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Old 02-08-2017, 11:04 AM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Knoxville
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Year: 1992
Coachwork: Chevrolet
Chassis: P30
Engine: Chevy 350 Small Block
Rated Cap: 14500
We got our bus!!!! Now what?

Hi All!

My name is Monica and my partner is Corey. He and I are getting ready for a big lifestyle shift. We both have a M-F, 9-5 gig but the plan is to travel in a converted bus and work from the road. So, recently purchased our first project, a 1992 Chevy Carpenter P30 passenger bus! Itís a 29 seater and has a Chevy big block engine. Mechanically everything is in way better shape than we thought possible. The thing has only got 14k miles on it! Aside from a couple of belts that need to be replaced it seems to be in excellent shape. Our question is where should we start on our conversion? I figured step one is to take out all of the seats. 😛 Are there any other things we should be doing to prep it for conversion?

Seriously, any advice to get us started in the right direction would be greatly appreciated!

Sending you all good vibes✌🏼
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Old 02-08-2017, 11:27 AM   #2
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Year: 2003
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Welcome !

Low miles are good, and bad.

I bought a bus last month with 26,000 miles, so we are in similar situation. You will need to go-through and see what needs maintaining. Belts, hoses, fuel lines are what I found need replacing. They are dry from age, where as a regularly used vehicle would get some fleet love.

Especially fuel line- new gas is corrosive to older materials e85, etc.

Put up some pics !! Dying to see a 25 yo nearly new bus !
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Old 02-08-2017, 11:48 AM   #3
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Welcome!

Super excited for you guys! You've come to the right place for advise, there is a lot of experience here.

I'd start by taking out the seats. Have a look at the forum and specifically under the "bus builds".

Check out blogs and pinterest for ideas.

Put up some pics (you have to upload to photobucket (or similar site) and then upload here.

Check out my bus build blog: www.thismidwifetravels.com

Living on my bus full time for 3 months now

Sandi
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Old 02-08-2017, 11:49 AM   #4
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Tons of conversion threads in the forums!! Be forewarned you won't be able to stop at just one, get comfy and thumb thru a few im sure you'll find more information then you can process ...!! Best wishes! Vroom vroom


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Old 02-08-2017, 01:14 PM   #5
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Location: Knoxville, TN
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Year: 1992
Chassis: Cadet
Engine: 5.7 350 gas
Rated Cap: 35 Passenger or 14,500
Cool

Hello! Corey here. I'm posting some photos and a video of the new bus! We are both so incredibly stoked to have this opportunity. We also picked up a pull behind RV with the bus. So, we have a complete donor RV to source appliances, AC, etc.



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Old 02-08-2017, 02:13 PM   #6
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Are you sure it is a big block and not a small block V-8?

I have seen quite a few moho's on P-30 chassis that had the big block.

But I have never seen a bus on a P-30 chassis that had the big block. I am not saying they never came that way. But most bread box buses (because so many bread trucks are built on P-30 chassis) that I have ever seen had either the 350/5.7L small block or the 6.2/6.5L diesel engine.

It would appear as if you have a pretty nice bus.

I would caution you as I have cautioned everyone who has purchased a bus on a P-30 chassis--weigh your bus! When it is empty and stripped out you need to take it somewhere to get weighed. Those buses usually had a max GVWR of 14,000 lbs. Empty weight is usually well over 10,000 lbs.

When you build you bus you need to be very careful about keeping all of the built in weight balanced. If you don't your bus will lean and drive down the road crookedly. You may even want to consider adding air assist springs to help with the leans you will experience while going around corners once you are fully loaded.

Good luck and keep us posted as to your progress.
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Old 02-08-2017, 02:20 PM   #7
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We got our bus!!!! Now what?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
Are you sure it is a big block and not a small block V-8?

I have seen quite a few moho's on P-30 chassis that had the big block.

But I have never seen a bus on a P-30 chassis that had the big block. I am not saying they never came that way. But most bread box buses (because so many bread trucks are built on P-30 chassis) that I have ever seen had either the 350/5.7L small block or the 6.2/6.5L diesel engine.

It would appear as if you have a pretty nice bus.

I would caution you as I have cautioned everyone who has purchased a bus on a P-30 chassis--weigh your bus! When it is empty and stripped out you need to take it somewhere to get weighed. Those buses usually had a max GVWR of 14,000 lbs. Empty weight is usually well over 10,000 lbs.

When you build you bus you need to be very careful about keeping all of the built in weight balanced. If you don't your bus will lean and drive down the road crookedly. You may even want to consider adding air assist springs to help with the leans you will experience while going around corners once you are fully loaded.

Good luck and keep us posted as to your progress.


Thanks! We have all the original paperwork and owners manual from when the bus was purchased new.

You're probably right about the engine. I'll scan the owners manual today and post it later for you to review!
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Old 02-08-2017, 03:03 PM   #8
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nice carpenter!!.. that bus looks like it has Air-Conditioning.. thats unusual in those..
rockin!!
-Christopher
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Old 02-08-2017, 03:26 PM   #9
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Year: 1999
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: IH 3800
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Rated Cap: 72 passenger
Wow! SCORE!!!!

