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Old 04-30-2021, 01:52 PM   #1
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Chassis: G27E102
Engine: Cummins ISL 280
Rated Cap: 30,000 lbs
Gillig 30ft Low Floor - the journey starts

Hi All,

I thought I document some parts of my journey here. After looking around for a good while for a 30 or 35 foot Gillig low floor with an ISC or ISL engine and an Allison transmission, this one in Allen county, Ohio came up.

It's a 2009 with 375k on the clock, and it served the Allen County RTA for most of its life. The good people in Ohio were kind enough to help me out with the minimum viable conversion to have it re-titled as an RV in Ohio state, before I started driving back to New York. That all looked very good.

Getting insurance was an absolute pain in the neck, in particular because I haven't had a car for almost a year. The usual suspects Geico, Progressive, National General, Good Sam RV insurance, all drew a blank. NGIC almost could do it, for $2000 a year, only for 3rd party liability at state minimums. I live in Brooklyn for at least a short while longer, and with a Brooklyn residence, a conversion is completely uninsurable. At any price. And I haven't had any insurance claims ever, no points on my license, one traffic ticket in my lifetime (a non moving one at that).

Registration is still ongoing, and it seems I really, really, need to invoke all the tricks in the book to stand a chance. I don't want to break any rules but this is absurdly hard. Right now, the VIN verification seems to be a major barrier. New York State DMV said go to the police. I went to the local police. The police chief said go to the State police. The State police said we haven't done that for 16 years, you need to go to the Special Investigative Unit of the NYS DMV. No one at the DMV with any knowledge about this process whatsoever has picked up the phone, so I'm trying Connecticut. It appears with an Ohio title, a Connecticut VIN inspection, an intermediate Vermont plate I may be able to get it plated here. MAYBE!

Anyway - here are some pictures from the ride back. Some decals are blurred because of the previous owners.

Right after purchasing I hooked it up to my scanner. It threw no DTCs although one ABS sensor is out


Still in Ohio


Squeezing a 30 footer in a compact car parking spot? Can be done.


It's full of computers. That's my thing!


Pennsylvania, maybe?


Somewhere near the Finger Lakes in upstate NY


Supermoon in Massachusetts




Connecticut, near Bridgeport.


Break in Peekskill NY


At its storage place "nearby" (a two hour train ride).

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Old 04-30-2021, 04:40 PM   #2
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Congratulations, the slf busses are not for the faint hearted.
What do mean with computers is my stuff. Our multiplex system is proprietary and I doubt that I can get any help with in case it fails.

You did not mention what your plan with your bus is.
How is the rust situation?

Good luck,
Johan
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Old 04-30-2021, 06:04 PM   #3
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Year: 2009
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Chassis: G27E102
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Rated Cap: 30,000 lbs
Dag Johan

Quote:
Congratulations, the slf busses are not for the faint hearted.
That's true, but I read comparable service manuals cover to cover before I decided to go for the Gillig. While they are fascinatingly complex in some ways, they are delightfully simple in their mechanical overengineering. I felt that the balance of challenges was right this way, considering the risks and my skillset available to deal with any issues that might arise.

The Cummins engines are generally considered good, and are also well supported. The same for the transmission - many Gilligs that have come up for sale recently were outfit with a Voith or a ZF, and you can barely find anyone in the US to work on those. the Allison B400R transmissions are very common and services for them are available in any state.

Also, I didn't want to consider a roof raise since I don't have the facilities or the help to do that, so it was going to have to be a non-skoolie anyways.

Quote:
What do mean with computers is my stuff. Our multiplex system is proprietary and I doubt that I can get any help with in case it fails.
I think I have a reasonable understanding of the CAN network, and while I can't do a transmission brake band overhaul on my own, I conceivably could do component-level repair on any of the ECMs if that were to be necessary.

It's true that on a higher abstraction layer the CAN bus nodes may be proprietary, and may employ encryption, pairing, and other barriers to maintenance.

But, on a physical level, CAN is straightforward and based on an open standard that you can do simple measurements on. Considering that, it should be rather doable to isolate individual nodes that give me trouble. Those then could be repaired, or - if the byproduct of digestion hits the swiftly rotating mechanical device - replaced, undoubtedly at exorbitant cost. The bus is still supported by the manufacturer.

Quote:
You did not mention what your plan with your bus is.
I'm going to do a quick minimum-viable conversion for the summer. We have been out and about with minimally viable vans so we probably know what we are getting into.









Depending on the progress, we may or may not go full time.

