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Old 06-13-2016, 06:05 PM   #1
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Where have all of the Crown's gone?

Hey Everyone,

I have been looking about at potential busses for my conversion. Lately I have been focusing on Blubird and Thomas. Then I saw a classic Crown running down the road...

What first got me started looking at Skoolies was a visit to SoCal and I saw several beautiful Crown's lined up dropping kids off and the Mission at San Juan Capistrano. I fell in love with the lines.

I looked back then and found quite a number of them for sale and lots of discussion of how CARB & Federal subsidy were forcing schools all over CA having to retire their Crown busses.

I have started looking again and the multitude has disappeared. Where have they all gone? Any auction sites, dealers or other places that you would point me?

Thanks
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Old 06-13-2016, 06:31 PM   #2
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As I understand, California actually started destroying some of them because of the emissions issue. Otherwise, they've been rare for some time and will only get rarer as time goes by. They're definitely nostalgic.
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Old 06-13-2016, 06:44 PM   #3
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Schools could get 100% reimbursement to replace a Crown if the Crown in question was crushed.

$$$ talk so the vast majority of surplus Crowns have been crushed.

Add in the fact none have been made since 1991 and the result is they are few and far between.

At one time WA state had well over 100 Crowns in service statewide. Now that number is less than a dozen left.

Like anything, something scarce and in great demand equals big $$$.

The last Crown I purchased I got for $750.00 at a sealed auction directly from a school district. Those days are looooooooooooooong gone!
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Old 06-13-2016, 07:45 PM   #4
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Crushed......
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Old 06-13-2016, 08:31 PM   #5
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I wonder how difficult it would be to take a step beyond just a roof raise and reconstruct in the style of a Crown, at least trying to recapture the spirit of its iconic shape.
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Old 06-13-2016, 09:36 PM   #6
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Only in Kalifornia...
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Old 06-14-2016, 07:54 AM   #7
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I know the owners of 3 bus companies that had Crowns ready to be sold, but "middle men" attempted to sell them for huge margins and the buses all ended up being crushed. Even Supercoach II's are getting crushed out for the same reason. A lot of these companies aren't in business to sell buses, just run them to make money.

I currently know where there is one Twinkie with an engine issue that'd sell for a reasonable price. I also know where there are two Detroit powered supercoach II's that have waivers on them until mid 2017. My hope is to grab one of them.
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Old 06-14-2016, 09:52 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tango View Post
Only in Kalifornia...

With a "K"?


I have been wrong all of these years calling it PROC instead of PROK....
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Old 06-14-2016, 10:17 AM   #9
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I think the K is in reference to the near-Nazist overburdensome regulation and apparently there's no C in German. Every time I go to California I'm dumbfounded by what Californians are willing to put up with. I spent $10 in nickel-per-bottle fees for buying bottled water. I had to buy plastic bags for .50 each. Every time I fuel up with California's biodiesel my exhaust treatment system goes on the fritz and I end up in the shop. You can thank the California Air Resource Board for so many of these beautiful buses being crushed because retrofitting traditional diesels with exhaust after-treatment systems is $15k per vehicle. There are trucking companies who have stopped hauling into or out of California because they'll pay a several thousand dollar fine each time they take a non compliant truck into the state. Even driving in the state is unattractive to truckers because it's 55mph statewide. I anticipate most every trucking company will eventually add a California surcharge for freight in and out of the state. Then more freight will end up leaving the state via rail, which coincidentally are allowed to do 80mph. And we wonder why the longshoremen or the drayage drivers strike every other week.
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Old 06-15-2016, 08:17 PM   #10
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Lookup Greg Marvels build, maybe send him a pm he travels Cali working with many school districts he would be your best resource.
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Old 06-16-2016, 10:28 PM   #11
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Found online, not related to me:

crown school bus

1987 Crown w/DD671 and Allison Auto. Looks unmolested.
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Old 06-21-2016, 09:33 AM   #12
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The engine position of those old crowns just seem like a horrible risk when it comes to repair/rebuild. Would require substantial facilities and time I'd think.
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Old 06-21-2016, 10:10 AM   #13
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One problem with the Crown market right now is that it's controlled by a few people that utilize inside contacts in the California school districts to buy Crowns dirt cheap and then flip them at ridiculous markups.

The buses then sit and rot on these hoarders' lots because nobody is willing to pay $10K plus for buses that are over 30 years old, Crown or not.

A certain forum user does this; every time there's a Crown for auction online he's there cranking up the bids and generally trying to buy up everything in the name of "historical preservation" or some other bullcrap.
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Old 06-21-2016, 09:16 PM   #14
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The position of the engine in the middle of the bus served Crown owners well for a very long time.

Except for things like the starter on the Detroit Diesel engines everything can be reached while sitting on a stool.

LA Unified had carriages that allowed them to do a complete power package swap in less than six hours. In other words, if a bus came in with a transmission or engine issue the bus could be in and out in less than six hours with a brand new/rebuilt engine and transmission. The problem engine/transmission could then be gone through on a second shift or during a slow period to be ready to be reinstalled at a later date.

