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Old 06-27-2021, 10:12 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: Canada
Posts: 19
Year: 2003
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DT466E
Rated Cap: 72 passenger
Crazy conversion idea!?

Hi there everyone, I am from Ontario, Canada and I recently learned about the world of possibilities a used school bus offers and it got me thinking and I might've let my imagination run wild. I have been researching this forum for the last few months and have a wacky idea that I want to run by y'all... please bear with me as I have a few questions.

So I know that I want to convert a small skoolie bus ~ 25 to 30 ft because of maneuverability, gas mileage and it fits my needs. In addition to it being a skoolie I want to also put a snowplow in the front to clean off*my driveway in the winters which I don't see as an issue. However, I also want to create a rig to attach a front loader to the front of the bus - from all my research I did not see someone try to attempt this. There is probably a good reason for it but there are no stupid ideas right?

So here are my questions:

1) How much stress would be on my chassis/frame if I use it as a front loader for a few small projects around my property? Is it even doable? My plan is to put a small enough loader so that the lifting weight doesn't exceed ~500 lbs - maybe a 5-7 ft loader? Will this destroy my front suspension or cause other*issues?
2) Is installing a hydraulic system to lift and tilt the loader even possible in a school bus? If anyone has a link to some hydraulic system add-on to an automotive engine that would be a great start for me.
3) Does a traditional school bus have room to mount/rig a loader in the front? Will the engine get in the way?
4) Given the unique nature of my build - should I get a Ford/GMC cutaway or a short (5-8 window) conventional skoolie? I am leaning towards a conventional skoolie because of the beefed up chassis.
5) Do the experts here see any concerns with chopping the back of the bus behind the rear wheel. I noticed that the back of the bus is attached with rivets - I wonder how easy it would be to just pop those off, cut the rear of the bus behind the wheels and just reattach the rear back on? There are few reasons why I want to do this - it's been very difficult finding short conventional buses and they usually have the weaker DT444 engine. The bigger ones have the DT466 so the idea is to have the stronger engine on a smaller skoolie. I understand the turning radius won't reduce without moving the rear wheels but I am fine with that - moving the rear wheels will be too much for what I want.

Thank you everyone for reading - looking forward to hearing your responses!

P.S. - the front loader rig would look something like this:
https://www.farmshow.com/a_article.php?aid=19405 or
https://www.thedrive.com/news/33718/...ckup-accessory

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Old 07-09-2021, 01:02 PM   #2
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: Canada
Posts: 19
Year: 2003
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DT466E
Rated Cap: 72 passenger
Any takers?
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Old 07-09-2021, 01:11 PM   #3
Bus Nut
 
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Anything's possible and the links you provided prove it. The biggest obstacle will likely be your fabrication skills or your wallet. If you can imagine it but lack the skills and tools to invent it then you'll be trying to communicate your vision to someone who has the skills then paying them for it.
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Old 07-09-2021, 03:08 PM   #4
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
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Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: V10 Gas
As far as I've seen what you're proposing would be a first.

1. Not a good idea because all the cool spice jars you'd put in the beautiful kitchen with live edge counter would fall and break as you plowed. If you've ever plowed snow, you probably know what I'm talking about.

2. The tranny would take a beating, and that's not ideal on an older vehicle you'd then take for a five hundred mile spin to Thunder Bay.
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Old 07-09-2021, 03:16 PM   #5
Bus Geek
 
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Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 6,009
Year: 2003
Coachwork: International
Chassis: CE 300
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zeeii View Post
5) Do the experts here see any concerns with chopping the back of the bus behind the rear wheel. I noticed that the back of the bus is attached with rivets - I wonder how easy it would be to just pop those off, cut the rear of the bus behind the wheels and just reattach the rear back on? There are few reasons why I want to do this - it's been very difficult finding short conventional buses and they usually have the weaker DT444 engine. The bigger ones have the DT466 so the idea is to have the stronger engine on a smaller skoolie. I understand the turning radius won't reduce without moving the rear wheels but I am fine with that - moving the rear wheels will be too much for what I want.
This is exactly what user Oldyeller did and for the same reasons. Here's his build thread showing the whole process. Looked kind of weird to me at first but now it seems pretty normal.

I've seen at least two other builds that did the same thing.
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Old 07-09-2021, 03:30 PM   #6
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: Northern California (Sacramento)
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Year: 1999
Coachwork: El Dorado Fiberglass
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: V10 Gas
And, what you are proposing is not anywhere as crazy as this amphibious rig:
https://www.autoevolution.com/news/t...on-165007.html
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Old 07-09-2021, 04:22 PM   #7
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
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Bobbing the bus isn't too uncommon. Certainly doable. Many do it to turn them into trailer pulling rigs with living spaces like a toter home. Cut the body... move the rear body panel with door forward... chop frame a couple feet behind the rear axle.


