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Old 05-13-2011, 10:41 AM   #1
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Splash Party Bus (97 E350)

Today i purchased a 1997 E350 shuttle bus. About 145K miles, dual AC, powerstroke diesel. My plans are to start an actual bona-fide party/limo bus service. I amazes me that half the bus is worth twice the money of a traditional skoolie.

She looks a little ugly at first glance, but there is great potential.

This bus will not have a Jacuzzi...but i am going to name the business "Splash Party Bus." Once i recoup the cost of this bus and prove to myself that party-bus business is a money maker, then i plan to upgrade and build a Jacuzzi Bus to add to the fleet. (i'm going to start calling it a hot tub bus, because jacuzzi is a registered trade mark)

Not much to show so far, i just got her home a few minutes ago. She starts, runs, shifts, and drives perfect. Rear A/C doesn't work, but it could be i just haven't figured out how to turn it on, or there may be a valve for coolant that is open for winter use, idk. Electric open/close front doors. I will remove the lift and all the seats and re-do the interior.



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Old 05-13-2011, 01:06 PM   #2
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Re: Splash Party Bus (97 E350)

Interior dimentions:

12 feet long (behind driver seat)
80 inches wide (along chair rail)
77 inches tall ceiling height (in the center)
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Old 05-13-2011, 11:50 PM   #3
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Re: Splash Party Bus (97 E350)

check with your local transit authority to. dont need expensive surprises!!
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Old 05-14-2011, 07:24 PM   #4
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Re: Splash Party Bus (97 E350)

This is what I want the bus to be modeled after when it is finished.



Worked hours in the rain today and only got half of the lettering/stripes removed. Heat gun + metal scraper + sand paper + gasoline + more metal scraper = no fun!
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Old 05-15-2011, 08:09 AM   #5
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Re: Splash Party Bus (97 E350)

I found heat gun plus scraper does the job, most peels right off. Glue left behind comes off with a Gator. paint and rust remover extra coarse wheel you put on a high speed drill. Think it was $6. Comes with 2 wheels, only needed one. Picks up the goo and what it does pick up it will move into a nice pile you can orbital sand quickly enough to be done with the job. Wish I'd used it on the first few sides. Time saver.

409, glass cleaner, paint thinner, fingernail polish remover, goo-b-gone didn't work for me.
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Old 05-15-2011, 02:34 PM   #6
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Re: Splash Party Bus (97 E350)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ascend
I know w/ my rear A/C, it wouldn't work unless the dash A/C was on as well, which I guess makes sense because both units run off the same compressor.
Inerestingly enough I have two ac compressors. The stock one for the front ac and a second one for the rear.

I checked the pressure in the low side whith system running and had zero psi. I put 12 psi into the system. Tomorrow I will check and see if it hasn't all leaked out. If things Are good I will charge the system to recommended psi.

On a separate note, this bus was made by champion bus which is about thirty minutes from my home.
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Old 05-17-2011, 12:31 PM   #7
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Re: Splash Party Bus (97 E350)

Bad news for AC.....all the refrigerant leaked out over a period of 3 or 4 days. Either i need to find the leak or hire a shop to figure out it...that'll come later...

I just ordered some wheel simulators....



here is a video of the lift...which doesn't seem to have power going to the controls, so i just hot wired it to make it go up/down.



We have a new Challenge! The opening concert at Michigan's premier outdoor event center is Saturday May 28. That gives me 10 days to get her operational. It may not be 100% finished, but at least want it to be close enough....(this wouldn't be so hard if i didn't average 54 hours/week at my job, plus have a 10 month old baby. )

Yesterday I got all the seats removed, and all of the lettering/vinyl striping off of the bus in anticipation of painting this weekend. We have rain forcast every day this week except friday/saturday. I also got the wheel chair lift working and most of the bolts removed. Not sure if i should sell it, or keep it around for some future project. It has a cool little self contained electric over hydraulic unit. Could use it to make a front end loader for a good sized garden tractor, but i digress.

still not too exciting to look at, but there should be some more dramatic changes soon.....





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Old 05-17-2011, 01:04 PM   #8
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Re: Splash Party Bus (97 E350)

My guess would be the air system sprung a leak on one of the fittings around the condenser on the bus. If so they (auto parts store) do sell ends that can be put on with just clamps.
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Old 05-19-2011, 07:21 PM   #9
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Re: Splash Party Bus (97 E350)

WOW! I ordered wheel simulators on tuesday on ebay. They arrived here today at noon. crazy fast! They cost a few bucks, but in my opinion are worth the expense.

