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Old 12-23-2017, 08:02 AM   #41
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Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: pa
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Year: 98
Coachwork: 1. Corbeil & 2. Thomas
Chassis: 1 ford 1998 e350 4x4 7.3 2 mercedes 2004
Engine: 7.3 powerstroke & MBE906
Lensman, how much is the torque arm stuff going to cost you and what did you pay for your bus ( if you dont mind me asking) What kind of shop tackles that kind of work. The low floor buses are a bit of a specialty category.

Sounds that I have been pretty fortunate with Dory. We paid $5100 which I thought at that moment was a lot seeing other transits go for 1500 to 2000. Put 6 semi new tires on for $900. It still feels that the total is less then a $ 4000 school bus with a $ 2000 roof raise.

For Elfie we paid $3700. Relative to that you get a lot more stuff with a transit.

One of my backup arguments, in case it would have been a total disaster and shtf, was that Dory is all aluminum so the scrap value is a lot higher.

Later J

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Old 12-23-2017, 08:14 AM   #42
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columbus ohio HATES their hybrid gilligs.. they were forced to keep the original lot of 10 for 10 years.. they are gone now.. they still have a couple they purchased a couple years later.. my driver friend says that those busses are broken alot.. all new purchases are CNG gfilligs and he said they are turning out to be extremely reliable.. much more than their emission diesels.. in fact they have had to overhaul their emission diesels while their pre-05 stuff still has some units with original drivetrains at close to 600k miles.. the city has its own huge CNG fueling center and its easy for them to fuel their busses up, no issues with cold weather starting or engine damage due to continuous slow-speed operation that they ran into with their diesel units..

I dont have a viewpoint from the mechanics shop on what they think.. just his and other drivers point of view on the CNG units.
-Christopher
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Old 12-23-2017, 09:02 AM   #43
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Year: 2001
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JoeBlack, replacing the torque arms (all 4) is going to run about $2000. I paid $6K for the bus, and with what I know now, that was a bit too much. I was excited about getting one that I knew could run on the highway and was here in central Florida. I had been bidding on some from PublicSurplus, but they all had only about 200K miles, and went for well over twenty thousand to flippers.

Coach Crafters is a specialist transit bus shop, they do Maintenance Repair and Overhaul mostly on Gilligs. I got lucky that they're easy driving distance from me here in Orlando. I realized after changing an airbag that I was going to need a shop to do more than changing tires on this thing -- everything weighs more than I do! Once the running gear is back in order, I'll do the interior myself. That's a more manageable job.
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Old 12-23-2017, 09:38 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by Lensman View Post
JoeBlack, replacing the torque arms (all 4) is going to run about $2000. I paid $6K for the bus, and with what I know now, that was a bit too much. I was excited about getting one that I knew could run on the highway and was here in central Florida. I had been bidding on some from PublicSurplus, but they all had only about 200K miles, and went for well over twenty thousand to flippers.

Coach Crafters is a specialist transit bus shop, they do Maintenance Repair and Overhaul mostly on Gilligs. I got lucky that they're easy driving distance from me here in Orlando. I realized after changing an airbag that I was going to need a shop to do more than changing tires on this thing -- everything weighs more than I do! Once the running gear is back in order, I'll do the interior myself. That's a more manageable job.
Thank you for sharing your experiences. It helps the rest of us understand the Transit vehicles better. They are very different Beasts.


I stopped keeping track of the expenses as I have found denial to be a viable coping mechanism.

You did good on your tires- $900/new. Your bus will be MUCH safer and more pleasurable to drive now that it's fixed properly.
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Old 12-23-2017, 10:15 AM   #45
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Engine: 7.3 powerstroke & MBE906
Haha Rusty, isn't that the truth, denial works in every field ....I lie your humor. I hope I will you meet you one of these days on the road.

Lensman, That is not to bad, Not sure what their hourly rate is but probably close to $85 / hour.
Still do not think that is to bad, after all your bus costed $ 300000 + when new. Not having to do a roof raise, the extra width and comfy ride will do you good.

It is that we bought Dory now but in retrospect it would have been nice to get a hybrid, so much tech and potential for such a low price. Can you imagine put full solar and a retractable solar shade awning on that and charge the existing battery bank. Not sure what the low speed range would be but 30 free miles with no engine wear would be good with me. That would be great fun to play with.

Later J
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Old 12-23-2017, 11:13 AM   #46
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Coachwork: Gillig
Chassis: 35' Low Floor
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Yeah Joeblack, I'm not unhappy with what I've got -- I've budgeted about $12k to get her up to snuff to take to Burning Man next summer. Having decent ceiling height and enough square footage out of the box makes it the best configuration for my uses.

I've been debating between solar and wind for house power, but that's for another thread. For this year, I'm focusing on shading the roof (probably using billboard vinyl for cost) and basic camping amenities, especially water tankage and dust management. Black Rock City is a challenging environment, but it'll be a fun challenge.
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Old 12-23-2017, 02:55 PM   #47
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This is some great info, thanks for chipping in, everyone!

