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Old 05-06-2015, 08:05 PM   #1
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Year: 1990
Engine: 8.2 Liter Detroit Diesel
8.2 L Detroit Diesel Swap

This is my first post as a Skoolie member so bare with me. I am not the proud owner of my first Skoolie. It is a 1990 GMC Bus. After reading several of the other threads I am starting to look into swapping the motor and transmission. Currently our bus has an 8.2 Detroit Diesel with the Alison AT545. I am curious as to which other engine transmissions combos might fit in my bus. One problem I am having is locating the exact model of my bus. It is a 1990 GMC B6P042 Patriot Carryall with an 8.2 Liter Detroit Diesel and Alison AT545 transmission. I believe 78 or 79 passenger. With that being said, I have typed all of that in several different ways into Google and have yet to come across the exact bus that I have. Which makes my question a bit more difficult to answer, due to not knowing the exact specs of the engine compartment. I will post a picture of the bus and any help in determining possible engine/transmission combos or vehicle identification would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 05-06-2015, 08:38 PM   #2
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PM cowlitzcoach. He really knows his buses.
Nice looking rig.
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Old 05-07-2015, 01:21 AM   #3
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Looks great but you are on the right trail as far as the engine & tranny. Swapping both is definitely a good idea.They quit making that motor about 15 years ago (to many peoples relief) and parts can be a real bear to find. And the 545 is way outdated as well.

I'm no expert, but I have seen my share of similar upgrades. None are cheap, but then, neither is a new bus. Here are just a few thoughts that I'm sure others here can add to.

Given that it is a V-8, the engine compartment should accommodate a pretty wide range of motors. Start with your weight, then look at engine & tranny combos that will handle the load. Without a turbo, that Detroit was only about 165 horsepower at 3,000 RPM. Which raises another other concern. The rear end. That Detroit was a "screamer" that ran high RPM's. Most newer diesels are slower turning which could call for re-gearing to get the speed you need.

There are reliable straight six Cummins that can produce more power & torque than that Detroit. Example...the 2013+ Ram chassis cabs got 325 hp @ 2,400 rpm and 750 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600 rpm. You could run it all day at 2K and it would never break a sweat while getting pretty good mpg.

As for trannies...an Allison 5 or 6 speed can't be beat. But there are also some "standards" around that work really well. A RoadRanger ten speed makes for a lot of shifting but also lets you stay in the engines "sweet spot" and can be had for a lot less money.

If you can find the right combo, at the right price & do the swap yourself, you could probably have a pretty sweet ride. But it won't be cheap.

Best of luck and keep us up on your plans.
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Old 05-07-2015, 09:01 AM   #4
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I found this
In 1985, a modified version went into production for Ward Body Works, which allowed a full-size school bus to be built with the shortened front end typically seen on vehicles based on the much smaller GMC P-chassis. In 1990, the "Fuel Pincher" was discontinued by Detroit Diesel.
Chevrolet/GMC B-Series - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


with the detroit being a V8 I think you could go with a navstar 444
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Old 05-07-2015, 09:09 AM   #5
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Other than it being less popular, is there anything actually wrong with your 8.2?
A member on here has traveled all over in her school bus conversion powered by the 8.2
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Old 05-07-2015, 10:42 AM   #6
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I have known several people with the 8.2 in medium duty trucks, the only real complaint was some parts are getting harder to find, but they seem to find them, usually out of old school buses.

If your engine is on it's last leg, you may be able to grab a school bus with the same engine for not much and then replace the best pieces.
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Old 05-07-2015, 11:09 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by c_hasbeen View Post
with the detroit being a V8 I think you could go with a navstar 444
I'm perfectly happy with my T444e, but I wouldn't put one into a vehicle that wasn't factory built for it. There are a lot of wires to be run through the firewall and you'll also need the special dash cluster, vehicle personality module, injector driver module, power control module... I've become acquainted enough with the system that I could probably pull it off, but it would be time consuming. An older ('90s) mechanical engine would be an easier swap.

With such a stubby nose there must be a dog-house in the cab. Have you opened it up? Is there much room behind the motor in there? That V8 is probably shorter than even the smaller Inline-6s. You might need to lengthen the dog-house to make one fit. Maybe a 5.9l Cummins would fit. I don't know of any decent, purely mechanical, turbo-charged V8s that would be worth swapping for, though.
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Old 05-07-2015, 11:12 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by c_hasbeen View Post
I have known several people with the 8.2 in medium duty trucks, the only real complaint was some parts are getting harder to find, but they seem to find them, usually out of old school buses.

If your engine is on it's last leg, you may be able to grab a school bus with the same engine for not much and then replace the best pieces.
This would be my preferred route were I in the same shoes. Get a donor engine. Swap the transmission with a 10-speed RoadRanger Hell, even a 6+1 Spicer would do fine.

EDIT: actually - come to think of it - I sort of AM in the same shoes. I want more gears, but will keep the engine.
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Old 05-07-2015, 11:55 AM   #9
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Welcome.

Cool looking bus. All the space of a flat nose, with better aerodynamics. It will also have a better ride, with less nose diving into every crack in the road like most flat nose buses do.

Is that a baby I see in your lady's belly?

Run that engine till it quits. Unless you plan on traveling a ton of miles, a swap will just add a ton of cost.

If you do plan on traveling a ton of miles, I'm in full support of a swap.

Anything will fit, if you have a welder and some imagination. I would look for a bus with a pre 1997 Cummins 8.3, or a DT466 and a MD3060 transmission.

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Old 05-07-2015, 01:08 PM   #10
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With a longer engine, I would seriously consider extending the nose, rather than enlarging the doghouse. There are new RVs now being sold that are 44 or 45 feet long. I am working on finding out what the length laws really are for RVs now.
With a different engine, you will probably need the mounts and maybe crossmember(s) that belong to the new engine. If you buy the engine from a truck dismantler, this should be perfectly doable. "Repowering" is much more common with large vehicles than with cars, so they would understand what you need.
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