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Old 10-24-2009, 03:40 PM   #1
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mini bus info needed

hi everyone

i've posted before, i'm from new zealand planning a 3 month trip round us/canada skiing. will be converting a bus to a very basic specification with just beds, a bench and a woodburner for warmth while being heavy on the insulation. have decided to use something based on a van chassis, most likely a ford e-350 or similar. i have a couple of questions you guys might have some answers to!

1. gas(we call it petrol) or diesel? pro's of diesel i can see are economy and resale value. will be doing thousands of miles(new york-bc-los angeles with lots of driving around) and the less i can spend on fuel the better. pros of gas seem to be cheaper initial cost of vehicle and easier cold weather starting? will be attempting to use some kiwi ingenuity to sort out a way of pre-warming the engine using the woodburner in very cold places but thats another story! any input on the gas vs diesel decision? can anyone give approx economy figures for each if driven with economy in mind in a smaller bus?

2. school bus or shuttle bus? does e350 school buses and shuttle buses of mid 90's vintage have the same spec 7.3 diesel? would the gearing be similar? economy? not worried about speed wont be going anywhere in a hurry economy is my most important concern. anything for or against either type?

any help would be greatly appreciated, also if anyone knows of a bus around the new york area or anywhere on the way to bc let me know! hoping to spend less than 2k doesnt need to be flash just reliable.

thanks
adam.
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Old 10-30-2009, 07:09 AM   #2
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Re: mini bus info needed

have narrowed it down to a shuttle bus, the mini school buses just arent quite big enough for what im after. can anyone comment on petrol vs diesel? i cant make up my mind! have worked out we will be doing approx 5000 miles. have read a figure of 12mpg for a petrol one which isnt too bad but would that be believable? have found one good cheap petrol ford e350 shuttle bus for $1000 but it has done 240k miles. a diesel of around the same milage would be around $1500 would the diesel engine be alot healthier after this distance? both are ex bus company buses so have been regularly maintained and i would assume mostly hot running? the other question is resale would it be easier to sell the diesel aterwards? any help at all would be great! we have very different vehicles in new zealand ive never owned anything over 2.4L!

thanks.
adam.
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Old 10-30-2009, 11:07 AM   #3
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Re: mini bus info needed

Adam,
Anything I can do to help a Kiwi I'm at the front of the line. (I was over there 3 years ago racing-stayed in Napier-absoulutly LOVED it!)
240k on an unmaintained gas motor is alot--on something that has had normal service is on the hi side--but not terrible. On a diesel 240k is nothing at all.
My diesel 16 pass. shuttle bus got 11 mpg on its maiden voyage--but that was in very hilly country-i'm sure it would do better on flat ground. I have driven (gas) large ford cargo vans that have gotten around 12mpg-so yes its believible.
I've helpped out traveling kiwis before--i assume you plan on buying it-traveling-then selling it off when your done--correct? A diesel has more value at resale.
Diesel fuel around here is now running about 20 cents a gallon more than gas.
So its close to even--I'd go with the diesel with the hope of getting more $ at the end of the trip.
If theres any more help I can be (I'm 1/2 way in between NY + Boston) you can contact me at sdwarf36@aol.com
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Old 10-30-2009, 02:24 PM   #4
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Re: mini bus info needed

thanks for the info sdwarf! i could kill a pie myself i've been working in mexico the last couple of months missing home already. yeah thats the plan.. pretty much decided on a diesel the only thing im not quite sure about is very cold starting? will be spending most of my time in interior canada so it will be seriously cold! i really like the look of your bus looks very spacious! thanks for your help i may well be in touch when i get round to working out how licensing and insurance etc works in the states/canada.
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Old 10-30-2009, 02:24 PM   #5
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Re: mini bus info needed

thanks for the info sdwarf! i could kill a pie myself i've been working in mexico the last couple of months missing home already. yeah thats the plan.. pretty much decided on a diesel the only thing im not quite sure about is very cold starting? will be spending most of my time in interior canada so it will be seriously cold! i really like the look of your bus looks very spacious! thanks for your help i may well be in touch when i get round to working out how licensing and insurance etc works in the states/canada.
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Old 10-30-2009, 03:00 PM   #6
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Re: mini bus info needed

I've yet to use mine in the cold so i cant tell you how it may start--but I have a block heater in it. You plug it in at night to keep the water temp up for better starting. As far as I know all the Ford 7.3's have it--at least any in the north should. I have the same thing in my diesel VW-its set on a timer -2 hours before I'm ready to leave for work it starts heating up. It make the car that would start with a fight start right up like summer.

