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Old 04-24-2019, 10:12 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Would you buy a gasser?

I am looking for a bus for a quick temporary camper as well as a bus to use for a couple thousand mile trip this year and next year.

I don't think this is a bus I will keep for a long, long time....I have found a couple of what look like good deals on gasser busses. What I am looking at now is 5-7 window buses.

1. 1981 International bus (not sure on engine size), auto
2. 1991 GMC with a 366, auto

What transmissions were available in these buses, are we looking at AT545's or do these buses pre-date that transmission?
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Old 04-25-2019, 01:42 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shelby987 View Post
I am looking for a bus for a quick temporary camper as well as a bus to use for a couple thousand mile trip this year and next year.

I don't think this is a bus I will keep for a long, long time....I have found a couple of what look like good deals on gasser busses. What I am looking at now is 5-7 window buses.

1. 1981 International bus (not sure on engine size), auto
2. 1991 GMC with a 366, auto

What transmissions were available in these buses, are we looking at AT545's or do these buses pre-date that transmission?

The AT545 goes back quite a ways. Probably in both these buses.


That old IH, assuming it's really a gasser, is getting old and hard to find parts for. If you only plan to drive it a couple times, and never again it would probably be OK, otherwise if you break down, good luck getting parts.


The GMC will be considerably easier to find parts for, but don't expect good fuel economy from it. 5-6 MPG would be a fair estimate. I won't even get into how worn the engine might be at whatever mileage it has.


For a couple long trips, you'll probably be money ahead to go on and get you a diesel powered bus. The fuel economy difference alone will offset the cost difference (or come close).
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Old 04-25-2019, 02:23 AM   #3
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For a skoolie, no.

In the full-size buses, the fuel economy of a gas engine is terrible. It's low. The price difference in fuel doesn't make up for it. Neither does the price difference on maintenance items, or even the initial purchase. I don't think the gas engines have the longevity that some of the diesels do either - so with the same mileage, the gas engine will be much closer to the end of its life.

For a cutaway/van chassis, I'd consider a gas engine almost equally, because you're not lugging around as much bus, and the gas engine will be more adequately up to the task. (Maintenance is also different for a cutaway bus, in that there are many more shops that can work on it compared to a full-size bus. You want a mechanic familiar with diesels and/or larger trucks to look at a full-size bus, while a gas-powered cutaway is just a van with a bus body - any competent auto mechanic should be able to work on it just fine.)

I've seen one or two short buses on full-size chassis with gas engines that I thought about, but passed on for other reasons. While the gas engine wasn't great, the diesel offerings (from the time) were equally bad in other ways. (I realized I was looking at the exact combination that wasn't old enough to be classic, it was just plain old. And rusty.)

If it was a real classic, like a vintage International, it could be a good option for the right person - but that person isn't me. I know zip about diagnosing old gas engines, tuning carbs, adjusting points, finding parts suppliers, replacement/upgrade parts, etc. Not that I couldn't learn, but I want to spend time driving, not fixing my skoolie. You just have to be aware that on top of the normal skoolie stuff, you're adding another layer for the "its a classic" factor.
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Old 04-25-2019, 07:09 AM   #4
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Yes I have a gasser and love it. Old International. great engines, and engine parts are still readily available. Chassis parts are harder to get. There are plenty of after market upgrades, fuel injection, electronic ignition, headers, etc.

The auto that was in my bus was an Allison MT-40, and might be what is in the 81, as it was often used with gas engines. Really need to look at the tag on the trans to be sure. The MT-40 is 6 speed, no overdrive, but does have a lock up converter.

I do think what matters more is your experience on working on engines, old school and have worked on and hot rodded gassers, or a youngun....and never opened the hood?
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Old 04-25-2019, 07:49 AM   #5
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How much weight?? In terms of RV's, diesel is all about weight - not some sort of 'preference'. If you plan a big/heavy rig - go diesel. Otherwise; gas is fine. Look at the RV world - most gas motorhomes stop at 32'/34' and 16,000 lbs (approx).
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Old 04-25-2019, 08:16 AM   #6
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imho short bus gasser is the way to go. Easy and cheap to buy and work on. Full size skoolie diesel is worth every penny.
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Old 04-25-2019, 08:45 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shelby987 View Post
I am looking for a bus for a quick temporary camper as well as a bus to use for a couple thousand mile trip this year and next year.

