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Old 10-31-2019, 09:39 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
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64 Chevy Grumman?

I've been on the hunt for the perfect mini school bus for a bit, but I happened across a 64 Chevy Grumman Olson step van and kinda fell in love, it's definitely got a lot of character! So I've been trying to do some research about it to see if its a viable option, but its pretty hard to find the info I want like gas mileage, ease of repair, etc. etc. I also have like no mechanical experience (but a strong will to learn!).

What do you guys think? Worst idea since lead paint? My main worry currently is that it has like a gas mileage of 1mpg or something.
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Old 10-31-2019, 09:56 PM   #2
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If you have no mechanical experience it might be better to get something newer unless you intend to throw down some serious cash. Well, maybe not too. Has if been redone mechanically? The thing is, you have a project in a project if you need to do mechanicals. Without knowing too much about it (other than that it looks really coo and I want one!) it’s likely to need work and original parts are likely had to get.

I would characterize it as expert-level.

Gas mileage depends on the engine and condition. I’ll take a swing at it and say, 8 MPG.
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Old 10-31-2019, 10:02 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Yeah, the seller says its in good condition but needs brakes. It was a fire truck and only has 9,000 miles on it (which is suspicious to me but *could* make sense if it only drove around a small area?? Idk). I'd have to ask whether "needs brakes" means like brake repair or full on replacement though.
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Old 10-31-2019, 10:17 PM   #4
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9000 miles? Really?

Is it time to learn auto mechanics?

The thing is, even though a car only has x number of low miles, the rubber parts dry out and need replacing, so the engine need to be opened and seals replaced.

Or not...without seeing it.

Just curious what’s the price? Have you seen the restored ones in Google Images?
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Old 10-31-2019, 10:23 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Price is 7500. Above my 'budget' but I thought for something so cool it could be worth it. I have seen some of the pictures and I think they're adorable!

I knew I was going to have to learn at least *some* mechanics if I wanted to live on a bus.....why not jump into the deep end without floaties?
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Old 11-01-2019, 12:37 AM   #6
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They are super cute. They were up on my list for camper conversions. I've been intrigued since I was a kid and the guy who delivered papers to me for my route had one. The Grummans were all aluminum body if I'm not mistaken, so no rust. The thing with mechanical issues is- all of these old commercial vehicles will need attention. I'd guess a '64 gas engine would be no less/more challenging than a diesel engine 20 years newer. other than finding parts. -My two (non-mechanically inclined) cents
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Old 11-01-2019, 01:04 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by peakbus View Post
They are super cute. They were up on my list for camper conversions. I've been intrigued since I was a kid and the guy who delivered papers to me for my route had one. The Grummans were all aluminum body if I'm not mistaken, so no rust. The thing with mechanical issues is- all of these old commercial vehicles will need attention. I'd guess a '64 gas engine would be no less/more challenging than a diesel engine 20 years newer. other than finding parts. -My two (non-mechanically inclined) cents
Older gas engines are easy to learn on if that’snwhat you want to do. They are basic and usually there is room to work under the hood which can make the experience fun.

See if you can get it inspected by a mechanic.

“Needs brakes”

Go to a good auto parts store and see if you can get the parts. Aside from the basics, anything you might need beyond that could be endless hours online, at part swaps, chasing down old dudes with secret parts stashes...

Do you want your first build to include the extra learning curve? I think it boils down to what you’re wanting out of the experience, how much time and money you have.

It sure would be a fun conversion
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Old 11-01-2019, 01:06 AM   #8
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There’s lots of step van conversion videos out there. I like this one

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Old 11-01-2019, 07:17 AM   #9
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The book "Tiny homes on the move" shows some neat conversions too. When I was a kid we camped in my Dad's grumman stepvan. Chevy chassis with a 292 straight 6.
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Old 11-01-2019, 08:21 AM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Yeah. it's not very far from me at all, so I might end up checking it out and bringing someone mechanically-inclined with me to see how much work it would need. If the answer is "a lot" then its back to looking at school buses!

