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Old 03-26-2018, 12:31 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: NorCal
Posts: 33
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Girardin
Chassis: Ford E350
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke Diesel
The Argobus - A 1996 Ford E350 Shorty

Just picked up this beautiful bus from a dealership in LA, and drove her up to northern California. Here are the goodies:

- 1996 Ford E350 Girardin Minibus
- 7.3L Powerstroke Diesel with 337,000 miles
- Cabin is 10' long, 6.5' wide, and about 5.5' of headroom
- $2,500!

I'm super stoked to start this project. A year ago, I was looking at buying a full-sized bus to convert and live on full time, or a house, and I ended up going with the houseóbut one with a driveway big enough for any future bus endeavors. I was just patient and waited to find one that came on the market in my budget. After a year of waiting/looking, I found this one from a dealership (better than private party, in my opinion), and was about half my budget!

First projects on deck are to remove the school markings, get it registered appropriately, and remove the seats.

Now here's a few questions I've got for you experts out there:

- Seatbelt seats. All the passenger seats need to go, but I need seatbelted chairs for the girlfriend and daughter. It looks like it's pretty straightforward to go find a few at a pick n' pull, but are there any "gotchas" with mounting them? I want to make sure that the seatbelts are sturdy and safe.

- Insulation. It seems like ~40% of the surface area of the cabin is single paned glass. Is it worthwhile to pull out the walls and ceiling to apply insulation? I will be pulling out the floor to replace it, so I'll insulate that portion, but what about the rest (given that most of the cabin is leaky glass anyway)?

You guys are the best.

















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Old 03-26-2018, 12:40 PM   #2
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Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 329
Year: 2004
Coachwork: Corbeil
Chassis: Ford
Engine: Ford PowerStroke Diesel 6.0
Rated Cap: GVWR 11,500
Wow! That bus looks to be in great shape, considering its age! My wife and I have a bus a little longer and with a little more headroom and we're working on the demo now. Most folks on here do recommend insulating everywhere you can and that's my plan, too. At the very least, by getting down to the shell of the bus you can look for points of entry for water and delete excess wiring, some of which can be scavenged for your build-out. Best of luck and be sure to share your progress!
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Old 03-26-2018, 01:26 PM   #3
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: southern maine
Posts: 114
Year: 2010
Coachwork: Coach & Equipment MFG
Chassis: ford E350 superduty
Engine: 5.4 liter v8
Rated Cap: 7 passenger
looks like an ok bus,.. seems to be missing something,... maybe some more mirrors?
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Old 03-26-2018, 05:15 PM   #4
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Ashtabula, Ohio
Posts: 1,158
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International
Engine: T444E 7.3L
Nice bus! Not too often you see these with single rear wheels
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Old 03-26-2018, 05:27 PM   #5
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Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: pa
Posts: 1,479
Year: 98
Coachwork: 1. Corbeil & 2. Thomas
Chassis: 1 ford e350 2 mercedes
Engine: 7.3 powerstroke & MBE906
The srw's are pretty rare. We looked all over the place and ultimately drove 400 miles to get it.
The girardin might be made out of aluminum, check with a magnet, Mine, a corbeil, Elfbu, is partially aluminum and partially galvanized steel.
The floor of our is aluminum and as so has no rust. The floor is also ribbed so that moisture can more easily run away and not stay in contact with the wood.
the nice thing with srw giradin and srw corbeil is that the inside width is about 75" so you can still sleep transverse which makes it very efficient with space.

Good luck, J
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Old 03-26-2018, 05:45 PM   #6
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Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Fayetteville Arkansas
Posts: 419
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: GMC G3500 Vandura
Engine: V-8 5.7L Gas
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mullet View Post
Nice bus! Not too often you see these with single rear wheels
Yea, check the weight rating for your axles. Dispurse from front to back the best that you can.

"Based on the numbers that engineers use when designing, the average weight of a commercial 2x4 is 1.28 lbs per foot... A 2x2 weighs 0.64...

I'm using .065 wall 1x1 steel tube, that weighs .827 lbs per foot...

So, it's considerably less weight that a 2x4 and a little heavier than a 2x2..."

That information is from The Dirtybus...
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Old 03-26-2018, 07:52 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: NorCal
Posts: 33
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Girardin
Chassis: Ford E350
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke Diesel
Yep, we wanted one where we can put our bed transverse, and this gives us just the right amount of space to lay down sideways. That makes the interior planning much more spacious/easier.
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Old 03-26-2018, 07:54 PM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: NorCal
Posts: 33
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Girardin
Chassis: Ford E350
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke Diesel
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas1985 View Post
Yea, check the weight rating for your axles. Dispurse from front to back the best that you can.

"Based on the numbers that engineers use when designing, the average weight of a commercial 2x4 is 1.28 lbs per foot... A 2x2 weighs 0.64...

I'm using .065 wall 1x1 steel tube, that weighs .827 lbs per foot...

So, it's considerably less weight that a 2x4 and a little heavier than a 2x2..."

That information is from The Dirtybus...
We were planning on keeping the water tanks/battery bank as close to the front as possible, but now you've got me wondering about how much the wood is going to weigh... my analytical brain is going to try (and fail) to figure out the CG.
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Old 04-02-2018, 01:26 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: NorCal
Posts: 33
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Girardin
Chassis: Ford E350
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke Diesel
Seats are out. There's no way around it, it's a two person job, but it definitely wasn't as difficult as I thought.


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Old 04-09-2018, 01:17 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: NorCal
Posts: 33
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Girardin
Chassis: Ford E350
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke Diesel
I sanded the entire exterior with a random orbital sander using 150 grit sandpaper, then wiped it down with xylene (any solvent will do, such as acetone--xylene is quite stinky, so it goes without saying wear nitrile gloves and a respirator). After that I taped it up.









I then used a Husky Gravity Feed HVLP Spray Gun, using their 8 Gallon 150 PSI Air Compressor. I couldn't find any Rustoleum in California, so I stopped by a auto paint shop and they recommended I use Envirotech 4xx Series Industrial W B-DTM paint--a water based enamel for non-ferrous surfaces. I thinned it with about 10-20% water, and since I've never used a spray gun before, you can see the quality of the job improve as I went around the bus.











I put two full coats on, one right after the other, and then did a few touch spray ups to fill in the gaps. It isn't a great paint job, but I'm just trying to make it street legal to drive around (can't have that school bus yellow in California). Once I'm done cutting up the exterior, and adding a few ports and doors here and there, I'll put on another two coats with a bit more attention and care. Also I'm going to paint the rims matte black because why not?
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