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Old 08-27-2018, 05:04 PM   #1
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4X4 E350 Party Bus

Hey, figured you guys might like to see my project bus I've been working on. Took about a year to convert it to 4x4 and I've just been working on it since. I warn you its a pretty hillbilly project lol. I'm copying this from another forum so these are from the span of 2 years.

I guess some back story on why I decided to do such a thing. Every year on memorial day and labor day some friends and I go to an off-road event by St Clairsville oh. Well 2 years ago a few days before memorial day a friend had got a bus to scrap. We figured why not take it with us. Worse case we are out a few hundred. It had a piston knock and we lost every fluid in that thing at least once, but it lasted the whole weekend and was a ball.



Well that bus got scraped so on started the search for a new bus. Looked for what seemed forever but everyone wanted a fortune. I'm talking 2500 for an 80s bus with missing wheels and other crap wrong with it. fyi schools auction off buses after 10 years of use and they sell for 2k. Well, I finally found one just 10 min away at a repair shop. I walked in and asked if it was for sale and walked out with a bus for 900 bucks. The only thing wrong with it is that it lost all its tranny fluid somehow (no clue how as I have driven it over 100 miles with no leaks at all) and a fuel leak that I was told it was the pump. (was a fuel line that got fixed with a few bucks of a rubber fuel line).




I actually took it to the event as it was. Ran good until I sheared a valve stem off. That was the end of that. So I dragged it home and decided why not make it 4x4.

I'm doing this conversion by using pretty much nothing but a 99 f250 donor. The first issue was the frame differences on the front. The frame is actually rectangular on the bus while the truck frame is square. The bus frame is also too short to mount stock spring perch unless you want the tire several inches into the fender. Thought about just chopping the truck frame off and welding it to the bus, but decided to just weld on some plate steel to extend it. (actually thick plate with a thiner plate over-top that, extending over the factory frame because I knew that would take a lot of the load) You'll notice that they are not 90deg at the top, but that's me trying to fallow the factory frame angle because where the frame pieces overlap one side is lower than the other. doesn't affect anything.

bus

truck

whats lacking

the plate

welding it on

not pretty but it works

welds
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Old 08-27-2018, 05:06 PM   #2
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all finished up


should probably note that the way i got my measurements was that i took the center of the shock mount on the parts truck and measured how far back the center of the rear shackle hole was from that and how far forward it was until i got to the first bolt hole on the front mount. Also made sure after getting everything marked that they where the 51 1/2 inches from shackle to perch.

I didn't get a good picture of the hole I drilled for the rear hanger. Basically the factory hanger has a bolt on piece that goes on the inside of the frame and bolts to the bottom and side of the frame. I did a lot of measuring but I'm not an engineer so some holes where wallered out until stuff bolted on. I had to use some washers to shim things until the piece sat in there strait without twisting the spring to the left or right. Probably worth noting that I had to cut the inside of the frame out to slide the piece in since on trucks its a c-channel there but the bus is boxed in.

*insert pictures of bus later*
picture of the factory hanger piece off the 99


I removed all the factory suspension stuff off the bus and removed the bracket where the passenger side control arm attaches to the crossmember. If the axle was going to hit anything it would be that bracket because it hangs low and is right above the pumpkin. On the ujointoffroad video for their kit they cut the front lip off the entire cross member. I don't see why that would be done unless you where doing like a 4in lift. I was doing 8 so there is more then enough clearance.

factory garbage.


what it looks like with factory spring and 2in lift shackles

with 6in lift springs. and 2in lift shackles


view from behind with the axle and 37s on.


at this point on the front I still have to fab up a track bar bracket and attach the shock mounts. steering and break lines are just like normal 8in lift stuff on a truck.
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Old 08-27-2018, 05:06 PM   #3
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some pictures of what it looked like at that point





Now for the back I could of done things the easy way and just bought 4.10 gears for the front and lifted the rear with some springs and blocks. Well since I'm poor and love doing things the hard way I didn't do that.

First issue I created was that I was originally going for 6in lift but got some lift shackles for free so now I'm at 8in. I only had 5in blocks and no lift springs. Shackle flip time. I got the rear front spring perch off the parts truck and used that to flip the shackle around.

factory bus perch

factory rear front spring perch on 99

dropped the gas tank so I could access behind the spring perch


we measured where the factory spring sat then moved the hanger into place to give us a 4in lift. With the blocks we would get a 9in lift. That way if it was too high we could just use smaller blocks.
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Old 08-27-2018, 05:07 PM   #4
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how we kept warm in 20deg weather while working on the rear end


The next issue was that I was going to use the matching 10.5 rear end off the parts truck. It had the matching 3.73 gears and I also had a set of 4.10s for them that I could swap out for a latter date. I also get rear rotters instead of drums.

old dana 70

good rear end had the 4.10s so had to swap gears


another issue was that the perches are around 4in narrower on the 10.5 rear end. had to move them out and took this time to also try and adjust for the pinion angle we would get from dropping the rear shackle down so far.


bolted the rear end under it and hooked up the brake lines. e-brake lines are different so ill have to get some f250 ones. the ones on the parts truck where cut.






