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Old 02-04-2010, 10:20 PM   #1
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Identifying drive train specifics

I'm planning to by a short bus in the spring. I've noticed a number of responses recommending specific transmissions or rear ends. My question is how do you determine what a bus has? Can you take the VIN to a Chev or Ford dealer and have them look up the info? I'm leaning toward a Ford diesel cutaway dually but want to be sure to get a realiable drive train. I will occasionally pull a boat or trailer.
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Old 02-06-2010, 02:29 PM   #2
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Re: Identifying drive train specifics

I tried the link and all I could find was the engine and brake info - nothing about transmission and rear axle. No luck finding it on the GM site either. Does anyone know how to get to this kind of information?

Thanks,
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Old 02-06-2010, 05:35 PM   #3
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Re: Identifying drive train specifics

Well-if its a ford cutaway you want, then the driveline is pretty locked in. The only diesel is the 7.3 (darn good choice)-there is only one auto tranny-and the rear is a Dana with 4:10's for gear. (Any of the other brands cutaways run the same rear -I've heard theres 3:55 also)
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Old 02-06-2010, 08:14 PM   #4
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Re: Identifying drive train specifics

I swear I posted a novel of a reply. I'm a bit upset that it appears to be missing... details at 10
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Old 02-07-2010, 08:13 AM   #5
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Re: Identifying drive train specifics

On a cutaway van: look on the radiator core support for the emission label. That should tell you the engine size.

1996-older Ford: 5.8=351, 7.5=460, 7.3=diesel. 1995-2002 and some 2003 diesels will be the 7.3 PowerStroke. 1988-1994's will be the 7.3 IDI, no turbo. Late-2003's and up will be the catastrophically-bad 6.0 PowerStroke, avoid them even if they're free.

2000-older GM/Workhorse: 5.7 or Vortec 5700=350, 7.4 or Vortec 7400=454, 6.2=really bad diesel, 6.5=not quite as bad diesel. A 6.2 is awful, all sorts of problems, power similar to a gas V6 running on 5, durability similar to a Trabant in a demolition derby, and racket similar to a vacuum cleaner trying to suck up a bucket of marbles. The 6.5 is better, but still thin on power, thin on durability, and sounds like a cement mizer full of gravel.
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Old 02-07-2010, 01:45 PM   #6
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Re: Identifying drive train specifics

Thanks for your comments, particularly regarding the Ford 7.3 diesel. I was leaning that way and you've all convinced me to avoid the GM diesel. I haven't seen the Cummins 5.9 in any cutaways . If the transmission and rear end are a constant that simplifies the hunt - I just look for the one in the right length with the most headroom. I'm 6'3" and a lot of the cutaways run 6'2" to 6'4".

I've been told that Thomas and Bluebird make the best bodies but I've not seen any cutaways with either. Most are Collins. Does anyone have an opinoin regarding which cutaway bodies are built the best? Also, has anyone raised the roof on a cutaway to gain headroom?
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Old 02-07-2010, 05:40 PM   #7
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Re: Identifying drive train specifics

I have at least 6'6" in mine. Maybe even more than that. Champion body.
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Old 02-07-2010, 10:31 PM   #8
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Re: Identifying drive train specifics

Quote:
Originally Posted by pharmboi
Thanks for your comments, particularly regarding the Ford 7.3 diesel. I was leaning that way and you've all convinced me to avoid the GM diesel. I haven't seen the Cummins 5.9 in any cutaways . If the transmission and rear end are a constant that simplifies the hunt - I just look for the one in the right length with the most headroom. I'm 6'3" and a lot of the cutaways run 6'2" to 6'4".

