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Old 04-07-2016, 07:53 PM   #1
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Elf Bus E350 corbeil

Left home in PA with my car and dolly to pick up a 1998 e350 corbeil srw in Erwin North Carolina. Found it on Craigslist. The owner sent me pictures of the rust situation and after a couple of days we made the decision to drive out and take it unless something was seriously wrong.
Left at 6PM. We have a station wagon and I was able to get a bed in there.
Drove 2 Hrs, napped 2 hrs, drove again 4H, napped again. Arrived the next day around 11 in Erwin, NC. Bus looked good but after more careful inspection showed a big rust hole under the drivers feet. The body and frame at the body mounts was all good so I figured it would only take some sheet metal to make it like new. Could not find other rust worth mentioning for a 17 yr old vehicle. Chassis looked perfect, Corbeil must have used galvanized steel, not even the seat bolts were rusted.
I had made a bumper hitch and bracket to reinforce the bumper. Installed that, connected the wiring and settled the financial business. The owner was a real nice to guy to deal with even had some bones for my dog. Used some yellow duct tape to modify school bus and cool bus to fend the cops off and removed the guard at the front bumper. Did not want to cut the wires from the lights in the stop sign and let it be. Driving most of it by night anyhow
My mercedes 300td had gotten 25 mpg with the dolly. I was curious what the powerstroke would get hauling it all back.
Left around 4PM and stopped at a rest area 1 hr later to catch up on sleep.
When I woke up it was getting colder and decided to look at the heat in the bus. Two valves next to the radiator were closed and decided to open those. I assumed they must have been closed for a reason and indeed something started dripping. The steel coolant lines to the rear of the bus were corroded thru at one of the clips. Closed the valves. Caught the leaking coolant in a XL coffee cup and took a hacksaw to cut the bad section out. The hoses to the rear heater were long enough and reconnected the whole thing. It got dark but good enough had a head flashlight, best invention ever. Second try, still leaking, the hoses at the ends were in poor shape. Shortened those as well. Had it idle for a while and purge air and there was some heat in the rear, front still out. I knew from my other econolines that the heater flap gets damaged, poor design, and left. Wanted to make some miles. Lost a cup of coolant, cleaned up the mess I made in the parking lot so some animal would not lap it up.
The rear heat was not enough to keep it comfortable. At the next nap the dog provided heat. The other driving I did with the sleeping bag around me.
Two Waffle houses and one MCD later and back during daylight, the sun shining all was cool again. Made it home around 3PM.
Wife excited, kids, 4 and 9 very excited. Life is good.
About 14 mpg mostly 50 to 55 Mph. It has 4.10 in the rear axle.

The next day my wife and I took some of the seats and front compartment "fence" out. Amazing the fastener were easy. Wife on the inside with a cordless impact and me under with wrench holding the nuts. Did I mention no rust. Love it. We made a booth seating directly behind the driver by using a seat from the opposite side. This is convertible as bed for either of the kids. Removed the closing and locking system from the entry door. I am planning on using a similar system as is used on the exit door with the clever use of a dead lock that I found on this forum, .... Thank you....

Going to make a fridge cabinet at the third window behind the driver.
I have a swivel seat from my old ambulance camper van conversion that is going to the first window behind the entry doors.
The second and third window behind the entry door is the kitchen. The last two windows at both sides are for the our bed. No bathroom or shower planned. I need one more bed. In the old ambulance we had a hammock above the drivers seat where the 9 year old was sleeping. In this case that is not that convenient with the entry doors. I can gain some space by removing the electric cabinet above the driver and some diagonal construction?
We will call her "Elf bus"
later J
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Old 04-07-2016, 08:14 PM   #2
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Sounds like you're well on your way to a cute build. Welcome.
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Old 04-07-2016, 08:35 PM   #3
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Sorry I realized that this thread should be in the short bus section.
I will make a new thread and start over.

later, J
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Old 04-07-2016, 10:04 PM   #4
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sounds like the beginnings of a great bus build are taking hold!! those E350's are indestrctible .. however the climate systems are almost always in disrepair... the heaters are the easy part.. retrofitted rear Air conditioning almost always is in need of some TLC.. but there are lots of parts for many of those shuttle style busses out there...

