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Old 09-29-2015, 07:44 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Marshfield, WI
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Year: 1997
Coachwork: El Dorado Aerotech 220
Chassis: Ford E-350
Engine: 7.3 Powerstroke
It's finally all falling into place !

So, after many years of deliberation, I'm pulling the trigger on my first bus build.

It's a paratransit rig, but I have logged over three hundred thousand miles behind the wheel of these rigs (in city traffic), so I am extremely familiar with the amount of space that they occupy and maneuverability, etc.

The rig itself is a 1997 ElDorado Aerotech 220 built on a Ford E-350 chassis. The rig is powered by the DT444E Navistar engine (I'm gonna have to get some IHC logos to replace the Fjord markings, lol.) And I am unsure of the transmission, although given the age I am assuming that it's the E40D.

I have lurked around here long enough to know how most of us feel about the "van" buses, but like I said, it's a starter bus. The next one will be a proper Skoolie.

I'm curious as to how to attach to the fiberglass panels. Roach, I may be looking for advice on this build. I've been through your entire build thread a few times, and it blows me away!


Anyhow, that's all I got for now.

Hank
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Old 09-29-2015, 08:11 PM   #2
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What's wrong with "van" buses?
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Old 09-29-2015, 08:39 PM   #3
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They work for me!
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my bus build https://www.skoolie.net/gallery/Skoolies/Sped
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Old 09-29-2015, 08:53 PM   #4
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Lots of room there. You do it right and you'll never need to go to a bigger bus. I have a 22 footer and a 40 footer and the 22 footer is the hands down favorite--but then I'm not trying to full time in it.

OK, lets see some pics and hear what you have planned. Jack
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Old 09-29-2015, 09:15 PM   #5
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Join Date: May 2010
Location: Farmington Hills, Mi (Detroit area)
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Some of us are a bit partial to the van buses.

Assuming your body is the same fiberglass sandwich as mine, you'll have no trouble attaching stuff with sheet metal screws. If I didn't drill my pilot holes large enough it was common to twist off the head of the screws.
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Old 10-01-2015, 10:58 AM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Marshfield, WI
Posts: 26
Year: 1997
Coachwork: El Dorado Aerotech 220
Chassis: Ford E-350
Engine: 7.3 Powerstroke
Personally, I kinda like like the van buses, but I'm partial because I've logged so many miles in them over the years for work. One thing I've learned : Starcraft should be avoided like the plague. 50,000 miles and she was shaking herself to pieces ! My other rig was a single rear wheel E-350 with a Shepard Brothers Coach & Equipment chassis on her. She's retired now due to mileage and a warped (plastic) intake manifold, but the coach work is SOLID on that bus. I was going to bid on it when it went to auction, but I've always wanted a diesel so when the ElDo was found, I jumped on it.


Roach, how thick are your walls? Just trying to figure out how long the screws need to be.

I take delivery of her sometime next week, so I'll throw some pictures up. There will be another thread for the build, but it will be sporadic as I have many irons in the fire.
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Old 10-01-2015, 12:30 PM   #7
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Yes avoid the "starcrap".
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Old 10-01-2015, 02:43 PM   #8
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Old 10-01-2015, 06:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CDHenry6 View Post
Roach, how thick are your walls? Just trying to figure out how long the screws need to be.
There's no "meat" between the two skins so you only have to penetrate a few threads deep to get a good hold. It's a lot like screwing into sheet metal, and probably more secure.

The total wall thickness, at least in the side walls, is 1 3/16". The inner skin is 1/16" thick, the outer skin is 3/16" thick and there is a 15/16 gap between the two walls. There is some kind of cardboard-like corrugation between the two skins. Here's a shot of the cross section with the thinner inner skin facing forward. The pic below that is my water heater cut out.



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Old 10-01-2015, 07:42 PM   #10
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Interesting info Roach.

Nat
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Old 10-01-2015, 07:48 PM   #11
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
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Coachwork: El Dorado Aerotech 220
Chassis: Ford E-350
Engine: 7.3 Powerstroke
Roach- awesome. Thank you very much ! I will be referencing your build frequently for ideas, and you, sir, are a craftsman in every way. I know that my conversion won't be anywhere near as nice as yours, but I'm going to do the best that I can with the skills the Great Spirit gave me and learn the rest along the way.
I have just enough carpentry, Metalworking, welding and electrical skills to be dangerous. Fortunately, I'm pretty handy with automotive mechanics of the non-pesky computer type.

