Originally Posted by rymorris
What do you think about vans vs skoolies? In terms of long term use/maintenance/usage?
The big difference between a Type 'A' bus (van or van/cut-away) and a Type 'C' bus (conventional) is size.
The largest Type 'A' bus is going to have a GVWR of about 14,000 lbs with an empty weight of about 10,000-11,000 lbs. (at one time I had three and I weighed all of them on a Cat Scale so I know what they weighed).
The smallest Type 'C' bus is going to have a GVWR starting around 16,000 lbs. with an empty weight of about 12,000 lbs. Go a little larger on the bus with a higher GVWR of around 20,000 lbs and the empty bus will still weigh not a whole lot more than 12,000 lbs. We owned on Type 'C' bus with a GVWR of 26,000 lbs and it weighed in under 16,000 lbs.
The larger the net payload is of the truck underneath the bus the less the truck is going to work to move the bus down the road.
My 1994 E-350 bus had GVWR of 14,000 lbs. It had an empty weight of just short of 11,000 lbs. The bus was used on shuttles with a lot of stops and on some tours that had a LOT of big hills. The front brake pads lasted between 10K miles and 20K miles. Every other brake job required new front calipers and rotors. Every fourth brake job required the rear brakes to be serviced. Tires were premium tires with 60K mile warranty and I was considering myself lucky if I got 30K miles out of the tires. Anything more than 35K miles was a true gift! Every tire change meant a trip to the alignment shop. Every 60K miles a new set of glow plugs. Every other year a new set of batteries.
At the same time I had a 1979 IHC/Carpenter 11-row bus with a GVWR of 28,000 lbs and an empty weight of 17,000 lbs. In three years of use, doing basically the same work and distance the E-350 did, I adjusted the brakes, checked the air pressure in the tires, lubed the chassis, and changed the oil and fliters every 10K miles. No brake work, no tire work, no alignment work, and it used about the same amount of fuel. The only time I replaced the batteries was when they got stolen out of the bus. And it didn't have any glow plugs so that was one less maintenance item with which to be concerned.
Of course it would have cost a LOT more to do brake work, tire work, alignment work, and in fact any work on the big bus. But the reality was the big bus was never working more than about 66% of capacity and the little bus was always working at 100%+ of capacity. Working at much less than 100% capacity meant that nothing got over worked, over stressed, or over used.
There are some people on here who have made stunning and exciting conversions based on Type 'A' dual rear wheel buses. But they will all tell you that weight is a real factor when designing the interior and choosing materials.
There are some shorty Type 'C' buses out there that are just as nimble as a Type 'A' but they have much more ground clearance. In other words, they can go to the same places, fit in the same places, and when the going gets rough the Type 'C' can go much further past the end of pavement without having problems.