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Old 09-04-2023, 02:28 PM   #1
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The legendary Purple Bus rides on!

Well, legendary for a community of diehard mountain bike folks in Juneau, AK. This 85 by Carpenter Body Works (based on the rubber floor mat on the first step) has been in Southeast Alaska for pretty much its entire life. It was used as a school bus in Kake, Alaska, a small village community on Kupreanof Island, for a while before it was brought to Juneau. Later it was bought by a group of avid and adventurous mountain bikers to help with road trips up to Whitehorse and Carcross in the Yukon Territory, Canada. Back in those days (late 90's I think), I was an avid rider kind of on the periphery of that group. I never went on the trips, but I rode with a bunch of the folks and I heard the stories of their trips. After a bunch of years, the bus sat pretty dormant for a long time. The group pretty much stopped using the rig. Fast forward until today, when my wife, Melissa, and I bought The Purple Bus! It's cool that we're able to keep it within the cycling family (I opened my own bicycle store in 201.


For its age and what it is and where it has spent 40+ years, I feel like it's in good condition. The bus only has a little over 41,000 miles on it, with less than 2000 on the engine block. We really don't have any road trip plans for this. It's really just going to be used to shuttle bikes to local mountain bike trails or as a shuttle for performers (my wife is that production manager for drag shows and I do transportation when needed). It drives well enough for what we're looking to do for now. I have a friend who is a mechanic for a trucking company here, so I've got someone who can help with some of the bigger stuff. All the glass is good, there aren't any water leaks that I can find yet, and the frame and other sheet metal is in good shape. My focus in the short term is to deal with interior, electrical and heating.


So, the adventure begins!
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Old 09-04-2023, 03:23 PM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Swansboro,NC
Posts: 3,006
Year: 86
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Ford B700
Engine: 8.2
Rated Cap: 60 bodies
welcome
thanks for this.
i have an 86 ford.
what engine do you have.
i have the ford chevy and IH wiring diagrams for thomas but some of the manufacter connection points might help.
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Old 09-04-2023, 03:35 PM   #3
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350 Chevy. It had a new block installed about 10k miles ago.

I found a wiring diagram hidden behind the sun visor this morning. Still getting familiar with the rig.
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Old 09-04-2023, 05:35 PM   #4
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Location: Swansboro,NC
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Year: 86
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Chassis: Ford B700
Engine: 8.2
Rated Cap: 60 bodies
350 chevy block? can almost close my eyes and make it run.
firing order 18436752.
bring number one to top dead center and start there. a durasprark dizzy and good plugs i like excel plugs and wires hand made wires .
excel ignition coil will make a difference
a pic of your motor will matter.
the little thing on the side on the side does effect the electrical engine stuff.
trust me i havs been dealing with a this issue for years.
look at grounds.
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Old 09-04-2023, 06:47 PM   #5
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Location: Central Kentucky
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Coachwork: Busless for now
the brand name is Accel

https://www.jegs.com/v/Accel/110?N=9...IaAp-5EALw_wcB
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Old 09-05-2023, 12:39 AM   #6
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Hereís one of the badges in the bus. Looks like it was built in 85, but Carpenter finished in 87? Is that what Iím seeing?

Also, do we know what transmission is usually installed on this (4 speed manual)? Iím trying to learn how to properly shift this beast. It seems like it gets up to high revs pretty quick, but thereís no tach (will be installed soon). 1st gear is for sure a granny gear. 2nd seems good up to 10-15mph, and 3rd up to about 25-30mph before the long slog in 4th to get to 50ish. We only have one stretch of about 10 miles where we can drive freeway speeds, so Iím not too concerned about top end. I just donít want to overwork things.

Oh, and whatís that red water spicket dial down there?
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Old 09-05-2023, 12:20 PM   #7
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Join Date: Sep 2015
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Year: 1992
Coachwork: Bluebird Mini-Bird 24'
Chassis: Chevy P30
Engine: Chevy 6.2L Diesel
That spicket is probably a shut-off for radiated heat in the back of the bus. For engine warm-up, you'd probably want to keep it closed so the thermostat isn't trying to warm-up all 25 gallons (or whatever) of anti-freeze all at once, and then open it up once the engine has hit normal temperature and the thermostat is beginning to engage. Or shut it off entirely for warm-weather driving; though it wouldn't hurt to still open it up every once in awhile to cycle coolant.

