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Old 11-19-2008, 02:10 PM   #1
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Location: San Marcos Texas
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Year: 1991
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New and Looking for Advice

My wife, a few friends, and I are planning on taking a West Coast trip this summer, starting here in Texas and working our way up to Alaska (or something like that). We weren't really planning on converting a bus or even thinking about it really, but we saw this:



1991 GMC with 60,000 miles on it (according to owner). Gasoline engine and automatic transmission. Owner is asking 2,500 for it.

First, is this a good deal and what are the pros and cons of trying to take a short bus on a trip like the one described above?

Basically we really want to do this but are unsure if it's just a crazy idea. I've browsed the forum and would love to hear what any of you have to say.
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Old 11-19-2008, 03:44 PM   #2
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Re: New and Looking for Advice

i also agree that the price is a bit high.

i boght my first bus for $775, and my 2nd one for $1,500. These were both full size buses from the 1990's with diesel engines and auto trans.

I think that having a gas motor, and being and older bus 2500 is a little steep. However, if you look at it from a different perspective, it's a really heavy duty truck, and barely broken in with only 60K miles. You prob can't go wrong with that bus at that price, but i'd try to get it for less.
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Old 11-19-2008, 03:55 PM   #3
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Re: New and Looking for Advice

Thanks folks...Yeah, I'm thinking that $1,500 seems a little closer to what I'd think reasonable. We went and test drove it yesterday and it ran really nicely, started up smoothly, and purred like a kitten.

A big concern is MPG for sure, but the owner has only done short trips (central Texas area as you suspected Jimmy) so he's not really sure. Any rough estimations on what this would get on the highway (I've been looking all over the site and thought somewhere in the 6-8 mpg range)?

Thanks for the tip on checking with the school district; I know it's from a rural/smaller one, but I should get the specifics.
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Old 11-19-2008, 04:08 PM   #4
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Re: New and Looking for Advice

it all depends on the trans and the rear gears. 10 mpg is prob the upper end of what you can expect. I would expect better than 5mpg. 12 mpg might be possible if you have a trans with lockup converter and a set of highway gears.
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Old 11-20-2008, 01:38 PM   #5
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Re: New and Looking for Advice

the dta 360 in a short bus wold rock!

i had that engine/trans setup in a full size bus and i was happy with it except for fuel economy...which wasn't horrible, but no match for the 5.9 liter cummins in phill's tc2k.

btw 360 cubic inches and 5.9 liters is the exact same displacement. I love the dt360, had very few problems, i abused the motor by grossly overloading the bus and driving cross country through he dessert and over the mountains and never had any engine problems that i can remember. I had alternator problems, and a fuel delivery problem (fuel line) but the engine itself always performed wonderfully. Even had good cold winter starting ability.

anyhow, i think that engine/trans combo i a short bus would be great. First thing i'd do is turn up the hp and the rpm's. super easy and free! Then i'd think about changing the rear end gears to 4.10:1 if that option exists.
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Old 11-20-2008, 03:14 PM   #6
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Re: New and Looking for Advice

My thoughts are if you can use a smaller bus go that way. Maybe a G30 or E350 van cut away with a diesel. An extended trip in the bus you are showing will be a gas hog.
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Old 11-24-2008, 02:45 PM   #7
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Re: New and Looking for Advice

I agree with Smitty, Jimmy and the other guys that $2500 seems a bit steep for that bus. It looks like it's in great shape, but I think you could pick it up for much less. I would offer them a thousand bucks, maybe 1500, and see if they bite.
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Old 11-24-2008, 03:12 PM   #8
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Re: New and Looking for Advice

Seeing as how most of you guys seem to prefer diesel, you might have to excuse my naivety, but what are the benefits of a short-bus w/diesel (aside from longevity in a diesel engine) as opposed to gasoline engine, especially with gas prices lower (right now) for the latter?

Also, how capable are yalls' buses at climbing (we're going to try and avoid mountainous terrain as best as possible but I'm curious anyways)?

Thanks for all the advice. I think I might offer a thousand and see if the owner will bite, otherwise I'll keep looking.
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Old 11-28-2008, 11:30 AM   #9
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Re: New and Looking for Advice

Typically, a diesel engine will provide much more torque, thus giving you more "climbing power" and "towing power." Now, given that your (potential) bus is a shorty, you will probably have adequate power for heading through the north country.

Although, personally, I would prefer a diesel - especially given the lenght of your trip and the fact that you are going to be going through the middle-of-no-where. I just feel that they are more reliable.

Mine does quite well at climbing hills, as it's got a 6 71 Detroit Pusher. Most "highway" hills I can climb in 4th gear, occasionaly having to down-shift to 3rd - but still pulling the hill at 40 or 45 mph. I don't think that that's too bad for a contanquerous coach that's nearly 50 years old!! I also get around 10 mpg on the highway.

Bottom line...much of it is personal preference. Good Luck!
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Old 12-02-2008, 09:56 PM   #10
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Re: New and Looking for Advice

I just purchased a 1991 Ward body with International DT 360 and Allison auto trans, 206K miles, verifiably highway (a shuttle from our local school to a special ed co-op 26 miles away). Cylinder sleeves had been replaced 40K miles ago. Needs brake pads in rear (disk). About as long (17 1/2' from the back of driver's seat to the rear door) as the bus you have a pic of, with handicapped lift. AC has a freon leak and needs R12 (not available so need conversion). Tires are in fair condition (fronts nearly new, backs about 3/4's worn down). Rock chip in the windshield (small). Everything else works fine.

I paid a whopping $586.26 at the auction. I think the guy wants too much for that bus, but then, if it turns out to be a great bus that you love, then get it. I paid too much for a VW Thing once. It was the best thing (no pun intended) I ever paid too much for. I had 10X more fun in it than what I paid for it, so that's the final measure. Since you're in Austin, you should contact me if you buy it. Our buses will be very, very similar in size at least.
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