Ditto everyone elses thoughts. Go through the engine externals (hoses, fuel lines, etc) because those will be very suspect to the bus equivalent of Altzheimers.

Major score on getting a donor vehicle. Man, I wish I had one! Lol!

And: Welcome to you both!
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Old 02-08-2017, 03:28 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
nice carpenter!!.. that bus looks like it has Air-Conditioning.. thats unusual in those..
rockin!!
-Christopher
It does have some kind of heating and cooling system already. I've been debating on pulling it out or not? I can't seem to get the heat to work, but the AC blows cold!

Here is a pic of the rear system inside. Think we should keep it?
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Old 02-08-2017, 10:23 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty View Post
Low miles are good, and bad.



I bought a bus last month with 26,000 miles, so we are in similar situation. You will need to go-through and see what needs maintaining. Belts, hoses, fuel lines are what I found need replacing. They are dry from age, where as a regularly used vehicle would get some fleet love.



Especially fuel line- new gas is corrosive to older materials e85, etc.



Put up some pics !! Dying to see a 25 yo nearly new bus !


Even though it's been parked for about 4 years. It was still used as a shuttle for the church. It's been driven for events on a few occasions since parked so it's been mostly maintained! I'll post up a video of it driving around.
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Old 02-09-2017, 03:57 AM   #12
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The coach A/C system can get $$$ very quickly. If there are not any cold A/C vents that blow anywhere close to the driver you will need to put the back of the bus into refrigerator mode to get any decent cooling up front.

As far as heat is concerned, there is most probably a valve that turns on and off the hot water that goes to the heater cores. Carpenter usually used a slider control that used a cable to open and close the valve. Over time the cable either froze up or the valve would stop opening and closing completely or usually stopped working completely. They were either replaced with a manual valve or the driver just had to suffer when the outside ambient temps got high.

Look under the hood outside or under the doghouse inside and find the heater hoses where they enter and exit the engine block. If you have a slider valve you should be able to follow the cable to the control valve located in one of the heater coolant lines. If the plunger is down the valve is closed. If the plunger is up the valve is open. If you don't have a cable operated valve then you will have either a gate valve or a ball valve in the line to stop the flow of coolant to the heater cores. Gate valves are open with the handle is parallel to the pipe/hose. Ball valves are open when the handle is twisted all the way counterclockwise.

If everything appears to be open and you still are not getting any heat I would say it is time to get out the infrared laser thermometer. Once the engine is up to operating temperature you will be able to take readings on the hoses/pipes going to the heater cores to determine where the hot water stops.

It may be something as simple as air in the system. If any work was done and the level of coolant went below a certain level or if the system was opened for whatever reason you might have a vapor lock in the heater or coolant lines that will need to be bled out.

On all of the heater/defroster units there should be a bleed screw to aid in the bleeding of air out of the system. If there isn't you will need to crack open a hose enough to let some air out.

Good luck.
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Old 02-12-2017, 10:04 AM   #13
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Year: 1992
Chassis: Cadet
Engine: 5.7 350 gas
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We got our bus!!!! Now what?

Headed to work on the bus today. Changing belts and removing seats. Any recommended tools for getting the seats out?
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Old 02-12-2017, 01:57 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 30kdays View Post
Headed to work on the bus today. Changing belts and removing seats. Any recommended tools for getting the seats out?
That depends on if you want to keep the bolts or not... I would keep them; but I am odd.

A hammer and chisel, grinder air or electric will make the job a lot faster and safety glasses if you go that route of course. Are you working solo or have a helper? Do you want a workout or do you want the tool to do the work.

TMO and TMI
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Old 02-12-2017, 02:57 PM   #15
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Coachwork: Carpenter
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Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
if you want A/C while driving then yes keep it... esp if it works.. cowlitz is right they can be pricey to repair but not always if you know where to look for parts.,. it wont do you any good while you are parked and the engine off though,, its basically like a car A/C only bigger.

im all about being cool on the road so i added 2 to my carpenter.. they wont do a great job cooling the driver seat, hgowever most of the systems are large enough you could add a second evaporator upfront.. under dash or in dash like i did for driver A/C..



my carpenter has bergstrom heaters... there were 3 valves to look for.. 2 water faucet valves under the hood and then one water faucet valve on the floor next to the drivers foot... opening all of these will circulate the coolant through all of the bus heaters.
then just turn the fans on from the panel..

-Christopher
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Old 02-12-2017, 03:00 PM   #16
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For us, it was best to use an impact driver (gun would have more torque) to get as many off as possible with a healthy spray down of penetrating oil (WD-40 in this case). Stubborn ones I had to grind notches into the bolt head and chisel/hammer the head off. See episodes 9-11 of our build.

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Old 02-12-2017, 03:16 PM   #17
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Location: Knoxville, TN
Posts: 39
Year: 1992
Chassis: Cadet
Engine: 5.7 350 gas
Rated Cap: 35 Passenger or 14,500


How do we get this open? I've pulled and pulled and I can't seem to get the doghouse open. Is there a latch?
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Old 02-12-2017, 03:21 PM   #18
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Year: 1992
Chassis: Cadet
Engine: 5.7 350 gas
Rated Cap: 35 Passenger or 14,500
We got our bus!!!! Now what?

Just forced it open. The rubber had melted it together
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