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Old 05-14-2015, 08:15 AM   #21
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My shuttle bus does not have the handicap lift. If it did, I would use it for a folding shower, usually have expanded metal floor, deploy it, set up Bivy shower tent and shower outside. After your done it folds up into bus with very little room compared to a stand alone shower and plus you don't need drain plumbing.
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Old 05-14-2015, 08:44 AM   #22
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Old 05-14-2015, 08:51 AM   #23
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If you are going to buy a Van cutaway school bus, buy a 2003 FORD or older with a 7.3. The 6.0 diesels have a problem with the egr cooler if they weren't kept up. Look up what that costs if you're bored. I have owned a 2000 E350 single rear wheel and a 1998 e450 dual rear wheel. My vote is for the SRW. The only problem was it came from NY. Every time I parked the bus, I would come back to pieces of the bus on the ground. The rust was horrible.

Some are right about recommending a larger chassis but that brings it's problems. Insurance being one of them. If you walk into your insurance agents office and hand them the VIN from an E350, they won't won't skip a beat. You don't need to tell them anything about use, RV this, conversion that. Just get your insurance and go. Also in California, I went to the DMV and registered it as a private van. No nonsense about trying to prove you have completed the conversion, extra work and trips without registration. Your state may be different.

This will be your bus, get what you want but do your research. Look at all the ambulances from 2008 and back. Probably 95% were built on Ford vans. If you want to see a vehicle that was beat to hell and put away wet, look no further. The Fords are a known commodity. There are plenty of forums to help with the mechanics and modifications.

This is just my 2 cents. This and $2.50 will get you a cup of joe at Starbucks.
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Old 05-14-2015, 08:56 AM   #24
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Hey Cal, for once we are in FULL agreement.
Well put, man.
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Old 05-14-2015, 01:23 PM   #25
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Once Ford started installing the 6.0L diesel in their E350/450 cut-away chassis customers started running away from the Ford chassis.

The alternative in the Ford chassis was the 6.9L V-10. Again, customers have gone away from that option as well.

The GM 6.0L has been a great engine. On average it gets 1 MPG more than the Ford V-10 and only about 1 MPG less than the Duramax diesel or 6.0L diesel.

1 MPG may not sound like a lot of difference but if each bus in your fleet is going 10,000 miles per month 1 MPG ends up to be a lot of $$$ at the end of the year. And with 1 MPG or less difference between the gas and diesel with the added cost of diesel it is hard to justify the $10,000.00+ premium the diesel option adds to the cost of a bus.

Which is why after about 2008 the vast majority of buses on cut-away chassis have been GM and not Ford with gas engines.

If I were purchasing a used cut-away bus my first choice would be a GM with a 6.0L gas V-8. My second choice would be a Ford with a gas V-10. Under no circumstances would I purchase one with a diesel. BTDT and don't particularly want to do it again.
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Old 05-14-2015, 09:28 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
Once Ford started installing the 6.0L diesel in their E350/450 cut-away chassis customers started running away from the Ford chassis.

The alternative in the Ford chassis was the 6.9L V-10. Again, customers have gone away from that option as well.

The GM 6.0L has been a great engine. On average it gets 1 MPG more than the Ford V-10 and only about 1 MPG less than the Duramax diesel or 6.0L diesel.

1 MPG may not sound like a lot of difference but if each bus in your fleet is going 10,000 miles per month 1 MPG ends up to be a lot of $$$ at the end of the year. And with 1 MPG or less difference between the gas and diesel with the added cost of diesel it is hard to justify the $10,000.00+ premium the diesel option adds to the cost of a bus.

Which is why after about 2008 the vast majority of buses on cut-away chassis have been GM and not Ford with gas engines.

If I were purchasing a used cut-away bus my first choice would be a GM with a 6.0L gas V-8. My second choice would be a Ford with a gas V-10. Under no circumstances would I purchase one with a diesel. BTDT and don't particularly want to do it again.

