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)?