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Old 09-09-2014, 02:56 PM   #1
farmerjohn
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Default The Bus Chronicles

We've been thinking, for a long time, about buying a bus and taking our kids on the road for a little 'roadschooling'... We've been off-grid, in alaska, for the past while and finally think we're up to it.



I'm a recent convert from 'the other boards' (a whole big bunch of tools, if you ask me) and am impressed by the wealth of technical knowledge over here.

Anyway, I just drove her about 60 miles home and she did ok - a bit of what sounds like valve noise of the passenger-side 4 and what feels like a timing issue (the previous owner had a pacemaker and was scared to get in there while she was running for a solid reading).

We'll see what's in store - we're going to travel in small bursts, maybe only 150-300 miles per day. Thanks for looking and I'll post more as we get going.
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Old 09-09-2014, 05:56 PM   #2
MarkO
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Default Re: The Bus Chronicles

It would appear as if you have found a pretty nice old 'binder bus with a carpenter body.

That vintage carpenter was about the best of the eastern built buses that ever made it to the left side of the mississippi river. If it doesn't have any rust yet it most likely never will. They also have fewer rattles now than brand new blue birds will have today. I can't remember any of those vintage carpenter buses having any roof leak issues.

Almost all buses of that vintage, regardless of make, had a tendency to have leak issues between the bus body and the chassis cowl. Which can lead to issues with moisture in the dashboard and headlight switch. I found that over time I had to get rid of the oem plugs and rewire with terminal ends. When enough moisture gets into the formed plastic plugs they turn green and you can never get things to work correctly consistently--hit a bump and say goodbye to the headlights until you wiggle the switch, plug in, or hit another bump.

I can't think of any carpenter specific oem parts you will ever need.

If you have the 5-speed with 5th direct you should be able to get 7+ mpg.

I have seen those buses with a top speed of 47, 57, and 67 mph. We used to do ski runs with buses almost exactly like your bus. The 57 mph buses would leave behind the 47 mph bus very quickly but the 47 mph bus would always catch up on the steep parts and get to the ski area first. The fast bus didn't show up until after we stopped going up the mountain so I don't have anything with which to compare it except for the fact that with such long legs it had to drop gears pretty quickly whenever it got to a hill.

The best rear gears were in the bus that would do 57 mph. It would go down I-5 in wa state at 57 mph and never have to shift and would get 7+ mpg doing it.

One way to warm up the performance and driveability would be to update the ignition system. We had several different buses like yours from model year '72 to '82. The oem ignition systems were trying to meet some of the clean air standards and a couple of them, I think they were '77 or '78, we could never get them to run correctly set to factory spe'c. After playing with some different carbs and ignition systems we got them to run like the pre-'74 buses. But if we could have had the hamilton injection option I know they would have been much better drivers. And installing a better ignition system would be a big step up as well.

Good luck and keep us posted as to your adventures.
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Old 09-10-2014, 11:11 AM   #3
farmerjohn
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Default Re: The Bus Chronicles

Hey Mark, glad to hear that you 'approve' of the bus

your response only spawns more questions... It is a 5-speed, but how to tell if it's '5th direct'?

I'm not sure, entirely, which speed governor we have - the tach is not working, so I'm wondering if someone tried to monkey with it. You have any insight? (the fuel gauge is also inoperative, pretty sure it's unrelated.)

I'm going to pull the panel this afternoon and see what's up with those connections you were talking about.

I've been doing some reading around and think I'm gonna pull the valve cover, just to make sure nothing's obviously broken. I read a lot of people who say that putting a shot of seafoam in the oil might loosen up something that's stuck in the valve train. If anyone thinks that's a bad idea...

Thanks for the approving nod... We're looking forward to a lot of fun.
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Old 09-10-2014, 11:16 AM   #4
FDChappie
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Default Re: The Bus Chronicles

You can tell by the shift pattern. The od trans will have 5th up towards the dash and the direct drive (both wide and narrow) will be over and down.

The only tricky part is that on the od trans the 4th and 5th gear ratios are real close to each other. However on the od trans there is a huge ratio change between 3rd and 4th.
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Old 09-10-2014, 11:22 AM   #5
farmerjohn
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Default Re: The Bus Chronicles

My shift pattern:

1 2 4
|-|-|
r 3 5

so I'm guessing yes.

Gotta figure out that tach thing...
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Old 09-11-2014, 07:27 AM   #6
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Default Re: The Bus Chronicles

From the pattern I would say you have 5th direct.

It has been so long since I have had to shift a shift bus I can't remember where the jumps were. Iirc with the 5th direct transmissions the big jump was from 3rd to 4th.

Which was why the 47 mph buses pulled the passes so much better. When they got to the steep parts and you had to shift the 47 mph could stay in 4th gear almost all the way to the top at a speed of about 35 mph. The 57 mph buses would have to go to 3rd which was good for about 28 mph.

I have a '65 d1200 4x4 t-all with the sv304/4-speed with 4.09 gears.

I have toyed with the idea of swapping out the axles to update the wheel ends and get some modern brakes. At the same time I was thinking about changing gear ratios to about 3.79:1. When I am towing I have to go down the gears, mostly just one gear. Winding it out in 3rd gear I can go 50 mph but the sound of the engine and fan becomes deafening. Swapping out to a little longer legs would give me much friendlier rpm's while cruising at 60 mph and give a little better speed when gearing down on the upgrades.
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Old 09-11-2014, 07:28 AM   #7
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Default Re: The Bus Chronicles

In regards to the tach, it has been so long since I have installed a tach I know I don't know which wire to access.

The gear drive tachs were nice but it is very easy to break the drive cable if you start doing a lot of adjustments to the dizzy.
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Old 09-14-2014, 09:22 AM   #8
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Default Re: The Bus Chronicles

I remember when I first left pirate and came here to the ihon site. I found out that there is something called mechanicing. On other sites its "watch me put a 350 in this hole where something else used to be". On here I learned to be respectful of IH history. And as I learned to be quiet I learned to read. And I found that people on here still understand vintage hot rodding. I learned that bolt on parts arent the only way to do things. That porting. Polishing. Decking. Honing. Boring. Milling. Torquing. Are wayyyy more important that wiping my arse and hitting a performance small block.

Im really looking forward to this build. You're in good hands here.
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1977 traveler-304-furst fake hurst-unknown miles
1978 scout II-The Pumpkin-196-4spd-no power steering-67k original miles
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1970 chevy c10/custom
1975 chevy chevelle
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Old 11-19-2014, 09:23 AM   #9
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Default Re: The Bus Chronicles

Update... We've come 2300 miles and she's done fairly well. I'm working out some bugs as we go: the fuel tank has some yellow boogery stuff in it that keeps gumming up the fuel filter and it seems like there's some vacuum lines 'missing' (the egr valve and the dashpot on the carb have nipples but no lines).

Now, we're stopped at a walmart 22 miles from the border with a really strange issue. The motor just won't every rev as high as it should and just feels gutless. It was backfiring through the carb, so I have that off and am doing a pretty thorough cleaning and inspection - so far, so good.

I'm pretty limited on tools (nothing like a compression or fuel flow gauge), but if anyone has any input on the lack of power issue, I'm all ears.
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