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Old 11-22-2018, 10:28 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Convert to 6x6

So I'm entertaining the idea of converting my 1993 bluebird that has a cummins puller into 6 wheel drive. My though is to buy 5 ton Rockwell axles and use them. Probably would need new leaf springs to gain some lift for the front and use a transfer case from a 5 ton military truck. Obviously shorten/lengthen/make drivelines. So has anybody researched this or done this? Thoughts questions and input greatly appreciated!!!
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Old 11-23-2018, 08:30 AM   #2
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I looked into it. It was one of those novelty items that I thought would be cool.

I was turned off by the fact that the 5 ton axles didn't have a high enough weight rating to match what I was removing. IIRC it was the rear axles that were too small. That and the top speed of those trucks is like 50 mph.

Then I took a step back and thought of how often I truly needed 4wd, and how many of those situations could have been avoided. Add to that the cost involved and it quickly became not worth it.
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Old 11-23-2018, 09:50 AM   #3
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Yeah I know it would be expensive and take a lot of effort and time to do. However my long range goal with my bus is to travel Canada Alaska and the northwest a lot boondocking. So 5 ton rockwells wouldn't be strong enough is what your saying? The other thing is I don't have to start with 6x6, just start with 4x4. For two 5 ton rocks I could get them for less than5k. What are the axles rates at and what axles do I have in my bus or how do I find out?
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Old 11-26-2018, 09:38 AM   #4
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Might be easier/cheaper/faster to start with a solid 6X chassis & drive train...then transplant the bus body (?).
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Old 11-26-2018, 11:14 AM   #5
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Yeah that's an option too. Putting the bus body on a 6x6 chassis would probably require extending the frame length, building body mounts, and figuring out steering and wiring. All doable but I think swapping axles and adding a t/c and doing drivelines would be easier, maybe. After doing some more research I think 5 ton rocks will work and be heavy duty enough. So I just gotta find a 6x6 donor rig which I have found and see if I can get it at a decent cost.
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Old 11-26-2018, 11:29 AM   #6
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do you have clearance on an FE rig? always seems like the engine sits lower in its cradle on an FGE rig compared to a conventional school bus...



I know navistar made 4700 series trucks that had dual axle drive.. a 4700 truck is very similar to a 3800 school bus chassis.. if you went to a conventional school bus on a 3800 chassis you could probably find parts from a 4700 to retrofit in and have front wheel assist.



when you talk about 6x6. are you talking about adding a powered tandem axle to the rear? so you have 3 5 ton axles. or the 6 meaning 4 wheels on a single rear axle and the 2 up front? are 5 ton axles enough for a full length converted school bus?


my little shorty bus has an S110 in the rear which is GAWR at 14,500 lbs.. and thats in a 6 window shorty..



-Christopher
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Old 11-26-2018, 12:03 PM   #7
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3 axles. Well the net weight of my bus Is about 18.5k lbs with a gvw of I think 30-32 k a 6x6 military dump trunk is about 21k lbs with a gvw of about 42k lbs so it seems to me the rockwells would be just fine. I think the leafs would either need to be rearched or get new ines with more arch too
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Old 11-26-2018, 12:23 PM   #8
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that makes sense for 5 ton axles you are going to a rear tandem.. seems that might be interesting to drive. with a full tandem on a long wheel base.. if you lift the bus up at all and run 11R22.5'ss that thing would be a beast as long as you dont high center.. I had issues just in my Long wheel base jeep off-road at times because my WB was too long..



you need one of those short wheel base FE thomas busses.. they have fairly large overhangs on front and rear but the axles are on par of a 6 window conventional bus.. the useable space in these 9 window thomas;s is much more than a 6 window conventional..



-Christopher
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Old 11-26-2018, 12:45 PM   #9
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You would think it would drive ok, what's the difference between it and a coach that is longer? As long as I didn't have to run the front in 6x6 mode. So I would want to be able to disengage the front axle but running the two in the back would be fine I think?
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Old 11-26-2018, 01:14 PM   #10
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the big coaches have a single wheel tag axle.. its non powered and usually not duals.. in many of the coaches it also turns with the bus... I know Semi's are tandems.. both axles drive.. one set of duals on each does.. they are open diffs ..


to build osmething like that i figured you were planning on some pretty serious off-roading.. which is why I mention ground clearance and high centering...
-Christopher
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Old 11-26-2018, 01:31 PM   #11
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Hopefully no real serious stuff but I want to be able to take back roads, drive in snow and ice without chains and do more adventurous boondocking. Well for the clearance I figured 46" tires plus whatever lift in the springs to clear the motor/ tranny pans. That should give me decent clearance. Maybe I just use one axle but then I'm not sure one Rockwell would be strong enough, probably would be imo. They do run em in monster trucks with massive power. Open to all thoughts here, just rolling this around at this point
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Old 11-26-2018, 01:32 PM   #12
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I do however plan to have chains for snow and ice but if it was 4x or 6x that would help in that stuff
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Old 11-26-2018, 07:18 PM   #13
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First...I really want to see this rig built!


Second...I want to see pix of it doing Black Bear!
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Old 11-26-2018, 07:51 PM   #14
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Looks like I can get the donor rig for 2 Grand.🙄
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Old 11-26-2018, 08:36 PM   #15
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Careful on the cheap donors. Every seal and gasket will leak and you do not know how much water is inside the gear head. Also the 8xx series had air over hydraulic brakes. To get full air, you'll have to go with the 9xx series.


I agree with the idea to put the components under your bus, not the bus body over the truck as the trucks have seen some serious sunlight and very cold temps. Unless you get one just ran through the rebuild schedule, you will have no end of air line and electric wire issues as well as gaskets and rubber components.



A 2.5 ton Tcase would be a better choice as the majority of the 5 tons have issues backing up in low range.


I just put a pair of 9xx axles under this buggy. I have another pair that have been rebuilt by Boyce equipment in Utah, and they are for sale, as well as two 2.5 ton Tcases.

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Old 11-26-2018, 09:14 PM   #16
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Thank deezl
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Old 11-27-2018, 08:36 AM   #17
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That would look mighty sweet with a vintage shorty bus body on it.


Eat yer heart out Gravedigger!!!
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Old 11-28-2018, 10:05 AM   #18
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The other option is axle tech 4000 axles. They are planetary axles rated at 19k lbs and come with air lockers. If I went with those I would just make it 4x4. Also the front end clearance of oil pans would not be such an issue. Boyce has em new for $4000 a piece. If I went this route I think stock springs might work fine although I still want to run 46" tires. The bad part is the gear ratio is 6.8 something but maybe with the talker tires it wouldn't be too bad. What gear ratios do you guys have in your buses?
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Old 11-28-2018, 10:52 AM   #19
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Sounds awesome! But you might want to step back and look at the bigger picture. You are talking trans Canadian...boon docking...etc when you start adding more differentials to a bus...transfer case...drive trains...you need to consider what that is going to do to your mpg. The kind of driving you want to do will need big gas tanks. Do you think you can accomplish what you want to do with a 2 speed rear end and better selection of tires? I had a similar thought once but was thinking that 4x4 at 30 mph would be fast enough for dirt roads, etc and looked into the idea of putting a differential up front with an electric motor...would still be over $10K but would give the bus low speed electric city driving.
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Old 11-28-2018, 12:16 PM   #20
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Yeah definitely looking at another fuel tank. Would like to add another 100 gallon tank so I would have 160 gallons total. As for an electric motor I would pass on that because I'm not very famikar with em and I bet parts migh be really hard to get. Appreciate all the input, if I do this I want all my bases covered.
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