The carriage LA Unified used would be run under a bus while the bus was lifted up on a post lift and then the bus would be lowered down onto the carriage. All of the hoses, linkages, belts, and wires would be disconnected. The driveline would be dropped, the engine and motor mounts unbolted, and then the bus would be lifted back up leaving the power package sitting on the floor on the carriage. The new/rebuilt power package would be moved under the bus and then the bus would be lowered back down. Everything would be reattached and in less than six hours the bus would be back on the road.

Trust me when I tell you that sitting on a stool is much easier than hanging from your ankles to dive down into an engine compartment or climbing up and down over the steer axle. BTDT and would prefer working on a Crown mid-mount any day of the week.
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Old 06-22-2016, 11:04 AM   #15
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Well, your statement makes it pretty clear why they can be a hell of an expense for a private owner/party. Using proprietary cages and fixtures to work on the drivetrain is certainly not accessible to the owners, nor available around the country. If major problems occur, that's going to be a financial hit of pretty stout proportions...more so than your average rear engine or front engine bus.

I have a chance to get one now pretty cheap but, I'm passing on it.
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Old 06-22-2016, 11:29 AM   #16
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Well, your statement makes it pretty clear why they can be a hell of an expense for a private owner/party. Using proprietary cages and fixtures to work on the drivetrain is certainly not accessible to the owners, nor available around the country. If major problems occur, that's going to be a financial hit of pretty stout proportions...more so than your average rear engine or front engine bus.

I have a chance to get one now pretty cheap but, I'm passing on it.

I am not sure exactly what you mean about working on a Crown.

It couldn't be simpler or less expensive if something major were to occur. One could use a forklift instead of a carriage. I know of one shade tree mechanic who ran his Crown up on some blocks and then used a forklift to pull the power package and put the fixed one back in.

Anyone who has tried to take an engine out of a Type 'D' FE can attest to how much effort it takes to pull it out or work on it.
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Old 06-22-2016, 11:34 AM   #17
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So, what you're stating as a fact, is that working (major or minor repair) on the mid mounted Crown is easier/more affordable, from a labor hour perspective, than a front or rear engine bus. Is that what you're stating quite clearly here?
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Old 06-22-2016, 03:20 PM   #18
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I think its simply skill level and ingenuity .. the same arguments were made when modern front drive cars came out in the early 80s.. "impossible to work on for the average user".. due to the transverse drivetrain and each piece supporting the other..

in reality a few floor jacks some nice tall jack stands and I dropped the whole cradle out of these cars easily.. in my own garage... the same goes true for these busses.. sure the manufacturer had specialized setups.. undoubtedly to make people think only they could work on it at the dealer.. and also for ultimate safety in case of failure of the R and R..

a forklift may just work perfectly as someone thought outside the box and does it that way... crown is long gone theres no warranty to void and no liability to be held so people learn how so they cankeep their own bus on the road...

-Christopher
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Old 06-22-2016, 04:02 PM   #19
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As cowlitzcoach stated, Crown's aren't hard to work on. You can remove two rails on either side of the bus (as well as a very large floor hatch) and have nearly unrestricted access to the engine and transmission.

I'd rather work on a Crown any day over a FE or RE bus.
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Old 06-22-2016, 05:57 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RC000E View Post
So, what you're stating as a fact, is that working (major or minor repair) on the mid mounted Crown is easier/more affordable, from a labor hour perspective, than a front or rear engine bus. Is that what you're stating quite clearly here?
I have worked on every type of bus out there including Type 'A' buses on van cut-away chassis, Type 'B' buses on P-30/Freightliner rail chassis, Type 'C' buses on conventional truck chassis, and Type 'D' buses with engines in front, in the middle, in the rear, on OEM vendor supplied chassis (GMC, IHC, Oshkosh, National, Spartan), and integrated chassis. I have worked on commercial buses, school buses, transit buses, and highway coaches. Of them all, the Crown and Gillig buses with the engines mounted in the middle are the easiest on which to work. Once the side rail is removed there is nothing to get in the way of getting to the engine. The only things that are not accessible from down below are the starter and water pump on the DD 6-71 engines. There is nothing on the Cummins that needs the floor boards taken up to be able to reach.

So what I am saying is yes it costs less to work on a mid-mount Crown or Gillig because you do not have to pay for a lot of time for a technician to burrow down through rat nests of wires and hoses to reach the engine. Except for a few of the late '80's vintage Crowns all were totally mechanical. And the later models that had electronics had DDEC/ATEC I/II which were pretty simple.

Changing the water pump on any Crown does not require the removal of the radiator.

Setting the rack, changing injectors, changing the pump, changing the turbo, changing the thermostats, etc. can all be done without spending time digging down through stuff to get to what needs fixing.

Crowns and Gilligs are like any other mechanical beast out there. They all have parts and pieces that are attached in an odd or different fashion. But once you learn the why then you can understand the WTH stuff. And most of the WTH stuff was done because it made things easier or made things work better.

IMHO the Crown and Gillig are still the crown jewels as far as buses are concerned. If you have an opportunity to purchase one that isn't all beat up it will be well worth it to you to do so.

Good luck and happy trails.
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