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Old 01-22-2021, 04:43 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
Posts: 21
chassis without body?

Is it possible to buy a chassis without a body, and put my own body on it? I'm having difficulty finding a bus that isnt plagued with rust.
I would love to find a 'blank' stainless steel chassis with an engine/transmission, and 'transplant' a used bus body onto it.

1) Where would you buy a chassis new? I cant seem to find anywhere.

2) What would the price range be? (with engine/transmission?)

3) legal/insurance issues?

Either a standard bus chassis, or a prevost style chassis would be cool too.
Has anyone here done something like this? I know its a lot of work, but it would be nice to know the bottom of my bus isnt rusting out.
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Old 01-22-2021, 07:14 AM   #2
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Join Date: May 2015
Location: Oklahoma aka "God's blind spot"
Posts: 2,435
Year: 1989
Coachwork: 1853FC International/Navistar
Chassis: 35' Retired Air Force Ambulance
Engine: DT466, MT643
Rated Cap: 6 souls and a driver
Quote:
Originally Posted by teknomad View Post
Is it possible to buy a chassis without a body, and put my own body on it? I'm having difficulty finding a bus that isnt plagued with rust.
I would love to find a 'blank' stainless steel chassis with an engine/transmission, and 'transplant' a used bus body onto it.

1) Where would you buy a chassis new? I cant seem to find anywhere.

2) What would the price range be? (with engine/transmission?)

3) legal/insurance issues?

Either a standard bus chassis, or a prevost style chassis would be cool too.
Has anyone here done something like this? I know its a lot of work, but it would be nice to know the bottom of my bus isnt rusting out.
Kinda sorta off topic, but I watched this video just a couple hours before you posted your question... they stripped their bus down to the chassis and recreated a behemoth toy/sled hauler
https://youtu.be/VEeOpgUu-9o

As for your original question, I'd start making calls to the bus manufacturers...
A Canadian company bought the bus builder that I knew of in Conway Arkansas a few years ago, making it their new headquarters.
That's pretty central to just about anywhere your are in the US

https://arktimes.com/arkansas-blog/2...s-headquarters

https://www.conwayarkansas.org/news/...-headquarters/
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Old 01-22-2021, 07:18 AM   #3
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Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 4,781
Year: 2003
Coachwork: International
Chassis: CE 300
Engine: DT466e
Rated Cap: 65C-43A
My bus was about as rusty as they come, but it was still much easier to cut out huge chunks of the floor and rebuild it than it would have been to start completely from scratch with just a chassis.
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Old 01-22-2021, 07:57 AM   #4
Bus Crazy
 
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Join Date: May 2015
Location: Oklahoma aka "God's blind spot"
Posts: 2,435
Year: 1989
Coachwork: 1853FC International/Navistar
Chassis: 35' Retired Air Force Ambulance
Engine: DT466, MT643
Rated Cap: 6 souls and a driver
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Originally Posted by musigenesis View Post
My bus was about as rusty as they come, but it was still much easier to cut out huge chunks of the floor and rebuild it than it would have been to start completely from scratch with just a chassis.
+1
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Old 01-22-2021, 08:47 AM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Location: Des Moines, Ia
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Year: 2002
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Engine: Cummins 5.9l 24 valve
Rated Cap: 78
you could get a medium duty box truck and take the box off, commercial dealerships exist and will sell you a cab and chassis but it will be expensive and means you will have to adhere to all the newest emissions laws etc. its absolutely possible but the amount of initial investment would be huge. but you can do anything with enough money and time.
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Old 01-22-2021, 09:50 AM   #6
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Lebanon, Indiana
Posts: 688
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Winnebago
Chassis: Ford F53
Engine: Ford Triton V-10
Rated Cap: currently 2
RE #1: I'm not sure if an individual can purchase a chassis or at least not officially from a chassis manufacturer. If you want to try, the companies you'll be contacting are often familiar brand names - Freightliner, International Corporation, Hino, Volvo - all of these build bus bodies on their own chassis. There are also brands like Spartan which build a quality motorcoach/motorhome chassis for coach builders to use as a platform. Some higher end customized RV motorhomes are also build with an integrated chassis/unibody as are top name commercial motorcoaches like MCI and Prevost. These do not have a conventional I-beam ladder frame but rather are highly engineered to distribute load across a network of smaller but strategic components.

RE #2: because I don't think an individual can purchase such a chassis, per #1, prices are irrelevant. IF a manufacturer would actually sell you one, expect to pay more because typical quantity discount principles would apply - a coach builder buying hundreds a year will pay less than a one-off consumer buyer.

RE #3: expect the same titling and insurance issues of any skoolie because you're building something homemade and you're not a licensed or certified coach builder. The risks relating to the safety of the vehicle along the road and in an accident are incalculable to an insurance underwriter. Motorcoach and RV builders at least have documentation, even perhaps crash-worthiness data to help establish risk categories for insurance.
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Old 01-22-2021, 09:53 AM   #7
Bus Nut
 
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Engine: Ford Triton V-10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samweld View Post
you could get a medium duty box truck and take the box off, commercial dealerships exist and will sell you a cab and chassis but it will be expensive and means you will have to adhere to all the newest emissions laws etc. its absolutely possible but the amount of initial investment would be huge. but you can do anything with enough money and time.
I like this idea, going with a Ford or GM cutaway or chassis would be a lot easier and there are even dealerships that sell these off the lot.
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Old 01-22-2021, 10:10 AM   #8
Almost There
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Rochester NY
Posts: 99
Year: 1986
Coachwork: Blueburd
Chassis: International S1800
Engine: 9.0L International Diesel NA
Holy Molly! sled-Zepplin is amazing!!!!!

