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Old 05-07-2018, 11:26 PM   #1
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One of Those General Questions You All Hate

I'm reading how you guys don't like it when us noobs ask generic questions, but there's really no way NOT to when the seasoned folks put out their wildly differing opinions and confuse the bejesus out of newcomers like me. I read the thread about getting edumacated and I've tried to do that, but unfortunately, I don't have forever to decide. I have to pull the trigger on a short bus within the next month, for reasons I don't feel like going into (and would likely get slammed for anyway, so let's just leave it alone). Anyway, suffice it to say, I'm buying a bus soon.

Having read quite a bit before even finding this site, I THOUGHT the best option for me was a Ford E350 or 450 7.3L Diesel. I found many people singing its praises. Then I talked to a bus dealer who told me they were **** and it was going to explode on me while I drove it cross country (yes, I have to drive it cross country, don't ask). I found a number of people who had done pretty much exactly what I'm planning to do, even driving 75 mph (which I don't plan on) and had no issues, but the guy spooked me. Over here, I've since run across threads that agree with him, dissing the same vehicle others are praising, so I started looking at other short buses. I found a Chevy P-30 I really like the looks of. 105,000 miles, I haven't driven it yet but the seller claims it's got no issues. I guess I'll see soon how true that is, though I'm no expert and have no expert to bring with me to check it out (unless one of you guys who happens to be in Southern California wants to volunteer?!). Same guy also has an E350 with over 200,000 miles and I am going to check them both out (the 350 is cheaper by about a thousand bucks. Don't know about the tires on either). But now of course I am utterly confused about which one is more desirable for someone like me.

I know, I know: how can you really tell me anything without more specifics? Well, I don't have specifics yet, and I won't be deciding for sure until I drive/see both, but is there any way some of you with experience with both vehicles (or other short buses) could weigh in and give me a nudge which way you'd lean? I think the facts about me might be pretty relevant:

1) I am planning, once I reach my destination, to live in this full time more or less stationary, without doing a ton of driving. Other than driving it to its new home, I don't have big plans for touring the country.

2) I am not a mechanic, nor do I pretend to be one. I'm female and though there are plenty of women who know their way around an engine it's just not something I was ever encouraged to learn. I'm a pretty smart cookie but I bring no training, even the most amateur kind, to it, though I can change my own oil or a tire if push comes to shove.

3) I'd prefer the slight amount of extra space the P30 would give me, but I'm not into driving anything bigger.

4) No, I don't want an RV, which many people have tried to convince me would be easier. I'm not interested in being talked out of a skoolie. It has the "blank canvas" I need for the type of work I do.

Any thoughts?
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Old 05-07-2018, 11:52 PM   #2
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It is hard to get through some of the threads on engines - You will always have people voice their preference (some very strongly) but there is no one "best configuration" - it's all opinion. Even a mechanic will have his/her preference. Some people are die-hard fans for an engine they don't even have - or don't really drive.

If you aren't planning to drive a lot - then just be sure to find the bus that best fits your needs.
Isn't the P-30 a box truck?

Note: Any bus you buy will run the risk of not making it to a destination - no matter what engine configuration or year / mileages / hours. I would personally recommend trying to get a service history from it - in hopes that it was regularly maintained. I was able to test drive my bus before buying it - that made me feel little better. You can google the vin number and get some information on it.

I have the 7.3L V8 Turbo 210HP (T444E) engine with an Allison 2000 transmission - and that seems to have been a good match and fit for me - though there were 4 identical buses on the lot (I bought from a used bus dealer and paid $4500) two of the buses drove away with minimal issues (mine and another) and 1 had some slightly more costly repairs - the last one is still sitting there - and being parted out. My point is each bus came from the same district - used about the same amount of time / similar mileage and hours on the engines - but all were very different.

I have put on over 12K miles on my bus this year and live in it full time.

Good luck with your search!

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Old 05-07-2018, 11:58 PM   #3
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Hi, welcome. Just go test drive them both and look them over good as to what will best suit your purpose. Have you driven a diesel before? Should be smooth and responsive, you'll know if it's good then.
Is the P30 gas or diesel? I have one with a 454 in it. Cruises nice for a 31 footer but at a high fuel cost nowdays. It'll run all day and night if you ask it to, so I'm happy with that aspect.
Anyway, dicker with them and see what happens. Then let us know what up.
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Old 05-08-2018, 01:04 AM   #4
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can you post the links of the items? 7.3 is fine. not sure why a seller would talk you out of one. good luck
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Old 05-08-2018, 06:59 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Rovobay View Post
can you post the links of the items? 7.3 is fine. not sure why a seller would talk you out of one. good luck
Seller probably has a lot full of 6.0's lol.
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Old 05-08-2018, 08:57 AM   #6
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Howdy & Welcome Firebuild,

Totally understand your situation. I only have a couple useful comments.

One is to be weary of what a dealer says - they have a financial involvement in your decision. There are certainly some good ones out there... and... some no so good.

