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Old 05-02-2009, 08:11 PM   #1
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Location: Middle of MN
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Year: 1985
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Carpenter bodies - any reason to worry?

Hello all!

As some of you may already know, I've been on the lookout for a short bus for the past couple months. And I think I may have found one - a '91 Chevy/Carpenter 16-pass (G30-based, "Classmate" iirc) that showed up on Craigslist last Thursday. It's about a hundred miles from where I am, and I plan to go look at it sometime later this week. It's not quite perfect, and I still have a lot of details to check on (seller isn't too knowledgeable), but the price is pretty low so it might work out.

One problem, though - the pictures I've seen show four rub rails, with the bottom two being broken up by the presence of the wheel-well. If I understand correctly, this means that it was built at the former Mitchell, Indiana plant; and therefore there's a good chance I'll be dealing with cracked roof welds.

Am I understanding this right? And if so, how difficult would it be for someone (not me, since I don't own a welder and have next to no welding skills) to repair any broken welds? Since the bus would be used as an occasional people-mover, I can't skimp on potential safety issues.

Also, I've read that Carpenters were often "low-bidder" buses. I'm used to Blue Birds and Thomases... so quality-wise, would this be a step down? (Can't be worse than the old Collins bodies were - owned a '94 Bantam... never again!)

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Old 05-04-2009, 08:45 AM   #2
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Re: Carpenter bodies - any reason to worry?

I'm thinking if you don't see any roof failure when you go to inspect it don't worry about it. Most of the body the body problems i've seen was a result of dirt roads (wash board) type roads, There are not too many dirt roads around anymore. Give it a good look'n at and get the mantainance records.May the farce be with you . Russell
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Old 05-04-2009, 10:09 PM   #3
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Re: Carpenter bodies - any reason to worry?

The way I understand it (and I could be wrong on this) was that the Carpenter bodies had structural problems with the roof that would allow the roof to collapse in the event of a roll over, which when you consider a bus load full of young children is not a good idea.

Since you're not transporting school children and using this for personal use, this should not be an issue. If you do roll it over it'll be wasted anyway, which I seriously doubt the whole thing would collapse anyway. I think it's a non-issue...

You just might be a Redneck if...
...your motor home used to be a school bus!
...Your living room has a steering wheel!
...Your home has brake lights

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