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Old 02-19-2024, 06:09 PM   #1
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Short bus vs shuttle bus help deciding

I'm considering selling my e350 RB and looking at short buses and shuttle busses as possible options. I love our current set up with the hightop and 4x4 but the kids are now 9 and 13 and it has gotten a bit tight in there especially with a large dog who takes up half the available floor space.

I'm wondering if anyone has personal experience with either of these van bodies and could help me with pros and cons of each. So far in my brief research it appears most of the ford short buses are diesel and most of the shuttles are V10. I had a 7.3 in the past and the power was great but the inside the van was a bit loud even after insulating. A bus or shuttle will be heavier than the current van, about 8300lbs, so diesel might be the better option but I'm leery of the 6.0s even though I have zero experience with them.

Other differences between the 2 would be metal vs fiberglass bodies and windows are significantly different, in style and functionality.

I would probably convert to 4x4 eventually due to the areas we like to travel to.

Any feedback would be appreciated both on engines and body types. Thanks

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Old 02-19-2024, 07:03 PM   #2
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I think one thing to think about is the do you secure the van when parked? I struggle to visualize how you securely lock shuttle bus doors...
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Old 02-19-2024, 07:19 PM   #3
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Every one of these I've see set up for backcounty has had the door replaced with something reinforced. Usually something custom cut from wood. I've seen a few folks who fabbed from metal/had someone fab for them.

Watching this thread. Once my garage is built I'll probably take on a foolish beyond-my-ability project ambo or shortbus build. I'm curious towing and payload capacity for these things though as I'll be pulling a util trailer full of motos.
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Old 02-19-2024, 07:47 PM   #4
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Thanks for the input. I too have this concern and would most likely replace the side door with an RV door, something like this. I saw this shuttle listed locally awhile back and now kick myself for not pursuing it but at that point I was trying to convince myself I could make my current van work.
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Old 02-20-2024, 10:03 AM   #5
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A buddy of mine did this. Bought a church bus from the Baptists (non smoker). Fiberglass body they leak less. He never did replace the door. It made for a nice roomy camper. The PO had work done on the motor and the mechanic left a rag in the oil pan. It left on a tow truck.
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Old 02-21-2024, 07:08 AM   #6
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No affiliation, but a bus like this would be primo Sadly its the wrong side of the country from you.

A school bus is going to be very utilitarian, but that does serve as a great blank canvas. Just check your state laws regarding what color it can be as some states require you to completely repaint it. That can be quite an additional cost.

I love the idea of 4x4, but I think in practice you're going to be more limited on the size of the bus, especially the rear overhang, more than anything. Also the cost these days makes me want to cry a bit. If you really want 4x4 you might be better served to find a pop-top, extended van or look into hightop 4x4 sprinters/transits.
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Old 02-21-2024, 07:52 AM   #7
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Over the years I've seen some really cool 'short bus" and "shuttle' conversions...certainly jump starts the creative side of ones brain; Would be fun to follow someone's build Oly11.

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Old 02-21-2024, 08:11 AM   #8
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I wasn't thinking quite that big but those are cool busses!

I agree that the 4x4 conversion costs have gotten a bit crazy but I'm considering doing it myself so that will help reduce the costs significantly. I have a buddy that has done a Ujoint conversion and could help with mine.

The bus and shuttles bodies all vary a bit based on manufacturer, but the couple I have looked at in person so far were both about 22ft in total length. Interior height of 74-76" width of about 90" and about 13ft behind the driver seat. The 90" width just makes the space feel so much larger while keeping the length relatively short at 22'. My RB is about 20ft long with the aluminess boxes on the back.
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Old 02-22-2024, 12:08 AM   #9
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I like the looks (and windows) of the shuttle busses alot better than skoolies.
I'd also prefer a normal passenger front door and seat vs a swinging school bus door. and stairway. And you don't have to paint a shuttle bus.

I personally am comfortable with 7.3, 6.0 and 6.8 but for most non-mechanics I'd recommend the 6.8.
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Old 02-22-2024, 09:21 AM   #10
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Fiberglass body is a big deal for thermal conduction.

I have the V10 in my PW and it pulls the 8500lbs around just fine even with the thin air in CO. Sea level is even better.

It's getting into a different class of vehicle, but a Kodiak based platform could be something to consider too. Have seen the occasional forest rig or big ambo pop up for a pretty reasonable price now and then. Often with the DMax/Allison combo.
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