I've been told that Thomas and Bluebird make the best bodies but I've not seen any cutaways with either. Most are Collins. Does anyone have an opinoin regarding which cutaway bodies are built the best? Also, has anyone raised the roof on a cutaway to gain headroom?
Important distinctions: are you looking at a mini SCHOOL bus, or a SHUTTLE bus like sdwarf36 has? Construction is TOTALLY different!
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Old 02-07-2010, 11:40 PM   #9
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Re: Identifying drive train specifics

Hey Jaraxle...have you ever seen a Sterling rear end under a van? I know I've seen 60's, 61's, and 70's. How about that Dana 135 monster from the big F-series trucks?
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Old 02-08-2010, 10:42 AM   #10
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Re: Identifying drive train specifics

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarlaxle
. Late-2003's and up will be the catastrophically-bad 6.0 PowerStroke, avoid them even if they're free.

.
Agreed!
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Old 02-08-2010, 03:09 PM   #11
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Re: Identifying drive train specifics

Quote:
Originally Posted by the_experience03
Hey Jaraxle...have you ever seen a Sterling rear end under a van? I know I've seen 60's, 61's, and 70's. How about that Dana 135 monster from the big F-series trucks?
If you mean the big 10.25/10.5" Sterling axle, can't say I have...every van I looked at closely was a big Dana.
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Old 02-08-2010, 06:24 PM   #12
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Re: Identifying drive train specifics

I'm staying away from the shuttles because I don't want to deal with the fiberglass body. I'm not that familiar with what other major differences there are. I'm looking for a mini school bus - ford 7.3 diesel, dually (because I intend to tow), 5 window (about 13 feet behind the driver's seat). Will the dually be the same rear end as a single wheel? Thanks for the tip on the Champion body.

I would be interested in seeing floor plans from anyone who has converted a short cutaway for camping, particularly details on tank placement and mounting and plumbing.
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Old 02-08-2010, 06:30 PM   #13
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Re: Identifying drive train specifics

IIRC, the SRW cutaways will use the Dana 60, the DRW E-350's the Dana 70 (older ones may have a Dana 60HD), the E-450's (sometimes badged as E-Super Duty) will have Dana 80's.
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Old 02-08-2010, 11:59 PM   #14
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Re: Identifying drive train specifics

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarlaxle
If you mean the big 10.25/10.5" Sterling axle, can't say I have...every van I looked at closely was a big Dana.
I don't know that I'd consider a Dana 60 or Dana 61 rear axle all that big.
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Old 02-09-2010, 07:28 PM   #15
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Re: Identifying drive train specifics

It's plenty big enough. My F-350 has a pair of them, as I recall.
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Old 02-09-2010, 09:28 PM   #16
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Re: Identifying drive train specifics

Whats the difference between a Dana 70 + a Dana 80?
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Old 02-09-2010, 11:19 PM   #17
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Re: Identifying drive train specifics

That depends a lot on which 70 you're talking about, especially in recent years. There are several flavors of the 70 with different characteristics to the housing and such. One could even argue that a Dana 70HD is essentially a Dana 80 given a lot of the parts interchangeability. Then there is the high pinion ball joint Dana 70 used in the front of the 4wd GM MDT's that dwarfs most 80 rears. Suffice it to say that the higher the model number on a Dana-Spicer axle made in the last 50 years or so, the stronger it is. If you get into the old full float 1/4 ton axles its a whole different world. I'd be happy to have a 70 or an 80 under my shortie.

What year is your F-350, Jaraxle? I don't think they've used the 60/60 combo in a long time although I know I've seen a few 80's vintage trucks with 61's under the back and, of course, the high pinion 60 front.
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Old 02-10-2010, 05:04 PM   #18
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Re: Identifying drive train specifics

It's a 1979 F-350 4x4 XLT Ranger Camper Special, a SuperCab/longbed, powered by a 5.9 Cummins from a 1994 Spartan-chassis newspaper van. My 92 F-350 had a front hi-pinion 60 (being a Job 1 truck in 1992, I had the last of the kingpin Danas) and rear Sterling 10.25".

Quote:
Whats the difference between a Dana 70 + a Dana 80?
Uhh...ten? *ducks and runs from thrown bus parts*
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