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Tango 04-18-2011 01:32 PM

'46 Chevy Shorty
Hello All --- Well, I finally got a look at this darlin' up close & personal. And I am very happy to say, it is in better shape than I had even hoped for! Sure, , it needs a ton (or in this case...a ton & a half, since that's the chassis it's on) of work, but it is a great little starter platform. Very little rust with only a couple of small replacement patches needed next to the front fenders and one "wrinkle" next to the entry door. The latex house paint is peeling, but that's coming off anyway. Mechanically it is surprisingly solid. Recent brake rebuild, working parking brake (a big deal, actually) and a snazzy new custom, aluminum radiator. The 1980's vintage 350 motor runs great but will be (hopefully) replaced with a Cummins 4BTAA. The original 4-speed tranny sounds good but hoping for an Allison auto with 5 speeds. And speaking of speed, as with nearly all these old hill climbers and house movers, tops is maybe 55. If the Allison gears won't bring that up enough, then a new rearend will be in order.

And BTW...I am in the process of looking for a reliable transport service to get it from Utah to Houston, so if anyone here has any recommendations, experience, horror stories...please...pass them along. That business is so BS intensive that it's as scary as it is annoying, so a personal reference will go a long ways with me.

I have just started laying out the interior as well as a couple of exterior mods. As you can see in the pix, it has already undergone some degree of conversion so I have a bit of a head-start there. Not much space to work with, but hey, not that much to build out either! If I can figure out how to do the drawings in Google Sketch, I'll post as I go.
Grill is straight & ready for chrome. Even has near perfect stainless side trim on the hood.
A new door is definitely in order (damn Hippies). And that smoke stack is indeed hooked to a wood stove.
The shortest body Wayne ever made...21 feet bumper-to-bumper.
A study in the "KISS" principal. And yep...that handle on the left rolls down the driver's window! Cool.
Just a couple of benches and some carpet to tear out.
At 7-1/2' across inside, it's almost as wide as it is long.

I figure this project will easily take a year or two, but I'd like to get the engine/tranny worked out asap. If anyone has experience with 4BT swaps, I'll buy the coffee to chat.

Many, many thanks to the Skoolie Board Builders and all the wonderful folks here who make this site so great. You all played a big part in my decision to go ahead with this little fantasy. And as most of you already know...Dreams are far more important than reality.

More (much more) to follow. Onward!

dirtygoat 04-18-2011 02:23 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
I like it...

Good luck with transport...

Diesel Dan 04-18-2011 07:45 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
What a cool old bus! Great project you got there.

RevBill 04-18-2011 09:46 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
.. awesome .. awesome .. awesome .. looking forward to following your conversion/upgrade .. what a great find to build on ..

Seeria 04-19-2011 06:00 AM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Has to be the coolest looking classic shorty I've seen yet.
Don't know any transport but you might try calling the local (where you bought it) bus and fleet shops and sales lots and ask them for a few numbers.

opus 04-19-2011 10:37 AM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Awww...dude, find the original engine for that thing!

oldschool 04-19-2011 04:51 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Keep the engine you have! The original 235 oil dipper's these came with are slow, have little power, and are a royal pain to maintain. The 4 speed trany has to bo double clutched in every gear(it is an old truck). On the bright side mine has a disk brake on the shaft; it's nice to have an emergency brake that really works. Stovebolt forums are good information sites.

Good luck, looks like a really cool bus


Tango 04-20-2011 10:43 AM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Thanks for the support and feed back. And yeah, it does seem to have a bit of a "Brinks Truck" look around the windshield, doesn't it. But probably one that would be more attractive to Bonnie & Clyde than any present day outlaws. The entry door is a home made wooden affair that is about to come apart and is the first thing that will get replaced. Mostly for security reasons. The floor plan will include a small living area in the front with a minimal kitchen (cook-top, sink, fridge), a bed and a toilet/shower combo. The rear will be left pretty much open to serve as a mobile shop and storage area. An almost full-length roof rack is also being considered.