I have zero experience with GM vans other than renting a couple. Are you saying that you would rather have a gas engine than a 7.3 diesel? I own a 1997 E350 passenger van (not a school bus) with a V10 and it sucks gas like no tomorrow. I guess if someone else is paying the fuel bill, it's OK but I wouldn't own a van school bus with a gas engine.
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Old 05-14-2015, 09:32 PM   #27
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Hey Cal, for once we are in FULL agreement.
Well put, man.

Thank you for sharing this intelligent, well thought out comment. I can now sleep better at night knowing that we are in FULL AGREEMENT on this topic. Thank you once again...in case the first time wasn't enough.
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Old 05-14-2015, 10:07 PM   #28
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I second that emotion...
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Old 05-15-2015, 06:50 AM   #29
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I have no problem with the 7.3L diesel.

What I have a problem with is usually that engine was paired to the E4OD transmission and that transmission is a piece of junk.

There are some work arounds for them that were not available fifteen years ago. But I put seven of them into three E-350 cut-away buses in a three year period. The furthest I ever got was 42,000 miles and the shortest I got was 17,000 miles.

At $3,000.00 per pop that got pretty expensive.
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Old 05-15-2015, 06:59 AM   #30
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What's the best way to determine if thy is the transmission in the vans I'm looking at? And would the Chevys be better off then since transmissions and engines are both pretty darn expensive from what I understand.
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Old 05-15-2015, 07:11 AM   #31
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The GM's will have the 4L60(E) or the 4L80 from about 1993 on unless they have the Duramax. Behind the Duramax they put the little Allison. They have proven to be pretty stout transmissions and usually have no problems.

Fords will have the C6, E4OD, or the 4R100. The C6 could be beat with a stick and never have a problem. The downside for them was they did not have an OD. The E4OD and the 4R100 were pretty weak sisters but did okay behind gas engines but have had a really bad track record behind diesel engines. Their basic problem is there is no physical way you can cool the ATF enough to keep from toasting it. The passages in the transmission are too small to allow the fluid to pass through quick enough to keep from getting too hot.
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Old 05-15-2015, 07:26 AM   #32
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I will definitely give you a call once I get all this info from the folks selling these near me. Wow, I wish I could bring you with me to look. My mechanic friend is not that savvy on diesels.
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Old 05-17-2015, 06:09 AM   #33
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Question Power packages without electronics for highway/high altitude?

Cowlitzcoach as usual, I am in awe of your vast knowledge and experiences here.

A question for you. What, in your opinion, would be the best power package WITHOUT electronics on a van/mini/shortbus (aka something under 20-25') that would be suitable for full-time cross-country, (requently highway touring), with high altitude trips (frequently in the 4-5000' range, occasionally higher. (I live at 2500 if that makes any difference?)

Who/what/where would have been most likely to order that power package and in which make and model would they be found? Maybe this info will help me narrow down some search parameters.

Same questions for a 35-40' schoolie?

What is a reasonable cut-off date to know that there are no OEM electronics?
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Old 05-17-2015, 11:00 PM   #34
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1995-1997 is the cut off date for electronics. It differed by OEM so there is no real specific date.

Personally I would stay away from any bus on a light duty cut-away chassis. At the most they had a 14,000 GVWR. The majority had a GVWR of about 12,000 lbs. By the time you subtract the weight of the bus and the people in it you don't have very much room to add creature comforts.

The are a lot of Type 'C' buses out there that are not full length. The IC BE bus was built specifically to fill the gap between the light duty Type 'A' and the full size Type 'C' bus. They had GVWR's of 19,500 to 24,000. And since they didn't weight significantly more than the light duty buses it gave them a whole lot more unused weight that could be used for creature comforts. With larger brakes and tires it means they actually went a lot more miles between replacement and repair.

Thomas and Blue Bird made buses very similar to the IC BE bus. Many times going back the 1990's they were built on IHC chassis and were mechanically identical to the IC bus. I would stay away from those that were built on the Ford or GM chassis as parts for them can be hard to find. Some of Thomas and Blue Bird buses were built on Freightliner chassis with the Cummins 5.9L engine and AT543 transmission.

