This is my recent acquisition, a 1955 Chevy 6700 Bus that was converted to RV. The conversion was done in the '80's maybe. I found this website when I was researching Bus conversion Insurance. This is my first post and a test to see if the photo posts. I wanted a place to chronicle my progress, and so here it is. I lived in a 1958 Chevy Viking for about Eight years. In that time I removed most of the RV conversion to make more living space. I didn't drive the bus much and it deteriorated. It became a liability and I had to let it go. A decade later, I purchased a 1955 Kenworth Bus that had been gutted. I tried to convert it, but couldn't find the time and that became a liability so I had to let that bus go. Now I have a bus that has been converted and my intention is to fix it up and keep it maintained for road trips.
This is a 1955 Kenworth Pacific Bus that I had for about Five years. I purchased it along with a camping club membership and never drove it other than a few feet forward and back onto some leveling blocks.
The camping club is an hour north of my house and when I did get some time to go there, I worked constantly. I had planned on converting it and installed a sink, toilette, and shower, but progress was slow. The camping club was giving me grief, so I had to let it go. I put it up for sale for $600. I received many inquiries and lined up a half dozen potential buyers. They all flaked out, except one, from Oregon. We set up a time to meet and I went to the bus and waited, and waited, and he finally showed up with a buddy at dusk. He brought a battery and we tried to start it until it got too dark. He determined it needed a solenoid. He offered to buy the bus and would come up another time to get it running. I had to do something before the camping club started fining me for whatever violation they could come up with, so I got a solenoid and new battery and got it running. The Dudes came up with a third guy and they drove it off. I headed home and saw them on the side of the road only after a mile, I pulled over and they said it was getting hot. They seemed to be confidant about dealing with it, so I went on my way.
I had previously lived in a converted 1958 Chevy Viking for about Eight years and decided that I would try to find another 1958 Viking that had been converted. I immediately started looking on the internet to see what busses were available and saw my bus listed the next week.
1955 Kennworth Bus Motorhome RV (Mountlake Terrace Park and Ride)
NOTE: It must be gone TODAY! Make me an offer.
I bought this bus this last Saturday, but unfortunately I wasn't able to get it home. It runs and drives great, the only issue is that it over heats. I thought I would be able to drive it right back home, but I don't have the time or resources to get it in shape for longer distance travel with my schedule as I'm a full time student at OSU.
Anyways, I think that if it got a good radiator flush, that might solve the issue. We tried just about everything short of cleaning the mineral deposits in the that may be obstructing the coolant flow. The thermostat was also removed. Maybe there's something we're missing... It tends to over heat very quickly, within about 5-10 miles.
Since I live out of state, we're going to have to do this sale remotely. It's parked in a public location (Mountlake Terrace transit center), thus it needs to sell within the coming days. All are welcome to come by and inspect. I'll mail the title to the person with the best offer. As added insurance that I am the genuine owner, I included a picture of the title.
Some other notes: I brought my battery back with me, so you'll need to bring one to fire it up. Also, the gas tank is pretty rusty and was clogging the fuel filter, so we routed the fuel line the bus to suck clean gas from an external tank (so you'll need to bring your own gas). Call with questions.
Disclaimer: This bus is NOT insured and anybody who drives it assumes all responsibility and liability. I will not be held responsible for any damages or injuries that occur. Only test drive it if you can legally and safely do so!
I continued to look on the internet and found what I wanted after only One month.
There were a few around the country that did not have the RV conversion, but this one did. The Viking I had previously owned had a different windshield, The outer bottom corners went down a little, other than that, it looked the same. I thought about it for Two weeks, and finally decided to make the 2,000 mile journey. I called the number, He said he sold it the day before.
I couldn’t believe it. This was perfect. It did not have the windshield or the double headlights like the ’58. It did have 6 ½ feet headroom so I can live with that, and converted to RV. I made the purchase from e-bay and the seller offered to deliver it from Oregon. We set up a time for delivery and I waited, and waited. They took 12 hours for a six hour journey. Is everyone in Oregon so laid back? No, at midnight my bus arrived followed by…The Dudes! We all had a laugh about the coincidence. The dude let me know that the brake fluid leaks if it sits, but works fine on a journey, and that it got loud around Tacoma must have blown a donut. And the power brakes stopped working due to loss of vacuum, must have knocked a vacuum line loose when he removed the air filter. I asked why he removed the air filter. He said it was sputtering.
The next day I started checking things out. The paperwork showed he had owned it for Four years. Under the hood I found a house lamp wire, not connected to anything, pinched between the carb and manifold. That may have been why he said it was sputtering. I touched to coil and the wires fell off, that could cause problems too. Both easy fixes for me. The vacuum advance hose was missing as well. I tried to start it, but nothing, no click. I looked at the starter and the wires were loose. It still wouldn’t turn with the nuts tightened, so I went to replace it. This is a 1955 6700 Bus with a 1966 327 engine. The auto parts store sold me a starter for a 1966 327 with automatic transmission. The mounting holes did not line up, and in my excitement, I turned in the core when I picked up the new starter. Unfortunately, they shipped all the cores out that day, so I worked with the clerk for Two days to retrieve my core from the warehouse. We finally got it back along with a couple possible correct replacement starters. Somehow my core had been damaged, one ear was busted off. But I was able to get the measurement and bought a Mid Eighties bus starter that fit and works great. I also got tune up items. Plugs, wires, new coil, dist. Cap and rotor, a vacuum line, and a clear fuel filter.
