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Old 01-17-2019, 03:30 PM   #21
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Thanks for the interior dimensions information!

Next question: Do the coach buses of any kind of battery systems that are used to power lighting, electrical systems etc. (Talking about before the conversion) I'm just wondering what the alternator or charging systems are capable of charging etc.

Also, I am currently looking at two buses: 1) 1996 SETRA MOTOR COACH BUS. and 2) 1988 MCI 102 A3. Which is better? they both seem in equal shape.
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Old 01-17-2019, 03:54 PM   #22
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That's what we're here for! A community of people are much greater that the "sum of the parts." The different areas of experience and training each of us bring can elicit ideas that individually we might never think of. I've been very blessed to have others here to learn from as well as to "bounce ideas off of". I'm simply trying to return the favor. Lord knows I know very little....
took your suggestion and found Gov/Canada surplus sales - found a great bus, low mileage, ex-prison bus with a good motor/5 speed manual transmission combo - too bad it's so far away - 92,000 km = 55,000 (approx ) miles )

https://www.gcsurplus.ca/mn-eng.cfm?...1&sf=ferm-clos
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Old 01-17-2019, 04:18 PM   #23
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Thanks for the interior dimensions information!
NP!


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Originally Posted by blessed-adventurers View Post
Next question: Do the coach buses of any kind of battery systems that are used to power lighting, electrical systems etc. (Talking about before the conversion) I'm just wondering what the alternator or charging systems are capable of charging etc.
The electrical system is very beefy. I'm not sure how many amps my alternator puts out, but my bus' electrical system is a dual 24V/12V based on a Vanner Battery Equalizer. My equalizer is an 80-amp unit, so I'm sure my alternator does at least 100 amps, probably 300-400, maybe more. My bus has two commercial "8D" batteries, specifically these:

https://www.interstatebatteries.com/products/8d-mhd

as I just replaced them. They are massive and require two people to hoist into the battery cradle. I also had to buy adapters as the old batteries were screw-terminal and the new batteries were top-posts. I'll probably replace the ends, but not right now in the middle of winter in Indiana.

Eventually I'll install a "battery combiner" that will allow for charging the "house" batteries from the alternator. Otherwise I won't allow the two battery systems to mix (I don't want to drain my starter batteries from the "house" side).


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Originally Posted by blessed-adventurers View Post
Also, I am currently looking at two buses: 1) 1996 SETRA MOTOR COACH BUS. and 2) 1988 MCI 102 A3. Which is better? they both seem in equal shape.
Others here can "wax eloquent" on specific buses as I don't know enough specifics.
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Old 01-17-2019, 04:28 PM   #24
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took your suggestion and found Gov/Canada surplus sales - found a great bus, low mileage, ex-prison bus with a good motor/5 speed manual transmission combo - too bad it's so far away - 92,000 km = 55,000 (approx ) miles )

https://www.gcsurplus.ca/mn-eng.cfm?...1&sf=ferm-clos
I have three concerns about that bus:
  1. A Mercedez-Benz engine (photo #43). You'll have a little harder time finding parts here in N. America, and they'll be a bit more expensive as they'll be imported.
  2. A Canadian bus will have seen salted roads, so rust will be a pain. I know, my bus has quite a bit, and it was a City of Houston bus (the windows leaked and rusted some of the structural steel).
  3. Assuming you don't live in Canada, you'll have to import it into the States.
There was a thread running around earlier this week about someone who imported from the States into Canada. Maybe you just have to do it in reverse?
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Old 01-17-2019, 04:32 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Sleddgracer View Post
took your suggestion and found Gov/Canada surplus sales - found a great bus, low mileage, ex-prison bus with a good motor/5 speed manual transmission combo - too bad it's so far away - 92,000 km = 55,000 (approx ) miles )

