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Mulelover 11-28-2009 05:30 PM

Towing a horse trailer
Hi everyone,

I'm new to the site and have really enjoyed your posts.

My questions are, on a very limited budget,

What would be a good bus to convert to live in fulltime,

Which engine could pull a two horse trailer, about 4500 lbs fairly easily.

I would like to get at least 8mpg on the highway,



Mulelover 12-01-2009 02:14 PM

Re: Towing a horse trailer
C'mom guys. With all the experience on this board someone must have an idea of what bus would work best.

Any feedback would really be appreciated.

paul iossi 12-01-2009 04:35 PM

Re: Towing a horse trailer
start off with what are your space needs? how many people living aboard full time?

just about any front engine bus on a truck chassis will pull a horse trailer with no problem, do some research on engines, it's mostly a preference thing.

look at the photo section and use the search function to try and narrow down your needs and desires and also to look at different ideas & layouts

Mulelover 12-01-2009 11:19 PM

Re: Towing a horse trailer
Thanks for the replys. It will be for just one person fulltime, with some friends staying at times. I have looked at maybe doing a 16 ft moving truck, but think the bus may give me more pulling power. I'm not sure a chevy 350 would be able to pull a trailer and be fully loaded. That seems to be the most common engine of trucks I have looked at. As I am probably looking at a bus that is going to be about 12-15 years old, I just wanted to make sure I wasn't going to be underpowered.
I have been playing around with different floor layouts. I love the fact I can lay it out however I pretty much want.

Thanks for the glue suggestion Mightybus, but think I'll just hang onto my mule for a while :D I will look at the bluebird handybus with cummings 5.9 if they were available that far back.

paul iossi 12-02-2009 11:03 AM

Re: Towing a horse trailer
personally my choice would be any dognose bus with a mechanically injected 6cyl diesel, manual transmission and air brakes, the first compromise would be a mt643 auto trans, 2nd would be a front engine flatfront, engine choices start with the cummins 8.3, navistar dt466, and then either the cummins b5.9 12valve or the navistar dt360.

the chassis are pretty generic so no preference their, the thomas bodies taper above the window line so they are not the easiest to do a roof raise on.

the mods that i like are the roof raise, see abbot's and elliot naess's conversions, bad puppies rear end shortening, and moving the door back, sportyrick and several others.

smitty has done a real nice job of preplanning and getting his roof up, it probably doesn't hurt that he is a tin knocker by trade and has spent considerable time researching and planning.

Mulelover 12-02-2009 11:42 AM

Re: Towing a horse trailer
Paul thanks for the tips.

I did look at other conversions, man they are incredible. I think it is steve's conversion that has really got me excited about doing my own bus. The log cabin! WOW!

NewSkewlHauler 01-06-2010 08:12 PM

Re: Towing a horse trailer
Hey Jackie,

I don't know how I missed your posts back in December, but anyway...

I would probably stay away from the "bread truck" P-30 Chevy chassis. I just don't like them that well...I had a bad experience with one. I'm sure there are others that love them. They did come with a wide variety of motors from the 8.2L Detroit, 6.2L GM diesel, to the 350 carb & EFI models. I don't know if they ever had 6.5L turbos in them.

I think that for one person towing a bumper hitch horse trailer the aforementioned BlueBird HandiBus or another 6-8 window type bus would be good. For me, a conventional style bus was a must. I like having the front wheels in front of me instead of a flatnose with the wheels under me! But that's my preference.

I had really good luck with a 7.3L IDI non turbo in an F-250 pick up pulling a three horse, slant load gooseneck. It's a fairly easy motor to work on and get parts and service. The 7.3L Powerstrokes seem to be either really good or really bad. In the school buses, they are T444 (sometimes T444E). The 5.9 Cummins diesels are solid as can be. Most of my horsey friends swear by them in their pickups. For one of these "smaller" motors, I'd prefer a turbo. I think that my 8.2 Detroit will be enough without a turbo...although it would be sweet. 8) I guess in a few months when the weather gets better and I get around to chopping mine down to haul a gooseneck, I'll have to let you know how it works!

If you did get something with a 366 gasser or a 350, look for one with a split rear end, if you can drive a stick. That would give you the low end for towing and the high end for cruising. The big trade off there seems to be fuel mileage and longevity. Diesels tend to run longer than gassers, however that's not always the case.

Hope that helps. Good luck finding a bus!

NewSkewlHauler 01-06-2010 10:21 PM

Re: Towing a horse trailer
I forgot to mention the 6.6L "Brazilian" Ford-New Holland motors. Can be tough to find parts for, but generally are very strong, nearly indestructible motors. They also have a big brother, a 7.8L. The buses I was looking at here in town are twins with the 6.6L motors. My wife says "maybe next bus." :shock:

Here's a bus I saw on Craiglist that might fit your need, other than location!

That should tow a 2-horse nicely!

Mulelover 01-07-2010 01:26 AM

Re: Towing a horse trailer
Hi Ben,

Thanks for all the different bus engine ideas. I love your idea of cutting down the back end to accomodate a gooseneck! Way out of my league of expertise, would be great to see your finished product though.

Hope I get to see you and the wife on the trail one day :D


the_experience03 01-07-2010 08:29 PM

Re: Towing a horse trailer
You're going to slow down on hills no matter what. That said, a 4500 lbs trailer is roughly equivalent to a small high school football team so the weight isn't anything a bus isn't going to be able to handle provided you do some research if you're getting a shorty. A 350 gasser will be able to pull that trailer, but you're not going to see 8mpg and there might be some work you want to do.

193 TBI heads are about the best low-end grunting design ever used on a small block and they're what you're going to find on an EFI 350, but they start running out of steam at 3000 RPM's which is where you're going to be cruising. A swap to later model Vortec heads (062 is supposed to be best, 882's also work) will really help you out though the best way to run them is to get the $350 GM Performance Parts conversion intake. It's an expensive piece, but it's a sweet one. You might get lucky in a late enough TBI block to have the holes drilled for the roller cam. If this is the case, you can scavange the pieces you need or get a complete kit with the spider, locks, cam retainer, and roller lifters for <$250. If you couple those with the cam I have in my rock crawler (GMPP HT383 cam, check eBay) and a set of narrow body self aligning full roller rockers you will free up tremendous power.

Anyway...enough ranting about small block Chevy engines. I think a diesel is the way to go for you. I can understand the appeal to shortys, but will RARELY find a post on this site by a person wishing they had bought a smaller bus.

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