Two is to be aware of the P-30 parking brake issues. This may be specific to the Chevy version, I'm not sure about that. Basically, the transmission does not have the ability to "lock" when in park (to prevent the vehicle from rolling without use of the emergency brake). To solve this, an additional "brake" is attached to the driveshaft that automatically "locks" when in park (basically). Problems with this system are reported very commonly on the RV forums. The negative is that it fails in a locked position so you cannot move the vehicle. There are solutions/replacements but they all look like work to me - or did. I haven't followed since I sold mine (several years ago). This is not an 'avoid at all costs' issue - just something to be aware of.
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Old 05-08-2018, 10:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dog Rescuer View Post
Isn't the P-30 a box truck?
It's actually a step van chassis. Here's a wikipedia article I found on the bus type I'm looking at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Bird_Mini_Bird

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackJohn View Post
Just go test drive them both and look them over good as to what will best suit your purpose. Have you driven a diesel before? Should be smooth and responsive, you'll know if it's good then.
That's pretty much my plan, to drive both and see if either drives right and feels right. I haven't driven a diesel, but I'm hoping I can tell what I need to know this way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rovobay View Post
can you post the links of the items? 7.3 is fine.
not sure why a seller would talk you out of one. good luck
Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
Seller probably has a lot full of 6.0's lol.
I'll post a link as soon as I get back to home base; I'm on the road right now.

Actually, the dealer who tried to talk me out of the 7.3 was definitely not trying to upsell me or downhill me or sell me at all! He works for a major used bus dealership, and actually told me he couldn't in good conscience sell it to me if I was planning to drive cross country in it. He said they were designed for short drives around neighborhoods at 35 mph. It seemed like a really odd statement from someone whose job it is to sell buses. He told me I should forget the whole thing and just get an RV.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JDOnTheGo View Post
Two is to be aware of the P-30 parking brake issues.
Wow, thank you. That's the kind of thing I need to know that might not be the decision maker but is definitely info to be aware of. I've never heard about that, but now I'll be on the lookout.

Thanks, everyone, for the response! I appreciate the support and will update you soon.
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Old 05-09-2018, 06:36 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by firebuild View Post
It's actually a step van chassis. Here's a wikipedia article I found on the bus type I'm looking at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Bird_Mini_Bird



That's pretty much my plan, to drive both and see if either drives right and feels right. I haven't driven a diesel, but I'm hoping I can tell what I need to know this way.





I'll post a link as soon as I get back to home base; I'm on the road right now.

Actually, the dealer who tried to talk me out of the 7.3 was definitely not trying to upsell me or downhill me or sell me at all! He works for a major used bus dealership, and actually told me he couldn't in good conscience sell it to me if I was planning to drive cross country in it. He said they were designed for short drives around neighborhoods at 35 mph. It seemed like a really odd statement from someone whose job it is to sell buses. He told me I should forget the whole thing and just get an RV.



Wow, thank you. That's the kind of thing I need to know that might not be the decision maker but is definitely info to be aware of. I've never heard about that, but now I'll be on the lookout.

Thanks, everyone, for the response! I appreciate the support and will update you soon.
YOu won't find a better diesel engine than the 7.3 in a van chassis.
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Old 05-09-2018, 09:12 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by firebuild View Post
I'm reading how you guys don't like it when us noobs ask generic questions, but there's really no way NOT to when the seasoned folks put out their wildly differing opinions and confuse the bejesus out of newcomers like me. I read the thread about getting edumacated and I've tried to do that, but unfortunately, I don't have forever to decide. I have to pull the trigger on a short bus within the next month, for reasons I don't feel like going into (and would likely get slammed for anyway, so let's just leave it alone). Anyway, suffice it to say, I'm buying a bus soon.

Having read quite a bit before even finding this site, I THOUGHT the best option for me was a Ford E350 or 450 7.3L Diesel. I found many people singing its praises. Then I talked to a bus dealer who told me they were **** and it was going to explode on me while I drove it cross country (yes, I have to drive it cross country, don't ask). I found a number of people who had done pretty much exactly what I'm planning to do, even driving 75 mph (which I don't plan on) and had no issues, but the guy spooked me. Over here, I've since run across threads that agree with him, dissing the same vehicle others are praising, so I started looking at other short buses. I found a Chevy P-30 I really like the looks of. 105,000 miles, I haven't driven it yet but the seller claims it's got no issues. I guess I'll see soon how true that is, though I'm no expert and have no expert to bring with me to check it out (unless one of you guys who happens to be in Southern California wants to volunteer?!). Same guy also has an E350 with over 200,000 miles and I am going to check them both out (the 350 is cheaper by about a thousand bucks. Don't know about the tires on either). But now of course I am utterly confused about which one is more desirable for someone like me.

