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Old 05-20-2018, 10:25 PM   #1
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Greater Boston
Posts: 213
P30 Bus - who actually HAS one?

I have a bit of a general question for the forum - who here actually HAS a P30-based school bus?

I've spent a lot of time browsing the forum, using the search function, and reading old threads about P30-based skoolies. I've found quite a list of people who bought one - and got about to the point of removing the seats, then their threads went cold. (As a reference, I've posted links to most of the threads I've found.)

Does anyone actually HAVE a P30 conversion in progress/completed?
I'm interested to hear how you like it, and what you don't like about it.
I'm weighting a P30 vs. a cutaway/van-chasis bus for a weekend camper build. I like the simplicity of the cutaway, the fact that it will (almost) fit in a normal parking space, and not having to worry too much about the insurance. On the other hand, the P30 offers a little more length, and a bit more headroom. I"m fine with the fact that it's a giant lego brick. I can work with that.

So anyone have an experience with P30 pros and cons?



Past forum threads on P30s :

Hearse Driver's unnamed P30
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f27/my...-p30-3599.html

"Scrappy"
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f27/19...ppy-14851.html


Tool Amours unnamed P30
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f27/my...olie-7777.html

"Otis"
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f11/ot...ird-15694.html

TKFTs 1983 Carpenter Cadet on a P30 Chassis
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f27/19...ject-2738.html

Pilac's unnamed P30
(Interesting transmission discussion)
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f35/re...esel-5003.html


More transmission/engine upgrade discussion
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f27/an...-4bt-4016.html

More general transmission chatter
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f27/sh...-etc-3511.html


Bullwhacker007s P30-chasis airport bus
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f27/1999-chevy-escort-fe-bus-conversion-6790.html



The_inevitables P30-based step van.
(I'd REALLY love to know how this one turned out.)
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f27/19...sion-8171.html





Monica and Coreys P30
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f6/we-...hat-16715.html
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Old 05-20-2018, 11:32 PM   #2
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Galt, CA
Posts: 23
Year: 1998
Coachwork: El Dorado Escort FE
Chassis: Chevrolet P30
Engine: 454 Chevrolet
Rated Cap: 20
P30 Based bus

I have a P30 based bus. Its an El Dorado Escort FE. It has a big block chevy engine and a 4L80E automatic. Had it about 8 years. It's about the same size as a step van. But I like having the windows. I use it for my business and completed the conversion to a mobile workshop about 6 months after I bought it. It had about 104k miles when the engine seized. I thought about buying another bus, but I'm so used to this one I went ahead and put a brand new crate engine in it. Took the shop about six months to replace, but it has been flawless since. Starts easier, better fuel mileage. Very happy with the bus

Stephan Willner
Willie's Woodshop
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Old 05-21-2018, 08:23 AM   #3
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Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Hanover Park IL
Posts: 1
Year: 1992
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: SchoolBus
Engine: 5.7 Gas
Rated Cap: 26
I have a 92 P 3500 which is the GMC version of the Chevy P30. All seats removed, put in 2 beds, cabinet with sink and kitchen table which becomes one of the beds. Not the best but it was free and I've taken it out 6 times with only one issue. Fail fuel injector which made getting home MUCH slower than wanted. I feel it's a good starter before I go all in.
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Old 05-22-2018, 11:54 PM   #4
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Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: Redding
Posts: 8
Year: 1987
Coachwork: GMC
Chassis: P30
Engine: 5.7 Gasser
Good evening, I recently acquired a 1988 P30 mini blue bird. $300 from a school I drove by frequently. I plan on making it a weekend warrior to carry 5 people in total. I have removed seats installed insulation, plywood, and laminate flooring. Have changed fluids, starter, battery, solenoid, painted one coat and am currently cleaning up electrical hacks from previous mechanics. Has been a fun project so far. Hr or so at time during workweek and 6 to 7 hrs on weekend. I like the size, that it is a gasser, once I get it registered and run it out a bit I plan on putting a vortec in it.
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Old 05-23-2018, 06:50 AM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Indiana
Posts: 46
Year: 2002
Coachwork: International
Chassis: AmTran
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by James888 View Post
Good evening, I recently acquired a 1988 P30 mini blue bird. $300 from a school I drove by frequently. I plan on making it a weekend warrior to carry 5 people in total. I have removed seats installed insulation, plywood, and laminate flooring. Have changed fluids, starter, battery, solenoid, painted one coat and am currently cleaning up electrical hacks from previous mechanics. Has been a fun project so far. Hr or so at time during workweek and 6 to 7 hrs on weekend. I like the size, that it is a gasser, once I get it registered and run it out a bit I plan on putting a vortec in it.