Quote:
How is the rust situation?
One of the reasons why I wanted a Gillig from that era is that they are the best of both worlds: they are built on a full stainless steel frame, the sides and back are aluminum, and the front and top are fiberglass. Body rust is not an issue. Even then, aluminum oxidizes, so a few areas of bubbles can be seen, but it is only superficial. Some structural components, mostly in the suspension, are made from steel or cast iron, but based on my casual inspection, they haven't even begun to deteriorate.

And one final reason for the 2009: it is from before the urea injection era, which undoubtedly would come with a ton of teething problems. It does have a DPF, however. The DPF regen seems to work fine.

Bert
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Old 04-30-2021, 11:29 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bert06840 View Post
Hi All,

I thought I document some parts of my journey here. After looking around for a good while for a 30 or 35 foot Gillig low floor with an ISC or ISL engine and an Allison transmission, this one in Allen county, Ohio came up.

It's a 2009 with 375k on the clock, and it served the Allen County RTA for most of its life. The good people in Ohio were kind enough to help me out with the minimum viable conversion to have it re-titled as an RV in Ohio state, before I started driving back to New York. That all looked very good.

Getting insurance was an absolute pain in the neck, in particular because I haven't had a car for almost a year. The usual suspects Geico, Progressive, National General, Good Sam RV insurance, all drew a blank. NGIC almost could do it, for $2000 a year, only for 3rd party liability at state minimums. I live in Brooklyn for at least a short while longer, and with a Brooklyn residence, a conversion is completely uninsurable. At any price. And I haven't had any insurance claims ever, no points on my license, one traffic ticket in my lifetime (a non moving one at that).

Registration is still ongoing, and it seems I really, really, need to invoke all the tricks in the book to stand a chance. I don't want to break any rules but this is absurdly hard. Right now, the VIN verification seems to be a major barrier. New York State DMV said go to the police. I went to the local police. The police chief said go to the State police. The State police said we haven't done that for 16 years, you need to go to the Special Investigative Unit of the NYS DMV. No one at the DMV with any knowledge about this process whatsoever has picked up the phone, so I'm trying Connecticut. It appears with an Ohio title, a Connecticut VIN inspection, an intermediate Vermont plate I may be able to get it plated here. MAYBE!

Anyway - here are some pictures from the ride back. Some decals are blurred because of the previous owners.

Right after purchasing I hooked it up to my scanner. It threw no DTCs although one ABS sensor is out


Still in Ohio


Squeezing a 30 footer in a compact car parking spot? Can be done.


It's full of computers. That's my thing!


Pennsylvania, maybe?


Somewhere near the Finger Lakes in upstate NY


Supermoon in Massachusetts




Connecticut, near Bridgeport.


Break in Peekskill NY


At its storage place "nearby" (a two hour train ride).
Hi Bert, congratulations !!!!
My name is David and i live in Long Island NY. Im looking to purchase a Gillig as well. How where you finally able to insure it. Ive read many posts and it appears NY is very difficult when it comes to bus conversions. Any help or guidance you or anyone else can share would be greatly appreciated. Thank you all in advance.
Feel free to contact me at

helmets4humanity@gmail.com

Thank you all
David
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Old 05-01-2021, 06:54 AM   #5
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Hallo Bert,
Got an email response, linked to this thread, but it does not show up here. Deleted/ edited?
Groeten,
Johan
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Old 05-02-2021, 12:05 AM   #6
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Heh! That's annoying. I typed a multipage response with pictures. It did show up! I definitely did not delete it, and there wasn't anything salacious in it at all... Maybe moderator error?

I'll type it out another time tomorrow!

regards
Bert
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Old 05-03-2021, 09:55 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeblack5 View Post
Congratulations, the slf busses are not for the faint hearted.
Thanks for your condolences

Quote:
What do mean with computers is my stuff. Our multiplex system is proprietary and I doubt that I can get any help with in case it fails.
It's true that the CAN bus system is partly proprietary, but that is on a higher level. Meaning, that there may be messages flying around that we will never understand, that there may be encryption/pairing preventing new modules to be used without the approval of the vendor, and so on.

But on a lower level (electrical/physical), CAN is standard and not very complicated. I believe that with an oscilloscope and a logic analyzer, a badly behaving module - of which there are potentially MANY - can be identified and isolated. I am also hoping that if some module were to need physical repair, I stand a good chance at succeeding doing parts level work.

If not, Gillig is still actively supporting these buses, so I'm sure they could come to the rescue. At great expense, no doubt

Quote:
You did not mention what your plan with your bus is.
We are going to do minimum viable conversion for this summer, and depending on progress, we may expand it into the winter.

We have done the minimum-viable converted van thing several times already, so I believe we have a good idea what we are getting into.

Minimum viable meant in the past that we had solar power, running hot and cold water, and outdoor showers in the summer, diesel heat in the winter.









