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Old 03-20-2018, 10:56 AM   #1
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Location: Blacksburg, VA
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Year: 2003
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Engine: 7.3L (Navistar T444E)
2003 Ford E450, 7.3L, 5 Window Shorty

I finally got a bus! So pumped to have it and get going on the work. As the title says it's a 2003 Ford E450 5-window short bus with the 7.3L engine. Interior is 14' long, 7'6" wide and 73" from bare floor to ceiling ribs. The previous owner already stripped out the seats and 95% of the floor, walls and ceiling. Still working to figure out a layout I want but where do you all recommend I start? Step 1 for sure will be to finished cleaning out the inside so it's ready to move forward but after that should I focus on treating the frame and all under the bus or save that for later and get the inside rolling? I know I have some rust to treat on the floor and then paint on a protective layer then insulate/subfloor.

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Old 03-20-2018, 11:13 AM   #2
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Depends on how tall you are.... If it were me, take care of the basics first. Make sure you have any and all rust stopped / fixed, mechanical issues fixed, and then move on...

The next thing I would be planning on is a roof raise. Not a huge one, but absolutely give that thing at least 1' more headroom. After that, start working the rest of it.... Insulate, flooring, ceiling etc...
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Old 03-20-2018, 12:05 PM   #3
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nice looking bus! i dont see any rust that looks earth shattering! looks like you have a great slate to start with.. appears its a higher headroom model too.
-Christopher
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Old 03-20-2018, 03:22 PM   #4
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Join Date: Feb 2017
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Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
nice looking bus! i dont see any rust that looks earth shattering! looks like you have a great slate to start with.. appears its a higher headroom model too.
-Christopher
Thanks! Rust isn't bad at all, just enough to sand and paint. Frame is about the same with a little more, obviously. It has about 6' headroom. Not too short, not much to spare though

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Old 03-20-2018, 10:58 PM   #5
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Location: Shedd, Oregon
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Engine: 7.3 liter turbo
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Nice! I have the exact same bus, and I LOVE it. Not too big, not too small. it can fit in a regular parking spot which is soooo nice once you're out and about.
My 7.3 has 220k miles on it now, and running strong.

Good luck!
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Old 03-20-2018, 11:00 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Oregon shortie View Post
Nice! I have the exact same bus, and I LOVE it. Not too big, not too small. it can fit in a regular parking spot which is soooo nice once you're out and about.
My 7.3 has 220k miles on it now, and running strong.

Good luck!
Basically the same! 216,000 on mine! I can't wait to get everything rolling with it!

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Old 03-26-2018, 12:39 PM   #7
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Dude... amazing find, that's like the perfect size and engine combo. Are you gonna lift the roof at all, or just keep it as is?
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Old 03-26-2018, 01:05 PM   #8
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Dude... amazing find, that's like the perfect size and engine combo. Are you gonna lift the roof at all, or just keep it as is?
Just keeping it as is. It'll be a little low for my height when it's finished but I weighed the pros/cons and it won. The whole idea for me is to be in a small space to make me want to be outside anyway

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Old 03-26-2018, 05:57 PM   #9
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Check your state laws. They may require you to paint over the school bus yellow.
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Old 03-26-2018, 06:03 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by roach711 View Post
Check your state laws. They may require you to paint over the school bus yellow.
Oh, on that part it's changing. The body is staying as is, is what I meant. No roof raise. Of course inside changing completely, outside will get a painting. Color is undecided

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Old 03-30-2018, 12:46 PM   #11
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Nice find. I wish I could find one like that.
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Old 04-29-2018, 04:24 PM   #12
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Chassis: Ford E450
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Update!

