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Old 02-27-2020, 04:58 PM   #1
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Sort of new member looking for your thoughts

Hi everyone.

I've been lurking on and off a few years and it's time to start getting more involved. I'm in North Phoenix, I know there's some folks nearby, hope to meet up with you guys sometime. I'll be getting serious about a conversion project in the next few months and I'm hoping I can get pointed in the right direction before I start to open new threads in the wrong place.

The 'problem' to address:

We're a family of six, 4 kids under 8yo. Until #4 came along we were fine pulling our 26' tt or 22' deck boat with my 3.5l Ecoboost f150, but now we don't all fit.. I started to think the 3/4 ton f250 route with front split bench jump seat but that felt super cramped on the one day I borrowed one. I've always kept a note in the back of my wife's mind that we will someday convert a bus, and now I have the perfect storm of events to make it happen. I love how it all works out in my favor

My background:
I was a bus driver for several years in my college days 15 years ago and drive bus a few times a year for a church and school as a volunteer. I'm fine with the size. I am mechanically inclined and have a construction background, though no formal diesel training, and minimal diesel experience, but my favorite pastime is wrenching and learning. I'm comfortable saying I'm mechanically inclined, but no expert at all. I have the space and access to most tools needed to complete a conversion.

My current thoughts on a solution:
Originally I was going to look for the right combination of engine and transmission in a short handicap bus on public surplus and use it as a truck with more seats to pull either tt or boat. There are always a dozen clean Arizona busses on PS here. It works well if we want to bring friends and more kids boating or camping, we would fit in one vehicle. We often camp and boat with another family so it'd be nice to not take two rides.

It is however not common to find a smaller bus with something other than the at545, which I hate. I have experience with that setup and it is terrible on our hills even unloaded, or downhill, with even gale force tailwinds.

My latest thought is to sell the tt, thereby boost the budget and space for a larger bus, which I'd then convert as simply as possible to haul 10, and sleep 6. The key is still simple, and as short as possible. I need to be able to maneuver the boat behind this thing and as we all know, a long wheelbase tow vehicle is not the most friendly to back a trailer. I'm imagining seats, benches, tables, etc that convert to beds, so to make it as short as possible and multipurpose the available space. Simple because we aren't living in this rig, will do one long cross country per year, and several shorter weekend trips within 400 miles of home.

I'll probably go to some rv dealers to get ideas from traditional campers, maybe that's what they do too.

My immediate questions:
Have any of you done a similar multipurpose but as short as possible set up with convertible seats to beds?

I have read to avoid anything newer than 2005, is this really all that important if I can keep the emissions stuff in order?

Pushers are great to drive and quiet and easy access to work on, but bumper pull hitch will be a nightmare, and they are generally the longest option, would you agree?

Dognose will have a longer wheelbase, but I might be able to find something in this setup that is not too long, and not too short.. what do you think?

I welcome your thoughts!

Thanks for stopping by to say hi
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Old 02-27-2020, 05:15 PM   #2
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If maintained regularly you may get many miles without issue on a newer than 04 model.
I see no problem mounting a hitch on an RE.
An FE will have more usable build space.
CE,FE,RE can all be had in 40' lengths.
Check Govdeals also
Ultimately something with an Allison 3060 trans.
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Old 02-27-2020, 05:20 PM   #3
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Thanks o1marc.

I was focusing the search on the 3060. It's got an unlocked overdrive right?

About the hitch, I've only seen RE with the engine cradle, frame stopping short of the rear so I'm not sure how to safely mount a hitch.. can you point me to some resources or expound on that if you have the experience?
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Old 02-27-2020, 05:26 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xray4 View Post
Thanks o1marc.

I was focusing the search on the 3060. It's got an unlocked overdrive right?

About the hitch, I've only seen RE with the engine cradle, frame stopping short of the rear so I'm not sure how to safely mount a hitch.. can you point me to some resources or expound on that if you have the experience?
Probably not on the unlock. It will have 6 speeds, but only 5 will be in operation. There's a Allison 3060 unlock tutorial that you can read on unlocking it.
They make hitches that attach to the bumper and bumper frame mounts
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Old 02-27-2020, 05:27 PM   #5
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Hello,

I pull my boat plenty of miles behind my 34ft bus. Total length is 65 ft with boat, the max legal here in VA. So far no issues with boat launch ramps. Gas stations, have to be a bit careful, truck stops are better suited to bigger vehicles.

As our bus is now it is set up for sleeping only 4. However if we removed the sofa/futon then put two bunks on each side it would give room for 4 kids, and would still have a reasonable bedroom for the adults, plus bath and small kitchen. Curtains are great to divide spaces as needed, and for privacy. At one time there was a bunk over the front seats as well, this folded up to the ceiling when not in use.
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Old 02-27-2020, 05:43 PM   #6
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I've never seen such hitches for the engine cradle! I'll have to look into it.

Thanks
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Old 02-27-2020, 05:43 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Ronnie View Post
Hello,

I pull my boat plenty of miles behind my 34ft bus. Total length is 65 ft with boat, the max legal here in VA. So far no issues with boat launch ramps. Gas stations, have to be a bit careful, truck stops are better suited to bigger vehicles.

As our bus is now it is set up for sleeping only 4. However if we removed the sofa/futon then put two bunks on each side it would give room for 4 kids, and would still have a reasonable bedroom for the adults, plus bath and small kitchen. Curtains are great to divide spaces as needed, and for privacy. At one time there was a bunk over the front seats as well, this folded up to the ceiling when not in use.
Thanks Ronnie, do you have pics or a link to a thread where you have pics?
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Old 02-27-2020, 06:01 PM   #8
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See if this link works,

https://www.skoolie.net/forums/f11/the-bus-21910.html

If not just look in bus conversions for "The Bus"
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Old 02-27-2020, 06:15 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronnie View Post
See if this link works,

https://www.skoolie.net/forums/f11/the-bus-21910.html

If not just look in bus conversions for "The Bus"
Got it, thanks!
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