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Old 06-04-2020, 09:53 PM   #1
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So i bought a classic

tomorrow I'll be attempting to bring home my new Skoolie. Its a 1966 Gillig. Next year my family and i plan to move from California to Missouri. After pricing several moving companies, uhaul rentals, and a few other ways, the 3500$ tag was hard to swallow. So somehow i got my wife onboard to buy a bus to move our household stuff. Then after the move, converting into our dream coach.
Tomorrow's plan is fluid and filter change, all new batteries. Then attempting to start it. Its been sitting for a while.
I am by no means new to restoring classics, but somewhat new to old diesels. It's going to be quite the adventure!
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Old 06-04-2020, 10:04 PM   #2
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Location: SoCal
Posts: 171
Year: 1989
Coachwork: Crown Coach
Chassis: 40ft 3-axle 10spd O/D, Factory A/C
Engine: 300hp Cummins 855
Rated Cap: 91
So tell us what it has for power. Is that a rear mounted engine? Sure looks like it. Those had Cummins or Cat 3208's in them, maybe a Detroit xV-71. I have a friend with one like that with a 3208 and 10spd Road Ranger, lots of fun to drive.

And you'll be surprised how much stuff you can cram into one as a moving van once the seats are gone. I've done it myself on more than one occasion. Under floor luggage bays help a lot too.

It's obviously a 5-spd, and be thankful it doesn't have the dreaded full on air clutch that Gillig liked to use.

And where are you and the bus located?
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Old 06-04-2020, 10:44 PM   #3
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The bus was originally and still is in southern California. It has a cummins 555 i believe. I know a decent amount about the inline cummins, but the v8s are new to me. Believe me ive read to run far away from these engines, but im up for the challenge. Worse case scenario ill repower with a dt466 or inline cummins. Im still deciding if i want to raise the roof or not.
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Old 06-04-2020, 11:08 PM   #4
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Year: 1984
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Yeah, the triple-nickel has the worst reputation of any engine in it's class, though I confess I know nothing about them.
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Old 06-05-2020, 07:05 AM   #5
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Year: 1982
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Engine: 351c.i.
You should check out Bus Grease Monkey on YouTube. He started out working on his own retired greyhound bus because he couldn't find a mechanic. Now he travels the country in said bus repairing other people's busses and making good money doing so. He even offers discounts if his clients help do the work because he enjoys teaching vintage bus owners how to work on and maintain their rigs. Pretty cool guy and he's covered just about every repair out there.
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Old 06-05-2020, 08:22 AM   #6
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Thanks for the suggestion. I frequent youtube, but have yet to find his stuff. I'll look into it.
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Old 06-05-2020, 09:18 AM   #7
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Bus Grease Monkey is careful and thorough.


He would probably not road drive this without taking the wheels off, adjusting the brakes and maybe repacking the wheel bearings, verifying the gauges are functioning and accurate, and greasing the chassis.


You probably need to buy tires as your first stop. If the DOT codes are wore than 10 years old, you really shouldn't chance it in the summer on the interstate.



I know most people don't do this, but you have a long way to go and there are so many things that if just maintained now would be fine for a very long time, but my fail on your maiden maiden voyage from sitting and neglect. A tire blowout would be a sickening disaster with that lovely coachwork.



Essential is to carry a laser temperature pistol and stop constantly to make sure your wheel bearings, and maybe the rear axle, aren't overheating. also use it to compare the readings on your temperature gauge to the temp of the outlet neck on the engine, and the top tank of the radiator.


One thing Scott Crosby (BGM) teaches new drivers is to call out oil pressure and coolant temps every couple of minutes on the road. Its a great practice, and teaches you to watch those things like a hawk. That's SUPER critical on a 2 stroke DD, but important for anyone sounding out a new rig.
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Old 06-05-2020, 09:49 AM   #8
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Check for antifreeze in the oil in a 555. They're famous for that if left sitting.
Those engines are regarded as Cummins' worst. You won't find much love for them from anyone.
If/when it goes plan on a repower with something more modern and reliable.
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Old 06-05-2020, 10:13 AM   #9
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Welcome to the forum.

Crown buses are works of art compared to school buses made today. They're well built and durable machines. Sad to hear that yours has a triple nickle, but there are worse things out there.

