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Old 11-12-2014, 04:47 PM   #1
Almost There
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Paso Robles, CA
Posts: 82
Year: 1973
Coachwork: Gillig
Engine: 1160 V8 Diesel
Rated Cap: 79
Projekt: Freedom Panda begins!

Brand new, first post, super excited to go through the whole process and document it here for myself & others!

A little about myself:

45, live on the Central Coast of California. CA native, born & raised in Santa Barbara.

One huge reason I'm going to build out a skoolie is money and the overall practicality of building a tiny home I can live out of and travel with if necessary. I've started a non profit that helps victims & survivors of human trafficking, and anyone who knows what it's like to start a business, whether it be for or non profit status, knows money can be an issue. I'll be able to drive to nearby conferences & speaking engagements in the bus when appropriate, and sleeping in my own bed

Another huge reason is I'm single, no kids, and living in a little place that's your own without a massive mortgage/homeowners fees/taxes/etc etc just sounds so good.

My design idea is to keep the bus airy & open feeling, with a wood trim theme. My first choice would be to go with bamboo. (Hence the 'Freedom Panda' name...) Dark stain for the floor, lighter almost natural stain for the walls/ceiling. Layout hasn't been set in stone, but looking at a minimalist theme. Kitchen sink, shower, queen bed in back, wood burning stove, outlets, composting toilet, small water heater assisted by stove that has attachment for that purpose (Nectre Bakers Oven). Non profit workspace (computer/printer, etc.). No flat screen, don't watch much TV, but I do love movies so I'll have a drop down screen & video projector & BluRay player that I use in my current place. Cozy, homey, functional, rent-almost-free.

So there's my idea...I've never done anything like this before, so it'll be a very fresh experience for me. I've started the search process, in fact stopped by a local church that has an old but sturdy International dognose that I'd heard they were selling. Unfortunately, they aren't, it would have been perfect.

So the search will continue, and I'll update as I go along. It's good to be here, and this community has already caused me to cut into my nights sleep several times already

Blessings,

Dug
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Old 11-12-2014, 07:08 PM   #2
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Re: Projekt: Freedom Panda begins!

welcome
where is home base incase people know of buses near by?
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Old 11-12-2014, 10:25 PM   #3
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Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Paso Robles, CA
Posts: 82
Year: 1973
Coachwork: Gillig
Engine: 1160 V8 Diesel
Rated Cap: 79
Re: Projekt: Freedom Panda begins!

I'm based in Paso Robles, California, right on the 101 freeway directly between San Francisco & Los Angeles. Located right next to the 46 E. highway, which leads 110 miles to Fresno or Bakersfield.

Dug
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Old 11-12-2014, 11:56 PM   #4
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
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Re: Projekt: Freedom Panda begins!

Knowing what the final version will look like is pretty important.

Any idea as to which bus you would like to purchase to make your dream come true?
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Old 11-13-2014, 12:53 AM   #5
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Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Paso Robles, CA
Posts: 82
Year: 1973
Coachwork: Gillig
Engine: 1160 V8 Diesel
Rated Cap: 79
Re: Projekt: Freedom Panda begins!

Bansil, posted a reply earlier, but didn't take...I'm right on the 101 freeway directly between San Francisco & Los Angeles, in a little wine country town called Paso Robles.

Cowlick, I have my eyes on a 1973 Gillig schoolbus, V8 diesel, 5-speed standard, air brakes & power steering. It has a horizontal 1/2 emergency exit in back, and storage lockers underneath. (That's big for me, since that will save lots of hours fabricating my own). The layout inside won't be drastically affected by adding or subtracting 5 feet either way, so I have a general-yet-solid idea of what the interior will look like and include...that being said, there's tons of details that will spring up from inspiration here, or necessity once I actually have THE bus
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Old 11-13-2014, 01:35 AM   #6
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Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 4,830
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
Re: Projekt: Freedom Panda begins!

A Big Skoolie Welcome! --- Just take the time to figger out what/which unit is right to fit your dream and go for it. And don't forget to take & share lots of pix along the way.
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Old 11-15-2014, 04:41 AM   #7
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Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Paso Robles, CA
Posts: 82
Year: 1973
Coachwork: Gillig
Engine: 1160 V8 Diesel
Rated Cap: 79
Found her!

Won the auction today that the 1973 Gillig was listed in...really happy, because looks-wise & size-wise it's what I was looking for. Side storage, 5 speed manual, v8 diesel. Love the oldschool lines & style.
Price: $2,200. Heading up to pick it up & drive it the 2.5 hours back on Tuesday, so I'll post up some pics then. Really can't wait to tear out the seats & floor & start measuring.

So stoked, this came together faster than I'd anticipated, but thankful it did!
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Old 11-15-2014, 05:43 AM   #8
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Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 6,530
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Ward/AmTran
Chassis: International
Engine: dt466
Rated Cap: 78
Re: Projekt: Freedom Panda begins!

