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Old 06-23-2010, 03:54 AM   #1
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Picking a bus

Hello all,
I just joined Schoolie and already I have learned a ton of great information. What a great site.
I am looking for opinions on a bus I have located which I am considering.
I don't know if it is relavant to the discussion but I live in Calgary Alberta Canada in case the Canadian models are different in some way.
The bus I am interested in is about 300 miles away so I have not seen it yet. waiting on pictures. What I do know about it is what I have been told by the current owner:
1990 GMC 66 passenger
NEEDS SLIGHT SHEET METAL WORK--1 RUST SPOT
MECHANICLY GOOD
TIRES 1/4 IN REAR 3/16IN.FRONT
366 GAS ENGINE
NEW ALLISON 545 TRANSMISSION (HAS 6000kM ON IT)
RUNS ON PROPANE
213,000KM (THATS 132,352 MILES) Was on a school route last year.
Price $1000 (and thats Canadian money lol)
This bus is priced lower than mid 80's models around here with 3-4 hundred thousand KM's

My questions:
Is the engine size adequate? If you feel the engine is too small, what should I be looking for? I'd like to avoid diesel cause I have no experience with it, but I won't completely rule it out.
Does this seem like a reasonable deal?
Are those tire tread depths adequate?
What else should I ask the owner before purchase?

Thanks in advance for any help offered. I'm sure I'll be posting a million more questions once I actually get a bus.
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Old 06-23-2010, 07:18 AM   #2
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Location: Texas
Posts: 471
Year: 1988
Coachwork: Ward
Chassis: Ford B600
Engine: 6.6L Turbo Diesel
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Re: Picking a bus

Quote:
Originally Posted by MyFirstBus
Hello all,
I just joined Schoolie and already I have learned a ton of great information. What a great site.
I am looking for opinions on a bus I have located which I am considering.
I don't know if it is relavant to the discussion but I live in Calgary Alberta Canada in case the Canadian models are different in some way.
The bus I am interested in is about 300 miles away so I have not seen it yet. waiting on pictures. What I do know about it is what I have been told by the current owner:
1990 GMC 66 passenger
NEEDS SLIGHT SHEET METAL WORK--1 RUST SPOT
MECHANICLY GOOD
TIRES 1/4 IN REAR 3/16IN.FRONT
366 GAS ENGINE
NEW ALLISON 545 TRANSMISSION (HAS 6000kM ON IT)
RUNS ON PROPANE
213,000KM (THATS 132,352 MILES) Was on a school route last year.
Price $1000 (and thats Canadian money lol)
This bus is priced lower than mid 80's models around here with 3-4 hundred thousand KM's

My questions:
Is the engine size adequate? If you feel the engine is too small, what should I be looking for? I'd like to avoid diesel cause I have no experience with it, but I won't completely rule it out.
Does this seem like a reasonable deal?
Are those tire tread depths adequate?
What else should I ask the owner before purchase?

Thanks in advance for any help offered. I'm sure I'll be posting a million more questions once I actually get a bus.
MFB;

Welcome!

First, do not rule out diesel. A diesel engine is anywhere from 30% to 65% more efficient than a gasoline or propane engine. The diesel also has more torque. This all depends upon the setup the engine has. There are two huge differeces between a Diesel and a gasser. First, the diesel fuel has way more BTUs in the fuel (more energy) than gas or propane, thus less effort for the engine to develop power, thus less fuel consumed. Second, there is no ignition system to mess around with and spend money on parts the diesel system does not need.

I bought my bus (a diesel) for $500 with a full tank of fuel, and everything working (the school system put in over $4K in parts alone) before auctioning it. I have all the records on it from when the school district bought it with 12 miles on the hubometer. I have the advantage of 12 years of experience in the government surplus business, so that's one big reason why I was able to buy my bus so cheaply.

