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Old 12-15-2020, 01:01 PM   #1
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Location: Spanaway, WA
Posts: 176
Year: 1999
Coachwork: MidBus
Chassis: Chevy Express 3500
Engine: 6.5L Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 19
The Warthog

Well, I bit the bullet a couple weekends ago, and bought the bus. With a new starter (seller paid for it) and 2 new batteries (I brought them - zero risk, Costco is great for returns if needed), we got it to grudgingly do a cold start. Once it warmed up, it sounded pretty "normal" to me.

So I paid him $200 to trailer it the 2.5h drive up here (he was down near Portland) and drop it off at a diesel mechanic. When he got it here, the mechanic that had assured me he had space did not, so we dropped it off at a different diesel mechanic right nearby.

The shop was tasked with doing a once-over on the beast, and when they got to it (several days later), it would not start anymore. The lift pump was working and delivering fuel, but "no fuel" was exiting the injection pump. [insert profanity here].

I have purchased an el-cheapo replacement PMD (with relocation kit) for $85 off Amazon, and brought it to them yesterday. Hopefully the issue is a burned out PMD, but if not, I'll be dropping another few grand on this beast already as the injection pump (which was replaced 2 years ago) costs around $1200, and being a stupid van... is not easily accessible... so the labor will likely be around the same if not more. Trying to avoid needless butthurt here

Anyways, I have dubbed it "Warthog" as it's a smaller ugly-ish pig... I'm still looking for a Warthog name (other than Pumbaa!)...

Here it is just off the trailer:


I also noted that it obviously was able to be moved off the trailer, and then about 200 ft forward from where it was dropped to where it is now... I think it DID start on the shop's yard.
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Old 12-15-2020, 01:14 PM   #2
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Location: Spanaway, WA
Posts: 176
Year: 1999
Coachwork: MidBus
Chassis: Chevy Express 3500
Engine: 6.5L Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 19
Oh, I have it already insured as a motorhome (with Allstate via Kelly Newsome and a referral to a Washington colleague), and it will be registered and plated just as soon as I can get it to a weigh scale, as that is apparently the only thing I'm missing paperwork-wise.

Not sure if they will register it as a van or as a motorhome, but we shall see. I have a 3-day transit permit in hand (costs $33, will save a VERY large fine if caught!!!) for the trip to the weigh scales, and then to its parking spot at the storage place, or to my home.

I have a growing set of air tools and a decent size compressor all waiting for this to come home so I can de-seat it...

I have a used Webasto Thermo Top C coolant heater coming off a 2015 Kenworth T680 in Iowa (from Vander Haag's) and a new wiring harness and controller coming from the UK (bought off ebay)... Cold starts will not remain an issue forever.

But it's gotta run!
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Old 12-15-2020, 08:47 PM   #3
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Location: Spanaway, WA
Posts: 176
Year: 1999
Coachwork: MidBus
Chassis: Chevy Express 3500
Engine: 6.5L Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 19
Good news, not so good news!

Good news is: The replacement PMD allowed it to start again. The first start (cold, of course) belched smoke, and made them think it was ALWAYS belching smoke... more on that later. BUT, on a warm start, it sounds "good" for a 6.5L Detroit Diesel-based Chevy. And nearly no smoke at all...

Bad news is: once it gets really warm, it starts spewing smoke inside the doghouse. From other videos I've seen, and on inspection of the one I made... it seems to confirm my suspicion that I will need a new CDR valve. The smoke increases as the engine gets hotter, and it is coming... from right at the CDR valve. I have one on order at O'Reilly's, will pick it up on Thursday. It does make some rattling/knocking type noises once it starts ingesting the engine oil too, so I'll revisit that AFTER the CDR valve is replaced.

I'm actually not too impressed with the "small diesel" knowledge of the mechanics where the bus is right now. They told me I needed a whole new $1300 injection pump, the problem was solved by a $85 Chinese knock-off PMD... Now they are saying that the "blowby" is from the rings, but... that kind of blowby doesn't exponentially grow as the engine heats up... The dude basically told me before that the PMD was a waste of time, and now says a CDR is a waste of time "because this isn't the injectors". OK, even *I* know more about my engine than to think that the intake and the injectors are the same thing. My strong suspicion is that the CDR is stuck open and is dumping oil mist into the intake... pre-turbo. That crap has to stop!

