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Old 05-05-2019, 09:16 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: BZN, MT
Posts: 11
Year: 1982
Coachwork: Ford
Chassis: E-350; 4x4 Minibus
Engine: 351c.i.
Chassis to chassis, rust to rust. A short (bus) story...

Well, here it is in all its short bus glory, the DawgBs! This thread will be here to document the process of my conversion, from the beginning, of my 1982 Ford E-350 4x4 cutaway mini bus and hopefully I'll be able to help others with a similar project or even just receive some helpful criticisms from all you guys. Here we go!

Yesterday I spent the first half of the day collecting and purchasing tools. I have access to a full CNC machine shop (current profession is CNC programmer) and a LOT of other hand tools between friends and family. However, it seems that with summer fast approaching everyone is busy with their own projects. So, a trip into town was required.

Once I got back I spent the second half of the day chopping, grinding, hammering and wrenching my way through 20 years of Alaskan dog sled tour grossness. I'm serious, 90% of the bus is waterproof thanks to dog fur. It was in EVERYTHING!! Every little gap, hole, crack... Everywhere. And the smell?! Blehhhh....

After getting the kennels out the sun was setting fast. I swept the floor, took some pics and started planning tomorrow's agenda.

Today I awoke feeling far older than I really am. I guess the kennel removal really kicked my ass. I was SO sore! It took me a while to get out of bed but once I did, I went straight to work. I rerouted the plumbing (heater hose) to eliminate the rear two mini heaters. Then, I started on the sub floor...

I expected rust. A lot of rust actually. I was quite amazed when i started pulling the floor though. A closer look at the large patches of rust were actually shims or spacers that rotted away, leaving behind the original floor, in school bus yellow, and amazingly IN TACT!! I'm so stoked! That's going to save me so much work and time!

Anyway, I'll cut this off for now. Have a good day all!
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Old 05-05-2019, 09:19 PM   #2
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: BZN, MT
Posts: 11
Year: 1982
Coachwork: Ford
Chassis: E-350; 4x4 Minibus
Engine: 351c.i.
Day two:

Here's some more pictures from progress today. Definitely not all of them but it covers the majority of it. When I have more time I can most definitely add more. Looking forward to seeing what you guys think and hearing your stories/advice!
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Old 05-05-2019, 09:25 PM   #3
Bus Crazy
 
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Location: south east BC, close to the Canadian/US border
Posts: 1,008
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Originally Posted by DawgBs View Post
Here's some more pictures from progress today. Definitely not all of them but it covers the majority of it. When I have more time I can most definitely add more. Looking forward to seeing what you guys think and hearing your stories/advice!
when I saw the kennels at the back of the bus without an air tight partition blocking them off from the rest of the bus, I was going to mention how hard it was going to be to get rid of the smell, then thought to myself, why spoil his fun he'll find out soon enough on his own - lol
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Old 05-05-2019, 10:14 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: BZN, MT
Posts: 11
Year: 1982
Coachwork: Ford
Chassis: E-350; 4x4 Minibus
Engine: 351c.i.
Haha! Man, it's STRONG. I've lived with dogs all my life. I live with two currently, neither mine, but I'm used to the smell of dog. This smell though... I need to find one of those after-fire Febreeze bombs!

For 10-15 years the previous owner took various packs of dogs out into the elements for hours at a time, then loaded them into this cramped little bus, soaking wet... and it shows (or smells, rather).

On a side note, I might have to patent the "dog-fur gaskets" for a little extra income. They're amazingly water tight.
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Old 05-05-2019, 10:16 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: BZN, MT
Posts: 11
Year: 1982
Coachwork: Ford
Chassis: E-350; 4x4 Minibus
Engine: 351c.i.
Hey to anyone seeing this: Whatever happened to user "Bansil" and his bus, "Tortuga?" I followed his thread from beginning to end, and just as he's wrapping up a deck on the rear of his bus *poof* never comes back (as far as I can tell). Seemed like a good guy, I'd like to talk to him.
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Old 05-05-2019, 10:19 PM   #6
Bus Crazy
 
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Location: south east BC, close to the Canadian/US border
Posts: 1,008
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Originally Posted by DawgBs View Post
Haha! Man, it's STRONG. I've lived with dogs all my life. I live with two currently, neither mine, but I'm used to the smell of dog. This smell though... I need to find one of those after-fire Febreeze bombs!

For 10-15 years the previous owner took various packs of dogs out into the elements for hours at a time, then loaded them into this cramped little bus, soaking wet... and it shows (or smells, rather).

