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Old 12-30-2014, 01:22 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by davidshelton View Post
This could be a really cool project. Love the look of the 4x4 shuttle bus. At one time, I thought about converting mine to 4x4 but realized that I would need even longer ramps to load my Cobra.
Thanks, I'd love to see some details about how you hinged and sealed your door. That's probably one of the first projects I'll tackle. The 4x4 conversion may be down the road a bit depending on who I can find to help with it.
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Old 12-30-2014, 10:30 PM   #22
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Headinthetrees, just read your thread. Somehow I missed it earlier. I really like that duce! It will be interesting to see what you do with the bus. There is a lot of potential in the small buses. Travelling in them is much easier than the larger buses (and less expensive).

We have some common interest. I'm really interested in the tiny house movement as well. Also, I spent the whole weekend researching composting toilets. Come spring, I'm switching over.
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Old 12-30-2014, 10:58 PM   #23
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Thanks for the interest. I'm pissed I missed the best deal on a shuttlebus right as I started to get this idea in my head. Didn't pull the trigger fast enough. Now I'm patiently waiting for another great deal to come along. Conveniently, I have an extra motor and tranny on deck so I can get a bus with engine problems if the deal is sweet enough. Just gotta play the waiting game.
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Old 01-01-2015, 09:10 AM   #24
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Old 01-01-2015, 03:52 PM   #25
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Looks like we have landed similar vehicles. I won't be toy hauling with mine, just family touring
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What are the specs on this? We've been looking at one smaller even than yours mostly just to use to move across country.
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Old 01-04-2015, 12:17 PM   #26
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Re: Driving in snow:
There are three parts to winter driving, getting going, steering, and stopping. I understand that the snow in the Rockies is different from lake effect off of the Great Lakes and Nor'easters off of the Atlantic, so the following may need local modification.

I drive an SUV every day. When I was doing service calls 24x7, I did those calls with rear-wheel drive vehicles. That occasionally meant driving un-plowed roads on days that everybody else stayed home.

Now that I have a 4x4, I NEVER put it into 4-wheel drive unless I am at a near stand-still, either stuck or just about to be. I don't want to be in 4-wheel drive on the highway. Having the front wheels locked to the engine can hurt your steering ability and will diminish the ability of the front wheels to maintain independent traction over varying patches of road when braking.

Front drive only helps when you are applying power, pulling the front in the direction you want to go. Once you take your foot out of it, the engine braking works against the wheels not sliding, and some steering control is lost.

I am of the opinion that driving in snow is 90% technique, and 10% equipment. For example, if I come to the top of an icy hill, I don't just drive over the crest. I come to a complete stop, and then crawl down in low gear. Never stop at a low point, always stop on a slight crest, even if it means you are a few feet back from a stop sign or traffic light. Once going, maintain momentum to carry you past zero-traction spots. Don't expect to just power away, even in 4-wheel drive.

In reality, driving on snow and ice is all about the weight distribution. A rear-engined Volkswagen beetle from the last century will drive circles around an empty 4x4 pickup truck in the snow. Read Hex's blog about driving school children in snow in Buffalo.

Planning the placement of built-ins, fuel tanks, water and grey tanks, and battery banks is actually more important than the ability to power the front wheels. Plus, not having the live axle up front will no doubt improve your fuel mileage. Just my 2˘ . . . .
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Old 01-04-2015, 01:39 PM   #27
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I read a study once that hypothesized that drivers with 4x4 engaged constantly tend to develop a false-sense of security about their abilities to steer and stop. The idea is that drivers with only 2 wheels engaged - unlike those with 4x4 engaged - will more quickly become aware of slippery situations during acceleration and thus will be more likely to provide appropriate stopping distance and go slower around corners.
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Old 01-04-2015, 02:19 PM   #28
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I think the same applies to front-wheel versus rear-wheel drive. The front drive will pull you where you want to go up to speeds above your level of ability, beyond which you can not slow down or stop. Rear-wheel drive will get squirrely when you start going too fast for conditions, and you will back off the accelerator to maintain control.

Plus, the engine braking on rear wheel drive tends to act like a sea anchor. The engine/transmission keeps you pointed the right way by letting the front wheels roll while holding back the rear when you need to slow down. In an absolute "losing it" situation, the correct procedure is to take both feet off the pedals, and using engine braking steer down the road if it is clear. If the road is not clear, steer for a controlled impact with something soft but not human.

