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Old 03-21-2005, 10:15 PM   #1
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Major engine problems

So I just took our bus in for a mechanical inspection. I thought it was in pretty good shape considering it ran, started, changed gears and stopped all without horrible noises or mysterious fluids leaking out. Oh, how wrong I was. The mechanic did a compression test and found that two cylinders were at 0, one at 65, another at 85, and the rest over 100 but still low. So it is currently running on 5 cylinders, which explains the lack of power (even for a bus) and poor milage. Their estimate was that the exhaust valves were pooched. The propane burns at a higher temperature and caused them to burn out (he figures ).
So we are looking at a minimum of $1500 for repairs up to $4000 for a rebuild. I contacted a shop in town that specializes in motors and they want to do there own diagnostic (understandibly) then go from there. That's the best estimate I can get. ARRGH!
I have invested too much time to dump this bus and get another that may have a similar problem. So I think we will bite the bullet and pay to have the shop fix the stupid thing. I thought of doing the job myself but I am a touch overwhelmed about the idea of tackling such a large job without a shop and much knowledge of propane converted engines.
I'll keep you all posted with the progess. -Richard
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Old 03-21-2005, 10:41 PM   #2
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OUCH! Sorry to here about your engine! As a small engine mechanic (I also do most of the work on my own vehicles), I woudl heartily suggest biting the bullet and go for the rebuild. The reason being: you could pay that $1500 to get the valves done and something else could go out on the way home. If your compression is that low on so many cylinders, it is highly likely that other engine parts are worn or damaged from the heat of the blow-by. Believe me, I know how painful major repairs can be, but it's cheaper to do it right once than piecemeal many times.
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Old 03-22-2005, 11:13 AM   #3
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To replace or not to replace the bus, that is the question.

Hello Everyone. Since my enging problems I am trying to decide if it's worth rebuilding the motor in the 85 gmc or to purchase another one that's already had a conversion done on it that is in relitively good shape.
The mechanic finished the inspection on the gmc and explained that the rest of the bus was in good shape, it's just the engine. So I don't know, mabye it's worth keeping. I was looking in the paper today at converted buses and found this one. I would attach a photo but I don't know how. It looks pretty sweet though. Mabye it would be simpler just to purchase somone elses bus that is proven and works. The guy who owns it has gotten a bit older and is not racing cars anymore. He converted it. here are the specs.
I need help making an educated decision. If I opt for this, then I still have to sell our bus. Which will be a pain I am sure.
HELP ME PLEASE!!!


1975 – Blue Bird (army bus)
30’ total
Flat nose
Air Brakes
Decent tires
Runs well (he said)
gas (5.somthing litre he could not remember)
Allison transmission auto
Signal light broken
Generator Honda 4.5 kw
carries 2 race cars, a/c, awning, stove, shower, bunks, roof rack,
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Old 03-22-2005, 11:45 AM   #4
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I don't know what an engine swap would cost or if you would want to do it yourself. It may be something to consider though. It is usually not hard to find a rust bucket with a good engine for cheap.
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Old 03-22-2005, 11:58 AM   #5
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Busone.

Well, I looked around at used engines. They range from $1000 and up. But I do not feel capable enough without an enclosed shop to even attempt it myself. The shop said it would cost almost the same to switch engines as it would to rebuild the current one. Also I do not want to buy someone elses headache and be in the same position in a few months. I am sure there are those that feel confidant about switching engines or opening this one up, unfortunatly I am not one of them (yet). Thanks - Richard
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Old 03-22-2005, 12:29 PM   #6
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Re: Busone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by captainkf
Also I do not want to buy someone elses headache and be in the same position in a few months.
I think this could still happen if you buy the Army bus. At least with your current one, you KNOW what's wrong / right with it (outside of the engine). I still think you'd be better served to have the rebuild & done by someone reputable that will give you more than a "Threshold" Warranty, and you'll have (essentially) a new engine. Just a thought.
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Old 03-23-2005, 09:59 PM   #7
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Made a decision.

We decided to have our buses engine completely rebuilt by a shop that specializes in such things. I looked at the other bus, and was very tempted. To the point of calling off the tow truck driver last minute. It was tempting becuase it had so many things (ac, generator, forced air furnace, water heater, loading ramp to carry jeep inside the bus, winch) I wanted. But I had such a bad gut reaction to it when I went to pick it up. It is very low with only 9" of clearance under the engine's exhaust system, which would inhibit boondocking. When I started it up to move it there was a mysterious red oil like liquid spraying out from under the engine and the air stunk like gasoline. I thought "great, another fixer upper". So I backed out and feel this was the smart decision. With a new motor I should be good to go for 200.000 plus kilometers without headache or concern. But, oh it was nice to have the 6'3" of clearance inside. Oh well. -Richard
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Old 03-23-2005, 10:17 PM   #8
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If it's a 366 Chevy, you may want to upgrade--a 427 or 454 should bolt right in, & give you a much-needed power boost for the hills.
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Old 03-24-2005, 02:28 AM   #9
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Re: Larger Engine?

I had considered that however I was concerned about how the mechanics of the rest of the engine would work. They are as follows:
-How would the propane conversion work? Would I need a new carburator or interface?
-Is the cooling system sufficient for a larger engine?
-Would the tranny bolt up?
-Can I use the same motor mounts?
-Would I need to replace any other components that make up the engine as a whole?
-How much power would I gain?
-How would this effect my fuel economy?
-If I go for the rebuild is it worth looking into some of the aftermarket components that are designed for "rotroding" such as camshafts, bored out pisons and different compression ratio's?

Thanks to any and all answers. -Richard
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Old 03-24-2005, 05:57 AM   #10
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Re: Larger Engine?

I don't know anything about propane conversions, so I won't touch that.
The folks you mention at the engine specialty shop should be able to answer the rest of your questions. Since this is their forte', they should be able to give you list of options from a straight rebuild to complete hotrod blue-printing, and what benefits / detriments any modifications would have.

Anyway, they may have to re-work the pistons & cylinders, so it may not cost much more to have it bored & stroked. Along with the extra power however, will be a suffering of fuel economy if this is done.
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