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Old 11-09-2020, 06:30 PM   #1
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Frankenbus?

So, I got a new rather annoying piece of news today that it will be perhaps six weeks before I can even think about shopping for a bus. So that rules out the five or so candidates that are under $500 in the next county.

In the meantime, I had another idea. With my asthma as bad as it is, diesel exhaust is probably not something I need to be around anyway, so I have been looking for a larger gas-powered bus, which is not that easy to find these days.

I ran across a listing for an early 2000s Caterpillar-powered GMC GMT530 chassis bus with engine issues. It occurs to me that a donor 26 foot U-Haul cab and chassis on the same GMT530 platform (these had 8.1 GM gassers) could be scavenged for parts to repower this bus with a gasser, since all the critical parts can be pulled from the donor.

I'd say it would likely be a good bit cheaper than rebuilding a Caterpillar. If I can get both for cheap and find a mechanic that knows what they're doing, I think I may come out ahead with this. Or perhaps swap the bus body and shorten it if necessary to fit the U-haul cab/chassis. Thoughts?
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Old 11-09-2020, 07:11 PM   #2
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
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Year: 1991
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Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
theres about 40 Uhaul cab and chassis for sale at my storage unit.. they are 8.1s with allison 1000 6 speeds
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Old 11-09-2020, 11:49 PM   #3
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Chassis: Freightliner FS65
Engine: Caterpillar 3126E Diesel
Rated Cap: 71 Passenger- 30,000 lbs.
Those sound just like what Cheese_Wagon is looking into ... then the "house" part could be built up.
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Old 11-10-2020, 12:10 AM   #4
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Actually, I was thinking about swapping the gas powertrain from the U-Haul into the GMC / Caterpillar bus that has blow-by, since the 26 footers no longer come with a box. And buying / fabbing another 26' box for it is ridiculous. Not to mention the lion's share of the work, I can't do myself anyway. Or possibly swapping the bus body onto the U-Haul chassis and grafting the U-Haul cab into it (retaining the "TRUCK"-registered VIN number makes it easier from an insurance standpoint), and maybe swapping the axles for the air brakes.

However, the seller of the bus I have in mind won't go below $3800, so I believe what I will probably wind up with is a U-Haul cab and chassis with propane tanks, solar array and battery bank mounted on the frame between the axle and cab, with a fifth wheel to pull a fifth wheel trailer, either a gooseneck built as a tiny house, or an RV. Not what I was shooting for, but it puts a roof over my head.
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Old 11-10-2020, 06:27 PM   #5
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Join Date: Dec 2015
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Chassis: 1 ford e350 2 mercedes
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I think that is a smart move...in 2019 at skoolies palooza we ran into a family with a bunch of kids ..a small econoline bus to seat them and a trailer from sleep, cook, shower etc..

It dawned on us there that they had maybe not the coolest outfit compared to home made roof raised buses but for sure the handiest.. lowest cost and risk.
I cringe with the idea that a truck at an intersection takes out the side ...and all that work, love and effort that went into building it.

Johan
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Old 11-11-2020, 09:14 AM   #6
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Year: 1991
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Chassis: tc 2000
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My brother in law re-powered his trail rig with this and is quite pleased. for your asthma application this seems an ideal fit. Also of note with growing popularity of LS platform swaps in the hot rodding world, there is a huge aftermarket support. As much of my life is been diesel-centric, I have also come to understand fuel in Conus isn't as shelf stable as it was. For occasional use drivers, shifting away from diesel would save a fortune in incidental and maintenance costs. Due to your circumstance you would be paving a way to shape future options for others stuck with good body trash engine busses, as the dilemma of emissions vs reliability keeps looming in the future.
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Old 11-11-2020, 10:05 PM   #7
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Not hijacking the thread i hope

Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
theres about 40 Uhaul cab and chassis for sale at my storage unit.. they are 8.1s with allison 1000 6 speeds
So I knew I'd be Ultimately someday want to chat with you about my 99 DT466e BlueBird I made into a 23ft stepdeck for hauling Rv & cargo Trlrs. The yearlong conversion would've been halved had i just bought a Uhaul cab& chassis like these. I'm in Columbus & wondering if i can show you my bus. I seen your posts on 545's & 643's recently which i need addressed. My speed is 53mph @2450 so i need remedies. I'd post a picture but haven't figured out how to. Duh
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Old 11-12-2020, 07:41 AM   #8
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Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
sure thing.. hit me up on PM and we will set something up.. BTW if you want to look at those Uhauls they are over at Uhaul on georgresville rd in columbus..