I do have another mechanic (the original one that the bus was supposed to go to but turned out having no space on delivery day) about 3 blocks away. They are willing to take it in on Thursday, so I'll limp it from one shop to the other, and have THEM deal with swapping CDRs.

The original place is more geared towards big rigs, and if I had a full-size bus, I think I would be quite happy there. The new one specializes in trucks/vans, doing rebuilds and performance upgrades... and some big-rig. We shall see.

Anyone who lives in the Seattle/Tacoma area and cares about company names, feel free to PM me. I don't really feel like making this an online review.
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Old 12-15-2020, 09:20 PM   #4
Bus Crazy
 
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Location: Whidbey Island, WA.
Posts: 1,064
Year: 1984
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: All American
Engine: 3208 na boat anchor
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Sounds like you are the best mechanic you're going to find.
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Old 12-15-2020, 09:36 PM   #5
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Location: Spanaway, WA
Posts: 176
Year: 1999
Coachwork: MidBus
Chassis: Chevy Express 3500
Engine: 6.5L Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 19
Thanks... unfortunately, I have nowhere to wrench on the vehicle. I'm seeing if I can't fix that (Garage Plus Storage is quite close to me!), but I need to check overall length. They have a 16'x20' available... but I'm not sure of the exact length of my wee bus... if it's 19' or something, I'm golden! They actually are zoned for "active use", so I could do the entire conversion there... at a cost of $455/month... adds up quickly, but ... might just be worth it.

16x20 will basically (if I'm lucky) barely allow me to close the door. Heh. But I could put a workbench of some sorts in there... and a toolbox... and the air compressor... and apparently they even have Internet/Cable hookups.

Will have to see. If I'm lucky, a 16x25' will open up.

Anyways, once the Webasto heater shows up, I expect I will want to put the front of the bus up on jack-stands and get under there and install it. Would hate to pay $120/hr for someone to do it.

Now, I should go learn how to weld... still toying with the idea of raising the roof like 8", but no welding skills. I can solder... I can even do plumbing the old-style way with copper pipes, solder and a propane torch... But never learned to weld.
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Old 12-15-2020, 09:47 PM   #6
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Location: Spanaway, WA
Posts: 176
Year: 1999
Coachwork: MidBus
Chassis: Chevy Express 3500
Engine: 6.5L Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 19
Mine does not sound QUITE as good as this one sold a couple years ago nearby...



Same size (mine says 19 on the label as capacity, but I'll have that to one soon enough... then back up to 5, I think. Kinda planning on getting two sets of nice shuttle bus seats for the dining area (complete with seat belts).

But this does give you a decent idea of the size.
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Old 12-21-2020, 02:13 PM   #7
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Location: Spanaway, WA
Posts: 176
Year: 1999
Coachwork: MidBus
Chassis: Chevy Express 3500
Engine: 6.5L Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 19
Update: The Warthog is now out of the first shop... it now starts and runs decently well (as well as one can expect without a coolant heater yet). I squared up with the big-rig mechanics that knew not quite enough about the 6.5L turbo-diesel for my liking, having replaced the PMD (when they said I needed the FAR more expensive injection pump!) and not much else done. I then drove it about 4 blocks to a diesel performance/rebuild type of shop, and brought with me a replacement CDR valve as the one I have now seems to be stuck open and dumping oil vapor right into the turbo's intake... like all the time. Much plume of smoke entails once it's warmed up enough.

Hopefully they will get that in, and find no more lingering "must fix now" types of issues hiding in there. They were going to start work on it hopefully this week.

In the mean time, I've continued to grow my air tools collection in preparation for going medieval on it's butt... and I've been laying out the plans for the coolant heater hookup, and also the fresh water system. Might as well use the time for something, especially as I have time off over the holidays.

My intention is to make my own "ECU"-like board to control all the heating and water system bits.. As I'm a geek with an electrical engineering degree, this kinda is up my alley I will make any such designs freely accessible to the public...