I don't know of anyone who has done a roof raise on a crown. The curvature body style works against that, so any roof raise will require a substantial amount of fab work for it to look good after it's done.

As far as buying an old bus to move across country, if you don't go through everything on this bus front to back before the trip, you should do your best to prepare yourself to have problems. And when I say everything, I mean everything. Check bearings, check brakes, replace filters, swap fluids and grease everything that needs it. You can easily spend thousands on top of what you've already spent to make this thing road worthy. AND that's all before any sort of conversion costs.

Most people don't do that, and then end up on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere begging us for help. Or they end up spending thousands in tow and repair bills. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

I don't want to know the hours and time that I've spent on my bus to make/keep it roadworthy. But being able to take it anywhere and have confidence in it making the trip is invaluable. Some of my fondest memories have happened because or with my bus, so it's worth it to me.

If you're not 10/10 mechanically inclined, I'm sorry to say, but finding a good mechanic that is knowledgeable and passionate about their craft is what will make or break you and your project.

And if you're not completely in love and skoolie nuts, turn back now. If you're not willing to spend more then your purchase price on the conversion and subsequent repair and maintenance, turn back now. If you're not willing to spend thousands on something that most would only give you scrap price for, turn back now.

The u-haul rentals that you looked at will be cheaper and easier then the bus life. But most here wouldn't trade the bus life for anything.
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Old 06-05-2020, 11:57 AM   #10
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Its a gillig, Booyah. But there is a guy doing a roof raise on a crown on the forum right now.
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Old 06-05-2020, 12:15 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
Its a gillig, Booyah. But there is a guy doing a roof raise on a crown on the forum right now.
Whoops, missed that bit.

Still, a lot harder to do it right then a straight walled bluebird.

Who's the guy doing the crown roof raise now?

I think the front is the hard part to do without affecting the front look.

Some raise the whole thing and they have this weird flat transition piece above the windshield that I don't like.

GWrider and stu & filo t both raised it and left the front alone by putting a transition ramp behind the cab. That way in my eyes looks about the best, kind of like the old sceni-cruisers did it.
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Old 06-05-2020, 12:53 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Booyah45828 View Post
Whoops, missed that bit.

Still, a lot harder to do it right then a straight walled bluebird.

Who's the guy doing the crown roof raise now?

I think the front is the hard part to do without affecting the front look.

Some raise the whole thing and they have this weird flat transition piece above the windshield that I don't like.

GWrider and stu & filo t both raised it and left the front alone by putting a transition ramp behind the cab. That way in my eyes looks about the best, kind of like the old scenicruiesers did it.
can't recall the screen name or thread. But he's doing it on the flat part, not the curved so should look good.
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Old 06-05-2020, 01:34 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
can't recall the screen name or thread. But he's doing it on the flat part, not the curved so should look good.
I haven't seen this but now I'm intrigued.
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Old 06-05-2020, 03:26 PM   #14
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Location: SoCal
Posts: 171
Year: 1989
Coachwork: Crown Coach
Chassis: 40ft 3-axle 10spd O/D, Factory A/C
Engine: 300hp Cummins 855
Rated Cap: 91
Walker Crown Build in Skoolie Conversion Projects user roadie


A Crown Super II.
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Old 06-06-2020, 11:24 AM   #15
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Location: So Cal high desert
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Year: '46?
Coachwork: Wayne
Chassis: Chevy Big Bolt
Engine: 216 putt-putt
Rated Cap: 35mph downhill with push
Luv the Gillig classic! Way cool bus skidpan! Get her roadworthy she needs to live again!
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Old 06-06-2020, 12:31 PM   #16
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Got her home without incident. Runs great. Ive changed fluids, charged batteries, and cranked without fuel until she had oil pressure. Then she fired right up. Air pressure builds up fine, brakes work great. It wasn't a long drive home (about 7 miles) but ran great. After getting home, and restarting, the starter sticks, staying engaged after the engine starts. I know the ignition switch is a little finicky, so its been ordered. If that doesnt remedy the starter issue, I'll pull it and replace or rebuild it.
I'm beyond excited!
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Old 06-06-2020, 12:46 PM   #17
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Location: Southern Maine
Posts: 34
Year: 1988
Coachwork: Gillig
Chassis: Phantom 40'
Engine: DDECII 6V92T Allison MT647
Rated Cap: 37,400 lbs of potential
Super cool bus!
Looks good too
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