You could likely do the FEL but it would need to be stand alone with an electric pump. They did make kits at one time for trucks as you linked but you likely wont find them anymore.
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Old 07-09-2021, 04:35 PM   #8
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Let’s wait for BeNimble to jump in on this one! He may say something crazy like go buy a tractor for the job or something like that! Crazy, right?! $hit, I have to say, he ain’t crazy at all…

I don’t know, maybe I’m getting older and my time is more limited on this planet. I just think it would be so much easier to buy a used tractor. Keep the bus as a bus and use your time going on a vacation rather than have to engineer all that. If you decided not to go on vacation and go for the build, I would definitely love to follow it.
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Old 07-09-2021, 05:24 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Bus'n it View Post
Letís wait for BeNimble to jump in on this one! He may say something crazy like go buy a tractor for the job or something like that! Crazy, right?! $hit, I have to say, he ainít crazy at allÖ

I donít know, maybe Iím getting older and my time is more limited on this planet. I just think it would be so much easier to buy a used tractor. Keep the bus as a bus and use your time going on a vacation rather than have to engineer all that. If you decided not to go on vacation and go for the build, I would definitely love to follow it.

or build a cool ass 2000 HP tractor you could take to the tractor pull in summer and used to plow the mountains of snow they get in winter canada.. better idea yet.. get the heck out of cold gray icey snowy canada and move someplace WARM!
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Old 07-09-2021, 05:31 PM   #10
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Well, if he moves, don’t come to Arizona looking for warmth. Out here it’s two seasons. Decent and furnace. Love the greater Phoenix area but wouldn’t recommend it to a newbie. Used to be prices of homes was a luring point. Might as well be NYC as expensive things have gotten here. Five more years and I’ll be a millionaire yet homeless!

Sorry to go off tangent, OP. Just don’t want you to make a mistake and head this way.
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Old 07-09-2021, 05:40 PM   #11
Bus Geek
 
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Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
considering im sitting here shivering because the coffee house in ohio im in has the A/C set at 68!!! id be happy for decent AND furnace! Columbus Ohio is one of the "heftiest" cities in the country from what I read.. and thus it seems everyone LOVES to use the A/C no matter what the weather... its not uncommon for a restaraunt here to be A/Cing when its 45 outside.. im really over it.. my only reprieve is that no one patio dines in the precious few warm days we get so i can sit outside for coffee and food when its actually not raining..
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Old 07-09-2021, 05:54 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
considering im sitting here shivering because the coffee house in ohio im in has the A/C set at 68!!! id be happy for decent AND furnace! Columbus Ohio is one of the "heftiest" cities in the country from what I read.. and thus it seems everyone LOVES to use the A/C no matter what the weather... its not uncommon for a restaraunt here to be A/Cing when its 45 outside.. im really over it.. my only reprieve is that no one patio dines in the precious few warm days we get so i can sit outside for coffee and food when its actually not raining..
Went to the oral surgeon today, walked into the office and was almost knocked down by how cold it was. I turn and see the patients in the waiting room are all covered with blankets., WTF. I asked why it was so cold. They said that's the way "they" like it. Must have been about 50*.
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Old 07-09-2021, 06:14 PM   #13
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Location: Fraser Valley British Columbia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rucker View Post
As far as I've seen what you're proposing would be a first.

1. Not a good idea because all the cool spice jars you'd put in the beautiful kitchen with live edge counter would fall and break as you plowed. If you've ever plowed snow, you probably know what I'm talking about.

2. The tranny would take a beating, and that's not ideal on an older vehicle you'd then take for a five hundred mile spin to Thunder Bay.
Rucker
You've been to Thunder Bay? More important even knowing where it is! Much respect!
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Old 07-09-2021, 06:21 PM   #14
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Location: Fraser Valley British Columbia
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Engine: C7 Cat
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bus'n it View Post
Letís wait for BeNimble to jump in on this one! He may say something crazy like go buy a tractor for the job or something like that! Crazy, right?! $hit, I have to say, he ainít crazy at allÖ

