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Old 03-25-2018, 07:33 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: SE WI
Posts: 50
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Eldorado
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: 7.3
Liesel the Diesel - Sixteen going on seventeen.

We bought our shuttle bus back in October '17, so I have several months of work/posts to catch up on. It's a 2001 E450 Eldorado Aerotech conversion. We had been shopping for several months before that - Looking for a shuttle with more head room, a passenger/co-pilot seat, the 7.3L diesel engine, and a southern bus with no rust. We found ours thru Ebay, it was located in New Orleans (we're in Wisconsin). So we flew down and met up with the seller, completed the transaction, and began the 950 mile drive home.

There were some challenges along the drive home, such as - no blower fan or heat, no passenger side seat belt, crappy wiper blades, and a very leaky A/C unit on the roof. We did what we could to make the best of the situation. Stopped at Walmart and picked up a small heater to plug into our inverter, a ratchet tie down strap for a seat belt, socks to keep warm, and a big tote under the leaking A/C. Otherwise a fairly uneventful long drive home.

That is the beginning of the story. More to follow.

Steve and Raina
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Old 03-25-2018, 07:42 PM   #2
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Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: So Cal
Posts: 2,624
Year: 1935
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Chassis: Chevy
Engine: 317 ci/tid / Isuzu
Nice bus and good quick thinking on your part re heat and leaks. I especially like the seat belt solution--most would just have said WTF and done without.

Keep the pics coming as it didn't happen if there aren't any pics! Jack
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Old 03-25-2018, 08:26 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: SE WI
Posts: 50
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Eldorado
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: 7.3
One of the first areas that we tackled was the cab. We removed the passenger seat, which was barely held down with 2 lag screws. Also removed the drivers seat and rubber floor mat. We began cleanup of the cab floor (that had minimal rust). Primed and painted the floor, then installed a sound deadener mat. Made a paper template and cut out a new rubber floor mat.
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Old 03-25-2018, 08:39 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: SE WI
Posts: 50
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Eldorado
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: 7.3
More front cab floor photos.
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Old 03-25-2018, 10:25 PM   #5
Bus Nut
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by srponies View Post
More front cab floor photos.
That's a great looking floor mats...ratchet strap for a seat belt...lol...you might be a redneck...as long as no quick escape is needed; :thumbs up:

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Old 03-26-2018, 06:10 AM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: SE WI
Posts: 50
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Eldorado
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: 7.3
Ratchet strap seat belt was important to my wife. It gave some feeling of security while riding in this new to us 15k# rig for 950 miles.

The aftermarket rooftop a/c unit was a problem that we had to take care of asap. Besides leaking like crazy, the interior trim panel was competing with my forehead for space in the center aisle. We didn't want to leave a tarp over the bus to stop the rain from coming in the ceiling, so we removed the unit in order to cover the hole. We lowered the unit down 2 ladders leaning against the bus using ropes and 4 people.
We found that the unit had really been improperly installed. It was not properly supported on the fiberglass roof. It left the roof sunken and wavy in several areas. Water had also been getting into the cardboard honeycomb support between the fiberglass layers and had deteriorated much of it around the a/c hole.
Then we cleaned up the roof around the hole, and I screwed down a temporary cover (rubbermaid tote lid).
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Old 03-26-2018, 06:29 AM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: SE WI
Posts: 50
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Eldorado
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: 7.3
11/18/17 We took a trip to the local pic-n-pull junk yard to find some misc interior pieces including a nicer set of seats. We were in luck to find several Ford vans and removed a matching set of cloth seats from one. Also scored some stepwells, a nice engine doghouse console, seat belts, misc plastic trim and some engine a/c brackets. They charged us $52 for the pair of seats, and $40 for everything else. Great pricing that day.

We took the seats to a local detailer and he did a great job of cleaning them up for $25. A bit of elbow grease to clean up the plastic trim and everything came out nicely.

Steve
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Old 03-26-2018, 06:57 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by srponies View Post
11/18/17 We took a trip to the local pic-n-pull junk yard to find some misc interior pieces including a nicer set of seats. We were in luck to find several Ford vans and removed a matching set of cloth seats from one. Also scored some stepwells, a nice engine doghouse console, seat belts, misc plastic trim and some engine a/c brackets. They charged us $52 for the pair of seats, and $40 for everything else. Great pricing that day.

