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Old 10-17-2020, 07:55 AM   #1
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Shortie height options?

Hi there! New to the forum, but been considering a skoolie conversion since I took a 2-month rock climbing trip around the southwest with some friends in a bare-bones short bus 15 years ago. My wife and I are now considering building up a relatively simple shortie as a way to facilitate Covid-era recreation for the family (and hopefully after, but especially now, when flights and hotel rooms have lost some of their luster).

Was wondering if folks could help me understand the various height/width options for short buses. Because we wont be living in it full time, Im leaning towards a bus with single rear tires (as opposed to dualies) - sacrificing some width for driveability. However, I am 61 and would, preferably, like to be able to stand completely upright somewhere in the bus (especially after I add some insulation to the floor). What are the height options available? Are the taller shorties available without duallies? I have found a number that are 6, but I also hear there might be shorties that are taller - 63-ish. If thats true, anyone got some search terms to help me?

On a related note, we live in NH and hope to use the bus to facilitate skiing. I have no experience driving a duallie bus in the snow. On a weight-per-square-inch-of-contact-patch basis, I would think the single rear axle would be better, but that is mostly a guess. Any advice? (Well definitely put on snow tires.)
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Old 10-19-2020, 09:03 PM   #2
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Hi there, yes, there are shorties that are 6' original height (that will become about 5'10" if you insulate the floor and ceiling). There are shorties that are, I believe, 6'5", again that will change if you alter the floor and/or ceiling. I'm not sure how to look for those taller ones, but you could pm navigationnowhere on Instagram. He is responsive to messages, on his second build and has a taller shortie. His is also a Collins body, which you may also look out for, as Collins as opposed to Thomas are more square instead of curved on top (easier for the build). You can also look into shuttle buses, which have more interior height. You can also raise your roof, as I may do after realizing my 6' ceiling is a 6' ceiling. From my research a roof raise is not as scary as it sounds. Or, you can put in an elevated skylight or two.
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Old 10-19-2020, 09:51 PM   #3
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Thanks. Yeah, from what I can tell, here are the heights of some various models:

Collins Bantam Hi-top (6'1.5")
Trans Tech ST Aero (6'2")
Blue Bird Micro Bird (6'4")
Thomas Minotour (6'1")

These days, most of these are offered in single- and double-rear wheel models - it doesn't seem like height is particularly driven (no pun intended) by wheelbase width. I'm having a harder time finding older (i.e., cheaper) tall buses with a narrow body. Currently looking at a Collins Hi-Top narrow body - it checks a lot of boxes for what we are looking for.'

Edit: and you are totally correct about shuttle buses usually having more interior height. Some of the newer Ford Transit-based are pretty appealing - and pricey!
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Old 10-19-2020, 09:56 PM   #4
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Coachwork: Bluebird, Collins
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Engine: 1995 Chevrolet 350, 1992 Ford 460
Im 65 tall and only stoop slightly in my 1996 Chevy Van G30 Bluebird. It must be about 64 tall. Im going to cut a 4x8 hole in the roof and do a partial roof raise. Im not sure why my little 4 window bus came with dual rear wheel but it sure is stable.
I just went inside a couple of old coaches. Very low!! I love the older stuff but they sure skimped on the head clearance.
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Old 10-19-2020, 11:06 PM   #5
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A shuttle bus usually has 6 foot plus height. They are all heavy duty chassis design, so you'll have dual rear tires no matter what you look at.
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Old 10-20-2020, 12:44 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LostCause View Post

On a related note, we live in NH and hope to use the bus to facilitate skiing. I have no experience driving a duallie bus in the snow. On a weight-per-square-inch-of-contact-patch basis, I would think the single rear axle would be better, but that is mostly a guess. Any advice? (Well definitely put on snow tires.)
Dually = way better traction under power in the snow. I drove shuttle buses for the ski resorts in Tahoe back in the day. Duallies have a larger contact patch on drive wheels, larger contact patch equals more traction which will help you put power to the ground. You can increase the contact patch even more by airing down in snow.
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Old 10-21-2020, 09:52 PM   #7
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Dually = way better traction under power in the snow.
It's interesting you would say that, because I was always taught the opposite - that you don't want a large contact patch in the snow, so that your tires penetrate to the road. Like for my recently deceased wagon - OEM all-season tires were 225/45r17; the snows that I put on were 195/65r15. Been doing that for the last 15 years.

Maybe the difference is location? In Tahoe, I'm guessing there is commonly enough snow (or sufficiently packed snow) that there is no hope of the tire penetrating to the roadbed. In that case, you'd want as much surface area as possible - like in sand, where airing down will also help. Around here (NH) we don't get as much snow, so getting down to the roadbed might make more sense.

How's that for an ad hoc explanation?
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Old 10-21-2020, 11:33 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LostCause View Post
It's interesting you would say that, because I was always taught the opposite - that you don't want a large contact patch in the snow, so that your tires penetrate to the road. Like for my recently deceased wagon - OEM all-season tires were 225/45r17; the snows that I put on were 195/65r15. Been doing that for the last 15 years.

Maybe the difference is location? In Tahoe, I'm guessing there is commonly enough snow (or sufficiently packed snow) that there is no hope of the tire penetrating to the roadbed. In that case, you'd want as much surface area as possible - like in sand, where airing down will also help. Around here (NH) we don't get as much snow, so getting down to the roadbed might make more sense.

How's that for an ad hoc explanation?

I believe part of the discrepancy here may come down to snow vs ice and/or the quality and depth of the snow.
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Old 10-22-2020, 09:57 AM   #9
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Yes out here the storms are big enough that there is no hope to get down to the road surface. So traction on snow is typically more important to not get stuck or slide backwards down uphills.

Here's an example in the biking world where fat bike tires are the go to for arctic travel


On ice the only thing that matters is the rubber compound (softer the better) sipes, studs or chains. Difference in contact patch isn't gonna help. We would run studded snows and chain up only when forced to by highway patrol.
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