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Old 04-24-2020, 11:36 PM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: St. Louis
Posts: 15
Year: 2003
Coachwork: Thomas 4-Window
Chassis: 2003 Ford E350
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke
Rated Cap: 6
Hello! New Skoolies from St. Louis!

Hello! I'm Ken. I'm from Southern Illinois, just outside of St. Louis. For as long as I can remember my youngest daughter has wanted to convert a short bus into her own little RV. With all the lockdowns, we had to forego our summer vacation plans. Here's our plan to make the best of it!

After following auctions all across the country for months, I ended up finding the perfect conversion candidate last week by accident at a small-town bus yard just 20 minutes from my house! Within 24 hours, our new Thomas 4-window handicap short bus was in the driveway and the conversion was underway. This beauty is on a 2003 Ford E350 van platform with a well-running 7.3L Powerstroke (139,000 miles) and surprisingly little rust.

The goal is to have it gutted and built out in time for my daughter to drive it off to college (Southwest US) in August. She'll be staying in the dorms at school, but she wants the option to do some off-grid camping on weekends (and also have a private place to retreat to when she's stressed out). We'll do a couple local shake-downs, and she'll be "living" in it on the back 40 this summer.

So far we've got the seats out and cabin cleaned it up a bit. We still need to rip out the rear A/C, diesel-fired bus-heater, and the wheel chair lift. I'm curious, is any of this worth trying to sell, or is it all just bound for the scrap yard? Also, I'm very much on the fence on pulling the floors. I keep reading how much surprise rust is found under the plywood, but the underside of this thing is in amazing shape. I almost don't want to tear up the plywood just to put new stuff down. I'm sure I'll have a million more questions over the coming weeks. For now, I'm just diving down one rabbit-hole Skoolie thread after another here and loving every minute of it!

Ken (a.k.a. Fat Boy)
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Old 04-25-2020, 12:27 AM   #2
Z.morris's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2017
Posts: 10
Hey Ken.

We must be pretty close to you..We are right outside STL on the Illinois side. My wife and I are converting a 1995 Thomas rear engine bus.IMG_28471.jpg
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Old 04-25-2020, 03:26 AM   #3
Bus Geek
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 2,711
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas Built Bus
Chassis: Freightliner FS65
Engine: Caterpillar 3126E Diesel
Rated Cap: 71 Passenger- 30,000 lbs.
The diesel-fired heater is a definite item that could be sold. However, why would you want to get rid of it? How will the mobile cabin be heated while camping?
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Old 04-25-2020, 04:24 PM   #4
New Member
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: Saint Louis MO
Posts: 4
Year: 2012
Engine: 4500 Duramax
Rated Cap: 15 + driver
Hi Ken, I just joined this site today. I will be bringing my new/old skoolie home next week and start ripping her apart. I'm on the west side of the Mississippi in St Louis. Will keep a look out for your updates. Im sure I'll also have a million questions!

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Old 04-25-2020, 05:22 PM   #5
Bus Crazy
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Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Swansboro,NC
Posts: 1,116
Year: 86
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Ford B700
Engine: 8.2
Rated Cap: 60 bodies
why get rid of the a/c and heat?
they can be usefull when needed?
if you are confidient your bus doesnt have any rust or leaky windows then why pull the plywood?
i can almost guarantee that when you pull the plywood you can and will find the unknown areas of leaks in your bus ?
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Old 04-25-2020, 08:04 PM   #6
Bus Nut
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Savannah GA
Posts: 600
Year: 2003
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000
Engine: Cummins 5.9 24v
Rated Cap: 54 passenger
Pull the plywood. Not a single person here has regretted pulling the plywood. It's cheap. It's crap. Put down something nice and clean. You're going to insulate the floor anyway aren't you?
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Old 04-26-2020, 03:51 PM   #7
Join Date: Feb 2020
Location: Canton Tx, 100mi east dallas
Posts: 28
Year: 2005
Coachwork: startrans
Chassis: e450
Engine: 7.2 turbo diesel
Originally Posted by FatBoySTL View Post

I'm curious, is any of this worth trying to sell, or is it all just bound for the scrap yard?
Ken (a.k.a. Fat Boy)
welcome ken, I have a 2005 E450 I just recently removed the wheelchair lift, sold it for $200, from my research that is cheep. but I live out in the country. I would try to sell it or give it away to someone that needs it. the guy I sold it to was glad to get it at that price for his mom.

I grew up it alton Il, you near there?
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