I used to have a 21' Toyota-based Odyssey camper that was about the same interior size and realized that the shower took up a lot of otherwise valuable space when not being used, so for this unit, I plan to put it to work. I have designed a shower door that when closed has drawers and shelving that will occupy all that open space inside the shower and swings out to form a privacy door when in the open position. Frankly, I'm surprised that I haven't seen such an arrangement before since coach makers work so hard at using every other square inch.

As for power, the Chevy is a great running engine, but barely gets 8 mpg. I need something that will take me further on less fuel. The stock 6 just doesn't have the grunt to pull much of a load and really isn't all that great on fuel either. I started out looking at the 5-cylinder Mercedes diesels in the new Sprinter vans that get about 22, but a little homework exposed a lot of problems with such a transplant. They require a couple of dozen computers and even more sensors all working in harmony to pull it off and are a nightmare to try and reprogram to any other vehicle. Turns out, the tried & true Cummins 4B series are about as bullet-proof as engines get and can be tuned not only to pull a house with torque to spare, but get 24 to 30 mpg doing it with just 2 wires to connect and not a single computer anywhere. Funny thing is, with a little tweaking, the same little engine can be set up to produce anything from 80 to as much as 600 horsepower. I'm planning on the 130 hp tune. And because there are so many of them around, parts and service are easily available just about anywhere. The only electronics issues involved may be those associated with mating it to a 5 or 6 speed Allison automatic, but at least there are kits available that make it doable. The combination should be one that will provide plenty of pull, outstanding mileage, long life and ease of maintenance. At least, that's what I'm shooting for.

I'm working out some floor plans and will post some sketches as soon as I am close to something workable.

opus 04-20-2011 11:02 AM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
I was thinking the original engine just for the coolness factor. Sure, it wont get the mileage but I wasnt sure how much traveling you would do. How about a 5.9 or would it be too long? You could buy a whole wrecked truck and take the whole drivetrain.

You'll probably have $6k into the Cummins job, I would guess. Lots of power options for you.

lornaschinske 04-20-2011 01:37 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
There is a similar looking bus not far from here. Looks like it was converted at one time. It's at a Bee Chama Honey farm in Lemitar. I keep meaning to get a pic as we barrel down the interstate. Perhaps I can get one today when we drive up (yet again) to Albuquerque.

Tango 04-21-2011 05:01 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Funny you should ask. The "Name Thing" has been a topic of discussion and it has evolved into a peculiar moniker. I was leaning towards a name & paint scheme that gives the impression of an old, art deco period tour bus. My business in Houston has long gone by a name with the initials "H-T". And being a pilot and ex-Navy, I often use the military phonetic for those letters which works out to "Hotel Tango". A name I like the sound of and have always wanted to use on something anyway. But then, I got stuck on the old line..."It seemed like a good idea at the time". Then I realized that the initials for that line spell out..."Isla Giatt". So most likely, the old girl will have "Hotel Tango de Isla Giatt Scenic Tours" painted down the side in a hard core deco typeface. Hey...if that doesn't throw people for a loop, nothing will.

A good Cuban cigar and a Mojito will always be on board to make the image complete.

Tango 04-23-2011 01:48 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
What with my current workload, I have decided to wait until mid-June before bringing the baby home. Did find a transporter that was recommended by another bus owner he hauled for. Choice Carrier Corp. Will let you all know how it goes. Meanwhile, back to doodling floorplans & paint schemes.

somewhereinusa 04-23-2011 03:31 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Hey Tango,
Going to be in Pasadena Monday, then on to Richie Bros in Humble going back to Lima, OH


Tango 04-24-2011 10:03 AM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Hey Somewhere --- Welcome to Texas! I have booked the move for my '46 Chevy bus with Steve at CCC. Can't do it until mid-June though, too much work going on here and bouncing in & out of town. Making me crazy not having it here to work on. Bit like the first half of your Bird story. Man, that is one sweet Bird too! Fantastic units and while the engine might not have been your first choice, it is light-years ahead of the 6-53, supercharged "Screamer" that was in the 40-footer I had a few years back. You are also way, way ahead of me with SketchUp. Great job on the layout. I'm just now beginning to work with it and not making a lot of progress so far. Back to the tutorials.

