Originally Posted by Michaela75662
I've been lurking for a short while, contemplating on getting my feet wet. I've had this dream of converting a bus into a "camper bus" and have whittled that dream down from doing a coach, to doing a shuttle and finally to converting a school bus. I've decided on a transit style, rear-engined, 39 to 40 foot beast with some "basement" storage. We will not be focused on off-roading this gargantua, but probably want to experience an occasional BLM jaunt. Most of the time, though, we'll find state parks with hook-ups with utilities and dump stations. All this being said, I have approximately a year before laying out money for a bus and beginning to convert it. So I'm doing lots of research and asking questions, some of which include:
1. Which makes/models are conducive to interstate speeds (don't want to hold up traffic)?
2. I've read that engine/transmission/differential gearing affect top end? What combo is
good for that (see question 1 above)?
3. Speaking of engines, what brand/model will have a very good to excellent longevity,
have lowest repair costs when something goes awry, and produces what is considered
good mileage (taking into consideration #1 and #2 above).
Thanks loads for your insight, Michael
You haven't stated what your proposed budget is. That can make a difference.
I went the Crown route. They are not computerized, but old school mechanical diesel powered. They come with 6 cylinder inline diesel engines, some with manual trans, 5 speed or 10 speed or Alison automatics. Most younger folks don't know how to operate a clutch and manual trans. Crowns tend to be expensive but they are built like a tank, using off the shelf components common to over the road trucks. The Detroit 6-71 engines are common. Those come in turbo or non turbo versions. The other brand of engine used is a Cummins diesel. Older Crowns used small cam versions and some of the later ones came with the big cam versions. I have two Crowns that I refer to as the "old Crown" and the "new Crown". My "new Crown has a Cummins big cam 400 with an Alison HT740 trans (auto 4 speed). I also changed the gearing to increase the highway speed. (from 4.10 to 3.42) It can cruise at 70 to 75 mph. I should mention that both my Crowns are mid engine and the engine lays on it side under the floor.
The new Crown is 40 ft long tandem axle with air ride suspension in the rear. It does drive nice though.
All the stuff being said the placement of your various rooms like kitchen, bathroom, etc. must take into account all of the things already under the floor. Both of my Crowns have a large trunk at the rear, under the floor.
Most of the Crowns stayed on the west coast, being made in Los Angeles and later Chino. Crown went away in 1991.
I haven't worked on or converted any other makes of buses but I believe there are a number of other makes that are very suitable and reliable.
I would avoid purchasing any bus that was used where they salt the roads. All vehicles used on salted roads will corrode. If you buy your bus from the "rust belt" you will likely need to repair rust damage.
One last point: School buses made later than the late 70s are made to stricter Federal Motor Vehicle Standards (FMVS) than cars, trucks, transit, tour buses. This means if you ever get in a wreck (hopefully never) your chances are better.
Yes I am a Crown geek, what can I say.
I forgot, the last few years of production, Crown produced a rear engine bus that has some differences.