I know, I know: how can you really tell me anything without more specifics? Well, I don't have specifics yet, and I won't be deciding for sure until I drive/see both, but is there any way some of you with experience with both vehicles (or other short buses) could weigh in and give me a nudge which way you'd lean? I think the facts about me might be pretty relevant:

1) I am planning, once I reach my destination, to live in this full time more or less stationary, without doing a ton of driving. Other than driving it to its new home, I don't have big plans for touring the country.

2) I am not a mechanic, nor do I pretend to be one. I'm female and though there are plenty of women who know their way around an engine it's just not something I was ever encouraged to learn. I'm a pretty smart cookie but I bring no training, even the most amateur kind, to it, though I can change my own oil or a tire if push comes to shove.

3) I'd prefer the slight amount of extra space the P30 would give me, but I'm not into driving anything bigger.

4) No, I don't want an RV, which many people have tried to convince me would be easier. I'm not interested in being talked out of a skoolie. It has the "blank canvas" I need for the type of work I do.

Any thoughts?
Where did you come up with this?

I'm reading how you guys don't like it when us noobs ask generic questions.

READ READ READ and keep reading until you know about engines and transmissions etc.
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Old 05-13-2018, 04:13 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Versatile View Post
Where did you come up with this?
In one of the previous threads in this very forum!

Anyway, the deed is now done! The guy with the two buses seemed to get shadier by the minute, with little, "Oh yeah, I forgot to mention..." things coming up, and then he stopped returning my calls so I'm guessing he sold them. But... I came across another pretty quickly, checked it out today. Say hello to Buster.

He's a 1991 Lewis 20-seater (that's 20 little ones, not grown ups)Ford E350 7.3L diesel with 120,000 miles. I found him on Facebook and bought him from a child care facility, who bought him from a local school system. I drove him for about 3 hours tonight, on freeways and side roads, up big steep hills and on fast open lanes and in bumper to bumper traffic, and Buster did great everywhere!

OK, I know the name is corny. But he's cute, isn't he? Smaller than I was thinking I'd end up with, but I think that may turn out to be a good thing in some ways. I just have to rethink my floor plan a little...
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Old 05-13-2018, 02:57 PM   #11
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Congrats on the bus. You got a nice one there.
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Old 05-13-2018, 11:49 PM   #12
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Looks like a good start. Made it run paces and it wasn't spitting oil or coolant that's a good thing.
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Old 05-13-2018, 11:55 PM   #13
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nice score. congrats. now the fun begins!
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Old 05-14-2018, 01:29 AM   #14
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Hi, Firebuild, and welcome aboard!

The Ford 7.3 (liters) engine is actually an International 444 (cubic inches). (International Harvester, Navistar, other names.) Ford simply bought those engines from International instead of making their own. And this is a very good engine.
And 120,000 miles is barely broken in.

(My brother had a Ford with this engine, pulling a big camping trailer, and he criss-crossed the country several times. I was with him on a drive from Houston, TX, to Northern California, going around 75 mph much of the time, and... oh, yeah... that thing hardly noticed any hill.)

After some years of using that engine, Ford tried to save money by using a new engine of 6.0 Liters, and the 6.0 had major problems with blown head-gaskets. So this may be the source of negative comments regarding Ford diesels.
It is an ingrained human trait to remember bad news far better than good news (negativity bias).

Congrats on Buster! A perfect name.
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Old 05-14-2018, 10:33 AM   #15
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Blessing in disguise,

looks like you got a nice lil rig there, looking forward to what it becomes
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Old 05-19-2018, 08:22 PM   #16
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Short bus

If you are going to put money into it and keep it for a long time, spend twice as much on the bare bus as you are planning on so that you donít have to worry about it for a long time. Then you are less likely to have surprises that cost up to thousands at a time.
Diesel always wins, but the 454 are easy to find with 40k on them for $350. Good luck!
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Old 05-20-2018, 02:19 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by firebuild View Post

It seemed like a really odd statement from someone whose job it is to sell buses. He told me I should forget the whole thing and just get an RV.

That sounds a lot to me like a polite way of saying that you're not the type of client the dealer feels like working with. I'd think that in most cases, a sale would be a sale, no matter to whom, some people are just picky.

Sounds like you found a pretty good alternative, so glad it worked out!
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Old 05-20-2018, 09:27 AM   #18
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The 7.3L engine is an amazing engine, itís the 6.0L engines from similar year fords that you want to stay away from like the plague. Personally I have a 2008 Chevy 3500 Mini Bus with the 4.8L gasoline engine. So far I love this platform I get about 15-16 miles to the gallon. I havenít had any problems getting over mountain passes, Iíve been full time for 6 months now and have been across the country once. The 7.3s are really stellar engines I had actually been looking a a Bus with a 7.3 before I bought my current Bus but for me the cheaper maintenance costs and better fuel economy have been worth the 4.8l (or 5.3l for that matter). If your not towing or spending a lot of time in the mountains during the winter you can get away with a gasoline engine. But another great Diesel engine is the Chevy Duramax
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Old 05-20-2018, 09:33 AM   #19
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My apologies! I didn’t see your latest post, Bus looks great!
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