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RPG Bus status Update 20180114

by Hawke Robinson published Jan 15, 2018 01:20 AM, last modified Jan 15, 2018 01:20 AM
Status update as of January 14th, 2018.

Today, Drake and I worked on the bus in preparation to take it to Les Schwab to look over and make a repair TODO list for the future. For brakes, suspension, steering, we'll probably have Les Schwab do the work. After that has a thorough diagnostic (they are kindly providing for free!), we'll take it down to Ulbreicht's transmissions to make see how the transmission and differential are doing. For engine and other remaining areas, we'll probably do the work ourselves.

A few weeks ago we completely tested and replaced:

  • HEI (ignition) control module and coil.
  • Distributor cap & rotor.
  • Spark plugs.
  • We will be replacing the spark plug wires shortly (already bought, just need to do.
  • We performed an engine compression test, and it was a solid 130-135 all the way around, and the plugs were not overly fouled out. All good signs of engine health.


I already know we need to:

  • Repair/replace radiator or other coolant leaks.
  • Repair/rebuild/replace disc brakes.
  • Bleed brake system.
  • Replace all fan belts.
  • Replace valve cover gaskets (leaking oil slowly).
  • Replace snapped off thermal actuator in the thermostat housing.
  • Repair wonky temperature sending unit or gauge or wiring.
  • Adjust timing.
  • reattach vacuum leads, controls, sensors, that have been disabled by the previous owner.
  • Add second battery back to vehicle. Jacob was selling it with two batteries, but he must have forgotten, because he only gave it to me with one battery, and it is not worth arguing about. But there is still a space and wires waiting for that second heavy duty marine battery. Well worth it to have it.


I am hoping to have it fully road worthy (though probably not pretty), by April, in time for WSTRA Conference in Wenatchee.

At some point we'll put some wraps on it probably.

It is still very gutless. Fiddling with the timing might be the key, but I need to rule out remaining drag from the brakes, and any transmission issues.

Once everything else is checked out, and fixed. if it is still too gutless to be usable for hauling the RPG Trailer (the primary purpose of the bus), then we will need to have the engine rebuilt, souped up to try to get 300-400+ horsepower. I have no idea what the current engine it. If it is the standard C3500 engine from 1984, it is a pitifal 150-180 hp from the factory, and only weaker over the decades. I am hoping that maybe they put a special engine in, since so much else is specially modified by Thomas Bus Motors. But without putting it on a dyno, I have no way of knowing.

I also need to buy a trailer hitch adapted that angles down to hook up for pulling the trailer.

Much to do, but we are on our way!

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