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Old 08-17-2017, 06:23 PM   #1
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Red face Help! '69 chevy bus with a 455 Buick engine.

Hi everyone! I am new to this site. I used to own a GMC Blue Bird, but never did much with it except live in it in the desert. However, 13 years later, I am considering purchasing a '69 chevy bus that is already converted but will need some TLC. A friend of mine converted it back around 2000, and it has plumbing, gas 4 burner stove, oven, and exhaust hood, a bathroom/shower, and a fridge that will run with either electric or gas. He put a 455 Buick engine into it a long time ago, as well. It, however, needs a new transmission. And I'll have to have it towed 45 miles to my usual repair shop for that, which will cost almost $500. The transmission will cost around $1000, hopefully not more, with the parts and labor. I am wondering if anyone here has any thoughts to share with me. He originally wanted $2500 for it, but has dropped his price to $1500, and my boyfriend says $1000 is all I should pay. So does my mechanic. But I really want this bus, so I'm wondering what you all think? It's going to cost me at least $1500 just for the tow and transmission. Should I stay firm on the $1000 offering price? this bus has been pretty much sitting since 2003 on land in the woods. My friend says he has started it up every summer and driven it around the property a little bit, each year. Please, some advice? Thanks to all of you! Dawn
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Old 08-17-2017, 06:38 PM   #2
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Photos

I can post some photos, I just need to figure out how, as I'm on my phone at the moment. I'll log in on my computer when I get home, and hopefully will have heard something from ssomeone! Thanks! Dawn
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Old 08-17-2017, 07:31 PM   #3
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IMHO offer $1000, $1500 if the owner delivers it to your mechanic then get it fixed enough to save your money and toss the 455 and trans for a slightly more modern chevy motor and trans, although the rocket is a good "hotrod" motor and is very reliable, the parts and labor on that thing will drain your pockets when it does need fixing. Otherwise I would look around for other similar vehicles. Either way you gotta put more money into whatever you buy so just get what you want at YOUR price.
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Old 08-17-2017, 07:52 PM   #4
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I guess the first thing you are saying is that you dont know much about busses or even cars in general. In that case, either you need lots of money for repairs not only for mechanical issues, but if something breaks like plumbing in the rv. Might be a good idea to buy something else that has excellent mechanicals as seems like this rig will need other unforseen repairs.

The trans for the buick, or even for a chevy v8 for that matter is quite easily obtained, and at a minimum should be a turbo 400 as that trans came in many rvs at that time. If you kinow how to work, they are quite easily rebuilt and after disassembled they only take me one hour to re assemble with all new clutches, etc., and pressure test as i go along. will not take transmission shop long enough to rebuild that one... with hd parts, n price should be less than 1k ... u can look up the kits even on ebay for those prices...
if you change the engine n trans, you are likely to have the driveshaft length or front yoke done...
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Old 08-17-2017, 07:53 PM   #5
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If the seller has started it up and driven it around occasionally, will it not drive the 45 miles to the transmission shop? Or has the transmission failed since it was last moved?

Some folks would question buying such an old bus, especially with a non-stock engine. I won't take a side one way or the other (as I sort of like the aesthetic appeal of the older buses with rounded roofs, similar to Crowns). I *Would* however, check thoroughly for rust. Light surface rust is not a problem. Heavy rust is another matter.

Something that old, it's hard to know "what's been done" and "what it will need" (and how well previous work was done). Tires will be a consideration as well as the wheels (many shops don't want to work on some of the old split rims, which this bus might have). Carrying a spare tire might be in order.
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Old 08-17-2017, 08:20 PM   #6
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Dawn,

If you look around the site you'll see there are very few gasoline powered buses here. Not that there are bad options if you're looking to stay close to where you are. However, if you're wanting to drive around North America you'll find out very quickly diesel power is the way to go. Diesels have fewer moving parts, can handle more mileage, is more cost effective when you look at the cost-per-mile, and have more torque (the grunt power) to get over hills and mountains better than gasoline powered engines.

So the question becomes what is your intent with a bus? Are you looking to park it and set up a permanent home? If so maybe a gas powered bus will work. Moving a few miles down the road in five or ten years I can't justify buying a diesel. However, if you're wanting to live in the north in the summer and the south in the winter, then a diesel powered bus is easily justifiable, and more reliable than a gasoline bus ever will be. So before you get emotionally attached to the bus ask yourself these serious questions and answer them truthfully. By doing this you will avoid buying a bus you might find is costing a fortune to maintain down the road.