We took the seats to a local detailer and he did a great job of cleaning them up for $25. A bit of elbow grease to clean up the plastic trim and everything came out nicely.

Steve
Awesome picks...I meant no offense...I'm still smiling about the ratchet strap...

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Old 03-26-2018, 08:49 AM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: SE WI
Posts: 50
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Eldorado
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: 7.3
No worries at all.... We had an interesting conversation at the store deciding on an alternative for a seat belt - rope, bungee cord, ratchet strap, etc. And the fact that the passenger seat rocked back and forth didn't help calm the nerves.


11/25/17 Rear brakes... When we were within the last 50 miles of our maiden journey home, we began to hear the brakes squeaking. It definitely changed how we approached intersections for the last part of the trip. We were lucky to have made it home without the pistons popping out of the rear caliper. So, it was time for a rear brake job. New rotors, calipers, pads and hardware.


Steve
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Old 04-10-2018, 06:34 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: SE WI
Posts: 50
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Eldorado
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: 7.3
11/29/17 We had removed the seats and at this point began removing the rubber flooring. Found a lot of water damage on the plywood as well as holes thru the floor in some areas.

We knew that the rear window was leaking, so we removed it. We also removed the rear wall covering. We positioned 1x4s within the fiberglass shell surrounding the window to provide some support. Then we resealed and installed the window.

Steve
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Old 04-10-2018, 06:43 PM   #11
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: SE WI
Posts: 50
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Eldorado
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: 7.3
12/1/17 I began checking into a few electrical issues that we were having. The stereo was intermittently working, as were the marker lights. I took apart the dashboard to gain better access to the wiring. Found a faulty headlight switch, as well as a burnt harness to the switch. Spliced in a new harness pigtail, and replaced the switch. Removed the stereo. Began removing the bundle of wires that were at the switchpanel on the engine cover.
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Old 04-11-2018, 06:21 AM   #12
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: SE WI
Posts: 50
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Eldorado
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: 7.3
12/3 - 12/7/17 More interior work done. Removed the rear A/C unit from its mounting bolts and lowered it to the floor. Removed all of the items in the ceiling including lights, speakers, handrails, and the ceiling panels themselves. We then moved to the front of the shuttle and removed the interior panels over the cab. There is a lot of extra room once the panels are out, in that area that overhangs the cab.
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Old 04-15-2018, 02:58 PM   #13
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: SE WI
Posts: 50
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Eldorado
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: 7.3
12/15/17 Our shuttle came with a non-functioning BRAUN UFL (Under floor lift). Considering the additional weight and large amount of space that it consumed, we decided to remove it. We didn't find any manuals online, so we contacted Braun. They were super helpful, and emailed us a pdf of the out of print manuals (operating and installation).

It took several hours of creative demolition and brute strength to remove the assembly and its controls. We were left with a large opening under the floor which will come in handy later.
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Old 04-15-2018, 03:08 PM   #14
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: SE WI
Posts: 50
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Eldorado
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: 7.3
1/20/18 With the holidays behind us, it was time to rip out the flooring. We removed the remainder of the plywood, and began removing the metal chairrails along the side walls. The aluminum wheelchair tie down plates were riveted in place and a real pain to break apart. Everything was glued, screwed and rusted in place.
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Old 04-15-2018, 03:23 PM   #15
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: SE WI
Posts: 50
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Eldorado
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: 7.3
1/26/18 The engine needed some maintenance and repairs. I removed the water pump, belt, alternators, hoses, wiring, etc etc...... I started ordering replacement parts and cleaned up the engine in preparation for the new parts.

This bus has a huge (215 amp) alternator, and a large (130 amp) alt. I took the alternators to a local shop to have them tested, and they tested fine. The wiring for the alternators was a cobbled together mess, so I bought new harnesses and connected them properly.
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Old 04-15-2018, 04:06 PM   #16
Bus Crazy
 
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Join Date: May 2010
Location: Farmington Hills, Mi (Detroit area)
Posts: 1,898
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Eldorado Aerotech 24'
Chassis: Ford E-450 Cutaway Bus
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke
Rated Cap: 19
Looks like you're doing a great job on the mechanical end. While you've got easy access it's a good idea to rebuild the fuel bowl. It's an easy fix once you've got the dammned thing out. Also, the fuel line going from the bowl to the driver's side head is known for wearing through and leaking.