The T444(E) is a great engine in the smaller buses. It was available with HP ratings as high as 230 HP. Engines that are rated at 190 can be pumped up very easily to a lot more with modifications available from Gale Banks Engineering. With the full size medium truck radiator and transmission cooler it is highly unlikely you will have problems with overheating.

Blue Bird made the TC1000 has a smaller version of the TC2000 and it too was built specifically to fill the gap bewteen the light duty Type 'A' and the full size Type 'D' bus. Like the IC BE it was built with GVWR's in the 19,500-23,000 range. Most had the Cummins 5.9L and AT543 power package.

The Thomas Saf-T-Liner FE MVP was also aimed at the same market. It had the Cummins 5.9L and AT543 power package.

Because the Thomas and Blue Bird really squeezed those power packages into the engine compartment they don't lend themselves to a lot of engine modifications due to lack of space.

I have seen some as short as five windows and most of the smaller ones had 6-9 windows.

Unless you decide to go with a gas powered Type 'A' I would go with a bus with the Cummins 5.9L or IHC T444 engine. Both are good for well over 250,000 trouble free miles. And while some people have issues with the AT540 transmissions, given reasonable care and understanding their limitations they will go just as far or farther than the engine.

When you get into the larger buses you have to decide if you want a Type 'C' with the engine out front with the service door behind the front axle or a Type 'D' with the service door in front of the front axle. The Type 'D' comes with the engine up front (FE), the engine in the middle, and with the engine out back (RE).

Each of the above buses have distinct advantages and disadvantages.

You will need to determine which one will work the best for you.

As far as power packages go, I would prefer an Allison MT643 which is found in the larger buses more often than not if they had bigger HP engines. My preferenes for power would be the DT466 or the Cummins 8.3L. I would tend to stay away from Mercedes-Benz and Cat. For your purposes any engine with a turbo is better than one without one.

In the pre-electronics buses the 12" window openings were optional in almost all of the buses. Even if you are height challenged having 78" ceilings are preferred to 75" ceilings. If you get old enough the inside height was as low as 72".

As far as who would have purchased some of these buses new, the small Type 'C' and Type 'D' buses would most likely have been purchased by urban/suburban schools. For the 40' rear engine buses with big HP, highway gearing, and pass through under the floor luggage compartments the buses would have been purchased as trip buses most likely by suburban/rural schools with regular trips that were long.

I hope this helps.
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Old 05-18-2015, 03:19 PM   #35
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Thumbs up Power packages without electronics...

Once again and Cowlitzcoach!

You have helped a great deal. I will add your reply to my research folder!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
1995-1997 is the cut off date for electronics. It differed by OEM so there is no real specific date.

Personally I would stay away from any bus on a light duty cut-away chassis. At the most they had a 14,000 GVWR. The majority had a GVWR of about 12,000 lbs. By the time you subtract the weight of the bus and the people in it you don't have very much room to add creature comforts.

The are a lot of Type 'C' buses out there that are not full length. The IC BE bus was built specifically to fill the gap between the light duty Type 'A' and the full size Type 'C' bus. They had GVWR's of 19,500 to 24,000. And since they didn't weight significantly more than the light duty buses it gave them a whole lot more unused weight that could be used for creature comforts. With larger brakes and tires it means they actually went a lot more miles between replacement and repair.

Thomas and Blue Bird made buses very similar to the IC BE bus. Many times going back the 1990's they were built on IHC chassis and were mechanically identical to the IC bus. I would stay away from those that were built on the Ford or GM chassis as parts for them can be hard to find. Some of Thomas and Blue Bird buses were built on Freightliner chassis with the Cummins 5.9L engine and AT543 transmission.

The T444(E) is a great engine in the smaller buses. It was available with HP ratings as high as 230 HP. Engines that are rated at 190 can be pumped up very easily to a lot more with modifications available from Gale Banks Engineering. With the full size medium truck radiator and transmission cooler it is highly unlikely you will have problems with overheating.

