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Old 04-10-2019, 05:42 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: syracuse ny
Posts: 26
bus conversion vs box truck build, thoughts?

hey yall

ive been sold on building a bus for more than a year now, love the idea of a skoolie conversion. im having a hell of a time getting anyone to actually sell me a bus! Its been like pulling teeth to get anyone to show a bus much less accept cash and let it go, thats after finding someone that will take the 30sec it takes to snap a pic of the vin plate or doesnt think their 250k mile rotted bus is worth $10k lol Blows my mind.... but anyway!

i have 2 identical vehicles and i want to see what yall would pick or how you would build them.

both are 2003 international with the dt466 allison 2000 about 150k on the odo limited rust for ny, one is a 35ft traditional dog nose bus one is a 4 door 20ft box truck both right at $4200 either would need to be regeared for optimal highway speed/mileage

WHAT WOULD YOU PICK TO BUILD AND WHY?!

a few notes to consider

- i would not keep the box on the truck, would frame the living quarters from scratch

- i have a very custom building style, this would include adding a deck on the rear for hauling 2+ motorcycles. roof deck/ integrated roof top tent as well as some sort of open concept french door or fold down wall on one side.

-shower kitchen bathroom etc pretty much a must

-cab pass through is a big piece

- the pro to the bus would be, being able to use it untill i build it or while im building it.

-the con is the truck is technically under cdl while the bus would need to be converted to camper papers

- semi limited budget and timeline to build.

-looking to sleep 4 comfortably and separately
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Old 04-10-2019, 05:51 PM   #2
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Dawsonville, Ga.
Posts: 5,724
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Genesis
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466/3060
Rated Cap: 77
I would not go near a bus in NY, period. If your not willing to travel for a better bus you will possibly regret it in the end.
Lay out the dimensions of your floor plan on a scale taped square space on the floor. Personally I don't want to be able to reach my bathroom, kitchen, living area, etc. from my bed. I'm having trouble having enough room in a 37'er, no way I could do one in a box truck without feeling like i'm living in a closet.
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Old 04-10-2019, 05:59 PM   #3
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Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 256
Year: 2003
Coachwork: International
Chassis: CE 300
Engine: DT466
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willsmusicbus View Post
hey yall

ive been sold on building a bus for more than a year now, love the idea of a skoolie conversion. im having a hell of a time getting anyone to actually sell me a bus! Its been like pulling teeth to get anyone to show a bus much less accept cash and let it go, thats after finding someone that will take the 30sec it takes to snap a pic of the vin plate or doesnt think their 250k mile rotted bus is worth $10k lol Blows my mind.... but anyway!

i have 2 identical vehicles and i want to see what yall would pick or how you would build them.

both are 2003 international with the dt466 allison 2000 about 150k on the odo limited rust for ny, one is a 35ft traditional dog nose bus one is a 4 door 20ft box truck both right at $4200 either would need to be regeared for optimal highway speed/mileage

WHAT WOULD YOU PICK TO BUILD AND WHY?!

a few notes to consider

- i would not keep the box on the truck, would frame the living quarters from scratch

- i have a very custom building style, this would include adding a deck on the rear for hauling 2+ motorcycles. roof deck/ integrated roof top tent as well as some sort of open concept french door or fold down wall on one side.

-shower kitchen bathroom etc pretty much a must

-cab pass through is a big piece

- the pro to the bus would be, being able to use it untill i build it or while im building it.

-the con is the truck is technically under cdl while the bus would need to be converted to camper papers

- semi limited budget and timeline to build.

-looking to sleep 4 comfortably and separately
The bus is exactly like my bus, down to year, engine, transmission, mileage and being from NY. "Limited rust" is probably not remotely accurate - most likely it has serious corrosion around the wheel wells and the back door. Have you seen the bus in person? If you've only seen photos, a telltale would be a lack of pics of the underside of the bus or of the back.

Given what you want to do, you might be better off with the truck. You can register the truck in Vermont as a Motor Home, too, getting you out of the CDL requirement.
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Old 04-10-2019, 06:07 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: syracuse ny
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Quote:
Originally Posted by musigenesis View Post
The bus is exactly like my bus, down to year, engine, transmission, mileage and being from NY. "Limited rust" is probably not remotely accurate - most likely it has serious corrosion around the wheel wells and the back door. Have you seen the bus in person? If you've only seen photos, a telltale would be a lack of pics of the underside of the bus or of the back.

