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Old 08-21-2017, 03:32 PM   #1
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Short bus Base Camp suggestion

I need recommendation and sanity check!

I am located in NJ. I currently have a really small cargo trailer I converted to a dry camper. Basically bed on wheels but now I want a little more. Its for sale this winter/spring so I can buy a shortbus.

I am not looking for a conversion like most of the posts here. I am not living in it, I am using it as a road trip rig, a base camp. Expecting 8-10k miles a year for the next 5 years. Couple of 2 week long trips a year and a dozen or so 3-4 day round trips. I go to races often; trackdays and Lemons. I want to go check out ice racing this winter. I need room to store things like motorcycle, kayaks, spare motor or transmission etc when I go racing. I don't want to spend time/money or space in building inside the bus. The goals is to drop a 4' long cabinet-minimal cooking indoors, couple of fold out couches from idea or craigslist and bolt them to the floor. Throw some carpet on the floor. Run propane and water lines. Potty will be the dry kind, so no black water tank. Showers outdoors. Race tracks and camp grounds have electric so the Fridge and stuff will run on 120V. I will add a window AC and portable dishwasher, all 120v and a 2k-3k watt inverter. Heater will be my propane buddy and an electric heater. Might make bunk beds instead of the fold out couch based on the layout and space.

The bus has to be smaller than 28' long. The bus needs to look decent. I keep eyeing transit style short bus but I personally love the look of skoolie and all that metal. May be a deck in future.
I would prefer fuel efficiency and reliability for long travel as my biggest selling point. I am looking for 24' 6 window to 28' 8 window bus.

Which specific bus I should look for?
I definitely need 6th gear to be able to cruise 70-75 mph for 6 hour stretches. I am willing to buy a bus and get the gear unlocked. Not regearing the bus that is too expensive. Will this work? Are these buses reliable to do the long haul camping trips? Like New Jersey to Utah long trips?
Especially if my budget is in 3-5k $ range? I am not looking for a low mileage bus or anything but I don't want a rust bucket either.

What are other issues/inconveniences? My current setup is a CX5 and a 10 foot cargo trailer and I travel with my wife, kid and dog. It gets me 18 mpg on flat roads which is awesome but I have to stop every 180 miles for gas/potty breaks which sucks. I never considered the stops when I designed/built the trailer.
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Old 08-21-2017, 05:36 PM   #2
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I am not a camping type.. but i drive my busses on Long road trips all the time.. I just finished a 3700 mile trip a week and a half ago... one leg of the trip was 1050 miles in a day (cruising at 65).. if you are going for a full chassis bus, you are likely to average 9-12 MPG. at 60-65 MPH... i tried running my red bus at 75. and didnt like the way it felt. (i upgraded to a new trans to have 6 speeds).

things like A/C and comfy seats likely may have to be added.. (a window A/C will not cool a bus thats on the summer road...though if you insulate it will do a decent job for night-time whgen parked. if you are carrying engines and power-sport machines you might think about dividing up your bus with a "garage" portion so you dont have gasoline and oil fumes while you are travelling.

busses older than say 2002 you have a much harder time finding even a 5 speed (single overdrive) transmission.. if you are going for a Long rear engine bus you do have a better chance at getting an MD-3060 trans which is the unlockable 6th as you mention.

the front engine and conventionals which have the allison 2000 series transmissions. that are before 2006 take mechanical modifications as well as unlocking to get a 6th gear..

the MD-3060 can be spotted in an auction or sales listing because it has a Pushbutton shifter instead of a mechanical handle.
-Christopher
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Old 08-21-2017, 07:13 PM   #3
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you could probably get away with a wheelchair bus have the front for chillin between heats/sleeping and mod the lift and back area for your moto shop... 2006 Ford E450 Super Duty - Wheelchair Accessible 7019 - Ford Buses, Wheelchair Buses - Buses for Sale
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Old 08-23-2017, 10:22 AM   #4
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Hey! Welcome to the fun… I feel I need to set you down, pour you a shot of whatever calms your nerves, and explain that the moment you do this "drop a 4' long cabinet-minimal cooking indoors, couple of fold out couches from idea or craigslist and bolt them to the floor. Throw some carpet on the floor. Run propane and water lines. Potty will be the dry kind, so no black water tank. Showers outdoors. Race tracks and camp grounds have electric so the Fridge and stuff will run on 120V. I will add a window AC and portable dishwasher, all 120v and a 2k-3k watt inverter. Heater will be my propane buddy and an electric heater. Might make bunk beds instead of the fold out couch based on the layout and space" you have converted your bus… you have wandered into the world of "what's next" and yardsale scouring for more and more cool stuff to put in the bus. You are now one of us, deny it as much as you want! haha Enjoy it! it's a safe and legal habit to have. Looking fwd to seeing your "not converted bus" as it transforms!
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Old 08-27-2017, 09:35 AM   #5
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Thank you.
It was a long workweek! I am happy that Skoolie can tow long distances.
I am looking at smaller bus. 6 window seems to be easiest to find and the smallest I want.
Looking at FORD E450 7.3L wheelchair buses. I am going to stay away from 6.0 Diesel.
How is the Chevy Colins chassis with Duramax? Not sure if they are in price range but I will be looking around. Big plus is Allison and more hp.
I liked the comment about here it starts! I agree. I started piling stuff that I don't need in the house and I can use in the bus. My trailer is too small for any of the furniture.
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Old 10-07-2017, 03:34 PM   #6
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Found One.
1999 Navistar-International with Thomas Body.
Its a 7.3 with 160 k miles, and it got 7 windows.
Tires are newish, is 3k a decent price for it?