It started right up and ran for a few minutes before it shut itself off. It sounded good, so I decided to go back at it another day. The next day I tried to start it, but it would not pop. No fuel in the filter. The Dudes were amazing, they got the bus to me with only a drop of gas to spare. I finally got some fuel and now it starts right up and runs smooth, and loud. One stud is busted where the exhaust pipe connects to the manifold. I disconnected the exhaust pipe and drilled a pilot hole near the center of the stud. The first Extractor tool broke, so I drilled a bigger hole. The second one fell out and disappeared in the gravel below. After a week or so I finally got the extractor ready to work, but I needed a way to turn it. I tried finding a square socket for my extension and breaker bar, but all I could find was a hex socket and that didn’t work. I broke down and purchased a tap handle and immediately mangled it. I decided to drill the stud out more and go at it with hammer and punch. The pilot hole was almost on center, so I was on some threads on one side. The bits that remained did not peel off the threads when persuaded with hammer and punch, so my next option was to tap the hole, or use a heli coil. I had used a heli coil once before years ago, so I decided to go that route. I forgot that it requires tapping the hole, so I broke down and got a tap set and exchanged the mangled tap handle for a new one. The tap worked, so no heli coil was needed. The pipe is now in place, but the engine is still loud. I’ll look again when it’s cold out to see if there are any leaks, I don’t have a feel for how tight the nuts should be and I’m overly cautious not to break another stud.
I am creating a list of what needs to be done and an inspection of the brake system is at the top of the list. The brake pedal went soft, so I popped the cap off the master cylinder. The plastic cap threads are stripped, and the cylinder was empty except for something. When you open a container of brake fluid, and break the foil seal, typically a ring of the foil remains on the rim of the container. I pulled this foil ring out of the master cylinder, before adding fluid. The hydrovac seems to work good, but I have no idea what the condition of the shoes are. I did see the parking brake linkage has been wired out of the way and disconnected, it needs a nut and a special metal bushing. That’s just as well since no brake lining remains on the parking brake. I know of a local truck shop that may be able to take on the job.
The next time you break a stud, weld a nut onto it. The nut gives you something to turn, and the heat from welding usually breaks the rust bond. You can use any stick or wire feed welder. If you don't have one, you probably know someone who does.
When you're taking an old exhaust system apart, always use a torch to heat the nuts cherry red and then quench them with water. After that, the nuts will come off easily. Use new nuts afterward. If you don't have oxy/acetylene, a propane torch that screws to the top of a disposable cylinder will usually do. If you need more heat, buy a 16 oz bottle of Mapp gas. The bottle will be yellow.
Best of luck with your project. I'm always thrilled to see someone new on our board. This is a good group.
Jim in NC
Please post some pics when you have time.
2000 Gillig Phantom
When I arrived at the repair shop, they did not have me on the schedule, and informed me that they decided to not take on anything that old anymore. The guy I spoke with on the phone walked in at that point and explained that they neglected to call me back. He said he wanted to work on it, but his boss said no. There was a ‘40s bus here a few months ago, that’s why I thought this would be a good shop. They had a box van from the ‘80s waiting on a part for almost a year, I think that’s what did it. He said he could look it over for an hour and let me know what it needed. I didn’t know what to do so I agreed. There is a truck body and paint shop near my home, so I asked if they could work on it, not interested, but suggested a shop down the street. I drive by all the time and never noticed it. I stopped in and they said they work on anything.
The next morning I go to get my bus. It’s parked down the street from the shop in a questionable location, unlocked. But it’s there and no one had moved in, started right up too. I did have to pay for 1 hour shop time for the look over, but that confirmed my suspicions and gave me an idea of what was needed. I enjoyed driving it again, and made it to the second shop, closer to home. It sat for months. I stopped in to ask how it was going and was told the owner wanted money up front. They didn’t want to have me bail on the repair and then have to sit on the bus for the title. I threw down the credit card and gave them enough for the brakes, or so I thought. The bus remained stationary.
I stopped in one day and the bus was in the shop. They had a rear wheel off. The dual wheels looked like an assembly, like they were together, and they were sitting on a wheel jack/cart. The drum was off and there are 2 slave cylinders. Over the next year I would stop by about once a month to check in and let them know that I’m not in a hurry and that I appreciate whatever they can do. The brakes got done, but they were afraid to test drive it with the driveshaft in it’s current state. They got the driveshaft fixed, I think there are 5 u-joints. Then it sat for a year. Next is the exhaust leak. They found one manifold cracked, and it cracked some more when removing it. Then it wouldn’t start right up, so a new carburetor was installed. It has been there almost two years. I stopped in last month to see the carb and cracked manifold. They had a time locating a replacement manifold and had yet to install it. Last week I saw it was back in the shop, so I hope they get the exhaust connected and fire that bus up!
Other than time to work on it, that is the biggest issue I have with my bus. I have a 1976 International and the IH shop in town won't touch it either. I have to do it myself or spend a ton of time finding someone to do it.
There is still plenty of work to be done. First is to get all the lights working, just the brake lights work currently. The radiator was leaky, as well as the oil pan gasket and front engine gasket. I’ll have to recover from this bill first, so it will be awhile before I get to it. I tried to take a picture of the engine, but my shaky phone didn’t look too good. I did find this link to the previous owners site, so I can at least share pictures! filckr https://www.flickr.com/photos/128045794 ... 5287356571
No, the shirt did not come with the bus. While I was trying to take pictures of the engine, my 4yo son wanted to stay in the bus. When I came back into the bus, he was sitting on the toilette! When ya gotta go, ya gotta go! I haven’t tested any of the systems yet, so I cleaned it up. I’ll get the lights working and check the propane system over this winter.
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