my bus in 1993 in Kelso, Wa-was a Portland, Or Metro bus.  It is a '77 AMGeneral transit 10240B with a 8V-71N and V730 for $4000.  According to the records, it had been overhauled 64,000 miles ago and was in good stuctural shape.  Before bringing down from Kelso, Wa to L.A., I had a bus mechanic immediately change the injectors from 55 to brown tag N65's to boost the horsepower from 255 to 300hp, change the rear end from 5.57 to 4.625 (4 5/8), install Jakes, change the radiator fan from belt drive to gear driven, change the wheel bearings from grease to oil, and change the wheel bolts from hub piloted to ball nut piloted so I could run my truck wheels on it and change the wheels from 12R-22.5 to 11R-24.5.  I traded a GMC Astro 95 cabover for the work done (had a silver 6V-92TA in it that the mechanic wanted).  Happily drove it down to L.A. without problems.
After converting, took it on several trips (about 6000 miles worth) until had a heating problem with the engine, not through the radiator.  Had the engine overhauled and found that yes the engine had been overhauled, but a down and dirty sloppy job.  The cylinder liners were loose and the engine bores were out of round-hence the coolant wasn't picking up the heat from the cylinders.  Had the block bored out .010 over and had .010 over liners installed.  That along with a couple of unnoticed cracks welded up on the frame, $11,000.
Then didn't like the air steering and the air bags were cracked.  Install Sheppard steering and install all new air bags- $4,800.
Went to high altitude (7000ft) and the engine smoked if you got into the pedal, had less power and bad fuel mileage-all not acceptable to me.  So had the engine turbo'ed by Don Fairchild in Bakersfield with air to air intercooler, increase injectors from N65 to 9G75, and had the transmission overhauled.  Also had to rebuild the radiator bigger, install the air to air intercooler that was custom made, increase the size of the air cleaner and muffler.  That all was $17,000.
So even with buying a bus that I thought was the correct one for me, I had to spend $37,800.00 more on it to get it to the point I consider to be powerful enough to be safely driveable, without smoking (live in Calif, not good to have a smoking bus), and to be able to pull hills without getting in the way.  So now everything in the engine and transmission has been rebuilt, have new air bags, new steering, new tires-am ready to go!
My point-once again, even though a bus maybe extremely low priced to start, you maybe paying more in the long run.  In this case I could have bought a nice highway bus, maybe even with a Series 60 in it for the nearly $42,000 I've spent on the bus itself.  And this isn't even mentioning the $4000 worth of windows I had Peninsula install.  Expensive toys!  Good Luck, TomC
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Tom & Donna Christman. '77 AMGeneral 10240B; 8V-71TATAIC V730.
skipn
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« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2007, 09:25:45 AM »

TomC;
   Very correct.
    And the real kicker is even if you had spent 42k on a hiway bus w/ a 60 series that tested out great you could still have had an engine/tranny rebuild after 6k miles. So no matter what buy the best one can afford, do the before homework required and let life make the adjustments


  Skip
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uncle ned
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« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2007, 11:02:28 AM »




   If you buy a bus with a good engine. great insides, good tires, no rust. what are you going to do with your time and money. someone else has had all the fun fixing it up.

ask jack campbell he has changed his engine twice i think

Uncle ned
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4104's forever
6v92 v730
Huggy Bear
skipn
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« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2007, 11:10:00 AM »

Uncle Ned,

  That's easy
    Pay for feul to go down the road. If per chance there was any thing left over I would probably put another expansion on the house. (that seems to be my non motorized bus-- I'd opt for slide outs but the house frame wouldn't hold up) Grin

  Skip
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captain ron
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« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2007, 06:45:07 PM »

I think I got the best deal of anybody on this board (not bragging). I traded a 1985 HD FXR in a bunch of boxes For My bus. The bike I paid $7000.00 for a few years back. It was hit twice by the same guy and his insurance gave me $9500.00. It was hit once with me on it got $4000.00. Hit again in parking lot at post office got $2500.00 I wrecked it once and my insurance gave me $10,500.00 after deductible. I traded said bike even up for 1978 MCI 8 with new 8v92 DDEC and Allison 740A Atec, great tires, new gauges, re-geared, one piece door, no dents, already gutted to the bare walls and a place to work on it getting it ready to go. I have had no mechanical problems, replaced 2 air bags, new batteries and it has all the power a man could want. I think I have a keeper.
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prevost82
82 Prevost 8V92ta 6 speed
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« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2007, 07:04:41 PM »

That is a great deal, for a HD basket case. I paid $1000 for a 53 Pandhead basket case in 1969.
Ron
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HighTechRedneck
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« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2007, 06:13:13 AM »

It was hit twice by the same guy and his insurance gave me $9500.00. It was hit once with me on it got $4000.00. Hit again in parking lot at post office got $2500.00 I wrecked it once and my insurance gave me $10,500.00 after deductible.