Just fair warning--theres no volcanos to ski on in Canada.
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Old 10-30-2009, 03:23 PM   #7
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Re: mini bus info needed

yeah ive heard about these block heater gadgets i doubt ill be staying anywhere i can plug one in though! i will have a woodburner so should be able to sort something out to circulate hot water through the engine ive played around with heating spas this way before. i imagine the skiing will be very different to what im used to! getting very excited now only 3 weeks of work here left then holiday time!
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Old 10-30-2009, 08:40 PM   #8
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Re: mini bus info needed

actually one thing you could help with is installing a passenger seat i see you've done this? you mentioned having to cut away a section of fibreglass after this is a simple bolt in affair with a suitable seat? it'd be nice to have some company up front!
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Old 10-30-2009, 09:33 PM   #9
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Re: mini bus info needed

Well--thats what it was on my bus-got to see what brand/company you come up with -but i'm sure we could rig something up. I wanted to have a swivel seat with armrest so i had to make room for that and there was no mounts-i had to make them-something statioanry would be pretty easy.
Guess what-I still have the original drivers seat + base out of mine--it almost made it to the lanfill today-its yours if you want it. Let me know when you get closer to a known date + we'll set you up.
One thing you better budget for--decent winter tires since you're heading north.
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Old 03-09-2010, 01:39 PM   #10
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Re: mini bus info needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by sdwarf36
Well--thats what it was on my bus-got to see what brand/company you come up with -but i'm sure we could rig something up. I wanted to have a swivel seat with armrest so i had to make room for that and there was no mounts-i had to make them-something statioanry would be pretty easy.
Guess what-I still have the original drivers seat + base out of mine--it almost made it to the lanfill today-its yours if you want it. Let me know when you get closer to a known date + we'll set you up.
One thing you better budget for--decent winter tires since you're heading north.

I must be missing something, I don't see a passenger seat, but I am looking for a way to add one to my bus. photos please or a link that shows them?
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Old 03-09-2010, 10:08 PM   #11
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Re: mini bus info needed



I did some cutting + trimming and got the vertical end cap in the pic moved over to the passenger side about 6". Its a trim cover that covers over the fiberglass body portion that holds the side window to the wall of the bus door.



The base of the seat is smaller that the seat itself-there was room to mount it going right to the edge. The arm rest (just) clears-and with the right order of tilting + sliding the seat, you can get it to rotate. I slide it forward+ tilt it forward when camping-or have it spun around. Slightly in the way of the door-but not too bad. I've since changed seats-and it also fit-the sizes seem to be pretty standard.
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Old 03-11-2010, 10:23 PM   #12
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Re: mini bus info needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by volund
check craigslist and local part/salvage yards, you should be able to get one for next to nothing.
10-4 on that. I got the blue set in the pic at a swap meet for $35 -including the bases. ( The were factory Ford real nice stuff) Only problem was gonna be rigging up a shoulder harness. I found a pair of Grey (read that matching the interior ) poofy captians chair on CL-the guy had 4 for $200-I bought 2 + talked him down to $65 for a pair-and they had built in shoulder harnesses. They mount to the seat base + swivel with the seat. This meant I had to do some re-enforcement to how things mount to the floor. If anything bad every happened, the passenger AND seat could go flying.

Last time I was in a junkyard a couple of years ago,they had a few dead conversion vans-that had the captians chairs still in them.
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Old 05-24-2010, 06:46 PM   #13
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Re: mini bus info needed

I am going to do this aswell. got a donor van but the seats are all tore. thinking im gonna have to make a trip to a scrap yard to.
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Old 05-24-2010, 10:48 PM   #14
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Re: mini bus info needed

Zen;

I got lucky today. Read my other posts from tonight. It just takes patience, lots of phone calls, and eventually something will pop up. It seems if I'm not in a hurry all the things I need seem to fall into place. But if I needed it yesterday, I'm toast! I have contacts all over the US, but Houston has quite a number of good salvage yards. In addition, there are so many people (locals & from other countries) that have NO IDEA how to drive. That provides a buffet for us scavengers.......
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Old 08-24-2011, 10:03 AM   #15
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Re: mini bus info needed

sdwarf36, how did you attach the base of the chair to the floor? did you just drill straight down (assuming there was no lines etc) and bolt to underside of floor or did you make a panel to bolt to etc etc?
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Old 08-24-2011, 11:21 AM   #16
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Re: mini bus info needed

The area was blind-I couldn't just bolt it thru the floor (which was the initial plan )
The floor wasn't even or flat where I needed to go-so there is some 1" sq tubing welded down+ some flat plate-some gussets (the seat belt attached to the seat-so if anything goes wrong I had to make sure the passenger AND seat dont go thru the windshield.) So its a bunch of metal welded to the floorpan + any ribbing i could catch. Its over done + ugly-but well hidden by the carpet.
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Old 08-24-2011, 04:00 PM   #17
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Re: mini bus info needed

hmm darn.. i was just planning on putting some good bolts and backing plates under the bus for them to attach to..
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