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Old 01-20-2016, 02:14 PM   #1
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Just bought a bus, feeling lost

Hey guys! I am super stoked to have just bought a four window Ford E350 7.3L Powerstroke! It was already in the process of getting converted when the previous owner sold it, so the seats have been gutted, and a pretty extensive deep cycle battery system has been installed.

I have about 5 months and a budget of $4,000, and Iíd like to get this as liveable as possible, so that I can do a cross country roadtrip in style. I am feeling very lost. I have a few things Iíd like to accomplish, and Iíd love feedback. In no particular order, how might you prioritize some of these projects?

Insulation
Everything Iíve read says I should gut the existing insulation, or at least pull some panels and check for mold. If I go this route, what are the options for reinsulation? Iíve looked at closed cell foam but that looks to be expensive, at least $750. Would pink styrafoam and maybe Reflectix get me there?

Flooring
It looks like the consensus is that I should pull the flooring as well. Right now the wheel hubs are exposed, Iím not sure if there is anything between the hard rubber and the steel. What are some durable flooring options? Iíve looked at the rubber puzzle-piece route, it looks it could work, but are there better options?

Solar
Iím looking to put a solar system in, but right now since the existing deep cycle batteries charge off the altenator, this isnít a huge priority.

Windows
I know I lose a lot of the heat through the windows, is there a relatively cheap option to deal with this?

Exhaust
I was told that getting the exhaust pipe changed to a wider pipe would help with power and gas mileage. Any truth to this?

Boat Rack
The primary goal of my roadtrip is for whitewater kayaking, and Iíll need to haul a lot of boats. Fabricating a rack onto the roof is the highest priority project, and will probably eat away at least a quarter of the budget.

Iím sure Iíll have more questions later, but given my budget constraints, what should I be looking to do to make the bus more liveable?

Thanks!
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Old 01-20-2016, 02:36 PM   #2
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Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Cuyahoga Falls Ohio
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Year: 1997
Chassis: Ford e-350 single wheel
Engine: 5.4 litre
Rated Cap: 12
Welcome, I used a poly-vinyl one piece flooring in my bus and love the water proof durability. HomeDepot on line had it in different widths and lengths. I bought the diamond plate pattern but the sand dollar pattern is nice too. I glued mine down to the plywood subfloor.
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Old 01-20-2016, 02:43 PM   #3
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Location: Eustis FLORIDA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheeks View Post
Hey guys! I am super stoked to have just bought a four window Ford E350 7.3L Powerstroke! It was already in the process of getting converted when the previous owner sold it, so the seats have been gutted, and a pretty extensive deep cycle battery system has been installed.

I have about 5 months and a budget of $4,000, and Iíd like to get this as liveable as possible, so that I can do a cross country roadtrip in style. I am feeling very lost. I have a few things Iíd like to accomplish, and Iíd love feedback. In no particular order, how might you prioritize some of these projects?

Insulation
Everything Iíve read says I should gut the existing insulation, or at least pull some panels and check for mold. If I go this route, what are the options for reinsulation? Iíve looked at closed cell foam but that looks to be expensive, at least $750. Would pink styrafoam and maybe Reflectix get me there?

Flooring
It looks like the consensus is that I should pull the flooring as well. Right now the wheel hubs are exposed, Iím not sure if there is anything between the hard rubber and the steel. What are some durable flooring options? Iíve looked at the rubber puzzle-piece route, it looks it could work, but are there better options?

Solar
Iím looking to put a solar system in, but right now since the existing deep cycle batteries charge off the altenator, this isnít a huge priority.

Windows
I know I lose a lot of the heat through the windows, is there a relatively cheap option to deal with this?

Exhaust
I was told that getting the exhaust pipe changed to a wider pipe would help with power and gas mileage. Any truth to this?

Boat Rack
The primary goal of my roadtrip is for whitewater kayaking, and Iíll need to haul a lot of boats. Fabricating a rack onto the roof is the highest priority project, and will probably eat away at least a quarter of the budget.

Iím sure Iíll have more questions later, but given my budget constraints, what should I be looking to do to make the bus more liveable?