On a side note, I might have to patent the "dog-fur gaskets" for a little extra income. They're amazingly water tight.
they were looking for hair and fur to clean up oil spills a while ago - guess it works well
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Old 05-05-2019, 10:21 PM   #7
Bus Crazy
 
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Location: south east BC, close to the Canadian/US border
Posts: 1,008
Chassis: still looking for my bus
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Originally Posted by DawgBs View Post
Hey to anyone seeing this: Whatever happened to user "Bansil" and his bus, "Tortuga?" I followed his thread from beginning to end, and just as he's wrapping up a deck on the rear of his bus *poof* never comes back (as far as I can tell). Seemed like a good guy, I'd like to talk to him.
type Bansil into search at the top of the page - a bunch of stuff comes up
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Old 05-06-2019, 07:33 AM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: BZN, MT
Posts: 11
Year: 1982
Coachwork: Ford
Chassis: E-350; 4x4 Minibus
Engine: 351c.i.
Ya I found all his old stuff, even looked through his profile to find his most recent stuff, but he seemingly dropped off at some point. He had a really cool build going too. Pretty sure he's even still listed as a mod but his last post was years ago.
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Old 05-06-2019, 07:57 AM   #9
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Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 17,409
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
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Originally Posted by DawgBs View Post
Hey to anyone seeing this: Whatever happened to user "Bansil" and his bus, "Tortuga?" I followed his thread from beginning to end, and just as he's wrapping up a deck on the rear of his bus *poof* never comes back (as far as I can tell). Seemed like a good guy, I'd like to talk to him.
I talk to him via phone/text occasionally.He's had a lot going on and can't access the site due to losing his password and the login changing. He's been trying to get back on but life gets in the way sometimes.
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Old 05-11-2019, 11:52 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: BZN, MT
Posts: 11
Year: 1982
Coachwork: Ford
Chassis: E-350; 4x4 Minibus
Engine: 351c.i.
May 6th-11th

Well, it's been a busy, BUSY week! The weather has been spotty at best. So any time I'm at home and see sunshine through the window, I sprint for the bus.

Last week I had a good chunk of the interior pulled free but the remaining pieces were quite the battle. It is 100% gutted now (minus three small sheet metal pieces above the dash which I intend to leave). Having four helpers - gf, three daughters - really helped today, especially.

Today was full of surprises though! Both good and bad. The good? I found a sweet little hidden "storage area" under the floor.

Apparently, when Ford sent Collins the E350 body, it was just that, a standard Econoline body. I did not know this until today. I thought for sure Ford worked with Collins to create a special, school bus/private transportation type body without the features of Econoline models available to the public.

So this special "hidden storage" space is actually the step well for the sliding door offered on standard models. It's just perfect for my build because it's already boxed in. All I need to do is build a cabinet or other box top for it and cut an access door from the outside. Maybe add some vents for a tankless water heater? A tool box? I'm not sure how to incorporate it just yet but I will.

The bad discovery of the day? Those "shim/spacers" that I found 90% destroyed by corrosion... I got to looking (as I began hitting a bead of weld holding said material down) and realised... "crap. This is structural, isn't it? Why would this one piece be welded to the floor...?" And then it hit me. Those rotted "spacers" tie the body components together. CRAP!!

When Collins converted the van they also lengthened both the body and the frame. The body was stretched by cutting it in half, near the rear quarter, then a piece that matched the body contours was spliced in. In order to support this three piece body, they welded two 12" x 12' sections of 1/4" thick steel to the floor.

Now I sit with pen and paper deciding my options... Simply add two new pieces next to the old? Cut out the old and replace? If not replacing, how can I treat the floor beneath? If replacing, how can I keep the three pieces taught while welding in fresh? Jack's? Ratchet straps? Decisions...

It was dark when we wrapped up tonight. The pictures I have from earlier are a bit lacking but, it gives you an idea of the progress thus far. I also picked up flooring material, OSB *shriek emoji! Bring it on subflooring-type debaters!* and while I was working on grinding out the 400 broken bolts, I put the girls to work on applying sealant to the bottom surfaces of the 4x8 sheets.

*Side note* Engine/trans will be coming out tomorrow. Goes to engine/trans builders Monday. Ever pulled a v8 out of a snub nose? I haven't! Looks like hell. Not looking forward to it. Id rather pull the body and roll the chassis out. There's a lift at my work for such a task but I can't leave a dead vehicle there for 6-8wks while the engine is being redone.
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