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Old 06-05-2019, 05:30 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2019
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Looking for some advice and constructive criticsm

Hello IRV2,

Just joined the group because I'm looking for some advice from others that have "been there done that".

Accidental Love........

A few weeks ago I stumbled onto a 4x4 20 passenger super duty diesel twin turbo shuttle bus with two 40 gallon tanks and deleted DEF. Took it for a test drive and was completlely blown away by the power.


I have no experience with busses or diesels, and had no intention of ever becoming a bus owner or diesel owner up until about 21 days ago. I'm an avid RVer whos owned Class A/B/C, truck camper and 30 foot travel trailer. Currently living full time out of my travel trailer. Which if I am hooked up is literally a penthouse. Dual vanity bathroom, 800 sq feet of living space, massive slideout, tons of storage, solar and useable counter space. Its perfect for me......if I had a permanent destination. Which I don't.

I am always traveling around which means the gas tank is always stealing my money. The rig itself is 30 + feet. Add the truck to tow it and I'm basically a 40-45 foot rig who needs at least a 50 foot parking spot minimum, but 60-70foot parking spot is more realistically required.

This setup does kind of work for urban/city boondocking, but not really. This rig is super comfortable and allows me to carry all of my gear, but I constantly have to be checking with google maps to see what turn around options lie ahead. I am tired of having just enough engine power to move, but not enough trust in my engines power to go wherever I damn well please.

I'm just tired of driving around a mini semi. I am tired of gas being more than 50% of my budget. I am tired of having to compromise on my adventures because of the intended purposes my rig was built for. So back to 3 weeks ago.

Calling around to mechanics to find out if they convert 2wd motorhomes to 4wd i stumbled upon a 4x4 shuttle bus that has more power than I have ever seen sitting in the drivers seat and instantly fell in love.

My dilema......

I have been saving up my money for awhile now so that I could realistically travel around the country for a year without having to work and focus solely on my blog to try and turn it into a viable source of income. Right now I am making $600 a month from sporatic posting (1-2 months inbetween posts), and no focus. The other part of plan was to obtain a Class C through trade or selling my existing camper and buying what was available through the internets inventory.

This gives me a $600 a month income that can only increase, and a rig that is smaller, functional and cheaper. Plus a safety net in savings from not touching it or from replenshing it after the selling of my exisitng camper. And as a bonus I get to finally quit my job that I can't wait to quit.

Unfortunately this new 4x4 bus has monoploized every thought I have had for the last 3 weeks. Its 4x the amount I wanted to spend, and would take every penny I have plus a couple thousand more. Its not turn key, and would require an interior build out. Which honestly I think would be a ton of fun and would give me a lot of great quality content for my blog. But I would also have to keep my job while doing this to afford all thematerials and labor to do what I want to do.

I have no idea what maintenance is required on a diesel engine. I am finding out that some basic maintenance requires a dealership and the removal of the cab to these maintenance tasks. That doesn't sound cheap or budget friendly at all. Building out a blank shell from a metal capsul also isn't going to be easy or cheap. I just don't know which path to choose.

If I buy this 4x4 bus now do I have $2,000 oil changes waiting for me down the road? This engine has a million mile reputation, but does that come with $5,000 alternator swaps and $10,000 transmissions? Do I go after this rig and spend another $5,000-$10,000 making it into a high end RV thats sitting on a 1,000 torque 4x4 chasis with a 1,000,000 mile engine, and only requires me to stay at my soul sucking job for another 6 months?

My original plan was to spend $5,000-$7,000 on a rig and another couple grand on converting it to a 4x4. I have since found out that is completely delusional. From what I could find or where I know to look there are literally only 6 total 4x4 campers for sale on the internet right now in the United States, and only 2 of them are listed below $20,000. There are only three 4x4 buses for sale on the internet and only one of them is listed below $30,000. I have found 3 companies that do 4x4 conversions and the cheapest is advanced 4x4 in Utah who gave me a quote of $12,000 to convert a F550 shuttle bus.

So knowing all that to get this same setupwith any other rig has an entry level of $35,000 for the same engine. And thats a best case scenario that would include finding a smoking deal, and getting the cheapeset 4x4 conversion package possible. Plus would still have to build it out for a liveable space on the interior.

Now if I drop engine sizes to lets say ford f350 or 450 there are plenty of shuttle busses below $10,000. But do they have the same power as an F550 diesel? Does gas engines have as much power as diesels?

There is a chevy c5500 duramax diesel with only 30,000 miles and only asking $12,000 which seems like a smoking deal. but still needs to be lifted, converted and built out. Are chevy engines just as powerful as fords f550?

I want a 4x4 rig. I want to be able to drive on the beach or down a jacked up dirt road with out having to worry about my rigs capabilities. I need a rig that can hold my outdoor adventure gear while also providing a bed, kitchen, bathroom and couch that is laid out in comfortable fashion (***would never consider vanlife***).

