Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 08-12-2020, 04:25 PM   #1
Almost There
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 73
Year: 2007
Coachwork: N/A
Engine: N/A
Rated Cap: 21,000lbs
Seeking the sages' advice on a '96 6.5L Chevy

Hey all,


I'm considering a bus I found that has a lot of the things I'd like but one major flaw at present: it will need to be towed from its location.
I know, I know - pretty major flaw.
But it's a great price, the seats are already out, the floor insulated and I think the owner wants to get rid of it because she just hasn't got the bandwidth to cope with it - if it's a relatively easy fix I could be getting a bus I can work with for a bargain.


The details:
160,000 miles on, 22 long 6.5L DIESEL, 96 Chevy Wolfington.
She says runs and drives but won't do more than 20 mph right now and needs new fuel injectors.


I've looked in the forums but can't find an answer to this (and I know it'll vary by region) but ballpark cost to replace them in this bus? I'm in Oregon, should that matter.


Am I crazy? Should I be talked out of this bus?

ladybird_bus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-12-2020, 04:44 PM   #2
Skoolie
 
tlzimmerman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: Kansas
Posts: 125
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Ford B
Engine: 5.9 Cummins 12v
Rated Cap: 60
Personally, and this comes from a guy who has owned 3 of them...I have never been a big fan of the 6.5 or 6.2 GM diesels. They are made by detroit. They are a big more fragile and finnicky than some of the other engines of the period. If you have a good mechanic that knows how to work on them they can be a good engine.

The engines DO NOT LIKE to be hot....and will not tolerate it. Keep them below 210.

The engine oil coolant lines can be a weak point because if they fail.....well there goes your oil.

They also require working glow plugs in most all cases.

PMD modules in the injection pump also don't like heat, and is a common thing that needs replaced. If you have a good mechanic he will relocate it to help it last longer.

Thats all I know about them. Not a big fan. I'd move on unless it was a heckuva deal.

Injectors are about 300, injector pumps are about 1000, both plus labor.
tlzimmerman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-12-2020, 07:09 PM   #3
Almost There
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 73
Year: 2007
Coachwork: N/A
Engine: N/A
Rated Cap: 21,000lbs
Thank you tlzimmerman!
That's exactly what I needed to hear. It's quite a deal - $3,200 and it's a blank slate (which after my last bus and with my current workload is a HUGE plus for me) but I think if it's likely to be a dodgy engine anyway, I'll keep looking.
ladybird_bus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-12-2020, 08:33 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Jim Vicious's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Godfrey ON
Posts: 34
Year: 2004
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TCF
Engine: 5.9 Cummins
The problem with the six-two (and 6.5 brethren) is that there is no middle ground opinion.

You'll hear anecdotal stories of those who got 500,00 miles without problems .. and those who didn't.

If they're running, they're not too bad (seemed to get the fightin' folk through the poo o'er there in Hummers). About the power of a 305 Chevy with better mileage. They were never meant for speed or pulling. (in fact after mine failed I swapped in an old 292 "stovebolt" six .. couple of hundred pounds lighter, and a mere 15 rated Hp "slower" - but sure goes faster!)

When they don't .. they're toast. What I mean is that most engines have a life that tends to go from new to worn out gradually - the 6.2 and 6.5 tend to suddenly have a catastrophic end of life. Crank breakage at the snout is common. Doesn't seem to matter if you beat on them or baby them.

There is a lot of mis-info on these plants as well, right down to their very origin and "J" code blocks being superior. It's as if even the darned dealers don't know, and just can't wait to toss a $2000 Stanadyne injection pump at whatever problem.

If you're a reasonably competent 1990's tech wrench, then hey .. if it runs - go for it until it doesn't, then think about what you're going to swap in. If you're at the mercy of roadside assistance .. I'd pass it up. First break down is three grand.

As mentioned, the early Y2K modules are purportedly prone to failure .. or were. We're going back a ways now. Never seen one go personally though.

Glow plug relay timers were problematic before '88 .. Not the end of the world unless they melted a plug off and it fell off into a cylinder.

Cracks 'tween the valves. Actually rarely a problem as they tended not to leak coolant, but beware of dealer end of world scenarios.

Something about starter motors I don't recall - going senile I think. Wasn't so much the starter but the brace?

Crankshaft failures. Yes. Sudden and without warning. Had one go coming off throttle decelerating to 40 MPH through a small town.


My personal opinion is that they were grenades with the pin pulled at the factory - but I also know others who swear by their reliability.

As far as a 6.5 in a particular chassis .. which is in fact another thing.

The 6.x was designed to be a mileage engine. Nothing fancy.