300$ for ANY vehicle that runs and drives (even with some minor work needed) is an AMAZING deal. If its in good physical condition as well, i would say that was practically highway robbery at that price.
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Old 05-23-2018, 10:24 PM   #6
New Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: Redding
Posts: 8
Year: 1987
Coachwork: GMC
Chassis: P30
Engine: 5.7 Gasser
2 wire connector?

I have a two wire connector under dash that looks like a flasher fuse port. female that I have no clue what should be there. The terminal ports are set closer than a flasher fuse male terminals? Any clues? I can't get accosory lights/heater to work. I have no power from accessory wire at ignition switch. If I remove acc wire from 110amp intermittent contractor engine won't crank. I'll eventually figure it out but I still appreciate ideas. Thank you
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Old 05-23-2018, 10:48 PM   #7
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 1,921
The basic problem with the P-30 chassis, regardless if it was a GM or Workhorse version, is that it is almost too light duty for the job.

Most had a GVWR of 14K-16K with an empty weight around 12K-13K.

Because there is so much bus on top of too little truck there are a lot of issues in the suspension

The P-30 chassis buses we had were equipped mostly with coil spring/A-arm independent front suspension. All of them that were equipped that way we put air bags inside the coils to help keep the coils from sagging out too soon. We had one that one of the rear shock mounts broke off and went up through the floor. The lift equipped buses had to have extra spring leaves on the curb side to keep the bus from leaning too much when the lift was operated. Even in the motorhome industry the steering system was recognized as being marginal at best and after market upgrades were available. Which we used in our buses.

The buses with four wheel disc brakes were easier on brakes than the ones with rear drums. But the rotors needed to be replaced at almost every brake job so brake jobs were not cheap. If the bus was used on hill routes they tended to really use up their brakes unless the drivers actually used something besides OD or D when going down the hill.

I would consider a P-30 chassis bus if it was one of the shorter versions if the price was low enough. But the longer ones are seriously overweight and would not be on my radar at all.

For about the same price you can get a Type 'C' on a medium duty truck chassis that has a GVWR of over 20,000 lbs. and an empty weight of about the same weight. The turning radius isn't much different. The ground clearance is much greater. And parts and pieces while more expensive don't wear out nearly as often.

Christopher has a couple of short Type 'C' buses and he will attest to how good they are.

Good luck.
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Old 05-24-2018, 12:52 AM   #8
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Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: Redding
Posts: 8
Year: 1987
Coachwork: GMC
Chassis: P30
Engine: 5.7 Gasser
Unladen weight and chassis weight

I included some pics. I have a 20 footer, leaf springs front and back, disk brakes. So according to the pics I have a 540 lb payload? Lol? If it can't work I'm sure I can sell it for a good profit as I've had 4 people ask me already.
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Old 05-24-2018, 12:55 AM   #9
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Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: Redding
Posts: 8
Year: 1987
Coachwork: GMC
Chassis: P30
Engine: 5.7 Gasser
Weight plate

Pic didn't load thanks for constructive criticism. I seen a nice international across town today. I'll be back there soon.
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Old 05-24-2018, 07:54 AM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Apr 2018
Posts: 15
I recently sold this 1969 12Ft P32 Chassis Aluminum Step Van. GVWR was 10K LBS. Coil spring front suspension. 6 Cylinder 292, Mexican (Manual) Steering and Drum Brakes.

With the aluminum body this unit was still heavy and the 10K GVWR did not leave a lot GVWR for cargo. This P30 was originally a Sunbeam bread truck.

Lot's of issues with overloaded P30 chassis's especially with longer bus's and motorhome's. Up until the 1990's there were not a lot of other choices for small bus's, cargo and motorhomes.

Fortunately that has changed with better chassis's, engines and BRAKES!
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