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Old 04-15-2020, 06:36 PM   #1
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Hey everyone, My name is Adam, I live in KY and am just getting into this whole Skoolie idea.
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Old 04-15-2020, 09:42 PM   #2
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Do you have a skoolie Adam ?
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Old 04-16-2020, 09:57 AM   #3
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Yes, enquiring (and twisted) minds want to know!
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Old 04-16-2020, 02:36 PM   #4
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No not yet. I have been looking at busses but not sure what type I want yet. Any recommendations?
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Old 04-16-2020, 05:52 PM   #5
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No not yet. I have been looking at busses but not sure what type I want yet. Any recommendations?
That depends on what you want do. Is it going to sit most of the time? On the go? Do you want to get in tight places? The sky is the limit. There are some guys ( and gals) that can tell you everything you want to know about engines, trannys, mechanical ease of DIY. Mine personally I wanted a short, but not too short for maneuvering in tight spots. I also wanted the old powerstroke engine. Get as much info as you can get before pulling the trigger. Mainly look for one that has as little rust as you can get. Good look Adam !!
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Old 04-16-2020, 06:06 PM   #6
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Gotta start somewhere. Check out my reply to this thread, also posted by a newcomer... I don't claim to know everything, more of a jack of all trades, master of none... I have seen a lot come and go on this site (including me -- account was deleted while on hiatus), but the one thing I've found to be true, there is much to be learned here, some of it through others' mistakes, some of it through your own, and more of it through asking questions...
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Old 04-16-2020, 06:10 PM   #7
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I found an old 82 BB close to me. Gas engine 370 V8. Looking underneath it looks as if there is almost no rust. I’d like you alls input if you wouldn’t mind
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Old 04-16-2020, 06:24 PM   #8
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I found an old 82 BB close to me. Gas engine 370 V8. Looking underneath it looks as if there is almost no rust. I’d like you alls input if you wouldn’t mind
Sounds like a Ford chassis. Main thing. Does it have air brakes? You can tell by looking for a yellow hand valve knob on the dash (though one that old might be faded to beige / cream / off-white). A hydraulic brake Ford of that vintage will likely have Lucas-Girling brake system, something to be avoided, parts are hard to find and no one wants to touch them. I myself had to junk a nice '89 B700 64 pass Blue Bird with a fresh 429 because of this bastard brake system.

The 370 isn't a bad engine, even if obscure. It has been said to have issues with exhaust valve cooling, however, due to the factory materials they are made of (sodium, from my understanding). I'm not sure better valves are available, and even if they are, the heads must still be removed and rebuilt to correct this, if not already done). The 370, depending on your source, is possibly part of the FT block family (FT = Ford Truck), which includes the 361 and 391. Out of production, and parts aren't exactly available at Auto Zone, but they can be had.

Conflicting info indicates it may be part of the 385-series family, which would also include the mighty 429 and 460, for which parts are far more readily obtained. I've never been able to verify this, because I've never actually been able to compare the two through good photos or in person. As it was commonly available in the 80s alongside the 6.6L Brazilian diesel, the 429, the 8.2L Detroit (another orphan), 3208 (not common in Ford school buses), I kind of lean toward it being in the 385 family, but I can't claim that as gospel.

The Achilles heel (and deciding factor in viability) will be if the parking brake is a hand knob on the dash, or a plastic toggle switch mounted in a black metal box. The latter will be hydraulic brake and I do not recommend buying it unless you can find someone to swap the axles and brake system over to air (cost prohibitive and time-consuming).
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Old 04-16-2020, 07:11 PM   #9
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Wow thanks for your input. It does have air brakes and I will have to check on the parking brake setup. Thank you so much
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Old 04-16-2020, 08:06 PM   #10
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Wow thanks for your input. It does have air brakes and I will have to check on the parking brake setup. Thank you so much
The 'parking brake' on air brake systems should actually an air spring on the rear brakes that is disengaged by air pressure in the system. Hence, the hand valve on the dash is your parking brake -- it actuates that air spring. Most will lock down at less than 20-40 psi in the system, which is what the hand valve does by pulling it out away from the dash, this purging pressure from the air spring. "Push to release - Pull to engage". This old of a bus, especially if it has been sitting, could have leaks in the system, or at the least bled down after sitting for years.

What is the situation with this rig? Is it known to run? Has it been sitting a long time? Is this a situation where someone just wants it off their property? B600? B700? B800? Does it have the spoked hubs with split rims or the five hand-hold Budd wheels? Pics would help in determining more, especially the VIN and body tag.

