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Old 03-22-2021, 06:14 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2021
Posts: 21
Thinking about an E-450

So, I've been trying to find the right platform for my skoolie. Given that it's just me and my harps (gotta have a spare) I'm thinking about converting an E-450 Cutaway.
Would this be a mistake?
How many miles is too many for the engine?
Same for transmission?
If it is getting elderly, what can be done? Valves? Rings? Throw it out?
Pardon my ignorance, but I'm a retired commercial pilot, and we never cared about the date on the name plate, we wanted to know about the components.

Much obliged for your helpful counsel.

~S.

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Old 03-22-2021, 09:29 PM   #2
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Location: Auburn, WA
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Coachwork: IC / Amtran
Chassis: 3000 / 33' Flat Nose
Engine: IC T444E / Allison MT643
Rated Cap: 72 Kids / 48 Adults
So, when you say "harps", I'm assuming you're not talking a mouth organ (fits easily in a shirt pocket). How big are the harps?

Since you have two of them, are you going to hang a hammock between them to sleep, because it seems there's no room for a bed and harps in a cut-away.

I think the first thing you should figure out is what you are going to put into your bus, besides the obvious harps.

Bed
Kitchen
Toilet

I think those three are the minimum to consider it an RV and get it registered insured as an RV.

Are you going to play the harps in the bus, or just travel to gigs and take the harps out of the bus to play?

Once you've figured out how much floor space you need, then look for a bus.

If the cut away is a good size, then you're half way to owning a bus.

Per how old and used is too old and used, are you talking gas or diesel? Huge difference in how many miles each will go. In general, most cut aways have gas engines.

If you're not able to properly check out the engine and transmission, have it inspected first, or low ball the seller in case there's something wrong.

I find a common oversight of buyers is not thinking about all the other parts of the vehicle that are worn, tired and need to be replaced. Front ends, coil or leaf springs, shocks, tires, brakes, etc.. Those things add up quick!

Where has the bus lived its life, rust belt, sunny and dry, or like me (Seattle) wet but no salt on the roads.

Was it owned by a school district that maintained it all its life, or has it changed hands a couple of times and needs attention.

Are there maintenance records, especially recent.

In general, cut away buses are a big van. They usually are manufactured by automobile companies (Ford, Chevy, etc) versus the truck divisions. So, it's easier to take them to a regular shop for repairs and maintenance.

Oh, if you do look at cut aways, look for one with a wheelchair lift to get your harps in and out of more easily.

Best of luck.
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Old 03-22-2021, 11:50 PM   #3
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You should just buy a motorhome and you are 85% ready to go.
Used motorhomes are used very little, used shuttle are used very much.
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Old 03-23-2021, 09:30 AM   #4
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So, is anyone willing to actually answer the questions?
Is there such a thing as a diesel E-450?
If I wanted to buy a motorhome would I be in Skoolie Conversion Projects?
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Old 03-23-2021, 09:42 AM   #5
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Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: pa
Posts: 2,519
Year: 98
Coachwork: 1. Corbeil & 2. Thomas
Chassis: 1 ford 1998 e350 4x4 7.3 2 mercedes 2004
Engine: 7.3 powerstroke & MBE906
I like the name silver wheel,. ..silverwings..

What airline were you flying for?
We build a lot of NDE. UT immersion and EC inspection equipment for rotating engine hardware.

E450 in diesel available. Most e450 have dual rw and so a little wider. The better years are between 1994 and 2004 because of the 7.3 liter powerstroke engine.

We have an E350 SRW 1997 and paid 3700 ... 5 ,6 yrs ago. 150000 miles then.. the thomas/ corbeil are partially aluminum.. and partially galvanized sheet. They hold up pretty well rust wise.

The chassis rust like normal. The cab body rots easy. Pay attention to structure around the body mounts and below the driver seat.
I would not be afraid of a good running powerstroke 7.3 with 200000 miles. Check blowby. Try to start from dead cold , preferable below freezing. Listen if it starts on all 8, smoke, have an experienced diesel mechanic hang it on a scanner. Unless you are a million miles guy it will likely last your lifetime.

Good luck,
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Old 03-23-2021, 10:05 AM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Thanks, Johan.

Nope, no airline - emergency medical rescue helicopters.

I'm beginning to wonder if I shouldn't wait for a longer but, say a midsize International with 7 windows on a side. This E-450 just popped up with 230K on the engine. I'm wondering if I should pass on it.

Trouble is, it's within driving range, so it wouldn't require me to either buy sight unseen or travel across the country to inspect, wait, and be outbid by someone with deeper pockets.
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Old 03-23-2021, 10:43 AM   #7
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Join Date: Dec 2015
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Posts: 2,519
Year: 98
Coachwork: 1. Corbeil & 2. Thomas
Chassis: 1 ford 1998 e350 4x4 7.3 2 mercedes 2004
Engine: 7.3 powerstroke & MBE906
Nice, helicopters, a step up..

You do not say where it is, rust belt or not. Check it out , gives you experience and perspective.

The larger buses are nice, more expensive to maintain.. dog nose shorties are cool but not very efficient from a space to footprint perspective. Harder to park and more visible when you park them.
Inspections, parts, tires it adds up quickly.

