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Old 06-18-2010, 08:14 AM   #1
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looking to buy ford or GMC short bus?

Hi,
I'm new to the board. I am planning a road trip across north america and was thinking that a short bus would be the perfect road trip vehicle. I've been scouring short bus ads in the area and have come up with a couple options and I would really appreciate it if I could get your opinions. MMK, so the two short buses that stand out are a 1998 e350 single wheel, 7.3 diesel with ford's 4 speed OD, about 215k km= 130ish miles. The other is a 1998 GMC 6.5 diesel, dual rear wheel currently in service. the chassis has about 265k km= 160ish miles and a newer motor with about 45k miles. I'm not sure which way i want to go as the gmc is selling for half the price of the ford, but i've heard very good things about the 7.3 powerstroke. Hopefully some of you guys can steer me in the right direction and alert me to some of the more common problems with each and not make this into a ford vs gm thread as so often happens in other car forums

You help and advise is much appreciated.
Fletcher
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Old 06-18-2010, 11:25 AM   #2
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Re: looking to buy ford or GMC short bus?

Well, considering I own four of the 6.2L Detroits (the generation before the 6.5L) AND a 6.6L Ford (same deal as the four Detroits) I'm happy with both. The GM engine is really intended for full-sixed pick-ups and their derivatives. The Ford is intended for the midsized commercial trucks. As you mentioned, the 6.5L is new to the bus. There are reasons for this. One I found with the military Humvee was people tend to over-rev the engine beyond its engineering. It's easy to do if you're not paying attention. The Ford is an engine that is not as easy to over-rev. Parts on the Ford are larger, thus stronger, thus more expensive to replace. However, with proper maintenance and care either engine should last quite some time. Also consider where you will be driving. Will you be in the mountains where you will need extra torque, or on the plains where that's not a big issue? If you're looking to tackle some mountains, the Ford will hold up better due to a larger, stronger torque curve and handle the stress much better. For my money I was glad to get the 6.6L Ford. I was planning on towing our 32' travel trailer with our M1031 equipped with the 6.2L Detroit. However, after using the truck to move the trailer to the farm (30 minutes from here) I quickly determined the engine would, at best, struggle at 45mph in the hills and 25-30 mph in the mountains (perhaps slower). When you figure the extra storage space we needed on the farm was going to cost nearly $2K for a delivered 20' container, the bus was a no-brainer. I found the chassis I was after to handle the different needs and I'm very happy with the results. The engines have different designs and different intentions. My CUCVs are built for fuel economy, thus a relatively flat torque curve in comparison to the Ford. But the Ford is built to move weight and not worry so much about fuel consumption. I hope this helps.

Your milage may differ.....
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Old 06-18-2010, 05:59 PM   #3
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Re: looking to buy ford or GMC short bus?

Thank you for the very informative response. Am i correct in gathering from your post that the gmc may be a bit better on gas? If so, that would make a big impact on my decision in addition to the price. My route will consists of Toronto to Knoxville to San Antonio with 3 people in a short bus and gain a 4th person in San Antonio and a 5th in Vegas. then in Los angeles we will be adding another 3 people who will stay with us until Seattle at which 2-3 will leave and we would drive back to Toronto with 4 people. I would not consider the load to be very heavy by any means. The current owner of the gmc says the short bus does 13-15 mpg on school runs how does this compare to what the ford guys are getting in their short buses?
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Old 06-18-2010, 06:28 PM   #4
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Re: looking to buy ford or GMC short bus?

Well, again it depends upon your driving habits. The 6.5 may get better milage at slower speeds. However, when you hit the mountains forget it. My 6.2s are that way as well as the Humvees. A rule of thumb from my trucking days was the bigger teh engine the less you stepped into the throttle. You had extra power when you needed it. However, most people drive with as much power as they have available. I drove my 6.6 from San Antonio and got almost 12 mpg. The bus weighs about 3 tons empty. I suspect the GM would do about the same. However, I stayed out of the throttle and let the 6.6 drive to 50 mph. Most people would push the engine to the limit and go 60 mph. Doing that I suspect the mpg would drop to 4-6ish. My personal preferance is to have extra power and use it when I need it. So looking back I tend to favor the Ford because it has extra power that may be needed for various reasons. But it's your decision in the end.

BTW, when you come down stop by and I'll be happy to show you Big Max..... We're just west of Houston.
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Old 06-19-2010, 01:27 PM   #5
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Re: looking to buy ford or GMC short bus?

Yeah I agree. The big engines cam actually save you some fuel if they are driven properly.
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Old 06-19-2010, 05:44 PM   #6
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Re: looking to buy ford or GMC short bus?

The IH 7.3 coupled to the GM 4L80E.
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Old 06-20-2010, 12:02 AM   #7
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Re: looking to buy ford or GMC short bus?

I have an '88 crewcab (old body style) Chevy from the US Forest Service I got with 46,000 miles on it. I put a Banks turbo on it and a Gear Vendors. I've been set up like this since 2002 I believe. I pull a lot. I pulled 10,000 miles one year when I was pulling my Bronco to various offroad events. I commonly pull a combination of any two of a Deere MC crawler, a Bobcat 371 and a small backhoe on a steel deck trailer. I change the oil every 2,500 miles (per the book) and my truck sees 12psi of boost and I downshift when it approaches 1,000F at the turbine inlet. This is a great engine to install in anything as long as you maintain it. It may be half the weight the the DTA360 in my bus, but it has much more power with a turbo, parts are basically free and even though everyone has been waiting years to prove me wrong--it is reliable even under heavy use. These 6.2/6.5 GM diesels were installed in vehicles up to 14,000# GVWR. I would put one in my schoolbus if the DTA360 failed. I have 2 extra ones and an extra turbo kit.
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Old 06-20-2010, 02:44 AM   #8
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Re: looking to buy ford or GMC short bus?

Do you have a Turbo 400 or an SM465 behind it? An SM465 with a Ranger OD handing off the front and a Gear Vendors off the back might be cool.
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