That's where I'm sitting at now. I have the nv271 out of the parts truck but I'm getting a transmission, transfercase, and drive shafts out of a 97 7.3 f250 this weak so hopefully I'll have that under it by this weekend. Still have some other smaller things to take care of but shouldn't be much longer.
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Old 08-27-2018, 05:08 PM   #5
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The budget on this build so far:

bus 900
parts truck 500
tires 600
lift springs + shocks 471.92
gear oil 51.96
lift blocks 49.99
rear u-bolts 83.00
correct power steering line part 11.00
4x4 e40d+tc+drive shaft 350.00
zero rate leaf 54.00
rear lift shackle 53.95
dom tubing 64.00
rear shackles 54.00
track bar drop bracket 82.00
---------------------------------------------
amazon:
wheel spacers 160
up pipe gasket 22.58
lug nuts 16.29
rear brakeline 47.19
lower ti rod 77.68
power steering line 11.31
---------------------------------------------
summit:
front u-bolt 35.82
upper tie rod 39.97
hidden antenna 19.99
pitman arm 71.70
rear shock adapter 30.00
sway bar links 73.00
transmission filter 27.00
--------------------------------------------
Total:
3957.95
--------------------------------------------
Sold:
5 speed zf5 500
factory springs 100
scrapped parts truck 248.00
--------------------------------------------
After sales:
$3109.95
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Old 08-27-2018, 05:09 PM   #6
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picture of the bracket that needs removed off the cross member

pictures of that front spring shackle mount that bolts inside the frame. the unused smaller holes are from the factory bracket for the radius arm.


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Old 08-27-2018, 05:10 PM   #7
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still working slowly on this thing. got the rear shocks on and moved the front axle forward an 1.5" for some more clearance. I'm going to try and use an OBS track bar drop bracket since the superduty bracket wont work on the bus frame. Hoping the bump steer wont be that bad since it will be shorter then the drag link just like on the OBS's. Only other option I see is to make a custom bracket that mimics the superduty one but not feeling confident in that. Track bar and front shock mounts should be welded on this weekend. That will just leave swapping out the transmission and putting the transfer case in.

drop bracket for the track bar I'm gong to try and use.

just some pics where we went and put fuel in it since we drained the tank and used all the diesel in the heater


flexin



already bent that brake line back to give more slack

zero rate leaf I used to moved the axle forward

difference it made
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Old 08-27-2018, 05:11 PM   #8
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finally got around to fabbing up a track bar for the bus. couldn't use a SD bracket because of frame differences so went with a OBS bracket. since its just a flat plate with 3 bolts it was easier to work. Placed a small piece of c-channel on the cross member to push the bracket out and give it a flat place for mounting. Then shortened the track bar to the size needed. stock axle mount was used but was heated and pulled in a little. after a throttle happy trip down the backroads it doesn't seem to have any bump steer. no front shocks or sway bar yet but handles like a dream and doesn't really have any body roll that you would think it would.


ignore the blue blue bolt. I had got 1/2"x2" bolts for the track bar but since we used the c-channel and wanted the bolts to go all the way through to the cross-member we used the m12 x 1.75 x 80mm bolts i had got for the front shocks instead. I'll replace it later.
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Old 08-27-2018, 05:11 PM   #9
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got my front shock mounts and sway bar mounts welded on




had to drop the crossbowmen down. 2wd one sits up too high.




cross member back in and drag link extended so it will turn all the way to the right now.


something to get me unstuck since no one will be able to pull me out.


ran into an issue with the transfer case. was going to use either the bw4407 or the nv271 that i already had but ford had the great idea to keep using the gear driven vss on the output of the vans 2wd e4od many years after they stopped doing it in trucks. Had to get another bw1356 transfer case that has the spot for the sensor so that i can plug it in there. working 6 10s has slowed the progress but it should be driveable again when I get the drive shafts made.
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Old 08-27-2018, 05:12 PM   #10
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got my drive shafts made


everything hooked up and looking good


shifter installed


and got my winch bumper done.

