COMPLETED PROJECT ~ 1949 Movie School Bus
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Completed Project: 1949 Movie School Bus
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1949 Movie School Bus Photo Gallery
This is both a fun and challenging project!

Our client purchased this 1949 Chevrolet Bus online in Montana.

This truck does not have an engine, transmission/driveline, exhaust system, lights, wiring harness, seats, and most of the glass is broken.

This bus needs to run, start, stop and drive. It also needs to be roadworthy and safe for a total of eleven actresses and actors and be reliable for an upcoming movie production.

After this bus is finished being a "movie star" it will be auctioned off to benefit a charity!

We met the trucking company and trailered our Movie Star to our repair facility.

Work began by removing the broken glass, removed all unwanted remains in the interior and engine bay area. The broken lights that remained were also removed.

The damaged old driveshaft and old 4 speed manual transmission box was also removed. There were 2 large broken roof vents that were removed and several metal patches were made and welded into place around the exterior of the bus. The battery tray and front entrance door also received new metal.

Once the interior floor was cleaned, 2 coats of POR15 rust protection paint was applied to the complete interior floor. New plywood walls were installed, along with a new plywood floor. We made a new dash board "from scratch" and covered it with padding and period correct looking black material. After locating an authentic speedometer face, it was rebuilt to also look period correct. We were also able to locate an old 8 Track Player (a requirement for the movie) and dry fitted the new dash and gauges into the front of the bus body section.

Our attention turned to the mechanical areas next. The rebuilt small block Chevy engine and rebuilt automatic transmission was installed into the engine bay after making custom engine and transmission mounts. This step was a little tricky. There was not much room to fit an 8 cylinder motor where a straight 6 cylinder once was! We located a pair of special exhaust manifolds to help us clear the steering box area. We purchased an aftermarket "Lokar" automatic transmission shifter kit and installed it too.

The front and rear brakes were dis assembled, inspected and adjusted. We replaced the unsafe old steel wheels and rotted tires. We located newer steel rims and painted them silver after they were sandblasted. The tires were replaced with new correct "LT" tires.

We fabricated a complete driveshaft (with a correct hanger bearing) out of 3 old driveshafts from a salvage yard. Braces were fabricated and welded onto the frame of the bus to provide an area to attach the hanger bearing assembly. The driveshaft was connected to the transmission and rear differential and the bus now moves under its own power!

We located a parking brake lever assembly and modified it to fit after making a bracket and installed it under the dash for extra safety. The rear parking brake cables were repaired, along with a new front cable. We fabricated a completely new exhaust system. We started with a correct front "Y" pipe and have the tailpipe exiting at the rear bumper area to look period correct for the movie. It sounds nice and quite too!

We were able to obtain 11 bus seats out of a "retired" full sized school bus. There was quite a bit of work needed here! This bus is approximately 13 Inches narrower than a "normal" sized bus.

We took 5 of the large bench seats apart, cut the metal frames down along with cutting the wood, foam and material to make custom seats that will give us the required seating for 11 people (including the driver's seat). This movie star bus has 2 rows of seating with an aisle down the complete middle of the bus for a perfect authentic old school bus appearance!

The next step on this build was installing the new wiring harness and ignition switch. New wiring was run to the rear of the bus for lighting that we will be hooking up later.

Our attention turned to the interior of the bus. We sanded the complete interior, primed and painted the roof and walls a very light green colour. The new wood floor was secured and received 3 coats of flat black commercial grade paint. The seats were installed next. This was a large amount of work!

The exterior received some minor "smoothing" before it was prepared for 2 coats of grey primer. The "Movie Star" bus received 2 coats of a special "toned down" pastel blue paint to the complete exterior and the side "rub strips" received 2 coats of black paint to give us a very authentic looking old bus that should show very nicely for the movie cameras!

The front grille was repaired, primed and received 2 coats of period correct off white paint finish. We installed the front grille, correct marker lights in the grille and installed a pair of correct signal lights on the tops of both front fenders. The rear tail lights were next, along with a new rear licence plate light and frame.

The glass was the next step. We made pattern cut outs for each window opening and cut each glass from the patterns we made, using D.O.T safety glass. This was a tricky job! Not one opening was the same size. We installed all of the glass using the correct new rubber that also uses a "locking rubber strip".

With all of the glass installed correctly, we installed new period correct looking west coast style exterior mirrors. Now the outward visibility is greatly improved!

We rebuilt the optional dashboard fan. It can keep the driver cool when needed, and also be handy to help defrost the front glass if needed.

The rear suspension was upgraded with a new Timbren rubber suspension height kit. It raised the rear end of the bus to the proper height and will maintain the proper ride height when the bus is loaded with the eleven actors and actresses.

The final touches included rebuilding the driver's windshield wiper motor, adding courtesy entrance lighting at the door step up, and lighting the dash gauges.

This "Movie Star Bus" had about 100 Km's/60 Miles Test Driving with no concerns. We checked all fluids, checked and readjusted the brakes.....this bus is ready for movie action!

Watch the You Tube Video on the "walk a round" presentation of this build here....

You are viewing the 1949 MOVIE SCHOOL BUS in completed projects.

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