Anyways, here's the current idea for the coolant heater setup, and for the fresh-water setup:



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Old 12-21-2020, 02:16 PM   #8
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Location: Spanaway, WA
Posts: 176
Year: 1999
Coachwork: MidBus
Chassis: Chevy Express 3500
Engine: 6.5L Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 19
Oh, and I forgot... I was going to drop a new picture of the beast in here too:



She's a bit filthy, but there she is sitting at the new mechanic's yard I can't wait to de-school-bus it.
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Old 12-22-2020, 02:39 AM   #9
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 3,844
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas Built Bus
Chassis: Freightliner FS65
Engine: Caterpillar 3126E Diesel
Rated Cap: 71 Passenger- 30,000 lbs.
Did you figure out the total length yet? Are you going to be able to use a Garage/store mentioned earlier?
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Old 12-22-2020, 03:26 AM   #10
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Location: Spanaway, WA
Posts: 176
Year: 1999
Coachwork: MidBus
Chassis: Chevy Express 3500
Engine: 6.5L Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 19
I found someone who has the actual service manual for the thing (and has promised to make me a copy, since MidBus no longer exists, and Collins has no data available!)... and the overall length appears to be exactly 19 feet.

I checked at Garage Plus, and their "20 foot" spots that they do have vacancy in... measure 17ft 6inches internally. 20ft, my butt... Anyways, I'm on the waiting list for a "25ft" one, which comes out to just over 22ft usable... I'm the only one on the list, and there might be vacancies in the new year. I am still interested, although it does have one significant "aw crap" part... sanding and painting are forbidden (which makes sense - they are trying to avoid fine particulate in the air). However, they do have a large power-wash booth Oh, and the ceilings are about.... 23ft or so?

I can also call Comcast and get cable internet / TV hooked up.... so if I *do* this, I will probably drop a desk in there and "work from home" from there at times as I can. hehe. And move the compressor over, all the other tools, toolbox... And invest in a decent jack and jackstands...

So we'll see what they say in the new year.
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Old 12-22-2020, 03:29 AM   #11
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Location: Spanaway, WA
Posts: 176
Year: 1999
Coachwork: MidBus
Chassis: Chevy Express 3500
Engine: 6.5L Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 19
I'm also mentally mulling over the idea of pulling a small toad... Ideally a Mini Cooper (manual transmission) as they are on the very short list of cars that can apparently be safely flat-towed. But I'm in no hurry on that, that would probably be the summer at least before I'm ready to consider that. I would rather haul a VW Golf TDI, but that would apparently require a dolly or trailer. Booo.
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Old 12-23-2020, 05:31 PM   #12
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Location: Spanaway, WA
Posts: 176
Year: 1999
Coachwork: MidBus
Chassis: Chevy Express 3500
Engine: 6.5L Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 19
Well, I took the time to go get her weighed today... 7600lb for my warthog (with all the original seats, etc).

I then went down to the DOL, brought all my paperwork with me, and after they went back and forth trying to figure out the "right" way to get the system to let them register it (out of state title - California AND no longer as a commercial vehicle), it took almost an hour, but they found a solution...

So, my Warthog is now registered (and I have registration and plates in hand) in the state of Washington as a blue Chevy Express 3500 with body style of "Cutaway", and usage type.... "Motorhome".

So now I can put the plates on her, and get to work removing seats, and then painting it blue and converting it! First the mechanics need to finish with her, she's drivable, but does still billow blue smoke once the engine is warm, as (as best I can tell), the CDR valve is not operating correctly, and seems to be stuck open, dumping air and oil mist right back into the intake. That part is being replaced, and then we'll see what else is wrong with her.

The transmission (4L80) does seem super sluggish/slipping a lot when cold, but that may just be a transmission fluid level/type/whatever issue, so we shall see. I don't really want to be replacing the engine OR transmission, thanks.
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Old 12-23-2020, 07:31 PM   #13
Bus Nut
 
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Location: Sacramento
Posts: 728
Year: 1999
I'm curious what the GVWR is given the actual weight.
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Old 12-23-2020, 08:11 PM   #14
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Location: Spanaway, WA
Posts: 176
Year: 1999
Coachwork: MidBus
Chassis: Chevy Express 3500
Engine: 6.5L Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 19
10000lb.

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Old 01-04-2021, 03:59 PM   #15
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Location: Spanaway, WA
Posts: 176
Year: 1999
Coachwork: MidBus
Chassis: Chevy Express 3500
Engine: 6.5L Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 19
Time to poke the mechanic again, maybe he's had a chance to look it it...

Anyways, if anyone out there is in possession of the service manual for a 1999 MidBus Guide DRW bus (Chevy cutaway), I would really appreciate a copy (photocopied/scanned). I contacted Collins Bus, and they say they have no manuals at all, that they are sent out when the bus is made, but they have no copies. Sounds like a crock to me, but whatever. If you have this manual, please let me know, and we'll figure something out.