With front wheel drive, during engine braking the rear is free to go while the front is held back, causing a force that wants the vehicle to turn sideways. I once did a 360° in an early Honda Civic just by taking my foot off the gas on a misty road that I did not know was beginning to freeze. A friend who is an experienced driver did the same thing in an early Accord. Most FWD cars are not quite as bad.

In an absolute "losing it" situation, the correct procedure for FWD is to step on the clutch or shift to neutral, and then steer.

What I did in the Civic was to step on the clutch, which stabilized my drift backwards facing my 7:00 o'clock with the front wheels turned left, turning in reverse. I then cut the front wheels right to swing around through my direction of travel, dumped the shifter into third gear, and let out the clutch adding full throttle once I faced the correct way. (I did slide backwards through a traffic light I was easing up for, but there was no one coming out the side street that night, so the sensor-controlled light stayed green.)

p.s. In my service trucks, I modified the ratchets on the emergency brakes to only lock when I wanted to set them. That way, I could modulate the front and rear braking balance with my two feet when descending icy hills.
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Old 01-04-2015, 02:38 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redbear View Post
Re: Driving in snow:
There are three parts to winter driving, getting going, steering, and stopping. I understand that the snow in the Rockies is different from lake effect off of the Great Lakes and Nor'easters off of the Atlantic, so the following may need local modification.

I drive an SUV every day. When I was doing service calls 24x7, I did those calls with rear-wheel drive vehicles. That occasionally meant driving un-plowed roads on days that everybody else stayed home.

Now that I have a 4x4, I NEVER put it into 4-wheel drive unless I am at a near stand-still, either stuck or just about to be. I don't want to be in 4-wheel drive on the highway. Having the front wheels locked to the engine can hurt your steering ability and will diminish the ability of the front wheels to maintain independent traction over varying patches of road when braking.

Front drive only helps when you are applying power, pulling the front in the direction you want to go. Once you take your foot out of it, the engine braking works against the wheels not sliding, and some steering control is lost.

I am of the opinion that driving in snow is 90% technique, and 10% equipment. For example, if I come to the top of an icy hill, I don't just drive over the crest. I come to a complete stop, and then crawl down in low gear. Never stop at a low point, always stop on a slight crest, even if it means you are a few feet back from a stop sign or traffic light. Once going, maintain momentum to carry you past zero-traction spots. Don't expect to just power away, even in 4-wheel drive.

In reality, driving on snow and ice is all about the weight distribution. A rear-engined Volkswagen beetle from the last century will drive circles around an empty 4x4 pickup truck in the snow. Read Hex's blog about driving school children in snow in Buffalo.

Planning the placement of built-ins, fuel tanks, water and grey tanks, and battery banks is actually more important than the ability to power the front wheels. Plus, not having the live axle up front will no doubt improve your fuel mileage. Just my 2˘ . . . .

I understand where you're coming from, and I've been driving in snow all my life. If I had to chose, I'd take FWD over RWD in the snow of course. I'll still take 4wd over 2wd anyday. I can see how 4wd effects steering to a degree, but I'm not trying to drive it like a racecar. I'd much rather the traction on all four corners.

Weight distribution is of course a huge deal, and having weight over a rear wheel drive is important. However if you think a VW bug will get places my 4x4 pickup can't, even unladen, you're sadly mistaken. Clearance is an issue, so is tread design and tire size. If I throw 4 chains on my truck I can break trail through 2 feet of snow, please show me a VW bug that can do the same.

I'll admit I've never driven a shuttle bus (or any bus for that matter) in the snow. However the blog link you posted is for a full size school bus, which is an entirely different animal from a physics standpoint. The shuttle bus in question resembles a truck chassis far more than a bus chassis, depending on what length I end up with of course.

You mentioned that you never engage 4x4 unless you're nearly at a standstill or almost stuck. This is exactly the reason I want it. With a big heavy bus getting going is a problem. Having traction on all corners with a manually transmitted dual range transfer case will greatly improve this situation.

In the world of mud (and deeper snow) moving matter back is what propels you forward, assuming you can stay on top and not dig into a rut. This is far more effective when you're doing it with all your wheels.

I wont argue that driving in snow is 90% skill, but the 10% equipment can make a huge difference in sticky situations if used properly. You don't always have a choice where you stop when driving in traffic.

As far as the fuel economy thing, I won't be always stuck in 4x4, I'll only use it as needed. I can take the mileage hit in those cases.