I have a unique problem with the floor. . . . I desperately want to remove it, but the wheelchair securement positions I need. My wife, although ambulatory with crutches, has a powerchair. Our best friend has one also, however he is completely dependant upon it for mobility.

I plan on attempting to build a wheelchair accessible camper for these reasons, and the amount crud a powerchair can drag indoors is impressive. I'm tempted to just leave the bus floor intact, but living in Wisconsin dictates insulation. Thus, the quandary.

I'm open to hearing everyone's thoughts on this.
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Old 10-01-2015, 08:26 PM   #12
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Join Date: May 2010
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Thanks, but your metalworking and welding skills mean you're more rounded than I am. There's really nothing I did that any decent carpenter couldn't do. Pretty wood makes a pretty cabinet.
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Old 10-01-2015, 08:46 PM   #13
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Aftermarket wheelchair tie-downs are easily (but maybe not cheaply) available. My floor is 3/4" poly-iso insulation board covered by 3/4" t&g flake board.



I put 3/4" x 3/4" wood runners under the flake board to keep the insulation board from crushing but probably didn't need to. Where the passenger seat bolts to the floor I substituted plywood (not shown here) for the insulation board so the seat bolts wouldn't compress the insulation. That's what I would do where you want to install your chair tie-downs so you'll have both insulation and solid wood to bolt to.

As for keeping the floor clean, I'm not sure that's possible.
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Old 10-01-2015, 09:31 PM   #14
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Coachwork: El Dorado Aerotech 220
Chassis: Ford E-350
Engine: 7.3 Powerstroke
Ok , here's the pics I have thus far. Nothing to fancy, and partially obscured by the fact that she was sitting in a TINY used car lot. The seller is delivering it Saturday morning (BEFORE I've even paid for it ! )

I'll have better shots then.




That rear door is going to need a LOT of work . . . .
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Old 10-01-2015, 09:32 PM   #15
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Chassis: Ford E-350
Engine: 7.3 Powerstroke
Edit : Nothing too fancy. . . . My finger slipped off the key too quickly.
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Old 10-01-2015, 09:35 PM   #16
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Looks like a nice shuttle. Except the bumper and rear door look like they were pulled from the Titanic!
I'm sure you aren't too worried about em, I'm just pokin fun...
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Old 10-01-2015, 09:50 PM   #17
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Marshfield, WI
Posts: 26
Year: 1997
Coachwork: El Dorado Aerotech 220
Chassis: Ford E-350
Engine: 7.3 Powerstroke
EastCoast, If you think that the rear door is bad, wait until you see the front doors ! They're held closed with bungee straps, and the aft door falls off of its pedestal rather easily. The stairs are pretty much FUBAR, so that's probably going to be one the first projects: cut out the rot, find someone with a metal brake and have new stairs bent, build a frame out of square stock, and cut and weld !
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Old 10-01-2015, 10:01 PM   #18
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Join Date: May 2010
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Your bus body looks identical to mine. Nice that you don't have a bunch of vinyl stickers to remove.

Door and bumper may look worse than they are. A little TLC and they may be just fine.
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Old 10-01-2015, 10:21 PM   #19
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Marshfield, WI
Posts: 26
Year: 1997
Coachwork: El Dorado Aerotech 220
Chassis: Ford E-350
Engine: 7.3 Powerstroke
The bumper I'm pretty sure is just surface rust. A couple of hits with the wire wheel or grinder and some Rustoleum should take care of it nicely. One thing that I do want is a full wrap around push bumper/ grille guard for the front. Wisconsin deer are BIG !

One of my assets is the fact that half of the guys on my fire department ( including the Chief) work at a stainless steel fabrication shop that also happens to build fire trucks. If they can't point me in the direction of where to get something, they could probably fabricate it.
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Old 10-02-2015, 01:25 PM   #20
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At least the fiberglass hasn't started to rust yet.
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