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Old 01-06-2020, 12:28 AM   #1
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Dragon Wagon

Well we finally did it! We purchased this 1988 Ford diesel E450 5 row short bus. Now the work begins. We have started by removing all unnecessary exterior components (the flip out stop sign, the crossing bar and the convex mirrors). For now we have just covered the holes and such with duct tape to keep the water out until we are ready to tackle the small amount of Bondo work. Now we are in the process of removing the seats and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning!! So much cleaning!
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Old 01-06-2020, 01:15 AM   #2
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I should add that the mechanics are excellent and tires are good for a while (less than halfway). Our neighbor is a class A mechanic and we are all checked out and as of the test drive and trip home we have no issues. Mileage is 159,000, new batteries, new starter. For a 1988 diesel we should still have plenty of life. We did forget to ask when the oil was changed. I’ll probably call the previous owner to get that question answered. Meanwhile, is this like any other vehicle....every 3,000-5,000 miles?
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Old 01-06-2020, 02:13 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Dragon Wagon View Post
Well we finally did it! We purchased this 1988 Ford diesel E450 5 row short bus. Now the work begins. We have started by removing all unnecessary exterior components (the flip out stop sign, the crossing bar and the convex mirrors). For now we have just covered the holes and such with duct tape to keep the water out until we are ready to tackle the small amount of Bondo work. Now we are in the process of removing the seats and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning!! So much cleaning!
Where'd you find this great bus,and can you share the price?
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Old 01-06-2020, 04:37 AM   #4
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Where'd you find this great bus,and can you share the price?
There are a bunch in CA going cheap.
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Old 01-06-2020, 04:38 AM   #5
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Well we finally did it! We purchased this 1988 Ford diesel E450 5 row short bus. Now the work begins. We have started by removing all unnecessary exterior components (the flip out stop sign, the crossing bar and the convex mirrors). For now we have just covered the holes and such with duct tape to keep the water out until we are ready to tackle the small amount of Bondo work. Now we are in the process of removing the seats and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning!! So much cleaning!
Enjoy!
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Old 01-06-2020, 10:29 PM   #6
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Well a friend here in NW Montana travelled to California and bought three of them. I’m not sure if it was a liquidation or what. We truly practically stole it because we got the “I have to sell this thing because I’m moving out of the country and you are a friend” deal. A bus like this should run $6,000-7,000. We paid only about half that at $4,200.
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Old 01-06-2020, 10:43 PM   #7
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Progress! All the seats are out! It was a bit more difficult than expected because the bolts would just spin so my husband had to crawl under the bus to hold the nuts in order to break the bolts.......in the freezing snow!! Two refused to give and we had to cut the bolts. But they are out! Also got some damage and random holes on the upper front of the cab repaired with bondo today. We are going paint all the metal in the front. It is sanded and ready to paint. Ordered Rustoleum farm equipment paint in international harvester red. Canít wait to see how the color looks. More tomorrow.........
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Old 01-07-2020, 01:50 PM   #8
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That bus looks like a great starting point, and very clean, but that was probably thanks to your elbow grease. Good luck with the build.

When I was searching for a bus on Public Surplus, there were a bunch of different diesel buses for sale in California, all with a warning that they are not compliant with some new California State emissions law that goes into effect soon. I didn't look into it too much because they were all too far away, but I wonder if all of the school districts in California are required to sell off their diesel buses that are over a certain number of years old. Which if that is true, there could be some very good deals.
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Old 01-07-2020, 01:55 PM   #9
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Nice looking bus but surely doesnt look like a 1988 Chassis.. looks like a 1990 plus.. make sure the VIN on the title matches that of the bus.. and year is correct.. seems off is all
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Old 01-07-2020, 02:51 PM   #10
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That bus looks like a great starting point, and very clean, but that was probably thanks to your elbow grease. Good luck with the build.

When I was searching for a bus on Public Surplus, there were a bunch of different diesel buses for sale in California, all with a warning that they are not compliant with some new California State emissions law that goes into effect soon. I didn't look into it too much because they were all too far away, but I wonder if all of the school districts in California are required to sell off their diesel buses that are over a certain number of years old. Which if that is true, there could be some very good deals.
California's new law effect every school bus in the state. Unfortunately everything that is 10 years old, the cut off for the law, means what is becoming available are post EPA buses. Yes some good deals can be had.
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Old 01-07-2020, 02:57 PM   #11
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POST EPA-wise the Cummins 6.7s seem to have a pretty good track record.. its just getting through all the Muck of Maxxforce and some CAT stuff that had real issues when full-on EPA came alive..



thus far thomas is doing OK with its Detroit-Diesel line up its been offering the last couple years..



alot of schools are going out and buying up all the used Gasoline busses they can find.. apparently Cali doesnt restrict those.. I was trying to find a GMC gasser and anything in good shape is getting snatched up if its new enough to pass inspection..