I don't think this is a bus I will keep for a long, long time....I have found a couple of what look like good deals on gasser busses. What I am looking at now is 5-7 window buses.

1. 1981 International bus (not sure on engine size), auto
2. 1991 GMC with a 366, auto

What transmissions were available in these buses, are we looking at AT545's or do these buses pre-date that transmission?
not sure what the motor would be in the International, but the 366 has a very good reputation and is considered to be close to a diesel motor for longevity - if it's an automatic it would be the GM 4 speed, which is a good transmission - I'd like to find that combo in a 10 window bus myself
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Old 04-25-2019, 09:12 AM   #8
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the gmc is a 7 window 21k gvwr, I am not aware of a 4 speed gm made that would have gone behind the 366 for such a heavy application, any info or links?

I would really like a 2003+ GM short bus with a 6.0l ls motor, but it seems like these buses are more prone to be found in the northern states.
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Old 04-25-2019, 09:13 AM   #9
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In the International it is likely a 345 or 392. Either one in that year are good engines. The 345 all through the many years it was built have been very good medium duty truck engines. The early 392s (before 72)had cooling issues. After that they would be referred to as IC 392, for "improved cooling"

It could be a 404, not so well liked. Not as common in a school bus either.

By the way my bus is 17,500lbs and 34ft. Have to agree this is about as large as I would want without more power, and then a diesel would be a better choice.

As it is now it runs nicely about 65+ on the highway and averages about 5-6 mpg. I did just put a DUI distributor on it and oh that makes the engine soooo smooth, and more lively. I expect to see some improvement on gas mileage too.
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Old 04-25-2019, 09:17 AM   #10
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FYI, these are all shorter buses, 7 window for the gmc, and 5 for the ih.
I am mostly looking at buses with a gvwr 20k and lower.
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Old 04-25-2019, 10:19 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shelby987 View Post
the gmc is a 7 window 21k gvwr, I am not aware of a 4 speed gm made that would have gone behind the 366 for such a heavy application, any info or links?

I would really like a 2003+ GM short bus with a 6.0l ls motor, but it seems like these buses are more prone to be found in the northern states.
I've seen several buses on Kijiji with either gas or propane, a couple that were dual gas/propane and one gas/natural gas combo with the 366 - some had a 5 speed standard and some the 4 speed auto - I'm looking for a 10 window, so I'm not sure if I noticed a 40' bus with a 366 auto, but there were several 10 window with the 4 speed auto - the gm 4 speed auto is a lockup trans and from what I've read and heard it was reliable and worked the way it should - 'The 366 cu in (6.0 L) Big Block V-8 gasoline engine was used only in Chevrolet medium duty trucks and in ( also GMC ) school buses. It had a bore and a stroke of 3.935 in 3.76 in (99.9 mm 95.5 mm). This engine was made from the 1960s until the mid-1990s. The 366 used 4 rings on the pistons, as it was designed from the very beginning as a truck engine. The 366 was produced only as a tall-deck engine, with a deck 0.4 in (10 mm) taller than the 396, 402, and 454 short-deck Big Blocks.'
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Old 04-25-2019, 11:31 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shelby987 View Post
the gmc is a 7 window 21k gvwr, I am not aware of a 4 speed gm made that would have gone behind the 366 for such a heavy application, any info or links?

I would really like a 2003+ GM short bus with a 6.0l ls motor, but it seems like these buses are more prone to be found in the northern states.
Keep an eye out here. This one ends in a few hours, but should be rust free and plenty of room inside. It could be worth the drive if you really want a gasser. Like others, I wouldn't want a gas powered full size bus. Having had both a gas and diesel 03+ Chevy, I'd generally prefer the diesel, but the gas did work fine.

https://onlineauction.422sales.com/c...081189/showall
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Old 04-25-2019, 12:29 PM   #13
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Yup, that bus would be perfect.....but getting to CA right now isn't in the cards.
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Old 04-25-2019, 12:32 PM   #14
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Something else to consider,

On the GM being a 91 it "may" have electronic ignition and might even be the HEI with coil in the cap. This is going to nice compared to points the International will most likely have. I wonder too if it might have throttle body fuel injection, TBI ? In a pickup of that era a small block would have had both, just not so sure on the truck engines. Both of these are a big plus.

Ok I am an International nut.... and you can put both on the International engine, just more work and more cost to do it.
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