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As a starting point, you have to know how much the shuttle bus with it's custom body weighs loaded for travel (including the weight of any camper conversion stuff you may add, passengers and cargo), then subtract it's weight from the chassis GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating).  For example, if the GCWR is 20,000 lbs and the bus weighs 13,000 lbs the most it can tow is 7,000 lbs.

Most truck stops have Cat scales where you can drive on and get the vehicle and axle weights.  A county dump, a moving company or a gravel yard may also have a public scale you can use.  Worst case use the bus GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) as the baseline weight and subtract it from the GCWR.

Take a look at the info on this site and download the 2003 Ford Towing Guide for more exact info.   GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) can be found on the driver's door label.  GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating ) isn't on the door label but it is in the towing guide.

https://www.blueovaltrucks.com/tech-articles/ford-towing-guides/

 

 

Edited by Lou Schneider
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  • 2 weeks later...

I would start with the Ford Towing guide that Lou has suggested. If you are looking at a specific bus you also need to look at the data sticker supplied by the bus conversion company. Once you get the basic information from it, locate the additional sticker that was added by the bus builder. It will have the information shown in this quote from the Eldorado Bus owner's manual.

Quote

Vehicle Safety Standard Certification Labels The weight and loading restrictions are specified by the chassis manufacturer. These specifications are posted on the Vehicle Safety Standard Certification labels. Depending on the make and the model of your bus the labels will be either affixed on the driver’s door or on the driver’s console. These loads are defined by the Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR). The GAWR is the value of the load carrying capacity of a single axle system. It is measured by the tire/ground interface, plus the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), which is the maximum permissible load/weight of the bus. The labels provides the following information (see location of information on tag below).  Original Equipment Manufacturer of the Chassis Vehicle Identification Number (OEM VIN)  Name of the body manufacturer (MFG. BY)  Forest River Bus Production Number  Date the Forest River Bus body was manufactured (DATE OF MFG.)  Certification Statement  Vehicle type  Tire Information  Weight and Loading Restrictions: Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) This is the gross rated weight capacity of your vehicle. Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR Front) This is the rated weight capacity of the front axle. Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR Rear) This is the rated weight capacity of the rear axle.

I hope that this is helpful to you. Possibly if you share a bit more information we might be of more help. Matching a bus to a travel trailer that can sleep 10 is probably going to be a challenge. Above all else, keep the safety of those who travel with you in your plans.

Edited by Kirk W
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And just to reinterate, the overriding factor in how heavy of a trailer you can tow is the bus chassis' GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating), the most the combination of truck and trailer can weigh.  This is in the Towing Guide.  The maximum trailer weight you can tow is directly affected by how much the bus weighs, including the weight of everything it's carrying like passengers and cargo.  Other factors also come into play like axle and tire capacities, etc.

This is why you need to start by finding out what the bus actually weighs loaded for travel.

10 people, if they weigh an average of 100 lbs each, adds 1000 lbs to the weight of the bus, subtracting a like amount from the weight of the trailer it can tow without exceeding the GCWR.  Increase the average passenger weight to 150 lbs and you've added 1500 lbs to the bus weight.

Edited by Lou Schneider
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4 hours ago, Kirk W said:

The Ticknor Tribe

I did just find a Facebook page that would appear to be current and is the same family, although some or grown and have left the nest.

My memory says they had 12 kids last time I counted but the oldest one had already left home when I started reading and the youngest was born while they were on the road. Fascinating family! The work camper news link is a 2019 interview (podcast and transcript) with the mother mostly about her business on the road but I found it intestine, too. https://workampershow.com/episode-005-dana-ticknor-describes-her-rv-based-business/

Plus, I was wrong earlier when I said they traveled in a motorhome and van. It was a 5th wheel and van.

Linda

Edited by sandsys
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Thanks for all the information! I'm beginning to think that a maxi van might be a better option. I found several with high tow limits. What are your thoughts on a 1998 Ford Econoline 215 hp 7.3L V8 diesel not extended 3.55 rear axle ratio with 176k? Appears well maintained. OR a 2012 Chevy Express 3500 1LT extended 323hp 6L V8 flex fuel gas with 154k? Haven't heard back about the axle ratio yet. I haven't had an opportunity to test drive either one. Old diesel vs Newer gas? Is extended a bad idea? How much should the rear axle ratio play into my decision? I really appreciate your thoughts!

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I loved living in a van. The one downside to extended length, though, is it won't fit in a standard parking spot. I needed to find two spots one in front of the other to park at places like Walmart. The downside to hightop is not fitting in standard garages or parking ramps but for most of us that is a minor consideration.

If you want to get a good feel for what can fit in a van I suggest you go to Sportsmobile.com and look at their sample floor plans and play with their design your own page. It's like working a jigsaw puzzle. :)

Linda

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2 hours ago, Regan said:

What are your thoughts on a 1998 Ford Econoline 215 hp 7.3L V8 diesel not extended 3.55 rear axle ratio with 176k? Appears well maintained. OR a 2012 Chevy Express 3500 1LT extended 323hp 6L V8 flex fuel gas with 154k?

