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Old 02-18-2017, 03:07 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 31
1982 bluebird...taking the leap??? Eeeeeee

New to the Forum and excited about all the great talk and info!

We are looking at a 1982 Bluebird flat nose for our conversion. We haven't purchased it yet, but are days away from making the leap.
Need some thoughts and opinions! Here's what I know so far:
-It has a 454 GMC engine converted to propane.
-it was already an RV once and has been re-gutted for a second reno.
-the clutch is gone on it-out biggest worry at the moment...does anyone know how much to replace? I've googled and googled and come up with nothing useful.
The body looks pretty good, barely any rust, repainted.

Do we do it??? I'm having a lot of trepidation over the clutch.

Thanks all!




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Old 02-18-2017, 04:15 AM   #2
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 2,127
I would not only step away from that bus but I would run away from it shrieking like a scared little girl.

There is so many things bad about that bus I don't know where to start:
  • A 454 converted to propane is going to be a gutless wonder that will drink propane like it was air. Figure on the equivalent of about 1 MPG--sure propane is less expensive than gasoline but how many tanks are you going to need to go 100 miles? Even if it was still gasoline the fuel mileage would be about 4 MPG.
  • That vintage it could still be an OEM vendor supplied chassis, most likely from GMC. Parts for those chassis were hard to find when that bus was new. I would hate to try and find some of the chassis specific parts today. Depending upon which axles brake drums could cost as much as what it would cost to swap out the axle and put a different one under there.
  • If it is an FE bus with a stick shift, shifting is a bit like scratching your butt--the shifter is mounted next to the dog house so the top of the shifter has to be below the bottom of the driver's seat. If it is an RE bus the shifter will have many pins and clevis joints between the front and the rear which results in LOTS of slop and slack. If you don't have long arms when you shift into some of the gear your head will go below the dashboard as you reach way over to shift into the next gear.
  • The clutch is most likely a wet linkage. It isn't too bad on the FE but on the RE bleeding 35'+ of line is a BIG job.
  • I doubt the 454 was original to the bus. If it wasn't you would need to hope the swap was done well. If it wasn't you could end up having to re-do some of the swap mounts.
  • The clutch is most likely a standard medium duty Chevy/GMC truck clutch. As to which one it is I have no idea until it is pulled out. Since GM got out of the medium/heavy duty truck market some years ago finding GM parts for them are becoming a bit of a problem.
Unless someone is paying you a lot of $$$ to take it away I would leave it where it is sitting and look for something else.

If you really want an older Blue Bird, there are a lot of older Blue Bird Wanderlodge motorhomes for sale. Nice ones are available for not a whole lot more than what it would cost to convert a bus. Wanderlodge Motorhomes for sale VintageBirds Chapter FMCA -
https://spacecoast.craigslist.org/rvs/5985811096.html
https://orangecounty.craigslist.org/rvs/5952200157.html
https://houston.craigslist.org/rvs/5997910334.html


Good luck and happy trails to you!
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Old 02-18-2017, 10:59 AM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 31
1982 bluebird...taking the leap??? Eeeeeee

Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
I would not only step away from that bus but I would run away from it shrieking like a scared little girl.

There is so many things bad about that bus I don't know where to start:
  • A 454 converted to propane is going to be a gutless wonder that will drink propane like it was air. Figure on the equivalent of about 1 MPG--sure propane is less expensive than gasoline but how many tanks are you going to need to go 100 miles? Even if it was still gasoline the fuel mileage would be about 4 MPG.
  • That vintage it could still be an OEM vendor supplied chassis, most likely from GMC. Parts for those chassis were hard to find when that bus was new. I would hate to try and find some of the chassis specific parts today. Depending upon which axles brake drums could cost as much as what it would cost to swap out the axle and put a different one under there.
  • If it is an FE bus with a stick shift, shifting is a bit like scratching your butt--the shifter is mounted next to the dog house so the top of the shifter has to be below the bottom of the driver's seat. If it is an RE bus the shifter will have many pins and clevis joints between the front and the rear which results in LOTS of slop and slack. If you don't have long arms when you shift into some of the gear your head will go below the dashboard as you reach way over to shift into the next gear.
  • The clutch is most likely a wet linkage. It isn't too bad on the FE but on the RE bleeding 35'+ of line is a BIG job.
  • I doubt the 454 was original to the bus. If it wasn't you would need to hope the swap was done well. If it wasn't you could end up having to re-do some of the swap mounts.
  • The clutch is most likely a standard medium duty Chevy/GMC truck clutch. As to which one it is I have no idea until it is pulled out. Since GM got out of the medium/heavy duty truck market some years ago finding GM parts for them are becoming a bit of a problem.
Unless someone is paying you a lot of $$$ to take it away I would leave it where it is sitting and look for something else.

