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Old 11-23-2020, 11:03 AM   #1
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Location: Washington DC
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Year: 2003
Coachwork: Thomas
Engine: 5.9L 24V-L6 Cummins
Rated Cap: 37'
Crown anyone?

Hello All -

Just posted a thoughtful inquiry in the Mechanics section, and while I wait for answers (and keep on with my own research), though Id check in about the ever rare Crown - does anyone know of any for sale?

I know there are plenty of great options, but the Crown seems to be, overall, a very safe investment - well built, lasts forever, solid beasts. We want a healthy bus over style (and Crowns are beautiful!), but would be great to have both. And if you have any feedback on what to look out for with Crowns (different engines or transmissions or structural problems they run into), I would love that as well. I've been reading about someone's Crown conversion on this forum, and he has had to replace his engine and had other troubles, so I am wary of assuming that just because it is a Crown, that it is perfect shape (my other post in Mechanics demonstrates I am aware of the importance of thorough research on a potential purchase

Thanks Everyone!
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Old 11-23-2020, 11:24 AM   #2
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Year: 2001
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Crowns have a pretty steep learning curve and most of the knowledge base for them are located on the other side of the country from you.



Also you may have issues finding diesel techs in your area that would want to work on an old bus with a 2 stroke or big cam Cummins laying on its side in the middle of the bus. It's a fairly oddball layout.



You'd also have to deal with the increasingly rare supply of for sale Crowns and be willing to pay more (the days of $2500 Crowns sold at auction are long gone). As well as getting one across the country since most are sold in California or the surrounding areas.
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Old 11-23-2020, 11:26 AM   #3
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Year: 2003
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Engine: 5.9L 24V-L6 Cummins
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WIbluebird View Post
Crowns have a pretty steep learning curve and most of the knowledge base for them are located on the other side of the country from you.



Also you may have issues finding diesel techs in your area that would want to work on an old bus with a 2 stroke or big cam Cummins laying on its side in the middle of the bus. It's a fairly oddball layout.



You'd also have to deal with the increasingly rare supply of for sale Crowns and be willing to pay more (the days of $2500 Crowns sold at auction are long gone). As well as getting one across the country since most are sold in California or the surrounding areas.
Thankyou! I already knew all that, but its helpful to have it reiterated to keep me realistic!!
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Old 11-23-2020, 11:31 AM   #4
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Posts: 1,085
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American
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Go out west and buy a nice pusher or flatnose with a Cat or a Cummins 8.3. You can easily find shops that will service those in any part of the country and they are much easier to live with.



I feel like Crowns while being incredibly cool are starting to be more of a bus for the hardcore collector crowd rather than the people that just want a good skoolie platform.
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Old 11-23-2020, 11:54 AM   #5
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Location: Orange County, CA
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Chassis: Crown Supercoach II (rear engine)
Engine: Detroit 6V92TAC, DDEC 2, Jake brake, Allison HT740
Rated Cap: 37,400 lbs GVWR
Quote:
Originally Posted by WIbluebird View Post
Crowns have a pretty steep learning curve and most of the knowledge base for them are located on the other side of the country from you.



Also you may have issues finding diesel techs in your area that would want to work on an old bus with a 2 stroke or big cam Cummins laying on its side in the middle of the bus. It's a fairly oddball layout.



You'd also have to deal with the increasingly rare supply of for sale Crowns and be willing to pay more (the days of $2500 Crowns sold at auction are long gone). As well as getting one across the country since most are sold in California or the surrounding areas.
Not all Crowns are mid-engine. My Super II is a rear engine heavy-duty school bus with exactly the same drivetrain as a MC9 Greyhound bus, so it drives like a "real" bus, i.e. not like most school buses. For a serious conversion it's easier to have a pusher, simply because most of the under-floor space ahead of the rear axle is available for storage and conversion needs such as tanks and batteries. Mid-engine Crowns have been successfully converted, but shoe-horning everything in place between the engine and transmission can be a challenge, to say the least, and their large trunk space behind the rear axle isn't always the most convenient for tanks (do you really want your bathroom and shower behind the bedroom?). Crown also built their high-floor rear-engine three-axle tour buses such as the Atomics, but they're built very differently than the school buses and have virtually no commonality with them; Atomics typically had 8V71s and 5-speed Spicers, but they do have huge underfloor storage bays, almost as large as GM Buffalos'.