So, joeblack5 and Lensman, it sounds like you folks were able to purchase your busses and get them up and running for less than $10k? That's definitely encouraging to me, as that's about where I'd like my bottom line to be before I start doing my conversion. Ideally I'd have a roof height I was happy with at that amount of investment.

The aluminum body being worth more scrapped is an interesting point, if the bus ends up being a lemon. And I definitely believe the lighter material would be a lot easier on the engine, too.

cadillackid, do you have any info where I could look more into those hybrid busses? I relate to joeblack5's sentiments about having a hybrid if I could. I'd be really interested to learn more about them!
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Old 12-23-2017, 04:43 PM   #48
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Chassis: 1 ford 1998 e350 4x4 7.3 2 mercedes 2004
Engine: 7.3 powerstroke & MBE906
More data is in the thread " not a skoolie". aluminum ....
Ours is 16000 empty and 28000 gvwr. It is thomas / mercedes bus.
Our Corbeil elfie is also made out of aluminum.

I only drive old cars , there is non with less then 200.000 miles. The stuff that takes time and come back is rust. Not that alu can not rot but that is more a bad design then a problem with the metal.
The gilligs are everywhere for cheap. govdeals.. and so. Since there are many I would check a couple out and get familiar with the specific difficulties. air supension, torque arm and chassis rust so that you can inspect them. Them being plentiful and cheap you will have time on your side.

Good luck
Later J
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Old 12-23-2017, 07:22 PM   #49
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Originally Posted by scapegoatwax View Post
This is some great info, thanks for chipping in, everyone!

So, joeblack5 and Lensman, it sounds like you folks were able to purchase your busses and get them up and running for less than $10k? That's definitely encouraging to me, as that's about where I'd like my bottom line to be before I start doing my conversion. Ideally I'd have a roof height I was happy with at that amount of investment.

The aluminum body being worth more scrapped is an interesting point, if the bus ends up being a lemon. And I definitely believe the lighter material would be a lot easier on the engine, too.

cadillackid, do you have any info where I could look more into those hybrid busses? I relate to joeblack5's sentiments about having a hybrid if I could. I'd be really interested to learn more about them!
my driver-buddy doesnt know where the hybrids went. the hybrid system on them operates different than say a Prius.. the engine tends to run most all the time.. but often times going from stop to stop it barely comes off of idle.. so it seems the metality of those busses are that they idle most of the time. but they never are pushed into high RPMs, or lugged which are 2 fuel-sucking conditions for diesels.. I never rode on the freeway to know if its truly just a series hybrid or if it in fact can engage the engine directly to the wheels when the batteries are low.. it sounds like during stops they have Regen braking.. im not sure how a bus like that would do in a road trip scenerio.. I suppose on your downhills you still have the positive effect of regen braking but the batteries have to be a heabvy weight to travel around with for 1000s of miles on a trip.. as far as how to obtain one, im not sure if they traded on some program? or maybe sold directly to anotehr city? since CNG is still considered an alternative fuel, thr cities still get some grants and benefits to buying those vs diesel units..Ohio is a huge producer of Natural gas so its relatively cheap here..
-Christopher
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Old 12-24-2017, 10:23 AM   #50
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the hybrid system on them operates different than say a Prius.. the engine tends to run most all the time.. but often times going from stop to stop it barely comes off of idle.. so it seems the metality of those busses are that they idle most of the time.
That's really interesting... and it doesn't sound all that great, haha. I tried investigating some more, and it seems like you're right.

In this video, they come to a stop at about 0:58, and the engine is definitely still going. When the driver goes to take off, the engine picks up too, but perhaps they're accelerating aggressively enough for the battery not to take care of the job?

I've read, but don't think I've seen any of these buses with a visible roof-mounted battery in the back. Trying to find more examples of the sound of the hybrid system I found this video. The pictured bus (though it's just a still photo) definitely looks like it has a battery pack mounted up top.

Seems like it would really complicate a roof raise.

Supposedly most are diesel-electric hybrids, I wonder if the few gas-electric hybrids behave differently--more like a prius?
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Old 12-24-2017, 07:57 PM   #51
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Old 12-24-2017, 08:51 PM   #52
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I don't want to turn this into a "well mine is bigger!"

But, if you want to go there....

I have 4 bays that are 4.75' long x 8' wide x 50" tall each. I have the wheelchair lift in 1/2 of one of the bays (most of it will be coming out, though - I'll be repurposing the hydraulics for "landing gear").

I've not seen a skoolie yet that has that kind of basement storage.... But a skoolie can maneuver into places I won't be able to - that was the trade-off....
Are those numbers correct? You have bins that are 4' x 5' x 8' ? Do you have any pics of them?
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