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Old 09-22-2020, 09:43 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
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Year: 2011
Engine: Vortex 6
Talking 2011 Girardin G5 HC Bus Build

Hello Everyone!


I have been a member here for some time...reading, following bus builds, making mental notes, evaluating my needs versus wants, and waiting the right bus to become available. Now, it is my turn to start my build.


I drive a school bus, and have been patiently waiting for one of two styles of buses to be retired and offered for sale. The opportunity came in late August- I purchased a 2011 Girardin G5 handicap (gas) bus- a bus I am familiar with, know the history of and have previously driven.



I have started the demo process, but since I only have a few hours a day to work on it and because I live on an island there is no Home Depot, or Walmart, so I am limited to local supplies/tools unless I head off island.


Fortunately, I have been a van-dweller for the past couple of years, and have all my systems in place, so it will simply be a matter of transferring those systems into the bus.



Like many folks, in order to have the title changed to a motor home, I am registering the bus in Vermont (currently awaiting plates); the seats have been removed- which was pretty easy as they were attached to the Qstraint railing system.



Currently, I am working to remove all the adhesive from stickers/reflective tape, etc. in preparation for painting the exterior.


I have not finalized a floor plan yet, but have a general idea of what I would like.


Thanks for reading/listening. I am looking forward to sharing my build and most certainly, will be searching for advice and guidance from this wonderful community.


Thanks again,


Clyn
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Old 09-22-2020, 10:57 AM   #2
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Nice-looking shortie. Please tell me it's a gasser, though. Most post-07 diesels are a nightmare from an emissions standpoint, and certain, if not most/all Duramax engines are known for fuel system problems.
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Old 09-22-2020, 11:03 AM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Engine: Vortex 6
Hi Cheese Wagon,


Yes, she has a gas motor- a Vortex 6 (if I remember correctly); 80,181 miles and I forget how many hours on the motor. She runs really sweet. I have yet to name her...
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Old 09-22-2020, 11:10 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vineyardseashell View Post
Hi Cheese Wagon,


Yes, she has a gas motor- a Vortex 6 (if I remember correctly); 80,181 miles and I forget how many hours on the motor. She runs really sweet. I have yet to name her...
Yup... 6.0 Vortec GM, 5.4 modular Ford V8 and 6.8L modular Ford V-10 are probably the best options from about 2002-up for shorties like that. Navistar screwed the pooch with the 03-04+ VT365 / 6.0hno... And the DuraMax, while not a terrible engine, has not been without its issues. Simply put, the newer the bus, the less enthusiastic I am about diesel power, and more likely to lean toward a gasser. Only worries I would have would be the trans, as GM has not been known for rock-solid transmissions in recent years, but the rear-drive applications seem to hold up better. Is yours a 6-speed or 8-speed?
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Old 09-22-2020, 11:17 AM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
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LOL... I honestly don't know if she is a 6 or 8-speed- I have not delved that deep into her yet. We are still trying to find the owner's manuals and new bus packet in the various offices of the school district and local bus garage that serviced it.


I will say that Girardin in Quebec was wonderful and promptly provided me with the wiring diagrams for the bus, so I can have the various bus systems disabled, removed or re-wired for another purpose.


Clyn
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Old 09-22-2020, 03:35 PM   #6
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Based on what I can find without a VIN, production years rule out the 8L90, as it was new for 2014. A 2011 model could be a 4L80E / 4L85E, 6L85E / 6L90E.

Shot in the dark, your instrument cluster may help put a finger on it.

P R N D 3 2 1 would be a 4-speed, ergo the 4L80E / 4L85E.
P R N D M 1 or
P R N D M 2 1 could still be a 4L80E / 4L85E, but is likely the 6L85E / 6L90E.

Putting the shifter in 'M' should give you the option to tap up or down. Tapping all the way UP to the top gear will tell you if it's a 4-speed, 6-speed, or 8-speed, though I doubt it's an 8-speed at this point based on year model.

