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Old 10-26-2016, 07:50 AM   #21
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Ewww, sorry to hear that. You know before everyone bought their (first) bus they had never converted one either. Some people had some skills (might know electrical and plumbing, but not carpentry, propane, mechanical, or welding). but most of us have been learning as we go. The title of my book is "Well...That Didn't Work"
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Old 10-26-2016, 10:04 AM   #22
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You'd love my bed frame....Five 6" steel C-Purlins stretched across the chair rails
Works beautifully, it's above wheel humps, and it creates storage space

Hey! I had the spare metal... So, what's a guy to do???

My shop benches are 2x4 stretched across two seats as well.
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Old 10-26-2016, 10:18 AM   #23
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I guess one of the things turning us off is the fact that it's carbureted. We want to drive it out west which involves some pretty dramatic elevation changes. I don't know much about carbureted motors and dealing with having to rejet it how many times sounds annoying for both my wallet and I. I also don't know how I'd drive a manual in that terrain -- I live in miles and miles of corn fields, I can't even practice.
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Old 10-26-2016, 10:41 AM   #24
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Lots of people drive across the country never touching their carb jets.

Carb jetting is something drag racers do to tweak out extra hp when tenths of a second matter.

I used to drive a Nissan from Utah (high elevation) to California (sea level)
I did notice a whisker more power at sea level.


Many years ago i bought a motorcycle i really wanted, but then sold it because my girlfriend and i were broke and she didn't care for the motorcycle.

She and i had a rocky relationship. I suspect it had to happen because but whew it was tough. She and i later parted ways.
I regretted selling that bike for many years.

A year or so ago i bought an almost identical motorcycle and enjoyed it a lot, however i recently sold it and after looking back it wasn't so exciting as i had imagined it. Just another motorcycle. I no longer regret selling that bike when i was younger, i wasn't missing as much as fun as i had imagined it to be.

The greatest thing in life about getting older is that i give myself full permission to change my mind. It helps me release from decisions that are not serving me like i had hoped.
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Old 10-26-2016, 11:03 AM   #25
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Newer engines with computer controls will adapt to altitude but an older, non electronic carb will take some tweaking to operate correctly at higher altitudes. The air is a lot thinner which makes them run rich so you typically have to lean them out some. But be careful. When you come back down, the engine can be way too lean down on the flatlands and create a lot of excess heat. Older motorcycles seem to be especially sensitive for whatever reason and you could actually seize a two-stroke motor if it had been set up for the upper Rockies then went down to sea level.
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Old 10-26-2016, 11:12 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Carytowncat View Post
Lots of people drive across the country never touching their carb jets.

Carb jetting is something drag racers do to tweak out extra hp when tenths of a second matter.

I used to drive a Nissan from Utah (high elevation) to California (sea level)
I did notice a whisker more power at sea level.


Many years ago i bought a motorcycle i really wanted, but then sold it because my girlfriend and i were broke and she didn't care for the motorcycle.

She and i had a rocky relationship. I suspect it had to happen because but whew it was tough. She and i later parted ways.
I regretted selling that bike for many years.

A year or so ago i bought an almost identical motorcycle and enjoyed it a lot, however i recently sold it and after looking back it wasn't so exciting as i had imagined it. Just another motorcycle. I no longer regret selling that bike when i was younger, i wasn't missing as much as fun as i had imagined it to be.

The greatest thing in life about getting older is that i give myself full permission to change my mind. It helps me release from decisions that are not serving me like i had hoped.
This is inspiring. The elevation still scares me. In my area the elevation is about 1400', but the drive we want to make using I90 has several mountain passes. The Continental Divide, 4th of July Pass is around 3000', Lookout Pass is around 4700' and the biggest one is one in Montana at around 6300'. I can't find anything in my research for this sort of thing. I'm tempted to look around for a mechanic who knows something about carbureted motors and ask his thoughts.

Alternatively, is it possible/common for people to convert a motor like this to be fuel injected? I can probably get over the gearing and stuff if I had some way of dealing with it. I love the look of the bus, I just need to know if it's the correct one for me.

And towing? I'd like to get a car dolly for it, most likely to tow a 2006 Jetta like I have or my girlfriend's G6.

Sorry for all the questions, I am by no means a mechanic, a bus driver, or a skoolie owner...yet.
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Old 10-26-2016, 12:21 PM   #27
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Well the lady friend and I talked about it for a long time. I think we're just going to sell it... I'm really bittersweet about it. I've grown to really like it over the last few days... but it isn't for us.

