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Old 11-24-2009, 07:55 PM   #1
GoldenGate's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 34
Year: 1992
Coachwork: SturdiVan
Chassis: Ford E-350
Engine: 7.3 IDI Navistar diesel
Rated Cap: 8
The re-conversion of my 92 E-350

Back in March, I came upon this bus at a local school district warehouse. The ad offered it for "$100 of best offer." I got into a bidding war with some other guy and ended up winning, with a final price of $375! Drove it 45 miles home with no incident, and haven't had any serious trouble since ownership.

The bus itself is a 1992 E-350 chassis, 7.3 navistar diesel engine and E4OD (yuck) trans. With 240,000 miles on it, its been around the block more than its fair share but being that I bought it straight from the school district, and since they have to go through inspections every 45 days, I figured it had been maintained pretty well.

It has gone through several evolutions as a converted bus, but in all honesty they were all pretty ghetto and half-assed. The first stage was simply so I could get RV status from the DMV. As an RV, I only pay $50 every four months through Progressive--and thats for me being a 19 year old male AND for coverage thats more than just the state liability minimums. Still blows my mind how cheap it is when I get my bills.

Then, I changed it around to accommodate more people when some friends and I took a 9 day road trip up to Reno, then through the desert to Vegas, then back up the California coast for the 4th of July weekend (thus the flag paint job...which is also half-assed).

Then, my car was totaled in a theft, and, believe it or not, I daily drove my bus for several months through inner-city San Francisco traffic.

Anyways, pictures speak a thousand words blah blah blah so heres some pictures of it in the past, and below will be pictures of the work I'm doing now. I've decided to finally do it right so I'm tearing up the floor to put in laminate flooring, got a new paint gun so paint will be re-done, and then I'll go from there as far as a floor plan goes.

Us gypsie camping on a friends lawn in Reno

Road-trip crew for the Santa Barbara trip, this past halloween, I'm in the cape.

The set-up for the Vegas trip, big old TV is long gone

Old, pink paint that I slapped on when I first got it

Vegas trip floorplan, basically a poorly built bunk across the back, a couch to one side, and a TV/storage across the other.

And now for the work I've been doing these past couple days. Basically ripping up the floor, to get rid of all the rotting plywood and rust before laying down the laminate

My urban work area....far less than ideal

Alex grinding away at some bolts that we couldn't get to from the bottom

Air hammer with a chisel bit was great for getting some of the tough spots of rubber up

Me grinding some more bolts

This the floor plan I had going before ripping the floor out. Off to the right is a big cozy heated massage chair

In lieu of a friend to hold the wrench, I found it just as easy to use a screw to hold it in place as I got at the nuts from below with a ratchet.

First piece of wood up! Rust isn't too bad, I got a lot of it out with a wire wheel on my grinder. The black stuff near the door is rot from the old wood.

Most of the wood near the rear door up. Rust back here was very light.

ROTTEN piece of wood that was next to the side door. This was by far the worst piece in there.

That pretty sums up my progress up to current. Hoping to get all the rust off the floor and at a coat of rustoleum or two down tomorrow. Questions? Comments?
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Old 11-25-2009, 02:00 AM   #2
GoldenGate's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 34
Year: 1992
Coachwork: SturdiVan
Chassis: Ford E-350
Engine: 7.3 IDI Navistar diesel
Rated Cap: 8
Re: The re-conversion of my 92 E-350

The plan is finish the laminate flooring, then paint it-- I have a friend at Kelly Moore who can "mistint" house paint for me so I can get whatever colors I need dirt cheap, but on the other hand I just got a spray gun and I'm very tempted to try my hand at doing a more "professional" job.

Then, upgrade the electrical system---right now I have a 1500w inverter hooked up to the vehicle batteries. A few deep cycles and an isolator seem in order, at least for what I'm gonna be using it for at this point. I don't need one right now, but I may install a generator for use this summer. My dad is a city electrician and I know a good deal myself so getting a good power system shouldn't be too difficult *knock on wood*

What I want to do right now is build wrap-around bench seating, since during the year I've mostly been using it as a sort of party-bus.

Come this summer, after traveling Europe and Africa with my sister, I'm planning on roadtripping around America, at which point the conversion will be re-done to more of a camper style. Unless I can find another full-size bus to buy, which I would use as a camper and keep this one as the party bus. Damn, that skoolie bug bit me hard. I actually came across a BEAUTIFUL 1990 International full-size bus with a DT466 and MT643 and GREAT tires and everything working for only $600 from some rich private high school up north, but unfortunately some other guy bought it out from under me before I could sign on the dotted line. ****!
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Old 11-27-2009, 09:14 PM   #3
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: New England
Posts: 1,009
Year: 1993
Coachwork: Ward Genesis
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466/MT643
Rated Cap: 77
Re: The re-conversion of my 92 E-350

I kind of like the flag paint job...it looks pretty good!
Optimism is a mental disorder.
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Old 12-05-2009, 11:44 PM   #4
GoldenGate's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 34
Year: 1992
Coachwork: SturdiVan
Chassis: Ford E-350
Engine: 7.3 IDI Navistar diesel
Rated Cap: 8
Re: The re-conversion of my 92 E-350

Been hard at work, but first a few more pics of the first conversion stage of the bus that I just found.

Now for what I've been up to this past week or so.

All the old plywood finally removed.

Worst rust I found.

All the rust particles that DIDN'T end up in my lungs. Gotta love respirators.

First can of Rustoleum on the back section

1000W Halogen work lamps let me work late into the night before Thanksgiving, trying to finish the Rustoleum coating on the floor

Rustoleum complete

Rubberized, sound-deadening undercoating applied (still have a little to go, didn't get good coverage at some points)

Trying to make a pattern for the plywood sub-floor


Had to support the under-body AC unit for a while so I could remove the carriage bolts that supported it and install new bolts that would mount flush with the new sub-floor

New bolts in place

My dad came by to help with some of the cutting

Sub-floor complete

Found an easter egg while removing some of the padding near the driver's seat-- An Envelope with old registration, insurance, and accident reportin paperwork.

Behr Ultra Premium flat black paint...$5. Gotta love the mistint pile

Working late into the night again, interior, sans trim, is completed. I bought the flat black thinking that it would be a nice contrast for the electroluminescent wire display I'm going to install on the ceiling and walls, but in hindsight it seems gloomy so I'm going to do a half-and-half sort of thing and get some brighter colors in here.

A couple things I'm having trouble with-- The sheet-metal floor of the bus isn' flat or level, which is what the plywood is for obviously, but in the middle of the bus the sheet-metal dips so much that the wood bows an inch or two when you stand on it. I would just su k the wood down into the floor with some screws, but I need it to be a bit more flat since the laminate flooring isn't going to work well on a bowed surface. Is there any especially good way to remedy this? I was just going to use some wood to make some joist-esque supports to level it out. Good idea?
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