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Old 03-29-2017, 09:50 PM   #1
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1988 GMC Blue Bird School Bus Engine Question

New to the Schoolie scene. Bought a 1988 GMC Bus with an 8 cylinder engine. GMC put 3 different engines in the 1988 bus. I know it is not diesel and the other 2 engines were a 6.0 and 7.0 liter gas engine. Does anyone know how I can tell which one is in the bus? Thanks!

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Old 03-29-2017, 10:03 PM   #2
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It all depends upon which chassis you are talking about.

I have seen a lot of school buses over the years with GM/Chevy/GMC chassis. I have never seen a van cut-away school bus with the big block gas V-8. It showed up in moho chassis and I am sure there was a school district somewhere that ordered a big block. But I have never seen one from the factory equipped that way.

In 1988 in the full size buses the gas engines were either the small block 350 or the big block 366.

Both have very distinctive rocker covers.

A picture is worth a thousand words.
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Old 05-01-2017, 09:36 PM   #3
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Year: 1988
Coachwork: GMC
Engine: Detroit 8.2L Diesel
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Hey! We have a 1988 GMC bus as well, but it is a detroit diesel. If you want to connect on here or over Facebook, we might be able to collaborate on certain parts of our build. We just finished treating all rust and replacing some of the rust with welds, and now we are waterproofing, and then insulating and installing the subfloor.
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Old 05-02-2017, 05:03 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zombiepatrol View Post
Hey! We have a 1988 GMC bus as well, but it is a detroit diesel. If you want to connect on here or over Facebook, we might be able to collaborate on certain parts of our build. We just finished treating all rust and replacing some of the rust with welds, and now we are waterproofing, and then insulating and installing the subfloor.
'86 here. Just finished that this weekend!
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Old 05-02-2017, 07:01 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
It all depends upon which chassis you are talking about.

I have seen a lot of school buses over the years with GM/Chevy/GMC chassis. I have never seen a van cut-away school bus with the big block gas V-8. It showed up in moho chassis and I am sure there was a school district somewhere that ordered a big block. But I have never seen one from the factory equipped that way.

In 1988 in the full size buses the gas engines were either the small block 350 or the big block 366.

Both have very distinctive rocker covers.

A picture is worth a thousand words.
a 454 was also offered too wasnt it? thats what my old GMC bluebird had in it.
-Christopher
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Old 05-02-2017, 10:00 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
a 454 was also offered too wasnt it? thats what my old GMC bluebird had in it.
-Christopher
The 454 was never an option in the medium duty truck/bus chassis line. The Tonawanda 366/427 high block engine was though.

The 454 was only ever offered in light duty truck/bus chassis/RV chassis.

But as I have said before, I have seen a lot of buses on GM/Chevy/GMC chassis and I have never seen one with a 454. I have seen lots of RV chassis with the 454. And I am sure that there is a district or contractor somewhere that ordered a bus with the 454 but I have never seen one spe'c'ed that way.
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Old 05-02-2017, 10:18 AM   #7
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interesting.. my bluebird had what serial numbered out to be a '454HD', it was a little short bus.. and had an allison 4 spoeed auto.. I didnt know much about transmissions in busses then but i believe it to be a 545 or whatever version of it was out then.

it was the only 454 i ever saw with a 2 barrel carb on it... its possible the engine got changed.. I never referenced it to the VIN, just the engine block serial numbers like I did on every chevy I built.

interesting thing is I used regular 454 parts on it to upgrade it..

being in ohio its also possible someone did a lot of work to it, people in Ohio in winter... we have nothing better to do than to sit in our garages and build some of the raddest hot rods out there... being near detroit and with many auto factories abd parts suppliers (used to be) in ohio, growing up was always a treat at cruise-in's...
-Christopher
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Old 06-01-2017, 12:35 AM   #8
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My 1988 GMC Bluebird shorty has a chevy 350 in it. Sounds similar to HOFman's setup
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Old 06-01-2017, 10:50 AM   #9
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HOFman

Google Gates VIN decoder. Enter the VIN and it should answer your question.

Good luck
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Old 11-24-2017, 06:50 PM   #10
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Zombiepatrol - Sorry for the delayed response...was in Australia for the past 7 months. I just moved my bus yesterday to a location I can start working on it. How is you conversion coming along (or are you finished already)?
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Old 12-11-2017, 02:43 AM   #11
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Here's a sure way to identify your GM engine: on the front of the engine forward of the cylinder head I believe passenger side stamped into the block is the engine serial number. The first three letters gives the size and designation i.e. what it fits. Get them call GM dealer they can identify it. The number will be on the deck of the block meaning the surface where the head mounts. This method applies even if the engine was replaced.

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Old 09-15-2020, 12:12 AM   #12
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Smaller block chevy engine 350 on bus

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vandurado View Post
My 1988 GMC Bluebird shorty has a chevy 350 in it. Sounds similar to HOFman's setup
Hey!
I am about to buy an old school bus from 88 as well and was wondering, if the engine is fuel efficient and working well after ages? What are your experiences?
Would be amazing if you could share them with me!
Lis
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Old 09-15-2020, 01:59 AM   #13
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Simply put, for 1988, the cutaway GM van-based chassis (G20/G30/Vandura) generally got 5.7L gas V8 and 6.2L diesel V8 power options. The 7.4L may have been available by special-order, as some of these chassis were ambulance spec, which needed heavier duty suspension/brakes and more grunt, something the 6.2 wasn't known for. The ambulance spec chassis (probably what the mini-buses were built on in all likelihood) was likely either P-chassis or a 30-series commercial pickup chassis (A G-van cab can sit on a P-chassis). Either of which could be had with a 454.

The P-chassis (look like a bread truck / step van) had the same engine options. The 6.2 diesel was a Detroit Diesel 4-stroke design. There may have been a few propane models built. These chassis will usually have 16-inch rims, though some may have been built with 19.5-inch rims.

The larger 2-plus-ton GM chassis (C50/C60/C70) offerings were the tall-deck big-block gas V8, usually the 366, but this engine also was built in a 427 version, not common in buses but certainly possible. Pictures lead me to believe the 366s were painted blue, and the 427s were red or perhaps orange. These chassis also offered the 8.2L V8 diesel, also a Detroit Diesel 4-stroke design. Some info on an earlier year model of these chassis also indicates a few may have 292 (4.8L) six-cylinder and two 5.7L engines, one propane or gasoline, one diesel, though these options were likely gone by 1988. I don't think the 5.7L offerings in the larger chassis had any relation to the standard Chevrolet 5.7L, as one was a diesel, leading me to believe it was either a truck-specific engine, or perhaps even the infamous Oldsmodiesel.

In either case, efficiency is a relatively subjective concept. None of these engines were built for fuel economy, though the 5.7L Chevy small block is known to get 18-21 in most passenger cars if driven easy. But these are not cars, they are heavier van and truck chassis, technically commercial vehicles. 8-12 average if you're lucky, maybe 15-21 highway. And both the 5.7L and the 7.4L are also known to be good long-haul engines as light-duty trucks go. Both date back to the late 60s-early 70s and were in production for a long time.

CK's 2-bbl 454 is not surprising. The 7.4L was available with TBI at some point, which was indeed a 2-bbl unit. I would think CK would know the difference, but many, many people were fooled by the carb-style breather assembly the TBI units got.
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Old 06-12-2024, 09:25 PM   #14
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Year: 1988
Coachwork: Chevrolet
Chassis: Thomas Built
Engine: Chevrolet 366 Big Block
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There's an engine code on your VIN. 8th character in.
A: 5.7L
B: 6.0L
E: 7.0L
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