But (IMO) any saving in the fuel economy during it's service life was negated in repair bills.

I've never done the math, but I suspect if you just swapped in a 350 that it would cost the same over any particular period of time .. but you'd be instead putting the money into the pump at chewable intervals.
__________________
Stranded in time.. Surrounded by evil.. Low on gas.
Jim Vicious is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-12-2020, 08:47 PM   #5
Skoolie
 
tlzimmerman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: Kansas
Posts: 125
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Ford B
Engine: 5.9 Cummins 12v
Rated Cap: 60
I was always told the crank failures were due to bad harmonic balancer ...in fact I replaced the balancer on one of mine.

Agreed a shade tree mechanic can make it a serviceable engine for sure. But one that already doesn't run and you don't know the history is iffy.
tlzimmerman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-12-2020, 09:13 PM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Jim Vicious's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Godfrey ON
Posts: 34
Year: 2004
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TCF
Engine: 5.9 Cummins
Yup! I've heard exactly the same! .. as well as main web cracking and nickel content and flexplate counter-weight .. something? Wrong side look from an albino unicorn wearing purple bloomers.

In one particular industry I used to be the guy that had to figure out why things pooped the bed.

But while I was, the factory would pump out TSB's "do this, do that." It'll fix everything.

Fact is, they rarely had a clue .. but had to tell the dealers something until I told them.

I'll never know exactly why Detroit 6x's would pop a crank (typically) front of the number one journal.

If a new (or aftermarket) balancer was the absolute magic fix-all bullet .. would even be a decent enough 400K engine.

Frankly, I don't have the date points. I'd have to tear down a hundred failures and spent a hundred grand on analysis to figure it "probably" out.

At the end of the day .. easier to say go for a 454 Chevy, 460 Ford, or 24V Cummins. All with a predictable service life.
__________________
Stranded in time.. Surrounded by evil.. Low on gas.
Jim Vicious is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-13-2020, 06:21 AM   #7
Bus Geek
 
EastCoastCB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 22,473
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by ladybird_bus View Post
Thank you tlzimmerman!
That's exactly what I needed to hear. It's quite a deal - $3,200 and it's a blank slate (which after my last bus and with my current workload is a HUGE plus for me) but I think if it's likely to be a dodgy engine anyway, I'll keep looking.
For that price run away. $3000+ should get you one that runs and drives and doesn't need injectors.
__________________
.
Roll Your Own Build Thread
EastCoastCB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-13-2020, 09:01 AM   #8
Almost There
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 73
Year: 2007
Coachwork: N/A
Engine: N/A
Rated Cap: 21,000lbs
Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
For that price run away. $3000+ should get you one that runs and drives and doesn't need injectors.



It might where you are, but in Oregon I'm not seeing anything for less than $6k and I'm leery of buying something across the country without being able to see it in person first.
ladybird_bus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-13-2020, 09:41 AM   #9
Bus Geek
 
EastCoastCB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 22,473
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by ladybird_bus View Post
It might where you are, but in Oregon I'm not seeing anything for less than $6k and I'm leery of buying something across the country without being able to see it in person first.
I'd pay 6 for a good one before I spent 3+ on one with issues and a less desirable engine.
I've watched a ton of bus sales/auctions. There are some real deals in Oregon sometimes. I'm in FL where buses go for MAD money even if they're shite.
__________________
.
Roll Your Own Build Thread
EastCoastCB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-13-2020, 09:47 AM   #10
Skoolie
 
tlzimmerman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: Kansas
Posts: 125
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Ford B
Engine: 5.9 Cummins 12v
Rated Cap: 60
Always be digging. They get sold a hundred ways...and the more you have to dig the less you sometimes have to pay.

My 96 35 footer with a really great engine and tranny I got for 2750 and it was in my backyard but I got really really lucky. Keep searching you will find the one.

And I agree the right bus to start is worth extra.
tlzimmerman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-13-2020, 10:30 AM   #11
Almost There
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 73
Year: 2007
Coachwork: N/A
Engine: N/A
Rated Cap: 21,000lbs
Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
I'd pay 6 for a good one before I spent 3+ on one with issues and a less desirable engine.
I've watched a ton of bus sales/auctions. There are some real deals in Oregon sometimes. I'm in FL where buses go for MAD money even if they're shite.

Well sure. The problem for me is though, how do you know? They are always older engines on these buses and there are things you can educate yourself about to check on, but what if you just happen to have bought a bus that seemed to be running great and was well maintained (as far as you can tell) but stuff is going to wear out anyway and you end up having to spend thousands more on top of that $6k the first year? Versus buying a bus for $3k that possibly has the same issue but it's already happened so you can get it fixed for $1500 and come out ahead of the game?