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Old 08-27-2018, 05:13 PM   #11
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took the bus out for its maiden voyage offroading over the weekend at powerline park. blew my expectation out of the water in every way. was a huge hit there and took everything I could throw at it. It had been raining a lot and again on saterday morning so everything was a swampy mess. people where sliding into ditches or just completely over the hill everywhere. even though I kept seeing people say the humvee tires where bad in mud they pulled me and anyone I was dragging up some nasty stuff just fine. 4x4 worked great and the winch pulled people up vertical banks back on the road like it was nothing. never even got hot. had one guy trying to get pulled up by two jeeps with 9k winches but it took the 13.5 to save the day. did I mention that it drove the 300 miles round trip towing a tracker lol.











we did get one flat somehow but didn't even know it was flat till someone said something. just drove it back to camp and swapped it out with my spare i had.
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Old 08-27-2018, 05:15 PM   #12
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well the old bus is still going.

had it at a local mud bog. didn't do so good. transfer case kept wanting to pop out of gear and had to run it in 4lo. something hit the fan and punched a couple different holes in the radiator on the first run so had to keep dumping water into it to do my runs.








put a new radiator in and since I'm not a fan of trans coolers that run in the radiator I bypassed it and put some fans on a external cooler for some extra precautions.





added some gauges with a warning sound and flash for those times I'm not paying attention.

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Old 08-27-2018, 05:15 PM   #13
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took it to the gncc race at snowshoe this year. Didn't do too bad for a 4 hour drive considering what it is.



people always trying to snag a pic lol



got some road rash labor day weekend



a good pic from labor day from aultimate outdoors



has some horrible approach angle lol




Got some new recentered wheels from trailworthfab and some 38.5 boggers for when I hit the deep mud.




hopping to get started on the roof stage soon. probably going to save up for some 4.55 gears and rear locker after that.
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Old 08-27-2018, 05:16 PM   #14
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new 38.5x15 boggers and twf beadlocks mounted up. Going to have to put the lift shackes on and do some trimming.










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Old 08-27-2018, 05:17 PM   #15
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Took the short bus to a local mud bog to break in the boggers for the first time.















video of the best pass through https://youtu.be/RRdCg-X-_Yk
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Old 08-27-2018, 05:18 PM   #16
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guess ill update with some more pictures.

went to yankee lake in ohio for memorial day weekend and tried it out since both king knob and powerline park are closed this year. Snapped the axle shaft on the d50. never would of guessed 38.5 boggers would be too much for it. definitely didn't see that on every forum ever. developed a leak around where the transmission and TC join together. Probably shouldn't have kept taking it off the jumps. 7.3 diesels just don't sail through the air all that well let alone school buses.





fourwheeler magazine was up there and they posted some pictures of the bus on there site.








yes the manifolds are glowing. the egt gauge stopped working and i was determined to make it through that hole. at the time it seemed like a good idea.

our 3 hr drive home turned into 13 hours. first i sheered off every stud but 1 and lost a wheel. after fixing it on the side of the highway we made it 20 min down the road and got another flat. since we didn't have another wheel we pulled the bus off the trailer and put my buddies tracker on it and strapped the axle up. he put his suv his wife was driving on his smaller trailer and my buddies wife had to drive the bus the rest of the way home. had to stop every 15 min though because i didn't spray out the radiator and it kept overheating. was not a fun a trip back. to top everything else off. i usually keep the bus at my buddies place but since we where overheating and i only had 3 tires we left my trailer at my place that was closer and put the bus back on it. I replaced the tire on Monday and was going to take it back to my buddies Sunday on my day off. got home Tuesday and the code enforcement left me a nice little letter basically saying anything over 7 feet tall or 16 feet long can't be parked on the road and that if it was still there tomorrow i would get a ticket. so I left early for work the next day since my buddies place is on the way and planed to just drop it off and head to work. ended up getting flat number 3... this story is already long so to sum it up. its raining, i left my keys for the bus at home so we can't back it off. tried pulling it off only to almost slide it off the side. had to weight for buddies wife to bring spare key so ended up missing work. that trailer is now gone and I got a nice gooseneck that's long enough and actually properly rated for the weight.











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Old 08-27-2018, 05:18 PM   #17
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Really got to get that snorkel set up.











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Old 08-27-2018, 05:22 PM   #18
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New dana 60 from an 04 f250. swapped it out by myself in about 8 hours. ended up costing only like $100 more then if i repaired the d50 that would probably break again.









needed to order some new checks so why not

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Old 08-27-2018, 05:32 PM   #19
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Gnarly build guy!
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Old 08-27-2018, 06:31 PM   #20
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Post a current pic of it, it's blue isn't it?

If you had 2 good tires on the left side of the trailer you could have put one on the right rear and made it home on 2.
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