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Old 06-02-2020, 07:47 PM   #1
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1974 GMC 4905a

We are driving up to take a look at one of these this weekend. I have read through a lot of the forum and especially the coach questions and want to know the thoughts on this one.


She was (from our understanding) a band/football/activity bus bought by the school district in NE. There is no bathroom in the back. She has been fully gutted, does run and tires, etc are in good shape. Was looked over by a mechanic last year and things were fixed/taken care of. We will be getting the maintenance records with that. The only issue that was mentioned is that the A/C doesn't work and needs to be rewired per the mechanic.



So how much is too much to pay? We know that getting a coach is going to cost more and they are much pricier to maintain, but for us we are willing to take on the possible money pit (lol) yet hope it doesn't turn in to that. I have also visited the busnuts and bcm, but we would like to get as many opinions as possible. The more the better right?



Some specs -- it's a 4 speed manual, no odometer, no fuel guage (is that normal?) but the engine was replaced in 2006 by the school district and a odometer put on it during that time (mileage 200,000 and some change). I know there are things to look at on these things, checking to see where the exhaust blows, checking for rust, etc in the bays and checking around the drivers. Any other help would be great to have before we take a look at this thing.



My husband is more of a mechanic than I am. He does all the work on our vehicles both gas and diesel. And I have heard that these things are interesting to drive. So how different are these things from a regular manual that is driven today?



Again, any help or advice would be greatly appreciated!!


Thanks,
Crystal
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Old 06-02-2020, 08:00 PM   #2
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There are a few here that would be able to tell you about those old GMC's. Cadillackid, Kubla, Cowlitzcoach, and maybe a few others. I'm sure one of them will chime in soon enough.
Sounds like a cool old bus. I don't know much about them personally.
Any pics?
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Old 06-02-2020, 08:14 PM   #3
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some pic

Here are some pics we got from the owner ...


She has been doing work on it little by little. But still pretty much an open canvas for us!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg bus1.jpg (41.3 KB, 38 views)
File Type: jpg engine.jpg (33.1 KB, 31 views)
File Type: jpg Front of Bus Air Lifted-1.jpg (231.1 KB, 19 views)
File Type: jpg inside.jpg (18.3 KB, 25 views)
File Type: jpg New Paneling-2.jpg (161.8 KB, 24 views)
File Type: jpg Front Seats Passenger Side-1.jpg (294.2 KB, 15 views)
File Type: jpg Front Seats-1.jpg (165.0 KB, 16 views)
File Type: jpg Passenger Side Lifted-1.jpg (162.9 KB, 21 views)
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Old 06-02-2020, 08:28 PM   #4
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That's a nice and straight looking Buffalo bus. It's best if that goes to a real gearhead. Someone who can drive a non-syncro'd 4-speed, and maintain a '71 series engine. I spent a lot of time with '71's and found them easy to work on. Other people seem to fear them. The air suspension system can be an issue.

You might check out the forum at Bus Conversion Magazine, those people can steer you where to go. Be forewarned, you are taking on an antique. The consensus in coach world is an automatic transmission and 4-stroke engine.
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Old 06-02-2020, 09:48 PM   #5
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A friend of mine has one like it, he just rebuilt his engine. The engines do hold up very well, and have plenty of parts support.

Look on facebook for LaCroix Cruiser. He does have a number of interesting youtube videos as well. I think the facebook page has a link to them.
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Old 06-03-2020, 03:52 AM   #6
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Be sure to check out the other thread for my and the other posters replies. Take a deep breath first before diving in. You'll certainly thank me later. All GMC's aren't worth much at all today. And you'll never be able to sell it again. Ever. Trust me.

Today in Kalifornia you can snag MCI late 1990 vintage DL's which are 45ft long with Series 60 Detroit 4-strokes and Allison automatic transmissions for less than $13K, and any one of you can drive it and enjoy it. They drive like a big car but with better visibility. You just can't do that with any GMC stick shift. They are a whole new order of magnitude of difficulty and beyond most drivers ability today. Just don't. I know about this.

