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Old 03-05-2015, 01:11 PM   #1
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Introduction: La Baja Bus

Hi everyone!

This is my first post on Skoolie, so- hello!

I just purchased a '97 E450 (acc to VIN lookup on Ford site) w/290K miles on a Powerstroke 7.3 turbo diesel. I did some basic research and came up with pros/cons, vs. newer engines and decided to go for this one.

So far, in CA, '97's do NOT require smog check (but it could change...) so that's a plus. Tho it may spend much of its life south of border (I own a lot that I may park it on, while doing some construction work this summer)

It is also NOT an RV- it is a BUS. My city passed new parking regs in 2014, prohibiting long term parking of RVs/trailers or anything over 27' long AND 7' tall. So- I bought this 24' bus (over 7' tall, tho) in part to avoid those regs. Modifications will be simple/basic multipurpose to avoid the RV look.

We shall see how the neighbors react...

It's a former shuttle bus w/wheelchair lift (handy for loading heavy camp gear), currently seats 9 (8 passengers/driver) to avoid need for commercial license, and otherwise is empty. I bought it for very little, so now... leap of faith to convert to travel vehicle!

The engine sounds solid in a rumbly diesel kinda way (as far as my untrained ear can tell)- ran fine on drive home, about 40 miles on freeway, at 60-65 mph easily. Decent acceleration w/overdrive switch. Looks dry underneath- no oil leaks, no rust, spent its life in SoCal.

Suspension... hard to know, but feels solid, no wobbles etc.

So before I depart for Baja w/friends in a few weeks, a few q's:

1) What needs to be professionally inspected in terms of engine? What maintenance should I do to be safe (I have no maintenance records )
What should I definitely do before driving in MX end of March?

2) Can I run biodiesel without making big changes? I live in sunny/warm SoCal, most often drive south into sunnier Baja, rarely north. Do I really need a dual tank system (it has a 60 gal), or just gradually add biodiesel and change fuel filter as the crud loosens us (there are several professional biodiesel options near my home, from 99.9% to 20%)

I've never owned a diesel but have owned Fords, and currently drive a Mazda B-4000 w/small camper shell into Baja often. La Bus will transport friends/family/toys for longer adventures that my little .5 ton can't carry.

So... that's my story: I have a bus, not an RV, that will be used for fun adventures, and hopefully the 7.3 will give us all another 100k of miles.

Your advice/comments/helpful suggestions welcome!
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Old 03-05-2015, 01:22 PM   #2
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Location: Eustis FLORIDA
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Year: 1992
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Chassis: International
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Enjoy the bus and welcome to the forum.
I've always found that the neighbors, city, and "regular" folks are real enemies of bus ownership.
As long as you're moving around you should be fine. Heading down to Mexico sounds very exciting and interesting.
In terms of getting it mechanically ready for long trips, you need to get acquainted with the standard service procedures for your bus and running gear. Get a service manual and definitely check the oil, filters, tires, anything like that.
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Old 03-05-2015, 07:00 PM   #3
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Moodus, Ct.
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Year: 1996
Coachwork: Champion
Chassis: Ford e-450
Engine: 7.3 Powerstroke
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Welcome!
Look at the thread "1996 Ford Collins schools bus" -there is a few 7.3 tips.
If everything is running well-great. The problem with something with that many miles is at what point did the PO decide to stop spending any more money on it? The suspension stuff is straight forward-look at your brake pads-+ grease all you fittings.
Change your fuel filter-your oil (get ready for sticker shock--15 quarts + a big filter) drain you tranny (and there may or may not be a drain plug on the torque converter) and change you filter + fluid (20 qt.s total-but check how much comes out.)
Bio d? just dump it in like diesel-nothing needed. And since you are only going to be in warm weather you could even get away with dumping some veggie oil in you tank. (clean-clean-CLEAN only!!!!)
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my bus build http://www.skoolie.net/gallery/Skoolies/Sped
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Old 03-07-2015, 12:09 PM   #4
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Update: a photo. And thanks for the suggestions. I've been reviewing other posts.

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Old 03-07-2015, 01:33 PM   #5
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Phttt Cali and fuel.......what about fish taco's????
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Old 03-07-2015, 02:25 PM   #6
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Ha! Rest assured: there will be fish tacos. 🐟

And avocados (vegan friends). And lots of other Baja treats and toys. 🚣 ⛵️


I'm close to Guadalupe Valley- plan to introduce friends to lots of local food, 🍷wine, 🐐 fresh goat cheese, olive oils... plenty for the foodies to enjoy!

___🚐___

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Phttt Cali and fuel.......what about fish taco's????
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Old 03-07-2015, 02:57 PM   #7
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At least your priorities are in order...lol
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