The supply of Crowns is drying up fast. There are a few on the right coast, but the vast majority are in California, so if you're serious in getting a Crown a trip to CA may be in your future. Also, CA vehicles are generally rust-free, but this is of lesser concern than other makes of school bus because Crowns have mostly aluminum bodies. If you get a Crown (or a mid-engine Gillig), fear not about finding someone to work on a two-stroke Detroit - any good boatyard or Marina will have, or will know of, reputable two-stroke mechanics. Two-stroke Detroits aren't common any more, but they're not extinct either: they'll be around for many years to come.

The Crown Coach Junkies forum is active on Facebook, and the folk there know of most Crowns' pedigrees. However, even with CCJ, if you own a Crown you're going to have to become a Crown expert; don't expect any useful help from most auto and truck parts suppliers!

Good luck, John
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Old 11-23-2020, 12:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iceni John View Post
Not all Crowns are mid-engine. My Super II is a rear engine heavy-duty school bus with exactly the same drivetrain as a MC9 Greyhound bus, so it drives like a "real" bus, i.e. not like most school buses. For a serious conversion it's easier to have a pusher, simply because most of the under-floor space ahead of the rear axle is available for storage and conversion needs such as tanks and batteries. Mid-engine Crowns have been successfully converted, but shoe-horning everything in place between the engine and transmission can be a challenge, to say the least, and their large trunk space behind the rear axle isn't always the most convenient for tanks (do you really want your bathroom and shower behind the bedroom?). Crown also built their high-floor rear-engine three-axle tour buses such as the Atomics, but they're built very differently than the school buses and have virtually no commonality with them; Atomics typically had 8V71s and 5-speed Spicers, but they do have huge underfloor storage bays, almost as large as GM Buffalos'.

The supply of Crowns is drying up fast. There are a few on the right coast, but the vast majority are in California, so if you're serious in getting a Crown a trip to CA may be in your future. Also, CA vehicles are generally rust-free, but this is of lesser concern than other makes of school bus because Crowns have mostly aluminum bodies. If you get a Crown (or a mid-engine Gillig), fear not about finding someone to work on a two-stroke Detroit - any good boatyard or Marina will have, or will know of, reputable two-stroke mechanics. Two-stroke Detroits aren't common any more, but they're not extinct either: they'll be around for many years to come.

The Crown Coach Junkies forum is active on Facebook, and the folk there know of most Crowns' pedigrees. However, even with CCJ, if you own a Crown you're going to have to become a Crown expert; don't expect any useful help from most auto and truck parts suppliers!

Good luck, John

I did see one Crown that spent its retirement as a party bus in Chicago for a number of years. It was rotted out pretty badly underneath. It seems like parts of the body are still made out of steel. It was a 6-71 Detroit single axle with an auto but still a very sad sight to see. It was in extremely rough shape, probably one of the worse Crowns I've seen. I want to say they were asking $5K?


Also yes I realize that was kind of a broad statement since I am not including the Supercoach II's
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Old 11-23-2020, 03:50 PM   #7
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Rated Cap: 77
Depends on your budget, I saw a Crown 2 weeks ago when I picked up my bus. Nice condition on the body and it was driven to where I saw it. The 3 Crowns that I know of are all priced 16,000 up to 25k(restored collector bus). If you want a referal I'll happily give you details in a private message. I know of 1 in NorCal, 1 in San Bernadino and 1 in southern Oregon. Though I haven't talked to the owners in CA for 3 months so those may have sold or been pulled.
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Old 11-23-2020, 03:58 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maligator. View Post
Depends on your budget, I saw a Crown 2 weeks ago when I picked up my bus. Nice condition on the body and it was driven to where I saw it. The 3 Crowns that I know of are all priced 16,000 up to 25k(restored collector bus). If you want a referal I'll happily give you details in a private message. I know of 1 in NorCal, 1 in San Bernadino and 1 in southern Oregon. Though I haven't talked to the owners in CA for 3 months so those may have sold or been pulled.
Just FYI I agree with most of the previous posts, I wanted a Crown too but I live in Alaska and Parts woulda ruined my project, plenty of Marine diesel mechanics up here but getting rare parts is a fortune in AK. I opted for a low mileage DT466e (2002), there are hundreds of those just sitting waiting to be parted out within 400 miles of me(in AK that's "close by"!). The decision we settled on was to convert a "common bus" first, then save for a true unicorn. Now if money is not an object for you and you have a lot of time and patience, live that Crown dream!!!
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Old 11-25-2020, 03:05 PM   #9
Skoolie
 
