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Old 09-11-2020, 07:39 AM   #1
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 179
Year: 2002
Chassis: Ford e450
Engine: 7.3 Powerstroke
2002 Ford e450 Build

Hi there, I have decided to start a build thread for my 2002 Ford e-450. 7.3 powerstroke engine, 157,000 miles. Came from the West coast a year ago with minimal rust.

The man I bought the bus from purchased it in Southern California, lived in it in Colorado for a year, and then drove it to Vermont where he has settled down with his girlfriend on her family's farm. He named her Wendy, after Bruce Springsteen's 'Born to Run.' We are still coming up with our own name. Parsley is one option, from my daughter.

I am a documentary/experimental filmmaker and mother to a three year old girl and stepmom to two boys, fourteen and twelve. We have lived in Brooklyn but since the pandemic have been in Rhode Island. Going on 6 months here now. My 99 year old grandma has an acre spot and so the bus is there, 15 minutes away from my mom's where we are staying. We hope to use the bus to travel to and from the places that matter to us, Rhode Island, Brooklyn (hence why we went short, for parking), Vermont, and everywhere. My daughter has become obsessed with surfing while in RI and I dream of driving her to CA to show her the big waves.

Back to the bus, here was its status when I got it:
-The seats were removed, although the two safety panels in front of the front two seats were there.-The floor, side panels and ceiling were original-There was a built in bed platform and frame for a couch with storage
-The wheelchair lift is still there, and functions
-The exterior was messily painted with primer
-Pre-purchase inspection found all good except it needs ball joints, fuel gauge and two tires.

Here is what I have done so far:
-Sent in my registration application to Vermont DMV-Received a quote for insurance for $1,600 a year from a RI AllState agent via Kelly Newsome, the well known Skoolie insurer. Haven't got it yet, as I'm not going anywhere soon.-Removed the bed platform and couch frame, saved the wood for possible use-Figured out the wheelchair lift works. It was leaning against the door, so pumped it up.-Realized a 6' original ceiling is rather low (I am 5'7"), so I'd be able to stand with insulation and all but who likes the ceiling so close and to have to duck to see out windows, so, thinking about a one foot roof raise or elevated skylights. 20/20 hindsight!-Took out the last two seat panels. The bolts came out easily with one person under the bus and the other inside with a socket wrench.-Started taking out the side panels, just a hundred screws but there are a handful of rivets under the windows that I have yet to remove.

Yesterday,-Started taking out the rubber and plywood from the floor. Got the plywood up near the front steps. Found a sheet of metal underneath and some screws won't budge. Broke a couple drill bits trying. Wonder what this metal is here for. Seems there's insulation under it. And that it may have been welded. But, there's rubber around the driver's seat tucked under the metal. Anyone seen this before?
All for now!
-Amanda
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Old 09-12-2020, 02:52 PM   #2
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 179
Year: 2002
Chassis: Ford e450
Engine: 7.3 Powerstroke
Today I was able to get just two hours in. I want to get the floor up in the next four days before I go home to Brooklyn for a couple weeks as I am anxious to see the condition. There is almost zero rust underneath, so I have no reason to worry, but want to see it with my own eyes.

Gotta get these wheelchair tie downs out, remove the wheelchair lift and I guess the floor heater. And the driver's seat. And, the plywood, which seems screwed down many times over.

I went to Home Depot and got eye protection and ear protection, and looked at the angle grinders to address the wheelchair tie downs but they had none that were affordable in stock. I thought about going to an equipment rental but decided I didn't have enough time to make it worth it.

So I drove to the bus and decided to remove more screws from the side panels. And realized I left my drill battery at home The bus is only 15 minutes from where I am staying, but I do wish it could be here, that would make this all so much easier, especially as my three year old could just be outside and I could jump in the bus. A next door neighbor has plenty of backyard space where they park cars and they're not here in the winter, so I'm going to ask them if I might park there.

I ripped up most of the rubber in the back and tore some up around the driver's seat. I guess the seat will have to come out, huh? It's also beaten to hell and I'll have to figure out if it's salvageable.

Wondering what this mystery box in the front is to the right of the stairs.

Stopped in a mechanic on the way home where there's a lot of school buses. The garage door was open. Apparently he's the mechanic for the school district. He gave me a far away look when I asked if he was interested in the wheelchair lift. I asked if he could address the three known issues with the bus - fuel gauge, ball joints, and two tires. He said to come back in a couple weeks, busy now.

