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Old 05-06-2020, 06:06 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Question 1990 F-E350 shuttle bus

I'm currently looking at a 1990 F-E350 "para-transit dually" shuttle bus for $2000

it's gas not diesel, should that be a no go right there? What do ya'll think? Anyone heard anything bad about 1990 Ford's?
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Old 05-06-2020, 09:19 PM   #2
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1990 should be a 7.3 IDI. IMO, if not the best diesel offered in Ford light duty, certainly in the top three. Transmissions are more of a concern with these than the engine. But due to the age, inspect very carefully for rust.
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Old 05-06-2020, 09:55 PM   #3
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IDI is the diesel. The gas engine is probably their 351 Windsor, which was very reputable. It doesn't beat my PowerStroke for MPGs, but in $/mile it might have the edge. If you aren't trying to tow in hill country, it'd probably be fine. You'll enjoy how much aftermarket support that engine has. Typical problems are cracked exhaust manifolds, and broken timing cover bolts.

That said, ANY engine that age could have a multitude of problems. How many miles?
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Old 05-06-2020, 11:50 PM   #4
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Eh, I misfired on that one. Guess I've got diesel on the brain today. Gets a little tricky to keep track of what's what when you go through enough posts. The E350 base gas engine is the 4.9L I6 for that year, the base gas V8 a 5.0L V8, but a bus likely would have 351W, the optional gas V8 engine. Could also be a 460 of the same 385-series family as the 429, it's older brother. Both are good engines, still better than the transmissions that backed them.
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Old 05-07-2020, 04:02 PM   #5
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186,000, roughly?
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Old 05-07-2020, 04:06 PM   #6
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hmm, that doesn't sound good.
I want to add more information about it but I'm afraid I'm not getting much from the owner.
What I can say is that I want something that doesn't get terrible MPG. Also is pretty reliable.
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Old 05-07-2020, 04:22 PM   #7
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should be a 460 engine and an EL40D transmission and both have tons of aftermarket support and parts available at almost all auto parts stores.
but you can expect between 4-6 mpg out of that motor cause it is very thirsty
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Old 05-07-2020, 04:37 PM   #8
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eeesshh, thats not what I want. MPG is a big thing for me.
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Old 05-07-2020, 05:14 PM   #9
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They're not compact cars, none of them are going to get better than about 8 to 10.
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Old 05-07-2020, 06:21 PM   #10
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I'm afraid the surface area in the front keeps any drivetrains from being very fuel efficient. Even box trucks like NPRs and Sprinters with much smaller displacement diesels can't manage any higher than 16 mpg - usually more like 10.

The key to mpg in big vehicles is the nut behind the steering wheel. My boat anchor diesel averages around 13 mpg because I never really get over 60 mph, and I'm light on the skinny pedal. The great thing about the diesel is that I can tow a 7k trailer and not lose much economy - which isn't even close to true with a gasser.

I did find a holy grail type vehicle with the size, amenities, and MPG... and just look at that subway car design! But of course, they're ridiculously rare.



I see some imported Japanese Toyota Hiace diesel motorhomes that could break the mold, but I don't really know.
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Old 05-07-2020, 07:27 PM   #11
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Ridiculously rare usually means ridiculously expensive...

In regard to fuel economy, I know it will sound crazy, but often a bigger engine will get better fuel economy in a larger heavier vehicle because it does not have to work as hard. As in the 460 might get 12 to 14, but a 351 might only get 8 to 12. Here are EPA estimates for the 1990 E250 with various engine options. As you can see, even the 300 inline six did only marginally better with same trans. Most diesel owners of this vintage report 17-19. These are not buses, either. Your results, of course, may vary. I myself have seen anywhere from 7.5 - 9.8 with loaded semis normally rated for 6 to 7. Most vehicles get their best economy running 45, 50, 58, 63, depending on what speed limits and traffic allow.

Screenshot_20200507-203637_Firefox.jpg
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Old 05-14-2020, 06:25 PM   #12
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We have a 1990 E350 27.5í 7 window El Dorado shuttle bus, converted to a toy hauler. 460 7.3 L engine, tag axle.

Pros: got it for a decent price. Since the odometer only has 5 digits we really have no idea if the seller was correct that it had low miles. Weíre betting not. It was easy to get seats out and use the tracks to put in D rings for the bikes and place the seats we kept where wanted. Itís roomy enough I put in a sink/counter, bed, dining/sitting area, and portapotty begins the bikes. LlThe body is fiberglass with no steel cage like the newer models, and FRP panels on the interior. The AC back and front is fritzy but works. The roof has enough acreage to put solar panels and Iíve used it as a viewing platform. It has lots of windows so thereís lots of light and visibility. It got us up and down Northern California and from N California to Sturgis. With our bikes on board. Itís small enough to park in the driveway (my neighbors are awesome-nobody has bitched yet ).

Cons: It has stranded us a few times with mysterious and easily misdiagnosed problems. So we threw parts at it. We ended up spending significant money on new tires and brakes, bandaid fixing the AC, replacing the alternator and fuel pump relay, ignition module, and another relay, limiter switches for the door, exterior marker lights, and replacing the fuel pump/sender. It gets very modest mileage (6-9 mpgówe celebrate if it goes over 7). It has leaks I cannot figure out. It steers like a bus - a little seesawing with the steering wheel. The interior lights work when they want to. Thereís no AC when the bus isnít running so I got a generator and portable AC so we donít get the vapors when the bus is off.

But you know what? We love our little bus. Itís been an adventure, and thatís what we wanted. If you want good mileage and trouble free, find something else, especially if youíre not mechanically inclined. When we get more money, we might get something more luxurious, but....
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Old 05-14-2020, 09:15 PM   #13
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Yeah, the one l'm looking at is a 460 (with overdrive) as well, maybe its the exact same kind of bus?
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