Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 07-11-2016, 12:15 AM   #1
New Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 9
Greetings Skoolies. First post, first bus

Howdy folks, short time lurker here. Found the site a few months ago during my scouring of the interwebs for short school bus info. It has been super helpful.

My wife and I just had a baby. We're both pretty used to getting out on weekends and day trips when it works. I work for a mountain bike company and have been racing bikes for a long time. I have some friends who have SMB sprinters, basic van campers and everything in between. In my line of work it's really common to have a vehicle of this sort due to the amount of travel required and what not.

Anyway, I discovered the short bus program and have been absolutely consumed by the idea of it for the last few months. A sprinter even at 200k mi is way out of our budget, so the short bus caught my eye. My needs are a vehicle that can transport all of our gear for trips and travel comfortably, and provide shelter and neutral zone for the baby on simple day trips where we're trading off kid/activity.

No plans to live aboard (unless Trump), so basic amenities are only necessary. But we do want to be comfortable.

I've read through most all the relevant posts and am amazed by all the rad projects everyone here is doing. So much inspiration, thank you!

I ended up searching for a vehicle that was freshly decommissioned from school district as it would have been maintained regularly and the chances of it being a lemon were pretty low. I found a guy selling a bus who was the Oregon and Idaho school district maintenance manager. I didn't catch the initial one he was selling on craigslist, but a week later he had a perfect candidate. GMC Thomas Minotour with 215k, and just decommissioned. 4 window, 6.5L diesel, no handicap door.

I flew down to Salem Friday am to pickup. I am glad it wasn't in poor condition as I only got a one way ticket! Drove it home, and was interesting. After the first 20 or so minutes on the highway, it began a pretty regular 'hiccup' like it was misfiring except there wasn't the pull loss like it was missing. Just patchy dead spots in RPM. Super intermittent etc. At one point about 4 hours in my 6 hour drive home it did something weird and completely lost power just as the check engine light came on. I immediately pulled off the fwy, almost had to floor it which kept me going about 15mph. I parked in a church parking lot and luckily across the road was a WalMart where I went and purchased some diesel fuel water elimination treatment stuff. Put that in the tank, flipped the battery cutoff switch in the engine compartment to clear the engine light, and drove home gingerly the rest of the way home. Pretty white knuckled the whole way. It seems to have helped.

The bus was in service for special needs and was only driven about 40min a day, and had been parked for the most part of 6 months before I purchased it. $2300 btw. It passed it's annual with flying colors , about 3 months prior to me buying it so it should be pretty mechanically sound.

Sat am I started cranking. Bellingham's climate is wet, but rarely below freezing, and not too harsh. So, I opted not to do the full gut like most do as it is structurally in fantastic shape. Not ha hint of rust, plywood floor super sturdy and intact. We basically want to use this as an enclosed tent so I wanted to save myself a month or two of buildout. Anyway, pretty stoked on the outcome so far,

Rear bunk bed with garage underneath. Bed floor raised by door for headroom in garage. Slide out bed floor to make for 60" total. Garage wall is 48" deep. Living space is covered in Teak vinyl. Leather Range rover bench seat on wall behind driver, sprinter swivel base with captains chair just behind entry door pass side (for baby's carseat and living space seating across from bench, sink and countertop from captains chair to bunk, and storage next to bench seats. Going to install a modular table for use in between seats on both sides of vehicle. Overhead water storage container to gravity feed sink faucet.

Hope you like it so far! 36 hours progress. Will start adding interior component's this week.

If anyone has insight, I'm perplexed by a few things-

Battery located on frame under body, what does this power? Is it just an additional in-line running battery? With all School safety functions disabled can this be converted to auxiliary battery?

They said all the safety lights etc fuses were pulled to disable, allowing for them to be repurposed for fog lights etc. But none of the fuses seem to be missing? None of these items work, perhaps just unplugged directly at the back of the switches? Not sure if theres a standardized procedure for this.

The passenger dome lights don't work? The one in the lid directly near the driver is activated by the driver door, and works, but none of the rear ones do?

Any tips for getting some of the electrical stuff working again for camping use would be appreciated.

Let me know if the pics don't load.

Party on!

Rider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-11-2016, 05:40 AM   #2
Bus Geek
 
bansil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: MNT CITY TN
Posts: 5,158
Welcome
You first few post's are moderated, especially with links and pictures (helps control spam)

Looks like a fun little project
__________________
Our build La Tortuga
Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.
George S. Patton
bansil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-11-2016, 07:34 PM   #3
New Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 9
Hey thanks!
Rider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-11-2016, 07:45 PM   #4
Bus Nut
 
Carytowncat's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Richmond Virginia
Posts: 932
Year: 1984
Engine: 366 Big block Chevy! :) w/ Stick shift
Welcome, glad you are here.