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Rated Cap: 37'
Thankyou everyone! It seems, for all reasons listed, wise to resist the temptation, and purchase more wisely - given our needs, location, and budget.
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Old 11-25-2020, 03:56 PM   #10
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I'm guessing you're a Nurse, Sevier? Not trying to be nosy but your screen name is either a coincidence or a dead give away...
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Old 11-27-2020, 08:57 AM   #11
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Try reaching out to Al Jennings (you'll find his YouTube videos about Crown and Gillig buses with a quick search)...he's in San Bernadino and is a bit of a collector/trader. He'd be a good resource to help find one, if you are looking. I'm not affiliated with him in any way, except that we bought an old Gillig from him and he's a sweet old guy and a true enthusiast. He likes the older mechanical diesels, which we also appreciate for their lack of electronics.
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Old 11-27-2020, 04:42 PM   #12
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
Posts: 27
69 crown 35 ft

Crown owner ,keep looking if into purchase of Crown Bus ,they come
up mine is in process ,reengine ,220 out 855 0r 330 in ,turbo,
or might just turbo my exist 220 ,they come up for sale ,
mid engine detroit, HMMMMM ,,best of luck bus seekers
and dont be downered by naybobs of negativity.
It is a lot of time and work but worth a lot when done ,or just buy
a awfull lookin RV and still get 8 mpg.
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Old 11-28-2020, 08:59 PM   #13
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: Bly Oregon
Posts: 108
Year: 1986
Coachwork: Crown
Chassis: Supercoach
Engine: Cummins 350 big cam
Rated Cap: 86 passengers?
One of my favorite skoolie subjects, Crown buses. I am on my second Crown. I am the one who had to replace the engine. The failed engine was a big surprise to me, but in the end I considered that it was worth the expense. The alternative was to abandon the whole project after spending a bunch of dollars getting most of the items needed inside. My take is, that a Crown isn't that bad to work on. When the engine failed, the first guy I called was a mobile mechanic and he was more than willing to work on it. Having only driven a Crown, I don't really know how well other makes of skoolies work on the open highway. My first Crown was not fast or powerful on hills. The current one is much better. I think one consideration when one wants to convert a skoolie is:
Traveling vehicle that you can stay in or live in, or home that you can occasionally move. For me it is a travel vehicle that we can stay in while we travel. To that end, how well does it drive, how easy to get up through the mountains, can I drive this thing all day if needed and still enjoy the journey. I have to say that having a mid engine Crown does place some limitations on the layout of your living space. All of the above said, I still like my choice of buses. I drove the old Crown through remote areas where the next fuel was 90 miles away, and didn't worry. I think the late 70s and later Crowns are probably the better ones. I also like the Cummins over the Detroit. That said, the Detroit engine never experienced any significant problem (the worst being a split heater hose connected to the engine). I never had problems with the Allison transmission either.
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Old 11-28-2020, 10:25 PM   #14
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Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Northern California (for now)
Posts: 55
California is crushing buses as fast as they can, for political reasons. If you can still get a California school bus, go for it because they won't be on the market for much longer.
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Old 11-29-2020, 07:17 AM   #15
Skoolie
 
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Posts: 117
Year: 2003
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Engine: 5.9L 24V-L6 Cummins
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flattracker View Post
One of my favorite skoolie subjects, Crown buses. I am on my second Crown. I am the one who had to replace the engine. The failed engine was a big surprise to me, but in the end I considered that it was worth the expense. The alternative was to abandon the whole project after spending a bunch of dollars getting most of the items needed inside. My take is, that a Crown isn't that bad to work on. When the engine failed, the first guy I called was a mobile mechanic and he was more than willing to work on it. Having only driven a Crown, I don't really know how well other makes of skoolies work on the open highway. My first Crown was not fast or powerful on hills. The current one is much better. I think one consideration when one wants to convert a skoolie is:
Traveling vehicle that you can stay in or live in, or home that you can occasionally move. For me it is a travel vehicle that we can stay in while we travel. To that end, how well does it drive, how easy to get up through the mountains, can I drive this thing all day if needed and still enjoy the journey. I have to say that having a mid engine Crown does place some limitations on the layout of your living space. All of the above said, I still like my choice of buses. I drove the old Crown through remote areas where the next fuel was 90 miles away, and didn't worry. I think the late 70s and later Crowns are probably the better ones. I also like the Cummins over the Detroit. That said, the Detroit engine never experienced any significant problem (the worst being a split heater hose connected to the engine). I never had problems with the Allison transmission either.

