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Old 02-07-2013, 12:15 AM   #1
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1954 Chevy

Hey all,
Just bought my first bus a couple of weeks ago! Just thought I'd share a picture of it and say hello. I've got big plans, but I won't get to start on it until the snow melts off here (Utah). No name for the machine yet...



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Old 02-07-2013, 07:22 AM   #2
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Re: 1954 Chevy

That is one cool looking bus. I can't wait to see what you do with it. Good luck on the build and post lots of pics!
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Old 02-07-2013, 11:26 AM   #3
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Re: 1954 Chevy

Hey Choc --- Welcome to the madness! And what a great looking Skoolie! My bus came from Utah as well...I think they must farm them up there. Do you know who the body is made by? And please do tell us your plans for that little darlin'.
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Old 02-07-2013, 07:44 PM   #4
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Re: 1954 Chevy

Cool looking indeed! --- Did it turn that icy blue color due to the frosty temps?
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Old 04-22-2013, 03:12 AM   #5
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Re: 1954 Chevy

Hey all,
Quick update on my bus.

Since I purchased it in January it has remained where it was for the past few months... until saturday! It's finally home and ready to be worked on. I'll post more pictures in the next couple of days. As for right now, I'm looking for some advice, so those if you with some input to share, please do!

I think the first major task I want to tackle (after gutting it, of course) is the drive train. Now, I've been sort of planning/contemplating for the past couple of months that I would buy a dodge ram 3500 dually with a 12 valve cummins diesel, and use the engine and axles from that (the advantage to the axles would be, easier to find 19.5 rims and run a semi tire and I'd run air bag suspension). I would have a brand new frame built from straight steel tubing. I would do this for the added strength of having the frame fully boxed in, but it would also allow me to build a rolling chassis, then lift the body up and slide a new chassis underneath. I'd probably track down an allison 643 trans. I just read in another thread however someone recommending to not use the cummins from a dodge ram because the weight rating is different from bus to pick up. However, my bus is rated at 12,000 lbs, and the ram 3500 is rated at 11,000 lbs, so I'm just wondering if there is any credibility to this statement and if I should change my plans.

If there is a better option, then I'm happy to hear all arguments. The appeal for me is buying a much more modern and COMMON vehicle that would make it easier to work on and find parts for. And by buying a full vehicle at a salvage auction, I would have all the components I need to do the conversion (since the 12 v cummins is mechanically controlled, there isn't as much "computer" stuff to deal with).

Looking forward to your opinions!
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Old 04-22-2013, 06:17 AM   #6
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Re: 1954 Chevy

It would be great to have a diesel motor and an Allison transmission in your bus.

Sure sounds like a lot of work to do.
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Old 04-22-2013, 11:14 AM   #7
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Re: 1954 Chevy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Accordion
It would be great to have a diesel motor and an Allison transmission in your bus.

Sure sounds like a lot of work to do.
It will definitely be a lot of work, and to be totally frank, I've never worked on a diesel engine before so it would be a new experience for me. But I'm keen to learn and I think a diesel would make it much more enjoyable to drive
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Old 04-22-2013, 12:00 PM   #8
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Re: 1954 Chevy

Hey Choc, Tango would be the one to talk to about your project as he is in the process of putting a Cummins/Allison in his '46 chevy skoolie--and both your busses are very similar. Good luck with the project.
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Old 04-22-2013, 12:20 PM   #9
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Re: 1954 Chevy

Hey Choc --- your buses 12K rating is probably the maxed out gross vehicle weight (GVAW). If it is anything like mine, that number is probably 2-3 times what it actually weighs now. As I recall, the "passenger allowance" was about 250 pounds per seat and the axles were rated accordingly. As for the engine, many back then had only about 100hp and less than 200 pounds of torque. For example, my '46 Shorty (15 passenger) came with a 10,500# rear axle, 4500# front and a 90hp/168# torque motor. Like you, I am installing a diesel and auto combo. Mine is just a four cylinder (Cummins 4BTAA) but at 130hp & 350# of torque, it should provide plenty of grunt to spare. Especially considering that my final wet weight will be well below the actual GVAW.

The 6 banger Cummins is a great engine that gets excellent mileage and puts out enough torque to pull a house uphill. Just mate it to a tranny & gear train that will keep it in the engines "sweet spot" for your intended purpose and you will be a happy camper. For my purposes, I am going for reasonable acceleration (no hot rod) but high mpg. To pull that off, I am shooting for 63mph at 1800 rpm on the highway. Getting those numbers requires working out the right final gearing and tire size but there are numerous online calculators that can pinpoint them all. For me, a final drive of 5.43 will be perfect and Chevy offered that ring & pinion ratio as an option...I just haven't been able to find one yet.