yeah 53 at 2450 you are tapped on gears.. time to regear or swap in an overdrive trans. an MT643 wont give you any more speed. an allison 1000/2000/3000 swap would.. or of course a new punkin in the rear.. im guessing you have something like a 5.13 or 5.38 and maybe need to go to a 4.44 or even 4.10 (you'd lose a lot of torque with that one)..



-Christopher
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Old 11-14-2020, 06:52 PM   #9
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Just do a Uhouse truck instead of a bus!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg uhaul house 1.jpg (83.1 KB, 12 views)
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Remember "Drive Fast, Turn Heads, Break Hearts"
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Old 11-14-2020, 08:12 PM   #10
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Unfortunately the 26-footers no longer come with the box. Only 17 footers and smaller.
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Old 11-14-2020, 08:42 PM   #11
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welcome back Cheese Wagon... I hope to one day meet you. I am glad your recovery has given you a light at the end of the tunnel. I am still working on mine. But, I sure do hope to be road bound some year soon. I have enjoyed learning from you. Take care
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Old 11-15-2020, 07:49 PM   #12
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I was dreaming of putting a 1940ish bus body on a newer frame and adding the engine and transmission I wanted but it's only a dream. How much do you think it would cost in general terms to do something like this? I could do some of it but I think cranes and heavy equipment would be a minimum of stuff I don't have. Thanks

John
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Old 11-15-2020, 07:53 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prankster View Post
I was dreaming of putting a 1940ish bus body on a newer frame and adding the engine and transmission I wanted but it's only a dream. How much do you think it would cost in general terms to do something like this? I could do some of it but I think cranes and heavy equipment would be a minimum of stuff I don't have. Thanks

John
ol_trunt would be the one to ask about this... Put a 46 Chevy body on a late-model Isuzu NPR chassis with the 3.9 diesel. Probably not as much as you might think. Wheelbase and required frame stretch / shortening are the key factors. Another member here has a newer NPR with a 6.0 gas... could probably be bought cheap, but it's in Alaska.
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Old 11-17-2020, 03:59 PM   #14
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Join Date: Apr 2012
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Year: 1935
Coachwork: Superior
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Engine: 317 ci/tid / Isuzu
Prankster, I'll clean up CW's description of my bus a bit. It is a 1935 Chevy with a Superior bus body. I stretched an Isuzu NPR chassis with a 5.2 l turbo diesel to replace the original workings. The whole change over and build out took me about 3 years of all my free time and I have no idea what it cost.

If you would like to see the build thread you can start here:

https://www.skoolie.net/forums/f11/h...ory-31871.html.

Pack a lunch and your jammies--its a looong thread.
Jack
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Old 11-17-2020, 08:04 PM   #15
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Thanks ole_trunt and CHEESE_WAGON. Three years of spare time is what I would classify a labor of love. I did check out your build site...pretty impressive.
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Old 11-26-2020, 09:46 AM   #16
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Year: 1991
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: tc 2000
Engine: P pump cummins
It took several days to read over your conversion. It is indeed a long read, but explains so much in the duration. I would like to thank you for sharing. The devil is in the details and the process in which you address each of details with patient determination was a pleasure to read. I love the work you have done, especially matching theme with Clarence the toad, and even continuing the theme with Golden. Also highlighted over the time is a personal view into your life. Again thanks for sharing. Intiresting note you live quite near my mother and sister. I hope one day when visiting them, I might get the privilage to meet you along the way. It would be an honor.
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Old 11-26-2020, 11:24 AM   #17
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Posts: 2,968
Year: 1935
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Chassis: Chevy
Engine: 317 ci/tid / Isuzu
Thanks for the kind words--you should receive a medal for wading through my build!

Just shoot me a PM when you are planning on being in the area and we can get together and swap lies!
Jack
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