I raced BMX in the 80s, and man if i had had this bus back then i would have been in hog heaven lol

Sounds like the ride home was an adventure for sure. The bus i bought hickuped the first hr and then settled a little. I did a full cap toror plug and wire tune up (gas big block motor) and she purrs nicely now.

Looking forward to seeing pictures. I'm guessing you are in OR?
Carytowncat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-11-2016, 10:54 PM   #5
New Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 9
Funny, I raced bmx in the 90's. Small world.

Bellingham, Wa actually. I bought it in Salem.

I'll try some photo's again -

https://flic.kr/s/aHskzLxdDe

Nope, still can't link, something about not having enough post's perhaps...

[IMG]IMG_7020 by Lars Sternberg, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]IMG_7024 by Lars Sternberg, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]IMG_7040 by Lars Sternberg, on Flickr[/IMG]
BANSIL-->if you click on the picture (in flicker), it will go big and then click on the "Sweeping arrow" on right side of picture (that is share), then you get your code (copy URL) and can put it in the post using the "picture' icon
Rider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-12-2016, 05:51 AM   #6
Bus Geek
 
bansil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: MNT CITY TN
Posts: 5,158
I raced in the early 80's also, when I lived in Hampton,VA

Gosnold hope park BMX track, we even had nationals there, I lived in Riverfront or riverside right next to the park so IT was "home" track
__________________
Our build La Tortuga
Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.
George S. Patton
bansil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-12-2016, 09:59 AM   #7
New Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 9
Ah, thank you Bansil!

BMX is a source for sure. Gotta jet to work, but wanted to get these up real quick...

IMG_7030 by Lars Sternberg, on Flickr


https://flic.kr/p/JA4naQ

https://flic.kr/p/JA4hEC

https://flic.kr/p/JTZDZH

https://flic.kr/p/J5tpLX

https://flic.kr/p/JTZKQR

https://flic.kr/p/J5tvkx

https://flic.kr/p/J5tRg5

https://flic.kr/p/JTZVN6

https://flic.kr/p/J5uuQT

https://flic.kr/p/J5uxgp


almost check your edit post and see what I did, I clicked on the swooped arrow upper right of flicker screen
Rider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-12-2016, 07:31 PM   #8
Almost There
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: Rochester, NY
Posts: 77
Year: 2005
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: Ford E-450
I just had to chime in here too, as a long time and current BMX rider myself. Though a bit more new school I guess, started riding in the 2000's. I'm building a very similar shorty, 2005 Ford E450 with a Bluebird body. http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f27/bu...450-13766.html Good looking bus so far man, looking forward to following along.
mattbus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-12-2016, 07:42 PM   #9
New Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 9
Awesome to see so many bmx'ers here! Rad.

So, you probably started well after the old 7 11 trails we're done? Nice work so far on yours. Real sweet, going way deeper than I did with the gut out. Looks like it's going to be dialed.
Rider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-12-2016, 07:51 PM   #10
Bus Crazy
 
milkmania's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: Oklahoma aka "God's blind spot"
Posts: 2,382
Year: 1989
Coachwork: 1853FC International/Navistar
Chassis: 35' Retired Air Force Ambulance
Engine: DT466, MT643
Rated Cap: 6 souls and a driver
Quote:
Originally Posted by bansil View Post
I raced in the early 80's also, when I lived in Hampton,VA
I had an awesome Pea Picker Schwinn in the 70's

__________________
I once complained I had no shoes....
Until I met a man with no feet
milkmania is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-12-2016, 08:59 PM   #11
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 13,480
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
my first bike was a red sting-ray with the high seat bar, it was a 5speed with a STICK-SHIFT... i loved that bike... rode it till it literally fell apart... i got it in like 74 or 75.. I remember I could barely reach the pedals to ride it as I was a little kid and it was a "big kid bike"
-Christopher
cadillackid is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 07-12-2016, 09:28 PM   #12
Bus Nut
 
Carytowncat's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Richmond Virginia
Posts: 932
Year: 1984
Engine: 366 Big block Chevy! :) w/ Stick shift
I came for the Busses; i stayed for the comradery.
Carytowncat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-12-2016, 09:56 PM   #13
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: in our bus
Posts: 13
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Thomas MPV
Engine: Cummins 6BTAA
Rated Cap: 84
The exterior flashers that are disabled can easily be rewired. There should be a large yellow electronic relay module. disconnect and rewire so the front work together and the back together. Add switches in cab and you have 55 watt high beams/security lights. Most people paint them over and don't know they are stronger than regular high beams. The relay should be marked _ and +, they work diagonally so just temporarily wire each one and see which one lights up.
powderskier is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-2016, 08:10 AM   #14
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 205
What year is your bus? I have a 2000 GMC with a Bluebird Body on it. You should know that the GMC part is a GMC Savana 3500 Van ... it might be easier to get parts if you give the parts guy this information.

You might want to read this regarding the 6.5 engine. I think you may find that the problem you experienced is caused by a failed PMD/FSD (Fuel Supply Driver).

