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Petrifried 11-08-2016 05:20 PM

Howdy from WA state! Newbie...
Hello everyone, my name is Eric and I live in the Columbia River Gorge. I'm looking to buy a short bus, to put a woodstove in and live in this winter, with plans for full conversion in the future. I've only been researching and looking at buses for a week now, and am really glad I found this site! So far I've looked at a 92 Ford E350 diesel, a 2007 Ford E450 gas transit bus, and today a 2005 Ford e450 diesel five window bluebird at Western bus sales in Sandy Oregon. I think want to buy the 2005 Ford diesel unless I find A reason that I shouldn't. I'll be without a home tomorrow so I don't have a lot of time to research lol. The amount of info and creativity I have seen on this site is impressive! Thank you so much everyone!

Geo Jeff 11-08-2016 06:51 PM

You better kick it in the ass with the temp dropping. Might be better to by a RV and make it through the winter then use your rv as parts to build your skoolie.

DoubleO7 11-08-2016 07:28 PM

Welcome to this site.

I have only been here a week myself.

Sure seams like there are a lot of PNW people here.

Petrifried 11-08-2016 09:35 PM

Yup! I really wanna buy this 2005 ford e450 bluebird tomorrow. I was feeling good about it this morning because it ran and drove great, no rust and only 100,000miles. It does have some oil seeping/leaking, but I crawled under 15 buses and they all had that. They were asking $5,900 I offered $3300 and they accepted, so I'm thinking about it and researching these engines(which I know nothing about=\). I was gonna go look at a 2002 6.5 turbo diesel bus, but after some reading here It seemed like they had a bad reputation, but now I finding these fords with the e450 maybe have some problems too?

I do have a friend with a shop that I can use to work on the bus when it is raining..

cowlitzcoach 11-09-2016 12:58 AM

Personally, unless the diesel was the 6.2 in an older GM chassis or a 6.9L/7.3L in an older Ford I would not get a diesel in a mini-bus.

The GM 6.5L has some real issues, particularly when it is in a GM G-series chassis. Not so bad in a P-series chassis.

The Ford 6.0L/6.4L/6.7L in a E-350/450 chassis are disasters waiting to happen.

If you really like to wrench on engines and know how these light duty diesels work I would say go ahead and get a diesel. But if you don't have deep pockets or have a good friend that will work on your diesel for free you will discover you could have traveled a lot of miles at 1-2 MPG less fuel mileage for what it will cost to keep those other diesel engines running.

cowlitzcoach 11-09-2016 01:03 AM

I am not a big fan of the GM P-series chassis. But I think if you really want to get a small diesel bus this one would be a better choice.

As I said before, the 6.5L has some issues but if you know what they are and how to work around them it can be a pretty good engine. The P-series chassis is not the best either. But the GVWR of the P-series is at least a ton greater than the Ford E-series or GM G-series chassis.

1998 GMC/BLUE BIRD – Stock #16UB015 | Western Bus Sales

Petrifried 11-09-2016 02:41 AM

Thanks for the save! I'm pretty set on a short bus, but the main reason I was after a diesel is because I was lead to believe that they will be more reliable and durable than a gas engine. What year ford's had the 6.9/7.3. Any other options for a good reliable small bus? Thanks

Tango 11-09-2016 08:17 AM

Find a short bus you like without an engine (should be really cheap)...then drop a Cummins 6BT in it.

Petrifried 11-09-2016 10:36 AM


Originally Posted by Tango (Post 170611)
Find a short bus you like without an engine (should be really cheap)...then drop a Cummins 6BT in it.

That seems like a good option. The last thing I want is a bunch mechanical problems under my house. I'm kinda starting to loose hope on this short bus idea, and thinking about a tipi again...

Petrifried 11-09-2016 12:20 PM

What do you guys think of this bus:

Or this propane powered bus:

Any input is very appreciated, thanks

PNW_Steve 11-09-2016 12:40 PM

Hey Petrifried!

I to am surprised at how many Skoolie folks we have here in WA.


Petrifried 11-09-2016 01:28 PM

Thanks for the welcomes! I want to get a bus so I can stay in the PACNW. I'm officially camping out of the Subaru tell I find the right bus:marshmallow:

DoubleO7 11-09-2016 01:35 PM

I would run away as fast as possible from a propane bus.

Unless your only going to drive it 10 miles per month in warm weather.

cowlitzcoach 11-09-2016 02:24 PM

The problem with propane powered vehicles prior to about 2014 is they are for the most part conversions of either a gas or diesel engine to run on propane.

Because they are conversions they have had some real teething problems.

In the Blue Bird buses part of the problem is the engines run at such high RPM's the standard Allison transmission can't be used. As a consequence, even in their full size Type 'C' and 'D' propane powered buses they are using a variation on the Ford 4R55 automatic transmission. It isn't exactly what I would call a medium duty truck transmission.

In the Thomas buses the engine of choice is a version of the GM 8.1L hooked to a specialized Allison that is a little bit better in regards to durability but is still not much more than a conversion not unlike what we were doing 40 years ago.

In the IC buses, IC is using a newly developed engine built by Power Solutions International. The engine was purpose built to run on propane/multi-fuel systems. Part of the design parameter was it had to perform as well or better than the Cummins ISB. Which it does. Because of the design features it utilizes a standard Allison transmission.

Another part of the design process is the bus had to not take any longer to fill the fuel tank than a diesel bus and it had to have enough fuel to go at least as far as an equivalent bus on diesel. Which it does.

For whatever reason, I can't access the CL listings you posted. At a guess I would say the power package is some sort of gas engine, most likely the Ford V-10, that has been converted over to run on propane. It might actually be a pretty good bus for a route bus. But as a conversion candidate it is a really bad choice.

One of the problems of propane conversions is lack of enough fuel tanks to go very far. Most conversions have a limit of less than 200 miles on a full tank of fuel. Which brings up the problem of refueling. At almost every freeway interchange and small town you can find at least one gas or diesel pump. Finding a propane fueling station for a vehicle can be problematic. It becomes a very difficult problem at dark thirty in the morning since I know of no propane filling station that is unattended.

Another problem, most propane conversions really lack in power due to the decreased amount of BTU's per unit of fuel measured against gas or diesel fuel. Again, it isn't a real problem for route buses but for someone who has a fully loaded bus conversion and wants to go over the mountains it becomes a really big deal.

There are a lot of buses for sale out there. Even on dealer lots here in the NW. But there are some that are a lot better for your purposes than others.

Good luck.

Petrifried 11-09-2016 04:28 PM

I just learned a lot about buses thanks to cowlitz coach! I have a much better idea I'm looking for now.

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