The transmission is probably a Muncie SM465 if it's a GM platform; 3-speed w/granny gear, and that can pull a house, or pull a house down if you want it to. Knew a guy that towed a single-wide 30 miles with a C20 on one of those. I doubt it's a T4, but there is a possibility simple because it could fit. The other alternative is that it's one of the New Process transmissions used in that era; usually on 4WD or heavy vehicles like the C60. I think some Isuzu trannies also fit back there, but it's doubtful that they put one in considering they were only used on light-duty stuff. Most of the stuff was made when the national speed limit was 55, so it's doubtful that you're going to be able to get much more out of it without finding out how accurately that stuff was machined--usually catastrophically. Just shift it 2-3-4 unless you're trying to pull some **** out of some mud or something like that, keep it under 60 mph, and you'll be good.

The nice thing about that platform is parts availability--even up in AK, you've probably got plenty of availability. And you have a selection of replacement stuff if you want or need it.

VIN Decoder:
Vehicle Descriptor 1GBG6P1A*FV
Make CHEVROLET
Manufacturer Name GENERAL MOTORS LLC
Model Bus Chassis
Model Year 1985
Plant City PONTIAC
Series 6000 Medium Duty
Trim Flat Back Cowl
Vehicle Type INCOMPLETE VEHICLE
Plant Country UNITED STATES (USA)
Plant Company Name Pontiac Assembly (Truck & Bus)
Plant State MICHIGAN
Note Chassis Type: 2 axles - 1 driving
body Image Id 107
Body Class Incomplete - Bus Chassis
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating From Class 6: 19,501 - 26,000 lb (8,845 - 11,794 kg)
Trailer Type Connection Not Applicable
Trailer Body Type Not Applicable
Drive Type 4x2
Axles 2
Brake System Type Hydraulic
Engine Numberof Cylinders 8
Displacement(CC) 5735.472400
Displacement(CI) 350
Displacement(L) 5.7
Fuel Type- Primary Gasoline
Engine Configuration V-Shaped
Engine Manufacturer GM
NCSA Body Type Unknown Bus Type
NCSA Make Chevrolet
NCSA Model Bus**: Conventional (Engine out front)
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Old 09-05-2023, 11:19 PM   #8
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I checked oil and coolant and they look great. It’s only got 4,000 miles in the last 4 or 5 years when the new block was put on. The breaks feel good and the ride quality is about what I’d expect for a rig like this. It’s got some power steering noise that I’ll have to address.
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Old 09-06-2023, 07:09 AM   #9
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 19,007
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
that spigot is the main heat shut off for the whole driver console.. carpenter typically used a parallel flow system in that generation of bus... this shut off cancels the heat for the driver console and any rear / mid heaters the bus has.. the right side heating system will continue to operate..



DONT DELETE THE DRIVER HEATER box or the right side heater box those are your defrost.. carpenter busses have very good factory heating systems up front.. the rear heater is worthless.. delete it and replace it with a Jegs heater.. you'll be much warmer..
if a motor burns out on the driver heater box theres an access panel on the outside of the bus you can unscrew to get at the system. the bottom panel can be removed from the front of the heater box for cleaning of the heater core underside..



absolutely DONT CLOSE the indoor water spigot handle if you plan to use your heating system.. warming the engine up with the heater loops off and then opening the valve will shock the hot engine with ice cold coolant..
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Old 09-10-2023, 06:37 PM   #10
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Ok, I feel like a complete moron, but I canít seem to locate a fuse panel for this dang thing. I donít see it under the front clip, not inside the box of switches next to the driver seat. What gives?
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Old 09-11-2023, 04:51 AM   #11
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Found it. It was hidden behind a black rubber matt.
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Old 10-04-2023, 12:18 PM   #12
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Hereís a quick question for you. Iím installing a tachometer, more out of curiosity than anything, really. I see on the distributor cap a place to install a tach wire, but thereís already a brown wire in that position. Iíve tried to trace the wire down, but it disappears behind the engine on the passenger side. Thereís no tachometer in the bus currently, and I donít see where there might have been one in the past. I also canít find that wire in the cab anywhere. Can I piggyback off that wire? Is there a process where I can pull that brown wire and expect to have something glaringly obvious as to what that wire goes too?Click image for larger version

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Old 10-04-2023, 01:50 PM   #13
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Location: Swansboro,NC
Posts: 3,006
Year: 86
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Ford B700
Engine: 8.2
Rated Cap: 60 bodies
check your alternator.
it might have a lug just for the tach. signal
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Old 10-04-2023, 01:53 PM   #14
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 19,007
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jolly Roger bus 223 View Post
check your alternator.
it might have a lug just for the tach. signal



ive seen these hooked up fromt the factory and then just connectored off in the dash, maybe if this engine is EFI or is using an E4ME electronic carb but wasnt to the point of having a CPS sensor then the ECM might use this for a signal.. but that would be something completely non characteristic of GM, as what ive always seen was an ECM controlled dizzy so it knew the position and timing to control it..
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