Congrats. Be glad I won my auction in Ky or I was going to bid on that Gillig and try driving it back to Fl. I also saw the pair of 1983 Crowns in Washington state! You folks out West get all the great buses!
Pics!!!!!!
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Old 11-15-2014, 10:29 AM   #9
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 1,108
Re: Projekt: Freedom Panda begins!

Gillig was considered to be on par with the Crown, both of which were reffered to as the Cadillac and LIncoln of school buses.

In a world of low bids and less than 20-year life cycles they couldn't compete.

Your bus will most likely have a Cat 1160/3208 engine. They are okay engines. If it still has a Cummins 555 (highly doubtful at this late date), good luck. The triple nickle was a very poor choice for an automotive application. It might have a Detroit Diesel 8.2L 4-cycle diesel that replaced the 555. It was sort of okay but parts and service for them is pretty much non-existent these days. In case someone can't count it may have a Detroit Diesel 6V-53 2-cycle diesel. That is a good engine but defined the "screamin' Jimmy" moniker. In case someone doesn't know the difference between gas and diesel it may have a Ford 534 gas V-8. If you don't mind less than 3 MPG it isn't a bad engine. And for most RV purposes, unless you intend to travel 10,000 miles per month, it wouldn't be a bad choice.

The challenges with a Gillig has to do with rust. For whatever reason Gillig used a lower quality steel in their drip rails. I have seen more than a few Gilligs that were no better than scrap because rust in the drip rail was not addressed in a timely fashion and the rust eventually got into the roof panels and rood bows. They also tended to rust around the fenders and along the lower rub rail that was required in WA state. Since your bus is from CA the fender and rub rail rust most likely will not be a problem. But the drip rail might be.

Your bus will be heavy. Our church has a 1979 Gillig that has a DT466, automatic, and is a 12-row in a 13-row bus (maximum knee spacing). It weighs just less than 26,000 lbs. Our church also has a 1986 Crown that has the DD 6-71TAC, automatic, and is the same length as the Gillig. The Crown weighs just over 18,000 lbs. The difference is all of the body panels in the Crown are aluminum and all of the body panels in the Gillig are steel.

Because your bus is heavy don't expect it to be a speedy bus. If it has a Cat 1160/3208 it most likely does not have a turbo which means it most likely has a HP rating of 210 HP. Due to vintage it most likely has a top speed in the 55-65 MPH range. It will cruise easily on flat ground at that speed all day long at about 7 MPG. When it comes to a hill it will slow down with a one gear drop on anything more than 3%. On anything more than 5% a two gear drop. On anything more than 7% you will be in 2nd gear. If you get a run at a hill it is doubtful you will ever need to drop into the lowest gear.

Since you do not have the 6-speed with the deep low first gear you will have some challenges starting on steep hills, particularly if you tow a car behind. If it is really steep it is possible to burn up your clutch. Plan ahead and don't get yourself in a position where that might be possible. Once started you won't have a problem but getting started without slipping the clutch or stalling the engine will be the challenge.

Good luck and keep us posted as to your progress.
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Old 11-15-2014, 06:04 PM   #10
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Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Paso Robles, CA
Posts: 82
Year: 1973
Coachwork: Gillig
Engine: 1160 V8 Diesel
Rated Cap: 79
Re: Projekt: Freedom Panda begins!

EastCoast, you saw the same auction eh? It was sitting at a ridiculous $500 for too long, I knew there would be watchers & a flurry would break out at some point. I haven't seen the bus in person, but the description says it runs & tranny is fair. By the looks of the photos, rust is minimal, I'll know more Tuesday when I pick her up.

Cowlitz, wow...I really appreciate your write-up on details regarding Gilligs. I had no idea! I did notice the weight if the bus was ridiculously tank-like. Here's the specs via the auction site, and I looked a few things up specific to the year/model...

Year: 1973
Make: GILLIG
Model: SCHOOL BUS
Mileage: 117,988
Running Condition: RUNS
Engine: V8 DIESEL
Transmission: FUNCTIONAL
Tires: FAIR

1973 GILLIG 79 PASSENGER SCHOOL BUS. 1160 CATERPILLAR V-8 DIESEL ENGINE, 5-SPEED STANDARD TRANSMISSION, TIRES: 11.00-20, 32,340 GVRW, AIR BRAKES, POWER STEERING.

It looks like from the photos that the ceiling is what it is, nothing to tear out. I could be wrong. Ceiling height seems decent, wasn't really looking at the prospect if a raise with much excitement

I will get some photos up soon. I'm right in the middle of my work week, and my days are long with little opportunity but eat, sleep, work. ~...

Looking forward to learning more about this bus!
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