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Old 03-30-2006, 03:25 PM   #11
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I actually was thinking of this post today when I dropped my niece and nephew off to catch the Headstart bus. It was a class B sitting on an International chassis with a DT466. The body was made by Mid Bus. I don't know much abour this company, but it resembled a Carpenter body when I looked at the lines.

Something like that might be really convenient. It would have all the power in the world, plenty of space (I could stand up without hitting my head and I'm 6'5"), and is not too big to handle. I thik converting something like that might even look a little more "professional" than a skoolie if that's your kind of thing. If nothing else, having a driverside entrance door would be nice.
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Old 03-30-2006, 05:26 PM   #12
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Re: may as well throw my two cents in

Quote:
Originally Posted by trentet
I'm not a bus mechanic so take my opinion with a grain of salt. I am, however a NASA aero/structural engineer. I went through the same trade study that you are going through before I bought my shorty for towing my antique Spartan trailer. My conclusion was that the cutaways were basically overloaded van chassis with a lot of metal and fiberglass and underpowered motors and overworked trannys. This is evident by the previous posters mention of structural damage in the undercarriage and suspension. One other member with a cutaway ran into weight issues in his conversion process and started blowing tires from excessive weight. With a short dog nosed schoolie, say a Wayne/International, you have an overbuilt medium duty truck chassis with an overall length of 25ft capable of carrying around 9000 lbs of payload over and above its own weight with all the overbuilt systems that go with a full size bus in a shorter lighter version. So your choice is a bastardized van with enough extra crap slapped on it to push it to its structural limits or a shortened full size medium duty truck with all kinds of extra margin of safety. I know what I went with, but to each their own, that's the beauty of this hobby, the different solutions to the same desires.
The really big cutvans are overweight...but if one is selected that is a reasonable size, weight is a minor issue. As for the engines...the vast majority use the very same engine that powered thousands of MDT's & 40' school buses: the 7.3 litre International, either the IDI (1994-older) or the PowerStroke (1995-2004). A PSD E-450 is not underpowered in any sense of the word...in fact, the van PSD has MORE power than the strongest T444E offered in a school bus (225HP versus 210, and most skoolies had 190 or 175). Every bus at work will happily cruise all day at 70MPH without breaking a sweat (a speed many school buses cannot touch in ANY way short of downhill in neutral). My friend uses a retired shuttle (1991 E-350/Champion, 7.3 IDI/C6, GVWR 12,600) as a stuff-hauler. It usually runs right at the maximum weight (he scales before every trip, and is usually within 200lbs of 12,000). The engine has almost 23,000 hours (250,000+ miles), the trans was rebuilt at ~200K. He has never lost a tire (225/75R16's, 80psi in back)--one important caveat: some E-350's only call for load range D tires! A 225/75R16D at 65psi (max) is running at ONE HUNDRED PERCENT CAPACITY with an E-350 DRW loaded to its max rear GAWR. Running E's gives a safety factor, not to mention more stability against side-sway.

The early E4OD's were a bit weak for a diesel cutaway, but the later vans, with the updated 4R100 OD transmission, will go 100,000+ city miles without a rebuild. Having said that, any E4OD bus will almost certainly have had the transmission rebuilt or replaced long before it is sold off. I would add a trans temp gauge (to ANY automatic) & the biggest cooler I could fit, and reaally wouldn't worry.

The stuff-hauler has a few tweaks that make it dramatically more durable. All are pretty basic. First and foremost: enormous trans cooler (especially with the non-lockup C6) & temp gauge! The C6 also got a B&M deep pan when it was rebuilt. This one has a Gear Vendors OD, but most, having factory E4OD/4R100's, won't need that. The old trans cooler became a power steering cooler. Also, it has Rancho RS9000X adjustable front shocks, and E-450 front springs.
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Old 03-30-2006, 05:48 PM   #13
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Wow, you guys are pretty intense! I'm just as little girl from Pennsylvania who needs a cool tow vehicle with a wheelchair lift for a vintage Airstream! This has been great information, but I just feel more and more confused! I'm really not sure which way to go. I'm afraid of getting a school bus that might be too long (is 25 feet the shortest they come?), but I do like the look of the "old" school bus--short dog nose (I think!--is that known as the Carpenter style?). But, I think the creature comforts of a shuttle bus might be good as well, but I don't want to get into structural problems or major engine modifications to have it be suitable for the purposes of towing. This thread has been such a learning experience for me, and all of the replies have been helpful. Just bear with me (and my questions) as I contunue to learn and refine my ideas of what I want. What is cool though, is that my family is sold on the idea of a bus as a tow vehicle (of course, it took them looking at this listserve to get convinced--they initially thought that I was crazy). So, the more opinions, the merrier!