Make sure to read through the entire article, especially the part about harmonic balancer failures and head gaskets.

6.5 NEWBIES - **START HERE** - Diesel Place : Chevrolet and GMC Diesel Truck Forums

BTW, its probably a good idea to register on that website ... you'll find answers to almost all of your engine questions there.

A lot of folks think that the 6.5 is a "bad" engine, I agree with the author, it IS an engine with a couple problem spots but you can avoid an engine disaster if you take a couple precautions.

When I bought mine, I was aware of the weak spots, so, as soon as I got mine home, I replaced the timing chain and gears, the harmonic balancer, Valve cover gaskets, front engine seal, water pump and thermostats and hoses. It's a lot easier replacing these parts as "maintenance items" and doing them all at once is actually a lot cheaper than doing it piece meal, and certainly better than snapping a crankshaft out on the road.

My bus: http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f27/b-...t-b-12458.html
Tedd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-2016, 08:23 AM   #15
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 205
... I forgot ...

This bus has two batteries because of the large amount of power it requires to crank, especially when cold. I live in the northern part of Georgia, it doesn’t get very cold here in the winter, but mine is VERY hard to start on one battery.

Both batteries share the same load, if you need to replace one, try to replace them in pairs.

This being said, I keep looking at the one under the bus wondering if I should replace it with a deep cycle battery wired into the coach electrics, with a switch that would allow me to use it during starting. But I'm still looking into that.
Tedd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-2016, 10:33 AM   #16
New Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 9
Thanks TEDD. Great info there, it'll take me a little while to dig in.

After a quick skim the PMD does sound a little bit like what I was experiencing for sure, so it along with the HB will be one of the first things I check out. I believe the PMD might be the culprit as it seems to be fine on the highway until fully warm after 30-60 min. Dang, I was hoping it was just water in the diesel...

Oh well. Will give it a check out. Thank you very much for the info.

Mine is a 2002. Oddly enough, the guy I bought it from is the Oregon and Idaho school district maintenance manager, and told me these engines are bullet proof aside from the high pressure oil pump.

He also told me it had the 7300 something or other Overdrive Tranny with the OD indicator circle around the D in the indicator panel, which it does not. Should I assume the guy was not nearly as knowledgable about these as he claimed, and that this is in fact not an OD tranny? I need to get this figured out, as it will determine max cruising speed for sure, and it's a little hard to read the RPM inside the bus when on the highway to tell if it's overspun or not. Any way I can determine this without taking it somewhere?

Thanks in advance!
Rider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-2016, 10:35 AM   #17
New Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 9
Oh, and your post was one of the first ones that inspired me for mine and I will be referencing your posts for future exterior tips and more!
Rider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-2016, 12:08 PM   #18
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 205
I'm fairly certain ALL of the big Chevy and GMC Vans (3500) used the 4 speed 4L80e or the 4L85e. The 4th gear IS an over drive ratio on these transmissions. I did a quick check here to back me up: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GM_4L80-E_transmission

The transmission won't dictate cruising speed or fuel mileage. You need to know the differential (rear end, final drive, rear axle) ratios to determine that.

I think this website explains how to get the code to determine the gear ratio. There are other ways to determine this ration but this is the easiest.:
GM RPO Codes - Axle & Ratio Identification - Sierra Gear & Axle


BUT ... I pulled most of the dash out of mine to repair a vacuum leak for a heater door ... and there is NO glove box sticker anywhere over there. I also checked the driver door ... nothing there either.

Your best be is to try to determine the ration using the VIN number. A google search should help you decipher all of this.
Tedd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-2016, 02:02 PM   #19
New Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 9
This is what I've found by vin -

Trans Order Code MT1
Trans Type 4 4.0 min 4.0 max
Trans Description Cont. HD Automatic w/OD
First Gear Ratio (:1) 2.48 2.48 min 2.48 max
Second Gear Ratio (:1) 1.48 1.48 min 1.48 max
Third Gear Ratio (:1) 1.00 1.0 min 1.0 max
Fourth Gear Ratio (:1) 0.75 0.75 min 0.75 max

So, in this case I'd be concerned with the 4th gear ratio?

edit: Axle Ratio (:1) - Rear 4.10, 4.56, 3.73 3.73 min 4.56 max
Rider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-2016, 05:12 PM   #20
Bus Geek
 
Tango's Avatar
 
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
One way to determine your rear axle ratio is quite simple...

1. Block front wheels and put in neutral
2. Jack up driver side rear wheel(s)
3. Put corresponding marks on the tire & ground
4. Put a mark on the driveshaft where it can be seen
5. Rotate the wheel one full revolution (mark to mark)
6. Count the number of turns the driveshaft makes

The result will be your ratio (X:1)

Compare to what is available

That is how I confirmed what my '46 had. The tag or book may or may not be correct if the gears were changed somewhere along the way.
Tango 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 03:33 PM.


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