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Old 07-25-2013, 01:54 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 2
Year: 1991
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: 7.3 Navistar
Rated Cap: 45
School bus to Custom Van

First, I am so glad I have found this site. It has already answered many questions that I have had about converting a school bus. That being said, I still have several questions that I would love to get answered.
I will explain my project idea. I am in a college campus ministry in Missouri and going into fulltime ministry after I graduate. I want a larger vehicle for road trips and such. I had a 1998 Suburban that I made into a 12 seat vehicle, but I am looking for more people room and luggage room. I work on a farm so I am used to and comfortable with driving large vehicles-I drive a crew cab Durastar and love it. I am in the process of getting an early to mid 90s diesel short wheelbase school bus. I am looking for a 45 passenger bus or handicap fullsize bus because they have the shorter wheelbase. I want to remove the rear cap of the bus, shorten the frame and body to just past the rear axle, and reattach the rear cap to the body. The bus will undergo other modifications to become less school bus like and more medium duty truck like-new paint, new bumpers, possible side skirt removal, etc. I will then keep the most number of seats possible (maybe 15 with regulations?) and turn the rest of the interior into luggage/storage space. I have a lot of experience with all kinds of vehicles and am very ingenuic when it comes to fabrications.
Here are the questions:
1) Is there any bus in particular I should be looking for? I have had good luck with International trucks so I am looking at International 3800 series school buses, most with the 7.3 Navistar but I would love to have a Dt446.
2) What is the measured wheelbase of a 45 passenger or similar bus? I would like to keep the overall length under 25 ft when it is all said and done with.
3) I do not have a CDL and would like to keep from having to have one. I know I have to stay under 26,000lb GVWR to stay away from that. Also, I have read that I need to stay under 16 passengers in order to drive the vehicle on a standard class F license. Again, this vehicle will be going on my personal insurance and I will be the sole driver. Does anyone have any recommendations on how to title the vehicle as my own and not have to go about the commercial vehicle route? Also, does anyone know for sure if 15 passengers is the cap for a personal vehicle?
Thank you in advance for your answers, I greatly appreciate it!

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Old 08-02-2013, 10:27 PM   #2
New Member
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 2
Year: 1991
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: 7.3 Navistar
Rated Cap: 45
Re: School bus to Custom Van

Hey guys, I could use some help. I have decided to progress with buying a half bus (originally around 30 seats, usually handicap. 5 windows long) I want to cut the frame and shorten the bus to 4 windows (right behind the rear axle) and move the rear cap forward. I would then limit the interior to 15 seats as to be under the 16 seat rule and under 26000 GVWR. Does anyone have any advice to licensing a bus not as a school bus but also not as an RV? Would I have to get it titled as a custom built vehicle? Then what companies would insure it?
Mechanical questions: has anyone shortened the entry door? I want to raise the entry to the second step for higher ground clearance. What performance upgrades can be done to the 444 International engine? Also, has anyone done a custom driver entry window? Like a lockable window that can be opened from the outside?
I'm basically looking at making a large 15 passenger van. Any help is appreciated, thanks.
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Old 09-08-2013, 06:41 PM   #3
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Location: NUNYA
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Year: 1995
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Chassis: 3800
Engine: DT408, AT545
Rated Cap: 23 500 gvw
Re: School bus to Custom Van

I doubt you will get much input here. When you start talking about cutting frame and body, you are going to lose people. The ones that do that pretty much know how and what they are doing and are not looking for advice. In California, driver plus 9 requires a class b license. Every state is different. Ask 5 Dmv employees in one state and you will get 6 different answers. Now multiply that by 50 states.
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Old 09-09-2013, 05:43 AM   #4
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Re: School bus to Custom Van

CC summed it up pretty good, I know how and would never tell someone how to do it(liability)

so you are going to shorten body work and then just cut off the frame rails sticking out back?

or are going to shorten WB even more?

look at the pictures from the rally a couple weeks ago, there is a bus that is done similar
Our build La Tortuga
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