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Old 05-29-2016, 11:28 PM   #1
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Question Alabama Bus Conversion

We're very new to this and just getting started in the planning and I've found a bus that has a lot of stuff included already for a price that seems very good. Were on a pretty tight budget. Its an Old bus that has already been converted a good bit heres the link:

1981 Bluebird Bus conversion to camper $Reduced$

Experienced skoolies tell me what you think.
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Old 05-30-2016, 12:59 AM   #2
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I'd pass if you ask me. Get a diesel.
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Old 05-30-2016, 01:14 AM   #3
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Pass. Even though they put a different rear end in I'd still say diesel for sure. Also, if you're on a really tight budget you really don't have to spend much to convert. Just take the seats out, build some bed frames out of two by fours, some type of counter for kitchen stuff, a couch or two and you're good to go!
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Old 05-30-2016, 02:14 AM   #4
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I'm not saying he's wrong, but I cannot find any reference to a gas powered 7.3 engine in 1981. My IH book indicates IH phased out gas engines for 1981 (though this could be a 1980 leftover?). The 7.3 is usually a diesel engine, and is 444 CI (not the 446 as the seller indicates) ... the 7.3 diesel wasn't even available in 1981. Judging by the photo, it appears to be a small-block gas engine, most likely a 345 or 392.

The 345's and 392's are OK engines, but expect fuel economy somewhere in the 3-4 MPG range. And they'll struggle to go up long hills, even empty. If you plan to only drive this once or twice a year - very short distances - you might be OK. The 345's and 392's are getting harder to find parts for by the day. Believe me, I've tried! I saw this ad - several times - and skipped it. I agree with the others here. Find something with a diesel. The IH 6.9 / 7.3 (DT444) / 7.6 (DT466) diesels are solid choices, they are very common, very easy to find parts for. Mine is an '87 IH with the less common 9 liter engine. Cummins and Detroit Diesel engines are also easy to find parts for. Cat engines tend to be a little harder (and considerably more expensive) to find parts for, Mercedes engines even more so.

I have driven a number of trucks with the DT466 engines, I cannot remember ever having a single breakdown in one. (There was a DT408 which blew the turbo boost hose off, but I was able to fix in 5 minutes and continue on my trip).
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Old 05-30-2016, 03:07 AM   #5
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I appear to have spoken a little soon, as a Wiki page shows IH did produce the MV 446 gas engine from '74 until 198? (end of production was unclear). My IH book shows that IH phased out gas engines sometime in 1981, so ... good luck finding parts for that engine. It was around this time IH was phasing out gas engines for their entire product lineup, only a couple models had gas engines until 1983-84.
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Old 05-30-2016, 07:38 AM   #6
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A bus of that size with an IHC MV446 and an automatic is going to be lucky to get 4 MPG on the highway. We had some back in the day that as the gas got worse in quality the worse the fuel economy became. 2 MPG on route was not unknown. And with ethanol blended fuel I think 3 MPG would be optimistic

The MV404 wasn't quite as bad on the fuel.

Both the MV404 and MV446 had enough go to be able to cruise at 60 but not a whole lot more.

Parts for the MV engines are virtually impossible to find.

The picture says SV392 to me. The valve covers are not the right shape for an MV engine. The SV's were great engines and last forever if you take care of them properly. Fuel mileage will be 5-6 MPG. Top speed of 55-60 MPH is about all you can expect out them regardless of the rear gears. With faster gearing they won't be screaming at 55 MPH but you will really suck the gas down fast if you try to go any faster than that.

Sitting around for a long time is not good for SV engines. It is very easy to take the cam bearings out if you try and dry start one. And if someone has put some LE rated oil into it you are very likely going to take out the cam bearings.

Because the SV engines were used in Scouts, Pickups, and Travelalls parts are still available. But you have to get creative when you talk to people in parts stores. If they are not old enough to know what a Scout, Travelall, or Loadstar is you are going to have a hard time getting the parts you need.

$2K would be a top price for this bus. If it had the DT466 it would be worth the asking price.
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Old 05-30-2016, 09:13 AM   #7
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that looks like a scout engine to me... we had a 1977 with a 392 in it.. and that set up is identical except our alternator location was an A/C.. and where their Bendix is was our alternator..

as a previous gasoline short bus owner I can vouch for crappy mileage.. I had a GMC 454 gasser... it was 3-4 MPG until I built the motor up a bit and installed a 4 bbl carb that I tuned to run on the front 2 barrels under most cruise scenerios..

changing the rear gears DOES help as the bus is running the engine likely just into its power band for the stock 392 Cam... Part ARE still available for it but go through the scout / IH enthusiast groups to find them and the sources.. as thats where many of those old school bus engines have gone.. MOST scouts were built with the 6 cylinder or the 345.. the 392 was a Coveted special order option on a scout and so many old school bus 392's ended up in scouts..

perhaps im just fooled by the look of the motor in this bus.. or perhaps its a custom where a 392 was bored and stroked??

NOW if you dont plan to drive your bus all over creation.. ie dont plan to run lots of miles then fuel costs are much less of a concern... the conversion is fairly minimal, however you do have electric, A/C, and a furnace installed.. but no plumbing of sny sort..

really all depends on what your plans are for your Bus...

-Christopher
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Old 05-30-2016, 09:29 AM   #8
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Thanks

Thanks for all the input everyone. Its all really helpful. Were looking to be pretty minimalistic with the conversion and only taking it on month long trips at the most. Gas mileage definitely matters and we wanna know what were buying so thank y'all! Any more input is welcome.
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Old 05-30-2016, 12:37 PM   #9
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That's a pretty unanimous response, and good advise about an old gasser.

There shouldn't be any problems getting parts for whatever bus you buy, except the old gassers. Nostalgia has to be high on your list to make maintaining an old gas bus worthwhile. Done it. Most of the time they aren't worn out, but there is a lot of rotting dried out rubber in hoses and seals that will haunt you for years until they are all replaced.
That bus isn't really old enough to look cool, and that's a pretty darn high price for a problematic vehicle. It's going to have mechanical issues and associated expenses, not to mention that big gas tank being a target for teenagers. It's been a while. Do teens still do that?
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Old 05-30-2016, 03:36 PM   #10
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with gas being cheap right now siphoning has pretty much ceased.. but WHEN gas goes north of $3 again in the majproty of the country you'll see it start back up...
-Christopher
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