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View Poll Results: What are your top two ideas/suggestions for a short bus conversion?
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Old 05-20-2021, 10:51 AM   #1
New Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: 4318
Posts: 9
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Collins
Chassis: 1995 Ford E-350
Engine: 7.3L Ford Powerstroke Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 16 passenger, 9600 lbs.
Smile Hey y'all!

Hi! I have been looking at building a bus now for about 4 years and have finally decided on what I want and how I want to build it. So, I bought a bus at auction last week, govdeals.com. I live in Michigan and will drive to California to pick the bus up and drag my car back.


It is a 1995 Collins short bus, built on the Ford E-350 chassis with the 7.3L Turbo Diesel and an automatic trans. No rust, no leaks, and everything is reported as working; plus it even has an aftermarket stereo already installed!


I plan to raise the roof 10-14 inches (haven't seen that on a shortie yet but that's what I'm doing,) and will include a full shower/bathroom, kitchen, and seating area, and solar. I already have all the trim wood from trees that I grew up with, including the countertop and table slabs, plus will be using some of the planks for the ceiling (ship lap.) I will be working with a designer to come up with the best layout for me, and I think it will probably take about 6-8 months to complete it enough to move into. **We'll see about that. LOL.** Anyway, here are some before pics.
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File Type: jpg Lil'Bus.01.jpg (128.8 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg Lil'Bus.03.jpg (145.3 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg Lil'Bus.06.jpg (133.7 KB, 7 views)
File Type: jpg Lil'Bus.09.jpg (135.6 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg Lil'Bus.11.jpg (103.3 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg Lil'Bus.10.jpg (88.4 KB, 6 views)

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Old 05-20-2021, 12:05 PM   #2
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Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 6,063
Year: 2003
Coachwork: International
Chassis: CE 300
Engine: DT466e
Rated Cap: 65C-43A
Looks good. I like the idea of using wood you grew up with, very cool. I just rebuilt a rolling butcher block cart I've owned for 23 years so it would fit in the bus - sort of the same thing, except I haven't actually grown up yet.
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Old 05-21-2021, 02:03 PM   #3
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Location: Auburn, WA
Posts: 779
Year: 2000
Coachwork: IC / Amtran
Chassis: 3000 / 33' Flat Nose
Engine: IC T444E / Allison MT643
Rated Cap: 72 Kids / 48 Adults
Congrats on the bus.

Please focus on the transmission. Not all transmissions are created equal. Depending on which it is, it may not be good for towing a vehicle. Hate for you to ruin an otherwise good tranny.

Find out exactly which one it is and let us know. That way, we can pipe in on if it's up for the task, inherent known issues, etc., before you're stuck on the side of the road.

If I may ask, why are you driving from Michigan? At the price of gas and wear and tear on your vehicle(s), it seems flying would be faster and probably cheaper.
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Old 05-22-2021, 05:43 AM   #4
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Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: 4318
Posts: 9
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Collins
Chassis: 1995 Ford E-350
Engine: 7.3L Ford Powerstroke Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 16 passenger, 9600 lbs.
Nice! Well, I'm 59 years old and many would say that I haven't grown up yet either. LOL. And I love those old rolling butcher blocks.
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Old 05-22-2021, 05:51 AM   #5
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Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: 4318
Posts: 9
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Collins
Chassis: 1995 Ford E-350
Engine: 7.3L Ford Powerstroke Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 16 passenger, 9600 lbs.
I'm not sure which tranny it has and won't be able to find out until I get out there. Unfortunately, we are already past the point of no return in that the bus is purchased from an auction. I do know that the tranny has its own cooler, though. The reason I'm driving out instead of flying is threefold: 1. I just love a roadtrip! 2. Because I can't wear a mask for 5+ hours and refuse to deal with all the hassle that would cause. 3. After doing the math, I figure that it is only about $150 difference, which, to me is well worth it. Good question!
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Old 05-22-2021, 06:11 AM   #6
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Join Date: Jan 2020
Location: Fraser Valley British Columbia
Posts: 1,008
Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freightliner
Engine: C7 Cat
Welcome and congrats on the bus, looks in nice shape.
Simplicity asked about what car you are driving and what transmission in the bus in regards to weight and stress on the transmission but have you also factored in the cost of a trailer hitch plus tow bar? Plus the most important part, what is your car? Many cars cannot be flat towed so now you're factoring in a tow dolly or trailer so even more cost and weight.
Good luck with your journey

Oscar
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Old 05-22-2021, 09:18 AM   #7
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Location: So Cal
Posts: 3,124
Year: 1935
Coachwork: Superior
Chassis: Chevy
Engine: 317 ci/tid / Isuzu
Drive out, sell the car, drive the bus home and buy another car.

