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Old 12-04-2023, 01:31 PM   #1
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Lightbulb Hello Everyone! Seeking advice on first Shuttle Bus purchase.

Hey everyone, I am in the process of purchasing my first Shuttle Bus. It's a 1989 Ford Econoline 350 Shuttle Bus 7.3 idi Diesel, The bus needs some work but she's a beaut! has about 120,000 Miles former Church vehicle and passenger hauler. I went to check the bus out the other day, and I see that it's going to be more work than I anticipated but I believe it will be worth it if I can get it at the right price. Hoping to close the deal at 1,500$


Here are some of the things I noticed that need addressing:


Rusted floorboard on the driver's side, I think that area is the only major place. The body itself is rock solid, the frame is also very strong with sturdy steel bumpers.


It's a cutaway with a Fiberglass shuttle body, has pretty decent roof damage from a water leak in the roof escape hatch. Water has been slowly dripping inside, but the floors beneath don't appear to be damaged at all as they are protected by rubber. This is okay, as I will be gutting the entire inside and reframing/replacing everything to convert to an RV. The fiberglass roof however does dip in a bit, I've been told by a local Fiberglass shop that it's definitely repairable.


Wanted to get some opinions on the reliability of the Engine, things to look for, I will include some pictures of the motor and interior/exterior.

Thank you for taking the time to share some info! Looking forward to joining the Skoolie Life!
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Old 12-04-2023, 01:39 PM   #2
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The IDI's are great engines from what I know. I can't say how good of condition yours is currently in, but supposed to be some of the best engines you can get within the last 40 years.
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Old 12-04-2023, 01:46 PM   #3
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Awesome to hear that, Yeah I've been hearing great things about that motor I'll need to bring some batteries with me the next time I go check it out, should be able to get her running no problem. She hasn't been sitting too long, and the owner bought the bus with the intent to haul people around until his gov contract fell through, so it's got like new tires, new exhaust, and apparently was running like a champ before he parked her.
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Old 12-04-2023, 01:51 PM   #4
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Looks like it might clean up nice.

Watch some fiberglass boat repair videos to see how you can repair the roof
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Old 12-04-2023, 02:04 PM   #5
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Nice, I believe so as well. Thanks for the tip!

These guys came up with an interesting fix to a similar problem:
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Old 12-04-2023, 02:06 PM   #6
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I believe so as well! Thanks for the tip!

These guys came up with an interesting solution to a similar problem:

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Old 12-04-2023, 02:08 PM   #7
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I believe so as well! Thanks for the tip!

found a great video where some folks had the same issue and fixed it "Reinforcing Water Damaged Ceiling In A Shuttle Bus-Feeling Out Our New Floorplan--Skoolie Ep. 30"
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Old 12-04-2023, 02:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.Blueridge View Post
Hey everyone, I am in the process of purchasing my first Shuttle Bus. It's a 1989 Ford Econoline 350 Shuttle Bus 7.3 idi Diesel, The bus needs some work but she's a beaut! has about 120,000 Miles former Church vehicle and passenger hauler. I went to check the bus out the other day, and I see that it's going to be more work than I anticipated but I believe it will be worth it if I can get it at the right price. Hoping to close the deal at 1,500$


Here are some of the things I noticed that need addressing:


Rusted floorboard on the driver's side, I think that area is the only major place. The body itself is rock solid, the frame is also very strong with sturdy steel bumpers.


It's a cutaway with a Fiberglass shuttle body, has pretty decent roof damage from a water leak in the roof escape hatch. Water has been slowly dripping inside, but the floors beneath don't appear to be damaged at all as they are protected by rubber. This is okay, as I will be gutting the entire inside and reframing/replacing everything to convert to an RV. The fiberglass roof however does dip in a bit, I've been told by a local Fiberglass shop that it's definitely repairable.


Wanted to get some opinions on the reliability of the Engine, things to look for, I will include some pictures of the motor and interior/exterior.

Thank you for taking the time to share some info! Looking forward to joining the Skoolie Life!
You wouldn't be the first to try to fix a smashed roof.
skoolie.net/shuttle-bus-roof-mishaps

I wouldn't take on that roof leak, even of the bus were free. That's just me. Shuttle walls & roof are often a fiberglass sandwich with a cardboard, honeycomb center. Shuttle floors are usually wood only. Not steel, like school buses. Judging from the amount of black on the roof, shes been leaking 18 months or more. A huge rot-gamble.

Smart of the owner to unload it onto a starry-eyed dreamer and recoup some loss. The new buyer may not have that same option, once the rot (and street below) is exposed for all to see.