I already have 12kWh of LFP batteries in a 24V system, and in the van we used no more than about 2kWh of power per day. The alternator in the bus is ENORMOUS... It is rated at 340A at 24V, so I'm not even sure if I need to immediately upgrade my 400W array, as it produces enough power in the summer already now.

I'm not yet sure how much heating power I will need for a 30 footer in the depth of winter, but the 5kW advertised Chinese diesel heater was plenty at 20F in an uninsulated van. Assuming it actually produces 3kW, I am sort of guessing that triple that should be a good start. I lived in the Nordics for over a decade, and have loved the radiant floor heating that everyone has over there, so I will build that into the bus as well. Maybe two circuits, one in the front, one in the back.

For the source of the heat I am not yet sure if I will buy one of the high-end water heaters, or a batch of air heaters with a heat exchange system.

I'm going to install an 11 gal Kuuma water heater, and replace the heating element with a 24V version, so I could dump waste solar energy into the water if needed. In the winter, I run diesel-heated coolant (not the engine coolant) through the water heater - just a branch of the floor heating circuit. I'll take a bit of tinkering to get the parameters right. I'm going to keep the water heater at 65C to prevent a whole zoo of critters setting up in there, so the coolant circuit will have to run at 75C at least. But that is too hot for radiant heating, so some mixing magic will be required. It can't be that hard, but it'll take a while to get it dialed in.

Quote:
How is the rust situation?
One of the reasons I wanted a Gillig is because the entire frame is made from stainless steel, the top and front are made from fiberglass, and the panels are aluminum.

Parts of the suspension are still made from steel or cast iron, but it appears that there is no deterioration to speak of.

Now let's see if the forum keeps this post up... I'm gonna save a copy anyway.

Bert
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Old 05-03-2021, 01:46 PM   #8
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Nice bus, will make great motorhome.
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Old 05-07-2021, 02:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeblack5 View Post
Hallo Bert,
Got an email response, linked to this thread, but it does not show up here. Deleted/ edited?
Groeten,
Johan
Hi Johan,

I just noticed the missing post just re-emerged... I have no idea is this was a matter of moderation but it somehow made it back up here. Strange.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BeNimble View Post
Nice bus, will make great motorhome.
Thank you, I hope so too!

Bert
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Old 05-07-2021, 11:22 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by helmets4humanity View Post
Hi Bert, congratulations !!!!
My name is David and i live in Long Island NY. Im looking to purchase a Gillig as well. How where you finally able to insure it. Ive read many posts and it appears NY is very difficult when it comes to bus conversions. Any help or guidance you or anyone else can share would be greatly appreciated. Thank you all in advance.
Feel free to contact me at

helmets4humanity@gmail.com

Thank you all
David

Hi David

Sorry I didnít see this message earlier. Iíll respond tomorrow.

Ps You really, really should remove your email address from this public forum. Itís guaranteed to end up on the dark web that way!

Bert
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Old 05-09-2021, 09:58 PM   #11
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About registering it in NYS. It is very difficult to do it here, hence the Vermont route seems to be the sensible option.

Keep in mind that youíre still NYS tax liable if you live here/will drive it here.

Weíre moving out of state. Itís not worth it anymore. Too hard. Too expensive. Too much red tape. Attitude problems form officials. You know the drill
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Old 05-09-2021, 10:04 PM   #12
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First demolition day today.

IMG_8467.jpg
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Old 05-09-2021, 10:05 PM   #13
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I got four of these ďemergencyĒ windows. Rather neat!

IMG_8469.jpg
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Old 05-09-2021, 10:07 PM   #14
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We got five bicycles so Iím trying to find a good spot for them. IMG_8471.jpg
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Old 05-09-2021, 10:08 PM   #15
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I donít have Tapatalk premium so I can only upload one picture at a time

IMG_8470.jpg

Does anyone have a suggestion for where to store a herd of bicycles?
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Old 05-15-2021, 09:39 PM   #16
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I was in Harbor Freight the other day, holding this guy. I NEED to find a reason to buy this!

IMG_8756.jpg
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Old 05-15-2021, 09:43 PM   #17
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IMG_8757.jpg
Then to Loweís to check some chest freezers!
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Old 05-15-2021, 09:44 PM   #18
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Next, taking stock of the insulation material they have in stock. Iím surprised to see that the metal foil covered stuff is available just off the shelf!

IMG_8758.jpg
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Old 05-15-2021, 09:44 PM   #19
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IMG_8759.jpg

On with the demo work!
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Old 05-15-2021, 09:45 PM   #20
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IMG_8760.jpg
OMG that stainless steel stuff is impossible to cut.
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