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Old 01-12-2021, 05:05 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2021
Location: Humboldt County, CA
Posts: 21
Is short better?

I'm considering what type of bus to purchase. I love the shorties. But I've heard some negative feedback from folks. Is it true that the engines are not as good for long-distance, and that they have trouble climbing hills? I'm hoping to be able to do a few road trips. But I LOVE the idea of being able to fit my bus in my driveway! Thanks for your patience and advice! I have no experience yet, but you gotta start somewhere, right?

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Old 01-12-2021, 05:14 PM   #2
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Year: 1999
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Engine: 5.9L 24V-L6 Cummins ISB
Rated Cap: 26 foot
None of that is true, except for maybe a specific engine. I don't know of any, myself. If anything, the bigger buses can have trouble with the hills.


It really all depends on the bus itself, the motor, and the transmission in it.


If you like the shorties, investigate the different ones more. Many people don't like diesels from the early 2000s because of ERG problems. But there are update kits that fix the problems for not too much $$$. This may not be a deal killer if you find a good price on one of these buses.


Mine is 26 foot long, and it fits in my driveway. The HOA doesn't like it, but they won't like a van cutout bus either.
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Old 01-12-2021, 05:33 PM   #3
Skoolie
 
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Location: Spanaway, WA
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Year: 1999
Coachwork: MidBus
Chassis: Chevy Express 3500
Engine: 6.5L Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 19
My shortie, with an "underpowered" 6.5L turbo diesel, which is still not quite 100% running right... had no problems whatsoever climbing a fairly steep hill the other day.

So yeah, all depends on the specific engine and transmission...

Also, my current curb weight is 7600lb (plus me), so it takes a much less powerful engine to do hills than it would for a full-size bus with far far more mass to drag/push up the hills.

My main concerns with the shorty are: will I be able to fit everything into it that I want... and WHY do vans have to have doghouses?! So annoying! But so far, loving it, and looking forward to ripping stuff out of it very soon!
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Old 01-12-2021, 06:19 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
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That's great news! Thanks! We don't have an HOA, thank goodness. Just nosey neighbors
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Old 01-12-2021, 06:23 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beirdo View Post
My shortie, with an "underpowered" 6.5L turbo diesel, which is still not quite 100% running right... had no problems whatsoever climbing a fairly steep hill the other day.

So yeah, all depends on the specific engine and transmission...

Also, my current curb weight is 7600lb (plus me), so it takes a much less powerful engine to do hills than it would for a full-size bus with far far more mass to drag/push up the hills.

My main concerns with the shorty are: will I be able to fit everything into it that I want... and WHY do vans have to have doghouses?! So annoying! But so far, loving it, and looking forward to ripping stuff out of it very soon!
This is all so exciting! What's this about doghouses??
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Old 01-12-2021, 06:41 PM   #6
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Haha! Terminology... a dognose is the style of bus with the engine out front and a hood jutting out, so it looks a bit like the snout on a dog. A doghouse, however, is the engine cover lump inside a front-engine flat front bus...or a van, like one of our ambulance conversions. It's hard to keep the dog terminology straight, sometimes!

As mentioned above, the performance depends upon the engine. Some of the shorties have the same engine as a 40-footer, so performance would actually be better than a full sized bus.
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Old 01-12-2021, 06:42 PM   #7
Skoolie
 
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Location: Spanaway, WA
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Year: 1999
Coachwork: MidBus
Chassis: Chevy Express 3500
Engine: 6.5L Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 19
In a van (and van cutaways), half or more of the engine is actually right beside the feet and knees of the driver. This is generally known as the "doghouse". The reason I don't like them is that when you try to get engine work done, almost all of it is accessed from inside the vehicle after the center console is removed, not under the hood (or you need to remove the engine entirely, at worst).

This, of course, makes the mechanic bills higher than they would be for the same engine in a pickup truck, basically.

