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Old 08-26-2015, 03:11 PM   #1
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4X4 Conversion

I have an 03 International full size bus with air brakes. I have the major portions of the conversion done. One thing that is on my hot list right now is four wheel drive. The bus often serves as base camp and tow vehicle for off-roading events. This means that I am often going through some rough and difficult terrain to get to the site. A couple weeks ago was the worst so far. Had to go up a steep hill on a grassy trail. There was not enough room to get the speed up and I just spun. Ended up taking two trucks and an ATV pulling me to get up the hill. Embarrassing to say the least when the FWD cars were making it no problem. That made me realize 4wd is going to be almost essential. I am pretty experience with the smaller 4x4 world but am lost when it comes to something this big. What is everyone using for a front axle and transfer case? Anyone know of a bolt in from maybe a dump truck or something? Cost is a big concern here. Budget for the entire build is $6000. So far already have around $4500 in the bus itself and the conversion parts. Any ideas? I was also thinking about getting a set of tire chains in the mean time to help with traction. Anyone have experience with chains in dirt/mud? Also, anyone running a winch? I would think it would need to be huge to even try and move a stuck bus.
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Old 08-26-2015, 03:15 PM   #2
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Given you only have $1500 left to spend on the entire build, I suspect you can write off changing to 4x4 on this bus. You simply do not have the budget.
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Old 08-26-2015, 03:32 PM   #3
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why not get tire chains, they are miracle workers

put on before going up the hills
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Old 08-26-2015, 03:35 PM   #4
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Making a bus 4x4 will take around $10,000 alone to do properly.

If you can find a 4x4 three ton truck, it can be done cheaper, but they are rare.

After you convert it to 4x4, top speed will be 70 to 80 kmh max.

Things that big need to be 6x6 or 8x8 due to the weight and height for soft ground. The tandem rear gives more traction, and keeps one tire from falling into a hole, causing the bus to tip over. In a 8x8 configuration, the second tandem front makes the front act the same as the rear.

Pirate 4x4 is where I recommend you look for info. More large 4x4 builds there.

However don't go over there asking questions. They will rip you apart. Search, read and search more.

I would use 2.5 ton top loading rockwells as axles, or portal tech.

A NP205 divorced transfer case would be strong enough. It's a gear driven, cast iron case.

Nat
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Old 08-26-2015, 03:50 PM   #5
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I kind of pondered similarly, wondering how much different an Int'l muni dump truck driveline would be from an Int'l chassis school bus. Knowing from my Jeep Wrangler experiences that nothing is ever as simple as unbolt-and-swap I would concur with Timelord and Nat_ster that you haven't the budget left to do a real 4x4 conversion that will actually survive what you're wanting to put it through. But I applaud the notion and sympathize as one of my own ideas is a bug out bus and 4x4 would be priority 1.
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Old 08-26-2015, 10:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidm2232 View Post
Any ideas? I was also thinking about getting a set of tire chains in the mean time to help with traction.
I would look into a rear locker before any 4x4 thoughts. My bus has a locker and I have taken it off pavement numerous times. So far, as long as I don't sink, I haven't worried about getting stuck. Chains would work good, just take time to mount up.
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Old 08-27-2015, 10:15 AM   #7
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I doubt you'll get what you want done for 1500 bucks. Sourcing a driveline from a 2.5 or 5 ton military truck would be easiest but you'd have a boat load of fabrication to do. And it would still probably end up costing you over your limit. Someone mentioned a locker, I'd also add better tires to this list. I'm not sure what tires you have but great gains in traction can be made with the right set. Then again, those tires will make one heck of a howl going down the highway so maybe that's not what you want.
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Old 08-27-2015, 01:43 PM   #8
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I've got pretty aggressive snows on the back already so I am at a good starting point. An air locker or similar from an off road dump truck would be a good idea. I was also thinking about the International dump truck route. What if I got one in 4x4, and swapped my 2wd parts from the bus into the dump truck and sold the truck? Seems like if I got a good enough deal on the truck that I could flip it and make money. I think getting a whole rig to swap parts out of and then sell as a running truck would be the cheapest way to go. I am next door neighbors to a drive shaft shop so lengthening/shortening shafts is not a huge deal. Really looking for someone who has done this before.
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Old 08-27-2015, 03:04 PM   #9
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Location? Reason I ask is cause I have a 3 ton 4x4 IH cab/chassis with only 9k miles on it. Gasser....
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Old 08-27-2015, 03:41 PM   #10
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I'm in upstate NY.
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