I have recently seen U-haul box trucks for sale in the back of a u-haul lot. Dt466 in 'em. I believe there was one with and one with out the box. My mind immediately went to what you are considering.

I think you might have to go through a dealership, International, ford, etc to get a raw truck. I drive by a dealership everyday that has lots of F-250 etc as a raw truck frame out front. They have beds, dumps, salters, etc right next to them. Look like you can just point at the leggos and get the truck you want.

Again, Price is obviously going to be much higher than you average $2k-$5k used slightly rusty bus.
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Old 01-22-2021, 11:33 AM   #9
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Location: Sacramento
Posts: 727
Year: 1999
You can buy motorhomes with low miles and rust free all day long, have I not made this point over and over, guess I need to keep saying it???????????????????????????????

They are not super cheap, but a school bus is not $500 anymore!!

60k miles, $15k

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Old 01-22-2021, 12:01 PM   #10
Almost There
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Rochester NY
Posts: 99
Year: 1986
Coachwork: Blueburd
Chassis: International S1800
Engine: 9.0L International Diesel NA
Quote:
Originally Posted by BeNimble View Post
You can buy motorhomes with low miles and rust free all day long, have I not made this point over and over, guess I need to keep saying it???????????????????????????????

They are not super cheap, but a school bus is not $500 anymore!!

60k miles, $15k



Ya know, some days i really wish i had started with a smaller motorhome and did some repairs or renovations instead of going full skoolie build... Other days I wish I went with a greyhound or MCI instead of going through a roof raise... Other days i wish i didn't skoolie at all.... I appreciate you reiterating it on the board. I wish that sort of advise sunk into myself (and at the time partner). I think some people get sucked into the pretty Instagram pictures and get blinders on to other options. I think this thread is valuable for exploring alternatives- to-alternative homes.
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Old 01-22-2021, 12:17 PM   #11
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Posts: 1,896
Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas Built
Chassis: Minotour
Engine: Chevy Express 3500 6.6l
Quote:
Originally Posted by BeNimble View Post
You can buy motorhomes with low miles and rust free all day long, have I not made this point over and over, guess I need to keep saying it???????????????????????????????

They are not super cheap, but a school bus is not $500 anymore!!

60k miles, $15k

I still think motor homes are crap. I know from experience that 60K mark is when everything starts falling apart. So whoever thinks that way to go is a better option for it being less work, may find themselves in the same boat as others building from scratch.

That being said, the titling and insurance thing is disconcerting.

My whole skoolie adventure started because I needed a vehicle with a wheelchair lift to transport my dad to doctors and ERs. Barring that, if I were to start over and have the space to do it, Iíd restore a classic RV. Still Iím happy with what Iíve created and itís going to serve me well.
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Old 01-22-2021, 12:43 PM   #12
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 964
Year: 1990
Coachwork: Thomas 4 window w/lift
Chassis: G30
Engine: 350 Chevy
Rated Cap: Just me and my "stuff"?
Patience, and not rushing into the first thing that pops up, is the key to finding the right bus to start converting.

Many folks buy something they or someone else doesn't thoroughly check, and get "burned" as a result.

Finding the right bus without structural rust is fairly easy and less painful money wise than building from ground up.
The cost to build a stainless steel framed bus would be astronomical and not anything I've ever seen. If you go that route, please post pics of your build!

There are areas of the country to avoid looking in, anywhere in the rust belt for starters.
California through the desert southwest being the optimal hunting grounds, but there are other areas east of the Mississippi that can produce a good find.

Good luck...
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Old 01-22-2021, 12:51 PM   #13
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
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Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas Built
Chassis: Minotour
Engine: Chevy Express 3500 6.6l
To the point of not being able to find a suitable bus; if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll see that because of the pandemic, the primary market for used buses has pretty much dried up and many new skoolie site members have purchased shuttle buses.

Patience will pay off if you can wait 6-12 months
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Old 01-22-2021, 01:18 PM   #14
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2020
Location: McMinnville oregon
Posts: 26
Year: 1959
Coachwork: Superior
Chassis: F-500
100% doable. For my build, I found a service truck with a close match in frame size to what I needed. Cost was 1 grand. It's still registered as the body vin , no problem.
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Old 01-22-2021, 01:36 PM   #15
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Lebanon, Indiana
Posts: 688
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Winnebago
Chassis: Ford F53
Engine: Ford Triton V-10
Rated Cap: currently 2
To the point about rust I also wonder if the op is willing to go all the way down to the frame with no body how much more trouble could it be to simply sandblast and reseal the frame before beginning the new body build? In this forum what we are usually looking at is body rust on sheet metal but the frame is much thicker steel and most of what you should find there is superficial rust that is easily mitigated.
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