Been a bit since I've updated anything on here. Here's what I've gotten done so far (with details below) :
  • Remove heater
  • Remove final bits of subfloor
  • Quick clean up of wiring
  • Pull Driver's seat and everything around it in contact with the steel floor
  • Convert two-piece door into single door (unfinished)

Remove Heater:
The heater had two hoses running to/from it. The two pipes were right next to each other under the doghouse so I easily cut them and used one of the hoses to connect the pipes together to complete the circuit. You can see the change in the attached pictures (assuming they work right). Also, you can see the heater and all the hoses I removed from under the bus. To get all the hoses out I had to cut them a few times each to pull them out in easily manageable pieces. When cutting them, I had 23x 5 gallon buckets placed throughout the length of the bus to catch coolant as it leaked out. Total, about 4 gallons of coolant drained.

Remove subfloor:
Similar to all other subfloor removals. Plywood was just nailed/screwed to the steel floor so I shoved a 2x4 under parts of the wood so I could run my circular saw to cut into smaller pieces. Then I used a crowbar to pry the ply up and break through the nails and used same pry bar to pop the nails out or break them at the floor if they were too rusted to pull out.

Wire Clean up:
This was a pain. If you have a bus, I'm sure your wiring is similar and just a bird's nest. The wiring all comes together up above the driver's head in a compartment. I went through and first started cleaning out wiring to the back for the flashing lights because they are no longer being used as flashing. I traced the wires down to figure out where they went on the front end and cut them and pulled the wire loose to the back. I did this for all the wires going to the back that were not needed, then at the front end traced where they went from where I had already cut. I think I cut about a mile of wiring out total and I'm not even done...it's an endless process. I rewired the amber strobes to be tied with turn signals and the red strobes tied to the brakes.

Driver's seat removal:
I pulled the seat to get everything cleaned up and found that I really had a lot of work to do to the floor in the cab. I'm still not sure how I want to go about repairing it but there are some rust spots that go all the way through. The entire area should probably be replaced with a new sheet of steel but I only have a flux welder so that is something to figure out. I've gotten the floor all patched up with the flux welding (nail, screw and seat bolt holes) because they're all small and I could get the flux to fill in nicely. This week I plan to do my finishing touches with the welding and then paint on the Corroseal I bought for the floor rust that isn't needing replacement.

Door mod:
Finally I got to do something that will actually be visually noticeable at the end stage. The door was a standard bus door that was a two-piece that opened in the middle. I didn't like it. I like the space of the door opening but with how it was it was always one door open more than the other and just annoying, so I changed it. I bought a 6' length of 1" x 1/8" angle steel. Cut that to size for the door, 25" each. I don't have all the equipment I probably should have for doing this whole project (like a whole dang shop to work in rather than my apartment parking lot/driveway thing) so I made do with what I have. I put an adjustable clamp on the top and bottom of the right/front door, drilled and bolted with #12 metal screws. Once that was secure, I removed the left/back door put it in the opening of the brackets, strapped it in place with two 1" ratchet straps, used the angle grinder to cut off a small piece of .5 or .75" square tubing that went up above the door to connect to the system that made it so when one door opened/closed the other would, too. Once that was off I adjusted the door in the framing to be sure the back edge of the door when it was closed would be square with the "frame" of the body of the bus. I took a piece of 4" 16g steel and riveted it to the two doors and then ran bolts through it too. Two of the bolts were from the handle that opened the door originally and I drilled two mirroring holes in the other door to give it a symmetrical look. The door is about 65% done now, the two original doors are now one but I need to close in the 3"+ gap between them and figure how I want to secure the door closed. I'm thinking a Jimmy Proof lock, but not sure how/where I want to attach, quite yet. I'm really liking the look of it though, so I'm scratching it up as a win so far.