If anyone wants it... lol
I had to ditch my first bus.
It wasn't for me, either. Better to get rid of it now before you spend money and time on something you're not diggin!
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Old 10-26-2016, 12:39 PM   #28
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I had to ditch my first bus.
It wasn't for me, either. Better to get rid of it now before you spend money and time on something you're not diggin!
This is what makes it so hard. I'm digging the bus. I'm just not sure I should've gone with the gas motor when it sounds like a diesel would be better suited for what I want. I didn't want a diesel because of expensive upkeep. And the price point of this bus was a score.

But I fully see that if this isn't the bus for me, I won't stick anything into it. I'm just not sure I can get rid of it either -- the school bus market isn't exactly hot.
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Old 10-26-2016, 05:38 PM   #29
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You can list it on eBay Motors.... decide what you want to get out of it (minimum), set a reserve at that amount (say, the $1000 you paid for it), start the bidding at maybe $100 or $500 and see what happens.

Just remember eBay will charge a fee to list it, so review the fee structure and see if you want to do it.... but it is an option. You could also put it on Craigslist and see what happens.

Either way, include lots of pictures, maybe shoot a short video showing it running so people know it will start and run.
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Old 10-26-2016, 07:36 PM   #30
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This is what makes it so hard. I'm digging the bus. I'm just not sure I should've gone with the gas motor when it sounds like a diesel would be better suited for what I want. I didn't want a diesel because of expensive upkeep. And the price point of this bus was a score.

But I fully see that if this isn't the bus for me, I won't stick anything into it. I'm just not sure I can get rid of it either -- the school bus market isn't exactly hot.
I think a diesel bus with an auto would be a better cross-country rig. That's why I went with one for my second and current bus conversion attempt.
I'd try Ebay. You may even sell it for a wee more than ya paid.
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Old 10-26-2016, 08:04 PM   #31
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I'm thinking about ebay. But I'm also torn on wanting to fix up this bus. I got everything unbolted today, just need a trip to the dump to empty the crap out. I'm actually in the lead for a short bus on ebay. It'd be weird if I won it on the opening bid...

I like this bus. I wouldn't mind using it locally if I didn't want to travel far away.
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Old 10-26-2016, 08:20 PM   #32
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Well the lady friend and I talked about it for a long time. I think we're just going to sell it... I'm really bittersweet about it. I've grown to really like it over the last few days... but it isn't for us.

If anyone wants it... lol

If it helps, I came home from work one day and my now EX wife had SOLD my bus!! She thought she had done a great deal; I had bought it for $150, so she felt selling it for $500 was a win!!!

Sometimes EX is best!!!
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Old 10-26-2016, 09:17 PM   #33
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MM: you and I must be twin sons of different mothers. My build (pictures, someday!) is quite minimalist. Mine is half cargo hauler, half cheezy camper. Its the "mothership" of our Burningman camp. Like yours, our build is a journey, not so much a destination. I work on it when I can, and shelve it when I'm busy. No real master plan being executed, just faint ideas on how to "do it better next year".

This bus is almost completely dedicated to being the center of our desert mischief. We have learned that nice things get trashed, so we keep them out of the bus. The result is a lot of "good enoughs". And "do overs". I dont think it will ever be done: as soon as something is "done" the desert kills it. (This year my partner in crime swept dust drifts out of the rear that were TWO INCHES thick in places.)

There are days I wonder if ol' Johnson doesnt long for his old life of spilled cola, kiddie vomit, and crayola graffitti.
Before:


After:



Not completed yet, but I was getting cabin fever BAD!!! And had to bug out!

In that shop building, I'd look out the left side, right side, and windshield and see nothing but walls!!!

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Old 10-27-2016, 05:06 AM   #34
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This is what makes it so hard. I'm digging the bus. I'm just not sure I should've gone with the gas motor when it sounds like a diesel would be better suited for what I want. I didn't want a diesel because of expensive upkeep. And the price point of this bus was a score.

But I fully see that if this isn't the bus for me, I won't stick anything into it. I'm just not sure I can get rid of it either -- the school bus market isn't exactly hot.
A diesel engine is actually CHEAPER to maintain and your cost-per-mile is substantially less than a gasser. Think about it for a second, no ignition system (saves $$$), better fuel mileage (saves $$$), more torque, AND lasts much longer (saves BIG $$$). When you figure your cost-per-mile the diesel has to be almost three times the price at the pump in order to have a break-even point. So don't let the price at the pump scare you away from owning a diesel bus. There are reasons why diesel buses are waaaaaaaay more common than gassers.

They are the same reasons why ALL of my vehicles are diesels. Yup, my pick-up, my M1031, and my bus.

