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Old 05-05-2024, 09:51 PM   #1
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1960 GMC Superior 6V53 should I Do It?

Hello Everyone!

I am currently looking at a 1960 GMC Superior Bus, current owners have been using it for 24 years for trips down the coast.

It has a supercharged 6V53 which I understand to be a super reliable power plant.

I want to be able to travel and visit my kids and I want a reliable platform.

This would be my first Skoolie. Iím 46.

Any particular things I should ask about or be aware of?

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Old 05-06-2024, 07:40 AM   #2
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Location: Central Tx.
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Year: 1999
Chassis: Amtran / International
Engine: DT466E HT 250HP - Md3060
There are many dependable platforms out there so to say one is better than an another is quite subjective.
One of the things I have learned with owning a bus is that you will have to make your choices based on not only your personal desires but also you got to consider your finances and ability to make repairs.

Repairs is where you need to take a really good look at. If you do your repairs at a shop then get ready to pay out the wazoo.

If you do them yourself then get ready to learn and get dirty...quite a bit!
Older busses, parts availability could become a steep task not only in terms of locating parts but also the cost of the parts.

I'm not talking you out of the bus you found but just trying to help you see it from another perspective so you can make your decision on which way to go.

We here can't in the end make the decision for you, in the end you will have to come to terms with what you want and how much effort you are willing to put forward in achieving your bus goals.

I can say this, finding a mechanic today who understands the old GM engines, they are all mostly retired and the new generation of mechanics today would be lost on the older Detroits.

Other than that, you got any pics of the bus to share?
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Old 05-06-2024, 05:50 PM   #3
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Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: SoCal
Posts: 392
Year: 1989
Coachwork: Crown Coach
Chassis: 40ft 3-axle 10spd O/D, Factory A/C
Engine: 300hp Cummins 855
Rated Cap: 91
You make the same mistake that most do when they hear about or see a Detroit Diesel 2-stroke engine regarding the Roots blower that's attached to them all. The current owner may not understand either. Lots of folks don't know about the engine.

It's required for the normal functioning of the engine. It can't run without it. It acts as a scavenging pump that supplies slightly elevated air pressure and lots of volume to the cylinders as the piston drops down below the intake ports in the liners. Do some basic research into the operation if the DD 2-strokes and it will become clear.

These Roots blowers became very popular in the early days by car enthusiasts and especially the drag racing community when they modified them and installed them on their engines to provide more fuel/air into the engines and gain more power. I'm sure you've all heard the massively modified engines referred to as having a "6-71 blower/supercharger" installed in the "V" between the cylinder banks. These are nothing more than blowers removed from a Detroit Diesel 6-71 engine and chromed usually, and modified to be driven from the gas engine and mounted in the "V". They still do this today since it's a great solution and it looks super cool.

As to your particular bus and engine combination I'm aware of the GMC buses being offered with various sizes of the DD 2-strokes in that era. It was usually up to the district ordering it and the size of the bus to determine the engine size/hp to order. I can say that the 6V-53 is an outstanding and typical DD 2-stroke with a very long and distinguished history of service with a good record for operational performance and reliability. That being said it must be mentioned that in today's world where every Gov't entity is out to destroy the legacy of the 2-strokes and vanquish them from our roads, you must accept that there will not be very many mechanics at all who know them or how to work on them anymore.

Find a grey hair, probably retired, one if you can and I assure you he will relish the chance to work on one again. They are legendary and truly a joy to work on and once fixed properly they will run for a veeeery long time. If not done correctly they may not make it to the end of the driveway..... You've been warned.

Oh, and the oil, I almost forgot about the oil. NEVER use ANY multigrade oil in a DD 2-stroke. It must be a low ash oil like Delo 100 straight 40wt. There are a couple other brands like Mobil 1240 and others I can't remember, but the key is Low Ash CF2 and straight 40wt. This is the beginning of the journey to how to take proper care of a 2-stroke.

One other thing in case you do get the bus is to always drive the engine like you're mad at it and keep the rpm's up close to the 2800 rpm governed speed usual in the 53 series engines. They need to run at these speeds to produce the power and torque you'll need. Also don't LUG it down below about 1900 rpm for long without downshifting. That will destroy a DD if done too often or for very long. Check for my many other posts here on the correct driving techniques in order to not damage or destroy your 2-stroke engine.

