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Old 04-12-2015, 11:43 PM   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Washington
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Year: 1998
Engine: 6.5L Chevrolet Turbo Diesel
Buying a shortbus!

Hey guys, I'm new to the forum and to bus conversion. I am currently looking at buying a really clean 1998 Thomas short bus, 230k 18 seater at 9,500lbs weight. It has a 6.5 Chevy turbo Diesel engine, and a 35 gallon fuel tank.

We have been interested in converting a bus for some time and it seems as though we have found a good one. Excited to drive it home. We live in Washington state, we live on the coast and are picking it up from from a ways up north of Seattle.

Also... We have been looking and are a little unsure... With those bus specifications, what do you think would be reasonable numbers to expect for mpg? A lot of the info we read is on buses that weigh and are much larger than ours. Thanks much!

Cheers,
Stefan

As my girlfriend and I work on the bus, I'm sure I will be scouring these forums (as I already have been!) and asking more questions!
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Old 04-13-2015, 08:19 AM   #2
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I'll bite and give you a guess-timate.
I'd imagine somewhere in the 12-16mpg range for a rig such as that. Maybe even a wee bit more.
A buddy of mine runs a Chevy Express van and he swears he can almost get 20.
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Old 04-13-2015, 09:45 AM   #3
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Our church has a mini-bus with the 6.5L turbo diesel engine with the 700R4 OD transmission.

It gets consistently 10-14 MPG depending upon the size of the load, weather conditions, driver habits, etc.

We just started the process of selling that bus.

We have discovered that parts and pieces for that engine in that application are becoming very few and far between.

It is a basically good engine for what it is but the van application was not a very popular option. As a consequence, since GM stopped production more than 15-years ago van application specific parts through GM are now no longer available. Compunding the problem there is not enough demand for van specific application parts for the after market suppliers to supply aftermarket parts and pieces.
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Old 04-13-2015, 10:33 AM   #4
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Year: 1992
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Get something with a mechanical 5.9 Cummins.

They will never stop support for that engine.

I would rather have a full size chassis short bus vs ANY one ton van bus.

They are a pain in every way. We hate them at the shop.

Nat
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Old 04-13-2015, 10:58 AM   #5
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Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Denver
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Year: 1982
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: International S1800
Engine: DT466 Trans: MT643
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At those miles, I don't care how clean it is, that engine is not going to last as long as I would like.
I second everything Nat said. My company won't touch van-chassis rides. They are hard to work on and don't have the handling that a full-size chassis offers.
But, it's your project and if this is the bus you imagine yourself in, go for it.
Welcome!
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Old 04-14-2015, 03:54 PM   #6
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Engine: 6.5L Chevrolet Turbo Diesel
Thanks for the response guys, I actually drove it home yesterday.

I appreciate the input with respect to the engine as well.

Spent about 3 hours in heavy stop and go through Seattle on the way of the full 6 hour drive and still managed about 15.8 MPG. Excited to start working on it.
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Old 04-14-2015, 04:01 PM   #7
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good mileage, and congrats

keep wt to a minimum during conversion, no cast iron claw foot tubs!! mmmkay?

after you strip it out, weigh it, frnt/back/total and corners if possible

this way you can see how loads effect it

example: if frontend is heavy put wt behind real axle and it will take wt off front

good luck
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Old 04-14-2015, 04:41 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stefan View Post
Thanks for the response guys, I actually drove it home yesterday.

I appreciate the input with respect to the engine as well.

Spent about 3 hours in heavy stop and go through Seattle on the way of the full 6 hour drive and still managed about 15.8 MPG. Excited to start working on it.
Congrats... I figured it was good for around that.
Enjoy!
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Old 04-14-2015, 05:31 PM   #9
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Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Washington
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Year: 1998
Engine: 6.5L Chevrolet Turbo Diesel
Thanks guys!

haha, yes, no clawfoot tubs, or iron anything...

Here she is in the driveway...

IMG_1622.JPG

IMG_1623.jpg
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Old 04-14-2015, 05:38 PM   #10
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Year: 1988
Coachwork: Crown / Pusher
Engine: 8.3 Cummins
The only problem I see is the only insurance company I could find to insure a Skoolie said absolutely not for a van chassie
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