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Old 12-16-2006, 07:12 PM   #1
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1982 Thomas Safe-T-Liner "Illusion"

I guess I can say the conversion project has officially started. Obviously the first "official" step is to acquire the bus but after that one has to tackle the physical conversion process. For me that started yesterday.

The weather here has been deplorable of late and I haven't been able to get anything done on the bus. Two nights ago with winds nearing 90 mph we lost power (actually, all of Whidbey Island lost power and an awfully lot of the Seattle area). When the storm blew through it left a fairly nice day yesterday but without power I couldn't open our business so I got a day off...and headed for the bus. I'll post some photos in the gallery soon (the camera isn't at home with me).

I decided the easiest way to deal with the seats was going to be to strip them in situ. I found this relatively easy to do beause the rear of the seat cushion was held down with a rotating handle latch; turn the handle 90-degree and flip the seat cushion forward. Then unscrew the clamps holding the seat base to the welded seat frame and voila!, the seat base is loose.

The seat backs were a mixed lot; most of the seat back coverings on the left side of the bus were velcroed at the bottom and I just had to undo the velcro and lift the seat back cushion off the frame. Some of the coverings on the left side and most on the right side where stapled. That required more work but the process was the same.

The back support on each seat frame consisted of a 3/8" piece of plywood held in place by clamp at the top and slides on the side. I just had to pry open the clamp and the plywood backs slid right out.

The outboard end of each seat base (with the exception of the one seat in front of the emergency exit) is held with a clamp and two bolts to the seat rail on the side of the bus so each of those bolts was undone.

So...after a few hours work I'd removed 26 seat base cushions, 25 seat back cushions, 25 seat plywood backs (the rear seat is one piece), and unbolted 48 bolts holding the seat frames to the seat rail. I was pooped!

Today my wife helped me and we were able to remove the "Crash Barriers" that were bolted in front of the seats on the right side of the bus and immediately behind the drivers seat on the left side.

All that's left now are the floor bolts for each seat. On my first bus I was able to get to the nuts under the floor but since they were so rusty I ended up snapping about 1/2 of them off. On my Thomas all the bolts that hold the seat frames to the floor are stainless. The bolts for the Crash Barriers were easy to remove and I thought things were going to go well. Wrong! I can't get to the underside of the seat bolts to hold the nuts; there are just too many things (mostly air tanks...there are 4...and the large strorage comparment) in the way and I can't reach up between them and the frame to hold the nuts. That's a bummer...I'm really not looking forward to having to grind my way through 96 stainless bolts from the top side. Especially since, if I could reach the nuts, they'd unbolt easily. [Did I mention I really HATE seats! ]

Question: How are the windows held in place on the Thomas buses? It looks like they sit in a channel at the bottom and are held with four phillips screws (2 on each side) inside the window channel toward the top of each side. Is that the case? And when loose do they just tip in (other than being held by sealant)?
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Old 12-16-2006, 10:51 PM   #2
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Congrats on the new project .... I have a TransitLiner, '82 as well, and would guess that the construction is similar to a SafTLiner and yup, that's all there is to taking out the windows, just the four screws in the top half.
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Old 12-17-2006, 02:04 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wtd
Congrats on the new project .... I have a TransitLiner, '82 as well, and would guess that the construction is similar to a SafTLiner and yup, that's all there is to taking out the windows, just the four screws in the top half.
Thanks for the window info!

I'm not so sure I'd like to be where you are in the summer but I sure wouldn't mind some warm, dry weather right about now so I could get some work done!

I'd guess that most differences between the Safe-T-Liner and TransitLiner were cosmetic and subtle equipment differences; like overhead handrails, maybe parcel racks, and I suspect all TransitLiners had taller roofs (which is the one and only thing I wish were different on my bus).
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Old 12-17-2006, 10:29 PM   #4
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Sure wish my seats were that easy to dismantle...they must have changed the way they built the seats by 1989...mine were all stapled, and screwed to the frames....what a bear!!

As for grinding them off, I think it's about the only way. We did get many of them off from underneath...and since I didn't have the storage box I may have been able to get at more of them than you were. Be that as it may, I'd rather have your storage box!! I bought a 4" angle grinder at Harbor Frieght while they were on sale, I think I paid $10 for it... it has worked like a champ and has been my number ONE tool for most anything to do with going through metal....

As for the windows, I learned early on that there are a few screws....one each side of the inside channel....lower the top window down and you'll see them... Then on the top channel if you pry back the gasket material, you'll see a single screw in the center going up to the top frame. Now you go outside, and beside each window on the ouside you'll see six screws on each side...take out the bottom one on each side of the window...the others just hold the window frame together....

You might have som paint sticking, and they are a tight fit, but you pull the top edge of the window into the bus, the bottoms just sit in a channel/track....

Here are the 2 outside screws you have to remove....
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Old 12-18-2006, 09:12 AM   #5
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Hi Cliff,

Thanks a ton! That window info is great.

I love the photo with the detailing on it; what program do you use to do that. That would be great for putting notes on the photos for my documentation file (so I can remember later what I did where).

I think I'm about to become an angle grinder owner too! And well acquainted with its use.
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Old 12-18-2006, 09:57 AM   #6
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I know it can be done useing paintshop, and since everyone treats it like a red headed step child, i would assume the other photo programs would have it as well.
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Old 12-18-2006, 07:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Les Lampman
. . . what program do you use to do that. That would be great for putting notes on the photos for my documentation file (so I can remember later what I did where). . .
I just used the basic "paint" program that came with Windows to put text, circles & boxes, etc. on my photos. A basic example can be seen on the front door lock pictures of The White Elephant.
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Old 12-18-2006, 07:11 PM   #8
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I made some more progress today (can't let my neighbor to the south (Elliot) do all the work)! I also brought my camera home and uploaded some photos to my Skoolie.net Gallery here.

I found I already have a Makita 4" angle grinder; been so long since I used it I forgot I had it! I stopped by the hardware store and bought some cut-off discs for it and headed to the bus. I decided to cut the heads off the stainless bolts that are holding the seats. The good news is that 10 seats frames are now out...the bad new is it took 8 discs (all they had in stock) at $2 apiece to get it done. I'm not sure grinding would be better but for the remaining 14 seats I may try it out.

Here's what it looked like after I removed all the seat base cushions, seat back cushions, and the plywood backs:


And what it looked like after the first 10 seat frames were removed (about 2 hours on my knees...ouch!):


By the way...that's the Blue Bird to the right in the photos sitting next to the Thomas. Nothing like being a two bus owner!
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Old 12-18-2006, 07:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Griff
I just used the basic "paint" program that came with Windows to put text, circles & boxes, etc. on my photos. A basic example can be seen on the front door lock pictures of The White Elephant.
Thanks Griff...I'll give it a try.
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Old 12-18-2006, 09:46 PM   #10
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Those seats look like they have been through a nuclear blast. If the paint was gone from the inside of the bus I would have to wonder .
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