All for now.
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Old 09-16-2020, 11:14 AM   #3
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: Northern California (Sacramento)
Posts: 253
Year: 1999
Chassis: Ford E450
You might want to keep the heater. The bus will get cold on a winter drive and you can’t rely on the front heater for the dashboard heater to take care of passengers in the back.
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Old 09-20-2020, 07:36 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: Ruidoso, New Mexico
Posts: 32
Year: 2001
Coachwork: International
Chassis: International
Engine: t444e/7.3liter diesel.
Rated Cap: 18000 GVWR
Are you where you can get manual labor help and some one with experience to help you?
Also harbor freight has cheap tools ...an angle grinder with 38 grit flap wheels and metal cut-off disc will be necessary. Also a good drill and bits. I like Bosch bits they're better.. A drill with a power cord plug in if you have access to electricity.
It's not uncommon for those busses to be a little funky built up around the drivers area... The chassis ( engine and frame) was build by Ford and the bus body by a totally different company could be Collins or Thomas or Bluebird etc. I see now your's is Thomas.
The top picture are places where brackets can be attached to hold wheelchairs and seats and such.
If I was you I WOULD NOT tear out the floor just cover it all with 1/2 in. plywood. Insulation in the floors is way over rated. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAj...bkIR54hAn6Zz7A
This guy is from Alaska and can tell you about floor insulation better than anyone, through real experience.
Unbolt the lift gate and take it to be recycled. I'm sure if you looked long and hard you will find some one to give it to, but few will want to buy it. Watch Navigation Nowhere on YouTube He's currently redoing a bus like yours, and his videos will help you more than anything. Don't change the title to an R/V you can get all the Insurance you need as a personal bus for over a thousand dollars less a year. Mine is liability only right now at 166 dollars a year. It will jump to 540 dollars a year with full coverage.You can take your bus to any basic garage and have new ball joints and maintenance work done. It's the same engine/chassis as a van or pickup of the same year. Doing a roof raise well I don't recommend it. My bus is an actual International trucks size short bus, 6'5" inside and I'm 6'3" a miss is as good as a mile. Also can you weld and do fabrication... you will need to do a lot of that, and it is cost prohibited to hire it done. Most skoolies people put bench sofas and such where they sit to look out or eat or sleep. Personally I had a van that I originally used, but now I have the skoolie and comfort wise it's ten times better. Is the mystery box the one with the fire extinguisher mount on top of it. If it is then it's just a box to hold tire chains and misc. tools. Keep posting and I will give you my 2 cents worth ... An opinion is all can offer. Your a trooper to take on a task like this but I applaud you for it.
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Old 03-04-2021, 03:36 PM   #5
New Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Posts: 1
Hi Amanda,
I just bought a 2005 e-350 bus to convert into a RV. I am also based in Rhode Island and was wondering if you could provide the insurance agency you are using. I have not been successful in finding one in RI yet and would love any help. I also would love to see how yours turns out. GOOD LUCK
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Old 03-04-2021, 03:44 PM   #6
Traveling
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Virginia
Posts: 2,302
Year: None
Coachwork: None
Chassis: None
Engine: None
Rated Cap: None
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sgphoto View Post
Hi Amanda,
I just bought a 2005 e-350 bus to convert into a RV. I am also based in Rhode Island and was wondering if you could provide the insurance agency you are using. I have not been successful in finding one in RI yet and would love any help. I also would love to see how yours turns out. GOOD LUCK
I hope for your sake that your 2005 is a gas engine...
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Old 03-05-2021, 09:14 AM   #7
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 179
Year: 2002
Chassis: Ford e450
Engine: 7.3 Powerstroke
Huh, I am just seeing the posts from September. Sometimes I get email notifications and sometimes don't.

Rucker, good idea on the heater. Someone else said the dash would be enough, especially if I am making a garage in the back, making the space about 10x8. I'll likely keep it. It gets cold here. Will probably go under a seat. I'm sure some research will tell me this, but just not sure how to take up the floor down to metal and keep it.

tradertim54, thanks for your thoughts. I have family where I'm working on the bus, but they're not the most handy, no offense! But I am meeting more people and think I'll have some help. Thanks for the tip on harbor freight. I have a Makita drill and bits. Navigation Nowhere - yes! I've watched a few of his videos and will watch more. As for insurance, it's already titled as an motorhome. And as I'll be parking in NYC sometimes I'd like full coverage.
And yeah..a roof raise. Right now, with the bus at the mechanic, it seems 'over my head' and maybe not in the plans.
Thank you for offering your advice.
Sgphoto, where in RI? I'm in North Kingstown. Google Kelly Newsome skoolie, she is an All State agent who works with skoolies. She answered the phone when I called her, 'so you want to insure a skoolie?' She will connect you with an all state agent in RI. She did for me and he gave me a quote, but I haven't gotten yet. I don't have his info anymore so can't give it to you, sorry. When/if my bus gets out of the mechanic (see thread 'bus at mechanic 2 months!') I'll have to call back Kelly.
Thanks, all! I have very little support around me on this project so I appreciate it.
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Old 03-08-2021, 07:57 AM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Location: Maryland
Posts: 12
Year: 2003
Coachwork: Corbeil
Chassis: E 450
Engine: 7.3
Hi Amanda - Two weeks ago I picked up a 2003 E450 with the 7.3 diesel. I'm interested to see how things turn out for you. Best of luck - thanks for sharing!
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Old 03-08-2021, 08:18 AM   #9
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 179
Year: 2002
Chassis: Ford e450
Engine: 7.3 Powerstroke
ATrain, congrats!