Please don't take this as being argumentative, I appreciate and respect your opinions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jazty View Post
I read a study once that hypothesized that drivers with 4x4 engaged constantly tend to develop a false-sense of security about their abilities to steer and stop. The idea is that drivers with only 2 wheels engaged - unlike those with 4x4 engaged - will more quickly become aware of slippery situations during acceleration and thus will be more likely to provide appropriate stopping distance and go slower around corners.
I agree absolutely. I live in a ski town which is heavily frequented by tourists from the SF bay area. They roll up here in 6,000 lb SUV's and think their 4x4 makes them invincible. Two miles after they roar past you they are piled into a snowbank.

However I'm not your average driver and I respect and understand the laws of physics
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Old 01-06-2015, 02:48 PM   #30
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As I said, snow is different in different places. We probably have ice under the snow more often than out west. My main point was, 4-wheel drive is just a tool, just like chains or studded tires (sorry, southerners). It is not the magic bullet those SUV pilots from SFO think it is.

I wasn't talking about 2 feet of snow and just getting going. With the old VW I was talking about being easier to keep it pointed where it is supposed to and not spinning wheels, as compared to an fresh-off-the-dealer's-lot empty pickup. If you have chains for yours, I suspect you also have some toolboxes and other ballast as well. 100 lbs of cement blocks or sand in the trunk of an old American-made rear-wheel drive sedan made a night and day difference.

Ground clearance certainly is an issue, and there is less and less of it today because ground clearance is the enemy of fuel economy. I did remove the air dam under the front bumper from the SUV I drive to gain added clearance on dirt radio tower access roads, and overall MPG dropped from almost 16 to about 14.5.

I used to ram across the banks left across the driveway by town plows when I got home from work, in order to park before clearing the driveway. The first time I tried it with a small Hyundai I once owned with minimal clearance, it sat in the bank like a beached whale until I could shovel it out.

I just now drove past the underside of a 4x4 pickup that was sitting in the ditch on its driver's door alongside the 2-lane state highway, with the sheriff's deputy and a couple of volunteer firefighters in the assembled crowd. The road had about 1/8" of unknown liquid in the tire tracks. It could have been slush, salt water courtesy of DOT, or it could have been liquid over thin ice. Traction appeared 'normal' if you did not try something sudden.

Though the road was plowed multiple times, outside the tire tracks there was one to four inches of slush in the driving and breakdown lanes.

Winter driving in the east in some ways is the opposite of driving in mud, but as a disclaimer I am not a 'mudder.' You do not want wide, soft tires with maximum surface area and minimum surface pressure to float over the surface of snow like in mud. The only place maximum surface area is helpful is on glare ice, like driving across a frozen lake.

Eastern snow driving is more like driving in heavy rain than in mud. You want hard, skinny tires to exert maximum surface pressure, either to pack down powder, make contact with the surface under the snow, or squeegee any slush or salt water out from under the treads. Hydroplaning in a few inches of slush is a greater danger to an experienced winter driver than being on glare ice, where at least you can point your slide.
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Old 01-07-2015, 01:02 PM   #31
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You raise a lot of good points redbear, and I appreciate your advice. While I realize 4x4 isn't the only way to skin this cat, I'm approaching the design from a standpoint of versatility. I can't even predict all the things this rig will get used for, so I'd like to give it every possible advantage. Also not having to get out and chain up just to please our overzealous chain control policy here in California would be nice. Seriously there are times they enact chain control where there isn't a bit of snow or ice across the summit, its insane. But here in Cali we have to cater to the lowest common denominator, which when it comes to drivers is pretty low.

Great example of this, I'm driving up 80 towards Donner summit, and I see 3 minivans pulled over chaining up. There's about 20-25 asians scattered alongside the road, some of which dangerously close to traffic. They're collectively figuring out how to install their chains, all on the rear wheels of their front wheel drives!

I'm already starting to imagine the arguments I'm going to get into with some of the CalTrans guys when I tell them my shuttlebus is 4x4.
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Old 01-07-2015, 11:39 PM   #32
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RE: Caltrans/CHP Chain Police

I was on the left coast once for a ski tour to Mammoth in 1980. In Bishop, the locals were playing tennis with their T-shirts off with the snowy mountains in the background. Halfway up from there, the chain police made our full-sized coach stop to put on chains to continue on a plowed road.

Of course, that year LA had just had 10" of rain the week before, and the peaks had 10 feet of fresh snow. I thought the chain rule was a special circumstance, but I guess it's not. Once there, I was shocked at a car that could not make it up the plowed driveway of a condo because the driver could not control its power (wheel spin) and momentum.

