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Old 02-01-2017, 10:22 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 2
V8 conversion

I just purchased a 49 chevy bus. Thinking of dropping a 383 into it. (Currently has a 6)
Also toying with thoughts of diesel but it's cold here half the year. Suggestions?
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Old 02-01-2017, 12:48 PM   #2
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Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: So Cal
Posts: 3,025
Year: 1935
Coachwork: Superior
Chassis: Chevy
Engine: 317 ci/tid / Isuzu
What you plan to use the bus for will play a major role in which engine to use. If you just plan to putt around locally and not tow anything the 383 perhaps with a turbo 400 tranny should work out OK. On the other hand if you plan on highway driving and some towing, a small turbo diesel would be a better bet. Both Tango and I have Chevy buses that share(d) the same drive line as yours and we both have opted for diesel (Tango has a Cummins and I have an Isuzu). I've driven my '35 more than 10,000 miles, often with a 2700 pound toad and the extra torque from the diesel has come in handy. Furthermore, the fuel economy with the diesel will be better than with gas. My little TD averages 17 mpg on the highway where most of my driving is done. Whether you choose gas or diesel, if your bus has a two speed rear axle and you chose an automatic trans you might consider changing out the rear axle to a single ratio suited to your engine and trans. Even if you just change out the motor consider a brake upgrade. The original brakes on these oldies were poor at best. While they were probably OK at 45 mph on rural roads they will be nearly worthless at today's highway speeds. Jack

P.S. Don't forget to share some pictures of your new toy!
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Old 02-01-2017, 02:52 PM   #3
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Thanks for the advice Jack. I'll share some pics as soon as i dig it out of the six feet of snow which currently has it buried. I want to go diesel. I'm just having a hard time finding a trustworthy one I can afford. Mostly gonna use it for taking my wood crafts queen {my wife} to swap meets and craft fairs but I want to be able to cruise cross country if we so desire.
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Old 02-01-2017, 03:19 PM   #4
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 23,146
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
Hard to beat a regular old 4 bolt 350 sbc. Parts available everywhere. New crate motors are less than 2 grand.

That's why they're probably the most common engine to swap into anything. Cheap, available, and decent power.
Wear A Mask- Stop the Spread!
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Old 02-01-2017, 05:03 PM   #5
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 8,462
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
Welcome! Great to see another antique here. What size is this rig? 1.5 ton...2 long and what weight rating? That will be a big factor in picking the right motor to pull it. As noted by Jack, I wedged a little Cummins 4BT into mine that has quite a bit more pulling power (torque) than your average gas V-8 and can get twice or more the mpg. Not a small task, but don't take on a '49 Chevy Skoolie with "easy" in mind.

Best of luck and hope the snow melts soon. We all want to see this puppy.
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