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Old 08-21-2017, 10:56 PM   #1
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Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 4
Help me find a shorty Ford for 4x4 conversion

I'm in Montana, new to the site, and I need your help. I am looking to do a conversion of a shorty school bus (unless someone wants to talk me into a shuttle bus). My floorplan requires 15'-17' interior, so this would likely be a 6 or 7 window bus, if I'm correct. The finished product needs to sleep three separately and will likely have a small sink and toilet. This is going to be a fishing/camping rig, so I am looking for a Ford chassis, as I've been told those are easier to convert to 4x4 (or 6x6/) and a 4"-6" lift. I'll be towing a 400 pound wood driftboat, so not so much required there in terms of engines. A weekend warrior who's tough, not an everyday driver/tiny home. My budget is undetermined, but I am not looking for problems, so I expect to pay for no rust and a good engine. I'm a fisherman, not a mechanic. Thanks for the help!
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Old 08-21-2017, 11:08 PM   #2
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 8,462
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
So, why not start with a 4x4 chassis and just transplant the body?
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Old 08-21-2017, 11:42 PM   #3
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I would have no idea how to find a bare 4x4 chassis and a school bus body to transplant upon it. I think that's more than I can accomplish. Remember, I am a fisherman and have no specific skill that applies to this conversion other than the design. I have a local, reputable off-road shop that can handle the 4x4 conversion and lift. I have a buddy who builds cabinets, so he'd do the interior.
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Old 08-22-2017, 12:09 AM   #4
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Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Dowdy Lakes, Colorado
Posts: 1,437
Year: 1989
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner ER
Engine: 3208 CAT/MT643 tranny
Rated Cap: 87
Here's an idea: ask your local utility company if they have a 4X4 truck they want to sell. Let them know you are looking for a chassis long enough to accept a six or seven window school bus chassis. As a rule of thumb, those trucks are worth more apart, but if you can buy one together, your bell curve is years ahead in you build. Removing the working body will give you an option to sell it and get part of your finances back to put into the bus build. The cab can be removed as you graft the body onto the chassis giving you opportunities to really make that bus unique to your needs.

Just some ideas!

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Old 08-22-2017, 12:14 AM   #5
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I appreciate the creativity but that strategy just won't work for me. I do not have a shop or mechanic who could do such custom work. I need to buy a bus that is in good shape and have it modified by the off-road guys and my cabinet maker.
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Old 08-22-2017, 06:40 AM   #6
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: MNT CITY TN
Posts: 5,158
I assume your going to use a ujoint kit?

4x4 Van Conversion kits

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Old 08-22-2017, 10:45 AM   #7
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Yes, a u-joint kit is the current plan. Chris at ujointoffroad.com has been very helpful.
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Old 08-22-2017, 02:45 PM   #8
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 14,390
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
occasionally a 4x4 cutaway van skoolie comes up for sale on the auction sites.. theres a couple people here i believe that have them.. so they were made from the factory..
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Old 08-22-2017, 04:06 PM   #9
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Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Billings, MT
Posts: 1,269
Year: 2003
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: HDX
Engine: Cat C7
Rated Cap: 84 passenger
Why not buy a surplus M54 5 ton 6x6.
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Old 08-23-2017, 01:14 AM   #10
Join Date: Jun 2017
Posts: 105
Look on the auction web ssites and good ol Craigslist. Found my 2002 E450 Thomas 5 Window H/c on CL. Paid good money but was solid and under 200k miles. Was looking EVERYWHERE and was ready to fly to Denver to pick up a 4X2 rusty bus but mine popped up as I was looking for tickets and was local too. Ended up being cheaper in long run too (flight n drive plus rust repair).
Ordered U Joint kit right after purchase and will be here end of the month. Cannot wait.
Good luck n be patient, I got flaked on by numerous people and a couple companies from Craigslist and ebay.
Try and get the least amount of rust and try and get a 7.3.
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