It was interesting skiing for a week in sunny sweater weather without needing four layers of clothing plus a face mask below my goggles for zero degree weather. But it was harder to breathe at twice the highest altitude of the east.

The favorite bus I ever worked on was a shortened full-size dog nose with 6-wheel drive, and if I ever saw it again for sale . . . . .
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Old 01-08-2015, 11:53 AM   #33
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Ya catering to the lowest common denominator in california gets pretty tiresome. With all the people who can barely operate a vehicle on straight flat roads, the mountains are often a **** show. A lot of people can do little more than point a car in the right direction and step on the gas, with no clue about body roll, cornering, wheelspin, traction, torque curves or anything else that really defines "driving."

And even when they're not behind the wheel they're still obnoxious. The "flatlanders" as we call them come up and drink at 6,000+ ft not realizing the lack of oxygen gets them intoxicated twice as fast. Some old man tried to fight four of us in a pharmacy the other day because he bumped into us. Everyone thinks they're superman all the sudden.
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Old 01-08-2015, 08:14 PM   #34
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this just popped on my radar... http://scottsbluff.craigslist.org/cto/4802349158.html

Nice bus for a nice price, wish it wasn't all the way in nebraska...
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Old 01-20-2015, 03:46 PM   #35
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Well guys, life happened yesterday. I got offered a job to wire a very high-end house in downtown SF. The pay is great, the hours are grueling and the schedule is ambitious, to say the least. The nerd in me is super stoked about the project, because I'll get to play with all the best automation equipment and a/v gear with no real budget. The realist in me is a bit overwhelmed, by the sheer scope and timeline of the project. But it'll get done, has to. Hopefully the perfectionist in me can realize I won't be able to do everything I want to given the circumstances.

Anyway, this is going to derail my bus build for the next few months at minimum. I'll be working 6 to 7 days a week and simply will have no time to think about it let alone do anything.

You guys have been very supportive and a great source of knowledge and entertainment. Hopefully I'll make a bus conversion happen at some point in the future, the salary I'm getting certainly won't hurt. I'll of course still stop in now and then to see whats going on here.
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Old 01-20-2015, 05:03 PM   #36
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The bright side is...you'll be able to afford lots of new toys for your bus! Hang in there, sometimes life gets in the way for a good reason.
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Old 01-21-2015, 06:49 AM   #37
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HITT, i thought we were pals till you used that 4 letter word, LIFE, lol
have fun with all that cool a/v stuff. looking forward to your pics of your new bus!
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Old 01-21-2015, 05:22 PM   #38
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Thanks a lot for the kind words guys. I'm hoping to do some really cool stuff in this house automation wise. Evidently they couldn't get a occupancy permit for the rooftop, so they're going to have to make the hot tub retract into the roof on a scissor jack. #firstworldproblems
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Old 03-09-2015, 02:36 AM   #39
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When you're ready to shop again, check SoCal craigslist. I just found a bus that way for under $5k ('97 e450 shuttle w/7.3 turbo, dualies, wheelchair lift etc).

I've also been emailing the owner of the 4x4 lifted bus for helpful Information. Trip to Baja is 1st adventure, end of March.

Check my introduction post for more details, and good luck!
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Old 03-09-2015, 06:45 PM   #40
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My one word of caution in regards to any bus that is on a cut-away chassis is weight.

Regardless of whether the bus is a yellow school type bus or a white plastic commercial bus the maximum GVWR of those chassis is around 14,000 lbs. give or take a few hundred pounds.

With an empty weight of 8,000-11,000 lbs. it doesn't give you much in the way of carrying capacity.

I would think that with the addition of a driven front axle you would not gain many pounds of carrying capacity. If anything the added height could make fully loaded driving a real adventure in stiff crosswinds.

Buses with driven front axles are pretty few and far between. I know that the Rim of the World School District in CA has several Type 'A' mini-buses with driven front axles. I have no idea as to when they surplus them, how often they surplus them, or where they surplus them. But eventually those buses will make it into the used market.

In the meantime, we do have a really nice used bus with a driven front axle for sale. It has really poor pictures online but if you are interested I can get you more that are much clearer. I seriously doubt you could ever overload the interior of the bus no matter what you did to it. It also is stout enough that it could pull a trailer weighing in excess of 10,000 lbs. with not problem.

1997 AMTRAN VOLUNTEER 1HVBBAAN6VH454131 - TheBusDealer.com - Auburn, Washington 98001


If you are interested please contact me and let's talk. I know the asking price is twice what you have to spend but this bus has been in the inventory quite a while and I am sure we might be able to make a deal.
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