However, I'm willing to deal with it. Hehe.
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Old 01-12-2021, 07:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beirdo View Post
My shortie, with an "underpowered" 6.5L turbo diesel, which is still not quite 100% running right... had no problems whatsoever climbing a fairly steep hill the other day.

So yeah, all depends on the specific engine and transmission...

Also, my current curb weight is 7600lb (plus me), so it takes a much less powerful engine to do hills than it would for a full-size bus with far far more mass to drag/push up the hills.

My main concerns with the shorty are: will I be able to fit everything into it that I want... and WHY do vans have to have doghouses?! So annoying! But so far, loving it, and looking forward to ripping stuff out of it very soon!

If we are talking about the van front school busses, I would suggest a Ford with the 7.3 powerstroke diesel.
I had an 95 Ford F-250 and an 05 F250 as well.

With the 05, I towed FEMA trailers across the Mississippi River and I remember being able to accelerate on the bridge.

Just my 2 cents but I doubt anybody will disagree.

Peace
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Old 01-12-2021, 07:17 PM   #9
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
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Year: 1999
Coachwork: MidBus
Chassis: Chevy Express 3500
Engine: 6.5L Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 19
I think for van-size bus, the Ford 7.3L IDI is one of the most trusted, and is definitely more trustworthy in general than my Chevy 6.5L turbo (also IDI). The one advantage my engine has over others (as long as it WORKS) is that it's reputed to have one of the best fuel economies for buses. I have yet to confirm that with any measurements.

Power-wise, my bus is supposed to be able to tow up to 7500lb, but I think I'll be more looking for a smallish car, so around 4000lb *if* I can flat tow it...

To answer the original meta-question... Is short better? In some ways, absolutely. In others, not so much You gotta decide where your priorities and values are.

I really like it for ease of parking and driving in general. It drives like a van (or maybe a UHaul), which shouldn't be surprising, as it IS a van, just with a chunkier body on the back.

The lack of space though... that can be a significant issue for some. For me, I'll be solo camping, so as long as I'm OK with it, it doesn't matter that you can't really fit more than one (or two if cozy) people in there for a trip. There's little extra room for anything, even more so than with the "normal" skoolies. Something to keep in mind.
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Old 01-12-2021, 07:21 PM   #10
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My 07 Chevy Express-based 5 window Thomas with a 6.6 liter duramax hauls butt. I did 500 miles at a sustained 75MPH, at times going 85. I’ve used it on very steep one lane mountain roads with no problem. It’s gone places that a longer vehicle couldn’t go.
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Old 01-12-2021, 07:36 PM   #11
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A shorty works for me. Solo usage, and not full timing in it.
Cheaper maintenance with gas power. V8 small block (GM) that I've owned dozens of and worked on for 40 years.

The only down side I've found in owning a shorty is less interior space.
Would that work for you OP?

It really comes down to what you plan on doing in it.

Keep reading the posts on the site, and you will determine what size bus you need after awhile.

Good luck and post pics if you go forward on a buy...
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Old 01-12-2021, 08:00 PM   #12
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Shorter busses are cheaper to maintain, there is a giant jump in parts and labor when you go above a 550 Chassis and 168” in wheelbase. I found the smallest bus I could. Big busses are generally underpowered, some of them woefully. I will build a real bus one day but even that will probably be something like a CE300 with a length of around 25 feet.
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Old 01-12-2021, 08:37 PM   #13
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Title:
Is Short Better?
Ha
I've had pleanty short,
once you've had a bull snake,
everything else feels puney inside.

Even an F650 bucket truck feels imcomplete to me now. Tiny cab and all.

Not many places for activities on a shorty. Is it just the two of you?
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Old 01-12-2021, 10:34 PM   #14
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You can always tow a trailer to add more space.
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Old 01-12-2021, 10:53 PM   #15
Skoolie
 
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Quote:
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You can always tow a trailer to add more space.
Thats my plan, a matching 5íx8í enclosed trailer I will call the annex.
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Old 01-13-2021, 01:59 AM   #16
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Location: Humboldt County, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peteg59 View Post
A shorty works for me. Solo usage, and not full timing in it.
Cheaper maintenance with gas power. V8 small block (GM) that I've owned dozens of and worked on for 40 years.

