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Old 12-23-2021, 01:43 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2021
Posts: 11
Coach with 4 spd manual - How bad could it be?

Hello. Im looking to transition from van life to skoolie life. I have property that I can park on the east coast and west coast and plan to snow bird between the two every 6 months-ish. I have read a lot of threads on skoolies vs coachs but have seen some contradicting info and would like to hear from anyone who might have experience with the two.

I found what I would consider for myself to be the perfect body bus, but with a powertrain that Im not familiar with and from what Ive read can be a real pain in the ass to drive with no experience. Its a 60's 35' greyhound single axle with Detroit "318" and 4 speed manual. My concerns are: how hard is it to shift and drive up and down mountain passes possibly in icy conditions, what am I looking at for top speed, and how much does expected maintenance really cost on that detroit provided im willing to get my hands dirty?
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Old 12-23-2021, 01:48 PM   #2
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2021
Posts: 11
Also to expand on this: what i like about the bus is the work that has been done blocking out windows and clearing and insulating the inside and the overall size.
Buying a skoolie with my preferred powertrain (cummins 8.3 plus allison auto) and raising the roof blocking windows insulating etc. to get a similar body would be expensive and time consuming.

Im assuming changing the powertrain of the coach would be more expensive or potentially not even doable? Somebody help talk me out of this conundrum!
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Old 12-23-2021, 02:11 PM   #3
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Communist State of New Jersey
Posts: 537
Year: 2004
Coachwork: IC
Engine: T444e
Rated Cap: 27,500
I can't give you any comparison information but I can suggest you drop in on the Bus Grease Monkey channel on YouTube where you'll see a lot about the old touring buses.

If I were interested in driving around in a 35' or 40' bus that has limited ground clearance I'd have bought one of those, problems be dammed.

Not sure about the 318 part??? I was under the impression that size bus had either a Detroit Diesel 2 stroke 8V-71 (8x71-568 cu.in.) or at the least a 6-71 (6x71=426 cu.in.) but don't hold me to that I'm certainly no expert on those.

In terms of shifting the tranny, I believe it's non-synchronized which means you'll be double clutching. In the last millennium I actually drove a GMC 410? for a summer on a route and it had the 4 speed with a floor mounted shifter and I enjoyed driving it and found it quite easy.

Those buses go down the road quite well if they're in good condition.

I wouldn't want to drive any bus through a high mountain pass in bad weather. I'd go the southern route and call it a day. It's not as though you have a schedule to keep that you'd risk your life, limb and property to save time.

I'm sure others will chime in who have more direct knowledge of the comparison you're looking for.

https://www.youtube.com/c/BusGreaseMonkey
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Old 12-23-2021, 03:26 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2021
Location: Santa Fe
Posts: 49
Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: 31 ft. HDX
Engine: CATC7
Rated Cap: 36,300 GVW
I think the 318 means 318 hp, which is naturally aspirated 8-71. Driving a Detroit is not for everyone, they can be loud and thirsty. But a good one will run for a long time.
The work on the old bus may not be up to your standards, and you would have to re-do it anyway.
I have a friend who logged a few million miles at the wheel of the Dog, and I let him drive my Thomas HDX with a 250 hp Cat C7 and 6 speed allison automatic.
His first impression was how quiet it was. Next was how simple and easy it was to drive anywhere. Then he asked me how long it will take to finish my conversion......
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Old 12-23-2021, 04:25 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldyeller View Post
I can't give you any comparison information but I can suggest you drop in on the Bus Grease Monkey channel on YouTube where you'll see a lot about the old touring buses.

If I were interested in driving around in a 35' or 40' bus that has limited ground clearance I'd have bought one of those, problems be dammed.

Not sure about the 318 part??? I was under the impression that size bus had either a Detroit Diesel 2 stroke 8V-71 (8x71-568 cu.in.) or at the least a 6-71 (6x71=426 cu.in.) but don't hold me to that I'm certainly no expert on those.

In terms of shifting the tranny, I believe it's non-synchronized which means you'll be double clutching. In the last millennium I actually drove a GMC 410? for a summer on a route and it had the 4 speed with a floor mounted shifter and I enjoyed driving it and found it quite easy.

Those buses go down the road quite well if they're in good condition.

I wouldn't want to drive any bus through a high mountain pass in bad weather. I'd go the southern route and call it a day. It's not as though you have a schedule to keep that you'd risk your life, limb and property to save time.

I'm sure others will chime in who have more direct knowledge of the comparison you're looking for.

https://www.youtube.com/c/BusGreaseMonkey

I appreciate youíre reply. I agree about the southern route, itís what I plan to do but Iím currently surrounded by mountains, Iíll have to hit at least one going south and it does concern me.

