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Old 11-12-2009, 01:56 PM   #1
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Re: 1985 Chevy P30 SchoolBus Conversion

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Originally Posted by thetechman21
Now as to how to tell the DMV its gonna be a bulletproof cammo painted Skoolie RV conversion...
Just tell 'em it's a "brown" bus that's "not for hire". Shouldn't give ya any trouble.
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Old 11-12-2009, 03:47 PM   #2
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Re: 1985 Chevy P30 SchoolBus Conversion

at the dmv go with the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, it's a rv conversion on a skoolbus, don't offer any more info than they ask for.

once you have it titled as a rv, licensed and legal do what ever you want inside and out, be subtle on the outside so as to not draw any unnecessary attention and "do your thing"

as far as tuneup parts etc ust go to a napa or carquest and have them hook you up with quality stock parts(major brand name) HP /HD parts are usually just a way to add to their profit margin.
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Old 11-13-2009, 02:06 AM   #3
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Re: 1985 Chevy P30 SchoolBus Conversion

Don't bother with any "performance" parts. Run quality filters like Wix. A 51734 is the heavy duty filter for a small block Chevy assuming you have the vertical adapter (calls for 51060 filter) so I would recommend you run that and make sure you prefill the filter before installing it as it holds 2 quarts of oil. If you're looking to make a difference with synthetic fluids I wouldn't bother much with the oil. I run it in my daily driver, but ONLY because I do extended drain intervals. As Smitty said, the puff of oil is probably just worn guides and seals given the number of miles on it. It's not uncommon on an old small block and I sure as hell wouldn't worry about it in something as unfriendly to work on as a van style chassis. However, if you wanted to deal with it the parts are cheap and the air hose to keep the valves open isn't expensive either. It's just time, man.

Synthetic gear lube will help you out in the mileage department though if you life in the cold regions. 80w90 hardly moves below 40 degrees and it will make a big different there. Just make sure the axle seals behind the hubs are working before you spend the money on expensive stuff that's just going to coat the brake shoes.

You transmission is a Turbohydramatic 400 I'm sure. That transmission is a beast and is still at the heart of the more modern 4L80E designs. Just put a new filter in it and a quality fill of Dex/Merc. I would also recommend putting a Dorman drainplug (p/n 090-048 on the Help! rack) in it to make future servicing much easier.

Other than that I think you're on the right track. I'm curious as to what alternator you have that's wrong. That thing uses either a 10SI or a 12SI alternator, the same as just about any other GM product of the time. Is the fan on it disc shaped plastic or just a regular fan? If you can get me that information I can give you some options on a higher output alternator.
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Old 11-13-2009, 12:29 PM   #4
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Re: 1985 Chevy P30 SchoolBus Conversion

I'd be replacing the carb with TBI off a later model truck, but that might be outside the realm of what you want to do. An Edelbrock 1406 is a cheap carb that you should be able to essentially drop in place and have it running without adjusting.

80W90 is the correct weight gear lube to use. I would just recommend a synthetic or semi-synthetic blend as it's cold flow characteristics are far, far better. I have a preference for BG brand stuff, but you probably aren't going to find that on the shelf at an auto parts store. A vehicle service shop is more likely to have that particular product.

The standard metal blades on the alternator lead me to believe it is just a regular 10SI alternator. In a truck chassis I would expect the clocking to be at 3 o'clock so the part number you will likely need (nothing is certain with buses/vans) would be a 7127-3. Beware that that is only a 63 amp alternator. You MAY be able to get a higher output version off the shelf at the parts store, but chances are you're going to have to order from somewhere like Summit or Jegs. I *think* you could make a 12SI or 27SI work with your brackets and a different belt which would get you into an alternator chassis far better at dealing with the high temperatures associated with high current output. Maybe something like a 7157 (100 amp) would work with the brackets rearranged slightly.

Another super simple option would be a 7127-1W. This is still a standard 63 amp 10SI, but uses a self exciting voltage regulator. All you would have to do is mount it up and run a single wire (4-8 gauge) from the stud on the back of it down to the B-terminal on the starter or directly to the battery. You can omit the other wiring. To get a 1-wire alternator such as that to charge you just have to whack on the throttle once which I'm sure you'll be doing to kick it off high idle anyway. You will probably (though not necessarily) need to rewire your volt meter directly to the battery to get it to work, but this is a better option anyway.

Just as a side note on the alternator...get the best remaned unit you can. I am skeptical of new units unless they are ACDelco on a GM. It's just too easy to make a cheap knock-off whereas a reman unit is going to be built on the strong original castings. Also, don't go bottom of the barrel on the reman. The definition of remanufactured varies greatly from something that has been completely torn down and completely rebuilt including machining the commutator, new brushes, bearings/bushings, rewinding, a new voltage regulator/diodes, etc to something that was hosed off in the parts washer and had some new brushes slung on a commutator that was cleaned up a little with emory cloth. The warranty will tell the tale for you.