Meanwhile, I gotta' ask, are you shopping or hauling at Ritchie Bros? I just put them on my watch list for a Cummins engine and other parts, maybe a whole P30 if I can find the right set-up.

somewhereinusa 04-24-2011 12:13 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Sketchup gets way easier as you go along.

Picking up two trucks going to Ohio.

Tango 04-24-2011 12:56 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Have a safe trip. Blues skies and shiny side up all the way.

Tango 05-02-2011 02:25 AM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Started working with Google SketchUp and had fits for a while. Finally got a couple of layouts for the interior though. Mind you, this is one very small bus, so the plan is definitely "minimalist". You can only cram so much into a 1946 16-seater bus. The total interior space is about 15' by 7 1/2'.

Sink, cooktop, small fridge, jackknife sofa/bed and combo shower/toilet. The backend will be for hauling my shop & gear. Like I said, minimalist.

The "box" on the inside of the shower door is an idea for some extra shelves and drawers. A way to use all that space when you're not in it for other business. The idea is to use a swing out door that will close off the space to the front when it's in the open position. Still have a few details to work out, but it's a start.

Tango 05-02-2011 12:23 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Here's one more can see the shower door/extra shelves/drawer space a little better...

Tango 05-03-2011 09:41 AM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Having WAY too much fun with SketchUp! Here's an update with a few more details. Now you can see how the shower door shelves intrude into that otherwise lost space.

Tango 05-20-2011 01:11 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Howdy All --- I just snagged a clean YOM (year of manufacture) Texas license plate for my '46. Hoo-yah! And I only need one. It seems Texas only issued single plates during WWII to save on metal.

Tango 05-26-2011 09:37 AM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Still (anxiously) awaiting the arrival of my Shorty, but in the meantime, continue with planning. And besides all the books and literature I have been able to find on the 1-1/2 ton Chevy truck chassis, I have only ordered two parts so far. A repop of the front Chevy emblem (the original was heavily painted over)...and, I found a really clean YOM (Year Of Manufacture) license plate. Turns out that Texas only issued single plates from '42 to '46 (war years), so I only need one to be legal. Still on the hunt for a good 4BT Cummins engine and a 5 or 6 speed tranny. Good thing I'm in no rush, there is a lot to get done (and buy) before this dumplin' is ready for the road.

Given the very small interior I have to work with, I am now designing an enlarged roof-rack system and an extended rear bumper deck. Wondering if anyone has tried or built a slide-out style rear deck that can be extended when parked (?). Hey...if they can do it with whole bedrooms...why not a portable patio for enjoying Margaritas ?

Tango 05-30-2011 09:23 AM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Hey Rudy --- roger that. He has his work cut out for him.

TfallsTrio 06-07-2011 09:47 AM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
SWEET shorty !
thats an "everydayer" right there. LOVED the trip thru the old bus <grave/barn> yard. acually looked like theres and old 70's chevy c-model in the background. fairly new to skoolies myself , but it sure looks close.


Tango 06-08-2011 07:24 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Hey Tfalls...glad you enjoyed the tour. That fella has quite a little graveyard going there in Utah with a few really interesting buses. Only a couple are drivers, most were parked to be kookie cabin rentals. Not sure what year the Chevy though.

TfallsTrio 06-09-2011 08:46 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
d'wife and i think they are PERFECT to be turned into cabins and rented out as a dern tourist atractions :lol:
8) ya know, each interior matching the year of the bus,,,, but findin a tv for that '46'll be tough :lol: :lol: :lol:
man that'd be fun to retro furnish :D

Stuff 06-10-2011 09:55 AM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
i seriously need to learn how to use that sketch up thing.,.

