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Old 09-29-2016, 09:10 PM   #1
Bus Nut
Thomas1985's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Fayetteville Arkansas
Posts: 419
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: GMC G3500 Vandura
Engine: V-8 5.7L Gas


My name is Thomas and I was born in 1985. I am looking for a similar shortbus with a wheelchair lift on the front. This will be my first school bus project.
With the help of my friends I have modified a 1999 Starcraft e-450 into a comfortable 25 foot camper over the last couple of years. We have built a full size bed on hinges with storage and a lockbox underneath. I took a jackknife sofa and turned it sideways for additional seating with cabinets overhead. I replaced the stereo system and speakers, added carpet, electrical outlets, curtain rods, and have a custom built back porch to hold my generator and camping supplies.
I still wouldn't say I'm finished with it but we are on our way.
I'm hoping people here can help me find my 1985 short bus to replace my current RV as my daily driver and project.
I realize this is a very specific request but short better to turn?
I've been looking on public surplus and gov deals for a while without any luck, as well as craigslist and ebay.
Any advice?
Also, are there any knowledgeable mechanics who can advise me on the pros and cons of fuel injectors vs. carburetors? I'm considering the older engine for easier road side repairs.

Much love and gratitude!


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Old 10-03-2016, 08:56 PM   #2
Bus Nut
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: Utah
Posts: 266
Year: 1990
Coachwork: BB
Chassis: TC2000
Engine: Cummins
Rated Cap: 25.999K

A 1985 will be hard to find from surplus or a school, Government entities and schools usually rotate out old stock based on mileage OR years, so for a district to hold onto one for that long is unlikely. You'll probably find one in the private sector easier. Carb VS Injection. Injection is better in MOST ways hands down, EXCEPT to work on. If I were broken down on the side of the road, I can fix about any problem on any carb. In 1985, Fuel injection was really in its infancy, so IF you found one that old with FI, it would likely be a very simple TBI system (most of them are simple, but still efficient). Also, there are tons of aftermarket companies that make bolt-on injection systems that come with their own computers, these systems are pretty simple, efficient, and decent to work on, so that's an option too.
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Old 10-03-2016, 09:07 PM   #3
Bus Geek
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 19,126
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
as far as i know there were NO gas busses in 85 running TBI.. they were all carb.. even the GMC which was the first to do TBI on everything... there were diesels though... IH 9.0 liters.. (Ok solid engines but harder to get parts for). DT-360's (maybe DT-466) which are pretty solid engines and easy to work on...

that said MOST schools were still buying gassers in 85...

rust will be an issue on most 1985 Busses.. short busses will be tougher to find.. schools usually only ran those for handicapped busses.. unlike nowadays where they run shorties for small routes rather than a big bus 1/3 full like they used to do...

a lot of 1995 shorties are in the mix and any of them still mechanical as opposed to electrictronic like the newer stuff is..

I looked high and low to find an old bus when I got my carpenter.. and 1991 was as old as i could get... it came out of a school that was running it till 2016.. (25 years) but many schools 10-15 MAYBE 20 years and they are done.
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Old 10-03-2016, 09:12 PM   #4
Bus Crazy
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Georgia
Posts: 2,264
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: IH
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 14
I have an '87 IH/Carpenter with the 9L engine.

I wouldn't mind swapping for a shorter bus (with air brakes), so I can fit it in my driveway.
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