Check the area around the wheelchair door for leaks. We had leaks there that degraded the cardboard between the walls under the rear windows.

Good move replacing the belt tensioner. Two of us here have had one of them seize and break off out in the boonies.

Did you have any problems removing the water pump and fan? I'm going to replace mine soon.
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Old 04-15-2018, 04:40 PM   #17
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: SE WI
Posts: 50
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Eldorado
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: 7.3
I didn't rebuild the entire fuel bowl, but did replace the filter, the fuel line seals (at the bowl & heads), and the CVD fittings at the heads.

We are replacing our side doors with a residential storm door/security door. We will be inspecting those walls when the doors are out. We are also planning to remove ALL of the windows, then resealing the few that we install. Did you do anything about the lack of cardboard in the wall? We added 1x4s within the wall space surrounding our back window. That gave the wall additional support, in place of the cardboard that had been wet.

Removing the fan clutch was the most difficult part of the water pump replacement. I used A fan clutch tool kit, rented from the local auto parts store, to help remove/install the fan clutch. Besides that it was straightforward, (except that almost every part I removed I then decided to replace).

Steve
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Old 04-15-2018, 05:24 PM   #18
Bus Crazy
 
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Join Date: May 2010
Location: Farmington Hills, Mi (Detroit area)
Posts: 1,898
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Eldorado Aerotech 24'
Chassis: Ford E-450 Cutaway Bus
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke
Rated Cap: 19
There's no better time to replace stuff than in your own driveway with all that other clutter out of the way.

The fuel drain O rings at the back of the fuel bowl tend to degrade with the new low sulfur diesel and leak. Replacing the two O rings is an easy job if you can get to the bolts attaching the valve to the body. As you've no doubt discovered, the E-van engines are a PITA to work on.

Another weak spot on the 7.3l is the EBPV actuator in the turbo pedestal that often ends up leaking oil into the engine valley. Some replace the actuator and some remove it completely and seal off the hole with a pipe plug. The turbo itself is also an easy rebuild and one of the few things on the engine that are easy to work on.

I cut away the inner side wall below the rear windows, scraped out all the degraded cardboard, fiberglassed in some new plywood then glassed in the inner wall. It's held up fine so far.
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Old 11-22-2018, 07:47 AM   #19
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: SE WI
Posts: 50
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Eldorado
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: 7.3
It's been too long since I posted of our build. I will try to get some more about what we've done so far.... starting where I left off.

FEB & MAR 2018. The flooring.
We decided that it would be best to tear everything down to the metal framing, and then build it back up. AND, even more time consuming, we decided to LOWER the floor from our side entry and down the center aisle. We removed all of the plywood and most of the sheetmetal above the framing. It was all stitch welded to the rectangular framing. Lots of cutting disks and grinding to get it flat.
I welded in a new frame extension for the very back of the bus. Then used sheetmetal panels to cover the entire back area which will be under our queen bed.
I bought a bunch of C-channel off Craigslist. I believe that it was all for pallet racks. 3/16 thick. I planned out where to weld in new framing across the aisle, and extending to the side entry. Welded it all in, then cut out the original tubing across the aisle. That gained us 5" of head clearance down the aisle. It took a lot of planning, cutting, welding, grinding, priming, etc to make progress here. The photos really don't do it justice, and this was weeks/months of work...

Steve
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Old 11-22-2018, 08:03 AM   #20
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: SE WI
Posts: 50
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Eldorado
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: 7.3
Mar 2018 - Continuation of flooring work,etc
One of the BIG items that we had removed from the bus was the underfloor wheelchair lift. After it was out, TWO large pieces of C-channel were left welded to the frame. They had held the lift assembly. I had an idea to reuse them at a different spot on the bus, and they measured perfectly for that.

A rear deck.... the C-channel was the perfect size to wrap around the bus frame, bolt to it, and extend out the back. So we removed the channel pieces and began fitting them to the back.
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