Tango 06-10-2011 11:48 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Hey Stuff --- It took me about 3 days of messing around in their tutorials to get the hang of it, but it's worth it. Great little true 3-D program and perfect for converters. Not to's FREE!

Tango 06-12-2011 10:21 AM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
BTW --- Anyone who has not yet played with the free Google SketchUp software...the pix you see above and from other folks are just "snapshots". What makes this little program so powerful & useful (not to mention very, very cool), is the ability to fully rotate and manipulate whatever you sketch 360 degrees. In other words, you can draw something like a simple top-down floorplan...then turn it to view it from any angle in real time. Like I said before, it's like it was developed just for bus converters. Granted, a little knowledge of blueprints, drawing or drafting comes in handy, but if you spend some time in the video tutorials, just about anyone can be working in it in no time. Go for it!

Stuff 06-12-2011 10:32 AM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty

Originally Posted by Tango
Hey Stuff --- It took me about 3 days of messing around in their tutorials to get the hang of it, but it's worth it. Great little true 3-D program and perfect for converters. Not to's FREE!

heh, last time i tried it it was just a free trial then you had to shell out like 500 bucks or something so i deleted it.

Tango 06-12-2011 11:02 AM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Hey Stuff --- the basic version is still free. Only the "Pro" version has any fees associated with it and it is way beyond what we need (or I can understand) for our purposes anyway.

opus 06-27-2011 10:59 AM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Thought of you when I saw this:

Tango 06-27-2011 10:09 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Dang! Sure wish that unit was closer to Texas! Thanks Opus, much appreciated. I am still on the hunt. May be taking a look at a 6-speed Allison I just came across locally in the next day or so. It can be bolted up OK, but have to find out about a controller ($$$-ka-ching).

opus 06-27-2011 10:17 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Dude, come get it and drive it home. Great time to visit MT!! :)

Tango 06-30-2011 11:08 AM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
A visit to the Great State of Montana (aka "Big Sky Country" )is most definitely part of the long term plan. Just can't bail from here for a while.

Tango 07-02-2011 06:14 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
My bus should be here in a week or so and I just sent a check off for a Cummins 4BTAA and Allison 545 combo. Looks like I may have to get to work soon instead of just reading about everyone else's progress. Between finding time to work on it and scratching for the necessary cash, I figure it could easily take a couple of years (unless the Lottery comes through soon). Either way, I am SO ready to finally get started!

Tango 07-22-2011 12:57 AM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Engine/Tranny Update --- They're heeere! Will make a run to Diesel Specialists tomorrow to finally see what I bought and set up the dyno run and checkout. Just hope it runs as good as it looked & sounded on YouTube!

Stuff 07-22-2011 10:47 AM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
since you got it, how did it sound on youtube? link would cool :D

Tango 07-22-2011 05:47 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Hey Stuff --- the YouTube vid (combined with the sellers rep & history on FleaBay) is what sold me. It sounded very good. It may still be up here...

Saw it in person today and there is a fair amount of pretty nasty looking surface rust on the intake, but the diesel tech said he thought it was fine. They will check it out in a week or so and schedule a dyno run after that. Now all I need is my bus!...and of course, winning the lottery. Onward!

Tango 07-27-2011 03:25 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
It looks like I FINALLY have a carrier for my bus! Good thing, cause given that I bought it back in April and have been going in circles with transporters (brokers, actually) ever since, my patience is worn pretty thin. What a scam ridden racket! At least now I am dealing with an owner/operator who is not only motivated, but actually on his way after just two days of talk. He left Houston this morning and should be headed back next week. Looks like I will have to get to work here pretty soon. Can't wait!

Tango 08-03-2011 07:51 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Yea!!! It's here! --- After getting jerked around by transport brokers for two months I finally found a fully insured "Indie" who got the job done in short order for way less than the "Pros". Great guy by the name of Okie Newton. He works out of Texas City near Houston but covers the country. Anyone looking for a hauler couldn't do much better. Be more than happy to pass along his contact info.

