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Old 08-11-2023, 04:34 PM   #1
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Advice 2006 Gillig Low floor 29'

Hey, so for a while I was looking at school buses but finding a good one is becoming more difficult and I would want to do a roof raise which is a lot of work. I am now looking more at settling on a transit bus which I should be able to get for $1500-$3000.

Questions:
My goal is to make it a full time home for a year and tow a car.
  • I'm assuming it is possible to install a hitch so I can tow a vehicle?
  • I asked in another thread about the clearance these have. With a shorter wheelbase on the 29' bus and with a plan not to go anywhere not very developed I'm guessing I'll be okay with this, but any other things to consider with this clearance?
  • My understanding is the 8.9 ISL got emissions after 2006 so this one would be pre-emissions, and the ZF transmission is common enough(as contrasted with the voith). Do you see any big issues with this and being able to highway at 65-70?
  • What are going to be my biggest hurdles with the conversion? I've seen people mention the wiring can be a problem?
  • Any other thoughts in general?

I used a vin decoder on one and got the following information:

Manufacturer Gillig Bus - USA
Model Year 2006
Model Low Floor
Engine Manufacturer Cummins
Engine Series ISL
Engine Capacity L6, 8.9L (540 CID)
Fuel Type Diesel
Vehicle Type Bus
Chassis 27/28/28.5 Foot
Brake System Air
Country United States
Assy. Plant Hayward, CA

Thanks in advance!

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Old 08-13-2023, 01:59 PM   #2
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I used to drive Gillig city buses in college, never converted one though. Most were 40 footers but there were some shorter ones in the fleet.

A couple thoughts --

Most Gilligs had Voith transmissions which (from what I've heard) can be difficult to get parts and knowledgable mechanics to work on unlike the more popular Allison transmissions. Depends on where the bus came from, but a lot of city buses are geared low and will top out at 55-60 or so without changing rear end.

Rear engine buses are difficult to get tow hitches on as often the frame ends at the engine bay and a subframe is used for the motor mounts which is not a good attachment point for a tow hitch. It often requires some unique fabrication which in turn can make engine work difficult. Not impossible, just something to watch out for. It's the main reason I went with a conventional bus for my conversion instead of an RE which I actually prefer to drive.

If I recall right, our Gilligs were 10'0" for clearance. There was one bridge on Iowa Ave in Iowa City we could fit under, just barely. My International school buses are mostly 10'6" clearance, we can't fit under that bridge ha ha. As far as ground clearance, our buses had a kneel function which lowered the air out of the suspension on the front end to make loading wheelchair passengers easier. I don't recall the ground clearance at full air though. Definitely not very high - I don't think my beer gut could fit under one on a creeper anymore

Gilligs do have a ton of wiring which shouldn't hurt anything as long as you don't have a strong desire to gut the bus of all its original wiring like a lot of people do with school buses.

Biggest hurdle from what I've seen online is tank placement and drain lines with the low ground clearance. Also if I recall right (I could be way off base on this one) a lot of the body panels are fiberglass instead of steel, so body modifications can be a challenge.
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Old 08-14-2023, 06:57 AM   #3
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I like the glilig low floor.. the electronics by 2006 are complex.. they have a nice onboard heating and air system for the road.. many city busses will be pretty ragged out depoending on how they were used and where they were used.. they spend a ton of time idling so be concious by buying them sight unseen as you may find half a million miles and 30k-40k hours on them..



ripping and tearing is not your friend in a gillig unless you really understand how the often-complicated PLC/multiplex system works for all of its controls.. if you plan to keep the stock interior and add a conversion you are probably OK..


most of them will run highway speeds but do verify the gearing and final drive as there are models used in hilly cities like san francisco which had really low gears to make the hills and wont have a highway top speed.. some of the ones used as airport shuttles are also similarly low geared..
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Old 08-17-2023, 09:20 AM   #4
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Thanks all for the replies! I think I am going to keep on the search for the right school bus for now and consider a partial or full roof raise.
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