-Christopher
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Old 04-08-2016, 07:47 AM   #5
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Elf Bus E350 Corbeil DC motor belt driven airco?

I haven't tried the airco. It looks like The compressor is engine driven but the condensor is on the driver side under the bus. It like to modify and move the compressor with a belt driven DC motor and mount them under the bus to.
Increase the alternator capacity Then it will be easy to run it off Shore power or on reduced capacity of the 300 watt solar array.
It seems that some new parts were fitted to the airco system, newer lines and fill nipples so maybe it is working or like you said some TLC.
The condensor under the bus is pretty wide and is suspended from two transverse bus floor frame profiles. It would be nice if it would fit in between then it would be 4" higher and give better ground clearance. May be there is a shorter version.

later J
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Old 04-08-2016, 08:07 AM   #6
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your bus may have 2 air-conditioning systems.. it may also have a Ford Dashboard A/C system.. and then the rear system may very well be a separate compressor..

the condenser you are speaking of is a skirt mounted condenser.. they do hang a bit low but are the best way to cool the rear of a bus..

if you have dash-air that would likely cool the front seats and maybe any captains chairs you might install as passenger seats right behind..

you wont get much cooling for 300 watts off of a system designed for engine-drive and then converted.. there is a lot of wasted energy foing from solar to spinning an engine-style compressor... you might be better off looking into a DC compressor and then designing in the existing evaporator and condenser.. your condenser fans are going to pull a minimum of 150-200 watts on a system like that... your indoor fans will pull 100-150 watts.. maybe a little less on low speed.. doesnt leave much for the compressor from the solar..

wonder if you could fashion up an absorpton cooler and use the existing heat exchangers.. then you could harness the HEAT from the sun and use it for Cooling...

if shore power of generator power is your main interest you could fashion in an electric compressor... or remove that rear system altogether and put a camper A/C on the roof.. still retaining the front dash air for travelling...

you'll be able to tell once you get under the hood if you have 2 compressors or one... but MOST shuttle companies retain the original equipment dashboard A/C and add a complete second system...

-Christopher
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Old 04-08-2016, 08:33 AM   #7
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Yes you are right, the power is very limited. In my old ambulance conversion I used a 5000 btu window airco of an inverter. It worked but only at 50% duty cycle.
I noticed only one compressor on the engine but will look again.
Shore power is not my interest. I will find out how much the solar panels on the roof and better insulation will reduce the heat load.
Thanks for the Amp numbers on the cooling fans.

Will start with moving the condenser more to the rear wheel to make more space for an extra battery.

I like that absorption idea and study up on it.

Created album under joeblack5 and added pictures.

Thanks for the quick heads up.

Later J
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Old 04-08-2016, 06:20 PM   #8
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If its like mine (or any other Ford I've seen) Its the engine driven compressor-and the bus builder spliced into the stock AC + put their stuff in series. I have a (added on) sticker the states "rear ac must be on for the front to work." Or is it the other way...
The ambulance package had 2 alternators-which has to be quite a feat of packaging with all the crap already up there.
If you do move the compressor, You'll have to find some form of pulley from an ac delete truck. You'll be in serpintene belt hell....
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Old 04-08-2016, 07:01 PM   #9
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Engine: 7.3 powerstroke & MBE906
Elf Bus E350 Corbeil DC motor belt driven airco?

I checked and it is engine driven but does not have a condenser in front of the radiator. More engine cooling. I haven't followed the airco hoses to see how it is hooked up. From the compressor the high pressure line first has to go to the condenser and then split in two to the rear and front evaporators. Will check later

Today i took another seat out in the rear and started planning the bed.
Also removed the spaghetti in the electrical cabinet above the driver.
Found a funny looking box from VDO. It seems to be a blackbox data box?

