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E350 shuttle convert - bus? PaPa 1-14-04  
I'm seriously looking at a Ford E350 shuttle for a conversion. Has anyone massaged one of these fiberglass gems? Any hidden gremlins I should know about before cash exchanges hands? PaPa
Re: E350 shuttle convert - bus? Mark O. 1-15-04  
In a word, NO! Don't do it.

The basic problem with all of the buses built on van/cut-away chassis is there is a whole lot more bus than there is truck underneath of it to support it. It doesn't matter if it is one of the plastic buses or one of the little yellow buses. It doesn't matter which manufacturer built the chassis or the body. All of them are overweight when they are empty.

I own three shuttle buses made by two different manufacturers. The 1994 is a 21-pax bus with a luggage compartment rated at 13900 GVWR. Empty with seats it weighs 11900. The 1990 buses are 21-pax with no luggage compartment and they rated at 11500 GVWR. Empty without seats they weigh 9550.

You do the math.

I have had nothing but problems with transmissions--about 35K miles per tranmission.

I go through brakes and tires fairly often as well--35-40K on tires, 10K on front pads.

Diesel MPG is consistnet at 11-12 MPG and gas MPG is consistent at 5-7 MPG.

There is virtually no space under the floor to put any tanks or mechanicals for your conversion.

Sightlines from the driver's seat, particularly to the right, are very poor.

Would I try to convert a shuttle bus? No way, even if I got the bus for free.

Mark O.
Re: E350 shuttle convert - bus? BUS & EQUIPMENT REPAIR 2-4-04  
THE RATTLING AND CHASSIS MOUNT PROBLEMS THAT THE OTHERS ARE TALKING ABOUT, ARE PROBLEMS THAT SOME MANUFACTURERS HAVE. WE SEE ALOT OF BROKEN WELDS AND CRACKED METAL IN THE CAGES AND FLOOR SUPPORTS ON SOME SHUTTLE BUSES, BUT THERE ARE ALSO SOME GOOD ONES OUT THERE. THAT SEEM TO LAST THE LIFE OF THE BUS. GOOD LUCK ON YOUR CONVERSION.
Re: E350 shuttle convert - bus? Casper 1-15-04  
Hi PaPa,

For my money, I'd have to go with the school bus. Let's list Pros/Cons of the little fiberglass wonder.

Pro:
Small, easy to maneuver. (Get a short skoolie)
Lower deck, less steps to climb.
Driver's side door.
Smooth ride.
Quieter than a school bus.
Most are geared for highway speeds.
No "Skoolie" windows.
Will probably already be equipped with a functional Air Conditioning system.
Bus body already pretty well insulated.

Con:
Fiberglass construction will disintegrate in a bad wreck, not as safe as a skoolie. (for me that's a deal breaker right there. I saw a Class-A motorhome rolled over on I-64 one night and it looked like a truck chassis, a refrigerator and 900 pounds of confetti. I decided then and there to never put my kids in one of those things. This is what got me interested in bus conversions).
Lower deck, less room underneath for tanks, generator, etc.
Many (most?) of these will have a big block gas engine, the fuel mpg can be pretty bad.
Many of these will have lived hard lives, driven by maniacs. I definitely wouldn't want one that was an airport shuttle (ever ride with one of those lunatics?) A senior center or YMCA bus might be in great shape.

It can bo done, but as Mark says above, it's probably not a good idea. For the same money you can have a nice short school bus. The skoolie will ride like a ox cart and rattle like a garbage disposal eating a spoon, but it will be safe, cheap and easy on diesel fuel.

Casper
Re: E350 shuttle convert - bus? Mark O. 1-16-04  
One other point I should have made is the marriage between the chassis and body is never a happy marriage.

All of my mini's appear to be contemplating a divorce between the body and chassis. The joint between the two, particularly by the driver's door, has to be sealed with about ten tubes of gummy putty. You can also feel unnatural flexing in the floor just behind the dog house where the floor of the chassis meets the floor of the bus body.

I will reiterate what I said before, even if I were to get a mini bus for free it would be more than I would want to spend if I were converting a bus.

Good luck.

Mark O.
Re: E350 shuttle convert - bus? PaPa 1-25-04  
Comparing fiberglass shuttles to motorhomes is dangerously inaccurate. The '96 i'm looking at has an intergral steel cage, with glass laminates bonded on both the inside and out. Most motorhomes are literally cheap wooden stationary homes bolted to a chassis. VERY BIG difference. Besides, I'm a solo traveler, so no one is riding in the living quarters during transporting. If that were the case, I'd opt for a Federally qualified skoolie.

[Mark] I carefully inspected several glass shuttles and saw no "marriage separation" as suggested. Most of these were 100k+ rigs, so I question the claims. I have several detailed photos of the area in question, if anyone needs further evidence.

Yes... the OEM transmission is a known trouble maker, but that's the only major weakness that appears consistant with these rigs.

I converted two previous steel skoolies and discovered the following:

1. Top heavy and noisey (due to steel construction).
2. V-e-r-y difficult, if not impossible to heat efficiently and comfortablely(also due to steel). And yes, I completely removed all riveted inner sheet metal and windows, and installed the best insulation available. R-8 in walls and R-12 overhead. A minimum number of RV windows replaced the drafty skoolie windows. Sorry, I won't do another skoolie.
3. The '72 F500 shorty I converted had 825x20 tires. Finding radial replacements was nearly impossible and extremely expensive. And the otherwise mechanically sound brake were terribly insensitive and flat-out dangerous on ice. This antique 22 footer, stripped and ready for conversion weighed 8500. And fuel milage was a whopping 6 mpg with a fresh 300 ci six. Sorry guys... no more skoolies for me.
Re: E350 shuttle convert - bus? Joseph G 10-3-14  
Hey Mark I have A 2000 E450 Cutaway 28 feet long Eldorado Aerotech-240 Shuttle Bus 24 Pass 25 With Driver I converted into an RV I have put a 55 Gal black water and a 45 Gal gray water tank and a 45 Gal fresh water tank underneath the bus and one 30 pound LP tank underneath the bus and a 10,000 watts Honda Gen and a four 6 volt battery bank i molded my own fiberglass storage boxes and battery box out of fiberglass and wood frames and bolted to the floor of the bus and a roof mount RV A/C the tanks you have to get the square ones and the gen i install it with its own frame to the floor and reinforce the floor inside with a 1/2 inch steal plate with six 1-1/2 inch thick U bolts by 5 inches long because the floor is 3-1/2 thick in the i took out the gas tank and I buy a poly gas tank and mounted next too it so its possible to do it now if you have the small bus the dude forget it its too small especially if it has the wheelchair lift now if you get one with the lift under the stairs the you have all the real estate space to work with
Re: E350 shuttle convert - bus? Jerry G 1-28-15  
I own a 1997 e350 fiberglass shuttle with 5.4 V8 that I tow a car trailer with ATV and side by side and camping gear. Love the darn thing.I installed futons with bunk beds to be able to sleep 6. Very inexpensive way to have a good camper and great tow vehicle.
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