Given what you want to do, you might be better off with the truck. You can register the truck in Vermont as a Motor Home, too, getting you out of the CDL requirement.
just to clarify ive seen both, rust is about equal but not bad. anything close to ny is gonna need some fixing. the truck is the one thats good to go its the bus that is not yet clear of the cdl
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Old 04-10-2019, 09:02 PM   #5
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Posts: 97
I built my U-RV out of a 94 F-700 Cab &Chassis and a 88 24 ft Uhaul box.
THe Chassis is a 10K Front 23K rear weight GVW and came with air brakes.
It was a 186 wheelbase Factory and is now about 194 wheel base.
Pro of this one
is that in 88 U-Haul boxes were all aluminum. 3000 pound box.
Plenty of brake POWER (finished weight of 16K, HALF of GVWR)
insurance was easier because "IT wasn't a Former school bus"
Con
Terrible ride on rear because of (4000 pound spring rate PER INCH) steel springs
(I fixed this with Air liner rear suspension swap)

My Queen size bed is of course over the cab, and the last 7 foot is the bathroom. (I did install a 48 inch shower stall. )
__________________________________________________ _________

The only buses I'd consider are 15-20 years old.
I'd avoid like the plague:
ALL C-2 Freightliners. (too many computers, Modules, other failure points)
Any bus with a Mercedes-Benz Diesel Engine. (Look up EOS code)
any bus WITHOUT a air-ride rear axle
ANY Bus with 22.5 wheels and hyd brakes. (Air brakes work 10 times better AND they are far cheaper for parts)
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Old 04-10-2019, 09:24 PM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: syracuse ny
Posts: 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mekanic View Post
I built my U-RV out of a 94 F-700 Cab &Chassis and a 88 24 ft Uhaul box.
THe Chassis is a 10K Front 23K rear weight GVW and came with air brakes.
It was a 186 wheelbase Factory and is now about 194 wheel base.
Pro of this one
is that in 88 U-Haul boxes were all aluminum. 3000 pound box.
Plenty of brake POWER (finished weight of 16K, HALF of GVWR)
insurance was easier because "IT wasn't a Former school bus"
Con
Terrible ride on rear because of (4000 pound spring rate PER INCH) steel springs
(I fixed this with Air liner rear suspension swap)

My Queen size bed is of course over the cab, and the last 7 foot is the bathroom. (I did install a 48 inch shower stall. )
__________________________________________________ _________

The only buses I'd consider are 15-20 years old.
I'd avoid like the plague:
ALL C-2 Freightliners. (too many computers, Modules, other failure points)
Any bus with a Mercedes-Benz Diesel Engine. (Look up EOS code)
any bus WITHOUT a air-ride rear axle
ANY Bus with 22.5 wheels and hyd brakes. (Air brakes work 10 times better AND they are far cheaper for parts)

completley agree there.... its amazing how quick you can narrow down such a wide field.
i set my selection to 2003 and older aiming on the older side... id never touch an 04 or newer
cat 3126 dt466 or 8.3 cummins is what your left with for engines
air brakes are a must either way


thats an excellent note on the rear susp there, Thanks!
i will have to look into what the truck is running.
air ride is huge when it comes to roads these days, maybe again its just an ny thing but we got potholes on the highway that would eat a small car
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Old 04-10-2019, 09:31 PM   #7
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Location: syracuse ny
Posts: 26
theres good and bad here in ny. anything from the north country looks like it got shot up by the 10 year mark, anything from a cny city gets the salt real bad too. the few ive found were all southern ny or brought in from out of state by someone looking to also convert. no more rust than most other states. of course something out of arizona or cali cant be beat but i also cant afford the extra grand or 2 it would take to get out there and get it back...although it would be a fun trip
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Old 04-10-2019, 09:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willsmusicbus View Post
completley agree there.... its amazing how quick you can narrow down such a wide field.
i set my selection to 2003 and older aiming on the older side... id never touch an 04 or newer
cat 3126 dt466 or 8.3 cummins is what your left with for engines
air brakes are a must either way


thats an excellent note on the rear susp there, Thanks!
i will have to look into what the truck is running.
air ride is huge when it comes to roads these days, maybe again its just an ny thing but we got potholes on the highway that would eat a small car
My air side swap was the best thing i ever did to this vehicle. I took the complete Rear axle and all and swapped it in the Ford. It was the Rear axle from a 92 FLT-120 tractor. 20K rated Bags. My rear axle weight is roughly half that. So the air pressure in the bag is about Half as much as usual.
It is amazing how good this thing rides.
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Old 04-10-2019, 10:26 PM   #9
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Year: 2006
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Chassis: Chevrolet Express 3500
Engine: Duramax
Quote:
Originally Posted by willsmusicbus View Post
of course something out of arizona or cali cant be beat but i also cant afford the extra grand or 2 it would take to get out there and get it back...although it would be a fun trip
What would you honestly expect full rust repairs to cost? $2k may be a bargain on a vehicle that size. Starting with a better condition vehicle makes a world of difference with everything you do.
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Old 04-10-2019, 10:52 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: syracuse ny
Posts: 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by dazdconfsd View Post
What would you honestly expect full rust repairs to cost? $2k may be a bargain on a vehicle that size. Starting with a better condition vehicle makes a world of difference with everything you do.
from what ive seen and what i plan to cut out anyway id say max $500 but more realistically $100 in sheet metal and your time to weld that in. like any other bus were talking about a quarter to a baseball size hole not even on the exterior of the rear wheel well but the floor side if the rust is awful

i have a guy that does my sand blasting for me so i already plan on a full undercarriage blast and a nice enamel or heavy paint like steel it... i could see 100-200$ difference in blast cost there between a bus thats real rusty vs something perfect
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