Kathy
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Old 03-31-2006, 08:14 AM   #14
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Quote:
I'm afraid of getting a school bus that might be too long (is 25 feet the shortest they come?), but I do like the look of the "old" school bus--short dog nose (I think!--is that known as the Carpenter style?).
Regular style school bus with engine out front under a hood is dognose. Carpenter is just a manufacturer...that had some serious issues with weld quality in their roofs on busses manufactured in Elkhart (IIRC), IN for a large portion of the early '90s. Lots of times you see these busses offered for sale at cheap prices with a "SALVAGE" title. The ones manufactured at their NJ plant were okay.
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Old 03-31-2006, 09:29 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kdenault
Wow, you guys are pretty intense! I'm just as little girl from Pennsylvania who needs a cool tow vehicle with a wheelchair lift for a vintage Airstream! This has been great information, but I just feel more and more confused! I'm really not sure which way to go. I'm afraid of getting a school bus that might be too long (is 25 feet the shortest they come?), but I do like the look of the "old" school bus--short dog nose (I think!--is that known as the Carpenter style?). But, I think the creature comforts of a shuttle bus might be good as well, but I don't want to get into structural problems or major engine modifications to have it be suitable for the purposes of towing. This thread has been such a learning experience for me, and all of the replies have been helpful. Just bear with me (and my questions) as I contunue to learn and refine my ideas of what I want. What is cool though, is that my family is sold on the idea of a bus as a tow vehicle (of course, it took them looking at this listserve to get convinced--they initially thought that I was crazy). So, the more opinions, the merrier!

Kathy
Kathy...hang in there! You just happend to land at a site populated with bus enthusiasts and there is a wealth of knowledge here. Also, often times, one post gets answered by another post and sort of leaps over the original post and then things get back on track again. It's like sitting at a big round table in the corner of the local greasy spoon; the chatter never stops and the converstation keeps flowing around the table! Fun!

Don't do anything until you're comfortable. Keep watching the ads at eBay; not to buy yet but to read the descriptions and get familiar with the engines, transmissions, body styles, lengths, number of windows, and such. Do the same thing on the various bus sales sites online. Pretty soon something is going to "click" for you and you're going to find what you think is the ideal bus. Then it's time to do some homework and here (at this site) is where you'll be able to get more information about the critter you're looking at.

Look at it this way...the bus field is pretty varied; at one time or another someone built a bus to do just what the market asked for so there are tons of choices. Just keep looking, learning and asking and things will start to make sense...really!
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Old 04-08-2006, 10:49 PM   #16
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I just put up some pictures of some newer buses that are still in service. There are few different sizes. I still think there are some that are even shorter than the #88 bus pictured.
Here is the direct link http://www.skoolie.net/gallery2/main...2_itemId=10214
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Old 04-18-2006, 12:35 PM   #17
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Check this out

Hey I haven't got time at the moment to catch up on this disscusion.

I do have an excellent short bus that is on pg 8 in the skoolies gallery. "Aimless pursuits" The photos are way behind. This thing is already totally converted with some serious equipment and skill. It will pull anything. it has a 466 and 4spd Allison auto. I just drove it to WY from IN with it loaded down, slow and steady but with no problems.
I am living in it now very nicely and am soon to put up all the picks. and info. I have had fun with it and it would make someone a great camper. I am going to sell it but not any time soon. I have work and a free place to park for the summer through fall, so once i get it advertised, Sept/ Oct would be the soonest I'd sell. Look for its complete picture set and add and tell all your friends about it!
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