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Old 11-05-2023, 07:01 AM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2023
Location: Goodyear, AZ
Posts: 5
Year: 1992
Coachwork: International/Thomas
Chassis: IHC 3800
Engine: DT466C
Rated Cap: 44ish?
Lightbulb 4x4 Conversion Strategy Insight

Settling in on making a purchase for a bus to convert!

The Pros:
DT466P mechanical with 130k miles
MT643 Allison Transmission
Looks like it runs a drives

The Cons:
40ft bus (wanting a shortie, manageable problem)
Not 4WD

Now what has made my mind race lately is that there is a listing for a firetruck that has a Navistar based powertrain DT530 pair with Allison 3000 series tranny. The truck's engine isnt working but the frame is smaller and it also supports 4WD. So without knowing much about any of this, would anyone know approximately what I would get myself into if I tried to merge these two vehicles in a way. Either removing the engine and chassis from the firetruck, dropping in the working DT466 and adding portions of the bus chassis to the smaller firetruck frame. Or taking out the transfer case and front axle from the fire truck, retrofit them onto the bus frame, move the rear axle forward to make the bus smaller.

Things I would love to know more about:
Does combining several parts of separate vehicles like this change the way you title the vehicle?
Are there measurements that I would NEED to know if this would even be possible? Gear ratios in the transfer case? Something else Im missing?
Would there be significant differences in mounting a different model engine on the firetrucks frame? The bus would be a dog nose while the firetruck has a recessed engine bay. Does that effect things?
Also does a 4x4 bus make or break things out on the road? I look at it as a really nice benefit, also reusing the firetrucks shorter frame would help keep the length of the bus smaller. Are there folks on here who have 4x4 capability who just don't use it as much as its worth toiling over?

Thank you guys! Please talk me down, knock some sense into me. This option looks so cheap compared to buying an aftermarket kit. I also could reuse parts from having the firetruck, 6 tires, aluminum utility boxes, etc

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Old 11-05-2023, 11:40 AM   #2
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Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Florida
Posts: 1,543
Coachwork: Integrated Coach Corp.
Chassis: RE-300 42ft
Engine: 466ci
Rated Cap: 90
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10-05-2023, 04:39 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yaxorf View Post
Hi y'all! I am very new but highly interested in starting a Skoolie project.

I have a budget of $25K set aside to acquire a solid platform, working engine with no major foreseeable issues. There are several 3800 shorties that are possible contenders but they are all about to hit 200K miles. They are all listed as "running", my initial thoughts were to purchase one (they range 6-7k) and then dedicate a majority if not the rest of my budget to make any necessary repairs or just revamp/rebuild the powertrain itself.

But after stumbling upon a few listings online that offer renewed T444e engines that come with warranty for just under 15K, I would just like to gauge how difficult it might be to swap in a newer engine on the same platform. Pros, cons, any info or experiences you guys have had needing to work with this certain powertrain. I read somewhere that even when needing to make modest repairs on the T444e that you had to lift out the engine regardless. I wouldn't have been the one to take on rebuilding an engine, but given the right tools could a swap be doable?

Thank you guys!
---------------------------------------

So, not a 3800 shorty, with a 444? A Frankenstein 40ft, 4WD, Firetruck/bus hybrid, 530/466.
May I suggest waiting another 31 days.



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Old 11-05-2023, 11:54 AM   #3
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Join Date: Oct 2023
Location: Goodyear, AZ
Posts: 5
Year: 1992
Coachwork: International/Thomas
Chassis: IHC 3800
Engine: DT466C
Rated Cap: 44ish?
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeMac View Post
10-05-2023, 04:39 AM

---------------------------------------

So, not a 3800 shorty, with a 444? A Frankenstein 40ft, 4WD, Firetruck/bus hybrid, 530/466.
May I suggest waiting another 31 days.
I'm afraid if I wait that long, I might get a Stewart and Stevenson M1083A 6x6 involved in the mix too. For now it's a 40ft bus I'd want to shorten and potentially make a 4x4.
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Old 11-05-2023, 12:00 PM   #4
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Join Date: May 2015
Location: Central Tx.
Posts: 1,822
Year: 1999
Chassis: Amtran / International
Engine: DT466E HT 250HP - Md3060
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yaxorf View Post
I'm afraid if I wait that long, I might get a Stewart and Stevenson M1083A 6x6 involved in the mix too. For now it's a 40ft bus I'd want to shorten and potentially make a 4x4.
There is a bus here in Temple Tx, right of I35 where the guy put military axles under the bus. Next time I drive by I'll stop and take a pic...it is truly bada$$ !

