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Old 12-30-2017, 06:10 PM   #1
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Help Me Find The Right Bus

So after being here for just a few weeks and doing a massive amount of research I am extremely interested in finding a bus and doing a full build. After working at the trailer fab shop in Ocala for 5 months earlier this year and being associated with Airstream trailer modifying and Tiny Home building I am extremely motivated to get started. I don't want to run into any (or many)factors during mid build that tells me I shoulda had this other bus instead.
The criteria I need is a 40'er so I can have a 7-8' shop, bedroom, bath, kitchen, etc. A wheelchair lift in the right rear corner would be a huge plus. Must be front engine. I've seen buses up to 2006's going for $5K and less, 1995-99 in the $3500 range. I'd like to stay in the $5k or under range. Considering engines and trans and needing highway speed capabilities are important. What are the pros and cons of a flat front bus over a truck hood type?
What bus am I looking for?
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Old 12-30-2017, 06:15 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
So after being here for just a few weeks and doing a massive amount of research I am extremely interested in finding a bus and doing a full build. After working at the trailer fab shop in Ocala for 5 months earlier this year and being associated with Airstream trailer modifying and Tiny Home building I am extremely motivated to get started. I don't want to run into any (or many)factors during mid build that tells me I shoulda had this other bus instead.
The criteria I need is a 40'er so I can have a 7-8' shop, bedroom, bath, kitchen, etc. A wheelchair lift in the right rear corner would be a huge plus. Must be front engine. I've seen buses up to 2006's going for $5K and less, 1995-99 in the $3500 range. I'd like to stay in the $5k or under range. Considering engines and trans and needing highway speed capabilities are important. What are the pros and cons of a flat front bus over a truck hood type?
What bus am I looking for?
Flat front (Transit) ... Engine access the worst of all. More interior space for the overall length. Often a shorter wheelbase for better manoeuvrability. A little more expensive than Conventional. Hot to drive in summer, and noisy all year

Conventional ... Better engine access (much better). Cooler to drive and a little quieter. Less space for OA length. Easier to drive for a novice because the wheels are in the normal position. Visibility is not as good as transit. Might have a longer wheelbase as front axle is further forward. Cheap and plentiful.
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Old 12-30-2017, 06:29 PM   #3
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So you're looking for a 40' FE bus? Larger engines only please.

Many of the wheelchair capable buses were the smaller and medium size more maneuverable buses.
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Old 12-30-2017, 06:30 PM   #4
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Flat front (Transit) ... Engine access the worst of all. More interior space for the overall length. Often a shorter wheelbase for better manoeuvrability. A little more expensive than Conventional. Hot to drive in summer, and noisy all year

Conventional ... Better engine access (much better). Cooler to drive and a little quieter. Less space for OA length. Easier to drive for a novice because the wheels are in the normal position. Visibility is not as good as transit. Might have a longer wheelbase as front axle is further forward. Cheap and plentiful.
Any brands in particular that stand out one way or the other? Desired Engine/Tranny combos are in what buses?
I forgot to mention my qualifications for building one of these. I owned a window tint shop in the late 80's, then a pressure washing company in the early 90's. Then I did vinyl siding for about 6 months after my divorce and then started to do residential construction for 12 years until the economy tanked in 08. I single handedly build a 3 bedroom slab home on a lake for $60K and sold it for $110. Then I but my current home that I run a custom powder coating business out of. During all that time I was heavily involved in motorsports, becoming a 2 time NASCAR track champion with 60 feature wins over 18 years. Building and fabricating all my own cars. Then started the fabrication of the Bonneville Land Speed Record holding Metro and S-10. Also built a number of custom vintage motorcycles. Now I wanna build a bus.
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Old 12-30-2017, 06:34 PM   #5
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So you're looking for a 40' FE bus? Larger engines only please.

Many of the wheelchair capable buses were the smaller and medium size more maneuverable buses.
I've seen lifts used for anywhere from $250-$800. The trick might be finding a door to salvage to mount it in, though I don't think the WC door is any different from other doors as the lift mounts to the floor. If it doesn't have a lift I will mod a door and make the back a double LR door.

I saw a 2006 International 89pass. flat front that got no bids at $5500, that surprised me. That definitely has the room for a build out, front engine FE.
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Old 12-30-2017, 06:37 PM   #6
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You have competing requirements, which is not unusual.

For highway driving you want a big engine and decent transmission. They tend to be the province of rear-engined buses, ruling out a rear garage. It's possible to find a conventional with the Cummins 8.3L, but they are rare.

You want 40', but few of them are SPED buses so no lift. Buses with lifts tend not to have the better power-trains as they rarely venture on the highway.

So you have to decide what's most important, and where you can compromise.

A DT466 with a decent transmission would be fine for most purposes, and there are a lot of them around. Avoid the ones with the AT545 transmission. That trans ain't great, and they only go behind the lower-powered DT466 anyway.
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Old 12-30-2017, 08:17 PM   #7
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Here ya go

https://milwaukee.craigslist.org/for...409401858.html
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Old 12-30-2017, 08:58 PM   #8
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Marc,

What Rusty posed is probably the closest thing you will ever see as far as what you are looking for, based upon your description. Jump on it FAST. Those are not very common.

Just my two cents.....

M
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Old 12-30-2017, 09:01 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
So after being here for just a few weeks and doing a massive amount of research I am extremely interested in finding a bus and doing a full build. After working at the trailer fab shop in Ocala for 5 months earlier this year and being associated with Airstream trailer modifying and Tiny Home building I am extremely motivated to get started. I don't want to run into any (or many)factors during mid build that tells me I shoulda had this other bus instead.
The criteria I need is a 40'er so I can have a 7-8' shop, bedroom, bath, kitchen, etc. A wheelchair lift in the right rear corner would be a huge plus. Must be front engine. I've seen buses up to 2006's going for $5K and less, 1995-99 in the $3500 range. I'd like to stay in the $5k or under range. Considering engines and trans and needing highway speed capabilities are important. What are the pros and cons of a flat front bus over a truck hood type?
What bus am I looking for?
Nice, I grew up on the outskirts of Ocala, partly. The Shores.
What trailer fab shop did you work in?
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Old 12-30-2017, 09:05 PM   #10
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Nice, I grew up on the outskirts of Ocala, partly. The Shores.
What trailer fab shop did you work in?
The Trailer Doctor and Fab Shop on NE 36th. North east corner of Marion county
I have friends that live in the Shores.
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