In a small setup like this all space is important.
It rained a little today and the roof has several leaks. It will be fun to track them all down. Above the windows is a hollow profile that carries a cable for the rear lights and such. I will try to add the rear airco fan cable to it so that less wiring is below the bus and also potential shorter.

Tomorrow I will cut out some yellow steel panels from a big bus that is at the scrap yard and use it to cover up three rear windows on the driver side and two rear on the other side. It looks that i can reuse the obsolete windows and modify them into double window for the several other ones as to get less noise and better insulation.

I want to remove the roof rivets and slide the metal under the roof panels and then re-rivet them to reduce leak potential. ould be nice to get the old rivets out so that will not become rust scrap inside the square tubing.

later J
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Old 04-09-2016, 09:47 PM   #10
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Elf Bus E350 Corbeil lowering floor

Robin 97396
well ... on the insulation / mold thread I spilled the beans about thinking about lowering the floor.

I used to live in a DAF vanHool city bus, front engine flat nose. This city bus had a lowered walkway and the floor for the seats was , I estimate, about 6" higher. The bus was tall enough for me at 6'-2" and we covered the "trench" up and ran heating ducts and cables thru it.

Before buying the 5 window corbeil I was looking for a high top collins but could not find one in the couple of month that i was looking. Then it occurred to me that with the height increase of the 4x4 conversion and the solar panels this would become pretty high and instable / tip over / wind drag. So i decided that a normal 5'-8" bus should do.

Nevertheless a walkway in this bus could be possible and have best of both worlds. The frame members of the E350 chassis are 30" apart, The walkway is about 24 " between the kitchen along one wall and seating along the other. The bed room is in the back and so no floor lowering is required.

My not yet "refined" plan is to cut the 4 pieces of 2x4 C channels and dropping that as the E350 frame allows about 5" or more where it does not interfere with the e350 cross member / drive line.
So far my search has not shown anybody has done this.
Would be using a 4 or 6" purlin Z-channel to connect the walkway floor back to the original floor and gusset / connector plates to weld the cut out C channel back to 2 ft section that hold the high area of the floor.

Later J
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Old 04-09-2016, 09:52 PM   #11
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Elf Bus E350 Corbeil lowering floor

Robin, sorry... bowling alley, great name. I will borrow that from you.

Later J
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Old 04-09-2016, 11:46 PM   #12
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Yes, I've seen buses with the lowered walkway. My guess is they put in crossmembers that duck below the floor.
There are so many different kinds of buses available on ebay. It's amazing. There's always a better bus.
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Old 04-10-2016, 09:38 AM   #13
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I have a 96 E-Super Duty bus, and I've thought about lowering the floor. Would be very interested to see how you do it, or to scour any links if someone knows some.

My rear A/C is totally separate from the front. I have skirt condenser, and a rear DC compressor. I'm glad to hear that this is an easy setup, but I'm wondering why it's the best? Is it more efficient than a window unit? ...
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Old 04-10-2016, 09:59 AM   #14
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unusual to not have a condenser in front .. if its a rear-only system then your Ford dash controls likely wont have A/C .. if the van was originally A/C then maybe the coach builder pulled the condenser off the front of the radiator.. a skirt mounted condenser is more than capable of handlign 2 evaporators...

@sproutroot - engine driven A/C is only good for when you are driving.. converting 13 volts to 110 and then running a camper unit is less efficient for when you are driving.. however if you are going to be parked at a campground where you have shore-power you would want the rooftop A/C..

a lot of it depends on your use of the bus.. if you are going to spend alot of time on the road, leave the engine driven system for the drive and then install a rooftop for being parked / sleeping, etc..

if you plan to only drive short periods of time you may want to remove the engine-driven system to gain back the space.. however a bus-body without A/C (esp a corbeil style) will get extemely hot very quickly if you dont have A/C.

in my opinion theb ets of both worlds is to keep at least the front dash A/C and then have a rooftop camper Unit you can use with a generator or shore power..


since im planning to use my bus more on the road and not for over-night stays im going to go with only my engine driven system.. I'll leave my main engine idle when I want to A/C parked for awhile..