The only down side I've found in owning a shorty is less interior space.
Would that work for you OP?

It really comes down to what you plan on doing in it.

Keep reading the posts on the site, and you will determine what size bus you need after awhile.

Good luck and post pics if you go forward on a buy...
Thanks so much! All this crucial info is so inspiring! Starting to feel less intimidated by all the lingo There are some darling ones for sale out there, I know I'll find one in my budget sooner or later.
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Old 01-13-2021, 02:01 AM   #17
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2021
Location: Humboldt County, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeMac View Post
Title:
Is Short Better?
Ha
I've had pleanty short,
once you've had a bull snake,
everything else feels puney inside.

Even an F650 bucket truck feels imcomplete to me now. Tiny cab and all.

Not many places for activities on a shorty. Is it just the two of you?
It's going to be mostly a mobile workshop for me. But I'd love to get in a few road trips with the kiddos. I figure I can always throw down a couple of futons when we need to travel.
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Old 01-13-2021, 03:49 AM   #18
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Hey, Ravenna!

By golly, you are the second Northern-Californian-who-thinks-she-wants-to-be-a-bus-owner I encounter this evening. Was there a super-spreader event for Bus Disease around here somewhere?

I am familiar with the concept of a sudden brilliant idea or infatuation. I had one in my left foot a few minutes ago, which is why I am up at this !#$%^&*-Trumpian hour.
Take a couple deep breaths, and tell SchrÝdinger's cat to scratch your belly for a change.

The first place this idea can come to a whimpering halt is in your driveway.
One simply cannot own an item one does not have room for.
And remember, you already have two Toyotas, a pile of bicycles, and a cord of firewood in said driveway. Remember the movie Jaws? Ya may need a bigger boat.

Next, go out in that driveway – while it is empty, somehow. Bring with you... your beds, half your kitchen, some bathroom fixtures, a sofa, a dinette, and your Genooine Hobart Brown Kinetic Sculpture Racing Kontraption. Don't forget the toothbrushes and life jackets, and the teddy bear in a tutu.
Ignore the puzzled looks from your neighbors.

A bus is no more than seven feet wide inside. Draw that with chalk on the above-mentioned driveway. Arrange everything the way you would go camping in that bus – those road trips. Now, double it. Does it all fit? Is there room for you also? Can those kiddos play soccer in there? Ya gonna need a bigger bus.

Perhaps we will tackle existentialism and metaphysics in our spare time. You know... is short better?, the aforementioned cat of philosophical bent, engines and axles, and that sort'a random trivia quiz stuff.

Read this a couple more times, enjoy a good night's sleep, and try to mount a defense in the morning.
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Old 01-13-2021, 06:03 AM   #19
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I suppose I will jump into this one.



We started with a tent, yuck never again, then a teardrop camper loved it used it for 10 years, then a pickup truck camper. Nice to have a sort of bathroom, but seating was dismal. Our intentions after that was to find an old bus 1940 or so and put a modern engine in it. However we found the bus we have now sitting in the woods waiting for someone to rescue it and restore it. It is larger by a good bit then we wanted but we were really attracted to it so brought it home. Been useing it for two years now and love it. The extra room has been worth it. Yes it slows down on long steep grades, we keep up with the trucks and that is ok. I would not want to be the slowest though.
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Old 01-13-2021, 09:50 AM   #20
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Elliot always make sense.....to me anyway. He and another guy on here helped me formulate my plan (just reading. I donít know them).

Elliot has a bus that can haul 90 bicycles. I talked my wife into this by saying she could have and old tub just like she has at home. She later said she could do without it, but I took it as a challenge and got it in the bus last week!

Enjoy the process.

Planning....Building....Traveling

Peace
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