Side note 1964 is the year my dad was born, & when I messaged him about it he said "Everything from 1964 is ugly!" not true!
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Old 11-01-2019, 10:36 AM   #11
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Anyway small update, I talked to the seller, she says she was told it was brake lines that need replacing, and that she bought it from someone who had bought it from the fire department and then stored it. Its currently at a restoration shop and it runs but nobody has done anything with it. So I'm guessing that its very likely that in addition to needing new brake lines it will probably need seals replaced as Danjo said, plus who knows what else?
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Old 11-01-2019, 12:12 PM   #12
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Not trying to discourage you, but will have to say on older vehicles it really is best to rebuild the complete brake system. This means master cylinder, brake lines both the rubber and steel ones, and wheel cylinders. If it has it Hydrovac that too. Then you know you have good brakes.

Old brake fluid causes rust from the inside, so things you can not see get rusty and then leak.
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Old 11-01-2019, 12:34 PM   #13
Mini-Skoolie
 
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No you're fine! I appreciate different viewpoints (especially when they have more experience than me!...). I've been thinking about it a lot and though it would definitely be a cool build and I love the look, it's probably best left for someone more experienced than me!

Here's the link to it in case anyone is interested and lives near the Finger Lakes!

https://www.facebook.com/marketplace...roduct_details
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Old 11-01-2019, 06:40 PM   #14
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Just looked at the posting, it is a classic, I can see why you would like it. And it does remind my of my childhood camping in one. Ours was a bit newer (1973) and more square
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Old 11-01-2019, 09:51 PM   #15
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Awesome !!
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Old 11-01-2019, 10:25 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sirirah View Post
No you're fine! I appreciate different viewpoints (especially when they have more experience than me!...). I've been thinking about it a lot and though it would definitely be a cool build and I love the look, it's probably best left for someone more experienced than me!

Here's the link to it in case anyone is interested and lives near the Finger Lakes!

https://www.facebook.com/marketplace...roduct_details
Very cool and it comes with bunk beds!
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Rusty 87 build thread
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Old 11-09-2019, 04:48 PM   #17
Bus Nut
 
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Cool truck

Cool van but looks like it's been sold according to the FB posting. Would make an awesome conversion, but unless you are seriously mechanically inclined or have lots of $$$$ to pay someone to do the work it's not the truck for you. A vehicle that age needs every mechanical and electrical system inspected completely and refurbished where needed to make it safe and reliable. I would love to have it though, hope the buyer plans to fix it up.
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Old 11-09-2019, 06:22 PM   #18
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Engine: Cummins 4BT 3.9
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Step Van Experiences

Twice in my life I have lived in step vans that had been previously converted (pretty minimally). The first was an International Metro Mite with 4 cylinder gas engine and manual transmission. The second was a Boyertown retired post office van on a Dodge chassis. Both were positive experiences so I guess I was primed to do my own conversion when Craigslist pointed me to a 1986, former Frito-Lay, Grumman Olson step van on a Chevy P30 chassis but with a 4 cylinder Cummins 4BT 3.9 diesel engine.

It is basically a big rectangular box with high ceiling and square corners which makes a lot of details simpler. The fact that the wheel wells have square corners made kitchen and bath installation simple. Off the shelf base cabinets from Lowes perfectly covered one wheel well and an EBay 24" X 27" shower pan went over the other wheel well still with adequate head room.

The 4BT seems to top out at about 63 mph on level highway and driving it is reminiscent of the VW bus I had in the 70's. I'm enjoying driving it and am currently using it as a moving billboard for our community orchestra but I am looking forward to some travel adventures in the coming months. I wish the pictures didn't rotate 90 degrees when they upload.
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Old 11-09-2019, 07:09 PM   #19
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Nice build!!!
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Old 11-09-2019, 09:53 PM   #20
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Year: 2005
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Chassis: Freightliner
Engine: 6.4 liter Mercedes MBE 900
Rated Cap: 48 passenger
I had a '63 Grumman-body Chevy step van many years ago. This was in the Midwest, where a 10 year old car had no floor boards left. All aluminum body did not rust! The truck had about 400,000 miles on it, was used as a route vehicle doing laundry delivery. I rebuilt the truck's second engine for the second time, replaced the clutch, and completely went through the brakes. It was completely reliable after that. You will not find a simpler truck to work on. It most likely (like mine) has an inline chevy six and a 1 barrel carburetor, a column-shift three speed, and single-reservoir manual (non power) drum brakes. Those parts were made by GM for so many years that you should have no problem finding them. (I currently drive a '68 GMC pickup daily, get anything I need at NAPA) GOOD LUCK!!!
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