Below are a couple of quick pix of baby's arrival. I immediately starting gutting the old interior, but with the heat index here around 112 in the shade, I only made it so far. The warehouse is like a microwave oven. Gotta' get more & bigger fans!

Let the fun begin...

sdwarf36 08-03-2011 10:51 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Waaaay cool! Congrats! That 1st pic somehow reminds me of when they would haul the space shuttle over the road. :D

Stuff 08-03-2011 11:56 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
AWESOME!!!! cant wait to see more!

Tango 08-07-2011 01:59 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Just spent the last few days gutting the interior and checking things out. Below are a few pix as the rip out continues. The only serious rust I have found was right where I expected it...around the wheel wells. But the big surprise was that this Wayne body is 100% screwed together, inside and rivets! So far I've only had to grind a few, most have yielded to a hand impact driver. And the old galvanized floor is in rock-solid shape. Pretty amazing condition overall. Especially when you consider that at is old enough to qualify for Medicare!

And if anyone knows what (if any) colors were used on the Wayne body tag, I would appreciate the sharing. I want to try and restore it as well.

Tango 08-07-2011 05:34 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Hey kerrmudgeon...thanx! I took a quik look and will definitely check it out.

lars larsen 08-07-2011 08:26 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
1 Attachment(s)
Glad to hear you finally got your bus Tango! I'll be watching your progress. Hopefully I'll start doing something on mine soon. Too many projects! BTW our serial numbers are only 1841 apart. :lol:

Tango 08-07-2011 10:03 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Hey Lars --- good to hear from you and that you are getting back to you "project". What a shame that Wayne is no longer around. Cripes!...they started out right after the Civil War! Would love to find some docs about these units like drawings, specs, whatever. They obviously did a great job of building them or these units wouldn't still be around.

Tango 08-08-2011 09:18 AM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Lars --- one more note...the body tag from your unit also appears to have what looks like a red background underneath a few years of "other" paint. I am trying to find out what the original tags looked like and right now it seems they may have had the raised type as polished aluminum on a red field (does not look like red primer). If you clean yours up, please let me know what you find underneath the house paint.

lars larsen 08-09-2011 08:32 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
I'll see what I can do for ya. There is lots of house paint on mine, probably whats kept it from rusting away over the years :lol: In the meen time see if this link will give you any help.

Tango 08-10-2011 09:08 AM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Hey Lars --- thanks a bunch. Just wish they had scanned the brochures at a higher resolution. Would love to be able to read/see some of the details there. And...I just responded to the Webmaster so you should be getting my Email addy shortly. Likewise, I will be more than happy to share any info I come across. I do know that my unit is based on the Chevy 1.5 ton truck chassis and I have most of the sales, parts and maintenance literature available on them. Wayne (and other coach builders) ordered any of several chassis configurations to add their bodies to. Mine appears to have been ordered as a "160 inch Wheelbase Model 4402 Flat Faced Cowl" chassis while others were built up onto different models and wheelbases. There are also some very good information resources on other model-specific forums such as the "Stovebolt Forum" which is strictly for Chevys. So far I have found that there is quite a bit of very specific info available under the Chevy label, but very little about Wayne.

Tango 08-15-2011 08:48 PM

Re: '46 Chevy Shorty
Made the run out to Diesel Specialists today for the first look at my FleaBay engine assembled and running. It was the old "We got good news...& we got bad news" story.

Bad news first.

The turbo is toast. Ain't no "cheap fix". Then there is the exhaust manifold...rusted to junk and has to go (not much of a surprise since it looked that way) . Next...the idler pulley needs replacing, then there is the fuel pump solenoid that still needs testing and a few other items to go on the shopping list.

So, the good news?

The basic engine (the really expensive stuff) appears very tight and solid. Zero blow-by, no smoke and tight compression. All in all, not too bad a day.


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