https://www.gcsurplus.ca/mn-eng.cfm?...1&sf=ferm-clos



That thing will be HD, lot of bus there. Bet it purrs. I was imagining looking at the aisle and innerwalls, how many got their face watched on the expanded metal.
Corrections version of a facial treatment.
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Old 01-17-2019, 04:55 PM   #26
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I live in Canada -if I can find something suitable here, it makes it easier to get it home - ideally I'll find one right here in BC that has already been designated as a motorhome, then nothing more is involved than signing the transfer and buying the license and insurance - no further inspections would be necessary even if I changed it all around for my own purposes - I have my eye on one like that now, although the price seems a bit high - in reality, I'm still looking, learning, and exploring ideas, with no decisions made yet
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Old 01-17-2019, 05:03 PM   #27
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I live in Canada -if I can find something suitable here, it makes it easier to get it home - ideally I'll find one right here in BC that has already been designated as a motorhome, then nothing more is involved than signing the transfer and buying the license and insurance - no further inspections would be necessary even if I changed it all around for my own purposes - I have my eye on one like that now, although the price seems a bit high - in reality, I'm still looking, learning, and exploring ideas, with no decisions made yet

Oh, cool, scratch out concern 3!

As for how buses are titled in Canada, count me out - I don't know a thing. However, if there's a will, there's gotta be a way. Too bad you can't use the Vermont titling process....

If you're ok with the way its set up, I'd say to seriously consider that bus. There's no motivater to getting a conversion underway like having a bus sitting in your driveway....
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Old 01-17-2019, 05:44 PM   #28
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Oh, cool, scratch out concern 3!

As for how buses are titled in Canada, count me out - I don't know a thing. However, if there's a will, there's gotta be a way. Too bad you can't use the Vermont titling process....

If you're ok with the way its set up, I'd say to seriously consider that bus. There's no motivater to getting a conversion underway like having a bus sitting in your driveway....
( thinking as I type ) this one in BC has a good sized roof rack and new snow tires - high mileage and a questionably high price - the new snow tires might be worth $1500+ and the roof rack, ( if it's well built ) another $1000 - preregistered in BC as a motorhome, $500 as a guess??, would bring the cost more in line with other buses I've been looking at - it has a cat 646 turbo with an Allison 4 speed auto transmission ( trans not what I wanted )
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Old 01-23-2019, 03:39 PM   #29
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Just FYI - quite a few of those buses were/are powered by 2-stroke diesels. Even though those engines are really "bullet-proof", the mechanics that "cut their teeth" working on them are a "dying breed". If you are going to work on your own engine, then that's OK. If you aren't (or you need help), finding mechanics who know about them is going to become increasingly harder as time goes on. This fact alone is what pushed my wife and I to opt for a newer coach with a 4-stroke diesel.


I'm not saying not to buy one of those. I am saying to weigh this factor in with the rest when making a decision.
As a Mechanic who 'cut his teeth' on DDA Motors and Cats and Cummins. I can safely say that if you can, find yourself an 'Old School' mechanic who knows these engines. Most of the new 'Coaches' use the Detroit 60 Series motors. these motors are really good, when they run without failure. The first time one of these 4 stroke motors fails, you'll wish you had an old two stroke. These motors cost a great deal more to repair than any 2stroke. You have to cut the back of the camshaft bore to get the old camshaft out of the block. DDA sells a kit to do just exactly this action and it COSTS! You will need to find an expert for either motor but the old 2strokes tend to be cheaper to rebuild. If you can find an early MCI with dual rear axles that have an engine that sits square with the frame, this is your best bet. they tend to be easiest to work on. Oh, and you can look forward to wiring in a 12 volt charging system. MSIs run 24 volts from a HUGE 24 volt, oil cooled, generator. If you run a 12 volts solar system, you will build it independent of the bus electrical system. ONLY THE HEAD LIGHTS ARE 12 VOLT! So you'll need a collection of light bulbs for your burnouts. You can't find them in the average auto parts store!
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Old 01-24-2019, 01:21 AM   #30
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Eagle and Flxible coaches all road on torsalastic suspensions. When they are set up and adjusted properly they are some of the easiest driving buses on the road. When they get worn out and out of adjustment they are some of the hardest buses to drive in a straight line.



All other motorcoaches ride on some sort of air suspension. It creates a nice smooth ride. But when taken off pavement the air suspensions are not so nice. If the road gets really rough the suspension will tend to get to rocking as the air tries to keep things leveled out. It ends up that you have to go really SLOW if you don't want the bus rocking back and forth too much. Because the air suspensions on school buses are designed differently you won't have the same issues. It is especially not an issue if the only air suspension is in the rear.