I donít know, maybe Iím getting older and my time is more limited on this planet. I just think it would be so much easier to buy a used tractor. Keep the bus as a bus and use your time going on a vacation rather than have to engineer all that. If you decided not to go on vacation and go for the build, I would definitely love to follow it.
Yep! Buy a tractor. Building an rv is enough of a headache as it is.
Like Simon says (insert pun now) we're getting old, time to start relaxin!
Cheers
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Old 07-12-2021, 12:00 AM   #15
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: Canada
Posts: 19
Year: 2003
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DT466E
Rated Cap: 72 passenger
Thanks so much for the feedback everyone! Didn't get around to reading it all till now. I was super busy this weekend - finally found and picked up my skoolie after a few months of searching!!! Super excited! Time to dust off the tools! Got my dream bus - it's a 2003 International 3800 w DT466E and Allison 2000. It's got air brakes and air suspension with 130000 km (~80000 miles) on the odometer. If anyone can chime in as to the quickest/cheapest way to check the true odometer reading off the diagnostic port that would be very helpful. I have the 9 pin data link - so I am assuming it's using SAE J1939 for communication? I'm a bit confused here as from what I've read they didn't start putting the 9 pins until a few years after I also noticed the H and J pin locations are labelled but no pins inside and after reading the pin designations those pins are OEM defined so I guess they decided to not use those pins? Another thing I noticed while driving was that it seemed to have a speed limiter at around 110 km/h (68mph). Might have to disable that for maximum fun! It also struggled a bit going uphill but I will have to do more testing there.

So based on what I am reading - chopping idea isn't far fetched at all. It's currently 38' bumper to bumper and I can chop off 3 windows from the back to get it to 30' which would be a nice size. I also started toying with the idea of moving the rear axle forward. But the bus has storage boxes which I really don't want to remove - I was thinking of putting the tanks in there. The plan for now is to chop the 3 windows off the back and then drive it around to see how it feels. I don't want to cut or rebalance the driveshaft if I can make do.

I still have to ponder about the plow idea. My driveway is probably 100 ish feet so nothing too crazy and I figured it would force me to start the bus occasionally over the winter otherwise I will likely neglect it over the winter. Plus adding a plow isn't too big a project.

Man oh man - after driving this beast, I am thinking of putting the front loader idea on hold for now. Let me make the RV first! The turning radius and maneuverability is so much worse than I had anticipated. I wouldn't be able to do any real work. This is the biggest vehicle I have driven so far, the biggest before that probably a 26' U-Haul truck.

Thank you everyone for your responses!
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Old 07-12-2021, 12:03 AM   #16
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: Canada
Posts: 19
Year: 2003
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DT466E
Rated Cap: 72 passenger
Quote:
Originally Posted by musigenesis View Post
This is exactly what user Oldyeller did and for the same reasons. Here's his build thread showing the whole process. Looked kind of weird to me at first but now it seems pretty normal.

I've seen at least two other builds that did the same thing.
This is awesome! Thanks for that link!
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Old 07-12-2021, 12:05 AM   #17
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: Canada
Posts: 19
Year: 2003
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DT466E
Rated Cap: 72 passenger
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rucker View Post
And, what you are proposing is not anywhere as crazy as this amphibious rig:
https://www.autoevolution.com/news/t...on-165007.html
That's what I am talking about!
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Old 07-12-2021, 12:06 AM   #18
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: Canada
Posts: 19
Year: 2003
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DT466E
Rated Cap: 72 passenger
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr4btTahoe View Post
Bobbing the bus isn't too uncommon. Certainly doable. Many do it to turn them into trailer pulling rigs with living spaces like a toter home. Cut the body... move the rear body panel with door forward... chop frame a couple feet behind the rear axle.


You could likely do the FEL but it would need to be stand alone with an electric pump. They did make kits at one time for trucks as you linked but you likely wont find them anymore.
You are absolutely right! I searched everywhere on the internet for any kits like that but came up empty.
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Old 07-12-2021, 12:11 AM   #19
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: Canada
Posts: 19
Year: 2003
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DT466E
Rated Cap: 72 passenger
Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
or build a cool ass 2000 HP tractor you could take to the tractor pull in summer and used to plow the mountains of snow they get in winter canada.. better idea yet.. get the heck out of cold gray icey snowy canada and move someplace WARM!
Haha that would be an epic build!

Ahh man the snow has it's own appeal - it's the plowing that gets to me. A more sensible solution might just be to hire a plow but where is the fun in that
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Old 07-12-2021, 12:14 AM   #20
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: Canada
Posts: 19
Year: 2003
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DT466E
Rated Cap: 72 passenger
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bus'n it View Post
Well, if he moves, don’t come to Arizona looking for warmth. Out here it’s two seasons. Decent and furnace. Love the greater Phoenix area but wouldn’t recommend it to a newbie. Used to be prices of homes was a luring point. Might as well be NYC as expensive things have gotten here. Five more years and I’ll be a millionaire yet homeless!

Sorry to go off tangent, OP. Just don’t want you to make a mistake and head this way.
No plans of leaving Canada! Although, finding a good school bus with reasonable rust was a pain staking task. A lot busses to choose from down south with little to no rust in some areas. I was envious for a while there but now I got my own!
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