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Old 01-25-2021, 06:02 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2021
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Crown Reality Check

Hi All,

I've been getting into the groove of learning about buses and have become aware of Crowns. They appeal deeply to me due to my previous experience falling for Technics 12s - learning my way around the circuitry and motor while exploring music has been one of the most rewarding experinces ever and brings me ridiculous joy every single day and I'm SO glad I didn't skimp and buy different and less storied decks . My heart is telling me that I could do something similar but on a life-size scale living in a Crown and learning its systems while exploring geographically (with the 12s installed in a place of honor ofc). Is this wierd and idealistic? Should I forget it and focus my research on more practical buses? Looking for input from both Crown proponents and detractors.
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Old 01-25-2021, 06:18 PM   #2
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I'd say if you can afford a Crown and have the time, patience and resources then you should do it. I think everyone wants a Crown at the beginning of their skoolie adventure, the question is, are you fit for a Crown? A normal skoolie build can run as high as 50,000 or 80,000 depending on a lot of factors, even a "bargain" skoolie will run 20,000 before being off-grid worthy unless you have good connections or are a really lucky, thrifty shopper.
When you throw in hard to find parts, rare curved windshields or finding a mechanic to deal with issues you cannot, you're gonna need a nice bankroll. You asked for a reality check, I'm not trying to be rude, in fact the opposite. I hope you can make this your reality, just be very aware it won't be a cheap or even average price tag. Just my .02
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Old 01-25-2021, 06:19 PM   #3
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Crowns, especially the older ones, are beautiful buses and show a lot of pride in their design and assembly. The "systems" you mention are really pretty simple and you'd learn them quickly, I'm sure. There's not much better than a mechanical diesel for self-taught maintenance and care.

Let me probe a bit, if I may. What's the appeal to you in a Crown? I'm not implying that's wrong...I'm looking for the right one, myself. Is it the curves and retro look? The build quality? The name and brand loyalty? Have you looked at other cool retro buses, too, like the old Greyhound buses (ooooh, those Silversides!) or the transit buses? Or the old Gillig school buses, which look (I think) very much like the Crowns?
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Old 01-25-2021, 06:34 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maligator. View Post
I'd say if you can afford a Crown and have the time, patience and resources then you should do it. I think everyone wants a Crown at the beginning of their skoolie adventure, the question is, are you fit for a Crown? A normal skoolie build can run as high as 50,000 or 80,000 depending on a lot of factors, even a "bargain" skoolie will run 20,000 before being off-grid worthy unless you have good connections or are a really lucky, thrifty shopper.
When you throw in hard to find parts, rare curved windshields or finding a mechanic to deal with issues you cannot, you're gonna need a nice bankroll. You asked for a reality check, I'm not trying to be rude, in fact the opposite. I hope you can make this your reality, just be very aware it won't be a cheap or even average price tag. Just my .02
Not rude at all and worth a whole dollar, ty
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Old 01-25-2021, 06:43 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by rossvtaylor View Post
Crowns, especially the older ones, are beautiful buses and show a lot of pride in their design and assembly. The "systems" you mention are really pretty simple and you'd learn them quickly, I'm sure. There's not much better than a mechanical diesel for self-taught maintenance and care.

Let me probe a bit, if I may. What's the appeal to you in a Crown? I'm not implying that's wrong...I'm looking for the right one, myself. Is it the curves and retro look? The build quality? The name and brand loyalty? Have you looked at other cool retro buses, too, like the old Greyhound buses (ooooh, those Silversides!) or the transit buses? Or the old Gillig school buses, which look (I think) very much like the Crowns?

Well I mentioned the Tech 12s because the appeal is similar. Sure, they are silvery and beautiful and an ornament to any room they are in, and sure, the name brand thing is a little fun. But they are famous mainly because they are totally indestructible, and due to their history and wide adoption there's a whole ecosystem of mods, parts, and maintenace resources around them. Because of their testedness I feel like I am learning good habits and absorbing wisdom when I spend time learning how they work and how to use them. I wouldn't care about them if they were just pretty or only famous bc they'd like... been used by famous people or something. So it's not primarily a visual thing, though I am a visual person. If there are other buses that have mechanical qualities similar to the funky simplicity of a 2 stroke diesel engine I would be interested in learning about them too even if they were butt ugly. But I'm not totally utilitarian and apprecuate outer beauty both for it's own sake as well as a reflection of function.
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Old 01-25-2021, 07:10 PM   #6
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We have a 1949 GM "Old Look" we're starting a restoration on. It's got a Detroit 6-71, a 2-stroke diesel. But it's in rough shape and a hard place to start. They're cool looking buses, though, and built to last. Look up Old Look GM buses for some beautiful examples. The New Look GM (fishbowls) are cool, too, but I don't think they have the same retro appeal. No offense to fishbowl owners!

