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Old 03-03-2016, 02:04 PM   #1
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 12
Year: 1987
Engine: GMC
SharkBus -- Power to Ignition question

Hello Skoolie enthusiasts ---

I have a 1987 School bus with a 366 big block GMC engine.

It was very lightly used, as it was a church bus -- so it is in excellent condition.

Before I purchased it, it started no problem. We left it sitting in the yard for a few months and after hooking up the new battery ( which reads 12v ) we have absolutely no power.

Lights, fans, etc... nothing has power.
The engine won't even turn over.

Has anyone encountered an issue like this before, or have any clues as how to resolve it?

Thank you so much.

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Old 03-03-2016, 03:50 PM   #2
Bus Geek
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 7,313
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
Check battery level...if still hot enough to crank...check the connections, especially ground. They can corrode pretty quickly while sitting.
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Old 03-03-2016, 05:59 PM   #3
Bus Nut
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Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: North carolina
Posts: 651
Year: 1986
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Ford
Engine: Detroit 8.2
Rated Cap: 60 bodies
Like Tango said check the main ground wire connections. 12v should run the lights until but it won't start the engine. Need to average 13-14 to start.
If you have 12v checking the battery itself( not just relying on the guage) I would start looking and listening for the solenoids to click,thump,engage whatever you want to call it.
I have seperate solenoids for starting and auxiliary power/lighting check that you have power to them and leaving them
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Old 03-03-2016, 07:50 PM   #4
Bus Crazy
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 1,862
This might sound dumb but I hope you took the plastic covers off of the battery posts before you put the battery cables on.

After taking the plastic covers off, did you take a battery post cleaner and shine up the posts? The protective covering on the posts can make it hard to make a good connection.

Did you clean the ends of the battery cables to make the insides look nice and shiny? Shiny will make a good connection. Not shiny not so good.

And lastly, did you get the battery cables tightened down so they don't move on the posts? Tight works well. Loose will require greater amperage to cross the gap to make a connection.

Finally, check to make sure the ignition switch is working correctly. We had one bus that had a small leak between the cowl and the bus body that allowed a little leak to drip down onto the ignition switch. Over time it turned the switch green and got to the point where nothing worked.

Good luck and let us know how you solved your problem.
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Old 03-03-2016, 08:50 PM   #5
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Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Johnstown, PA
Posts: 248
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC 2000
Engine: 5.9
Rated Cap: 83
Also, check the ground cable where it connects to the bus itself. You may have to remove that end and make sure you are getting a good ground. If that is ok check where the positive cable connects, probably the starter to make sure you have a good connection there too. Since nothing at all works it sounds like a battery cable connection somewhere. I hope this helps.
Hopeless Busaholic!
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Old 03-03-2016, 09:24 PM   #6
Bus Crazy
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Join Date: May 2010
Location: Farmington Hills, Mi (Detroit area)
Posts: 1,686
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Eldorado Aerotech 24'
Chassis: Ford E-450 Cutaway Bus
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke
Rated Cap: 19
Some buses have a battery disconnect switch. Mine is beside the driver's seat.
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Old 03-17-2016, 04:37 PM   #7
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 12
Year: 1987
Engine: GMC
Thanks everyone so much for your detailed responses--- it must be something to do with the wiring, I will look at it next week and let you all know what the problem was and how I resolved it.

Thanks again
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Old 04-02-2016, 12:45 PM   #8
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 12
Year: 1987
Engine: GMC
Hey everyone--- just to keep you in the know---- I got it up and running!!!
The only problem is that I have no idea what made it start.
We unbolted the fuse box under the dash (the bolts go through to under the hood) and then we tightened it back up again, so I think that a wire must have been loose and was re-situated properly in the process.

We also cleaned up the ground cable because it was rusted, and we cleaned up the spot where it attached to the chassis . This didnt help until we played around with the wires by the fuse box.

So many little delicate wires. Thanks again for all the ideas in tackling this.
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Old 04-02-2016, 02:24 PM   #9
Bus Geek
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Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Willamina, Oregon
Posts: 6,409
Coachwork: 97 Bluebird TC1000 5.9
As usual, it usually comes down to a little elbow grease.
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Old 04-17-2016, 03:25 PM   #10
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Posts: 32
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TC2000 RE
Engine: Cummins 8.3; Allison 3060R
Rated Cap: 66 passenger
I have kind of similar symptoms... The bus has been used every week or so for the last 6 months, and yesterday I drove it, then changed the oil, then drove it again this morning, and then turned it back on to check the trany oil level using the allison pushbutton display thing, and then turned it off. I then changed the trany oil, and went to start it, and nothing (no beeping ignition sound, nothing when trying to start it)... I tried to jump start it, and even when the jumping car rev'd to 4k rpms, at least it had the beeping ignition noise, but when I turned the key to start the bus, it just did the clicking every half-second or so, but no turn over, etc.

I tried looking at the ignition area, and I don't see anything obvious, though I'm not sure exactly what to look for. The fact that when there is jumping car connected to the bus battery, it makes me think the ignition is OK. But, the bus battery has been fine, and whenever in the past I drained it too much, it would easily jump using the same car I'm trying to use now.

The only work I've done in the last day is replace the engine oil and the trany oil, and I'm not understanding how these are related, etc. Any ideas or suggestions?
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