Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 02-17-2018, 06:38 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 15
Cutaway vs conventional shortie

Hey yall,

I'm new here, and my GF and I are about to make the dive into bus living. The current plan is to take her cross-country for a few months each summer.

The one thing I can't decide between is a cutaway (van front) vs conventional (bus front) shortie. I'm looking at 5-6 windows. From what I've read so far, a cutaway tends to be more readily repairable (more common parts), and lower to the ground. A conventional is a bit higher up, and less easily repaired.

Are there bigger things I am missing? We are pretty easy-going and are used to living out of our hatchback, so things like space and height probably aren't huge issues for us. I like the look of a conventional better, but then again I don't want to get stranded in the middle of the Yukon with no recourse.

Am I over-thinking this?

PS I am looking at a 2006 Freightliner Thomas (Mercedes diesel engine) w/ 140k miles

Thank you!
A new member
darkrider007 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2018, 06:47 PM   #2
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Owasso, OK
Posts: 2,627
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner MVP ER
Engine: Cummins 6CTA8.3 Mechanical MD3060
Rated Cap: 46 Coach Seats, 40 foot
Quote:
Originally Posted by darkrider007 View Post
Hey yall,

I'm new here, and my GF and I are about to make the dive into bus living. The current plan is to take her cross-country for a few months each summer.

The one thing I can't decide between is a cutaway (van front) vs conventional (bus front) shortie. I'm looking at 5-6 windows. From what I've read so far, a cutaway tends to be more readily repairable (more common parts), and lower to the ground. A conventional is a bit higher up, and less easily repaired.

Are there bigger things I am missing? We are pretty easy-going and are used to living out of our hatchback, so things like space and height probably aren't huge issues for us. I like the look of a conventional better, but then again I don't want to get stranded in the middle of the Yukon with no recourse.

Am I over-thinking this?

PS I am looking at a 2006 Freightliner Thomas (Mercedes diesel engine) w/ 140k miles

Thank you!
A new member
A couple of points.

You readily identified the advantages of a van chassis. However, if you want the legendary strength of a bus chassis, you need to buy a bus.

2006 is too new, and that Mercedes engine is awesome until it isn't. Post 2004, most diesels were so loaded with emissions controls that they lost much of their reliability.

I would wonder why such an expensive vehicle is being sold at only 12 years old.
__________________
Steve Bracken

Build Thread
Twigg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2018, 07:10 PM   #3
Bus Crazy
 
brokedown's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: St Petersburg, FL
Posts: 2,437
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000 FE
Engine: Cummins 5.9
Rated Cap: 72
Cutaway vans will be Type A buses, they're typically much lighter and van spec engines, transmissions, and gearing. A lot of Type A buses will cruise at 70 on the highway. A type B bus will have the medium duty truck versions of those items and generally be tuned more conservatively and geared more for around town use.

The Seven Different School Bus Types - American Bus Sales
__________________
Keep up with us and our build!
Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter
brokedown is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2018, 07:23 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Twigg View Post
A couple of points.

You readily identified the advantages of a van chassis. However, if you want the legendary strength of a bus chassis, you need to buy a bus.

2006 is too new, and that Mercedes engine is awesome until it isn't. Post 2004, most diesels were so loaded with emissions controls that they lost much of their reliability.

I would wonder why such an expensive vehicle is being sold at only 12 years old.
Thanks - it sounds like something 2004 and under would be a better call. Also, are you saying that Mercedes engine has been known to have problems?
darkrider007 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2018, 07:25 PM   #5
Bus Crazy
 
brokedown's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: St Petersburg, FL
Posts: 2,437
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000 FE
Engine: Cummins 5.9
Rated Cap: 72
If you're in the US (fill out your profile!) Mercedes will be more expensive to obtain parts and more difficult to find qualified mechanics. They're really good until they aren't.
__________________
Keep up with us and our build!
Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter
brokedown is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2018, 08:06 PM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Twigg View Post
A couple of points.

You readily identified the advantages of a van chassis. However, if you want the legendary strength of a bus chassis, you need to buy a bus.

2006 is too new, and that Mercedes engine is awesome until it isn't. Post 2004, most diesels were so loaded with emissions controls that they lost much of their reliability.

