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Old 06-15-2016, 03:04 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: South Portland, ME, USA
Posts: 28
Year: 1990
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Chevy P-30
Engine: Chevy 454 Big Block
Just Joined, my first thread in years!

Hello everyone, I am excited and nervous to join your community. My name is George and I have a 1990 Thomas Built Mighty Mite that I bought a year ago and have been slowing becoming acquainted with. I haven't been a part of a forum in many years, so please be gentle!

I should probably let you all know that my mechanical background and knowledge comes from my experience in the commercial brewing industry. I don't feel like I have a mechanical mind, but my boss said that I do and I pick up things quick, so who knows. I got my bus for a bunch of different reasons, but mostly for having another outlet for my creativity and also the challenge of learning several new fields; auto-mechanics, DC auto electrical systems, as well as carpentry, HVAC, etc.

I am very green when it comes to these skills, so I hope this forum will be a useful tool, if only through having people who have been there and done that to put me in the right direction of where to acquire knowledge. I currently do have an issue with the bus, but I should probably post it elsewhere after looking through the forum to see if the problem has been address somewhere else already. Thank you and I look forward contributing however I can to this online skoolie community! Cheers!
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Old 06-15-2016, 03:56 PM   #2
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: MD near DC
Posts: 834
Quote:
Originally Posted by mightymainermite View Post
I should probably let you all know that my mechanical background and knowledge comes from my experience in the commercial brewing industry.
If you can understand what goes on in a brewery, you can figure this out; no worries. Besides, as a brewer you'll be everyone's friend immediately!
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Old 06-15-2016, 04:03 PM   #3
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 1,607
For the most part a 1990 vintage is going to have very little in the way of electronics, it won't have any multiplexing, and all of the systems are going to be pretty simple. If you can keep a Briggs and Stratton powered lawn mower working you should have no problem keeping your bus working.

Most of what it takes to convert a bus is a learning process. Some of the lessons are easy and inexpensive. Some of the lessons are not easy and can become very expensive.

Read through all of the different build threads to discover some of the do's and don't's that others have discovered.

And remember, at the end of the day, this is all supposed to be fun!
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Old 06-15-2016, 09:25 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: South Portland, ME, USA
Posts: 28
Year: 1990
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Chevy P-30
Engine: Chevy 454 Big Block
Thanks everyone! So, would anyone like to suggest some reference material to get me started, say books or other places on the web? My weakness is definitely in the auto mechanics department!

I am having some issues with the engine right now, so that would be a good place to start.
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Old 06-16-2016, 03:29 AM   #5
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 1,607
If you are not in a particular hurry you may want to enroll in a basic auto repair class at your local community college.

The 454 was not a bus engine. It was used in cars and light trucks. It is a pretty good engine but it has some issues that can be a problem, specifically cam shafts wearing the lobs off. The big block GM truck engine, the Tonawanda 366/427, had very little in common with the car and light truck 454.

Since you have a P-30 chassis the 454 may have been put in by the factory. The same chassis was used in a bazillion motorhomes and most of them had the 454 in them.

If you could describe what issues you are having with your engine we might be able to help you or point you in the right direction.

As to any other sort of how to books or materials, most of the big box stores have classes most weekends on DIY projects. Get a schedule of them and attend the classes you might find useful to your project. One advantage to attending the classes is you might be able to network with the instructor or others for resources or help as you go forward.

Good luck and Happy Trails!
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Old 06-16-2016, 03:32 AM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: South Portland, ME, USA
Posts: 28
Year: 1990
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Chevy P-30
Engine: Chevy 454 Big Block
Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
If you could describe what issues you are having with your engine we might be able to help you or point you in the right direction.
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f35/ne...cle-14162.html
engine problem(s)
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Old 06-16-2016, 04:09 AM   #7
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 1,607
Oy Vay!

I don't know where to start.

When someone has repowered it is hard to know where to start with trying to find a fix.

It takes a lot to turn over a big engine. A standard car sized battery isn't going to have the cold cranking amps necessary to spin the starter fast enough to get the job done correctly. Even running jumper cables to another power source isn't going to be enough.

You are going to need, at the least, a good Group 31 battery that has somewhere close to or more than 1000 CCA's. Deep cycle batteries are great for house batteries but are not designed to be able to produce the big load a starter requires to start an engine.

If you don't start with a good battery you could end up chasing your tail running down issues that are a direct result of a bad battery.

Next on the list is make sure you have good battery cables with good clean and tight cable ends. A dirty battery post, a loose cable, or a cable that is all green with corrosion can make a brand new battery not function properly.

Once you know you have good juice to the starter if you are still having problems starting it may be the starter has died. It may be a just a bad happenstance it happened at this time but it does happen, particularly if you have been trying to start the bus with low voltage.

Some GM chassis buses and trucks used a Ford type of starter solenoid in addition to the one on the starter. This was done to reduce the amperage of juice that had to go through the ignition switch. The extra solenoids do go bad over time.

You may want to check the firing order for your plugs and verify they wires are in the correct order on the cap. Make sure they are going in the correct order as far as clockwise and counterclockwise is concerned.

As long as you have gas you should be able to get things started.

Good luck and keep us posted to your progress.
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Old 06-16-2016, 04:35 AM   #8
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Georgia
Posts: 924
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: IH
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 14
Another thing you'll want to check is the condition of the plug wires, distributor cap (inside) and rotor. I had a 4.3 GM V6 that at around 150K miles, wouldn't start. Turns out the cap and rotor hadn't been replaced in a long time and all the contacts were fried.
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