CV200s with AT545s and 454 Engines are a premium price right now.. esp with secondary or owner / ops in cali..

-Christopher
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Old 01-07-2020, 03:11 PM   #12
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Nice looking bus but surely doesnt look like a 1988 Chassis.. looks like a 1990 plus.. make sure the VIN on the title matches that of the bus.. and year is correct.. seems off is all
It all matches. Itís a Thomas built bus. Ford E450 diesel.
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Old 01-07-2020, 03:16 PM   #13
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California's new law effect every school bus in the state. Unfortunately everything that is 10 years old, the cut off for the law, means what is becoming available are post EPA buses. Yes some good deals can be had.
Hmmm Iíll look into this. That could be how this deal happened for our friend. Makes perfect sense. Montana doesnít do emissions test.......at least not yet.
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Old 01-07-2020, 03:23 PM   #14
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Today things warmed up to a balmy 36 degrees, so we took advantage of the warmth and washed the outside down a bit.
The inside is surface clean now, but tomorrow we will begin detailing it before we start the wiring process.
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Old 01-07-2020, 03:29 PM   #15
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88 ford van

89 ford van

90 ford van

91 ford van


92 ford van


This bus in your pics wasn't built until at least 1992 bud. Yours is a 4th generation. Maybe you've gotten 88 and 98 mixed up?
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Old 01-07-2020, 04:53 PM   #16
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88 ford van

89 ford van

90 ford van

91 ford van


92 ford van


This bus in your pics wasn't built until at least 1992 bud. Yours is a 4th generation. Maybe you've gotten 88 and 98 mixed up?
Mines a '90. Two large windows on the driver's side instead of those three. I love my van even though I want to sell it.
The teenager too. I love him but still think of selling him. Cheap. IMG_20191006_141902_445.jpg
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Old 01-08-2020, 12:27 AM   #17
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It all matches. Itís a Thomas built bus. Ford E450 diesel.
Ok so funny story. I actually went out to check vin numbers against the title and it all matches perfectly. Then I saw the thing I somehow did not see before. I typed 1988 all throughout this thread because we also, a few days before, purchased a 1988 ford F150 with a snow plow. I had 1988 Ford on the brain, hahahahahahahaha. I promise you I actually did know this was a 2002 bus, I just did not even catch that I was typing 1988. I donít think I can edit all the post that say 1988, but, yes, you are correct. It is a 2002 Thomas built Ford Diesel E450. Itís a great little bus.
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Old 01-08-2020, 12:28 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
Nice looking bus but surely doesnt look like a 1988 Chassis.. looks like a 1990 plus.. make sure the VIN on the title matches that of the bus.. and year is correct.. seems off is all
Ok so funny story. I actually went out to check vin numbers against the title and it all matches perfectly. Then I saw the thing I somehow did not see before. I typed 1988 all throughout this thread because we also, a few days before, purchased a 1988 ford F150 with a snow plow. I had 1988 Ford on the brain, hahahahahahahaha. I promise you I actually did know this was a 2002 bus, I just did not even catch that I was typing 1988. I donít think I can edit all the post that say 1988, but, yes, you are correct. It is a 2002 Thomas built Ford Diesel E450. Itís a great little bus.
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Old 01-08-2020, 12:32 AM   #19
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Mines a '90. Two large windows on the driver's side instead of those three. I love my van even though I want to sell it.
The teenager too. I love him but still think of selling him. Cheap. Attachment 40510
You are so right, hahahahahaha. Please see my explanation below. Itís a 2002. My brain had been on 1988 Ford ďmodeĒ because we had bought a 1988 Ford F150 snow plow a few days before. Canít believe I didnít catch that I was typing 1988 instead of 2002.
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Old 01-08-2020, 12:39 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
88 ford van

89 ford van

90 ford van

91 ford van


92 ford van


This bus in your pics wasn't built until at least 1992 bud. Yours is a 4th generation. Maybe you've gotten 88 and 98 mixed up?
Ha! No I got my other ďnewĒ old truck that we just purchased mixed up. We bought a 1988 Ford F150 snow plow and I just had that in my head. You are very right. Itís a 2002 bus.
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