 Shocked  Shocked  Shocked

Remind me not to ever park or drive anywhere near you.  Wink
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Paso One
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« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2007, 06:55:37 AM »

TomC  I like the way you did it, at least you know what you have and the condition of the most critical components. Hindsight is always 20/20  Just remember if you subtract the powertrain/ safety costs as you would have to do that on any bus. It doesn't look that bad 20/20 Smiley
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68 5303 Fishbowl 40' x 102"
6V71  V730 4:10
rv_safetyman
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« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2007, 08:20:13 AM »

This thread is really important for anyone thinking about buying a bus. 

I had the same “challenges” as TomC.  I changed the engine and transmission (twice Voith to Allison to Autoshift).  I don’t have as much money in my conversion since I did all of the work myself.  However, I still have a significant amount of $$$, a ton of time and quite a bit of clinic costs (don’t ask Grin).

As has been pointed out, those of us who have “upgraded” generally know more about out bus and generally have a better mechanical animal.

If a person has a third party do the rebuild, a factory rebuild is $12 to $15K.  A conversion is $35K - $50K

Engine conversions offer all kinds of challenges.  Up grading to a more powerful two stroke can easily put the cooling system over the brink and you may end up going up the hill just as slow as before (to prevent overheating condition).

There are getting to be more buses with series 60 engines in them on the market.  A person should give a lot of thought to getting the more modern technology and a factory designed system.

Newer technology generally means an electronic engine.  Do not fear this technology.  Indeed, it can be your friend. You can learn a great deal about your engine by have a person with a reader do a dump of the memory.  Lots of good information.

If you want a bit of a picture of what an engine conversion involves, take a look at my bus project pages listed in my signature.  Consider that these pages only cover the major parts of the project Smiley.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
’85 Eagle 10/Series 60/Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission
Somewhere between a tin tent and a finished product
Bus Project details: http://beltguy.com/Bus_Project/busproject.htm
Blog:  http://rvsafetyman.blogspot.com/
belfert
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« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2007, 08:56:56 AM »

There are getting to be more buses with series 60 engines in them on the market.  A person should give a lot of thought to getting the more modern technology and a factory designed system.

Yes, buses with Series 60 engines  factory installed are out there, but they are not particularly cheap.  An MCI 102D3 not run completely in the ground is probably going to run $60,000.  A DL3 at least $15,000 more.  The Dinas are $10,000 to $20,000 lesss, but there is a reason for that.

120D3s and 102DL3s are very popular with bus operators such as indian casinos that don't have to have the flashiest buses, but are dumping MC9s, A3s, and C3s since the Series 60 can gain them 2.5 to 3 MPG pretty easily.  Charter operators are also finding they need to go to 45' to keep the business.  Many groups chartering buses don't need the extra seats, but they know a 45' bus means it will be newer than most 40' buses so they insist on 45'.  Busted Knuckle knows this quite well.

For someone wanting to build a really nice conversion, $60,000 may be nothing for a shell, but a lot of the converters don't have that much into their entire project.

Brian
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Kevin Warnock
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« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2007, 10:55:37 AM »

Keep in mind that a TMC "RTS" bus with a Detroit Diesel 4 cylinder, 4 stroke Series 50 engine can be had for about $10,000, in good shape too. Add a few thousand more for a 4.11 ratio rear end upgrade and you have a modern conversion platform that looks great, with an engine that will last a long time and that can be worked on by most current professional bus mechanics.
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dwbruner
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« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2007, 11:20:53 PM »

Definitely put your $$ and focus on the engine/drivetrain first.  Without a driveable & reliable bus it ain't much fun.....trust me!  Cry
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Darrin Bruner
1985 Eagle Model 10
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