If it truly has air brakes, sounds like a good candidate for a build if you can get it cheap and it's mechanically sound. If it's been sleeping a long time, there are steps to take to wake it from its coma. This should either be a 4-speed manual with a granny-low (Spicer, likely) or possibly an Allison AT545, I'm not sure the MT643 was available in 1982. Most buses of that vintage were manuals, and most were still hydraulic brakes, so to see a gasser with air brakes is not altogether uncommon, but somewhat rare these days.
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Old 04-16-2020, 08:26 PM   #11
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It is automatic, has split rim wheels in front. It starts and runs good. It was owned by a church when it was taken out of service and the guy who has it now bought it from the church. I mean, as far as I can tell it is in great shape. Engine and trans seem easy to access if need be. I am going back to drive it tomorrow and I will get a shot of the VIN. It has a diamond shaped yellow pull switch in the dash. Is this the valve you are referring to?
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Old 04-16-2020, 09:17 PM   #12
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It is automatic, has split rim wheels in front. It starts and runs good. It was owned by a church when it was taken out of service and the guy who has it now bought it from the church. I mean, as far as I can tell it is in great shape. Engine and trans seem easy to access if need be. I am going back to drive it tomorrow and I will get a shot of the VIN. It has a diamond shaped yellow pull switch in the dash. Is this the valve you are referring to?
Yup, that would be the one. Should look similar to this one, but if an older one wasn't white to begin with (I only became familiar with air brakes in 2013), the yellow would likely have faded into an off-white / cream color by now. Plastic does that when it's exposed to sun for years, usually discolors.
Air Brake Knob.png
Any signs of red flashing lights in the roof cap above the windshield or rear windows? Not a crucial detail, just curious. Some church buses are old school buses and have signs of these lights being removed and the holes covered over. If this area is smooth metal and doesn't appear altered, it was likely an activity bus, or the previously owning parish bought it new.

The body tag should have the passenger capacity, possibly the incomplete vehicle VIN (these were medium duty chassis with no cab that had a bus body built for the frame), and possibly other info such as axle ratio, etc. Ford dealer will not likely be able to research that old of a VIN anymore, but knowing the axle ratio would be good in determining what a safe cruising speed for this thing is. I'm figuring 55, maybe 60 at the most, it likely has a 5.29-4.88 differential.

Are you considering buying the bus? What are they asking?
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Old 04-17-2020, 05:16 AM   #13
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It is automatic, has split rim wheels in front. It starts and runs good. It was owned by a church when it was taken out of service and the guy who has it now bought it from the church. I mean, as far as I can tell it is in great shape. Engine and trans seem easy to access if need be. I am going back to drive it tomorrow and I will get a shot of the VIN. It has a diamond shaped yellow pull switch in the dash. Is this the valve you are referring to?
Although it could have split rims on the front only it is not likely. The rear outer rims will have the removable ring on the inside. So you would not see it. Look at the tire size if 20" rim diameter then it would be split rims, if 22.5 it will be tubeless modern rims.
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Old 04-17-2020, 09:20 AM   #14
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Although it could have split rims on the front only it is not likely. The rear outer rims will have the removable ring on the inside. So you would not see it. Look at the tire size if 20" rim diameter then it would be split rims, if 22.5 it will be tubeless modern rims.
Rear axle could have been swapped.
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Old 04-17-2020, 09:59 AM   #15
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Thanks everyone. They are asking $1800 for the bus. I’m not sure I am going to purchase it though. I really don’t like the idea of having to deal with split rims. I found another bus that’s an 06 blue bird but it has a CAT engine and from everything I have been reading it is advised to stay away from CAT engines. Thank you all for your help. I have already learned a lot.
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Old 04-17-2020, 11:32 AM   #16
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Thanks everyone. They are asking $1800 for the bus. Iím not sure I am going to purchase it though. I really donít like the idea of having to deal with split rims. I found another bus thatís an 06 blue bird but it has a CAT engine and from everything I have been reading it is advised to stay away from CAT engines. Thank you all for your help. I have already learned a lot.
CATs are OK. What you mainly want to avoid is any bus - no matter what engine - newer than a 2003.
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Old 04-18-2020, 08:54 PM   #17
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Thanks everyone. They are asking $1800 for the bus. Iím not sure I am going to purchase it though. I really donít like the idea of having to deal with split rims. I found another bus thatís an 06 blue bird but it has a CAT engine and from everything I have been reading it is advised to stay away from CAT engines. Thank you all for your help. I have already learned a lot.
I'm pretty sure you could swap out the split rims fairly easily....of course the real expense would be in tires...also, if it's old enough to have split rims...it's pretty old.

Don't confuse Dayton wheels with split rim wheels....
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Old 04-23-2020, 10:33 AM   #18
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Good choice to stay away. Especially if this is your first time around I would try to get a bus that was manufactured in the last 20 years, mainly because itíll be easier to locate parts or mechanics that can do whatever job inevitably comes up on the mechanical side of things.

Check out local auctions, we bought our bus from GovDeals.com. Although I know many wouldnít recommend this route we got a 2001 International that met all the mechanical requirements we were looking for : DT466 or DT 466E with an Allison Transmission. Minimal miles at 130,000. Maintained by a very small rural school district with great mechanics working on a small fleet. The bus was very well maintained. That being said, one of the most stressful things was the shopping/bidding phase. We also would not purchase a bus that we didnít see in person no matter how good the specs or price was. We paid $3,700 total for it on auction. Only thing we have needed add were fresh starting batteries about 6 months down the road (we let the batteries sit through the cold weeks )

I have 2 questions that I think are important.

1) of course, On the building side of things: what is your experience in construction, design, etc. ?

2) Are you planning on doing it by yourself or do you have a friend/spouse who can assist throughout the build?

It helps to know people (nice people) who have the experience already, they can help you immensely.
My fiancťe and I both have our Bachelorís degree in Music Performance and Education. However, we hands-down could not have done it without the help of 2 family friends of ours with much more wisdom and experience on this earth as mechanics, plumbers, electricians and welders than we would ever have.
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