My bus is being towed (won't start) to a diesel mechanic tomorrow. Will fill you in when I know more! Fingers crossed I can get it going.
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Old 03-08-2021, 08:54 AM   #10
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 179
Year: 2002
Chassis: Ford e450
Engine: 7.3 Powerstroke
PS, ATrain, is yours this one in MD, sold by Derek?

https://www.facebook.com/commerce/li...are_attachment
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Old 03-08-2021, 12:01 PM   #11
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Location: Maryland
Posts: 12
Year: 2003
Coachwork: Corbeil
Chassis: E 450
Engine: 7.3
Thanks!

Also, don't fret - the 7.3 is well known by diesel mechanics so unless its something catastrophic (with 150k on the clock I'd highly doubt) they'll have it going in short order.

As for where mine came from the answer is both yes and no. I did get one from Derek and his brother but not the one listed on FB. One of the busses they had on FB caught my eye but unfortunately was spoken for a few days later when I had an opportunity to get out their way. Clearly disappointed I said thanks for your time but then they advised there were a couple more that were not listed. I ended up buying one of those. They even had a single axle e350 4 window there when I picked mine up. They seem to be decent folks.

I had mine towed from their place to mine - $250 for a tow seemed reasonable considering what my fine would be if (with my luck more like when) I got pulled over.
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Old 03-08-2021, 01:35 PM   #12
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 179
Year: 2002
Chassis: Ford e450
Engine: 7.3 Powerstroke
Quote:
Originally Posted by ATrain View Post
Thanks!

Also, don't fret - the 7.3 is well known by diesel mechanics so unless its something catastrophic (with 150k on the clock I'd highly doubt) they'll have it going in short order.

As for where mine came from the answer is both yes and no. I did get one from Derek and his brother but not the one listed on FB. One of the busses they had on FB caught my eye but unfortunately was spoken for a few days later when I had an opportunity to get out their way. Clearly disappointed I said thanks for your time but then they advised there were a couple more that were not listed. I ended up buying one of those. They even had a single axle e350 4 window there when I picked mine up. They seem to be decent folks.

I had mine towed from their place to mine - $250 for a tow seemed reasonable considering what my fine would be if (with my luck more like when) I got pulled over.

Glad it worked out for you. The two I saw him post looked in good condition. And good head room. Yours is okay with rust? Have you had it inspected?

Hope you're right about mine likely not being a lemon! Along with the possible issues, it's just so dirty...the guy that I bought it from who lived in it for a year in CO did such a horrid, sloppy white exterior paint job, and it's just nasty inside, the drivers seat torn up and paintings on the ceiling. Looks like you're getting a nice fresh start!
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Old 03-09-2021, 09:20 AM   #13
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Location: Maryland
Posts: 12
Year: 2003
Coachwork: Corbeil
Chassis: E 450
Engine: 7.3
It seems to be relatively clean and rust free......fingers crossed/knock on wood. I have ID'd spots in the body which need to be remediated prior to paint and I'm not concerned; well at this point anyways. Before I committed to buying I rolled around underneath and I was pleasantly surprised how little rust there was. Especially considering its lived in this region of the country. Of course that's just face value - who knows what I'll uncover in the coming months when I really get into the demo. As for inspection I haven't done that yet. In the state of MD buses, apparently, need to be painted a color other than school bus yellow, have most of the seats removed and the upper flashers need to be removed or blacked out. With the amount of work that has to be completed prior to inspection its really not on my radar right now. Those steps won't be taken until summer some time (if I'm lucky). But that's okay - I promised the wife I'd finish our main level remodel before going full bore on bus anyways. So at this point I'm just removing stickers and tracking down schematics. I'm very early on in the process.

Also, even though your buses paint isn't the way you'd like it that's alright. at least it has a paint job! I think these are 6 of one, half dozen of another type situations.

P.S. I'm interested to hear what the mechanic says about your mechanicals so please share if you have time.

