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Old 02-11-2016, 05:11 PM   #1
New Member
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 7
Happy Cow Conversion

Hi Old Skoolies, I am a new member and pleased to know that this community/resource is thriving. I just bought a Ford short bus (7 or 8 window) 23.8 gvrw. It is powered by a burly 5.9 12v Cummins. I plan to convert the bus to a mobile ice cream wherehouse/dispensary for my mobile vending biz. I will cut off 12 feet of the sidewalls and roof leaving the deck to mount the cold plate unit-5,000 lbs dry. Re attach the end cap and use the balance for storage, maybe icemakers, and minimal habitation. I also need to source, place, and install a 12k diesel gen-set to power the op. I want to get some intel on the 545 Allison 4sp and how to make more of a hwy cruiser as this drive-train is pretty well wound out at 55 mph. In a couple of weeks the garage will be done and I need to jump on this project as my season approcheth. I thank you all in advance for your experience and comments. Erik 203-666-9163

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Old 02-11-2016, 05:26 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 2,233
I am not saying what you propose can't be done. I just think it would cost you less time and $$$ if you purchased a truck with a freezer unit on it already.

The cost of insulating the bus enough to keep stuff frozen is not going to be cheap.

If what you said about cutting the last 12 feet of the bus off to install a freezer plate means installing a freezer bos, that could be done but it could also add too much weight behind the rear axle for safe and sane handling characteristics.

While the Cummins 5.9L is a great little engine the AT545 is just an adequate transmission. In order to get more speed out of your bus you are going to have to change the rear gears. Even still, if you gear it to go too fast you are going to run out of steam on every hill you come to and go up in the slow lane.

I would also double check and make sure that it is a Cummins diesel engine. Ford used their own Brazilian diesel engine in a lot of Ford medium duty trucks and bus chassis through the late '90's. They are great little engines but parts are only really available from Brazil and not from your local Ford garage.

I really don't want to rain on your parade but I just don't think the bus you have will do the job you want to do very well.
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Old 02-11-2016, 05:43 PM   #3
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Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 7
It's a freezer box I will center-line over rear axle. Most certain it is a Cummins.
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Old 02-11-2016, 07:01 PM   #4
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 8,462
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
Not much that can be done with the 545. They are dinosaurs. Solid, but dinosaurs. Best bet is probably to re-gear the rear axle or add a brownie box overdrive which will fetch a few more mph. But if the chassis is heavily loaded, it will likely wind up near the toque limits to pull it. Same with larger diameter tires. They will increase top speed, but going up hills will be a strain without adding a little horsepower. Good news is the 5.9 is easy to crank up a bit with just a couple of turns on the fuel screw and bigger injectors. Upgrading the turbo is a boost as well. But as I noted in another thread...don't go too far adding HP as the 545 is limited to something like 235. I have seen them run fine with 250 in front of them but that is right at the absolute limit on that tranny.

Of course if you can find/afford a 5 or 6 speed trans, that has OD you can add a few mph that way too. Just costs more.
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allison, cummins, ford, gen-set

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