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Old 09-03-2019, 12:17 PM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2019
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Hello from NY

Hi all!

I am new to the bus game. I have been looking into getting into a ford transit van for a very long time, but financially I don't think it is going to happen any time soon. This is mostly driven by the fact that I am 6'3 and am only looking at the high roof versions so I have any chance of standing. They are tough to find and drive a premium.

I came across a bus pretty close to me. It is a 2006 E350 chassis with the 6.0 powerstroke diesel motor in it. I know a bit about these motors and will be doing more research. In general, my understanding is that the motors aren't inherently bad. They get a bad rap from poor service/maintenance and shoddy repair service. Does anyone have tips for what to look for? I have a decent list from the little power shop that I am going to follow and augment where I can. This one has 104k on it and was purchased from a school in May 2019. The FICM had low voltage and was replaced in 6/19. Batteries and tires were replaced when he bought it. I know you can dump 5k into these and bulletproof them, that certainly isn't in the budget at this point.

The bus that I am looking at is listed as a fiberglass body, is this bad or shyed away from? I have found it very difficult to find a similar bus on here.
I would think that they are better with respect to insulation than a steel bus.

Given my difficulty of finding comparable vehicles, what would you say this is worth? He is asking 9k for it, which feels a little steep to me.

Cheers!
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Old 09-03-2019, 04:03 PM   #2
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Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: pa
Posts: 1,470
Year: 98
Coachwork: 1. Corbeil & 2. Thomas
Chassis: 1 ford e350 2 mercedes
Engine: 7.3 powerstroke & MBE906
4 to 5 K steep.
There are here quit a bit of people with fiberglass shells. Can be very good but be sure that you know what construction it really is. If the core is corrugated and got wet then a lot of strength is gone.

May be a step van is better to convert?


Good luck,J
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Old 09-03-2019, 04:33 PM   #3
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Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Asheville, NC
Posts: 276
Year: 1999
Coachwork: American Cargo 14'L x 7'8"W x 7'H Box
Chassis: Ford E350 Cutaway
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke
Rated Cap: 11500 lbs
Just for price comparison, I got this for $3900



7.3L Powerstroke, 190k, fleet maintained with complete logs. Had to replace one frozen front caliper in the last 6000 miles.

Interior box dimensions 7' high, ~8' wide and 14' long. Aluminum skin on 1.25" aluminum studs, lined with plywood on the inside. Flat floor without wheel well protrusions. Stupid easy to insulate and to convert.

Will probably install UJoint Offroad 4WD after build-out.
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Old 09-03-2019, 05:12 PM   #4
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Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: pa
Posts: 1,470
Year: 98
Coachwork: 1. Corbeil & 2. Thomas
Chassis: 1 ford e350 2 mercedes
Engine: 7.3 powerstroke & MBE906
That is very nice.. . I have a small bus already but if I would do it again then that is the most practical way to go...I would like single rears and grandma 's attic....loading deck in the back for outside expansion and awning? Side door entrance??


You think you could bond the outer skin and inner plywood with pour in two component foam as they use in boats for floating compartments. If it bonds together it would get crazy strong.


Later J
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Old 09-03-2019, 05:39 PM   #5
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Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Asheville, NC
Posts: 276
Year: 1999
Coachwork: American Cargo 14'L x 7'8"W x 7'H Box
Chassis: Ford E350 Cutaway
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke
Rated Cap: 11500 lbs
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeblack5 View Post
That is very nice.. . I have a small bus already but if I would do it again then that is the most practical way to go...I would like single rears and grandma 's attic....loading deck in the back for outside expansion and awning? Side door entrance??


You think you could bond the outer skin and inner plywood with pour in two component foam as they use in boats for floating compartments. If it bonds together it would get crazy strong.


Later J

I prefer the dually setup because of the built-in spare tire carriers. After replacing my sagged front springs with 2" lift over stock, the first long trip will be on LT235/85R16 BFG T/A KO2 (32" dia) tires. Planning to retrace most of your epic trip this winter.

