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Old 02-25-2016, 11:03 PM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 3
2000 ford e450 shuttle bus

Hello all,

I'm a long time reader, first time poster. A friend and I purchased a bus together in October (2015) with the plans of going on a road trip in May for an indefinite amount of time. We began planning and early stages of building before a friend turned me onto this page. (who knew there were so many other people ready to toss their lives away, just like me). I have been using a lot of the information on this website to help as we go since finding it, and I felt it was about time I created my own bus thread to pay forward the inspiration everyone on here has been.

First a little about me, my bus, and my plan. I'm a 23 year old blacksmith/kayaker living in West Virginia, but I am originally from Montgomery County, MD (sounds like so are a surprising number of folks on here). For the last 3 springs, I have driven across the country and lived in a tent for a few months at a time while kayaking as much as possible around the rockies. Upon returning to West Virginia, every year, I have worked the remainder of the summer as a shuttle driver for a rafting company in Pennsylvania. The company had several shuttle vehicles of varying sizes for different river trips, ranging from suvs/minivans to a 15 passenger shuttle bus and an 8 window yellow short bus (as an added bonus we had a full length blue bird school but that had the roof cut off at the window line and converted into a 30ft long flat bed that was titled as a pickup truck... no cdl required.) But every year after returning from the road trip, and driving some sort of bus the rest of the summer, my dream has been to buy a bus and convert it specifically for the function of living in for several months at a time on said road trip.

Sure enough, this fall the company decided to put the shuttle bus I had been driving for 3 years up for sale. My friend and I decided we couldn't help ourselves and managed to get this baby for $800. so without further adieu our 2000 Ford E450 econoline shuttle bus with the 7.3L powerstroke V8 turbo diesel

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It turns out that they wanted to hold onto the seats if we were going to gut the bus, so we were able to trade the seats for 2 weeks of using their shop, garage, and tools to gut her before I drove it to the blacksmith shop where I work through the winter. It has sat there since because we cant insure it or get tags till we retitle it as a motorhome, which requires getting most of the way through the buildout.

The main goal of the buildout, was a 2 bedroom apartment, with room for the occasional 3rd, and as many boats and as much kayaking gear as possible, for as cheap as possible. we decided on loft beds to capitalize on the amount of vertical space we have and a couch long enough for someone to sleep on. With no notable rust, a rubber floor and small budget, we decided we would settle for leaving the OEM floor and walls in and build into the existing interior. So I promptly bought some wood
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and got to work
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With the rough framing done I decided to starting brainstorming ideas for a kitchen area, and decided that the kitchen counter was one of only a few opportunities to do something really unique in the bus. I began collecting scrap metal from fabrication projects and began building a frame that fit the contour of the bus wall that I could build a counter inside of.
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While collecting material for this frame, we received a bulk shipment of stock steel on several pallets. the pallet wood caught my attention and seemed fitting for a cheap building material. So I proceeded to break the pallets down with a 5LB rounding hammer
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I mocked up the pallet design and decided for the price of free, I couldnt do any better.
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Next I blackened the steel
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Got some brass hardware (the only part of the counter that cost money, a whopping $10, but so classy I couldnt resist)
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next I tried it on in the bus
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then built a wood frame insert, with a space for a sink to be cut out later
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it was finally time to take it down the road to a friends wood shop to start building the insert
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Some nice accent pieces of cherry and purple heart, donated by the scrap bin in the woodshop.
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back in the bus, I dont mean to toot my own horn, but I think it came out pretty neat. No finish on the wood yet, because I need to cut the opening for the sink before pouring a polyurethane resin to seal it, and I dont want to cut the opening until I have the sink basin in my hands.
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So the counter project is on hold until we gather the funds for the whole water plumbing system. So onto the next task, and next big spending bill. plywood sheeting.
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I scored some free cushions from a friend who was upgrading his living room and celebrating with a good old fashioned couch fire. I managed to snag the cushions before the burn and they fit so perfectly it had to be fate
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So here we are as of today, the very very rough outline of the finished product is starting to take shape, and at a total investment of under $1300 its hard to complain yet
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The remaining large undertakings seem daunting, but we have them prioritized to:
1) Water plumbing - Fairly certain we are going to try to live with 5 gallon containers at first. One fresh water, one grey water, and room for a 3rd if we decided we need more. plumbed to a hand pump faucet. (open to suggestions for better setups, but we are very cramped on space as it is)
2) electrical - one of the larger purchases, but we feel ultimately worth it, is going to be the solar power we are leaning towards this set up 300 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Complete Kit | Renogy Solar anyone on here familiar with it and have any recommendations? going to wire it to 2 deep cycle 6 volt batteries
3) refrigeration - the most expensive single item in the bus sounds like it is going to be a dometic cf 40 portable high efficiency fridge.