You can also try this -- all GM vehicles have a "SERVICE PARTS IDENTIFICATION" sticker somewhere, aka an RPO (Regular Production Order) sticker. This is the 'build sheet', as it were. Different models put them in different places. The Express van cab that this bus has would normally have this on the passenger door jamb, but being as it is a bus, you can certainly look, but it might be elsewhere, as it doesn't have a typical door / door jamb on that side. Other places to look might be the driver's door jamb, inside the glove box, a few other places.

MT1 (MTI?) = 4L80E
MN8 = 4L85E
MYC = 6L80
MYD = 6L90

If all else fails, a dealer MAY (and I say MAY) be able to tell you with the VIN. A lot of these were Workhorse chassis and as such, may not be a standard GM VIN. For those, you should call an RV / commercial truck center.
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Old 09-22-2020, 04:38 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Hi Cheese Wagon,


You wrote some very interesting information....I had no idea...very informative...thank you.



I don't recall if the bus has the "manual" feature or not- I don't believe it does, but I will look in the morning after my bus run. I have not done much adhesive removal in the past coup!e of days due to the cold and wind, but will be back at it tomorrow since the wind is supposed to die down and the sun should be out.



Thanks again for the info, and have a great evening!


Clyn
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Old 09-23-2020, 06:05 AM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Good morning Cheese Wagon,



Before my bus run I quickly did a check on my bus. Using the manual shift up, the dashboard showed that she is a 6-speed.
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Old 09-23-2020, 09:40 AM   #9
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Good deal, I think the 6-speed is the better one to have... The 6-speeds in cars don't seem to do as well as the 4-speeds they used to use, and I've heard the same of the 8 and 10 speeds in the trucks vs the 6 speeds.
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Old 09-23-2020, 10:40 AM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Hi Cheese Wagon,


Having the better of the engines is good to know, as mechanics are above me.


I am making progress this morning with removing the adhesive....finished the roof and the front upper panel. Interesting how both the front and rear upper panels were not painted before the "school bus" stickers went on.


Last night on YT I found a good video showing how the Girardin buses are put together. I would share the link, but will have to search for the video again.


Headed back to the adhesive removal before my next bus run.


Thanks, and have a great day!


Clyn
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Old 09-23-2020, 10:47 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHEESE_WAGON View Post
Good deal, I think the 6-speed is the better one to have... The 6-speeds in cars don't seem to do as well as the 4-speeds they used to use, and I've heard the same of the 8 and 10 speeds in the trucks vs the 6 speeds.



both of the trucks I have had with 8 speeds have been FANTASTIC to drive.. my Ram Hemi and now my gladiator.. I love the 8 speed..


I had a 2017 Malibu with the 9 speed and it was fantastic..



I have no idea on longevity of those transmissions as i lease the cars / pickups so i never have em long enough to break
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Old 09-23-2020, 11:03 AM   #12
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I had a 2017 Malibu with the 9 speed and it was fantastic..

I have no idea on longevity of those transmissions as i lease the cars / pickups so i never have em long enough to break
Bingo. I bought a 2016 Malibu with the 6 speed and it started humming loudly and refusing to shift 5-6 accelerating from 45-55. Engine also showed signs of blowby as early as 70k. GM refused to acknowledge any problem, even with a third party warranty, so I traded it for a Toyota and don't plan to buy another post-05 GM vehicle. OP, sorry to hijack the thread.
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Old 09-23-2020, 01:25 PM   #13
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Lol...it is all good
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Old 09-25-2020, 05:04 PM   #14
Mini-Skoolie
 
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A quick update

Hi Everyone,


This is just a quick update- and a way for me to keep myself in check and motivated.


Since my bus has a double floor, last night a friend came over and grinded some bolts out that had nuts under the top floor that I was unable to reach. Having those bolts gone allowed me to remove the two front safety barriers. The bus looks totally different now.


Today, I removed the aluminum side wall and the industrial rubber below the chair rail. All went pretty well considering I am working with a fractured wrist and have limited movement.


The insulation behind the walls looks fresh and brand new with no signs of water or any other type of damage.


My bus has single glass windows, save one. The odd duck out is a newer window with double glass panes. Unfortunately, the newer window has condensation between the glss panes. I plan to remove the window and replace it with another single pane window from another Girardin bus. Since I plan to replace that window, I have been contemplating removing all the windows to reseal them just due to age; but I have to say the windows and the caulking look pretty solid. Combined with the condition of the insulation in the walls, I am now wondering if I should not even bother to remove the windows...


