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Old 03-15-2016, 09:45 PM   #1
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Short Bus shortening for towing 5th

So I had an idea which some on here have already done. Buy a short bus (aka F450 or similar), remove all the rivets and pull the rear cap off, cut off the appropriate amount of body to shorten it, and replace the rear cap. Finish the inside with nice captains chairs, seats, etc for comfort. Build a bed on the back or install a dually pickup bed, and put in a 5th wheel hitch. All could be performed for a fraction of the cost of a stock F450 truck with the same comfort and towing capacity. Then use said truck to haul a 5th wheel camper.
After my brilliant idea I did some quick square rooting in my head and determined that for the cost of the F450 build (let's estimate $7k total) + the cost of a used 5th wheel camper (let's go with $25k), you would be much better off (and less cost) by purchasing a regular skoolie and converting it to an RV, and have lots of money left to use for traveling.
So much for my "aha" moment!
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Old 03-15-2016, 09:56 PM   #2
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Still not a bad idea. I had almost the same idea, but using a long bus. Basically shorten the frame so the fifth wheel could sit over the axle.
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Old 03-16-2016, 08:33 AM   #3
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A quick search on Google indicates that you aren't alone in this thought!

I did an image search for "school bus 5th wheel". There are a couple out there.



Or on the inverted side of things:
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Old 03-16-2016, 08:35 AM   #4
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I would guess that the first one would be terrifying to drive when not loaded. I could imagine it toppling head over heels if the brakes were applied too abruptly!
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Old 03-16-2016, 09:32 AM   #5
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I would guess that the first one would be terrifying to drive when not loaded. I could imagine it toppling head over heels if the brakes were applied too abruptly!
Yeah, I never even considered doing it to a flat nose. And the bus converted to a trailer looks redneck 100% Bet they won't let that in any rv parks!
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Old 03-16-2016, 01:08 PM   #6
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I like the looks of the first one, but it seems kind of redundant to cut off the bus body, that you could live in, so you're able to pull something that you could live in.

Who knows, maybe these were collision buses that someone re-engineered.
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Old 03-16-2016, 01:46 PM   #7
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I like the looks of the first one, but it seems kind of redundant to cut off the bus body, that you could live in, so you're able to pull something that you could live in.

Who knows, maybe these were collision buses that someone re-engineered.
My thought for doing it is to get a 1 ton or better capacity truck for a fraction of the price of a Ford F450 or similar.
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Old 03-16-2016, 02:19 PM   #8
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I would use these as transporters in a heart beat..I think I am in love all over again..happyhappyhappy
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Old 03-16-2016, 03:42 PM   #9
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I'm not so sure about the skoolie 5th wheel trailer with the air conditioner and stove pipe. That's tantamount to pulling a 5th wheel camper with a bus like the second pic. Just doesn't make sense, but then it's about making due with what you got.
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Old 03-16-2016, 03:49 PM   #10
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A local company makes ambulance bodies of all types.

They have specialized in making boxes that can be moved from chassis to chassis at a fraction of the cost of a whole new ambulance.

As a result they usually have four or five used ambulance E-350/450 chassis available where they have installed a bulkhead behind the driver and a bare chassis is out back. They have also done a few with flatbeds and flatbed dumps as well.

Not bad little trucks but the seating is limited to the driver and co-pilot.
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Old 03-16-2016, 05:38 PM   #11
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This looks cool!

school bus 5th.jpg
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Old 03-16-2016, 06:51 PM   #12
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That would be worth restoring.
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Old 03-16-2016, 09:15 PM   #13
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This looks cool!

Attachment 9731
That is BAD ASS, Just think how pissed the wife would have been if I brought that home instead of the bus.
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Old 03-16-2016, 09:26 PM   #14
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This looks cool!

Attachment 9731
Buy two buses. Cut the rear 2/3 off one and make it the hauler. cut the front off the other bus and add the rear portion you cut off the 1st bus. Presto, you have one like the one shown!
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Old 03-16-2016, 11:37 PM   #15
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Does anybody recognize what year that bus or truck are? Is that a factory job or is that what the metal man from the factory built in his back yard?
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Old 03-17-2016, 07:43 AM   #16
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Buy two buses. Cut the rear 2/3 off one and make it the hauler. cut the front off the other bus and add the rear portion you cut off the 1st bus. Presto, you have one like the one shown!

If anyone is handy with photoshop it would be cool to see a newer model bus (Thomas or Bluebird) photoshopped to get an idea of what it would look like.
The weight of the trailer would be much more than your standard 5th wheel...probably more in line with a semi-trailer. I would probably take the axle off a semi-trailer to replace the rear differential so you could have air brakes on the trailer as well and an axle that can handle the weight of the trailer. Would also use some variation of a semi-trailer landing gear to support the front of the trailer when it is parked.
Pulling the engine from the donor bus used for the trailer might give you an opportunity to rebuild it for higher hp and eventually swap it into the tow bus. I would love to design and build a rig like this. Just need a big workshop with an overhead crane for lifting the bodies, chassis and other parts and lots of metalworking tools. Time to buy a lottery ticket
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Old 03-17-2016, 09:05 AM   #17
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Could just start with a used semi. A guy in my town has a semi registered for private use for towing his boat.

Here's one guy's "RV" -
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Old 03-17-2016, 10:24 AM   #18
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Could just start with a used semi. A guy in my town has a semi registered for private use for towing his boat.

Here's one guy's "RV" -
I've been looking at private use of an HDT (Class 8 truck aka semi) for several years. the Escapee forum has many full time rv people that use them to pull 5th wheel trailers. They all have their semi re-titled as an RV so no CDL is needed. Va is strict about retitling so this option is almost impossible. I can't get clarification if a CDL is needed for a semi truck registered for private use. Last is the cost.....price for a decent used Class 8 is about same as a used Coach Bus ($20k or more). The good thing with a class 8 truck is they are designed to easily go over 1 million miles, the engines are easy to get to for maintenance and parts are readily available, and they are 400 or more horsepower for great towing capacity.
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