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Old 09-11-2020, 07:39 AM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 124
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!
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awilder is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-12-2020, 02:52 PM   #2
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 124
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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awilder is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-16-2020, 11:14 AM   #3
Join Date: Apr 2020
Posts: 38
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.
Rucker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-20-2020, 07:36 PM   #4
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: Ruidoso, New Mexico
Posts: 24
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 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.
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.
tradertim54@gmail is offline   Reply With Quote

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