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WilcoxHotel 05-20-2008 10:17 AM

Short Bus Mileage
Hi folks,

New here. The band I'm in recently bought a bus for a summer tour across the US and back (7500 miles). It's a 1991 Blue Bird short bus with a GMC 350 in it. It runs great, and a trusted mechanic gave it a remarkably clean bill of health, but we're a little worried about gas mileage. We've been using it for the past month to drive to local shows (all city driving), and it's only getting about 6.5 MPG.

We thought it would do a bit better than this on gas even in town. And we were hoping it would do about 12 mpg on the highway. So, here are my questions:

1. Is 6.5 alarmingly low? Is there something wrong?
2. What kind of highway MPG should we expect? Might we get close to 12?
3. Anything we can do squeeze another mile per gallon out of it?

Any help is greatly appreciated. Rock-n-roll don't pay like it used to, and, as everyone knows, gas prices are outragous.


odyssess 05-21-2008 01:11 AM

Re: Short Bus Mileage
Hey man, I checked out your myspace page and I dig your sound. I like the Drive By Truckers and you can hear their influence in your music. How come your not playing Vegas? You're in Reno and L. A., EVERYBODY plays Vegas!! Get yourself booked here and we will come out. Try the Sand Dollar Blues Lounge...down and dirty Vegas Style!!

the_experience03 05-21-2008 08:25 AM

Re: Short Bus Mileage
How many gears does your transmission have? A 1991 is just as likely to have a TH400 3 speed auto (no overdrive) as a 700R4 (overdrive). The overdrive would help you out with mileage though I'm not personally a fan of the 700R4.

Your in town mileage is going to suck. There really is no way around that. On the open highway I think you stand a chance of doing better. Remember that you as a driver have far more control over your mileage than any of the other gimmicks out there. Gently accelerate, coast rather than hurrying to that red light and slamming on the brakes, and find that "sweet spot" for mileage. For something like you're driving I would guess it is at 60 mph, certainly not much faster. Newer cars actually get better mileage at 65-70 than 55. There is something to be said for deep overdrives.

As was mentioned before, a swap of rear end ratios might prove to be helpful. I would venture to guess your rear axle is a dual wheel Dana 70 or Dana 80. If so it would actually be worth some ching to a fourwheeler, especially in your area. You could easily swap a GM 14 bolt full floater in (the whole axle...why mess with gears?) with a more highway friendly gear ratio. I think you might actually make money on the deal. Find your local fourwheeling club and offer to trade someone your rear axle for a 14 bolt if they will install it for you. It shouldn't be an issue as a 14 bolt was used for 30 years and can be had for $200. Strength will not be an issue for you.

WilcoxHotel 05-21-2008 10:06 AM

Re: Short Bus Mileage
Thanks to everyone for the advice. Unfortunately, we leave in 10 days. So I donít think thereís time to swap out gears (or the axle). It does have overdrive, and Iíve had it up to 75 mph. So Iím thinking that that the ratio isnít too ill-suited for the highway.

I contacted a Blue Bird service guy who said it should get between 8 and 12 mpg depending on terrain. If we can average 9 for the trip, we can stay pretty close to our budget.

It scared the crap out of us when we got 6 mpg. We had visions of selling our drummerís kidneys to get from Albuquerque to Galveston.

Odyssess, glad to hear you liked the songs. Weíre pretty big DBT fans. We were really hoping to hit Vegas, but the timing/venue/money just didnít work out.

odyssess 05-22-2008 05:55 PM

Re: Short Bus Mileage
Hey Jimmy, email me when you get to town, I can tell you all the cool outdoor spots driving distance from Vegas( Valley of Fire, Redrock Canyon, Mt. Charleston etc.) If you haven't been to Zion Nat'l Park or Bryce Canyon, they are really cool as well and close (3hrs.) You probably have been to most of these places if your sister lives here. I may or may not be there that weekend but if I am, we can meet up.

WilcoxHotel 05-23-2008 07:23 AM

Re: Short Bus Mileage
I second the Zion National Park suggestion. I was there a few years ago and it was unbelievable. If you're a hiker, Angels Landing and The Narrows are by far the best hikes I've ever done. Though, Angels Landing is not for the faint of heart.

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