Progressing forward

Despite the water damaged intake we are still determined to get our bus home. We've been putting together every penny we have in order to have the bus trailered home. Feel free to catch our progress on instagram @fishbowltales. For those interested in contributing to our project go check out our go fund me campaign at


The bad and the ugly

After finding so much water in the intake tract I was worried about what would be unearthed as I dug deeper. The design of the upper intake makes it hard to see into from the engine bay. I aimed the camera of my iPhone down the hole and snapped a picture, here's what I saw:

At this point I didn't think we were in too bad of shape. The intake incorporates a flap that snuffs out the engine in the case of a runaway or "dieseling" effect. You can see the corner of the flap in the bottom right corner of the intake. Most of the gunk inside of the tract was loose gasket material and carbon buildup.

With the upper intake manifold removed you can see the damage to the blower vanes. Unfortunately water had leaked past the flapper and down into the aluminum vanes. The blower was full of mold and worm holes from being eaten away. At this point there was no hope in getting the bus to run at its current location.

After removing the blower completely We found that the block was fairly dry. The only internal damage that was visible so far was a little stream of rust water coming out of one of the cylinders. My guess is that the lower end of the block is indeed filled with water. At this point our plan is to get the bus home and do a full teardown.

The hard truth…

In the following weeks we began ordering parts for the engine in hopes of getting it running. Unfortunately I'm a little bit bull headed. Once I had my mind set on getting the bus running, it was going to run no matter what lengths I had to go through to make it happen. We purchased a new set of gigantic batteries for the bus as well as fuel filters, new oil, and a plethora of tools to properly work on an maintain the bus. In the back of my mind I was worried that I was saving the worst for last. The engine had been in such great shape after removing the valve covers that I thought there was no way anything could be wrong with it. Wrong. If I had stuck to my plan and drained the oil first I would have found that there was an extensive amount of water in the engine. At last I couldn't ignore my gut feeling that something was wrong. I removed the vacuum hose off of the massive air plenum that feeds the blower; water poured from the vacuum line. I unbolted the plenum from the air filter and removed it from the engine bay. I drained what must have been at least a gallon and a half of water from the plenum. How had it gotten there? I didn't see any possible way unless of course the oil bath air filter was full of water… The oil bath filter has a V-Band style flange at the bottom which allows you to service the oil. I cracked the flange loose and my worst nightmare was confirmed. Gallon upon gallon of water poured out of the filter.

Here is a short clip of the air filter (about the size of a 5gal bucket) draining water.

After tracking the source of the leak we found that water had been coming into the bus from the broken rear window which eventually found its way down to the compartment where the air filter breathes from. Finding all of this definitely took the wind out of our sails, but the worst was yet to come.

Over the valley and through the woods

After purchasing the bus I traveled regularly over the hill from Carson City to Georgetown to begin work on the bus. Our plan was to get the original 6v71 Detroit engine running so we could move the bus around. I am by no means a diesel mechanic so taking a stab at the Detroit was definitely going to be a learning curve. Before working with this engine my belief was that all diesels had glow plugs to ignite the fuel, I was very wrong about that. As it turns out the Detroit engine is a 2-stroke diesel. The engine has no intake valves and creates no cylinder pressure on its own. Instead, a roots type blower sits atop the motor and is gear driven to produce pressure within the engine block. Vents in the side of the cylinder lining take in the crankcase pressure when the piston is down then creates compression. Upon full compression a mechanical fuel injector squirts fuel into the pressurized air and creates ignition. I hope I explained that well enough. For me, knowing my equipment really helps me to understand what I'm doing and become more proficient at working on it. Anyone who is looking into converting a bus that has one of these engines in it can learn to work on one. As far as engines go, this one is as simple as it gets.

The California humidity had taken its toll on the engine's paint. Although it was weathered, it was all there.

My first time messing with a mechanical injector. The fuel flow is controlled by a rack that opens and closes the injector. Fuel delivery is controlled by a rocker arm that pushes down on the poppet valve on the top of the injector. Each injector has a fuel feed and return line.

Time was taken to properly ultra sonic clean each injector and test its spray pattern before re-assembly and rack adjustment. This engine was rebuilt once back in the late 70s by Greyhound. As you can see by the stamping this injector was installed 9/70.

A peak inside of the rocker box of the 6v71. Each cylinder features 4 exhaust valves. Here you can see the rocker arms that control the fuel injectors as well as the fuel feed/return lines, and the "rack" which controls the throttling of each injector.

Greyhound engine rebuild tag. Rebuilt 2/27/1978.

654,712 miles on the engine before it was rebuilt in 1978. That's 50,362 miles a year!

Looking down on the throttle linkage and governor housing on the front of the blower.


Some of the signage in the bus.

The bus still holds onto some of its vintage charm. On the roof above the drivers seat there is still a math equation showing the calculated fare price from the early 1990s. In the drivers pouch we found a US. government pen. The original fare box still hangs on the front bulkhead.

With a manual transmission and no power steering this thing is going to be a chore to drive.

First impressions

For the last decade or so the Bus had been used as additional storage for the woman and her husband who owned it. All of the seats had been previously removed but much of the original interior remained intact.
Here's what the interior of the bus looks like looking back towards the rear.

It really is amazing how much space there is inside. The passenger side retains its original hand rail while the drivers side has been replaced with a luggage rack.

This bus is a model TDM-5303. 'T' designates that the bus is a transit model with a 'M' manual transmission, and a 'D' diesel engine.

The windows of the bus had been smoked with blue paint so you couldn't see inside. Spiders covered most of the interior of the bus and took multiple attempts to completely get rid of. All in all we had a fairly solid starting point for our project.

Hello and welcome

Hello and welcome to Thebusblog!

In April of this year Kyra and I purchased a 1965 GM "New look" bus from a woman in California. We originally found the ad on craigslist where the bus was listed for the absolutely unheard of price of $100. I immediately got in contact with Pastor Dan Elliot who was coordinating the sale. The bus had sat untouched for over 20 years and the wear and tear of Mother Nature was taking its toll. Moss was growing rampantly in all of the window channels and down the side of the vehicle. Although it was showing its age, it was love at first sight.

Here's what the bus looked like when we came across it.

With a little elbow grease and determination it cleaned up well.