*edit* You didn't mention doing anything with the coolant I don't think. Now would be a good time to drain the system, flush it out, and put new coolant in. In fact, being that you live in the cold belt, maybe you'll want to pound in a new block heater as long as the cooling system is down.
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Old 11-18-2009, 10:24 PM   #5
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Re: 1985 Chevy P30 SchoolBus Conversion

A 200-4R would be a mistake as it is ill suited to a life in a car behind a 6 banger, let alone something that size. A 700R4 would be a very easy swap. You will have to move the crossmember just a few inches and get the driveshaft shortened. There is a chance your frame is already drilled for the crossmember location even. You will need to rig up the correct linkage for the TV cable and either utilize a vacuum switch, or my preferred method of a toggle switch, in conjunction with the brake switch for converter lock up. It might sound complicated, but it's NOT. However, I might caution against making this swap. Yes, I know GM used the 700R4 in 1 ton diesel applications and even behind a diesel, but it never was a 1-ton transmission. It really is a half-ton transmission at best. The one in my truck has served me well, but I built it up (Eagle stacks, Gil Younger kit, manual converter lockup, etc). It is the 4th transmission that has been in the truck, but the only one I've had to put in.

I understand the desire to gain some mileage with an overdrive, but I really don't think the huge gains are going to be there. There is a good chance you have some highway friendly gears in the rear end if you only have a three speed. The TH-400 (3L80) is one of the greatest transmissions ever built. It will last you a long time and when the time comes to replace it you can do so for half the cost of a 700R4 and have twice the transmission. Does it really pay to gain 2 miles per gallon? A swap to taller tires might be a cheaper route to go if you're that concerned.

But...if you have your heart set on an overdrive can I recommend you go a different route and get a 4L80E? I know...it's scary because it's electronic, but it is essentially a TH400 with an aux. overdrive unit attached to it. To control it you can get a standalone controller from certain years of diesel powered Chevy trucks. Otherwise you can spend the money on a commercial standalone controller ($$$) or try your hand at some of the modded Medgasquirt systems and firmwares made just for this purpose.

If it were mine I'd leave it alone. Don't fix what ain't broke.
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Old 11-22-2009, 11:32 PM   #6
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Re: 1985 Chevy P30 SchoolBus Conversion

tri sodium phosphate, TSP would be the best choice to wash the bus before paint, if you have tide it also works well as a general cleaner/degreaser, mix up a batch of solution scrub well and then rinse real well befoe you sand. you don't want to push dirt and grease into the paint while you're' sanding
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Old 12-02-2009, 09:48 PM   #7
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Re: 1985 Chevy P30 SchoolBus Conversion

If you need to replace the water outlet get one with a bleeder in it. Also, You will have the option between a $1.29 paper gasket (p/n 35062 IIRC) or a $12 neoprene unit (p/n 35562 IIRC). You know which one I'm going to recommend...
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Old 12-11-2009, 07:15 PM   #8
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Re: 1985 Chevy P30 SchoolBus Conversion

Sounds good to me. Give this guy a run for his money!
http://jalopnik.com/5421812/the-chri...am-3000-lights

Don't know how you plan on powering the tree lights, I imagine it would be off 110v AC power as I doubt there are many Christmas light strings that run on 12v.
Either way, it would probably be beneficial to add an auxiliary deep cycle battery to power the system, as draining your main battery like that, even just half a volt or so, will eventually damage it. Off the top of my head I don't know what kind of power christmas lights draw...don't imagine it's a whole lot, but even so, over a couple of hours it will drain the battery enough to do damage, especially if repeated over and over.
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Old 12-12-2009, 03:35 PM   #9
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Re: 1985 Chevy P30 SchoolBus Conversion

Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkLaw

(((feel free to tell me if I'm wrong in my math.... but amps = watts/volts.... 3,000 x 0.04 = 120 / 12v battery with an inverter to 120v AC = 120 watts/120 volts = 1 amp.)))
Cheers~!
Math is right, but the flaw is that the 1amp current draw that you used to calculate battery life is on the 120v lines coming out of the inverter. The current from the battery TO the inverter would be 10 amps (120w/12v = 10a from the battery) + a little more draw to compensate for inverter inefficiencies. The current draw from the batteries is what we need to worry about since the battery is what's powering the whole setup. 10ish hours would be the max a 120w setup could run on a typical 100Ah battery, and at that point the battery would be totally dead. Cold winter weather can also significantly reduce a battery's capacity. If he ran this setup off a standard car battery I can guarantee it would be sulfated to hell in the first week of not sooner ( I wish I didn't know that from experience ). A deep cycle or two is a must in this case.

-Toby
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Old 12-13-2009, 01:34 PM   #10
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Re: 1985 Chevy P30 SchoolBus Conversion

1. In most vehicles there is/are one or more "fusible link(s)" which act as the master fuse(s). These are pieces of wire that are designed to burn up before the vehicle does, if someone happens to short the main fusebox feeds to ground. I expect yours is open ("popped"), since your good alternator cannot get electricity to the battery, and the battery cannot get electricity to the fuses. If you use a jumper instead of finding and replacing the blown link, put a mega fuse in your jumper so your next mistake doesn't burn down your bus. The links usually look like a wire with a 10-inch section separating two plastic-covered splices that are each about the size of a cigarette filter.

2. The pre-led version of mini Christmas lights have two parallel strings of fifty 2.5-volt lamps wired in series. Each lamp in series burns part of the 120V voltage, and if one lamp burns out without shorting its internal bypass, half the light set goes out. You can cut and splice the socket wiring so you have 10 parallel strings of 5 lamps each, and run the light set off of 12.5 volts DC. That's how I wired the 'tacky lights' for my camper awning.
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