I don't know if I'm explaining it very well but this is the biggest concern and frustration I have constantly with making a choice. So much of it just seems like a crap shoot. I've been researching for several years and I still feel like for every permutation of engine and chassis etc you get as many people saying "don't bother, that one is nothing but trouble" as say "well maybe but I've had [x] number of them and they've always been great for me". Or vica versa.
ladybird_bus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-13-2020, 10:49 AM   #12
Skoolie
 
tlzimmerman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: Kansas
Posts: 125
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Ford B
Engine: 5.9 Cummins 12v
Rated Cap: 60
You have a real point and without mechanical knowledge of your own to lean on its tough.

When you buy used everything is somewhat a crap shoot. You can do all your homework and it can still explode on you tomorrow.

But.....an engine like a 5.9 Cummins or a DT466e are more of a known quantity. Well maintained you have a good chance of them running to 250k plus miles without anything major....probably more. They are in thousands of mid sized trucks that are doing work all over and there are many mechanics who have experience with them. You get one from a school district and know it has has regular maintenance.....that's a plus. You talk to the guys who maintain it that's a plus. If it comes with service records that's a plus.

You buy it and take it to a mechanic you trust and have them go through it first. They can do a compression test among other things.,.you can even send oil in for an analysis to get the best idea of the health of your engine first. Find something you don't like and you can always sell it and get out.

You almost have to assume there are a few things wrong that need work......and budget accordingly. Then if you get lucky great it's found money.

And there's nothing to say you can't buy a 6.5 GM and put in injectors and run it for another 500k miles with no problems.

Gotta play the odds and deal with the cards you get dealt.
tlzimmerman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-13-2020, 10:56 AM   #13
Bus Nut
 
BeNimble's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: Sacramento
Posts: 306
Year: 1999
You can mitigate your risks by not having your house married to a drivetrain.
If you have a trailer, you can tow it with whatever makes sense today, not what made sense for a persons transport 20 years ago. But call me heretic for saying so.
BeNimble is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2020, 11:04 AM   #14
Almost There
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 73
Year: 2007
Coachwork: N/A
Engine: N/A
Rated Cap: 21,000lbs
Quote:
Originally Posted by BeNimble View Post
You can mitigate your risks by not having your house married to a drivetrain.
If you have a trailer, you can tow it with whatever makes sense today, not what made sense for a persons transport 20 years ago. But call me heretic for saying so.

Interesting take for a Skoolie site! ;)


And yes, of course you can. But trailers don't move me at all. Buses have my heart and I suspect that's what it comes down to for a lot of other skoolie owners too.
ladybird_bus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2020, 11:05 AM   #15
Skoolie
 
tlzimmerman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: Kansas
Posts: 125
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Ford B
Engine: 5.9 Cummins 12v
Rated Cap: 60
Not to mention heavy duty pickups need pretty much the same maintenance a bus does.

There is a lot more miles left in my 3000 dollar bus than there is in a 3000 pickup.
tlzimmerman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2020, 11:07 AM   #16
Almost There
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 73
Year: 2007
Coachwork: N/A
Engine: N/A
Rated Cap: 21,000lbs
Okay so I'm still thinking about this particular bus.


What can you engine gurus tell me from these two photos? Do they suggest anything to you one way or the other?
ladybird_bus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2020, 11:11 AM   #17
Skoolie
 
tlzimmerman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: Kansas
Posts: 125
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Ford B
Engine: 5.9 Cummins 12v
Rated Cap: 60
Looks like to me the battery and starter are 2 years old and they swapped an engine.
tlzimmerman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2020, 11:13 AM   #18
Skoolie
 
tlzimmerman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: Kansas
Posts: 125
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Ford B
Engine: 5.9 Cummins 12v
Rated Cap: 60
Also there is in fact a 6.5 GM diesel in the bus and there is no air cleaner on it at the present. Really no way to tell anything by just a picture
tlzimmerman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2020, 11:14 AM   #19
Skoolie
 
tlzimmerman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: Kansas
Posts: 125
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Ford B
Engine: 5.9 Cummins 12v
Rated Cap: 60
You could in fact call the number on that invoice and talk to the mechanic who did the work....see if they remember and see if they can tell you anything.
tlzimmerman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-15-2020, 10:42 AM   #20
Almost There
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 73
Year: 2007
Coachwork: N/A
Engine: N/A
Rated Cap: 21,000lbs
Quote:
Originally Posted by tlzimmerman View Post
You could in fact call the number on that invoice and talk to the mechanic who did the work....see if they remember and see if they can tell you anything.

That's a great idea. Thank you!
ladybird_bus is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:59 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
×