Edit: The front cover apparently looks like this (still trying to get the dude on Facebook to copy it for me like he offered!!):

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Old 01-04-2021, 04:48 PM   #16
Bus Crazy
 
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Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Swansboro,NC
Posts: 1,438
Year: 86
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Ford B700
Engine: 8.2
Rated Cap: 60 bodies
that would have been nice to have before i started cutting wires out?
my 2003 3500 express with MIDBUS/COLLINS body has every single wire labeled for what it is.
the factory chevy wiring is not labeled and you need a chevy/gmc manual for the engine and front cutaway factory wiring.
please pull your factory rubber floor lining up front and look at all the wiring in wire loom squished flat under it in the walk area of the main passenger door dont just cut the rubber mat around the seat?
there is a main fuse box under the seat with hundreds of tiny wires ran to and from under the drivers feet and door and all kinds of places not a very good design.
i have deleted anything not related except for a few passenger side relay connections not used just buried that i have not identified yet.
vanda lock and child check buttons gone except the vanlock feed and the vanlock relay to the back door were shortened up to the over driver seat wiring area because i dont know yet where the feed runs to in the engine compartment and whoever before me replace the ECM and just left it daingling with alot of extra wires cut?
another project for another day.
i dont think you need the collins body wiring manual because every wire is labled every foot as to what it is.
and in mine 97% percent of body/collins/midbus controls/wiring run to relays/contacts either over the drivers seat or over the dash.
if any one has this type and wants specific pics PM me but i am to tech. challenged to post pics on here so i will ask you to text me or just text me and mention skoolie.
910-581-7210 i am mitchel.
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Old 01-04-2021, 04:58 PM   #17
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Location: Spanaway, WA
Posts: 176
Year: 1999
Coachwork: MidBus
Chassis: Chevy Express 3500
Engine: 6.5L Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 19
Thanks, I may take you up on that later on. I still need to get my beast home. Silly holidays messing with all my plans and all.
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Old 01-04-2021, 05:06 PM   #18
Bus Crazy
 
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Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Swansboro,NC
Posts: 1,438
Year: 86
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Ford B700
Engine: 8.2
Rated Cap: 60 bodies
OP.
i also know a decent bit about the 6.5 diesel but i bought the gas 6.0 for my wifes bus since she wont be around me when its time for filter changes and draining water out of the filter or the o-rings around the hand primer start drawing air and little things like that.
starting issues you can always bring up here.
i can give you specific wiring deletes as far as where i am at. have actually started new install
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Old 01-06-2021, 07:19 PM   #19
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Location: Spanaway, WA
Posts: 176
Year: 1999
Coachwork: MidBus
Chassis: Chevy Express 3500
Engine: 6.5L Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 19
(in a Professor Farnsworth voice - thank you Futurama!) "Good news everybody!"

I just called the mechanic. The CDR valve has been installed and he says "Well, it definitely goes over my speed bumps better now". He also confirmed that it doesn't seem to be billowing smoke anymore... So that's two for two with self-diagnosis using the internet and other people's examples, it seems... First the PMD... now the CDR valve.

Anyways, tomorrow, gonna run over there with the license plates, and install them on the bus, and he'll take it for a test drive... hopefully, I'll begin the "de-school-bus" process this weekend!

Woohoo!

So if any of you live near Tacoma and want up to and including 9 bus seats, they may be available soon... so I'll need to go to Harbor Freight and buy a big tarp to cover em up while they are posted on Craigslist/Facebook.... Today's the first day in about a week with no rain.
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Old 01-07-2021, 06:26 PM   #20
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Location: Spanaway, WA
Posts: 176
Year: 1999
Coachwork: MidBus
Chassis: Chevy Express 3500
Engine: 6.5L Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 19
Well, I'm glad I chose to look at the tires CAREFULLY while I was out putting the plates on her...

Of the 4 tires I can easily see, I have two coded as 1990, and two coded as 1993. Yeah, that won't do. I now have an appointment with Les Schwab to get 6 brand-spanking new LT225/75/R16E installed... The doorframe sticker says it needs at least load rating D, so this should suffice. There goes another $1200, but I'd rather do this NOW than have another nasty bus flipped due to blowout incident to report.

Not sure how old buses usually run on the tires, but holy crap, these are older than the bus itself (a 1999)!
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