-Christopher
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Old 04-10-2016, 10:14 AM   #15
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Wow sproutroot, do you have a picture of the dc compressor part or a brand name / part number. I did a google search but nothing comes up in airco systems.
The lowering the floor is for now a wild thought. I first need to get some structure in this project. Covering the rear windows will be step one.
In our ambulance conversion we installed a 5000 btu window unit ( $96 new) and it did OK with that space and the marginal insulation. The bus airco systems have a much larger capacity. The large condensers and evaporaters can have a much better efficiency with smaller loads then a window airco. If you want to run on solar then that is a large benefit. Our Bulan was able to run 50% on off on solar.
Later J
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Old 04-10-2016, 10:20 AM   #16
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I actually have two separate A/C systems. The stock one, then a skirt condenser connected to a DC compressor that's mounted to the ceiling in the rear.

I was going to change it out for a rooftop unit, because it seems to me that the one I have is too big and the lines are too long to be very efficient. However:

Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
the condenser you are speaking of is a skirt mounted condenser.. they do hang a bit low but are the best way to cool the rear of a bus..

-Christopher
Any more info on this? I could easily just mount the DC compressor closer to the skirt condenser if that's the most efficient route. It'd be a lot less harrowing than cutting a huge hole in the roof for a rooftop unit. Plus, as my dad pointed out, when parked it's better to have the condenser in the shade near the ground than on the roof in the sun.
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Old 04-10-2016, 10:38 AM   #17
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Here are some pics for you. Trans/Air part #: 202683W serial #: E963729

When I looked up these numbers I got nothing.

The compressor is sitting on the floor in the corner, unfortunately I didn't get any shots of it before teardown. As you can see, the lines come up right in the middle of the floor (there used to be a bulkhead there because this bus came with a luggage compartment in the rear), so moving the compressor is on my to-do list anyway. It also needs at least some service.
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Old 04-10-2016, 10:41 AM   #18
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Chassis: 1 ford e350 2 mercedes
Engine: 7.3 powerstroke & MBE906
Elf Bus E350 Corbeil heat pump a/c

In our Bulan i originally toyed with he idea to put a small heat pump split system in. Did do it but it was clear that having a condensor at the coolest place is the most efficient. i am with your Dad, so under the bus in the shade is as good as it gets. As understand it rooftops have the condensor build in so they are right in the sun. Is your Dc compressor belt driven or enclosed. I have an electric car Solectria ( geo metro) that has a dc motor belt driven pump. In the DIY spirit that might be the cheapest and easiest solution.
Later J
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Old 04-10-2016, 10:46 AM   #19
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Thanks for the picture and name tag I will try to research a little more on that brand. Is the refridgerant R134a or something more exotic? Shorter lines would mean less charge= less expensive and I would think more efficient as well.
later J
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Old 04-10-2016, 11:02 AM   #20
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DC compressors are tough to come by and are quite expensive when you do.. Some of the tripac systems use DC compressors but typically only get you maybe 15000 btu max.. Rooftop units are in the sun however typically have more powerful fans ( they are 110 volt) so they run fairly efficient..

There are 12 volt DC inverter split systems made for solar applications.. They are heat pumps, however the size of them is more condusive to fitting for a house .. Taller and narrower as opposed to short and wide like is needed for under a bus. I did see someone mount the outdoor unit on the back of a bus one time and the indoor hung right above the emergency door.. The beauty of an inverter split is they are soft start so there's no surge current like a regular compressor ...

I hope you kept all your transair stuff as one really important thing about a/c if you want efficiency and solid operation is that you run a matched set of parts.. If you piece your own together then you need to make sure the capacities are matched! Also put tape over the lineset connections and plan on long long evacuation times when recharging as open systems , the pag oil holds moisture lots.. Moisture will trash an a/c system...

Transair stuff is good quality kit and worth saving if it all works
Christopher
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