Interesting that you liked the 4 speed. I donít know how to double clutch but Iím sure I can learn. Though to be honest Iíve owned two manuals in my life and I never got very good at hills even though I drove them all over the country. Iíve been watching that YouTube channel for a few days. The content is a little watered down so it takes quite awhile to find hard info but I do enjoy it
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Old 12-23-2021, 04:28 PM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmythomas View Post
I think the 318 means 318 hp, which is naturally aspirated 8-71. Driving a Detroit is not for everyone, they can be loud and thirsty. But a good one will run for a long time.
The work on the old bus may not be up to your standards, and you would have to re-do it anyway.
I have a friend who logged a few million miles at the wheel of the Dog, and I let him drive my Thomas HDX with a 250 hp Cat C7 and 6 speed allison automatic.
His first impression was how quiet it was. Next was how simple and easy it was to drive anywhere. Then he asked me how long it will take to finish my conversion......
Haha ya that is my concern. A lot of the info regarding the Detroitís and 4 speeds may be tainted by nostalgia. Call me lazy but I donít want to be in charge of shifting. Especially not when thereís an accident on a 6% grade..
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Old 12-23-2021, 04:46 PM   #7
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: Baja often, Oregon frequently
Posts: 230
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Our hot little grubbies...
Chassis: Ford CF8000 ExpeditionVehicle
Engine: Cummins 505ci mechanical
Rated Cap: Three RedHeelers
Stick-shift a rear tranny?
.
If I was me, I would test-drive to verify the linkage.
A lot can happen between the grip at your side... and... the tranny... a couple... dozen feet away.
.
Does that linkage use repairable spiders?
Carrier bearings?
.
.
September 9th, 2001.
We acquired a pair of 1980 6x6 digger-derricks at auction in San Mateo, California.
Retired from California utility company PacificGas&Electric.
.
(An aside:
'Yes', the derelict bankrupt utility, loser of billions in lawsuits and offering company stock as your award.
Oh, yeah, sign me up for that one! [sarc])
.
23,000 miles.
Cab-forward, mid-engine.
Detroit 6v92 'Silver', 305hp, 8-speed.
.
That carnsnarngled (a fine fine splendid example of Authentic Frontier Gibberish) shifter contraption was the most fun I had all day.
.
Later, I discovered the story behind the 'Silver' designation:
Apparently, Detroit two-strokes had a reputation of chucking random parts in random directions at random times.
A 'Silver' is a replacement engine.
Tragically, without maintenance records (or with maintenance records from the highly-reliable [sarc] PG&E maintenance department...), there was no way to tell if these were the first replacement engines... or the seventh or twelfth.
.
My buddy in Oroville, California acquired the sibling to mine.
It drove mostly good-enough.
Then, one day, on a day a lot like today, he started it.
Idling in the driveway, it blew a chunk out of the side of the block.
Still ran good-enough on five cylinders.
Fact is, there was about the same power as on all six.
Tad more blow-by, but that was expected with the slobber-tube impaled in the side of the barn.
.
How bad could it be?
Garsh...
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Old 12-23-2021, 05:01 PM   #8
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: West Ohio
Posts: 2,700
Year: 1984
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: International 1753
Engine: 6.9 International
Rated Cap: 65
Silver engines were engines that had updates and upgrades applied to them. Different things that would increase power/reliability, reduce noise, reduce emissions, etc. Think of it as an update to a 30 year old design. Same engine, just better now.

A lot of your replacement engines were silver engines because when detroit reman'd them, they upgraded them to the latest specs. They were typically painted silver, over the alpine green detroit used for years. They also had different badging and other things.

Just because a truck had a silver engine, doesn't mean it was a replacement. After a certain year all new engines were considered silvers, so something from the 80's could possibly have had a silver installed new from the factory.
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Old 12-23-2021, 05:05 PM   #9
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Engine: 6.9 International
Rated Cap: 65
As far as the op's bus is concerned, I'd rock the hell out of that thing.

But 2 cycle detroits and 4 speed un synchronized transmissions aren't for the faint of heart. I'd bet 90% of the people around today would turn up their nose at one. And one can't stress how sloppy the shifters and clutch can be after over half a century.
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Old 12-23-2021, 05:16 PM   #10
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Communist State of New Jersey
Posts: 537
Year: 2004
Coachwork: IC
Engine: T444e
Rated Cap: 27,500
Quote:
Originally Posted by Victor Monsanto View Post
I appreciate youíre reply. I agree about the southern route, itís what I plan to do but Iím currently surrounded by mountains, Iíll have to hit at least one going south and it does concern me.

