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Old 05-26-2015, 10:45 AM   #1
New Member
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 1
2005 E-450 "Party Bus" Conversion Questions (In VA)

Long time lurker, first time poster. I have gotten great ideas and help from the community here so far, I really appreciate all of the knowledge.

This is my first time taking on something like this, so I apologize if I ask dumb questions.

I recently picked up a 2005 E-450 former School Bus, with about 65K miles on it. The overall goal is to turn it into a "Party Bus" of sorts for me and my friends to travel the in before my upcoming military deployment.

I have a few questions that I have not been able to find answers to, and was hoping I could get some help.

I live in Virginia, and have not been able to get a clear answer on what it takes to get my bus registered and street legal. So far I have followed the advice I have been given, and put a paint job on it, and removed everything that identifies it as a school bus (stop sign, changed light colors, took of school bus signs, etc.)

The DMV still won't give me a straight answer on what I need to do for it to be properly VA inspected and registered. Has anyone here done a conversion in VA, and know the laws on how to get it registered?

Also, i'd like to ensure that it keeps running for a long time, any tips on what I can do to "bullet-proof" it? Looking into getting a H/O Alternator to start, and replacing the starting batteries, then probably some engine work. Anything else performance wise I should think about?

Sorry for the long-winded post, and thanks in advance for any assistance!

DFxSteel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-26-2015, 12:32 PM   #2
Bus Crazy
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 2,233
I am not sure exactly what you are asking in regards to license and title issues.

If the bus is seated for more than 14-pax it will require the driver to have at a minimum a Class 'C' CDL, the owner of the bus will be required to have a USDOT number and meet all of the requirements under FMCSA authority, the owner will be required to get a MC number and meet the insurance requirements for operating a bus for hire, and the owner will need to get some sort of operating authority from the state in which you will be operating. Most of the operating authority stuff is all about revenue generation and a little bit about safety.

Under those circumstances it won't matter what the title and registration says if somewhere it says bus.

If the bus is seated for l4-pax or less a whole different set of rules apply. If it doesn't seet more than 14-pax then you really do not want it to say bus anywhere in the title or registration.

As far as making the bus bullet proof it all sort of depends upon which power package it has.

If your bus has the 6.0L diesel the only thing to do to try and get any miles out of it is to run it like you stole it. If you can get it good and hot at least a couple of times per month, hot as in running it in 2nd gear at redline for thirty minutes or more, you may be okay. But if you spend all of the time at slow speeds or idling the engine will not last very long at all.

If you bus has the V-10 gas you will need to go to the Ford V-10 forums for specifics. Those engines are known for a couple of bad habits, one of them being spitting out spark plugs. The online forums would be a good place to start for answers.

In either case you will have the Ford E4OD, 4R100, or follow on transmission. Their basic problem is they are not very heavy duty. There is no physical way in which the ATF can move through the transmission without getting hot. When the ATF gets hot it breaks down. When the ATF breaks down so does the transmission. The only cure is to get a transmission temperature gauge and back off when it starts to get hot and change the fluid and filter often.

I hope this helps.

Good luck and happy trails.
cowlitzcoach is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-26-2015, 05:11 PM   #3
Site Team
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Nanaimo, British Columbia
Posts: 426
I'm not in VA, but here in CO, I called the local county clerk's office and told them exactly what I wanted to do. They were extremely helpful, and their office manual actually has a skoolie section in it.

Maybe try calling back, or calling another office (there are at least three I could call here in Boulder County), and lay out very clearly what you want to do. If all else fails, show up in person, first thing in the morning, on a day you have nothing else planned. Stay until you've got an answer, in writing.
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Old 05-26-2015, 05:30 PM   #4
Bus Crazy
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Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: EHT New Jersey
Posts: 1,134
Year: 2003
Coachwork: AmTran
Chassis: International 3000RE
Engine: T444E/AT545
Rated Cap: 75
I got in touch with NJ MVC last year, and apparently their manual *also* has a skoolie section in it. Get in touch with DMV at the state level, and see what needs to be done there.

I'd also see about registering it just as an E450, not a "party bus", insure it as such, and ensure that it seats less that 14.

Just my two quatloos, and remember, when dealing with a multi-state forum, YMMV
Hey! That's not an RV, that's a school bus.
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