The engine I have in the bus is a 6.6L in-line turbocharged diesel. The smallest engine I have is a 6.2L diesel in the four CUCVs we own. I towed our travel trailer with our M1031 to see how the truck responded to the added weight. the truck & trailer grossed at 13K pounds. The engine struggled to keep 50mph. So thus the reason why I bought the bus. I'm ordering custom made wheels to accept standard semi-truck tires and go from a 9X22.5 to an 11X22.5 and gain on the top end and go from 50 mph to 65 mph. I have plenty of torque, but the gearing/tire size limits the top end.

Just my observations.
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Old 06-23-2010, 09:19 AM   #3
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Year: 1991
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Re: Picking a bus

The main advantage to a diesel, in my opinion, is a diesel with a turbocharger. You get a cooler running, quieter, more efficient and longer lasting engine that doesn't slow down on hills. A turbodiesel bus should get in the ballpark of 12mpg. A gasoline bus--half that.

No question but that a turbdiesel is the only way to go on a large vehicle, if you drive it frequently. If you move it a couple of times a year, go with the gasser. They are better at surviving neglect and for $1,000, that's a good price.

If you do drive it and care how it drives, the 366 gas and the CUmmins 5.9 or DT360 are all about the same displacement. They all three make about the same power as well. The difference is that the 366 takes 4,000rpm to make it's power and the diesels do it at about 2,700rpm. The diesels also make around 150ft# more torque. They are better at accelerating and don't need to downshift very often. And the diesels don't lose power in the mountains while the gas will drop about 4% per 1,000ft elevation.

There's nothing to know about a diesel. It wants the oil changed when it's supposed to be changed because diesel combustion is really hard on oil. It wants clean fuel. There's nothing that requires tinkering.
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Old 06-23-2010, 10:39 AM   #4
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Re: Picking a bus

Howdy from Saskatchewan! lol

366 on propane eh? should find out how big that tank is and when the safety for the propane runs out. could be the reason its so cheap!! but, if it exp you could just put a carb on it, and a good sized tank underneath and you would have a great engine! propane burns so clean that I bet the oil is still see through on the stick! I am currently driving my 88 plymouth voyager that is an ex CFB vehicle that is factory propane and after 2 years the oil is still see through and very clean!

other then that find out what the " NEEDS SLIGHT SHEET METAL WORK " is all about
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Old 06-23-2010, 04:44 PM   #5
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Re: Picking a bus

Thanks for the responses so far. Some of the info is over my head (for now) but I'll keep up my research. I hadn't really considered fuel mileage. If diesel is that mush more efficient then it would definately be worth considering. My goal is ultimately a coast to coast across Canada so the better the mileage the more cash in my pocket.

Seems the 366 on propane is very popular around here as a school bus cause there are several for sale fairly cheaply. I have located a similar bus on gas but not haven't noticed too many diesels, of course I was avoiding them which I will do no longer.

I am hoping to do the conversion over time and "on the cheap" so I hope to find an inexpensive bus to start with.

By the way, Do private busses on propane have to be certified periodically? I assumed that was just commercial vehicles. What could I expect to pay for certification if all is OK?

Hope the opinions keep coming because as I search my questions will keep coming.

Thanks
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Old 06-23-2010, 07:23 PM   #6
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Location: Columbus, Indiana
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Year: 1991
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International
Engine: DTA 360, Fuller 6-speed
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Re: Picking a bus

If it's like getting other bottles filled (nitrogen, oxy, etc) whomever fills it has to make sure the bottle's inspection is current before they fill it. If you look at a barbecue tank I suppose you will find a requalify date due on it. An old welding bottle might be covered in date stamps.

If a turbodiesel cuts your fuel use in half but costs thousands more, then the gasser might be better. You have money left to start the conversion initially, and it will take thousands of miles of driving to pay off thousands of dollars of initial purchase price.
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Old 06-23-2010, 08:21 PM   #7
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Re: Picking a bus

best to call your DMV and ask them about propane vehicles. Sask it is every 5 years for an inspection.
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