Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 10-01-2018, 01:24 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Location: Georgetown, TX
Posts: 19
Smile Hello / Looking for Bus Suggestions

Hi all,

New member here. I've been reading the forums for a couple weeks and looking at buses for the past month (and looked at vans for 1-2 years before that). Once I discovered skoolies, I knew the additional space and cheaper purchase price was better for me than a van!

I'm ready to purchase a bus and begin my conversion ASAP. Before I do, I wanted to get some suggestions from everyone here.

Here's what I'm looking for in a bus:

- $3-5k budget range
- Less than 200k miles
- 5-6 window short bus (I visited a bus dealer and looked at a few buses in person. The 4 window buses are too small for me and the 7+ windows are too big.)
- Conventional/dog-nose engine (based on my research, short skoolies seem to only come in this engine style anyways)
- Leaning towards diesel due to fuel efficiency, longer engine life, and like the 7.3L size for powering up dirt/mountain roads
- Ideally without a wheelchair lift
- Would like to avoid buses from the NE since they seem to have more rust issues
- Solo traveler with no kids/pets, although I may get a dog in the future
- Interior height is not an issue, I'm 5'3", although it'd be nice for tall friends to be comfortable if they join me on trips
- The bus will be my full-time home for at least a year. I love the outdoors, hiking, backpacking, etc. so I plan to live mostly off-grid, boondocking for a week or two at a time and slowly making my way across the US. There may be long highway driving days, but they'll be broken up by weeks of camping and exploring.
- I don't want to spend much time in cities, but it would be nice for the bus to fit into regular parking spaces when needed, and for it to easily navigate smaller rural roads
- I plan to insulate the bus well, install a wood stove, and test out 4-season living. I have at least one ski trip to Colorado planned for this winter.
- I'm looking to purchase a bus ASAP and move into in the next couple months. I'm already living the nomad, minimalist life and have my finances squared away, so moving/downsizing/saving up isn't a concern.


A few questions:
- Can you please advise if there are certain years/engines/transmissions I should avoid?
- Any models/years I should seek out? I've seen a lot of Ford E450s and various Chevy models
- Does diesel truly make a difference when it comes to powering a small bus up mountain roads or dirt Forest Service roads?
- Based on my research, the 7.3L seems to be a good size engine for powering up mountain roads. Would you agree?


I've been considering our unconventional lifestyle for a few years and cannot wait to jump in.

Thanks in advance for your help!
Chad1865 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-01-2018, 02:21 PM   #2
Bus Geek
 
EastCoastCB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 15,789
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
Consider a short bus with full size chassis. I have two and they're great.
__________________
.
Roll Your Own Build Thread
EastCoastCB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-01-2018, 03:34 PM   #3
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 3,320
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
Consider a short bus with full size chassis. I have two and they're great.
Much easier to work on than a cutaway.

As a bonus, they can be found with the DT466.
PNW_Steve is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-01-2018, 06:11 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Location: Georgetown, TX
Posts: 19
Thanks for the replies.

Steve - what makes the full-size chassis easier to work on than a cutaway? Just asking out of curiosity. I'm new to all of this and don't know much about cars/engines.

A couple people recommended the Ford/GM cutaways due to availability of parts and mechanics who are familiar with consumer trucks (rather than school bus engines).

EastCoastCB - what make/model are your buses? I'm not sure which short buses are on a full-size chassis. Still so much to learn!
Chad1865 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-01-2018, 06:41 PM   #5
Skoolie
 
Mountain Gnome's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Posts: 180
Year: 1999
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: TC1000 HandyBus
Engine: 5.9L 24V-L6 Cummings ISB
Rated Cap: 26 foot
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad1865 View Post
Thanks for the replies.

Steve - what makes the full-size chassis easier to work on than a cutaway? Just asking out of curiosity. I'm new to all of this and don't know much about cars/engines.

A couple people recommended the Ford/GM cutaways due to availability of parts and mechanics who are familiar with consumer trucks (rather than school bus engines).
I'm not Steve, but in Ford and GM vans, the motor is hard to access, as it sits under the dash. Don't know about newer Dodge vans, but older ones had really good access to all of the motor.

It's true you will find more mechanics and shops familiar with the Ford or GM vans. If you really want a more off-road friendly vehicle, the full-size chassis buses that EastCoastCB will have more clearance, bigger tires to crawl over rocks, and a tougher build.

The DT466 is common enough, methinks, that you shouldn't have problems finding parts.
Mountain Gnome is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-01-2018, 07:36 PM   #6
Bus Nut
 
Johnny Mullet's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Ashtabula, Ohio
Posts: 744
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International
Engine: T444E 7.3L
I prefer the full size shorter length bus too and have one myself with a 7.3L engine. I was thinking of a cutaway chassis, but I work on them since I am a full time truck mechanic and don't enjoy it. It's nice to have a hood that opens all the way forward for easy access to the engine compartment. I also like the extra ground clearance with the full size chassis.
__________________
Mullet's Thunder Bus Build
Johnny Mullet is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-01-2018, 09:51 PM   #7
Bus Geek
 
EastCoastCB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 15,789
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad1865 View Post
Thanks for the replies.

Steve - what makes the full-size chassis easier to work on than a cutaway? Just asking out of curiosity. I'm new to all of this and don't know much about cars/engines.

A couple people recommended the Ford/GM cutaways due to availability of parts and mechanics who are familiar with consumer trucks (rather than school bus engines).

EastCoastCB - what make/model are your buses? I'm not sure which short buses are on a full-size chassis. Still so much to learn!
One is a 99 Thomas on a Freightliner chassis. Its a 5 window with a Cat 3126 and allison 545 with 4.11 rear end.
The other is an 04 IC CE300 with DT466 and Allison 2000. Its a 6 window.
They're short enough that they're not hard to drive and not too bad to park.
__________________
.
Roll Your Own Build Thread
EastCoastCB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-10-2018, 04:20 PM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Location: Georgetown, TX
Posts: 19
Thanks so much for everyone's replies. This info is really helpful. It steered me towards the full-chassis buses and hopefully a DT466 engine!
Chad1865 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-10-2018, 06:51 PM   #9
Bus Nut
 
sportyrick's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: mid Mo.
Posts: 257
Year: 1976
Coachwork: bluebird
Chassis: F33695
Engine: 427 chevy
Rated Cap: 84
best engines out there are 5.9, 466, 7.3 and Duramax, avoid the V10 Ford
sportyrick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-10-2018, 07:13 PM   #10
Skoolie
 
Pizote's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Santa Rosa, CA
Posts: 146
Year: 2007
Coachwork: ICCORP
Chassis: CE300
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by sportyrick View Post
best engines out there are 5.9, 466, 7.3 and Duramax, avoid the V10 Ford
Anecdotally, I have a 2009 Ford V10 and never had a problem with it. It's on a 14,4000lb chassis and pulls my 5000lb jeep around all day.

I have heard problems with the older V10's but it seems that mine is pretty solid.
Pizote is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:45 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.