Fiberglass shuttles cannot be 'gutted' in the way as steel buses.
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Old 12-04-2023, 03:01 PM   #9
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Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Yeah, I agree it is a gamble, but something about it is calling me to restore it. I'm okay with scrapping everything on the inside, eradicating any rot and replacing plywood flooring. I'll be reinsulating and framing with new material so existing rot will be removed.
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Old 12-04-2023, 03:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeMac View Post
You wouldn't be the first to try to fix a smashed roof.
skoolie.net/shuttle-bus-roof-mishaps

I wouldn't take on that roof leak, even of the bus were free. That's just me. Shuttle walls & roof are often a fiberglass sandwich with a cardboard, honeycomb center. Shuttle floors are usually wood only. Not steel, like school buses. Judging from the amount of black on the roof, shes been leaking 18 months or more. A huge rot-gamble.

Smart of the owner to unload it and recoup some loss.
That’s true if it’s migrated down the walls it could push into unrepairable territory
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Old 12-05-2023, 12:36 AM   #11
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Thanks for the honesty. I'm going to go look at it again and do a deeper inspection, pealing up rubber on floors, and i'll try to view in the walls and really keep and eye out for extensive rot.


If she rides well and all else looks fixable I'm gonna roll the dice!
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Old 12-05-2023, 10:52 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeMac View Post
You wouldn't be the first to try to fix a smashed roof.
skoolie.net/shuttle-bus-roof-mishaps

I wouldn't take on that roof leak, even of the bus were free. That's just me. Shuttle walls & roof are often a fiberglass sandwich with a cardboard, honeycomb center. Shuttle floors are usually wood only. Not steel, like school buses. Judging from the amount of black on the roof, shes been leaking 18 months or more. A huge rot-gamble.

Smart of the owner to unload it onto a starry-eyed dreamer and recoup some loss. The new buyer may not have that same option, once the rot (and street below) is exposed for all to see.

Fiberglass shuttles cannot be 'gutted' in the way as steel buses.
You did the right thing by coming to this forum for feedback.

What are your plans for it? Hopefully not full time living because it probably won't be reliable enough for long road trips.

I'm with Demac. This one is too old, too damaged. Feels too much like a future 'my loss is your gain' ad in the making. It's 40 years old, and it's been sitting for years. If critters got into the engine compartment you may be looking at extensive wiring repair.

The roof is completely thrashed. You'll be working on that for months before you can start on the interior. You probably need new tires, brakes. If you dive in, you'll put tons of money, sweat and tears into the rig. You will not be able to recoup that money if you bail on the project before it is completely roadworthy and beautiful on the inside. Recognize that you'll be selling it for about what you bought it for, if you have to sell it before you finish it.

Do you live in a state with smog inspection?

Where are you going to work on it? Hopefully, in your side yard, where it costs nothing to store. Otherwise the financial clock will start ticking as soon as you buy it.

I recommend you keep looking, and find a newer one with less damage.
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Old 12-05-2023, 11:06 AM   #13
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On paper what you have is alright. In person I wouldn't touch this with a 10 foot pole. As others said, this is a 40 year old can of worms you don't want to open at any cost. Unless you have some sort of sentimental value here, this will never be worth it. Punt this and continue with the search. Rust and rot are almost never worth it in skoolie world.
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Old 12-05-2023, 06:02 PM   #14
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Rust on the floorboard can be a pain, but if the body and frame are solid, you're halfway there. Roof damage might be a bit tricky, but if you're planning to gut it for an RV conversion, it's doable. As for the engine, the 7.3 idi Diesel is known for being pretty reliable.
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Old 12-05-2023, 06:09 PM   #15
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Why is the air cleaner off?



Fiberglass work is nasty stuff, and I would not be surprised to find the floor rotten. would be cool on this one.
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Old 12-06-2023, 10:13 AM   #16
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Probably because the glow plugs don't work, so the owner shot ether in the manifold to show that it runs.
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Old 12-06-2023, 12:14 PM   #17
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After seeing the roof hatch I would name the bus "City of New Orleans".
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Old 12-06-2023, 12:28 PM   #18
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I also have a 1989 E350 with the 7.3 IDI and about the same miles on the odometer. I only use it for taking my mother-in-law to town for appointments, but I wouldn't trust it on a long trip...and I do my own diesel work. For someone who will need to rely on mobile mechanics and shops, I would be concerned.
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Old 12-06-2023, 06:02 PM   #19
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Thanks everyone for the replies! Definitely giving me solid advice on things I hadn't even considered. I may keep looking after all lol.
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Old 12-08-2023, 10:26 AM   #20
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Yeah, I'm kind of torn I love the style of the bus and it's really solid. I just don't know what i'd be getting myself into when I tear out all of the interior paneling. Still on the table for saying screw it and purchasing if I can get it for a lower price.
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