Have a dealer scan the engine and see what was done to it.
230000 with new injectors and running well, no leaks, no smoke would be fine with me.. check / test coolant if it had the anti cavitation liquid added.

Good luck,
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Old 03-23-2021, 10:59 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silverwheel View Post
So, is anyone willing to actually answer the questions?
Is there such a thing as a diesel E-450?
If I wanted to buy a motorhome would I be in Skoolie Conversion Projects?
We can't answer your questions because we don't know what is in the bus.
Quote:
How many miles is too many for the engine?
Same for transmission?
If it is getting elderly, what can be done? Valves? Rings? Throw it out?
Yes some are diesel. Maybe not this one.

How many miles is too much?
depends on the engine and how it was cared for and driven
Same for the tranny
Different motors can be rebuilt easier than others.
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Old 03-23-2021, 12:48 PM   #9
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: Auburn, WA
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Year: 2000
Coachwork: IC / Amtran
Chassis: 3000 / 33' Flat Nose
Engine: IC T444E / Allison MT643
Rated Cap: 72 Kids / 48 Adults
SW, it's not that we are not answering your question, it's that we don't have enough information about what you want or need to answer the question with any accuracy.

I will pretty much guarantee if you provide details of what you are wanting to do with the bus, you will get some really solid and direct answers.

It's kind of like sending us specifications so we can give you a solid suggestion.

If you review the posts that have already been made, answer the questions presented and then add details that are important to you, you'll get better responses.

Best of luck.
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Old 03-23-2021, 03:12 PM   #10
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Coachwork: El Dorado Fiberglass
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: V10 Gas
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Originally Posted by BeNimble View Post
Used motorhomes are used very little, used shuttle are used very much.
That is a great quote.
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Old 03-23-2021, 05:58 PM   #11
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Year: 2003
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I have a 2003 E450 with a 7.3 diesel. I had a 1998 Thomas with a T444e (traditional school bus style). Both same 22' length. I would have loved to keep the first because I loved the style and big-rig feel, but the ride, speed, and noise level in the E450 was a great improvement- think van vs truck. I knew that the amount of time and money needed to upgrade the Thomas didn't make sense once I drove the other.

That is just my experience and I hope some big bus owners will not take my comments as bus trashing, as one motor home advocate is prone to here.
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Old 03-31-2021, 03:08 PM   #12
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Just don't get one with a 6.0 diesel engine. They are very problematic.
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Old 04-01-2021, 07:31 AM   #13
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Silverwheels, If your that close to the bus, go look at it and drive it. At least you can walk away having driven one so you can have a reference.
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Old 04-01-2021, 10:14 PM   #14
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In case OP is still around I want to offer my input. Also for anyone else considering a Ford F350/450 platform

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silverwheel View Post
So, I've been trying to find the right platform for my skoolie. Given that it's just me and my harps (gotta have a spare) I'm thinking about converting an E-450 Cutaway.
Cool, I have a 2003 E450 shuttle with the gas V10. This platform was used for shuttles, Class C motorhomes, box trucks, and a few other dogs and cats. Very common.

Quote:
Would this be a mistake?
That is entirely up to you and your results

Quote:
How many miles is too many for the engine? Same for transmission?
Honestly, around 20 years old or 300,000 miles things tend to fall apart all over the vehicle and it comes down to your desire to keep it together. I have a 2000 F250 with V10 at 261xxx miles and she is running but showing her age. Ford puts a lot of plastic and whatever cheap(er) parts in this generation truck than previous models. The upside is the modular gas engines get better mileage than the previous generation big block engines but both can go ~500K miles if maintained. They will be tired but should be able to reach that odometer reading. Most owners give up long before that mileage milestone however.

Quote:
If it is getting elderly, what can be done? Valves? Rings? Throw it out?
Change the oil and fluids on time, keep the tires and brakes healthy, and drive it. Sitting can be worse than high mileage, I am currently evicting mice debris from my bus after it sat for the last year.

There were crate engines from Ford available some time ago but I don't know if they are still available now. Several shops have tried their hand at offering rebuilt modular engines over the years with mixed success. The biggest problems came from a lack of maintenance (oil changes) as the engine needs clean oil to maintain healthy timming chain guides (all generations) and in later years (mid-2000s 3 valve and up) adjusting cam phasers were introduced which needed clean oil changed or they could fail.

Transmission shops are very familiar with the 4R100 transmission if equiped, I don't know if the Allison was fitted to any E350/450 series.

Quote:
Pardon my ignorance, but I'm a retired commercial pilot, and we never cared about the date on the name plate, we wanted to know about the components.
I am at 30 years as an aircraft maintainer. In the business as you know we have rebuilt components available as long as a platform is utilized. By comparison the auto industry moves on very quickly and the OEM will offer parts for about a decade after a vehicle is new, after that time the parts will be discontinued as OEM and you are left with whatever the aftermarket chooses to offer.

You also asked if diesel engines were available in the E450. The answer is yes, the International T444 series known as the Powerstroke in Fords.
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Old 04-01-2021, 10:20 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silverwheel View Post
If I wanted to buy a motorhome would I be in Skoolie Conversion Projects?
Much more welcome here than a skoolie owner in an RV forum!
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