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Old 02-13-2013, 11:20 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Year: 2001
Coachwork: StarTrans
Chassis: E450
Engine: 7.3
2001 E450 Star Trans MotoBus Conversion Project

Hello all, new to the board here. Have done a ton of reading but not very much posting.

Recently discovered the cheapness of shuttle buses and bought one to replace my aging 1996 E-250 motovan. It was struggling to tow my boat and didn't have all the creature comforts I wanted. Was looking at newer high top vans and had a bit of sticker shock. Was looking at having to spend $5-8k to get everything I wanted. Then I stumbled upon a bus. Won a 1999 E450 Star Trans on ebay for $2k. Guy said it was in "great condition" and ready to be driven home. Long story short, I drove 9 hours one way to IL to find an in-operable bus. Did not stop, broken brake lines. Drove 9 hours home very salty.

After looking at a few more buses in the $2k range, I realized that I would have to spend a bit more to get something workable. Found my 2001 E450 StarTrans on craigslist. It has 151k miles on the body & engine. Engine is the 7.3 turbo diesel. Mostly everything works, and it has very little rust when compared to the other buses I looked at. If you read all of this, you deserve to see some pictures:





As of right now, all I've done is taken 1 seat out, and after I did that I discovered that the other seat in the same row is a folder, so I folded it up. The side door is 1" too narrow to fit a quad in there (grrr) so I'm not sure if I'm going to cut the side of the bus or not.

I bought a tri-fold harbor freight ramp that I had planned on bolting to a hinge on the floor, but the thing is just so flimsy. I'm afraid to walk on it:



Anyways, plans for the bus right now in order of importance:

Fix the dash blower (its either the motor, relay, or control.. will troubleshoot once it's not freezing outside)
Convert the power bus door to an RV style entry door
Build a wall to separate the 'garage' area from the living area. One gripe about this thing is its SO LOUD inside while driving down the highway. My van had a partition wall and it was like driving a truck at that point, very quiet inside.
If I get crazy.. remove the wheelchair side entry door, cut and frame the opening 2" wider, and install an enclosed trailer style fold down ramp door.

If anyone has any input on how to frame up the inside I'm all ears. I've seen it done with steel and wood on here, not sure which is the better option. I've seen people take down the entire roof skin and I'm not sure if I need to do that. I almost think I should because my interior lights aren't working properly (switch is always lit up no matter what, and lights are always on inside no matter what. previous owner pulled all the bulbs out so I wasn't aware)

Thanks for looking! Updates will come as it gets warmer outside. I just have no place to park this thing inside ;/
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Old 02-13-2013, 11:58 PM   #2
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Re: 2001 E450 Star Trans MotoBus Conversion Project

Welcome to Skoolie!

I would look at the light switch first. If the lights work the wiring is likely fine.

Looks like your bus is pretty much like mine - same windows anyway.
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Old 02-14-2013, 07:48 AM   #3
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Re: 2001 E450 Star Trans MotoBus Conversion Project

Quote:
Originally Posted by roach711
Welcome to Skoolie!

I would look at the light switch first. If the lights work the wiring is likely fine.

Looks like your bus is pretty much like mine - same windows anyway.
That's what I was going to do first before ripping the ceiling down. The switch is supposed to illuminate when it's in the on position.. and mine is illuminated all the time regardless of position. I'm assuming the switches just pop out of the startrans panel? I really need to get cracking on this bus. Been too lazy with all the cold.

When you guys build partition walls are you attaching it to the ceiling at all or just the floor and sides?
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Old 02-14-2013, 03:41 PM   #4
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Re: 2001 E450 Star Trans MotoBus Conversion Project

Several ways to put up walls, etc. You can use metal studs and screw the top & bottom tracks to the floor/ceiling. The metal track is fairly easy to form to the ceiling curves. You can use wood studs and either use angle brackets or attach the studs to some wood cleats that are screwed to the body. I built plywood 3-sided boxes for my closets and used angle brackets to attach them to the body. Aside from the bed frame I didn't use many 2x4's at all.

If your fiberglass body is in good shape it will hold sheet metal screws pretty well.

Carpeting on walls and ceiling will cut down a of of your interior noise.
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Old 03-11-2013, 10:35 AM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Year: 2001
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Re: 2001 E450 Star Trans MotoBus Conversion Project

Made some changes this past weekend. Replaced the old stinky drivers seat with the seat I pulled out of a ford windstar at pullapart. Took all darn day modifying the stock slider getting it in there. Much more comfy.

Also fixed the dash blower motor. Started out by checking for 12v at the blower. Thankfully I had voltage there! Bought a new motor from autozone for $36 and swapped it out. Kind of a pain getting access but not horrible. Voila, dash heat & ac works. Unfortunately it has the same issue as all my fords have had, its stuck on defrost. Any tips on fixing that? I've never looked into it. After all of this we pulled out another seat and packed a bunch of bikes in it and headed to the track.

Here's the seat before I cleaned it up:


And pics of the inside now:




put $60 in diesel in and it made the 190 mile round trip with some fuel left over.. if i'm getting anywhere close to 14mpg as my rough calculation adds up to i'll be more than happy. my old ford extended motovan got 15 so i am not complaining!

i intend on filling it up to get a more accurate figure but couldn't swing a $200 fill up yesterday

Another question for the experienced guys, are the interior lights in the back always supposed to be illuminated? My switch always is lit up red (like it's switched on) and the lights are always on no matter what switch the position is in. I put a meter on the switch and it appears to be OK. I put my meter on the wiring and it seems like I might have a short to ground. The question is where. I really don't want to rip down the ceiling searching for this. Might just fiberglass over those light fixtures and do something else with LEDs.
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Old 03-11-2013, 10:39 AM   #6
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Re: 2001 E450 Star Trans MotoBus Conversion Project

Why not just take off 1/2 inch off each side of the bars for the quad to fit?
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Old 03-11-2013, 12:00 PM   #7
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Re: 2001 E450 Star Trans MotoBus Conversion Project

The temp switches work off vacuum. Look under the dash 1st for something disconnected--then in the engine compartment. The line is hard plastic-and it just slips into a rubber hose off the vac pump.
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Old 03-11-2013, 09:17 PM   #8
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Re: 2001 E450 Star Trans MotoBus Conversion Project

You may also have a vacuum reservoir and a check valve. The check valve is to keep vacuum during heavy throttle.