If you really want an older Blue Bird, there are a lot of older Blue Bird Wanderlodge motorhomes for sale. Nice ones are available for not a whole lot more than what it would cost to convert a bus. Wanderlodge Motorhomes for sale VintageBirds Chapter FMCA -
https://spacecoast.craigslist.org/rvs/5985811096.html
https://orangecounty.craigslist.org/rvs/5952200157.html
https://houston.craigslist.org/rvs/5997910334.html


Good luck and happy trails to you!


Thank you so much! I've been slowly piecing a bit of this together, but this is a really good overview of the situation. I actually woke up this morning pissed off at the seller (LOL) because he's not being super forthright about my questions. A little shifty, to say the least. I think he too just wants someone to take it away. this is great info .

We have nothing but time with this project (within reason!) so we can wait for the right bus. We live in Canada, so importing a vehicle from the US is out of the question. Back to the hunt!

Thanks again,

Crimson


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Old 02-18-2017, 11:03 AM   #4
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Prince George, BC, Canada
Posts: 543
Year: 1974
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: CHEVROLET C60 just under 19700 lbs body#B10353
Engine: 350 ci on propane
Rated Cap: 48
I have a 1974 chevrolet bb, 350 on propane. The chassis is based on a medium duty truck. That bus would be based on the gmc 2 ton or larger commercial duty truck. My bus gets roughly 7 mpg. A clutch for that bus could be done just like any other manual transmission vehicle if you can find the parts. Don't just think bus when looking for parts with a chevrolet / gmc chassis.

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Old 02-18-2017, 12:17 PM   #5
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Port angeles, Wa
Posts: 289
Year: 90
Coachwork: bluebird conventional
Chassis: international
Engine: dt466
Rated Cap: 72
First off, how long is this bus? 454s have been used in motorhomes up to 35 ft or more with success. The fact that it is a standard trans is odd. Propane does NOT give you 1 mpg, more like 6 or 7. We had a propane wrecker for years and it did fine. Ditch the propane and go back to gas. Find a really good turbo 400 trans or better and put that in. Post pics.
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Old 02-18-2017, 12:22 PM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Here's the listing:
https://comoxvalley.craigslist.ca/rvs/6002478266.html


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Old 02-18-2017, 12:23 PM   #7
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Port angeles, Wa
Posts: 289
Year: 90
Coachwork: bluebird conventional
Chassis: international
Engine: dt466
Rated Cap: 72
Changing clutches on those things is no big deal. You must have a trans jack strong enough for it. This is most likely NOT your regular 1 ton truck trans.
Also I had said to go with a t 400 if you switch to auto. If the bus is big enough, go with an allison at545 or better yet, mt643.
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Old 02-18-2017, 12:23 PM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Posts: 31
And from the seller: "The bus was once a school bus that did the Campbell River to Sayward. Engine is GMC 454 propane. The floor from the Centre to the back was rusted so bad that I removed it. Structure is solid. So what I was doing was removing the sheet metal from the ceiling and the walls and putting it on the floor. When I bought it it was an Rv but I found a lot of rust under the wooden underlay after the carpet was removed. Then I decided to so it right and gut it completely."


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Old 02-18-2017, 12:24 PM   #9
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https://comoxvalley.craigslist.ca/rvs/6002478266.html


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Old 02-18-2017, 12:27 PM   #10
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