Just sayin'

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Old 10-27-2016, 07:28 AM   #35
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Regarding elevation changes with a carburetor: someone correct me if I'm wrong.
I would guess that buses are similar to cars in this regard. You can drive up or down with no problems. If you were going to move your bus and permanently stay somewhere, you would want to have it adjusted.
I live at 6500 ft. I drove my carbureted car to 14,110 feet and down to about 4000 Feet.

Yes there is a change performance but it still works with no problem.
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Old 10-27-2016, 10:38 AM   #36
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Alternatively, is it possible/common for people to convert a motor like this to be fuel injected?
Absolutely, though the kits aren't exactly cheap.

https://www.summitracing.com/parts/f...FQEyaQodcYsMWg
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Old 10-27-2016, 10:48 AM   #37
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If you want to learn and go and not spemnd a crazy arm and a leg look at Megasquirt if its still around... i used it on an old impala I had built... for me it was a hackers dream because I could alter the comptuer programs as i wanted.. but really it worked out of the box...

and at least it used to be such you could use junkyard parts for intakes, injectors, throttle boddies, etc..

ok onto the 350... theres a lot of reason for now power.. one is a 350 likes RPM's... so if you are shifting the stick at 2500 RPM.. you are just getting into where a 350 makes power... it should rev to 4000-4500 even with a truck cam in it...

if its really a tonawanda 366 it would rev a little lower...

next.. plugs..wires..distributor cap.. oh and setting the ignition timing ... those things all may be bad or set wrong so its slow...

carbs - I had a 454 gasser and ran a 4 barrel carb... I set up the front 2 barrels to be lean for nice highway economy.. and set my secondaries to pull in a little earlier than normal for when I needed that extra power...

if you are already running the front barrels lean you probably dont have to touch it upo in the hills... it may run a little richer and get less MPG but should do just fine..

parts and upgrades for 350s are all over the place... and as far as engines go they are Cheap to work on and add power to...

ive built and rebuilt many a small block chevy... asnd never got completely heartbroken when I scattered one into little pieces of shiny metal.. because i simply went toe the junkyard, plucked another one, and stopped on the way home for a pizza and a bottle of crown... nothing like a summer saturday evening with an engine on a stand in the driveway!! and some buddies sittin around on upside-down 5 gallon buckets...

I likened it to the men's version of a lady's quiting session..

-Christopjer
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Old 10-27-2016, 11:07 AM   #38
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Regarding elevation changes with a carburetor: someone correct me if I'm wrong.
I would guess that buses are similar to cars in this regard. You can drive up or down with no problems. If you were going to move your bus and permanently stay somewhere, you would want to have it adjusted.
I live at 6500 ft. I drove my carbureted car to 14,110 feet and down to about 4000 Feet.

Yes there is a change performance but it still works with no problem.
You are correct.
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Old 10-27-2016, 01:23 PM   #39
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It would appear as if you got a real bargain.

Since the buy in on any good diesel bus is going to be at least $3K, think about how many miles at 4-5 MPG you can drive @ 2.50 per gallon of gas vs. 7-10 MPG @ 2.85 per gallon of diesel. Factor in an oil change for the 350 with 6-7 quarts of oil and one filter and 6-7 gallons of oil with two or more filters (one lube and one fuel) for a diesel engine.

You should be able to drive what you have for what you paid for it many thousands of miles before you catch up to the $2K price difference.

Yes your bus is going to be a slow poke. The 350 in a bus was great for a route on flat ground but not much use on hills. Towing a toad on behind will make the hills that much slower. But again, considering the price you paid, how much is it worth to you to get up a hill in five minutes vs. ten minutes?

As far as driving into higher elevations with a carb, I have done that more than I have ever done it with a fuel injected vehicle. It was done for a couple of generations without a lot of problems. As long as you have the GM HEI ignition you shouldn't have any problems.

Some more food for thought, even if you did it yourself, repainting a school bus is not going to be inexpensive. The materials to do it yourself (tape, sanding paper, primer and color coat) is going to be at least $1K. A one color paint job at most shops is going to start at about $4K. So again, you are $$$ ahead of a diesel powered yellow bus.

Now that you already own the bus I would do a minimal conversion to determine what works and what doesn't work for you. Use it for a while and then decide what isn't working and why. If all it really needs is a infusion of more power, the 8.1L big block that was used in the C4500/5500 chassis can be found in truck wrecking yards now. They can be purchased at reasonable pricing. Aftermarket kits to make them work in a vehicle without electronics are readily available. Purchasing the engine with an automatic transmission hooked to it can up the ease of driving your bus.

Good luck and happy trails to you!
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Old 10-27-2016, 08:11 PM   #40
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I think it's time I start my own build thread. I appreciate all the input you guys!
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