I've tried to attach some photos to this post, not sure if it'll work though. If not, I'll add them separately.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Doghouse Access.jpg (212.3 KB, 25 views)
File Type: jpg Heater Reroute 1.jpg (178.2 KB, 20 views)
File Type: jpg Heater Reroute 2.jpg (203.1 KB, 18 views)
File Type: jpg Heater Hoses.jpg (654.9 KB, 16 views)
File Type: jpg Doghouse Access Rust Drivers.jpg (295.8 KB, 18 views)
File Type: jpg Doghouse Access Rust Passenger.jpg (350.5 KB, 21 views)
File Type: jpg Door Inside Open No Strap.jpg (342.8 KB, 32 views)
File Type: jpg Door Outside Open.jpg (295.1 KB, 28 views)
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Old 04-29-2018, 05:38 PM   #13
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Posts: 468
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: T444E
Can you post more close-ups of that door mod? I'm doing something similar and like to get ideas from other peoples builds.
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Old 04-29-2018, 06:41 PM   #14
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Year: 2003
Chassis: E-450
Engine: 7.3 Turbo
We also have a 2003 e450 w/ 7.3! This is a great engine and will run a very long time - as long as you take care of it.

I cannot recommend reading this thread highly enough:

http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f34/th...sel-10607.html

Start at the beginning and read it all, you'll learn a lot about what you should be doing for it.

Something we learned is that the stock air box and resonator box are both highly prone to cracking. This frequently leaves gaping holes, allowing dirty air into the turbo and engine. Over time, this will kill both. Check the air filer assembly (the thing on top as soon as you open the hood) for any holes or cracks, paying close attention around the latches in the back. To give you an idea how prone to cracking these are: I dealt with a bus graveyard that had about a dozen e350s and e450s - there was only one that was "only cracked a little"!

The resonator box is along the big rubber tube that leaves the top of the air box and goes back to the turbo. It is hard to see and located at the very top of the engine compartment, only accessible from the interior. Reach in there when the engine is cool and feel around the box as much as possible for holes, even better to take it out but its a pain.

If the injectors on yours are stock, that is an investment you may want to plan for. The injectors typically start decreasing in performance between 180000 and 220000 miles.

Here is a great article about that:

https://swampsdiesel.com/files/7.3LI...Diagnostic.pdf
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Old 05-02-2018, 01:01 PM   #15
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Year: 2007
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: GMC Savana
Nice bus! can't wait to see what you do with it.
What's the milage?
This is the size my husband and I are looking for.
We're in the Northern New England. Anyone have any ideas on were to look?
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Old 05-02-2018, 01:28 PM   #16
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Location: Farmington Hills, Mi (Detroit area)
Posts: 1,851
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Coachwork: Eldorado Aerotech 24'
Chassis: Ford E-450 Cutaway Bus
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke
Rated Cap: 19
I pulled my (intact) resonater box when I rebuilt the turbocharger. It gives me a bit more space to work in a nasty crowded engine room.
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Old 05-03-2018, 04:02 PM   #17
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Blacksburg, VA
Posts: 48
Year: 2003
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: 7.3L (Navistar T444E)
@warewolff I have more pictures on my build album [http://www.skoolie.net/forums/member...bums1442.html] if there are any specific pictures you want that I don't have posted, send me a PM I'd be happy to take whatever you're looking for! Have you thought about how you're planning to latch/lock the door? I keep going back and forth on what I want to do.

@pigpen I will definitely read that! and big thanks to @roach711 for writing it!
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Old 05-03-2018, 08:22 PM   #18
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Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Blacksburg, VA
Posts: 48
Year: 2003
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: 7.3L (Navistar T444E)
Quote:
Originally Posted by MovinOn View Post
Nice bus! can't wait to see what you do with it.
What's the milage?
This is the size my husband and I are looking for.
We're in the Northern New England. Anyone have any ideas on were to look?
Thanks! I'm excited to get it going. It's sooooo much work! But I know it will be worth it in the end.

I really like the size, I think it will be perfect. I picked a short bus because my best friend is redoing an old GMC Vandura so we will be able to go to the same places. His van might be able to get a few spots I can't, but I'll have a few things that he won't so it'll even out.

It has 216K miles, so for a 7.3, it's just about broken in!

For ideas, I looked on Craigslist A LOT before I found this one. It came up and I jumped on it. I also watched a lot of the auction sites like govdeals and govsurplus. Hope this helps!
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