Even with the current 225/75 donuts, the vehicle has impressive off road capabilities. Backed a 6000# trailer up a wet grass hill last week and had no traction problems - to my own surprise. This was one of these "It's not going to work but let's just see whether today is my lucky day" ideas.

I may not even need to spend $6k+ and a lot of time for the 4WD conversion if I put a locker in the rear and maybe a winch bumper on the front. The main reason for the 4WD front axle was being able to mount bigger, better tires and it looks that this will work with the original front axle.

RV side door with bug screen is already waiting for install.

The rear roll-up door will be replaced with a toy hauler gate that will double as my mini Biergarten. Found a cool Hacker-Pschorr patio umbrella but installing an awning on the solid frame of the rear end would be easy.

Also got a fiberglass cap/transition/air dam that will be installed over cab roof with cabinet doors on the inside front wall of the box to serve as storage closet (by not cutting out the cab roof).

I am afraid that the pour-in foam may bulge the skin out. Was planning to glue polyiso panels to aluminum skin and plywood with Sikaflex or similarly strong adhesive. (A stressed skin panel does not need much shear strength between core and skins especially if the ends are capped. The key function of the core is to keep the skins at the same distance as bending stiffness increases with the cube of skin distance).

Come to think about it, I could build a 'form' structure to prevent bulging while the foam hardens and add plenty of relief holes in a first plywood layer and then skin again with a solid piece. Let me see what that foam costs per cuft. (I discarded spray foam insulation because of cost and insane amount of cleanup work)
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Old 09-03-2019, 07:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeblack5 View Post
4 to 5 K steep.
There are here quit a bit of people with fiberglass shells. Can be very good but be sure that you know what construction it really is. If the core is corrugated and got wet then a lot of strength is gone.

May be a step van is better to convert?


Good luck,J
I have thought about box trucks but the lack of windows is a deal breaker, and adding RV windows bumps that price point up really quick.

Can you provide some links to other fiberglass builds on here? Idk what they are called, generally, so I don't know what ot search!

How would you tell what he construction is without taking the interior skin off?
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Old 09-03-2019, 07:48 PM   #7
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Asheville, NC
Posts: 276
Year: 1999
Coachwork: American Cargo 14'L x 7'8"W x 7'H Box
Chassis: Ford E350 Cutaway
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke
Rated Cap: 11500 lbs
Quote:
Originally Posted by tims5377 View Post
I have thought about box trucks but the lack of windows is a deal breaker, and adding RV windows bumps that price point up really quick.

Can you provide some links to other fiberglass builds on here? Idk what they are called, generally, so I don't know what ot search!

How would you tell what he construction is without taking the interior skin off?
Many skoolie owners remove the original, leaking windows, skin the sides with metal, cut holes, and insert a few RV windows. For that amount of money/effort you can buy a lot of high-end Arctic Tern windows at ~$400 a pop. More utilitarian double pane RV windows are sold on ebay as surplus from RV builders for very reasonable prices.

I'll put three windows in my box to maintain some stealth factor. Since my floor is at least 3' above the road, nobody will even come close to peeking in from the outside. There will be one small window in the bathroom (aft of the driver seat) and a bigger one on each side in the rear half of the box where the dinette/bed is located. Kitchen (aft of passenger seat) will get light from the roof vent and under-cabinet lighting. The side door (aft of kitchen counter) and open rear gate will let in plenty of natural light and air when the weather is suitable.

A cored fiberglass structure can be easily checked for integrity by tapping the skin with a small plastic hammer or screw driver handle. A good panel will have somewhat of a ring. Not as sharp as metal but crisper than wood. If that changes to a dull "thud" you have found an area where the core has de-bonded from the skin or disintegrated completely. This is very prevalent on boat decks due the fastener holes for deck hardware but rare on shuttle buses.

If you go the shuttle bus route, pick one where at least some of the windows can be opened. Big, closed windows are hell in the summer.
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