For some interesting info on maintaining the 2-stroke diesels, and a chance to see lots of different 2-stroke diesel bus styles, check out Scott Crosby's "Bus Grease Monkey" channel on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTe...uu-odJld157e6Q

Our 1974 Gillig resembles a Crown, I think. Ours has a 4-stroke diesel, but it's still all mechanical. Gilligs are cool and have a great build quality reputation. Both Crowns and Gilligs were popular on the West Coast.

If you want super cool, super expensive look up the Flxible Clippers...then go look at realistic options!

Seriously, if you have the resources and the passion a Crown's a great forever bus.
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Old 01-25-2021, 10:34 PM   #7
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Year: 1986
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As a Crown owner, I wish to add a couple cents to the discussion.
My first Crown is a 35 ft 2 axle bus with a Detroit 671 and an Allison automatic trans. I did not have any major engine or transmission, or chassis failures. At present the radiator needs repair. My biggest issue with the "Old Crown" was the lack of power on hills. That said I did enjoy going on trips with it. I learned some valuable lessons turning it into an motor home.
I think overall it made a good motor home.
My second Crown has been more complicated. I ended up replacing the engine (because it spun a main bearing) and changing the gear ratio in the diffs. (as redline for the Cummins was at 63 mph) (a 18 wheeler mechanic did the work) The "New Crown" has a Cummins Big Cam I 400(hp) with an Allison HT740 trans, and Rockwell diffs (3 axle) with a 3.42 gear ratio. The "New Crown" is a better vehicle for traveling. When it is completed I think the lessons learned will also make a better home on wheels.

I would say that between the Detroit 671 and the Cummins Big Cam, I prefer the Cummins. I think most any truck shop would have parts for a Cummins Big Cam also.

I believe a properly maintained Crown will go close to a million miles.

I have not driven any other make of skoolie and have not been in any other school bus since high school.

I don't feel I am in a position to criticize any other make of bus.

I think one should find a bus they like and buy that one.

One thing to consider, safetywise is that school buses made after the late seventies where made to strong Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). A skoolie would be safer than an old tour bus for that reason.


One last point about Crowns:
They were never a high production vehicle and have been out of production for almost 30 years. They are not common. Keep that in mind when you look for your bus
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Old 01-25-2021, 11:47 PM   #8
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If you need to raise the roof, I'd pick another bus, don't want to 'ruin a klassic', and they don't look as cool with a raised roof.
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Old 01-26-2021, 07:23 AM   #9
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For me if I found a Crown at a reasonable price I would get one. I have several Detroits in equipment and have had them in vehicles too, so very familier with them. The Cummins 855 are a nice engine too.


Since BeNimble mentions roof height is a standard height roof good for you? 6ft is about normal.


I have seen your other thread about getting your CDL, so you seem to be a person who is willing to go for what you want. If that is true then go for it and do not let anyone stop you.


Our bus we bought because I am partail to the old Internationals, and have had a few International trucks of the same period, that is late 60's early 70"s. It was not running and had been sitting in the woods for more then a decade. Look up "The Bus" on the forum for the build story. So as you can see I am not afraid to get into something different. It is not the cheap way to go though, and I have many years as a mechanic, which makes things a bit easier.



To be honest any bus is going to be a learning experiance, might as well learn on what you really want.
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Old 01-28-2021, 01:17 AM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rossvtaylor View Post
We have a 1949 GM "Old Look" we're starting a restoration on. It's got a Detroit 6-71, a 2-stroke diesel. But it's in rough shape and a hard place to start. They're cool looking buses, though, and built to last. Look up Old Look GM buses for some beautiful examples. The New Look GM (fishbowls) are cool, too, but I don't think they have the same retro appeal. No offense to fishbowl owners!!
I would have to find something that at least pretends to be solid, if that is even to be had. Don't think I can afford to start intentionally in a rough place considering I'm already probably going to end up there by accident a few times. But that is like a movie bus and I bet u could make money from like prophouses or something showing up as an extra in car crowd scenes w lots of traffic.

Quote:
For some interesting info on maintaining the 2-stroke diesels, and a chance to see lots of different 2-stroke diesel bus styles, check out Scott Crosby's "Bus Grease Monkey" channel on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTe...uu-odJld157e6Q
This channel is awsome thank u

Quote:
Our 1974 Gillig resembles a Crown, I think. Ours has a 4-stroke diesel, but it's still all mechanical. Gilligs are cool and have a great build quality reputation. Both Crowns and Gilligs were popular on the West Coast.
They do look similar and very timeless.. no sharp edges so they're friendly looking, but not in the techy ergonomic way things are now. I do also really like the boxy super coach 2s though. Those might have been my schoolbus actually, LA in the mid 90s. I'm should show the Crown and Gillig buses to my dad too he grew up in Tiburon in the 70s.