But for everyday highway driving i'm sure it's mpg must be really low!
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Old 11-05-2023, 12:46 PM   #5
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Join Date: May 2018
Location: topeka kansas
Posts: 1,756
Year: 1954
Coachwork: wayne
Chassis: old f500- new 2005 f-450
Engine: cummins 12 valve
Rated Cap: 20? five rows of 4?
How I would do it.

Take transfer case, cross members, front axle from fire truck. Start by installing transfer case and driveshafts for rear end. Get the bus drivable now. Get one or both axles with same gear ratios. I am assuming both are hydraulic or both air brake systems. The fire truck front axle should be about the same weight rating.

You might have to use spring hangers, shock mounts and steering linkage.

I have my eye on a 1970’s S series international/ superior. And a 1970’s international dump truck that is all wheel drive. I assume all the parts need rebuild/repair/refurbished. But would be a neat buss.

Drive shafts might need to be cut, balanced. Holes drilled for cross members etc. keep in mind using the original awd axles will get you matching gears-usually. But might also limit top speed cause the engine is all wound up. Lots of details to work with. Like if you swap axles, do you need to swap brake master cylinder too?

Similar chassis, make, model usually makes this all easier. It is likely that

holes for transfer case supports are already in the frame…. Stuff like that.

William
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Old 11-05-2023, 06:08 PM   #6
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Mar 2022
Location: CSRA Georgia
Posts: 356
Year: 1994
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: Ford B-700
Engine: 12V 5.9
Fix the firetruck engine and put a camper on the frame-rails behind the cab? Or a skoolie body of your choice?
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Old 11-05-2023, 09:22 PM   #7
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Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Orange County, CA
Posts: 1,353
Year: 1990
Coachwork: Crown, integral. (With 2kW of tiltable solar)
Chassis: Crown Supercoach II (rear engine)
Engine: Detroit 6V92TAC, DDEC 2, Jake brake, Allison HT740
Rated Cap: 37,400 lbs GVWR
Gillig bodied some 4WD International chassis (with gasoline engines, maybe Red Diamonds?) to make short 4WD school buses for Catalina Island and other difficult places. Or how about an ex-CalFire 4WD crew bus? Otherwise, just graft a skoolie body on an existing 4WD chassis - it's much easier, and it will work without too much faffing about.

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Old 11-05-2023, 10:00 PM   #8
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Join Date: Jul 2020
Posts: 19
You probably do not need four wheel drive. A much cheaper option is to use a locking diff on the back, and buy a big winch for the front. Keep the weight bias towards the back and you will go anywhere.
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Old 11-06-2023, 05:06 AM   #9
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Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: Baja often, Oregon frequently
Posts: 426
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Our hot little grubbies...
Chassis: Ford CF8000 ExpeditionVehicle
Engine: Cummins 505ci mechanical
Rated Cap: Five Heelers
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearmtnmartin View Post
You probably do not need four wheel drive. A much cheaper option is to use a locking diff on the back, and buy a big winch...
.
Agreed.
.
2003, we built our ExpeditionVehicle on a 1996 Ford CF8000 commercial truck.
Over two decades full-time live-aboard.
.
We got stuck twice, both times on the farm we workkamp.
In our defense, six months of rain turn the Willamette Valley into a swamp.
An aside:
* nobody in their right mind comes to such a place,
* nobody in their right mind lives in such a place.
.
Our rig is 2x4 (rear-wheel drive) with a factory locking axle.
Facts:
* weight and complexity of 4x4 or 6x6 coupled with the reduced turning angles greatly impacts drivability.
.
After understanding the differences inherent to a specialized vehicle -- and operating such in a compromised environment -- we decided to limit our excursions to the relative safety of gravel roads and rural rustic two-lanes.
.
Part of our decision is based on the capabilities of the vehicles of our caravan chums.
Traveling as a group also limits the route to the least-capable operator and rig.
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Old 11-28-2023, 05:37 PM   #10
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Join Date: Jul 2021
Location: Southern Oregon
Posts: 1,607
Year: 1996
Coachwork: AmTran (Now Navistar)
Engine: DT444E (7.3L) International
Rated Cap: 31,800 pounds
There is a company in Wolf Creek Oregon that converts buses to 4x4. It's probably expensive but they know what they're doing and may even have some offerings ready to roll off the lot.
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Old 11-29-2023, 11:57 AM   #11
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Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: Northern California (Sacramento)
Posts: 1,407
Year: 1999
Coachwork: El Dorado Fiberglass
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: V10 Gas
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yaxorf View Post
Please talk me down, knock some sense into me. This option looks so cheap compared to buying an aftermarket kit. I also could reuse parts from having the firetruck, 6 tires, aluminum utility boxes, etc
Are you ready for a multi-year, tens of thousands investment requiring full time shop space with all the tools?

That is a Huuuuuge investment so you can get yourself even more deeply stuck in the boondocks.
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