. Jack
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Old 05-22-2021, 09:27 AM   #8
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Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: NM USA KD6WJG
Posts: 863
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE 40 FEET
Engine: Cummins 8.3
Transmission: Most likely E4OD or a variant. Good transmission. The only problem I see is the single rear wheels. It will limit the load you can put on it.
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Old 05-22-2021, 10:54 AM   #9
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Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: pa
Posts: 2,214
Year: 98
Coachwork: 1. Corbeil & 2. Thomas
Chassis: 1 ford 1998 e350 4x4 7.3 2 mercedes 2004
Engine: 7.3 powerstroke & MBE906
We have a similar bus,..swr.. looked for a long time to get a swr..if you are 6ft2 or less then you can sleep in it crosswise..I wanted to convert to 4*4 and go down small forest roads / canyons. the drw is to wide for exploration.

I flipped mine on the side on black ice .. it seems you have a high top already .not sure if I would make it any taller.

If you build light you will be fine with 9600 gvwr.
With solar and 4*4 I am on 8800lbs.

Good luck.

Johan
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Old 09-01-2021, 12:44 AM   #10
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Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: 4318
Posts: 9
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Collins
Chassis: 1995 Ford E-350
Engine: 7.3L Ford Powerstroke Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 16 passenger, 9600 lbs.
This bus has the E4OD "4R100" transmission and, according to my local Ford dealer, it was originally built with the towing package. Still, I would much appreciate any info/input on others' experience with this setup.


BTW, I was not able to get the hitch installed when I traveled in my car to go retrieve the bus, so I could not tow the car back. Instead, I traveled back in the car, slightly brokenhearted that I wasn't able to bring the bus back at that time (due to an already scheduled appointment) but made plans and flew back out a couple weeks later. Stopped and picked up a sibling in Phoenix on my way back. The bus ran like a champ without a single hiccup all the way to Michigan. I am now doing some maintenance/repairs before actually starting the conversion, which I plan to start by the end of September and, HOPEFULLY, complete by Christmas so that I can hit the road before Jan.1, as I would love to be at Skooliepalooza 2022.
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Old 09-01-2021, 12:50 AM   #11
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Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: 4318
Posts: 9
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Collins
Chassis: 1995 Ford E-350
Engine: 7.3L Ford Powerstroke Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 16 passenger, 9600 lbs.
Glad you survived the flip.
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Old 09-01-2021, 02:34 PM   #12
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Dawsonville, Ga.
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Year: 1999
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Chassis: International
Engine: DT466/3060
Rated Cap: 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Compass No Map View Post
Nice! Well, I'm 59 years old and many would say that I haven't grown up yet either. LOL. And I love those old rolling butcher blocks.
Good news. I may be getting older, but refuse to grow up. I recently learned that if you haven't grown up by the time you're 50, you don't have to.
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Old 09-02-2021, 08:20 PM   #13
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Join Date: Nov 2020
Location: Long Island, NY
Posts: 151
Year: 2009
Coachwork: Girardin
Chassis: Chevy
Engine: 6.6 turbo diesel
Rated Cap: ?
Congrats on your new bus. He looks dreamy...although i am quite partial to the 4 window version. Best wishes.
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Old 09-08-2021, 03:44 PM   #14
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Join Date: Aug 2021
Location: Prescott, AZ
Posts: 3
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: Mini Bird p30
Engine: 6.2 GM Diesel
Quote:
Originally Posted by Compass No Map View Post
I'm not sure which tranny it has and won't be able to find out until I get out there. Unfortunately, we are already past the point of no return in that the bus is purchased from an auction. I do know that the tranny has its own cooler, though. The reason I'm driving out instead of flying is threefold: 1. I just love a roadtrip! 2. Because I can't wear a mask for 5+ hours and refuse to deal with all the hassle that would cause. 3. After doing the math, I figure that it is only about $150 difference, which, to me is well worth it. Good question!
Great for you! Do the the drive! I can’t believe or understand how people are putting up with air travel these days! Flight attendants are rude, masking between bagged pretzel eating is ridiculous, and the horrendous experience at airports are worth risking your transmission.
Just my opinion ha
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Old 09-09-2021, 06:10 AM   #15
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Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: 4318
Posts: 9
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Collins
Chassis: 1995 Ford E-350
Engine: 7.3L Ford Powerstroke Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 16 passenger, 9600 lbs.
Thumbs up Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trashboat View Post
Great for you! Do the the drive! I can’t believe or understand how people are putting up with air travel these days! Flight attendants are rude, masking between bagged pretzel eating is ridiculous, and the horrendous experience at airports are worth risking your transmission.
Just my opinion ha

Unfortunately I could not get the hitch installed when I first roadtripped out there due to logistical issues with one hitch part. So I flew back out a few weeks later, which worked out even better because I dropped down to Phoenix to bring my sister back home for a visit to see our ailing mother. It made for a fantastic roadtrip!
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