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Old 03-08-2018, 03:22 AM   #1
New Member
Join Date: Mar 2018
Posts: 3
Another New Guy Searching For First Bus

Hey everyone, this looks like a cool group on this forum from the threads I've been reading. I've been trying to resist asking old questions that can be found via searching and digging through the threads.

I am looking for a relatively shorter bus ie: 15-25' of usable living space? I'm leaning towards a Skoolie not a shuttle. My wife is disabled and it would be ideal to have a wheelchair lift already installed factory. I have read good things about the 7.3 engines I definitely want a diesel. I've had good experiences with the Duramax 6.6 diesels (I hear the 6.5 is an entirely different motor) and would not want a bus with a gasser in it. I was originally looking into E350 but now looking at E450's as well. Are there any common models bigger than those two that are less than 30' overall?

I've read E350 MPG is around 10-14 and E450 get around 8? Are there any 25-30' busses that can get 8-10mpg? I get that these rigs were all built different to some degree and retrofit differences will effect this.

Also I've read to stay away from 2004 and later busses because of emissions regulations. And someone mentioned 93-97 being a sweet spot for E350/450 7.3's?

Lots of questions, I'm still researching and trying to figure out what I should start hunting for. I'm chomping at the bit to track something down and start building! Thanks in advance for any advice. This forum has a lot of good info, I'm glad I found it.

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Old 03-08-2018, 06:36 PM   #2
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Join Date: Mar 2018
Posts: 3
A little revision here, (I'm learning as I go here) I think 15-20 length of living space would be a good fit for our needs. I think an 8 window dog nose or RE bus with a wheelchair lift would be good as well as the possibility of an E450.

I have been reading more about engines and the DT466 looks good with its wet sleeve design, seems common for parts, and people claim 9mpg? I am no diesel mechanic, I wrench on motorcycles for fun and have done some work on a couple chevy 350s. So I would like an engine that I could learn about and do as much repairing myself if need be.

I'm looking into what engines are available in buses with 4-8 windows. I hear the 8.3 Cummins is a full size bus motor.

I would want an auto trans so my wife could drive it. Just posting what I've been mulling around in my head here.

List of Engines I am researching: (let me know if you have any others I should consider)

Cummins 8.3

7.3 Navistar/Powerstroke
5.9 Cummins

Detroit 671

CAT 3126
Mercedes 906

So far the DT466 catches my eye for an 8 window and maybe the T444/7.3 for a smaller rig. Those two stroke Detroits have always interested me since I heard about them from a friend of mine, don't know much about them though.

I figure I'll worry about transmissions after I find a couple models and motors I'm hunting for. Still reading about those to though.
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Old 03-08-2018, 08:42 PM   #3
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Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Fayetteville Arkansas
Posts: 419
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: GMC G3500 Vandura
Engine: V-8 5.7L Gas
For a smaller bus I think you'll most commonly find the 5.9 Cummins which is a good choice. It will almost always have the Allison 545 which everyone complains about overheating and not being so powerful but in the smaller bus the consensus is that it is acceptable.
I've noticed Bluebird often uses Cummins and might make your search a little easier if you're wanting to go that route.
I have a personal bias toward the Powerstroke. I always had Fords but recently switched to being a GMC man.
The CAT 3126 & Mercedes 906 cost a lot to repair but when running I've heard people like their CATs.
I'm definitely the minority but both of my buses are gas engines. We break down every once in awhile and it has really saved me finding help in random parts of the country. Personally I would be up a creek looking for a diesel mechanic at some random location.
My Triton V10 engine gets around 12 miles per gallon on the highway if I keep it 65 or under. Driving 70 is literally half that.
I'm in a wheelchair and definitely recommend the lift the in the front. It makes most sense so that the bedroom and everything can be left undisturbed.
I hope some of this helps.
Happy hunting!
- Thomas

The Daily Driver Bus Build
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