Hope this helps,

Keith
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Old 03-12-2013, 08:50 AM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Year: 2001
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Re: 2001 E450 Star Trans MotoBus Conversion Project

Quote:
Originally Posted by bansil
Why not just take off 1/2 inch off each side of the bars for the quad to fit?
the handlebars aren't the widest point on 4 wheelers, its the width of the wheels. hence why i'm taking a wheel off to get it in there

Quote:
Originally Posted by sdwarf36
The temp switches work off vacuum. Look under the dash 1st for something disconnected--then in the engine compartment. The line is hard plastic-and it just slips into a rubber hose off the vac pump.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 91 Bus Guy
You may also have a vacuum reservoir and a check valve. The check valve is to keep vacuum during heavy throttle.

Hope this helps,

Keith
the previous owner gave me a new vacuum pump, maybe ill try replacing that as well. doesn't look too hard to get to on the diesel.

thanks guys.
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Old 03-12-2013, 09:52 AM   #10
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Re: 2001 E450 Star Trans MotoBus Conversion Project

good point I forgot about how wide the tires are even stock
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Old 06-03-2013, 01:14 PM   #11
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Re: 2001 E450 Star Trans MotoBus Conversion Project

Welp.. it's been a while but I finally did some work to the bus.

A month or so ago we were driving back from an MX track and the bus seemed to have gained a loud ticking sound that varied with engine RPM and was wayyy down on power. After some investigation I found 2 very rusty exhaust manifolds that are probably (still) leaking, and my passenger side crossover pipe was leaking exhaust very badly pre turbo. After a month of trying to find a set of torches to borrow as mine were empty I was able to get the rest of the broken bolts out of the bus and get the pipe replaced. Used some RTV for extra protection and it seems that the lost power had been restored.



Next day I finally started building my divider wall to separate the passenger area from the garage. Went with 2x4 construction like a standard house. Used some paper to make a template and went to town. It's not complete as I have not sourced a door yet to get from front to rear but the bulk of it is done and insulated. It seems to have added a ton of strength to the roof and it's not nearly as loud inside. As soon as I can get my hands on a good air tight door I will finish the other side and cover both sides with carpet.



On a side note.. if anyone is looking for a set of 6 seats (the ones that were in my bus) they are on eBay right now
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Old 06-11-2013, 10:02 AM   #12
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Re: 2001 E450 Star Trans MotoBus Conversion Project

Got a stinky fold down (power) seat from pullapart. Steam cleaned it.. and it's still stinking. Will attack it some more.





Perfect width too.

Door came in yesterday:



Tonight hopefully we'll have enough time to get the door roughed in and start closing up that wall. Hope I can get the seat to stop stinking because after the wall is closed up I don't know if I'll ever be able to get that seat out

Bus in it's new parking spot after I got the boat out of there:

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Old 06-11-2013, 12:13 PM   #13
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Re: 2001 E450 Star Trans MotoBus Conversion Project

Try Fabreeze. It took out the smell of stinky gear oil out of the back of a station wagon I had.
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Old 06-11-2013, 10:43 PM   #14
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Re: 2001 E450 Star Trans MotoBus Conversion Project

Thats the next plan of action after a few more carpet cleanings.
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Old 06-11-2013, 10:45 PM   #15
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Re: 2001 E450 Star Trans MotoBus Conversion Project

Got the door roughed in tonight. Will hopefully have the wall finished up this weekend:

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Old 06-12-2013, 03:20 PM   #16
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Re: 2001 E450 Star Trans MotoBus Conversion Project

Currently trying to find a 13' awning for the side of the bus as well. Looking like its going to be an expensive (~$500) endeavor
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Old 06-17-2013, 11:24 AM   #17
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Re: 2001 E450 Star Trans MotoBus Conversion Project

Another day at the track:



I do believe my drivers side manifold is still leaking though.. power isn't 100% and I can hear a noticeable tick that goes with engine RPM while I'm on the highway. Might attempt to do something about it but I have a call in with an RV repair shop to see what they would charge.
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Old 06-17-2013, 11:57 AM   #18
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Re: 2001 E450 Star Trans MotoBus Conversion Project

I used to race enduros and a little MX back before the monoshockers came out. We would have killed for that much suspension travel.
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Old 06-23-2013, 11:21 PM   #19
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Re: 2001 E450 Star Trans MotoBus Conversion Project

Quote:
Originally Posted by roach711
I used to race enduros and a little MX back before the monoshockers came out. We would have killed for that much suspension travel.
Yeah the bikes sure have come a long way
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Old 06-24-2013, 09:03 AM   #20
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Re: 2001 E450 Star Trans MotoBus Conversion Project

Quote:
Originally Posted by cloead
Quote:
Originally Posted by roach711
I used to race enduros and a little MX back before the monoshockers came out. We would have killed for that much suspension travel.
Yeah the bikes sure have come a long way
I still feel the pain from my 1972/4 MX360
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