This is where the appeal of a shuttle bus instantly jumps to the top of the list. And am a bit confused as to why I have never thought of this before. They are like an RV on steroids. With larger towing capacity, payload capacity, horsepower, engine torque and a fully enclosed metal capsule I don't understand why shuttlebus life isn't more popular than vanlife or rvlife. What is the drawback? Why are not more people building out exploring what short busses have to offer? Everything that you would get in a $100,000 class b motorhome you could get for under $30,000 with a shuttle bus.

With a shell that is tall enough for me to stand up in without hititng my head and to wide for me to touch the sides with my outstretched arms. And as a bonus some of these things come with luggage rooms off the back that could easily dub as a gear room, shower room, generator room or whatever room seperated from your living space.

I run an RV blog. I am an RV guy. But I am seriously questioning why...... right now? Instead of buying an RV that resourced the cheapest materials possible to build I could buy a rig that is already 4x4 capable and possess's an engine that would allow me to build using 2x4's & 4x4's if I wanted toooooooo instead of 2x2's, particle board, staples and glue.

Please help me figure out why I can't get this stupid bus out of my head, because its wrecking my plans!

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Old 07-20-2019, 01:28 AM   #2
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 83
I admire your big dreaming, but your plan sounds pretty unrealistic. Most of us have soul sucking jobs. That’s part of being a responsible adult.

I suspect you are avoiding basic problems in your life, by running away in a RV. But remember “Wherever you go, there you are.”

Settle in, save enough money to do your project without stressing. Good luck.

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Old 07-20-2019, 11:18 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Ron750 View Post
I admire your big dreaming, but your plan sounds pretty unrealistic. Most of us have soul sucking jobs. That’s part of being a responsible adult.

I suspect you are avoiding basic problems in your life, by running away in a RV. But remember “Wherever you go, there you are.”

Settle in, save enough money to do your project without stressing. Good luck.
Guess you have never heard of long term travel, international backpacking, gap year............

Running away from something......maybe i am maybe in not but the question presented is why isnt bus life more popular because after traveling tge world since 1998 and full timing in an rv since 2010 a shuttle bus seems to fit the requirements i want in a full time adventure rig more than an rv, camper, travel trailer, backpack or employee housing at seasonal gigs like ski resorts national parks cruise ships or summer resorts.

But thanks for letting me sit on your couch doc

Oh by the way tge blogs up to $1100 last month & already at $980 this month with only $560 spent in last 3 weeks.

So i guess lofty and unrealistic was definitely an accurate assumption on your part.
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Old 09-20-2019, 08:58 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Ron750 View Post
I admire your big dreaming, but your plan sounds pretty unrealistic. Most of us have soul sucking jobs. That’s part of being a responsible adult.

I suspect you are avoiding basic problems in your life, by running away in a RV. But remember “Wherever you go, there you are.”

Settle in, save enough money to do your project without stressing. Good luck.
I disagree. Sounds like you have itch that you need to scratch. Follow your dream and go for it. You can make this happen if you stay committed to your goal.

Make sure to post a photo of your finished 4 by 4 adventure bus. Personally I'm looking forward to seeing it when you finish building your dream bus.
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Old 09-21-2019, 07:29 PM   #5
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From a “power” perspective, the f350 pickup, or chassis is generally turned hotter, with more power than the 450 and 550 which are set up for longevity somewhat better.

As for the bus chassis, not familiar with the one you’re looking at, but aren’t most pretty much on the same chassis as many class C rigs?

Diesel trucks definitely come with higher maintenance costs should repairs become necessary, but tend to be more reliable if running for high miles. Fuel costs are high if you’re driving a lot which will be the case be it gas or diesel. Somewhat better mileage with diesel, but gasoline generally cheaper. Service intervals tend to be longer, but more expensive.

As an avid 4 wheeler for decades, I must advise that 4X4 on a bus chassis won’t help much for off roading, you’ll still get stuck fairly easily in sand, mud, or roads with much off level terrain due to bottoming out. Just be advised it can much more difficult, and potentially expensive to get out of a stuck situation in a larger/heavy rig, and that dragging the underside often is likely to cause more damage than it would be on a smaller light vehicle. If you intend to do it, set it up right with height approach and departure angles etc.

As for building your own rig, most of the joy in that comes from building it yourself for most I believe. If it’s what you want, go for it and find joy in the journey. Projects like that tend to add up cost wise though, so be prepared.
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Old 12-19-2019, 08:12 AM   #6
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You posted this a few months ago, so what did you decide? My personal thought would be that at your current level of income, the maintenance on a rig that big could easily eat up most if not all of your income. Super duty diesels are great, reliable engines, but when they need work, it's gonna cost you big time. And I would venture to say that many Ford dealerships won't be equipped to handle a rig that big, so it may be a struggle getting the work done, regardless of the cost. That's not a huge problem except when it's your only place to live, then you're stuck. Seems like a 4x4 truck with a smaller, off-road capable tow behind might give you what you desire at a lot less cost.
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Old 12-22-2019, 02:41 PM   #7
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How does a 30 ft. trailer ( that includes the tongue ) become 800 sq. ft.????
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Old 12-22-2019, 03:56 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by moisheh View Post
How does a 30 ft. trailer ( that includes the tongue ) become 800 sq. ft.????
It's ~27' wide!

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