once that stuff is done we can get it retitled and legal, and start on the less necessary creature comforts
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Old 02-25-2016, 11:58 PM   #2
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Join Date: May 2010
Location: Farmington Hills, Mi (Detroit area)
Posts: 1,572
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Eldorado Aerotech 24'
Chassis: Ford E-450 Cutaway Bus
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke
Rated Cap: 19
Cool idea on the table top. Nice having access to both metal and wood shops. At the rate you're going you'll win "low price conversion" by a mile.
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Old 02-26-2016, 12:02 AM   #3
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thanks. yeah, it definitely cuts down on the cost when you can make everything you need.
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Old 02-26-2016, 07:30 AM   #4
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Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Cuyahoga Falls Ohio
Posts: 372
Year: 1997
Chassis: Ford e-350 single wheel
Engine: 5.4 litre
Rated Cap: 12
Wow $800. I'm jealous..
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Old 02-28-2016, 02:58 PM   #5
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Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Lisle,IL
Posts: 40
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Eldorado
Chassis: E350
Engine: 7.3
Rated Cap: R
Looking good!
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Old 02-28-2016, 05:33 PM   #6
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 1,607
Great looking project!

You should be ashamed about the price you paid for that bus!

Keep a reserve fund of about $3K because you are going to need a transmission rebuild. Hopefully for you it will be later and not sooner. The Ford E-series cut-away chassis with the diesel engines have a very bad reputation of killing transmissions. It is due in large part to the weak sister E4OD and the follow on version the 4R100 Ford used from 1989-2003.

There are some fixes that can make the problem less but the basic problem is you can not move the fluid through the transmission fast enough without it getting too hot. You could have a cooler the size of a semi-truck radiator and have the fluid entering at room temperature and it will still get cooked if you are on a big enough hill.

There are some builders on Pirate 4x4 that have re-engineered the problems and have eliminated the worst parts and they are having relatively good luck, even when they are hooked up to engines that have been really horsed up.

I really like your counter. Besides the quality of the workmanship I really like the fact you are using free stuff to do the work.

One last caveat for you is to watch your weight. Cut-away buses have GVWR's between 11K and 14K. Depending upon wheelbase and chassis options they have empty weights between 9K and 12K. Which doesn't give you a lot of room to build.

Good luck and happy trails!
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Old 02-28-2016, 10:33 PM   #7
Bus Crazy
 
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Join Date: May 2010
Location: Farmington Hills, Mi (Detroit area)
Posts: 1,572
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Eldorado Aerotech 24'
Chassis: Ford E-450 Cutaway Bus
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke
Rated Cap: 19
My 24' E-450 has the 14K GVWR and with our completed conversion, two people on board and full tanks (50 gal diesel, 35 gal water and two propane cyls) we weigh in right at 12K. Remember that the GVWR includes a full load of people too.
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Old 02-29-2016, 08:58 AM   #8
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awesome info cowlitzcoach. I had heard that there were problems with the transmissions in some of these, but never really had it explained well. but either way, the company i bought it from put a brand new transmission in it 80,000 mi ago, so im confident she will at least ride out the year . this bus is rated to 14.5 GVWR and we weighed her gutted at just over 8. i cant imagine putting ever 6 tons in the buildout, but you never know
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Old 02-29-2016, 05:29 PM   #9
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Moodus, Ct.
Posts: 1,054
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Champion
Chassis: Ford e-450
Engine: 7.3 Powerstroke
Rated Cap: 14
The temps in my e4od run rarely go over 180. Outside temp seems to have a big influence on the temp. I have just the stock cooler.
On a Ford diesel forum I also go to there is a former Ford tranny engineer that is good at answering questions. The topic of temps came up-he said that everything is designed to be able to run at 220* non stop.
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Don't make a fuss-just get on the bus!

my bus build http://www.skoolie.net/gallery/Skoolies/Sped
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Old 03-02-2016, 11:29 PM   #10
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Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Lisle,IL
Posts: 40
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Eldorado
Chassis: E350
Engine: 7.3
Rated Cap: R
I paid $1,000 for my Eldorado E350
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