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Old 06-13-2015, 11:48 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 2
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: GMC Savanah 3500
Engine: 6.5L Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 4 Window
2000 GMC Savannah 3500 - The Clubhouse

What's up folks! Long time lurker here, finally found the type of bus I wanted near enough to my home town to be worth grabbing. She's an old 2000 GMC Savannah 3500, New York raised so a bit rough around the edges (rusted through in spots). Here's the specs, straight from the auction site:

Engine Make/Model: 6.5L Turbo Diesel
Cyl: 8
Fuel Type: Diesel
Transmission Type: Auto
Single Axle/Dual Axle: Single Axle
Tire Size/Type: LT225/75R16
Tire Condition: Good
2WD/4WD: 2WD

I'll probably have someone slap me for this one, but I wasn't able to see it in person before purchasing it; l'm stationed across the country from where the auction site was. The website said that the bus wouldn't start at the time of inspection due to a bad battery, but was running when taken from service. I'm calling next week to find out the vehicle's history and find out whether it will start or I'll need it towed.

Plans are to raise the roof high and give it a tailgate similar to the Millicent build, then create a touring bus with a sound isolation room for recording music. Other than the isolation room and a rack to sleep in, the only thing I'll be using the bus for is lugging materials and occasional carpentry/metalworking.

This is my first time doing anything like this so I could really use some help. I guess to start, what are everyone's thoughts on the bus? I'm a little worried about how much effort it will take to fix the structural rust.

Pics!
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Broloceraptor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-14-2015, 04:57 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 1,607
All I can say is I hope you didn't pay very much for it.

Structural rust is a really BAD thing. It won't be cheap or easy to fix.

The 6.5L in the G3500 chassis is a bit of an orphan. Since GM took the engine out of production more than ten years ago there is very little parts support left at GM dealers. Because the production numbers of the G-series 6.5L were relatively small none of the after market companies like Summit or Gale Banks make any G-series specific parts.

All of the 6.5L engines in the G-series chassis had electronic problems due in large part to the fact the brain box was located in the valley under the turbo--probably the worst place you could put it. There are aftermarket kits to relocate the brain box to in front of the radiator support where it won't get nearly as hot. If your bus doesn't have the update you would be smart to do it as soon as possible.

Before you start your roof raise weigh your bus to find out how heavy it is. That way you will know how much weight you will have to work with when raising the roof and adding permanent fixtures.

With such a light duty chassis and relatively short wheelbase you will need to be careful about how high your raise the roof. If you get too much sail area driving it next to semi-trucks or in side winds will result in some real white knuckle driving.

When it comes to batteries and trying to start your bus, determine how many batteries are on your bus and where they are located. I couldn't figure out why we were having so many battery problems with a bus at church that is on the G-3500 chassis. Come to find out there was a second battery mounted behind the skirt on the chassis with no indication it was mounted there.

Good luck and happy trails!
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Old 06-14-2015, 10:13 PM   #3
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Posts: 4,087
I bought a bus from New York. The worst rust of any vehicle I have ever owned which would probably be over 75. I wouldn't invest too much into the build because of the rust. Use it, abuse it, then get rid of it while you look for a rust free bus.
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Old 06-14-2015, 11:20 PM   #4
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Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 2
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: GMC Savanah 3500
Engine: 6.5L Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 4 Window
Thanks for the replies guys! I forgot to mention, the engine has $140K miles.

I probably paid more than I should have for it. My bid price was 1g flat, an extra $200 in fees plus $450 for towing. $1650 total to purchase and relocate the thing. Assuming that it's just a little bit of rot and has a bad battery I would say it was a decent purchase, although I'm sure some guys here have gotten far better. I'm putting the entire build in the $5K range, but it will be pretty spartan.

I'm a little scared about the rust, but I knew I was getting a fixer-upper when I bought it. Half of the reason that I purchased the bus is to learn more about restoring; I have zero experience doing it yet and I like to jump in waist deep when I learn new things.

Crazycal - The main purpose of this bus is to carry a nice sound isolation room. If I build it right, I'll be able to just forklift the isolation room right out the back of the bus and set it into another bus when I get one. I kind of enjoy having nice things so I'll probably spend a ton of man hours derusting what I can, out of preference. The very first thing I'll do with it is take a look at the work that needs to be done and decide whether to part it out or fix it up, based on my budget.

About the roof raise - I understand that it would be hard to handle under high winds and I was leery about that to begin with. An alternative for me would be to create a riser that I can jack up when I'm stationary. Have any of you seen a van-bus or shortie with this kind of setup? I know Volkswagon has some models with pop ups but I'm not familiar of any buses that have incorporated them.

Cowlitzcoach - I really appreciate the insight on the G3500. I should have more pictures up next week sometime if you want to swing by and check them out - I could definitely use the help!
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Old 06-14-2015, 11:39 PM   #5
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It's your time. Mine was pretty bad. RUST NEVER SLEEPS.
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