Quote:
If you want super cool, super expensive look up the Flxible Clippers...then go look at realistic options!
haha I was expecting an articulated bus

Quote:
Seriously, if you have the resources and the passion a Crown's a great forever bus.
I have some resources... a decent war chest due to my initial plan being a tiny build on a trailer plus truck and budgeting for that, and a remote income that puts me just around the federal poverty line lol.

But I think the "forever bus" is really the core of why they appeal to me. I baby my stuff for fun and having to hold back on that impulse for practical reasons makes me cranky and pointless, not how I want to live. Are there any other buses with a "forever bus"/"million mile" rep or just these?
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Old 01-28-2021, 01:18 AM   #11
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flattracker View Post
As a Crown owner, I wish to add a couple cents to the discussion.

My first Crown is a 35 ft 2 axle bus with a Detroit 671 and an Allison automatic trans. I did not have any major engine or transmission, or chassis failures. At present the radiator needs repair. My biggest issue with the "Old Crown" was the lack of power on hills. That said I did enjoy going on trips with it. I learned some valuable lessons turning it into an motor home.

I think overall it made a good motor home.

My second Crown has been more complicated. I ended up replacing the engine (because it spun a main bearing) and changing the gear ratio in the diffs. (as redline for the Cummins was at 63 mph) (a 18 wheeler mechanic did the work) The "New Crown" has a Cummins Big Cam I 400(hp) with an Allison HT740 trans,and Rockwell diffs (3 axle) with a 3.42 gear ratio. The "New Crown" is a better vehicle for traveling. When it is completed I think the lessons learned will also make a better home on wheels.

I would say that between the Detroit 671 and the Cummins Big Cam, I prefer the Cummins. I think most any truck shop would have parts for a Cummins Big Cam also.
Even though the Big Cam has given you more trouble? I guess it's easy so say being pokey on hills doesn't sound so bad if it's never driven me crazy in real life. Based on my tentative understanding of the relationship between RPM and Torque it would have been speedy enough elsewhere, so I guess it must have been really annoying. Are both buses manual?

Quote:
I believe a properly maintained Crown will go close to a million miles.
With either engine? are there any other "million mile" buses?

Quote:
I have not driven any other make of skoolie and have not been in any other school bus since high school.

I don't feel I am in a position to criticize any other make of bus.

I think one should find a bus they like and buy that one.

One thing to consider, safetywise is that school buses made after the late seventies where made to strong Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). A skoolie would be safer than an old tour bus for that reason.

One last point about Crowns:

They were never a high production vehicle and have been out of production for almost 30 years. They are not common. Keep that in mind when you look for your bus.
Yeah I went a little deeper into the frequency and prices of Crowns recently sold. This whole thread basically just wishful thinking. The only Phantom I could find was also 11k from on ebay.
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Old 01-28-2021, 01:19 AM   #12
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Originally Posted by Ronnie View Post
For me if I found a Crown at a reasonable price I would get one. I have several Detroits in equipment and have had them in vehicles too, so very familier with them. The Cummins 855 are a nice engine too.
Whatever a reasonable price may be in this day and age of the COVID bubble smh guess I'm just another lemming. From my continued reading it seems like finding a mechanic for the Detroit can be tricky but the appeal of all mechanical and that particular engine is more DIY is possible so maybe it balances out? Is there more than one type of Detroit Diesel in this bus? I think I saw the Cummins comes in a few flavors.

Quote:
Since BeNimble mentions roof height is a standard height roof good for you? 6ft is about normal.
yeah im short roof raise not a need.
I will want to delete a bunch of windows and reenforce the doors early in the build.

Quote:
I have seen your other thread about getting your CDL, so you seem to be a person who is willing to go for what you want. If that is true then go for it and do not let anyone stop you.
haha I don't think that was me, but maybe I should take another look. Periodically I explore the option of a CDL but every course I find is like $5,000. Perhaps if I had my own class A vehicle.

Quote:
Our bus we bought because I am partail to the old Internationals, and have had a few International trucks of the same period, that is late 60's early 70"s. It was not running and had been sitting in the woods for more then a decade. Look up "The Bus" on the forum for the build story. So as you can see I am not afraid to get into something different. It is not the cheap way to go though, and I have many years as a mechanic, which makes things a bit easier.
I like the purple and WOW you can seriously take that thing apart and (more importantly) put it back together. Doesn't look cheap or easy, even with years of experience working on cars and a full shop.

Quote:
To be honest any bus is going to be a learning experiance, might as well learn on what you really want.
For sure. I admit that doing something *really* bargain bin and unsexy first can sometimes help if I am very strategic and don't get stuck on it. But idk what that would look like in this situation. Maybe getting some experience working on any type of combustion engine.
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Old 01-28-2021, 01:26 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by BeNimble View Post
If you need to raise the roof, I'd pick another bus, don't want to 'ruin a klassic', and they don't look as cool with a raised roof.
dont need a roof raise but yeah keeping them pretty especially the OG ones seems like a responsibility. anyways i'm unlikely to get my hands on one so they are safe from me
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Old 01-28-2021, 01:34 AM   #14
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Thanks for taking the time to respond to so many comments, from me and others. That's very classy and appreciated. It's like writing a thank-you note after a gift.