And, since the insulation looks so good in the walls, I am wondering if it would be alright to just leave it there and add polystyrene (? spelling) rigid insulation over it ...?


Tomorrow ut is onto drilling out the rivets holding in the wire chase.


Thanks for reading/listening. Have a great weekend!


Clyn
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Old 09-25-2020, 06:16 PM   #15
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Depends on what you plan to use this thing for. If it's just a weekend warrior camping rig, sure, leave the insulation and seal the windows good (always a good idea with a skoolie). Just make sure there is no mold or other signs of having gotten wet.

However, if this is more for a full-time home or retirement travel, I would say pull the insulation and put something else in with a higher R-value.

That being said, the condensation in the double window concerns me. No telling what it might have allowed into the walls beneath it. I would look extra hard at the insulation in that area.
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Old 09-25-2020, 07:09 PM   #16
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Hi Cheese Wagon,


Thanks for the prompt response.


The dual pane window in question is not original to my bus. If I remember correctly that window was switched out from another bus being used. In fact, I planned to do the same thing...snag a good window from another bus in the bus graveyard. But I will take a closer look.at the insulation.



Yes, my bus will be intended for full time use. I love my little van and have been very happy living in it. I always knew I would move onto something bigger, be it a short bus or an ambulance.


I am most fortunate because I drive for the school district, I have known this bus since it was new; have known every person who drove it and how they drive, etc. Of the two buses I have had my eye on for years, this one finally came up for sale, and she is now mine.


Thanks again, and hqve a great weekend!


Clyn
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Old 09-25-2020, 07:33 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHEESE_WAGON View Post
Bingo. I bought a 2016 Malibu with the 6 speed and it started humming loudly and refusing to shift 5-6 accelerating from 45-55. Engine also showed signs of blowby as early as 70k. GM refused to acknowledge any problem, even with a third party warranty, so I traded it for a Toyota and don't plan to buy another post-05 GM vehicle. OP, sorry to hijack the thread.



precisely why i lease em.. im definitely NOT a toyota guy with infotainment thats outdated the day you buiy it and gadget-less dashboards that are hard pressed to even have dual zone temperature ( a MUST for me).. so i lease GM and dodge / jeep brands and get them pretty cheaop doing so.. a new one every 2 years means I have the latest greatest tech and dont have to $$ when it breaks
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Old 09-25-2020, 07:36 PM   #18
Bus Geek
 
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if the OP is going to full time.. id seriously ditch the school bus windows altogether and go with doiuble pane RV windows.. unless chasing nice weather is on the dockett.. north in summer, south in winter.. then having the nice large open feeling of school bus windows is nice..



my DEV bus is just that a place I travel and spend my days in working and driving so I kept all my windows as i rarely even sleep in the bus.. the bright natural light is great..
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Old 09-25-2020, 07:49 PM   #19
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Hi Cadillackid,


I would like to travel, but it is not in the cards right now...maybe in a year or two.


Although I live in the Northeast, winters here are fairly moderate and I am not too concerned with keeping the bus windows. I really enjoy the light they let in and the openness they provide.



Thanks, and have a great weekend!


Clyn
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Old 09-25-2020, 07:56 PM   #20
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precisely why i lease em.. im definitely NOT a toyota guy with infotainment thats outdated the day you buiy it and gadget-less dashboards that are hard pressed to even have dual zone temperature ( a MUST for me).. so i lease GM and dodge / jeep brands and get them pretty cheaop doing so.. a new one every 2 years means I have the latest greatest tech and dont have to $$ when it breaks
There are quite a few aftermarket options, though most are Chinese, and in light of the current pandemic being possibly intentional, I'm not keen on buying Chinese goods at the moment. However, there are many other options. There's a nice one on Amazon that gives a 10-inch screen, and some others give as large as 13". Just my opinion, leasing is a rip-off, I drive too much for it to be worth it for me. But I certainly wouldn't write off a good car just because of a crappy stereo that can be upgraded for less than $300.
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