Trust me. The first bus we bought as a family was a $500 cheapie we thought would fit our needs. In the end it didn't, but we bought it based on the price. It functioned well in another capacity. However, when that function went away, it became obsolete. We spent another three years searching for the bus we now have and are thrilled with the way in which it's coming together. It will provide for our needs and wants for many years to come. The original purpose was to make it our tiny home. Now, due to my wife's health issues, it's now our way to get across America because she can't fly anymore.

So keep these things in mind as you ponder the question concerning if this bus will fit your wallet (budget above all else), your needs (second priority), and your wants (tertiary priority).

Hope this helps!

My two cents.....

M
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Old 08-17-2017, 08:24 PM   #7
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I can post some photos, I just need to figure out how, as I'm on my phone at the moment. I'll log in on my computer when I get home, and hopefully will have heard something from someone! Thanks! Dawn
Pass without even seeing it. Old busses are cool, but need too much work and will never have modern features (auto trans) or safety gear (ABS air brakes)**. 1998-2004 are good hunting years for you, I think.

**unless you are a Wizard, like a few here.

Spend a bit more upfront, buy from a district/auction and Welcome !
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Old 08-17-2017, 09:07 PM   #8
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id snag that bus.. and put a rebuilt 200-4R overdrive transmission in it...
-Christopher
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Old 08-17-2017, 10:10 PM   #9
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Pass without even seeing it. Old busses are cool, but need too much work and will never have modern features (auto trans) or safety gear (ABS air brakes)**. 1998-2004 are good hunting years for you, I think.

**unless you are a Wizard, like a few here.

Spend a bit more upfront, buy from a district/auction and Welcome !
My 92 has abs, air brakes, auto slack adjusters, air ride and lots of goodies.
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Old 08-17-2017, 10:39 PM   #10
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If you do decide to get the bus.... a little FYI , Buick/olds transmissions are gm, 350/400/700R and are identical to Chevy transmissions except for the bellhousing the bolt pattern is different so if it is replaced (more money and chance of cheap internal parts) instead of rebuilt(the way to go imo cheaper and better parts) be sure it's the right bolt pattern. If you go the new motor/trans later on the Chevy/Buick/olds all have the same mount location and distance to bellhousing so therefore there shouldn't be any change with the driveshaft length unless you change to a longer tail trans i.e. 350 to a 700R4 or if it by chance has a powerglide in it but I doubt it since the chevy motor is gone and Buick powerglides are extremely rare in which case would fund your whole bus project haha. Either way good luck in your endeavors and do your research.
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Old 08-18-2017, 06:55 AM   #11
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wow i never knew there was a Powerglide with a BOP plate on it.. well at least I never personally ran into one.. I had heard rumors..

by the time I got started in rodding, everyone was putting in TH-400s and dabbling in 700s. ironically the 200-4R garnered the most Hate. (people used to associate it with the crappy metric 200).. but the 200-4R was a stouter transmission when built right than a 700-R4. of course once the 4L60 came out (yes there were mechanical version of the 4L60. and they are solid overdrive transmissions).. a great candidate if you can find one for a smaller gasser bus.
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Old 08-18-2017, 08:17 AM   #12
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actually a gas engine WILL work in a bus. One of my business friends put a buick in a Kenworth tow truck and it worked when I thought it would have been too little power.

My first two busses were internationals with gas engines.. one 6 and one v8. they both ran back and forth across the us freeways just fine.
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Old 08-18-2017, 08:25 AM   #13
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my First bus was a 454HD with an AT545... I really didnt know much about bus transmissions or the like then.. but I built up my 454 to make more power and that bus sounded and ran hard.. it moved.. I just never drove it much.. but nevertheless the 454 did work in it..
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Old 08-18-2017, 09:05 AM   #14
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Is this a similar bus? 1972

72.jpg

69 GMC

69 gmc.jpg
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Old 08-18-2017, 12:57 PM   #15
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wow i never knew there was a Powerglide with a BOP plate on it.. well at least I never personally ran into one.. I had heard rumors..
Yes very very rare, only in 1962 and newer aluminum versions. Not to be mistaken for buicks 2speed. ST/TH300
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