Thanks!
Don't use fiberglass! Use foam board.
For the windows, you can go with RV stuff but its gonna be more money, time, and effort.
I'd DEFINITELY pull the flooring. Some are rubber over steel, some have plywood under the rubber.
I'm going to lay down marine grade plywood over foam board insulation. Everyone has their own needs, budgets, etc...
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Old 01-20-2016, 03:59 PM   #4
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Not sure what the R-value of the fiberglass in there currently is, but how thick do I need to go with the boards to achieve enough insulation for it to be effective? Or at least, better than what is in there now?
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Old 01-20-2016, 04:23 PM   #5
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Location: Billings, MT
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I have 1" double-sided rigid foam boards on my beastie at a cost of $20 per board, nowhere near the $750 you quoted. They give an R-6. Now, if I were to go with 4.5" of insulation, I'd have R-45 (give or take). For my 84 passenger bus, I bought 8 4'x8'x1" boards and have affixed them to the sides using industrial grade Velcro. The reason behind the Velcro is simple. I still have the windows in place and I'm living inside her in Montana's WONDERFUL winter. When Spring/Summer arrives, I'll be pulling most of the windows and replacing them with ACX plywood. The floor itself has 1/2 or 3/4" plywood on top of the steel underfloor. I carpeted the front and rear 1/3 and used linoleum in the center for my kitchen/bath area. Plywood that's already down on the floor is holding the tack strips rather nicely. I'll have some spray insulation installed underneath and in the basement.
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Old 01-20-2016, 04:44 PM   #6
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 12,161
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Coachwork: Ward/AmTran
Chassis: International
Engine: dt466
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheeks View Post
Not sure what the R-value of the fiberglass in there currently is, but how thick do I need to go with the boards to achieve enough insulation for it to be effective? Or at least, better than what is in there now?
Any foam board is better than what's in there now, man.
I'm planning to do a couple inches of it in my floors.
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Old 01-20-2016, 05:54 PM   #7
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Location: Moodus, Ct.
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Year: 1996
Coachwork: Champion
Chassis: Ford e-450
Engine: 7.3 Powerstroke
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What brand body is attached to the Ford? Is it a short bus or a shuttle? (And plz post some pics-we all like pictures around here.)
A few more details will help with good advice giving. Are you planning on year-rounding or just summers? Where? How many people living in the bus?
How many miles on it? How much love has been given to it over the last few years? The powerstroke is a good engine, but it does have a few minor things you have to keep up on.
Exhaust-if you find a larger downpipe for a van ,let me know. I've looked. Just larger pipe out the back won't help. You're looking at around 10-12 mpg.
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my bus build http://www.skoolie.net/gallery/Skoolies/Sped
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Old 01-21-2016, 10:15 AM   #8
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It's a Blue Bird model, here is a pic: Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet
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Old 01-21-2016, 04:06 PM   #9
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An air conditioner even, nice!.

I'm doing a short bus as well, although for now it's a party bus until May, but I'm gearing up to install a roof rack soon. I plan to have less than $200 in materials into getting a nice roof rack on there that will hold both of my 13.5' kayaks plus some, I'll document how it goes, maybe it will help you out. Even if you have to go buy a welder and angle grinder, you will still come in under $500 total if you do it yourself and have a few friends help lift it up to the roof.

If you work a full time job and only have 5 months, I would leave the insulation and flooring alone for now, especially if you pull some panels and see it's in decent condition. If anything, just make some removable insulating covers to go over the windows and that will be the most bang for your buck and time, the tint is a big plus that I want to do on my bus. If you are going to be staying at parks with electric hookups at least half the time, you will be mostly fine with a space heater or the air conditioner hanging off the rear anyways.

As for exhaust, a more free flowing muffler might help you out MPG wise on the mid to high end, but you will lose some low end, but we are talking hardly if noticeable at all. I get 9-10 on the three highway trips I've done, but against a strong head wind and going 75mph I got 6 mpg once, it wasn't pretty, if I kept it to 60 it might have been decent.
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Old 01-30-2016, 04:53 PM   #10
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Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Champaign, IL
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Year: 1998
Coachwork: Collins
Chassis: Ford
Engine: 7.3L Diesel
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Somewhere on this site is my short bus - a Collins/Ford - with some pictures. Search for pharmboi. I pulled off the interior sheet metal and replaced the thin figerglss insulation with 1" foil faced foam. Another good tip I saw somewhere here is to spray foam insulation on the underside of the floor. A cold floor can be most uncomfortable. I actually tried to glue 2" foam to the underside - not all of it stayed put.

As for AC, I bought a 5k btu AC model and installed it in the front. Worked great but you gotta be plugged in to use it. I had a lot of nice features in mine - hot water, AC, sink with faucet, microwave, etc - I had about $5000 invested in addition to the $1500 I paid for the bus. Don't ever expect to get your money back when you sell it.
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