Oh, and there isn't anything that sounds so beautifully sweet as a well tuned, running right, snarling, Detroit Diesel 2-stroke, any of them. In case it's not clear I love them to death and have driven them since forever, but I recognize that times they are a changing and owning one requires the owner to take on much more of the responsibility for proper driving technique as well and maintenance and repairs. There just isn't anyone you can trust today with it unless you are able to vet them and verify their competency. Parts are also getting hard to find and the prices are soaring. So owning one of these is like owning any Vintage vehicle or engine and the owner must accept the higher costs and lack of general availability of parts anymore. Buyer beware.
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Old 05-07-2024, 07:01 PM   #4
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the bus sounds great but the drive train is antique, out dated and no readily available parts. If you planned on learning the ins and outs of working on it while being tutored by a retired mechanic then that's one thing (becoming "bus grease monkey's" best friend). Relying on someone else to do the repairs is a nightmare. Most all repair parts will have to come thru the internet and thru the usual carriers so rapid repairs will not be the norm. A breakdown on the road and you will have an almost impossible time finding a mechanic. Now replacing the antique drive train with a newer DD is very possible. Govdeals has firetrucks with 6V92 DD and allison 3060 all the time, sometimes low miles and low prices, that is the way I would go, plenty of power, parts availability, better cruising and climbing speeds with a better shot at finding a mechanic. My personal advice and experience updating to a newer drive-line, it's really worth it. Saw a few at Random Acts of Camping last year, much older busses with late model drivetrains, beautiful.
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Old 05-07-2024, 11:28 PM   #5
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Join Date: Dec 2013
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Posts: 392
Year: 1989
Coachwork: Crown Coach
Chassis: 40ft 3-axle 10spd O/D, Factory A/C
Engine: 300hp Cummins 855
Rated Cap: 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by sportyrick View Post
the bus sounds great but the drive train is antique, out dated and no readily available parts. If you planned on learning the ins and outs of working on it while being tutored by a retired mechanic then that's one thing (becoming "bus grease monkey's" best friend). Relying on someone else to do the repairs is a nightmare. Most all repair parts will have to come thru the internet and thru the usual carriers so rapid repairs will not be the norm. A breakdown on the road and you will have an almost impossible time finding a mechanic. Now replacing the antique drive train with a newer DD is very possible. Govdeals has firetrucks with 6V92 DD and allison 3060 all the time, sometimes low miles and low prices, that is the way I would go, plenty of power, parts availability, better cruising and climbing speeds with a better shot at finding a mechanic. My personal advice and experience updating to a newer drive-line, it's really worth it. Saw a few at Random Acts of Camping last year, much older busses with late model drivetrains, beautiful.
I mentioned many of your observations and urged caution. A swap from a 53 series to a 92 series has many pitfalls. Your premise that a newer DD will be better misses my point.. that ANY DD 2-stroke will be very hard to get repaired as time goes on. And there's nothing antique about a 6V53. I'll let others wade in if they want.
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Old 05-08-2024, 05:48 PM   #6
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Year: 1971
Coachwork: Wayne
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I am putting a 6v-53n in a 71 International short bus. Wayne body. 5 speed spicer trans, 4.44 rear. Air brakes too. Sounds great that you can get a bus with it already in it. Wow, right on, party time.



Or is it?


I am an experienced mechanic, and have worked on DD for many years, and I love building, and have a full machine /fabrication shop to support building one off vehicles. So can you take care of it? It really comes down to how determined you are and how willing to learn. This is not a good project to start with. However with patience it can be done. First thing buy a DD service manual. Read it, get familiar with it, find an old guy willing to take some time with you on it.
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Old 05-08-2024, 10:11 PM   #7
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Year: 1990
Coachwork: Crown, integral. (With 2kW of tiltable solar)
Chassis: Crown Supercoach II (rear engine)
Engine: Detroit 6V92TAC, DDEC 2, Jake brake, Allison HT740
Rated Cap: 37,400 lbs GVWR
Where are you located? You mention the bus taking "trips down the coast" - which coast? Why I ask is because California has effectively almost outlawed 2-strokes: CARB has essentially declared war on them, and it's becoming increasingly harder to keep them road-legal in CA. What California does now is what other states may do in the future. While I love 2-strokes, I don't think they make sense now for most people. I had my 6V92 completely rebuilt last year after it ate a camshaft, not least of all because it will be much more difficult in the future to get 2-strokes rebuilt, so I decided that while we were repairing it I should get everything else done while parts (and good 2-stroke mechanics) are still available.

John
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Old 05-26-2024, 11:45 AM   #8
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I believe locating parts for a 6V53 would not be even close to impossible as they are still being manufactured for the military. Price would be a different matter entirely. the fit to older 53's might be a problem also as the ones the military use are known as the "Silver" and I believe (but I may be wrong about that) the block is aluminum. I know there is some considerable difference between them and the older 6V53's. For one thing they are all turbo'ed. It is indeed a beautiful sounding engine, quite a different sound than the 71's,92's and 149's. A turbo'ed 53 has plenty of power but Crown Guy is right about working on one, adjusting the rack is a nightmare if you do not know what you are doing and it has to be right ,no such thing as almost right. Good luck whichever way you go.
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