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Old 03-04-2021, 10:56 AM   #1
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Posts: 159
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Ford
Chassis: E450 #Vanlife
Engine: 7.3 Powerstroke
Rated Cap: 25
Fourth time around: E450 Shuttle build begins

Went from a short Class A (honestly was awesome but couldn't tow), to a 2001 84pass Thomas bus with a CAT (lost shop space and had to sell mid build), to a 15 pass E350 (solar, roof deck, foam insulated, etc but too SMALL...no roof height, plus V10...ughhh), to the current 7.3 Powerstroke E450 shuttle. I think this could be the holy grail compromise!

Pros

1. I can tow
2. I can stand
3. Powerstroke
4. Not an aerodynamic brick
5. Extremely affordable for such a capable chassis/engine
6. 4wd conversion readily available
7. Massive windows that tip out for emergency exit are awesome
8. Much more refined/acceptable vs a school bus shape

Cons

1. Fiberglass shell creates challenges for roof deck
2. ??

Purpose:

I'm building this platform to support my growing Youtube channel, which focuses on automotive modifications. I do mostly Corvette and Off Road, but the intent of the channel was a marketing platform to sell custom Corvette parts and launch an apparel brand.

I've officially launched the first product after the turn of the year, and did about 60k in revenue in the first 65 hours, so it's a good starting point. I aim to sponsor a few cars at drift events for promo, so I bought the shuttle allowing me to set up a booth, stay on site at track events and tow my cars to events.

Plan:

Exterior: The exterior livery will reflect that of my channel, but my aim is to make it "limo/lux" feel but take on a custom touch, which is inline with my channel. The vehicle will be wrapped Hexis Black Rainbow, with custom vinyl cut livery in a chrome finish wrap. The wheel simulators will likely be wrapped to match the cut vinyl.

Additional frontal off road lighting via my manufacturing contacts will be added. I will also add under-glow lighting for campsite visibility, but also for event visibility.


Lastly, removing those AWFUL mirrors that look like a damn jungle gym are going. I already have some cleaner versions coming, as well as black housing headlights, etc.

Hexis Black Rainbow on a Lambo







Power: My prior E350 builds had 200ah of lead acid and 200w on the roof (windynation). This time I went with an Ampere 12v 200ah lithium and 300w of deployable solar, which will be stowed away. I will likely add a connection to the alternator for charging while driving and use deployable solar for stationary days. I figure I can fast-idle the bus in the event I need power. Lastly, a harbor freight 2000w generator will be added for the soft start 5000btu ac I had in the van. Will struggle in the bus, but hopefully will take the edge off.

Restroom: Here, I'm going to take an approach that combines a few methods. I've had black tanks, composting and cassette toilets. I intend to combine a cassette/composting plan, by modifying a cassette toilet with some custom designed pieces. Nothing crazy, but it could be the best option of affordability and ease of use there is.

Kitchen: Modular is the game here. I want to fabricate a modular unit that can "click" into the bus, but then also "click" into the back of my Overland SUV with a roof tent. This will basically be a common base that's mounted to the floor in the SUV and elevated with drawers underneath, in the bus. The modular unit will contain the fridge, cutting/cooking surface,

Bed: King...the end.

Interior: This will likely happen in two stages.

Stage 1 will be focused on function and immediate use. This is a basic approach that gives me the ability to go to events that start 16 days from today. There is already a bed platform, exterior awning, dinette, basic cabinet and some basic creature comforts completed.

Stage 2 will be a completely 3D designed, modular fabricated interior space. It will focus on interior cleanliness and use alternative materials that are lightweight and thin, to avoid consuming space. I intend to use this alumicore walls (aluminum skin with a composite core) with quick release fasteners (i.e race car) mounted to 1/2" x 1/2" steel tubing fabricated modules that are build outside, then installed in the bus. The design will avoid square corners, incorporate LED lighting throughout and will attempt to be extremely "clean" and flowing, but very functional.

The majority of space will be given to the bed and bathroom, while having room for a small sitting area, a computer work area and small kitchen. I don't need a massive amount of storage because my intent is not to live in it, but use it for 3-5 days stints, max.


That's the plan...let's see how it goes. Current state of the bus below:


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Old 03-12-2021, 07:23 AM   #2
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Join Date: Mar 2019
Posts: 2
Congrats on finding your perfect shuttle. I look forward to seeing it as it gets built out.
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Old 04-02-2021, 12:32 PM   #3
Skoolie
 
RC000E's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Posts: 159
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Ford
Chassis: E450 #Vanlife
Engine: 7.3 Powerstroke
Rated Cap: 25
Little early repairs and testing

Since I have the youtube channel (KnightDriveTV) that does pretty well, I have decided to get the bus to a certain state of build, release that, then release videos of the progress that got to that state. So, for this thread, I'm just going to photo update essentially.

What I've found and dealt with thus far

Starting Issues: 7.3 would turn over slow. Prev Owner put in a new battery, but they didn't know there were 2 batteries. As with most cab/chassis combos like this shuttle, the builder of the bus chooses where to locate the 2nd battery. In this bus, it ended having an access panel in the stairwell where the bifold doors are, and there it was; corroded and looked horrid.

Replaced the battery, and it started well, but still some slow drain issues.

My bus has "bumps" in it...i.e. an amp/box/subs, etc....previous owner install. Seems there is an issue with the amp drawing power or something not being activated on an ignition hot, but instead, a full time hot. So, I disconnected the "bumps" as well as cleaned more connections on the positive side of the secondary battery. Startup seemed even more crisp and now I'm letting it sit to see what happens with the "bumps" disconnected. If that turns out to be the fix, then I'll look into the setup and make it right.

Next, I bought a hi-torque starter, 4:1 reduction starter because I really want to spin up this 7.3 fast.

Lastly, I am going to replace the alternator. Starter/alternator are easy preventative maintenance issues that, when out on the road, can really wreak havoc. So, I figured just knock those out.

Parts purchased so far:

Interior Systems

200ah Lithium
Renogy 20a DC to DC charger
GoWise Pure Sine 1000w inverter
Epever MPPT Charge controller
Dokio 300w portable solar
Thetford Cassette Porta Potti

Exterior

- Replaced the "jungle gym" mirrors off the fender and door. They whistled in the wind and I felt like they were wreaking aerodynamic havoc so I got some new mirrors which ....kinda fit, but after some modding, cutting, new studs, etc...got mounted and sealed great. Huge improvement.

- Headlights/Corners were replaced with black housing versions to go with the subdued look and to match the Jeep headlights.



Took it out in the desert to a remote spot to see how things felt. Deployed the awning for the first time...it was pretty stuck but man...awesome awning. You can see the improved passenger side mirror, but hadn't gotten the driver installed yet in the photos.





Starter Purchased



Exterior Lights purchased (low, high and DRL function)




Black Housing upgrade

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