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Old 04-27-2019, 12:35 PM   #1
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Hello Folks.
I'd like some input on my idea to turn a bus into a tow vehicle. We are currently using a "2000" F-350 dually to tow a restored Army vehicle to parades and shows. Towing about 10K.

I would like to find a bus to convert into a tow/camper vehicle. The towing is most important with the camping being secondary. I'm thinking bus because of the door & step arrangement. We have Family members with disabilities. A bus makes more sense than a toterhome for my needs.

What I want to do is shorten the bus body to end right behind the rear axle. I do not want all the overhang I see on most busses. Again, my overnight needs are secondary to my towing needs.

Have any of you shortened a bus body??? Are there any busses around with a standard shift tranny anymore? I do not care if it's gas or diesel but I do not want a computer on the engine. Now, how bad have I limited my options?

All input is welcome. Trucker~Tim Thank you in advance.
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Old 04-27-2019, 12:42 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Trucker~Tim View Post
Hello Folks.
I'd like some input on my idea to turn a bus into a tow vehicle. We are currently using a "2000" F-350 dually to tow a restored Army vehicle to parades and shows. Towing about 10K.

I would like to find a bus to convert into a tow/camper vehicle. The towing is most important with the camping being secondary. I'm thinking bus because of the door & step arrangement. We have Family members with disabilities. A bus makes more sense than a toterhome for my needs.

What I want to do is shorten the bus body to end right behind the rear axle. I do not want all the overhang I see on most busses. Again, my overnight needs are secondary to my towing needs.

Have any of you shortened a bus body??? Are there any busses around with a standard shift tranny anymore? I do not care if it's gas or diesel but I do not want a computer on the engine. Now, how bad have I limited my options?

All input is welcome. Trucker~Tim Thank you in advance.
a standard transmission seems to be quite common on Canadian buses - not so much, I'm told, on buses in the US - "Kijiji" is one site to check out, especially the 3 western provinces
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Old 04-27-2019, 12:58 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Trucker~Tim View Post
Have any of you shortened a bus body??? Are there any busses around with a standard shift tranny anymore? I do not care if it's gas or diesel but I do not want a computer on the engine.

There are a few manual buses around. For non-computerized you'll have to go back a few years ... since *most* will be automatics, you might consider a trans swap. Find one with a dead AT545 for practically nothing and swap in a 5-speed (or whatever, really.)


The gassers towing a heavy load will struggle up any hill, and drink the gas while doing it. Skip the T444/7.3 engine (adequate for light buses, underpowered for a full size bus towing 10K) and look for DT466 or 8.3 Cummins. Cat engines aren't bad either. Really, any automatic other than the AT545 will do alright for towing (that said, I have a 5 speed in mine).
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Old 04-27-2019, 02:31 PM   #4
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I don't know why shortening a bus would be that difficult.If one was careful during the dismantle it seems to me the rearmost section could be removed as a section and reinstalled as a section once the main portion of the body was sectioned to your desired length.I have not seen it done but went out and looked at our BB and it looks doable. Gene
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Old 04-27-2019, 05:25 PM   #5
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There are a number of buses on this site that removed the back cap, removed sections of walls and roof and reattached the cap leaving an 8'-10' flat bed. Some have kept the roof on and had a covered porch. They are here, search and ye shall find.
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Old 04-28-2019, 06:05 AM   #6
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Thank You All!

Lots of intel to digest. Going to be a while and a lot of research but we will get there soon enough. Thank you all. I'll start digging thru the archives.
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Old 04-28-2019, 10:24 AM   #7
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I have a dt360 and a 5 speed and it really isn't enough gears to tow anything serious. If you can't pull a hill in 4th, the gap between 3 and 4tb is huge and will slow you down to a Max speed of 40mph.. at least in my 28' international. A bigger engine would help forsure, but I think,with 4 gears and two lockups, an Alison 643 would likelly perform the same or better and more like a 6speed with a variable 3 and 5th gear. A lot less to think about when navigating city streets too. Just my 2 based off my experience.
Love my 5speed but it sure ain't no road ranger.
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Old 04-28-2019, 11:47 AM   #8
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yes you can have what you want

A matter of time, mostly. Many buses I have looked at, up close and personal, you can detach the rear end cap, remove a section of body, then reattach the end cap. Most older buses, seem to have been built in 2ft panel sections. some of the newer ones seem to have panels, with 4ft sections. My 1954 wayne school bus was available to be shipped in flat panels and pieces to be assembled later, like be shipped to Australia then assembled. I have seen bodies shortened and frame left longer, and frame and body shortened. Shortened buses with bumper hitches, and or fifth wheel etc. There are few manual transmission built since the early nineties. Manual transmission seems to have gone the way of passenger cars. They are out there. I dont see a good reason why a non computer engined bus cant be converted to manual trans mission. I see used transmission parts for medium duty trucks for around $1500-$2000 that are complete you might call a conversion kit, have pedals and such to go with them too. buses for sale from up to the mid 1980's have a reasonable probability of being non computer and manual transmission.

william,
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Old 04-28-2019, 12:19 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by magnakansas View Post
A matter of time, mostly. Many buses I have looked at, up close and personal, you can detach the rear end cap, remove a section of body, then reattach the end cap. Most older buses, seem to have been built in 2ft panel sections. some of the newer ones seem to have panels, with 4ft sections. My 1954 wayne school bus was available to be shipped in flat panels and pieces to be assembled later, like be shipped to Australia then assembled. I have seen bodies shortened and frame left longer, and frame and body shortened. Shortened buses with bumper hitches, and or fifth wheel etc. There are few manual transmission built since the early nineties. Manual transmission seems to have gone the way of passenger cars. They are out there. I dont see a good reason why a non computer engined bus cant be converted to manual trans mission. I see used transmission parts for medium duty trucks for around $1500-$2000 that are complete you might call a conversion kit, have pedals and such to go with them too. buses for sale from up to the mid 1980's have a reasonable probability of being non computer and manual transmission.

william,
there are quite a few school buses for sale in Canada equipped with manual transmissions - especially in the western provinces
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Old 04-29-2019, 10:52 AM   #10
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Thanks Again Crew!
I think now my focus will be on finding the bus I want with the motor and gearbox I want. The nice part on this deal, I'm not in a big hurry. I'll let "that right bus" find me so to speak. Kool!
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