Blue Bird made the TC1000 has a smaller version of the TC2000 and it too was built specifically to fill the gap bewteen the light duty Type 'A' and the full size Type 'D' bus. Like the IC BE it was built with GVWR's in the 19,500-23,000 range. Most had the Cummins 5.9L and AT543 power package.

The Thomas Saf-T-Liner FE MVP was also aimed at the same market. It had the Cummins 5.9L and AT543 power package.

Because the Thomas and Blue Bird really squeezed those power packages into the engine compartment they don't lend themselves to a lot of engine modifications due to lack of space.

I have seen some as short as five windows and most of the smaller ones had 6-9 windows.

Unless you decide to go with a gas powered Type 'A' I would go with a bus with the Cummins 5.9L or IHC T444 engine. Both are good for well over 250,000 trouble free miles. And while some people have issues with the AT540 transmissions, given reasonable care and understanding their limitations they will go just as far or farther than the engine.

When you get into the larger buses you have to decide if you want a Type 'C' with the engine out front with the service door behind the front axle or a Type 'D' with the service door in front of the front axle. The Type 'D' comes with the engine up front (FE), the engine in the middle, and with the engine out back (RE).

Each of the above buses have distinct advantages and disadvantages.

You will need to determine which one will work the best for you.

As far as power packages go, I would prefer an Allison MT643 which is found in the larger buses more often than not if they had bigger HP engines. My preferenes for power would be the DT466 or the Cummins 8.3L. I would tend to stay away from Mercedes-Benz and Cat. For your purposes any engine with a turbo is better than one without one.

In the pre-electronics buses the 12" window openings were optional in almost all of the buses. Even if you are height challenged having 78" ceilings are preferred to 75" ceilings. If you get old enough the inside height was as low as 72".

As far as who would have purchased some of these buses new, the small Type 'C' and Type 'D' buses would most likely have been purchased by urban/suburban schools. For the 40' rear engine buses with big HP, highway gearing, and pass through under the floor luggage compartments the buses would have been purchased as trip buses most likely by suburban/rural schools with regular trips that were long.

I hope this helps.
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Old 05-18-2015, 09:30 PM   #36
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Our 24' Ford E-450 based Aerotech cutaway bus has a 14050 lb GVW and as converted with full fuel (55 gal.), water (35 gal), and propane tanks (2-20lb tanks) we weigh just under 12000 lbs. That's 2050 lbs below max and allows us to run our tires at 60 lbs inflation instead of 80 lbs that a fully loaded bus would require.
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Old 05-18-2015, 10:18 PM   #37
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Roach - how's your highway speed/rpms and hill climbing?
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Old 05-18-2015, 10:57 PM   #38
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Quote:
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Roach - how's your highway speed/rpms and hill climbing?
Ours is a 2000 with the 7.3L Powerstroke and (I think) 4.11 rear gears. I've had it up to 80 mph but it seems happier around 65 mph. Got no tach so no idea what actual RPMs might be. It's more than happy to eat up our Michigan hills in overdrive (that's not a good idea). We're real happy with the driveability.

My daily driver is a GMC van and driving the bus is similar to the van except that the bus steering is a bit slower (wider turning radius). The bus has less body roll than the van when cornering and is reasonably steady in cross winds.

As others have said, the engine is seriously shoehorned into that engine compartment. The Eldorado Aerotech body on ours seems to be well built. Another plus is the easy availability of parts and service.

School buses are unquestionably better built and capable of higher loading, but the shuttle buses have their pluses too.
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Old 05-19-2015, 06:17 AM   #39
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I have a tach in mine. 65 mph is 2500 rpm. 4.11 gear. I'm about 13k lbs (14k rating) towing 2000 lb. All my trips are in the hills of Vt. I watch my EGT gauge + roll off when it hits 1250*.

Thats all great info that Cow posted-but a point I've brought up in the past (and did a survey to try to see how many miles everyone puts on a year)-we all use out buses way lighter than they were designed for. People are passing on a certain bus because it doesn't have a "million mile "motor. When all you'll end up putting on the bus a couple of thousand miles a year.
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Old 05-19-2015, 06:19 AM   #40
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Thanks for the details Roach!
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