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Old 02-15-2017, 01:36 PM   #1
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About to purchase my first "bus".

I am looking at purchasing a 1998 Chevy 3500/El Dorado Church Bus to convert. My emotions have been all over the map, from absolutely thrilled to complete dread. i have already sold the pop up camper that my two children and I used last summer to travel around in. I'm really hoping I'm not biting off more than I can chew. The bus will have the state inspection, a new alternator and starter. According to the mechanic the brakes and tires are good. What else should I be looking for before I purchase?

Thank you,

Jami
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Old 02-15-2017, 01:52 PM   #2
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That's just a little gasser shortie, right? Well, if it's a size that fits your needs, and you're just looking to use it for weekend camping trips, then that might work out for you. I know most people aim for larger units, and the majority are adamant about diesel engines, but there's a difference in requirements between a weekend camper and something that a family is converting for use as a semi-full time residence.

What are they asking for it?
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Old 02-15-2017, 03:36 PM   #3
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welcome! If you've spent a summer in a pop-up, then a shortie will be like the Taj-Mahal... More details on your bus are in order to get any good advice. What part of the world are you in? Skoolers are everywhere to help!
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Old 02-15-2017, 05:06 PM   #4
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Gas engines are OK for short hops or around town but if you plan on covering much ground a diesel will serve you much better. Less maintenance, longer life, better mpg's, etc. There are lots of very good reasons virtually all over the road commercial rigs are diesel.

And the transmission needs to be up to the task as well. Just do some homework before you get in too deep. Reading the "build threads" on this site will provide more insight than you will find anywhere.

Best of luck and keep us informed.
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Old 02-15-2017, 06:05 PM   #5
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If it has the gas engine, go for it. Fuel mileage will be around 10-12 MPG.

If it has the 6.5L diesel engine, forget it! While the 6.5L isn't a bad engine, in the G-chassis it is an orphan that nobody recognizes. There are some G-chassis only 6.5L engine parts that were dealer only back in the day and now are made of unobtainium unless you can find the part languishing in the dark recesses of some Chevy dealer.

The same engine in a P-30 chassis is not a bad choice. But the P-30 was used not only by a lot of OEM bus body builders but by almost ever RV OEM in the country. As a consequence there is some parts support in the aftermarket for that application. Just like there are a lot of aftermarket parts available for pickups/Suburbans/Blazers/Hummers.
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Old 02-15-2017, 10:38 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucasd View Post
That's just a little gasser shortie, right? Well, if it's a size that fits your needs, and you're just looking to use it for weekend camping trips, then that might work out for you. I know most people aim for larger units, and the majority are adamant about diesel engines, but there's a difference in requirements between a weekend camper and something that a family is converting for use as a semi-full time residence.

What are they asking for it?
It is a 26 passenger gas engine. The kids and I will be in it for about 3 months this summer, along with our 125 lb mastiff. They are asking $5500 for it with the work I mentioned above. It has 82.000 miles on it.
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Old 02-15-2017, 10:39 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Tango View Post
Gas engines are OK for short hops or around town but if you plan on covering much ground a diesel will serve you much better. Less maintenance, longer life, better mpg's, etc. There are lots of very good reasons virtually all over the road commercial rigs are diesel.

And the transmission needs to be up to the task as well. Just do some homework before you get in too deep. Reading the "build threads" on this site will provide more insight than you will find anywhere.

Best of luck and keep us informed.
Thank you for the response. We plan on traveling about 5,000 miles this summer alone.
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Old 02-16-2017, 08:28 AM   #8
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I just caught this thread and curios. I'm debating is I should keep my Gas 366 1988 Chevy bus and Move to Gas 1999 454 bus. I'm thinking keep Gas for East of working on it and parts availability? Thoughts...
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Old 02-18-2017, 03:46 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by b12lewis View Post
I just caught this thread and curios. I'm debating is I should keep my Gas 366 1988 Chevy bus and Move to Gas 1999 454 bus. I'm thinking keep Gas for East of working on it and parts availability? Thoughts...

The 366 is a better bus engine than the 454 could ever hope to be. While the 366 hooked to an automatic might get 4-6 MPG the 454 would be lucky to even get 4 MPG.
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