Thanks for this! If I recall correctly, you are also the engineer who posts about your build out with admirable technical specificity - which is much appreciated, especially by a person like me who is as far from an engineer as they get!

We think, right now (and perhaps we wnot ever get another chance), a Crown just isnt in the cards. First time skoolie convert-er, without much help, and while working full time, I think its best to keep my challenges to a minimum, and finding a bus in Cali then driving it cross country to DC will be a bit too much. Not biting off more then I can chew is not my usual go-to, and its clear that it is really important to be measured when undertaking a project like this - if you want it to turn out well.
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Old 11-30-2020, 05:36 PM   #16
Mini-Skoolie
 
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nice ,me crown owner 35 ft cummins ,looking to reengine ,old 220 too slow ,
thinking of mid engine dog house ,oh yeah ,330 turbo cummns vert /motor.
me fabricator ,diesel mech. nothing like a crown. ,pushers heavy in the tail ,front ,
gotta load weight in tail.,.....mid eng equal drag racer.
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Old 11-30-2020, 06:00 PM   #17
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: Bly Oregon
Posts: 108
Year: 1986
Coachwork: Crown
Chassis: Supercoach
Engine: Cummins 350 big cam
Rated Cap: 86 passengers?
Quote:
Originally Posted by gussboy View Post
nice ,me crown owner 35 ft cummins ,looking to reengine ,old 220 too slow ,
thinking of mid engine dog house ,oh yeah ,330 turbo cummns vert /motor.
me fabricator ,diesel mech. nothing like a crown. ,pushers heavy in the tail ,front ,
gotta load weight in tail.,.....mid eng equal drag racer.
Some thoughts about your plan to re-power your Crown. The difficult parts for re-power are the bell housing adapter and the oil pan. I'm thinking that your Cummins is a small cam version. If you stick with the small cam engine there were 315 HP versions made, your oil pan and bell housing adapter might bolt up to the small cam 315 hp cummins, thus enabling you to upgrade your bus. I don't know about interchangability between the small and big cam Cummins, but I know there were improvements in cooling between the small and big cam engines. The big cam II has a better exhaust manifold that increased HP, and the turbo used on the big cam III was and improvement over the one on the big cam I and II versions. Another option is using the route that was used in Ca., that re-powered Crowns with new Engines under a state funded program.
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Old 11-30-2020, 06:29 PM   #18
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
Posts: 27
Yeah I have considered this ,my bus has a RTO 13 roadranger trans and I think it
is of the old style bell housin I am no expert on the old stuff ,but bell housin and fly wheel
comptability are critical or just ,get package ,newer ,new to me small cam 330 /350
and bell ,fly wheel , kinda ,drag if gotta go, new. kuz old owner , passed.on/ did a loto
work to get ,eng update ,but I think he only did ,a vlv job & injectors not the full
rbld ,without a turbo it is , like a old wind jammer ,gettin passed by steam cutters..
Any way lot of opts ,and frame has already had mods ,dbling section ,procees done after 1970. ,maybee ill put a big chrome stack right thru the overhead! roll coal.
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Old 11-30-2020, 09:35 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iceni John View Post
Not all Crowns are mid-engine. My Super II is a rear engine heavy-duty school bus with exactly the same drivetrain as a MC9 Greyhound bus, so it drives like a "real" bus, i.e. not like most school buses
Yes! I have seen one on eBay, very nice. Almost a carbon copy of a Blue Bird All-American.
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Old 12-02-2020, 06:29 PM   #20
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: NM USA
Posts: 145
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE 40 FEET
Engine: Cummins 8.3
The 220 and the 262 cummins are considered the small block motors 743 cu in. The others used in trucks are the 855 cu in. I think that the oil filler caps are interchangeable but not much else. Cummins made a 335 hp flat motor for rail car use and maybe a 250 hp for bus use. Cummins bailed on the crown and left it to detroit diesel. Can it be done? Maybe but it won't be easy. The easiest way will be to buy another crown with the 855 motor already in it. The 262 was a 220 with a turbo and a small amount of extra fuel. These don't have oil cooled pistons so you have to be very careful with adding fuel and the head bolt/gasket design didn't like high boost pressure. 1000 degrees is max exhaust temperature and a 220 driven wrong will do that. LA unified school district put smoke turbos on all their 220 engines and did not add any fuel. They were about 240-250 hp with the upgrade and the exhaust temperature went down. I have driven both of these engines in large trucks and the first thing you do is cover the speedometer with a calendar and just watch the pyrometer and the water gauge. You will get there just not fast. Stay safe and well my friends.
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