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Old 02-19-2021, 05:01 PM   #1
New Member
Join Date: Feb 2021
Posts: 3
Newb Needs Help Starting Out

Hi all. I am brand new here and to the world of Skoolies. Me and my wife are wanting to take the dive into this world after recently discovering it. I made a post in the intro section but have lots of questions as we start shopping and was hoping for some help. I'll start by describing how we are going to use this and what are wants are then get to the questions.

Definitely leaning towards a shuttle bus or cut away bus. We have a small camper now so used to that. We live in Colorado and 90% of our camping will be in Colorado mountains. We need something with the power to get over the mountain passes. I know I won't be doing 70 in the fast lane like I do with my truck and camper currently but I also don't want to be doing 40 in the slow lane with my flashers on. Still not sure what length we want to get cause haven't done much planning but we are fairly minimalist. Probably put a composting toilet but just an outdoor shower. I would look into a full on short bus but I would really like to convert to 4x4 sometime down the road and from reading that seams mostly unrealistic for a real bus. But if I'm wrong let me know. We also will sometimes be pulling a very light, open motorcycle trailer with a couple dirt bikes on it. I've got a decent budget so that shouldn't be too limiting. I can mig weld and am fairly mechanical to not much there to limit me either.

Would you go with a shuttle or cut away school bus? What are pros and cons of each?

What is the recommended length?

As a Ford diesel owner I know to avoid the 6.0 engine. Which leaves me with the v10 or the 7.3. I worry about the power and gas mileage of the v10 but worry about the age of the 7.3. Would you go with the V10 or the 7.3? I know the 7.3 will do half a million miles but what is the max miles you'd buy on either of these engines?

Would one of the Chevy options be better? I don't know much about them. I haven't found a kit to convert them to 4x4 like the Ford is the only reason I lean Ford. But if someone knows of an affordable option for a Chevy let me know.

Since this will be built out as a camper and pull a small trailer should I stick with the E450 and avoid the E350?

I've been watching PublicSurplus and GovDeals. It seems like auctions is a way better deal than Craigslist but any help on where to look would be appreciated.

I'm sure I'll have more questions but I think that is all for now. Thanks in advance for the help.

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Old 02-19-2021, 06:05 PM   #2
Bus Crazy
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: Northern California (Sacramento)
Posts: 1,452
Year: 1999
Coachwork: El Dorado Fiberglass
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: V10 Gas
The good news is that at least half of your questions have been answered here before, and you're just a keyword search away from them.

4x4: rarely done. Expensive, crazy expensive, and not needed in 90% of situations. For the cost buy a used SUV?

Shuttle bus v Short Skoolie: if you plan to 'offroad', lean towards the skoolie since Shuttle buses have very little clearance.

Welcome to the forum-looking forward to your journey and learnings.
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Old 02-19-2021, 06:13 PM   #3
Bus Crazy
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 1,349
Year: 1990
Coachwork: Thomas 4 window w/lift
Chassis: G30~Chevy cutaway
Engine: 5.7/350 Chevy Vortec
Rated Cap: Just me and my "stuff"?
They are like needles in haystacks but there are 4x4 school busses out there. Quigley is a converter. Don't know if they're still in business, but you can research them if you choose.

There have been folks that do the conversion to 4x4 but as stated above rare, and unless your travels are truly 90% off road 10% on, why do you need it?

A Ford E450 is a good platform as long as it is not 6.0 powered.

Good luck, and post pics if you take the plunge...
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Old 02-19-2021, 06:25 PM   #4
Bus Geek
Jolly Roger bus 223's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Swansboro,NC
Posts: 3,006
Year: 86
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Ford B700
Engine: 8.2
Rated Cap: 60 bodies
i would say that the v10 will do the job and the 7.3 will do the job.
both can be bumped up.
both are reliable and thousands of engines if maintained properly.
i ask for maitenance records for everything i buy and if there is none i usually walk away but last year i was in a bind for cheap and it looked decent and trailered so i brought it home for 1$ now i am 3$ into it because but its on the road and that was doing the mechanic stuff myself.
i was capable and i wanted to do it to know exactly what is there.
the dealerships here dont stock anything older than 10 years.
ended up doing an in frame rebuild of my sons car.
look at a 1990 ford thunderbird 3.8 supercharcharged?
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Old 02-19-2021, 08:01 PM   #5
New Member
Join Date: Feb 2021
Posts: 3
Hey thanks for the quick replies. Iíll clarify a little. It wonít be 90% off-road just that 90% of our travels are around the mountains. Itíll rarely be below 6,000ft and even rarer out of the state. But it will be off-road some as it will be used to hunt and the occasional trip to Moab. Donít want to go crazy, just get to some farther back camping spots. Itíll also see snow as it will be used for snowboarding in the winter. I donít have to have 4x4 right away but want to be able to add it later. Also Iím new to this lingo and may have said it wrong. I am leaning away from a true short school bus, but not eliminating it. I was really asking about E450 shuttle vs. E450 school bus.

I am all over the search function now. Thanks again.
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Old 02-19-2021, 08:17 PM   #6
Bus Crazy
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 1,349
Year: 1990
Coachwork: Thomas 4 window w/lift
Chassis: G30~Chevy cutaway
Engine: 5.7/350 Chevy Vortec
Rated Cap: Just me and my "stuff"?
The shuttle bus will likely have higher ceiling and less overall "empty" weight, but sacrifice durability in having a fiberglass/composite body behind the van cab.

Both the metal bodied school bus and the shuttle bus can be converted to 4x4 and the cost should be about the same either way you go.

There is a guy that converted his E250? van to 4x4, and the process is outlined in one of his videos on youtube. Primal Outdoors is his channel if you are interested.
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