I just re-read your original post on the other thread and checked his asking price. ABSOLUTELY NOT. Don't do it. It's not worth anything even if it was all stock in perfectly restored running fully seated condition. Way Too much money. He's stuck with it and trying to pawn it off on you the inexperienced but well intentioned naive new guy. You'll regret it almost instantly and then YOU'LL be stuck with it. And it's a total nightmare to learn to drive and that's if it all is in good condition. My guess is that it has problems, they all do of this age, and will need to be fixed, if you can even find the parts. You just don't need this level of pain on your first attempt at a coach.

You seem like a nice family and believe me you can find much better and easier to manage coaches, if you must have one, for about the same price or less, that will be better to own and where everyone in the family can share in the joys of driving it. This should be your goal. NOT an Antique Vintage coach that is guaranteed to make the most hardened bus collector never consider it without having at least two or three parts buses already on hand. And don't even get me started on what it would be like on the road if you needed ANY kinds of repairs done on it. With kids, dogs, cats, and nothing but blank stares from everyone you were seeking help from. Please believe me. Don't do it.

Conversions always damage and distort buses and underlying items. No way to know and you really don't want to get involved with some other guys' idea of how to do something. There are many horror stories along these lines. Just don't, and take a cold shower and look for something a lot more recent of a more conventional arrangement as suggested.

Detroit 2-strokes are getting very hard to find experienced mechanics for and when work will be needed they can be a real problem getting fixed today. Especially the left hand turning engines in all the GMC's. If you don't know about that yet, then don't be surprised at all the other nasty surprises buried in the designs which were at one time the cat's meow, but which today is a true witch's cauldron. That other poster on the other thread got it right.
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Old 06-03-2020, 06:03 AM   #7
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That is a bus for a rich man, not saying it is not a nice bus but parts are becoming un-obtianium which means having them custom made, get on bus grease monkey, several people on there own buffalos
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Old 06-03-2020, 06:19 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubla View Post
That is a bus for a rich man, not saying it is not a nice bus but parts are becoming un-obtianium which means having them custom made, get on bus grease monkey, several people on there own buffalos
Sounds like a bad idea for a first bus. The non-synchro transmission doesn't sound fun.
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Old 06-03-2020, 11:28 AM   #9
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Like mentioned before the 8-71 4 speed is more an art to drive vs what we consider normal these days. It's literally strong enough to overheat and the lack of sincro's take perfect timing with every shift. These busses require super charger maintenance among other things they generally dont get towards the end of their service life.
Topping all that off is the age of all the components reaching their limits.
Beautiful bus though best owned by a mechanic.
There's actually a 68 silver star down the road from me they can give away.
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Old 06-03-2020, 05:27 PM   #10
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the engine is the easiest thing to fix, they made about a billion of them, the spicer 4 speed is no longer made or supported and no other transmission fits easily
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Old 06-05-2020, 09:19 PM   #11
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I hear clutch parts are to find, and that setting up the clutch can be a piece of work.
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Old 06-13-2020, 06:48 PM   #12
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Hey! Have you heard of "Bus Grease Monkey" on Youtube. Scott is a traveling mechanic that only works on the old busses like this one. He could tell you what to look for as far as serious problems. At the least it would be good to have his number!
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Old 06-13-2020, 09:24 PM   #13
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It is typical form them not to have an odometer or a fuel gauge, or a tachometer for that matter. Learning how to up and down shift them without fighting the drive train takes some practice. I trained a lot of new drivers on 4905's back in the day. A good one is a delight.
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Old 06-14-2020, 12:43 AM   #14
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I have heard about him and checked out his YouTube, lots of helpful information. We decided to not get this one. She wanted too much for it and we just don't want to deal with the money pit it could turn out to be. We are going to go for a school bus instead, lots more info, a lot of choices and better access to parts/manuals, etc. Thanks!
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Old 06-14-2020, 08:39 AM   #15
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Just got my 4502 off the lot and in storage! already working on sourcing the front glass for it and pasrts are on the way to get it fired up to run.. a few dings and dents heere and there.. rust is minimal and even the seats are in good shape..



Looking forward to learning the Detroit (and how to shift that 4 speed).. psyched about having a fishbowl with a Stick shift!



the Factory A/C is all still installed and intact as well..



-Christopher
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