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Old 10-23-2018, 02:07 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Some advice on picking a shorty!

Hello all! This is my first post here and I'm so excited to join the community and buy a bus! I'm definitely more interested in short buses (4-6 windows) and like the idea of having that back door and possibly also a side door (usually seen with the wheelchair lifts) but past that, I'm not really sure what I should be looking for. I know the style I want but wanted some advice on what engines I should be looking out for and such. I know brands (ford, chevy, etc) are kind of up to preference, but if anyone has any insight or anything it would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 10-23-2018, 03:05 PM   #2
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Hello all! This is my first post here and I'm so excited to join the community and buy a bus! I'm definitely more interested in short buses (4-6 windows) and like the idea of having that back door and possibly also a side door (usually seen with the wheelchair lifts) but past that, I'm not really sure what I should be looking for. I know the style I want but wanted some advice on what engines I should be looking out for and such. I know brands (ford, chevy, etc) are kind of up to preference, but if anyone has any insight or anything it would be greatly appreciated!
I'd look for a mid-90's to 2003 of whatever flavor you like. Cat, Cummins, International. Those three are good. Bonus points if you get a shorty with ANY transmission other than a 545.
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Old 10-23-2018, 03:14 PM   #3
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Thank you I'll keep an eye out! Any reason for the transmission being different than 545 or are they just impossible to find?
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Old 10-23-2018, 03:23 PM   #4
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The AT545 is not a bad tranny, it's just not ideal for hi speed interstate or mountain driving. A Van chassis shorty like a Ford E-series will not have an AT545. A full size shorty might depending on year and application.
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Old 10-23-2018, 03:25 PM   #5
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Oh okay! Cool that makes total sense thank you!!
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Old 10-23-2018, 03:54 PM   #6
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Thank you I'll keep an eye out! Any reason for the transmission being different than 545 or are they just impossible to find?
Most full size chassis short buses up to the early 2000's had 545's and lower powered engines. Usually rated less than 200hp.
The 545 is *ok* in a short bus. I've got a bus with one.
I LOVE this bus! Its got a combo that's a bit unpopular on here but LOW miles and low hours so I'm glad I snatched it up. It has a Cat 3126 rated at 190 hp and the 545 is a reman unit even though the bus only has 64k miles on it. The traffic moves FAST where this bus saw duty and I think thats what killed the first one.


I like 5 or 6 window full sized chassis short buses. My other bus is an International. 2004 with a DT466 and Allison 2000. That's a great combo I just wish the bus was a few years older. International had quality control issues from 2004 on.
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Old 10-23-2018, 04:04 PM   #7
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Super cool bus! Cool good to know...I'm not exactly mechanically inclined (lol) what do y'all think about the buses with the van fronts? I was looking at this: https://www.govdeals.com/index.cfm?f...ion=1#question
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Old 10-23-2018, 05:38 PM   #8
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if you're interested in a 5 window Vista I'll have one for sale in about a month!
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Old 10-23-2018, 06:42 PM   #9
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Van chassis is fine like the E-Series Ford, but really hard to work on due to limited room. Still a decent choice.
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Old 10-23-2018, 07:27 PM   #10
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Super cool bus! Cool good to know...I'm not exactly mechanically inclined (lol) what do y'all think about the buses with the van fronts? I was looking at this: https://www.govdeals.com/index.cfm?f...ion=1#question
A stay away from van chassis stuff. Hard to work on and not built as strong.
But if you need to park in a van sized spot then nothing will beat a van.
I own one of those too.
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Old 10-23-2018, 09:37 PM   #11
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I beg to differ.. i liek the van chassis stuff.. yes it can be a pain to work on but no harder than a van.. the doghouse and hood arrangement of a van chassis bus is the same as a van..



with van chassis you often can buy parts at regular auto parts stores and many auto shops will work on them.. underneath the bus body is a standard Van.. in the fords its usually an E-350 and in the chevy its usually an express or savannah 3500 series..