Owner of the used car dealership bought it at an auction.
I don't think it will do 70 mph so I am still debating.
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Old 10-07-2017, 04:00 PM   #7
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Check and see what transmission is in that bus. Could well be the AT545. Not the ideal candidate for highway speeds and fuel economy.

If it happened to have the MT643 or MT647 I would get a bit more excited.

Good luck with your quest.
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Old 10-07-2017, 10:58 PM   #8
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Transmission

Can I tell by VIN number? The current owner has no clue and I am not sure where to look. Tags on the transmission?

Thanks.
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Old 10-08-2017, 05:20 PM   #9
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Personally, if you are wanting decent fuel mileage.. and highway gears out of the box, you're probably needing to look more into a shuttle style bus. It won't have the school bus look... but it will have better fuel mileage (typically smaller engines) and highway gears more then likely. They are typically lighter so the smaller engines don't struggle to push them down the road.

I've got an older '93 model E350 built by Goshen... It uses standard automotive drivetrain/powertrain components which are easy to find and cheap to replace. It will also get in the teens for mileage and will do 70+mph comfortably.

It's 13' inside the box from the rear to the driver's seat... making it easy to maneuver.

These are typically easy to find... Parents picked this one up for under 3k.. drove it home without issue. I ended up with it when they got burnt out on the project of building a toy hauler.
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Old 10-08-2017, 05:24 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadtrip View Post
I need recommendation and sanity check!

I am located in NJ. I currently have a really small cargo trailer I converted to a dry camper. Basically bed on wheels but now I want a little more. Its for sale this winter/spring so I can buy a shortbus.

I am not looking for a conversion like most of the posts here. I am not living in it, I am using it as a road trip rig, a base camp. Expecting 8-10k miles a year for the next 5 years. Couple of 2 week long trips a year and a dozen or so 3-4 day round trips. I go to races often; trackdays and Lemons. I want to go check out ice racing this winter. I need room to store things like motorcycle, kayaks, spare motor or transmission etc when I go racing. I don't want to spend time/money or space in building inside the bus. The goals is to drop a 4' long cabinet-minimal cooking indoors, couple of fold out couches from idea or craigslist and bolt them to the floor. Throw some carpet on the floor. Run propane and water lines. Potty will be the dry kind, so no black water tank. Showers outdoors. Race tracks and camp grounds have electric so the Fridge and stuff will run on 120V. I will add a window AC and portable dishwasher, all 120v and a 2k-3k watt inverter. Heater will be my propane buddy and an electric heater. Might make bunk beds instead of the fold out couch based on the layout and space.

The bus has to be smaller than 28' long. The bus needs to look decent. I keep eyeing transit style short bus but I personally love the look of skoolie and all that metal. May be a deck in future.
I would prefer fuel efficiency and reliability for long travel as my biggest selling point. I am looking for 24' 6 window to 28' 8 window bus.

Which specific bus I should look for?
I definitely need 6th gear to be able to cruise 70-75 mph for 6 hour stretches. I am willing to buy a bus and get the gear unlocked. Not regearing the bus that is too expensive. Will this work? Are these buses reliable to do the long haul camping trips? Like New Jersey to Utah long trips?
Especially if my budget is in 3-5k $ range? I am not looking for a low mileage bus or anything but I don't want a rust bucket either.

What are other issues/inconveniences? My current setup is a CX5 and a 10 foot cargo trailer and I travel with my wife, kid and dog. It gets me 18 mpg on flat roads which is awesome but I have to stop every 180 miles for gas/potty breaks which sucks. I never considered the stops when I designed/built the trailer.
I have a nice 6 window full size chassis shorty for sale. Its got high headroom, nearly new tires, fresh fluids, air ride, cruise control, and it will do 75 mph. Its happiest at 65, but it will do 75 no problem.

This is a solid, reliable bus ready to hit the road.
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