Interesting that you liked the 4 speed. I donít know how to double clutch but Iím sure I can learn. Though to be honest Iíve owned two manuals in my life and I never got very good at hills even though I drove them all over the country. Iíve been watching that YouTube channel for a few days. The content is a little watered down so it takes quite awhile to find hard info but I do enjoy it
On Bus Grease Monkey's channel you need to go back a few years. He focused more on the bus work and less of the non-bus stuff.
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Old 12-23-2021, 05:34 PM   #11
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Communist State of New Jersey
Posts: 537
Year: 2004
Coachwork: IC
Engine: T444e
Rated Cap: 27,500
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booyah45828 View Post
As far as the op's bus is concerned, I'd rock the hell out of that thing.

But 2 cycle detroits and 4 speed un synchronized transmissions aren't for the faint of heart. I'd bet 90% of the people around today would turn up their nose at one. And one can't stress how sloppy the shifters and clutch can be after over half a century.
Yea . . . if I had the land I'd have, at least, a 410x to play with. Those old buses are very cool. The fact that so many people aren't capable of driving one with a manual means it might be easier to find one.
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Old 12-23-2021, 06:13 PM   #12
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Orange County, CA
Posts: 1,092
Year: 1990
Coachwork: integral
Chassis: Crown Supercoach II (rear engine)
Engine: Detroit 6V92TAC, DDEC 2, Jake brake, Allison HT740
Rated Cap: 37,400 lbs GVWR
I expect my friend Mike will chime in soon! He's driven many different models of GMs, so he'll have something to say about their notoriously high first gears and how to drive (or not drive) and feed a Detroit two-stroke. And yes, silver Detroits (like my 6V92) are the better ones, but 8V71s may predate that later generation of engines; non-turbo 71s are still good engines anyway, unless you're at very high elevations in the Rockies where they'll make more smoke than power.

John
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Old 12-23-2021, 06:54 PM   #13
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2021
Posts: 11
Thanks for the replies. I think the sentiment is I should go kick the tires? Hate to waste the guys time since im so hesitant about it, and grind up his gears trying to learn how to double clutch.
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Old 12-23-2021, 07:00 PM   #14
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2021
Posts: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by LargeMargeInBaja View Post
Stick-shift a rear tranny?
.
If I was me, I would test-drive to verify the linkage.
A lot can happen between the grip at your side... and... the tranny... a couple... dozen feet away.
.
Does that linkage use repairable spiders?
Carrier bearings?
.
.
September 9th, 2001.
We acquired a pair of 1980 6x6 digger-derricks at auction in San Mateo, California.
Retired from California utility company PacificGas&Electric.
.
(An aside:
'Yes', the derelict bankrupt utility, loser of billions in lawsuits and offering company stock as your award.
Oh, yeah, sign me up for that one! [sarc])
.
23,000 miles.
Cab-forward, mid-engine.
Detroit 6v92 'Silver', 305hp, 8-speed.
.
That carnsnarngled (a fine fine splendid example of Authentic Frontier Gibberish) shifter contraption was the most fun I had all day.
.
Later, I discovered the story behind the 'Silver' designation:
Apparently, Detroit two-strokes had a reputation of chucking random parts in random directions at random times.
A 'Silver' is a replacement engine.
Tragically, without maintenance records (or with maintenance records from the highly-reliable [sarc] PG&E maintenance department...), there was no way to tell if these were the first replacement engines... or the seventh or twelfth.
.
My buddy in Oroville, California acquired the sibling to mine.
It drove mostly good-enough.
Then, one day, on a day a lot like today, he started it.
Idling in the driveway, it blew a chunk out of the side of the block.
Still ran good-enough on five cylinders.
Fact is, there was about the same power as on all six.
Tad more blow-by, but that was expected with the slobber-tube impaled in the side of the barn.
.
How bad could it be?
Garsh...
But PG&E are famous for their maintenance? or lack there of..

I do agree about the shifter linkage. I had a vw van with 6 ish feet of linkage and it was a nightmare. Then again I drove that thing ca to nc back to ca and down to cabo before that linkage finally locked up in downtown traffic. and then again on the 5 when i got back to socal.

I guess that is where my hesitancy stems from, Im sure I can get from point a to point b but I dont want to hate driving the thing like I hated that vw.
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Old 12-23-2021, 07:33 PM   #15
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Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: Missoula, MT
Posts: 302
Year: 1990
Chassis: Crown Supercoach
Engine: Detroit 6-71TA, 10 sp.
Rated Cap: 90 (40')
I noticed that bus on Craigslist a few weeks ago. The price seems good at 6k, but then again that might be a warning sign. Not much useful information in the posting. The interior stripping and insulation that's already been done is helpful, but really that's only a tiny fraction of the total conversion work. Don't let that be the deciding factor for you - mechanical condition is far more important.