Thanks!
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Old 03-09-2021, 09:59 PM   #14
New Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Posts: 2
Might be buying a Ford E450 Bus tomorrow!

Glad I came across your post. Did you get yours up and running?

I am looking at a 2002 tomorrow. The bus looks like it's in great condition from the photos but we'll see how it drives. It's got 247k, so that has me a little concerned and the A/c needs a condensor. They're asking $4700, is that reasonable? I'm just starting to look for one to convert into a skoolie so any advise would be greatly welcome.
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Old 03-10-2021, 07:25 AM   #15
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 179
Year: 2002
Chassis: Ford e450
Engine: 7.3 Powerstroke
Atrain, sounds like you're off to a positive start, probably good to have some time to start slow and gather info (I had to google 'schematics'!). What are your plans for how you're going to use your bus?

As for the paint job, there are drips all over and it's on the windows. It's a mess. Think he said it's white primer. I don't know anything about paint but imagine I'll have to sand it.

Will keep you updated about the mechanicals. I had it towed to the diesel mechanic yesterday. They're first going to work on getting it started, then go into the rest. When I told him the previous mechanic had sprayed ether to try to start it, he shook his head and said, 'you don't do that. So that has me concerned. Should know more by the end of the week.

17Teig, I am no expert, but those miles seem a little high. Price is really in the eyes of the buyer..and seems to depend on where you are. I know shorties are in high demand. Anyone who tells you you can get a shorty for $1,500 hasn't been looking in the past year or has scoured the earth and found a needle in a haystack. $4,700, if it's solid, doesn't seem unreasonable, but I'm in New England. You might want to start a new thread after you see the bus, take pictures and post them and other folks with more knowledge could give you more informed opinions on the bus.
Hope it works out!
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Old 03-10-2021, 10:48 AM   #16
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: Northern California (Sacramento)
Posts: 253
Year: 1999
Chassis: Ford E450
17Teig, sounds a bit high. Especially with the miles and known issue with condensor. Start a new thread and provide the details, others will chime in.
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Old 03-10-2021, 02:23 PM   #17
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Location: Maryland
Posts: 12
Year: 2003
Coachwork: Corbeil
Chassis: E 450
Engine: 7.3
Hopefully Iím on the right path. At a minimum I think Iím headed in the right direction. Time will tell. Sounds like youíre on the right track with getting your bus over to a proper mechanic.

It also sounds like you have some sanding in your future too! I sure do!! However, sanding isnít too bad. Just time consuming. One thing Iíve learned (by painting other vehicles) is that I'll be working my way through the grits. I've started off too high before, it took forever and I got frustrated. For the bus Iím not going to start off too aggressively as itís not in too terrible of shape. Rather, I plan on starting at 120, moving to 220 and then finishing at 320 before priming. Even though it doesnít sound like itíll save time it does and yields a better end result to boot.

As for intended use, to put it simply, I want to be able to take the family on vacation and camp (with hook-ups) in relative comfort without preparation being a massive ordeal. Might add solar down the road however being on the east coast we donít have ample areas to just go and camp with no one around. In fact, I donít know of any place like that in the DMVÖ...Anyways, I have what most would consider a large family and prep work for tent camping has become a real undertaking with all the gear, clothes, etc. If we want to be able to do weekend trips and vacation on the coast things need to be ready to go with relative Ďeaseí. I guess weíll see what happens. Once I start in on things I should probably start a build thread. Iím removing some seats this afternoon. Might take a few photos.

I hope all goes well with the mechanic and the bus!
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Old 03-10-2021, 05:41 PM   #18
New Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Posts: 2
Thanks!

Thanks for all your input and advice. It didn't happen with the Ford, I thought it was a little to high of mileage in the end. Nice to find a community that I can bounce stuff off of. Hope everything works out with your bus and isn't to expensive.
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Old 03-22-2021, 10:21 AM   #19
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Location: Maryland
Posts: 12
Year: 2003
Coachwork: Corbeil
Chassis: E 450
Engine: 7.3
Hi Amanda - I wanted to follow up up to see what the mechanic found and to send some good vibes your way. Hope everything is going well with the bus!
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Old 03-22-2021, 02:10 PM   #20
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 179
Year: 2002
Chassis: Ford e450
Engine: 7.3 Powerstroke
Thanks A Train I appreciate the vibes. I talked to the diesel mechanic last week and he said he believes 4 injectors are out. He said he needed some more time to get into it. Seems like it could be the valve cover gasket or crank sensor - wasn't clear to me if the injectors are positively out or not. But I trust him. Hoping to talk to him this week. And that the repairs are within my realm of possibility.

How is your bus?
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