I would wonder why such an expensive vehicle is being sold at only 12 years old.
This might be a dumb question, but what sort of practical advantage would the chassis strength of a bus really give me? (all I can think of is a rollover event)

Also, in terms of pure reliability and longevity, are cutaway diesels (ie, an 2002 E350 7.3L) typically comparable to a bus? Ie, would 250k on a bus diesel vs 250k on a van diesel be of comparable values? Sorry for all the questions

edit: Profile updated, thanks!
darkrider007 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2018, 08:13 PM   #7
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Posts: 111
Hello

I have a cutaway van short bus and I’m happy with it. I think overall it will be cheaper to own and operate than a “real” short bus.
Having said that, if I had gone to look at it and there would have been a “real” short bus there I’d have bought it instead. I like the look better than the van but that’s just me. Good luck on your adventures.
RRRVBUS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2018, 08:19 PM   #8
Bus Geek
 
o1marc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Dawsonville, Ga.
Posts: 7,527
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Genesis
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466/3060
Rated Cap: 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by darkrider007 View Post
This might be a dumb question, but what sort of practical advantage would the chassis strength of a bus really give me? (all I can think of is a rollover event)

Also, in terms of pure reliability and longevity, are cutaway diesels (ie, an 2002 E350 7.3L) typically comparable to a bus? Ie, would 250k on a bus diesel vs 250k on a van diesel be of comparable values? Sorry for all the questions

edit: Profile updated, thanks!
The strength of your build out could be compromised if inside a twisting shell. The stronger the chassis, the more secure your inside stays. Handling performance is upgraded with a stiffer chassis,
o1marc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2018, 09:55 PM   #9
Bus Geek
 
Robin97396's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Willamina, Oregon
Posts: 6,409
Coachwork: 97 Bluebird TC1000 5.9
The strength difference between a cutaway and a dognose shorty is comparable to the difference between the frame of a car and the frame of a 1 ton pickup truck. The cutaway will drive more like a regular vehicle because it is on a van frame. The dognose shorty will drive like a pickup truck on steroids.

It's always your choice but I'd suggest a 9 window FE or dognose for two people. That way you don't have to use your bed for a couch.
__________________
Robin
Nobody's Business
Robin97396 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2018, 10:14 PM   #10
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 2,129
Anytime you are talking about a Type 'A' bus built on a van/cut-away chassis you are talking about either a Ford E-350/450 or a Chevy/GMC G3500/4500 chassis. There are, for all practical purposes a 1-ton pickup chassis with 1-ton pickup running gear. The maximum GVWR is going to be 14,000 and some are as low as 12,000.

Type 'C' conventional buses built on IC (International), Blue Bird (Volvo), or Freightliner chassis are medium duty trucks with GVWR usually starting at 16,000.

What do the differences mean to you as a bus convertor?

First, almost every Type 'A' bus has more bus up on top than there is truck underneath. You will find the payload capacity on most Type 'A' buses is going to be less than 3,000 lbs. after you take out all of the seats. By the time you build out your kitchen, bathroom, sleeping quarters, plumping, HVAC and then fill it up with you, your GF, and all of your junk and plunder you will discover you will be pretty much up against the max GVWR of your bus. I think you will find the smallest Type 'C' bus will have more than 4,000 lbs. payload capacity before you take out the seats.

Second, since a Type 'A' bus is still basically a 1-ton truck that is working at 100% of capacity all the time you will discover tires don't wear as well, brakes wear out fairly quickly, and working on the engine is a royal PITA. Most of the front of the engine is buried under plenums and hoses so you can't really see or reach anything from outside and removing the dog house to work on the back of the engine means you are having to reach up under the firewall to reach stuff. Since Type 'C' buses are basically medium duty trucks that are never working more than about 85% capacity stuff doesn't wear out nearly as often. Newer Type 'C' buses have tilt hoods that make access to the engine and all of the components of the engine fairly easy. With medium duty tires and brakes the tires go a lot fewer RPM's per mile so they will go many more miles before they wear out. And the brake surface area can be more than double the brake surface area of a Type 'A'.

Lastly, since the Type 'C' is built higher off the ground you will have much more ground clearance if you choose to leave the asphalt for any reason. The higher ground clearance also allows for attaching your mechanicals high enough up under the bus that hooking them or dragging them off on stuff much less likely.

If you choose wisely you should be able to find a Type 'C' bus of the size you want that will get similar fuel mileage as a Type 'A' bus, that will generally cost less to purchase, less cost to repair, and give you a whole lot more bang for the buck.

Good luck and happy trails to you!
cowlitzcoach is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:39 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.