I don't know anything about coaches, so I can't really answer your questions. If you're interested in this style of bus, check out the similar GM buffalo intercity coach on Wenatchee craigslist. Supposedly recently rebuilt 6v92T with Jakes and rebuilt auto transmission, and fully converted to boot. $25k seems a reasonable price if it's in as good of shape as claimed.
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Old 12-23-2021, 07:49 PM   #16
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Posts: 2,072
Year: 1971
Coachwork: Wayne
Chassis: International Loadstar 1700
Engine: 345 international V-8
If a coach would work for me I would be all over it. Love the Detroits. Mot crazy about only a 4 speed, but manual for sure any day over an automatic.
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Old 12-23-2021, 07:49 PM   #17
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Posts: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tejon7 View Post
I noticed that bus on Craigslist a few weeks ago. The price seems good at 6k, but then again that might be a warning sign. Not much useful information in the posting. The interior stripping and insulation that's already been done is helpful, but really that's only a tiny fraction of the total conversion work. Don't let that be the deciding factor for you - mechanical condition is far more important.

I don't know anything about coaches, so I can't really answer your questions. If you're interested in this style of bus, check out the similar GM buffalo intercity coach on Wenatchee craigslist. Supposedly recently rebuilt 6v92T with Jakes and rebuilt auto transmission, and fully converted to boot. $25k seems a reasonable price if it's in as good of shape as claimed.
Agree about mechanical condition being number 1. I guess what attracts me to that one is that I cant find another one like it for the price. I also noticed in the other ad that the roof vents arent sealed and there is water on the floor underneath both and possibly wicking up the siding that has been installed. If thats been going on for awhile it may be an issue. I saw that one in Wenatchee. Its honestly a pretty good deal and closer to what Id like to end up with ultimately, but then I dont get the headache of doing it all myself?

Have you driven a bus up 90 between cda and missoula or further to say billings? That section is my main concern when considering a platform. Especially this time of year. Im not normally crossing the pass this time of year but sometimes circumstances have me leaving in the thick of winter.
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Old 12-23-2021, 07:51 PM   #18
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2021
Posts: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronnie View Post
If a coach would work for me I would be all over it. Love the Detroits. Mot crazy about only a 4 speed, but manual for sure any day over an automatic.
You prefer a manual because of the flexibility of choosing the gear or reliability/longevity?
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Old 12-23-2021, 08:08 PM   #19
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2021
Location: Santa Fe
Posts: 49
Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: 31 ft. HDX
Engine: CATC7
Rated Cap: 36,300 GVW
I rode a Greyhound from Spokane to Missoula in January 1977. Lookout Pass was awesome, solid ice all the way up and that driver was was drifting that big old bus like a pro, and it was even a 4 speed! At the top the State Patrol was making everybody chain up -- and they waved the Dog right on thru. I'll never forget that sound of the Detroit !

A few years ago a friend bought an old stripped out GM coach for $500 and put the tires on his dump truck. He got the 6-71 running but had clutch/shift issues - the 35 foot long shift linkage must weigh 300 lbs. Every moving part in that shift linkage was worn out. Eventually he got it stuck in first gear and the clutch working sort of.
That bus was sold very soon after.
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Old 12-23-2021, 08:15 PM   #20
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Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: Missoula, MT
Posts: 302
Year: 1990
Chassis: Crown Supercoach
Engine: Detroit 6-71TA, 10 sp.
Rated Cap: 90 (40')
Quote:
Originally Posted by Victor Monsanto View Post
Agree about mechanical condition being number 1. I guess what attracts me to that one is that I cant find another one like it for the price. I also noticed in the other ad that the roof vents arent sealed and there is water on the floor underneath both and possibly wicking up the siding that has been installed. If thats been going on for awhile it may be an issue. I saw that one in Wenatchee. Its honestly a pretty good deal and closer to what Id like to end up with ultimately, but then I dont get the headache of doing it all myself?

Have you driven a bus up 90 between cda and missoula or further to say billings? That section is my main concern when considering a platform. Especially this time of year. Im not normally crossing the pass this time of year but sometimes circumstances have me leaving in the thick of winter.
I haven't done Lookout pass in a bus, but I have driven I-90 from Missoula to Billings about ten years ago (my bus trips are normally North-South). That bus had an underpowered gas engine and a 5-speed. I got down to 10 mph at times, but it was fine. That's a worst case scenario, but you might have to change your expectations for speed if you're used to zooming through the mountains in a Sprinter-type van
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