Coaches have more space inside because they are much taller than a school bus. They also have a lot more storage under the floor because they have body work that goes much closer to the ground than any school bus. The extra height on top and the lower ground clearance can make off pavement driving a real challenge. Getting stuck with the tag holding the drive axle off the ground is a real problem--BTDT and needed a tow to move the bus two feet because I couldn't release the air in the tag axle air bags to drop the back of the bus down far enough for the drive axle could get a purchase on the ground to move the bus.


All newer motorcoaches have a 12-vdc and a 24-vdc electrical system--the 12-vdc system runs the engine/transmission systems and the 24-vdc runs the coach systems. All of the lights are 24-volt but the starter is 12-volt.


All older motorcoaches have a 24-vdc electrical system where everything is 24-volt.



A Setra is one of the best driving coaches on the road. It would be towards the bottom of my list for a candidate to convert mostly because the aisle on the S-215/S-217 is stepped down from the seating platform. The 215 is a 40' coach and the 217 is a 45' coach. Both are only 96" wide.


The MCI 102A-3 is a 40' coach that is 102" wide with three axles. MCI made a few 102A-2 40' coaches with two axles. Most of the A's, B's, and C's left the factory with DD 2-cycle engines. I drove one that had an 8V-71/5-speed. On the flat is was okay. On the hills I was always a gear lower than the 6V-92's and sometimes 2 gears lower than the 8V-92's. MCI also made some of the A's that were 96" wide and are 96A-3 models.



If you have an MCI with a 2-cycle DD be prepared to overheat. It is particularly bad if you have an automatic. Even the Setra with an 8V-92 will overheat if the hill is steep enough and if it is hot enough outside.


Several people have already commented about how you plan to use the bus will determine what might be the best candidate for you to convert. If you plan to go more than 24K miles per year you will appreciate the high speed, the quiet engine noise, and the smooth ride of a motorcoach. If you plan to go less than 24K miles per year you will appreciate the lower cost of everything when it comes time to do maintenance and repair on the bus. 11x22.5 tires cost about half what a 315x22.5 tire costs. Three axles worth of brakes costs 50% more than two axles. Three sets of suspension parts costs 50% more than two sets. The heavy duty engine and transmission will cost about 2x to do anything to it than a medium duty engine and transmission.



One other thought that needs to be considered. There is not a street or road in the country that a school bus doesn't travel on at least once every morning and afternoon of every school day. There are a lot of streets and roads where the extra weight, extra height, lower ground clearance, or extra length will make taking a coach a really bad idea or is strictly restricted.


The actual cost of conversion is going to be similar because the cost of the stuff is the same--stove, fridge, plumbing, fixtures, cabinets, furniture, etc.



At the end of the day, only you can determine what will work the best for you.


Good Luck and Happy Trails to you!
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Old 01-24-2019, 11:35 AM   #31
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1.Parts are hard to get.
2. Generators are not available anymore.
3. Brake chamber for drive axle per side around $1000 per side ( 4R-5-1CG
CHAMBER-BRAKE,DD3,LH) (this is for MCI9 BUS)
4. I spend almost 25k to rebuild 8v92 engine.

I love driving them hate having to work on them.
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Old 01-24-2019, 01:17 PM   #32
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Um, yea, probably not a good idea for any number of reasons.



was it the buffalos that had the on-demand tag axles that you could raise and lower?



-Christopher
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Old 01-24-2019, 03:54 PM   #33
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Not a clue. Someone else will have to chime in....
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Old 01-24-2019, 05:38 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by getting out of dogde View Post
1.Parts are hard to get.
2. Generators are not available anymore.
3. Brake chamber for drive axle per side around $1000 per side ( 4R-5-1CG
CHAMBER-BRAKE,DD3,LH) (this is for MCI9 BUS)
4. I spend almost 25k to rebuild 8v92 engine.

I love driving them hate having to work on them.
A DT can cost that much.
I was looking at nine grand to fix my leaky timing cover... and that was IF I could find someone who actually COULD do it. The dealer didn't even know what engine I had.
School buses cost like HELL to fix. So do coaches. The coach is, IMO, sorta worth it more though.
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Old 01-24-2019, 05:51 PM   #35
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my conversion will be used almost exclusively for winter travel - some of the roads I go on are steep and unplowed, to say nothing about many of them being rough - a tag axle would be a definite handicap - perhaps being able to hydraulically lift the tag when necessary might be an option
You may well be better with a skoolie, as they have better ground clearance. Mine has a locking rear for better traction. Might be something you can add. Detroit gear sells them, aka "Detroit locker"

Of course the ultimate would be to convert to 4 wheel drive
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Old 01-24-2019, 07:35 PM   #36
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was it the buffalos that had the on-demand tag axles that you could raise and lower?