A well maintained diesel engine will pull far better than gasoline and they are significantly longer lived. I tow our travel trailer with a 2003 Dodge/Cummins diesel and while our trailer isn't very heavy the diesel far out performs the gas SUV that we towed with at first. Diesels have a much higher torque that a similar sized gasoline engine. 

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14 hours ago, Randyretired said:

The Ford 7.3 diesel seems to be sought after.  I have a 99 F250 with the 7.3 diesel and I have had a number of people approach me to buy it. I am happy with it for my use so I will keep it.

I agree as replacing it to me would be financial disaster as new and used truck prices are out of control. 

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On 1/24/2022 at 6:29 PM, Randyretired said:

The Ford 7.3 diesel seems to be sought after.  I have a 99 F250 with the 7.3 diesel and I have had a number of people approach me to buy it. I am happy with it for my use so I will keep it.

Indeed they are.  But like everything else, they have their issues too. Noisy, stinky, and no more power or torque than a newer gas engine.  In fact, my 3.5 liter Eco-Boost has the same peak torque and hp, but spread over a much larger rpm range.  The old 7.3 has a habit of needing o-rings in the injectors, or new injectors.  I haven't checked lately, but a couple years ago, a set of injectors costs as much as a new gas motor for that year truck.

Model engineering has brought us some amazing power plants, of both fuel types.  Far beyond what we dreamed about a few years ago.  I remember reading in HotRod magazine that 1 #/ft of torque/ci was the limit.  That little Eco-Boost is making double that.

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3 hours ago, rickeieio said:

Indeed they are.  But like everything else, they have their issues too. Noisy, stinky, and no more power or torque than a newer gas engine.  In fact, my 3.5 liter Eco-Boost has the same peak torque and hp, but spread over a much larger rpm range.  The old 7.3 has a habit of needing o-rings in the injectors, or new injectors.  I haven't checked lately, but a couple years ago, a set of injectors costs as much as a new gas motor for that year truck.

Model engineering has brought us some amazing power plants, of both fuel types.  Far beyond what we dreamed about a few years ago.  I remember reading in HotRod magazine that 1 #/ft of torque/ci was the limit.  That little Eco-Boost is making double that.

I don't use it to pull heavy stuff.  I have a HDT for that.  It is chipped, new exhaust and turbo so it meets my needs as a PU and small trailer hauler.  1999 but only 100,000 miles.  I also need the 4x4.  I think my use is what many others want it for and the fuel economy is great.  I bought it new and so far none of the problems you mentioned.

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Yes, it's a great fit for what your doing with it.  A lot of the farmers around here like them, but they're staying close to home and using them lightly.  Pulling long distance with moderate to heavy loads, newer is better.

One thing to watch for on that 7,3 is the o-rings on the injectors.  If one leaks, motor oil will be injected into the combustion chamber, where it burns just fine. But, when your oil level drops, the injectors will no longer fire, and you're dead in the water.  Top up with oil and you're fine, until the level drops again.  My youngest brother had that happen a long way from home.

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  • 1 month later...

We ended up purchasing a 2009 Chevy Express 3500. It's rated to pull up to 9800 lbs. Now we are looking for a camper that can sleep all 11 of us & has enough CCC for all the stuff a large family needs..... any suggestions? I've read that it is best to tow at 80%. Is that accurate information?

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Large families often prefer toy haulers where they can put bunk beds in the garage area. Some also have a loft above the garage for more sleeping area. But you do not have a large towing capacity so that could be a challenge. Using a duffle bag for each person's clothing can help with weight. Good luck in your hunt.

Linda

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9 hours ago, Regan said:

I've read that it is best to tow at 80%. Is that accurate information?

Remember that the weight ratings listed are the maximums for safety and reliability. They are not intended to be under constant use but the most ever. When you load to the maximum it will also mean that the wear and tear on the tow vehicle will be at the maximum, the handling will be at its most challenging, and the stopping distance will be at the most that is federally acceptable, assuming that your vehicles are in perfect working condition and weather is good. When you load to the limits you also must accept that handling & safety will be degraded and mechanical reliability will be effected. That is the logic behind the common use of 80% as a guide to what your normal loading should be. 

A major factor in selecting a travel trailer should be where you expect to spend your time. In order to keep the inside temperatures comfortable the amount of insulation becomes of major importance if you will need much heat or air conditioning. We spent a lot of time in a popup when our boys were young and had no air conditioning and we did fine because we avoided extreme weather. Better insulated RVs weight more so in order to get the most cargo capacity for the gross weight limit of 8,000# you will need to go either very small or with an ultra-lite model and those are not well insulated. Keep in mind that your groceries will be part of the cargo you add and they can be heavy. Canned foods and meat both run up the total weight very quickly. With the weight limits that you are dealing with you will probably find that you are limited to trailers under 30' in length. 

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