Million mile buses, you ask? Actually, all the buses I mentioned are "million mile" buses because they used to be made that way. Anything made, back in the day, for Trailways or Greyhound was made to last and be easily repairable. For example, those GM buses (whether a highway or transit bus) have the engines hanging in a cradle with 4 bolts. A shop could change out the engine and transmission in a few hours. MCIs were also made like that. We have an MCI MC-7 and the engine slides out the back on V rails. By the way, while we love our MC-7 take a look at the MC-5 that bus_bro just posted about in this thread: https://www.skoolie.net/forums/f14/a...tml#post423894 It's not a school bus, so we should be banned for mentioning it, but the MC-5 is one of my favorite buses...and this one seems very nice.

But...after all that...it's not a Crown and Crowns are cool.
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Old 01-28-2021, 10:23 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rossvtaylor View Post
Thanks for taking the time to respond to so many comments, from me and others. That's very classy and appreciated. It's like writing a thank-you note after a gift.

Million mile buses, you ask? Actually, all the buses I mentioned are "million mile" buses because they used to be made that way. Anything made, back in the day, for Trailways or Greyhound was made to last and be easily repairable. For example, those GM buses (whether a highway or transit bus) have the engines hanging in a cradle with 4 bolts. A shop could change out the engine and transmission in a few hours. MCIs were also made like that. We have an MCI MC-7 and the engine slides out the back on V rails. By the way, while we love our MC-7 take a look at the MC-5 that bus_bro just posted about in this thread: https://www.skoolie.net/forums/f14/a...tml#post423894 It's not a school bus, so we should be banned for mentioning it, but the MC-5 is one of my favorite buses...and this one seems very nice.

But...after all that...it's not a Crown and Crowns are cool.
everyone like school buses. But a big part of it is that its a fad.

Those mc5's are SWEET.
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Old 01-28-2021, 11:56 AM   #16
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I would not call it a fad. As long as there have been school buses people have made motirhomes out if used ones. Look how many old conversions show up on this forum, mine included. They make a great platform for a motorhome whether it is a weekend camper or a tiny home.
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Old 01-28-2021, 12:04 PM   #17
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Location: Bly Oregon
Posts: 114
Year: 1986
Coachwork: Crown
Chassis: Supercoach
Engine: Cummins 350 big cam
Rated Cap: 86 passengers?
I will address some of the comments about my Crown's engine failure. When I purchased the "New Crown" I first had a long time race buddy check it out. My friend happens to be a long time diesel mechanic, who worked at a shop that works mostly on 18 wheelers and some buses. He has been in the trade for his whole career and is knowledgeable of both Detroit and Cummins engines. After purchase (in 2019 for $3k) he did a complete service of the bus and had the transmission serviced at a transmission shop. Given that the odometer showed only about 50 K miles, the bearing failure was a surprise to all involved. The Cummins Big Cam III was normally found in big over the road trucks and has an excellent reputation. The over the road trucks don't go a million miles without work on the engine. Professional drivers (truckers) usually keep a maintenance fund to cover repairs for their trucks. The big Cummins (855,s are designed for in frame major repair (most anything that doesn't require removal of the crankshaft).

As Crowns use components common to the over the road trucks, I stand by my statement about a million mile bus.
I expect the current engine in my "new Crown" to last past my existence. The improvements that came with having a big cam III all moved to the big cam I engine (excepting mechanical valve timing which is known to be problematic).
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Old 01-28-2021, 12:54 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronnie View Post
I would not call it a fad. As long as there have been school buses people have made motirhomes out if used ones. Look how many old conversions show up on this forum, mine included. They make a great platform for a motorhome whether it is a weekend camper or a tiny home.
Its totally a huge FAD. Look at it all, man. Look at "swarm" on facebook. Huge fad.

People been growing neck beards forever- but now that's a fad.
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Old 01-28-2021, 04:09 PM   #19
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Its totally a huge FAD. Look at it all, man. Look at "swarm" on facebook. Huge fad.

People been growing neck beards forever- but now that's a fad.
Maybe but I do believe it is here to stay for some time. The old ways just do not work anymore.
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Old 01-28-2021, 04:50 PM   #20
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Maybe but I do believe it is here to stay for some time. The old ways just do not work anymore.
the old ways work fine, its the newfangled stuff and the fad that gets it all confusing.


I'm not saying school buses are ever going to go down in price. Just the opposite- they're climbing and likely to stay there.
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