-Christopher
The GMC coach you're referring to that had a retracting/lift-able tag axle using a switch by the driver was the early production 4903 which was the first 40ft. generally available outside of the Greyhound exclusive 4501 Scenicruisers. The 4903 was the same body style as the 4107 "buffulo" (I hate that term). The nationwide rules at the time for individual max axle weights required the addition of the cheesy little tag axle to these coaches. They were retractable and were fun to have when going over toll bridges basing tolls on axles on the ground. I did this with a 4903 on the Golden Gate bridge and others. I'd raise the tag and tell him it only had two axles, not the three he thought he saw when I pulled up. I try to find my fun where I can. GMC always intended the tag to be a temporary fix until the laws were changed. This explained the cheesy afterthought like engineering and how it was just bolted on inside a blank and unenclosed rear luggage bay, even had the outside liftup door. When things changed they offered a modification / conversion kit where the operators could remove the tags and enclose, adding the floor, and recover the luggage bay space. In a couple of years GMC came out with an updated and slightly improved, nice dash with side switches, interior lighting reworked, and a fully enclosed rear luggage bay without the tag axle anywhere to be found. It was a 40ft two axle sweetheart with monstrous luggage capacity. The 35ft version at the time was the new 4108. These were the last iterations, even though they did change the model numbering system for some odd reason, of the famous line of classic GMC highway coaches. They stopped production eventually without making any significant changes to the engineering or body styles of the Coaches. These were the last of a magnificent line of exquisite coaches. Never the likes of which to be seen again.
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Old 01-24-2019, 07:53 PM   #37
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The GMC coach you're referring to that had a retracting/lift-able tag axle using a switch by the driver was the early production 4903 which was the first 40ft. generally available outside of the Greyhound exclusive 4501 Scenicruisers. The 4903 was the same body style as the 4107 "buffulo" (I hate that term). The nationwide rules at the time for individual max axle weights required the addition of the cheesy little tag axle to these coaches. They were retractable and were fun to have when going over toll bridges basing tolls on axles on the ground. I did this with a 4903 on the Golden Gate bridge and others. I'd raise the tag and tell him it only had two axles, not the three he thought he saw when I pulled up. I try to find my fun where I can. GMC always intended the tag to be a temporary fix until the laws were changed. This explained the cheesy afterthought like engineering and how it was just bolted on in a blank and unenclosed rear luggage bay. When things changed they offered a modification / conversion kit where the operators could remove the tags and enclose and recover the luggage bay space. In a couple of years GMC came out with an updated and slightly improved, nice dash with side switches, interior lighting reworked, and a fully enclosed rear luggage bay without the tag axle anywhere to be found. It was a 40ft two axle sweetheart with monstrous luggage capacity. The 35ft version at the time was the new 4108. These were the last iterations, even though they did change the model numbering system for some odd reason, of the famous line of classic GMC highway coaches. They stopped production eventually without making any significant changes to the engineering or body styles of the Coaches. These were the last of a magnificent line of exquisite coaches. Never the likes of which to be seen again.

this is cool stuff!!! I have a friend with one of those. 3 axle busses.. the tag axle is in fact concealed in what looks like a luggage compartment door..



where did the term buffalo come from?
-Christopher
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Old 01-24-2019, 08:26 PM   #38
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just the "hump" on their backs?
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Old 01-24-2019, 08:51 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sleddgracer View Post
took your suggestion and found Gov/Canada surplus sales - found a great bus, low mileage, ex-prison bus with a good motor/5 speed manual transmission combo - too bad it's so far away - 92,000 km = 55,000 (approx ) miles )

https://www.gcsurplus.ca/mn-eng.cfm?...1&sf=ferm-clos
Ex-prison = urine-soaked floor! Let your nose decide if you want that bus.

John
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Old 01-24-2019, 09:30 PM   #40
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greyhound MCI's all had the retractable tag axle, we were supposed to use it if we got stuck in snow to get more traction on the drive wheels after putting the chains on
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