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Old 09-22-2017, 11:49 AM   #1
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"Turtleback" buses?

One idea my wife and I have been throwing around is the idea of converting a mid-sized transit bus with a van front end... I think they're called "turtleback" or "turtleshell" buses. I've seen them about the size of a mid-length school bus. I would imagine that the maintenance costs would be less overall than those of a school bus, because the powertrain is not a "commercial" powertrain (it'd be a combination of engine and transmission available in, for example, the ordinary pickup trucks made by the manufacturer that made the turtleback bus chassis). It'd have smaller tires that'd be cheaper to replace (probably heavy-duty 10-ply "E" rated tires, with which I am familiar), oil changes would be cheaper because the engine wouldn't use as much oil, etc.

The only concerns would be interior height (again, it should be 78" or more) and additional carrying capacity of the chassis and tires (it wouldn't be holding a full load of people, but it would be holding things like full water tanks).

Do any of y'all have experience with operating or converting this type of bus? If yes, what can you tell me about it, along the lines of whether or not it'd be a good conversion prospect?
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Old 09-22-2017, 01:51 PM   #2
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Turtle Top is a name brand. One of the better brands that I have seen. Lots of shuttle bus conversions on this forum under the short bus section. I love my shuttle. Welcome fellow Buckeye. Go Indians!
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Old 09-22-2017, 04:50 PM   #3
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Turtle Top is a name brand. One of the better brands that I have seen. Lots of shuttle bus conversions on this forum under the short bus section. I love my shuttle. Welcome fellow Buckeye. Go Indians!
Okay, shuttle bus. Maybe I'll look that up.

Would it break your heart to learn that I find professional sports to rank among the top three most abhorrent human indulgences, and that I have lived all over the country (such that I really don't swear any allegiance to any particular area)? I'm actually from New Jersey. I married a northeastern Ohioan... and we moved here from Texas. Couldn't do those summers. I'm the guy who wears shorts and T-shirts in the worst part of winter.
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Old 09-22-2017, 08:52 PM   #4
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ha!! and im the guy that has the heat on when it hits 71 in my house during the daytime. lolol
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Old 09-22-2017, 09:32 PM   #5
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Old 09-23-2017, 01:57 AM   #6
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Plenty of shuttle bus conversions, and *Good News Everyone!* Most have 78" or so of headroom, because they're "Not School Buses" and some adults are over 6' tall. Some have wheelchair lifts. Many have A/C. Most aren't yellow. They might be close to the chassis GVWR, though, so you'll want to watch the weight. Most are also set up for at least freeway speeds.

The bad? You'll want to check thoroughly for rust. Some have fiberglass bodies but steel skeletons, and if that steel rusts out, it's virtually impossible to replace if it's encased in the fiberglass. It is my understanding that some shuttle buses do not have steel floors, but instead use wood (this is not necessarily a bad thing, depending on your perspective).
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Old 09-23-2017, 10:31 AM   #7
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What are the other 2 on the indulgence list? I'm curious.
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Old 09-23-2017, 01:24 PM   #8
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What are the other 2 on the indulgence list? I'm curious.
Cigarette smoking and materialism. I can make a very strong case for how each of those three represents, and is indicative of, everything that is wrong with our system today.
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Old 09-25-2017, 09:47 AM   #9
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No, it doesn't break my heart. I actually like nascar but I love what the Indians are doing for my local economy. Now, those crazy Browns who won't stand for the National Anthem I won't even bore you with my opinion.
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Okay, shuttle bus. Maybe I'll look that up.

Would it break your heart to learn that I find professional sports to rank among the top three most abhorrent human indulgences, and that I have lived all over the country (such that I really don't swear any allegiance to any particular area)? I'm actually from New Jersey. I married a northeastern Ohioan... and we moved here from Texas. Couldn't do those summers. I'm the guy who wears shorts and T-shirts in the worst part of winter.
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Old 09-26-2017, 11:25 PM   #10
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I wouldn't try it for full time living unless you enjoy a very minimalist lifestyle.

I bet it would be very easy to overload and at that point the cheap drivetrain (most likely gas engine) might not be reliable or economical.

I was looking at used class C RVs, specifically 26' GMCs from the 1970s and they seem to get maybe 11 MPG gas. A good Class A RV will get between 8-11 MPG diesel which is pretty similar in cost/mile but you get basement storage, a bigger floorplan and a drivetrain that might go 500,000 miles. A full size Schoolie should be more like a class A with a 500,000+ mile chassis too.

I was looking up fuel injection, modern engines and other tricks to see if more MPG could be had with a Class C but it looks like the size and weight kill that possibility. Sprinter vans seem to get better mileage but cost a lot more.

I think a short bus might be false economy unless you just want an RV to use occasionally and you can't store a Class A.
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