Before:





After:



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Old 05-19-2011, 10:56 PM   #10
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Re: Splash Party Bus (97 E350)

Rut-roh. You are gonna find some bad news when you pull up the carpet. I have a Champion box the same year as yours and I had the rust spots around the rear wheels in the exact same place. I noticed the aluminum trim between the wall+ floor around the wheel well were also rotted. Once I started digging, I found that the wheel well has about a 2" gap to meeting up the the outer shell-and i could see the tire while standing inside.
These things start as a partial vans + frames-and the bus makers graft the fiberglass box on. The body doesn't match up to the wheel well very good-so they just spray in a sh*t load of expandable foam. That stuff is great for many things, but blocking 15 years of road blast from the dually wheels isn't one of them. Its repairible-just be ready.
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Old 05-20-2011, 10:52 AM   #11
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Re: Splash Party Bus (97 E350)

those wheel covers look sharp. they just fit on like hub caps? how much $$$ did ya have dish out lol
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Old 05-20-2011, 04:53 PM   #12
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Re: Splash Party Bus (97 E350)

the simulators cost about $150 including shipping.

I've been busy today prepping for the paint. I spent a surprising amount of time repairing a rust hole in the front fender. If i had realized it was going to take me half a day of sanding to fix it, i would have just gone out and bought a new fender. In the end, the repair looks quite nice.

I forgot how much work it was prepping a bus for paint, although this was a lot less work than a traditional skoolie. Nearly everything is masked, most of the lights removed. I still need to finish sanding. I think the weather has convinced me to wait until tomorrow to actually paint.



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Old 05-20-2011, 07:06 PM   #13
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Re: Splash Party Bus (97 E350)

prepped for launch captain!
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Old 05-21-2011, 02:50 PM   #14
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Re: Splash Party Bus (97 E350)

here are the simulators i bought....i don't know how long this link will continue to work....

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/WHEEL...Q5fAccessories
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Old 05-21-2011, 02:56 PM   #15
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Re: Splash Party Bus (97 E350)

here she is after a coat of primer:




and here she is all black, before clear coat:



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Old 05-22-2011, 12:23 PM   #16
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Re: Splash Party Bus (97 E350)

Today i am wrecking the inside of the bus.

Before:



I pulled out tons of plastic trim pieces for spray painting.....Do you guys sometimes ever wonder if your gonna be able to put everything back together when your finished?



Started out painting the ceiling blue.



Then decided we didn't like the white....so painted all of the white black...well, not quite done, but getting there. The blue on black really looks sharp.

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Old 05-22-2011, 02:24 PM   #17
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Re: Splash Party Bus (97 E350)

Yea--i determined that (and it was confirmed by a bodyman buddy that tuored the factories) that to get at the floor, you have to start taking things off the ceiling. The way they overlap things is a nitemare.
Can you do me a favor? Can you send a pic of your door opening mechanism? Mine is done already, (converted from manual to electric)but like to see how it was factory made.
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Old 05-22-2011, 06:51 PM   #18
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Re: Splash Party Bus (97 E350)

wish i could get my hands on one of those fold up seats with belts! id use that for my passenger lol
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Old 05-22-2011, 09:54 PM   #19
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Re: Splash Party Bus (97 E350)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ascend
Nice paint, what kind of sprayer do you have? Thanks for the link btw.
I have an el cheapo HVLP sprayer, bu i actually use it as a hvhp sprayer (if there was such a thing) I do about 100 psi, if the compressor keeps up. I use rustoleam commercial by the gallon paint, thinned about 25 percent with acetone. I don't actually use any measuring devices, i just mix the acetone in each time i re-fill the sprayer. I dump in paint, then acetone, then use a stir stick to mix it up.

Don't tell anybody, as there can certainly be safety issues if not done properly, but i also heat up the gallon of paint before i use it. Today i set it on top of a heater that gets about 115 degrees to the touch. My goal is to heat the paint up to about 80 degrees or so. I would come by and shake it up every few minutes or so. When i had a different setup, i used to set the paint on top of the air compressor, which would both heat the paint and help stir it up. Warm paint sprays better. It had been about 50 degrees the night before i painted and the paint was outside in the bus.



I also read about a new trick, which is wiping down the entire bus with alcohol before painting. I used to use mineral spirits, but the advantage of the alcohol is that it mixes with both oil and water, removing both from the surface.

I filled the bus up with fuel for the first time, then we drove 90 miles, for a total of about 100 miles for the day. This is the first time i've driven the bus since i purchased it. Here we are at Mcdonalds:



Did i mention the paint for the ceiling is some of the most UV reflective paint money can buy? the same paint that Blue Man Group uses?

I still have to install 2 more UV lights...



Tomorrow i have to work,,,,but i've made pretty good progress on the bus in the past 3 days.

This Friday is the big concert. I'm nearly out of time, and i have to work 56 hours this week at my place of employment. I really don't have any seating inside the bus yet, so that is the next priority. I won't have time to install the new flooring. I ordered some vinyl graphic's that will hopefully be here before friday, might run out of time to install them however. I wish i could keep going tonight, but it's 10pm and i started working on the bus about 6am.
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Old 05-22-2011, 10:08 PM   #20
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Re: Splash Party Bus (97 E350)

one more thing.....I don't use a sprayer inside the bus. In the good old days i used to (this is my sixth bus conversion) but the environment inside the bus gets so hazardous that a fully self contained breathing apparatus is required. Now i just use a roller. I think it's actually faster than masking all the windows and other items.
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