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Old 01-18-2018, 01:20 PM   #1
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Shortie Skoolie vs shuttle buses

I noticed that the my state recently auctioned off a couple of shuttle buses recently, and they went for about half of the shortie school busses that have been auctioned off recently.

Was hoping you guys could educate me the differences?

Both the skoolie and the shuttles I was looking at appeared to be built on E350/E450 chassis, but the shuttles seem to be more likely to have gassers rather than diesels. In the examples i was looking at, the skoolie had a desirable 7.3L diesel, and the shuttles had the V10 Gas motors. But the school buses had at least an additional 100k miles than the Shuttles (150k vs 250k).

I believe I have heard that the shuttles are normally fiberglass vs metal/steel. I assume that is good for weight, and maybe a bit more aerodynamic, but I have no idea how well they hold up over time.

I did notice that some shuttles have no windows that open, the ones I looked at did have small opening on the top of the windows. I could see that as being problematic since you would have to run AC since you are never going to be getting even a simple breeze.

So what else should I know about shuttles vs shortbus skoolies?
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Old 01-18-2018, 01:43 PM   #2
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Few quick points:

1. The diesel versions are more valuable because they last longer and get better fuel economy.

2. The diesel versions have more miles for the same reasons. It's possible to get a lot of miles without replacing the motor, and you get 40% farther on a gallon of fuel.

3. Fiberglass shells are great if you're focused on weight and fuel economy. Metal shells are clearly superior in durability. The fact is, school buses have federal requirements on the strength of the body. See https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/49/571.220 and https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/49/571.221) Fiberglass doesn't rust but it does have its own forms of cancer (cracking, delamination)

4. It's pretty common for shuttle buses to not have moving windows. Those big glass panels are structural.

Hope that helps!
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Old 01-18-2018, 01:52 PM   #3
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Seems the shuttles I have seen are basically cut-a-way vans with a fiberglass box attached. That means a much lighter duty chassis and drivetrain than what you would find in a bus type Skoolie. They are built on medium to heavy duty truck chassis depending on size.
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Old 01-18-2018, 04:34 PM   #4
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I have both. The headroom is always better in a shuttle and I like the double doors it has more than the school bus folding door. Both of mine are gassers and I'm sure that diesel isn't 40% farther on a gallon of fuel. Maybe 15 percent.
The larger windows do make it hard to keep the temperature how I want but I didn't gut it. I would definitely recommend rebuilding either one and get rid of some of the windows.
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Old 01-18-2018, 05:04 PM   #5
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Diesel contains 14% more energy than gasoline. It also delivers the power in a better range for heavy vehicles, so you can add some to that.

Against that is that diesel costs more, which is, historically, upside-down.
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Old 01-18-2018, 07:02 PM   #6
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I would compare a shuttle bus to a stick&staple RV and a school bus to...
No comparison, really. So much "tougher"

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Old 01-19-2018, 05:41 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas1985 View Post
I have both. The headroom is always better in a shuttle and I like the double doors it has more than the school bus folding door. Both of mine are gassers and I'm sure that diesel isn't 40% farther on a gallon of fuel. Maybe 15 percent.
The larger windows do make it hard to keep the temperature how I want but I didn't gut it. I would definitely recommend rebuilding either one and get rid of some of the windows.
My parents v10 does 5-6 mpg on a good day. My DT466 gets 10+.
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Old 01-19-2018, 06:59 AM   #8
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No sticks and staples in my shuttle bus. 1" steel tube frame with 1" of spray foam insulation sandwiched between two layers of thick fiberglass. Heavy duty.. well the 350 chassis is a 1 ton chassis. What are you going to tow? The tops of most shuttle bus windows are sliders, never seen a shuttle window that didn't have small sliding windows. Although I seen some shuttles that are sort of a corogated cardboard construction that is aweful. Seriuosly love my shuttle for camping and towing my 20' trailer with ATV's in it. It's my personal belief that many of us on this sight way over think this subject of comparing skoolies to shuttles. In a rollover accident I want a skoolie. Check out the "short bus" forum on this sight. A lot of shuttle people here.
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Old 01-19-2018, 10:11 AM   #9
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I'm just starting work on my gasser e450 V10 shuttle bus, but I have a couple pointers.

1. Mine is the fiberglass/cardboard construction which at first I wasn't a huge fan of, but it's extremely lightweight and actually adds 1" of insulation (albeit poor insulation.)

2. I was getting about 8-11mpg before I removed the wheelchair lift and seats and before I added any weight. Not sure what the net weight will be after.

3. Mine has three emergency exit windows that hinge at the top and swing out, so keep an eye out for those. (1) on each side and (1) enormous 6ft window at the back of the bus. I actually moved both side windows to the left of the bus so that I have two big windows that open out over my kitchen area!

4. Don't even look at anything over 300k. I talked with a mechanic that worked for FedEx on these chassis and he said they die at around 400k. I lucked out and got a '99 with only 50k, so keep your eyes out, these things are everywhere!

Safe journeying!
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Old 01-19-2018, 10:31 AM   #10
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I too have been doing the Shorty/ Shuttle dance of decision. From my research it seems ElDorado and Turtle Top have the highest safety ratings of the builders out there. I too have been searching for a diesel one. BUT there are some benefits to either. While diesel may get better fuel economy, and engine run longer before breakage(when well maintained), a gasser will cost less on repairs, easier to work on(sometimes) and provides a more "normal" drive feel to those not used to diesel. I still prefer a diesel myself. Other useful things you dont see much on schoolies(shorty or full length) are passenger side door and seat. The shuttle I am after has both. Most people prefer to have their copilot beside them, not 5 feet behind.
As far as not being heavy duty enough, unless you go with a "TRUE" shorty(not a cutaway) there is little difference. Both are on 350/450 chassis(for fords) or equivalent for chevy. Personally I like the look of a shuttle more.(Many RV parks wont let shoolies in, but a home built shuttle seems to be ok for them).
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