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Old 02-07-2018, 09:01 PM   #1
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Short Bus vs Shuttle Bus Opinions??

Hey guys. I'm looking to get into the Skoolie life and in the planning stage still. hoping to buy a bus come summer but I'm up in the air on whether I want to go with a short bus (standard short school bus) or a shuttle bus (small transit bus, "mini bus"?).

The floorplan I'm looking to create would need at least 14' from driver's seat back so from what I've gathered it appears some 5-window Shorties would be good but to be safe I'd probably look for a 6-window Shorty or a 5-window Shuttle.

When weighing my options these are the main things I feel like I've stalled on pros and cons of each. Basically I've got that a Shorty is more likely to be diesel (ideally Ford 7.3) and a shuttle would more likely be gas but have more headroom. I'm 6' so low headroom could be an issue with some buses.

You all are more knowledgeable than I am on all this so what are you opinions? What am I missing about clear benefits of each? I plan to travel with it so gas mileage would be something to consider but would the gas vs diesel be THAT much of a difference on how often I'm refueling and would the difference in price for the fuel make up a difference or make the difference more?

Thanks in advance for any advice and please pose more questions for me to think about before getting head over heels in this project!
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Old 02-07-2018, 09:30 PM   #2
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Welcome and we're glad you've got our bus disease.

You are definitely describing a shorty. Are you talking abut a conventional shorty or a cutaway bus? I'm guessing you're talking about a cutaway bus? Depending on what you're using your bus for you could possibly use a shuttle bus. The shuttles like very flat ground, which makes them largely inadequate for boondocking. They are generally not designed for freeway travel which might affect extended trips. There have been several shuttle projects and I'm sure you'll find them soon.

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Old 02-07-2018, 09:37 PM   #3
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You are definitely describing a shorty. Are you talking abut a conventional shorty or a cutaway bus? I'm guessing you're talking about a cutaway bus?
What makes the difference between conventional shorty and a cutaway?

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Old 02-07-2018, 10:04 PM   #4
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What makes the difference between conventional shorty and a cutaway?

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The chassis they are built on.

Conventional shorties are simply short school buses, built on a school bus chassis. Cutaways are van conversions where the chassis and cab from a medium-duty truck are retained, and a school bus body built on behind it.
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Old 02-07-2018, 10:35 PM   #5
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I understand they both tow well. The cutaway bus would give a van type of driving experience. The shorty just feels like a tall pickup truck once you get used to it.

You're never going to have to much space inside a bus.
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Old 02-07-2018, 10:39 PM   #6
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So the Ford is along the lines of what I would be looking at. Lower overall vehicle clearance. Is the other (IC I think?) A conventional shorty?

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Old 02-07-2018, 10:51 PM   #7
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Yes the IC is a conventional shorty. You'll notice that one has quite small wheels. That is a handy bus and has a completely flat floor with no wheel well protrusions inside.

Some of the cutaway buses more closely resemble an RV than that one.
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Old 02-07-2018, 10:55 PM   #8
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Diesel over gas will get you anywhere from 50%-100% better mileage with diesel. At a 15% price difference, yes, it is a substantial difference. Not to mention the diesel motors, if maintained properly, will last 100's of thousands of mile more before needing a refurb.
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Old 02-07-2018, 10:56 PM   #9
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The main advantage of the van based cutaway buses is the availability of parts and service. Our shuttle has had engine issues twice on the road and both times we were able to get parts at a local auto parts store. Service is as close as the nearest Ford or Chevy dealer.

Ours will do 75mph but isn't all that happy at that speed. It seems happiest and not nearly so noisy at 65 or so. The shuttles I've looked at all had highway gearing. Not sure about the van based short schoolies but I'd guess they would be the same.
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Old 02-07-2018, 11:09 PM   #10
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The main advantage of the van based cutaway buses is the availability of parts and service.
^^^ This is true. There is a Ford Dealership every 10 miles in Texas, it seems.

I had a Ford V-10 shuttle- blast to drive- ez. Was unimpressed with construction materials for my porpoise.
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Old 02-08-2018, 05:09 AM   #11
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Yes the IC is a conventional shorty. You'll notice that one has quite small wheels. That is a handy bus and has a completely flat floor with no wheel well protrusions inside.

Some of the cutaway buses more closely resemble an RV than that one.
IDK if that's true on an IC. Neither of my handi buses had flat floors.
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Old 02-08-2018, 07:37 AM   #12
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You get a wider selection of diesel engines with a full sized short bus.
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Old 02-08-2018, 07:55 AM   #13
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You get a wider selection of diesel engines with a full sized short bus.
Yeah, I've got a small short bus on a full size chassis. Thing is a beast. It has a DT466 in a tiny bus. 215hp and 530 lb-ft of torque. Couple with an allison 5 speed with OD, its a really nice powerful bus. Couldn't get a drivetrain that robust in a van.
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Old 02-08-2018, 07:19 PM   #14
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Thanks for the responses, everyone! I think I'm going to still look more toward a cutaway as I personally like the look of them a bit better and as roach711 said the parts are much easier to find. Also I think the lower overall height would be nice as I won't have to worry as much for clearance if I go into some backwoods places.

Does anyone have either conventional or cutaway shorty and has dimensions? Wondering what height each is, width (I would assume are pretty similar), and length from driver's seat back?
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Old 02-08-2018, 07:21 PM   #15
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Cutaway buses also seem to be cheaper from what I can find, too.
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Old 02-08-2018, 09:08 PM   #16
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My 2000 Aerotech cutaway floor is 16.5 feet from the driver's seat to the back of the bus, 7'8" wide and 6'7" from floor to ceiling at the center aisle. Ground clearance would be pretty good except for the stair well. I've dragged that on a steep driveway once or twice. The Eldorado Aerotech buses have sturdy fiberglass bodies and are the only ones I know of that have been crash tested.
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Old 02-08-2018, 10:22 PM   #17
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My 2000 Aerotech cutaway floor is 16.5 feet from the driver's seat to the back of the bus, 7'8" wide and 6'7" from floor to ceiling at the center aisle. Ground clearance would be pretty good except for the stair well. I've dragged that on a steep driveway once or twice. The Eldorado Aerotech buses have sturdy fiberglass bodies and are the only ones I know of that have been crash tested.
I see yours is a shuttle, what kind of gas mileage do you get? Is it gas or diesel?

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Old 02-08-2018, 11:48 PM   #18
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Look for ElDorado or TurtleTop bodies. They are both crash tested to gov standard. Some even have both front doors and seats. Another great option. Swivel seats and instant add of space.
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Old 02-09-2018, 10:27 AM   #19
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Ours is a 7.3L Powerstroke diesel. We get 11 to 13 MPG depending on the wind.
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Old 02-09-2018, 10:35 AM   #20
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The shuttles like very flat ground, which makes them largely inadequate for boondocking.
Robin, can you or anyone else expand on this? Do you mean that when you're parked they prefer it to be flat? Don't they all prefer that? What makes it inadequate for boondocking?
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