As for an auto trans, the 643 is a pretty good option since it has full lock up and gets much better mpg than the old 543. However, you might want to look at the 5 & 6 speed Allisons. Many of the later model trucks came equipped with them and some of the 5 speeds can be re-programmed to become 6 speeds. I just hooked up a brand new Allison, double OD 6 speed to my 4BT and I'm about to start trying to stuff it all in. Great thing about the 4th generation 2000 series Allisons is that while they are computer controlled, they can be mated to all mechanical engines with nothing more than a TPS (throttle position sensor).

Definitely do some homework on the gearing and tire size considerations as that is what will determine your true final drive performance.

Best of luck with the build and please do keep the pix coming.
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Old 04-22-2013, 12:47 PM   #10
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Re: 1954 Chevy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tango
Hey Choc --- your buses 12K rating is probably the maxed out gross vehicle weight (GVAW). If it is anything like mine, that number is probably 2-3 times what it actually weighs now. As I recall, the "passenger allowance" was about 250 pounds per seat and the axles were rated accordingly. As for the engine, many back then had only about 100hp and less than 200 pounds of torque. For example, my '46 Shorty (15 passenger) came with a 10,500# rear axle, 4500# front and a 90hp/168# torque motor. Like you, I am installing a diesel and auto combo. Mine is just a four cylinder (Cummins 4BTAA) but at 130hp & 350# of torque, it should provide plenty of grunt to spare. Especially considering that my final wet weight will be well below the actual GVAW.

The 6 banger Cummins is a great engine that gets excellent mileage and puts out enough torque to pull a house uphill. Just mate it to a tranny & gear train that will keep it in the engines "sweet spot" for your intended purpose and you will be a happy camper. For my purposes, I am going for reasonable acceleration (no hot rod) but high mpg. To pull that off, I am shooting for 63mph at 1800 rpm on the highway. Getting those numbers requires working out the right final gearing and tire size but there are numerous online calculators that can pinpoint them all. For me, a final drive of 5.43 will be perfect and Chevy offered that ring & pinion ratio as an option...I just haven't been able to find one yet.

As for an auto trans, the 643 is a pretty good option since it has full lock up and gets much better mpg than the old 543. However, you might want to look at the 5 & 6 speed Allisons. Many of the later model trucks came equipped with them and some of the 5 speeds can be re-programmed to become 6 speeds. I just hooked up a brand new Allison, double OD 6 speed to my 4BT and I'm about to start trying to stuff it all in. Great thing about the 4th generation 2000 series Allisons is that while they are computer controlled, they can be mated to all mechanical engines with nothing more than a TPS (throttle position sensor).

Definitely do some homework on the gearing and tire size considerations as that is what will determine your true final drive performance.

Best of luck with the build and please do keep the pix coming.
You are correct about the max GVW being 12k # (and not the actual vehicle weight). I got that number from here: http://www.cs.siena.edu/~lederman/truck ... umbers.htm
and the best I can determine is mine is a 4500, specifically 4502 just like yours.

Where did you get your 4bt from, and what type of vehicles would it have been in? I wouldn't mind the smaller engine, these chevs don't have the biggest engine compartments I'm not even sure the 5.9 will fit yet.

I'll do some research on other allison models. I have no clue what to look for really, so I'll be doing some serious homework. Automatic trans and Gas mileage is most definitely priority #1. As for gear ratios, that is a huge factor in considering the dodge drive train. Those dana/spicer axles are really good (in my experience) and finding gear sets is painless. Same with the tires. I'll have to hunt down one of those calculators you mentioned. This is all starting to sound complicated and expensive so maybe I'll chicken out and stick with a gasser .
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Old 04-22-2013, 11:03 PM   #11
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Re: 1954 Chevy

Hey Choc --- below is one of the calculators I used. It was in total agreement with the fifteen page readout I got from Allison as far as tire size, & drive ratios.

http://www.csgnetwork.com/multirpmcalc.html

My 4BtAA came out of a Chevy P30 van (probably a Frito Lay or UPS truck) on Ebay and included a 545 Allison, the intercooler, wastegate turbo, fluid engine mounts and the complete package for power steering. I probably paid too much given that I didn't want the tranny, but overall was OK with the deal. Had it gone through by Diesel Specialists near Houston who are a Cummins outsource shop here and then had them bolt up the Allison MH2200. The 5.9s are great engines but as you noted quite a bit bigger (same motors with 2 cylinders difference). The 4BT weighs in at 750 pounds while the obviously larger 6BT is about a thousand and two cylinders longer. Just do the power calcs based on what your anticipated final weight might be and you should have a basis for choosing which to go with. As a side note...the 6BT's are quite a bit cheaper to buy due to a run on the fours. The all mechanical 4BT's are getting harder to find (and more expensive) as a result of demand but there are still a lot of good motors out there and since nearly all the parts are interchangeable between the 4's & 6's, they are still very cheap & easy to come by and maintain. Whatever else you do...look into the "KDP" ("Killer Dowel Pin") status on any Cummins engine. It is a little gasket locating pin in the front cover that can back out and totally trash the timing gears and possibly the whole engine. Cummins makes a bolt on tab or you can "peen" the sucker in place (what I did) to keep it from wiggling loose and causing problems.

