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Old 04-01-2016, 11:57 PM   #1
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E450 - Automatic to Manual Swap?

Has anyone converted an E450 Diesel Handi Bus from and automatic transmission to a manual transmission? Wondering how hard it would be. Could you take the needed parts off a donor ford pickup or similar truck and use them for the swap?
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Old 04-02-2016, 09:47 AM   #2
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It will be expensive and labor intensive so I have to ask...why?
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Old 04-02-2016, 10:00 AM   #3
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I read of only 1 person thats done it on Diesel Forum - TheDieselStop.com. LOTS of work. Mainly the pedal box area. Even he said he'd never do it again.
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Old 04-02-2016, 11:05 AM   #4
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It will be expensive and labor intensive so I have to ask...why?
My idea is to buy an E350 or E450 Handi Van and convert it for weekend camping and daily driving (a conversion van on steroids). Eventually I was thinking of buying a used tow behind rv to use for the next 6 yrs or so to take my daughter/wife on vacations to show them all the great areas to visit that are out of the way. An F350 or Dodge 3500 (cummins) would be ideal for a tow vehicle, but to find a decent used one costs $20-$30k. Hence the idea of using an E450 Diesel Handi Van as a tow vehicle. The chassis is already set up for heavy hauling, and if I wanted to haul a 5th wheel rv I could even shorten the bus body fairly easily and install a 5th wheel hitch over the axle. Manual transmission is always preferred for towing, especially when it comes to much cheaper repair costs if needed.
The reason for buying the factory built rv is to be able to start using it right away while she is still young enough to enjoy the trips. Also, a big plus is the ability to unhook the truck from the rv at the campsite so it can be used to drive to different attractions.
Ideally I want to build a custom flat nosed full sized skoolie but it would take at least 2 years or more and, unless I towed a car behind, wouldn't make it easy to drive to various attractions from the campsite and maneuver around towns. My long term goal is to build a full sized skoolie to live in for long stretches after she's grown and on her own.
So in a nutshell, the thought is to be able to afford a diesel powered tow vehicle for much less than the cost of a high dollar pickup truck. I will also install comfortable seats and other amenities in the E450 Bus so we can travel in comfort.
I guess even if I had to have the tranny repaired at approx $3k, that is still much cheaper than a pickup truck . I've heard that the E450 diesels are detuned to lower the HP. Is this true and can they be retuned for more HP and torque (i.e better towing power) without much trouble and without severely shortening the life of the engine? I'm focusing on the Ford 7.3L since they have great reviews overall for reliability and power. Thoughts/feedback?
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Old 04-02-2016, 01:23 PM   #5
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The vans have no intercooler-lack of room. So if you don't watch yourself, you can spike egt's. ( I broke a motor doing this-now I have an egt gauge.) I had a turbo off a pick up on my bus for a while-the egt's would go up quicker than with the vans turbo. So does that mean it was making more power-i dunno. I tow in the hills of Vt-12k bus + 2k trailer. I keep my eyes on the gauge close.
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Old 04-02-2016, 02:59 PM   #6
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Did some more interweb searching and found several sites where people are using E450 busea and chassis for towing 5th wheels and boats with no issues. Here are pics of a guy that grafted a big rig sleeper onto an E450 cab/chassis, added a 5th wheel hitch, and uses it to pull a huge 5th wheel rv as well as a speedboat with no issues. 7.3L w/ automatic.

100_2345.jpg

E450 and 5th Wheel.jpg

E450 5th wheel towing boat.jpg
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Old 04-02-2016, 03:08 PM   #7
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At that point though, wouldn't a regular truck be preferable? At least for engine access.
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Old 04-02-2016, 03:15 PM   #8
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At that point though, wouldn't a regular truck be preferable? At least for engine access.
They use them for the reason I stated: the cost of a used F350/F450 in decent shape is $20k-$30k or more. The E450 uses the same truck chassis and can haul with no problem for a fraction of that price.
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Old 04-02-2016, 09:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dgorila1 View Post
Has anyone converted an E450 Diesel Handi Bus from and automatic transmission to a manual transmission? Wondering how hard it would be. Could you take the needed parts off a donor ford pickup or similar truck and use them for the swap?
I have done a few pickups, they are a pain. I think a van would be worse.
Unless you have the pieces you could buy a pretty nice pickup for what you will have in a swap. Just my opinion. Have fun.
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Old 04-02-2016, 09:21 PM   #10
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They use them for the reason I stated: the cost of a used F350/F450 in decent shape is $20k-$30k or more. The E450 uses the same truck chassis and can haul with no problem for a fraction of that price.
My dad pulls HEAVY loads with a Cummins Dodge.
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