with the driver area configuration it mnay end up being semi-wasted space in a conversion vs a full chassis.. van chassis are not as heavy duty and you have less space underneath the bus for locating tanks, storage, generators, etc as they are on regular van wheels.. all depends on the type of conversion you are going for.. for a minimal 1 or 2 person roadtrip cruiser i think van chassis are pretty decent.. seems like more of them come with niceties like A/C, stereo, and cruise. whereas not all full chassis have that..
-Christopher
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Old 10-24-2018, 04:17 AM   #12
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I figured it would be easier/cheaper to repair something that is basically a van underneath, no? I've been looking at auction sites--any insight on this as an option? https://www.govdeals.com/index.cfm?f...01&acctid=1581
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Old 10-31-2018, 07:58 PM   #13
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I've got a E350

I just bought, ok 6 months ago I bought and havent had time to work on it, a Ford E350 based van bus. I'm in the planning stage and it is really hard to fit everything into 90sqft. I wish I had one like in the photo above. That would seem to be the best size trade-off. And with the van wraped around the engine it is hard to work on.
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Old 11-01-2018, 01:21 AM   #14
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If I were to purchase a Type 'A' bus on a van cut-away chassis the only one I would consider would be a GM G-4500 with the 6.0L/6L80 or 6.0L/8L80 power package. I would stay away from an diesel version on a van cut-away chassis. The only really good diesel engines were the 7.3L in the Ford E-series and the Duramax in the GM G-series. The big problem with the 7.3L was that it was paired with the Ford E4OD or follow on version transmission. They were junk on the day Ford put that transmission into anything larger than a Crown Vic. The Duramax is a great engine and it was paired with the Allison which was a great transmission. The only problem is that GM G-series van cut-away production that were built with the Duramax was less than 5% of production to they are into the unicorn status.

If I were to purchase a small Type 'C' bus I would not get any V-8 and I would stay with Cummins or IHC. The Mercedes-Benz, Cat, and Ford of Brazil engines were good engines but parts and service, if you can find anyone who will work on one in a bus, tends to be more expensive than a Cummins or IHC.

Newer buses with the Allison 1000/2000/3000 are preferred over the older AT/MT/HT series. And as it has been noted many times elsewhere, if you can find a bus that doesn't have an AT540 it is worth the extra $$$ if you can get it.
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Old 11-01-2018, 01:53 AM   #15
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I definitely like the idea of the van with the bus because of the ability to park as well as well as it being tiny bit more discreet. I'm currently looking at a 2006 Ford 450 (6.0L Diesel) Paratransit bus, 2006 Ford 450 (bluebird body, 6L DSL), 2003 Chevy Express bus (V8 gas) any insight on these kind of options?
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Old 11-01-2018, 02:18 AM   #16
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I definitely like the idea of the van with the bus because of the ability to park as well as well as it being tiny bit more discreet. I'm currently looking at a 2006 Ford 450 (6.0L Diesel) Paratransit bus, 2006 Ford 450 (bluebird body, 6L DSL), 2003 Chevy Express bus (V8 gas) any insight on these kind of options?
The Chevy with the gas V-8 would be my first choice!

A Ford with the 6.0L diesel would not be my choice if it was my only choice.
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Old 11-01-2018, 02:42 AM   #17
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Any reason why? I've heard diesel is the way to go so I've been focusing on diesels for the most part...
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Old 11-01-2018, 06:03 AM   #18
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Diesel is the way to go, but there are some that are not so good like the Ford 6.0L engine. Find a bus with a 7.3L diesel if you want reliability.
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Old 11-01-2018, 06:29 AM   #19
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When we were looking for our bus I discovered that most of the short type C's had hydraulic brakes instead of air brakes. Not sure if that matters to everyone, but it did to us.

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Old 11-01-2018, 06:49 AM   #20
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I love my e350 ford shuttle bus. If you are going to put a lot of miles on a bus then you want a diesel. If you are on a budget and want a good bus at a good price, go with the van chassis. I use my gasser to pull 20 foot enclosed trailer and travel 6-8 trips a year to ATV parks. All depends on what fits you and your usage.
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