Either engine is an excellent choice and once you do a little homework on the specifics (weight, speed/gearing/tire size, etc.), you should be able to make a good call.

Best of luck bud. Just let me know if I can add anything else.
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Old 05-20-2013, 03:32 PM   #12
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Re: 1954 Chevy

Tango - Thanks for all the info. I have been researching like crazy... I'd love to go with a 4BT since it is very close in weight to the original engine of the bus. A 6BT would also be great for the extra power and towing capacity, since I'll likely tow a small car behind for "running into town"... My wife and I plan to make the bus our retirement and travel the nation being camp hosts and just living like nomads. My only concern is whether the 6BT will fit, and it is about 250 lbs heavier... We'll see.

I had some time to tinker with google sketchup... I did a total hack job, but it's good enough for me and the women I date ;)

A few things to note... I did this in about 15 min, it's not totally proportional, or exceptionally pretty. It does accurately represent the size of my bus and the components which are possible.

The two slabs in the "back" (aka, passengers side) are bunk buds. The top bunk will be hinged so that it will drop down and be a bench seat while traveling or a couch for chilling and reading a book. I will put 2 ARB refrigerators (1 fridge and 1 freezer) and a storage box of some kind underneath the bottom bunk on heavy duty slides of some kind.

The table will probably be made of aluminum and will basically be a shallow box. The cooktop will be down inside the box, and the lid will open toward the front and back of the bus to reveal the cooktop and provide a workspace on either side of it. When parked/camping, the captains chair will swivel around to be seated at the table.

The big wood unit in the back is the "master bedroom", which is a full size (double) bed with shelving at the head and floor at the foot (for kicking off your shoes). So obviously there would be a door (probably a split pocket door) to enter. There is also a back door to the bus, I will probably build a 2' - 3' back patio that steps down a lot more gracefully. SO it will be a master bedroom with balcony... spoiled .

There will be a fair amount of overhead cabinets.

There are many other commodities which I'm planning that weren't worth sketching... outdoor shower head, custom onboard water heater with temp sensor and pump (along the longs of the onboard showers jeepers use), A/C, 24V ([12v x 2] x 2) battery bank with solar panel charging system. There are others, I don't remember them all at the moment.

Also, the toilet closet will be partially over a wheel hump, so it will likely be up on a platform a bit. Which could make it more comfortable to use, but maybe I'll put some stirrups in there to aid in "assuming the position"...

Here are a couple of the parts I'm planning to use...

Stainless steel deep sink

ARB 12/24/110V fridge/freezer

stainless steel cooktop

soap dispenser mounted on wall next to sink

paper towel dispenser mounted by sink

Floor plan:


Edit: BTW, if anyone has suggestions/criticisms, I'd LOVE to hear them. I like this floor plan a lot, but I'm still tweaking/refining it. I'd live to find a way to incorporate this, but I'm not sure where/how:
Camp Chef Camping Range
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Old 05-21-2013, 12:39 PM   #13
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Re: 1954 Chevy

Hey Choc --- been away for a couple of weeks and just catching up. Layout looks great but personally, I'd opt for a slightly smaller surface mounted sink. A built-in lower cabinet enclosure would make for much more usable storage space. I hate the skimpy, shallow "RV" sinks myself and looked around till I found an 8" deep stainless unit at a salvage yard. And to take even better advantage of any under counter space, check out the waterless traps by Hepvo. Great space savers for any drain since they don't need to be hanging down in the usual "P" shape.
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Old 05-21-2013, 12:50 PM   #14
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Re: 1954 Chevy

Quote:
Originally Posted by chocolatetoothpaste
Whoa, dude, I've got the same three-burner stovetop bookmarked that you do! Creepy, in a fun sorta way. Only difference is instead of the Outdoor Camp Stove (which looks AWESOME, by the way) is I'm setting a good quality Toaster Oven under my stovetop (I don't cook in it very often, unless I'm actively baking something, because, hey, I got the grill and the crockpot!).

I like your floorplan, though. I enjoy the look of minimalism (now if only I could implement it! ).
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Old 05-21-2013, 10:17 PM   #15
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Re: 1954 Chevy

Check out the Dometic CF-50ac powered cooler at http://www.adventureRV.net. It's a bit larger, about $200 cheaper and uses the same Danfoss cooling unit. Dometic also has smaller coolboxes if you want a size similar to the one you linked to.
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