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Old 03-07-2010, 06:48 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Lansing, MI
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Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas SafTLiner
Chassis: FE
Engine: 5.9 Cummins
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Adventure Awaits!

So, armed with a fistful of cash, my best negotiating face, and a lot of fluids, we bumbled down to Kankakee Illinois to pick over some mid length and shorty Thomas front engine buses the other day. I just knew we would find our bus there.
It wasn't simple, there were many to choose from. So, we had a lot of help from one of their mechanics, Miguyver, they called him because his real name is Miguel. He proved it over and over, making one bus run after another, tips on things, what to look for, how to fix one thing or another, sourcing a few small parts. Over and over he came through.
In the end, we found our bus at the end of the line, after a bunch of test drives. Some of these buses are pretty nice, some are less so. Some are actually quite zippy, for some reason. We ended up with one that isn't the fastest, but it was the best all around. Sixty passenger, thirty one feet, big door in the back with hydraulic lift. We are hoping it will come in handy for the dirt bikes, though it seemed a bit weak. We shall see. If it doesn't work out, we have ramps too.
Air ride, air drivers seat (needs some work though) but hydraulic brakes, as I understand. No big deal, I am glad to have onboard air available. Now I can put another tank on, and plumb some lines for filling tires, running blender...
Four hour drive home was flawless. Some occasional complaining from the power steering, but it rides quite nice. Airbags doing their thing!
The paint appears to be new, like real new. It's going to be a bit of a shame to cover it up this summer, but the yellow has to go!
Can't figure how the flashers work, I think they may have been disabled. No worries, as they will be removed anyway. Headlights are rotten, holy moly, I could barely see when it got dark. Misaligned, and weak anyway. i will be investigating modifying the nose to accept some different lights, with HID. Once I went HID on my bike, it's hard to go back.
The tilt/telescope lever is missing from the steering column, I will investigate that at some point. Looks like it could be replaced though, just missing the lever and the pin. For now, it's fine.
Drivers seat is wrecked! Who sat in this thing? Luckily I had a replacement already, I drug it out last night and dropped it inside. I will get to it today, depending on what it needs. Still haven't picked up a welder, though I know what I want now.
Heater is as good as can be expected. Which is pretty sorry, frankly. Switch works, most of the time, someone smashed the heaters in the back, so they probably don't work that good. Too much trouble to straighten a milion fins, so if I keep them, I will probably replace them.
Needs a stereo and some speakers in the worst way! I used a mini ipod boombox on the way home, which works, but not ideal.
Wiring, boy is there going to be some wiring to do. Lots, and lots of it. To start, there is no power plugs up front, or anywhere of course. I have a few though.
The bus is loaded with wheelchair tie downs, which is awesome, way more than we will need for bikes. They aren't E track though, so I don't know if it will work out very well. I got a lot of assorted straps with the bus, so maybe it will do for now. Maybe I will hang up a hammock first.
Also badly needs more sound deadening on the engine shroud/front area. It would go a long way. Need to figure out the best way to do that. There is already a blanket thing underneath, but I think it's pretty insufficient. Either needs replaced, or just need more.
I really wanted to stop by some RV salvage places, but we spent so much time getting the bus, that we ran out of time to stop out. I have lots of money people, please stay open! Nope, didn't work. Going to have to wait til next week, at least. Might go on Friday morning, and stay over if I don't get everything in one day. We sold our DentedVW, which was a bit sad, but it allowed us to make this purchase, and all the parts we will likely need for our conversion. Well, most of them anyway.

Pictures when I get dressed, and go back outside.

A few words about Midwest Transit. These guys were great. I was able to pay my sales tax there, they take care of titling, and I got a thirty day plate.
Did I mention the bus was only $2000.00?
Yeah, for real. If anyone needs a smallish bus, I would hurry over there, because that's a pretty great deal. Even though some of them need a bit of work.
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Old 03-07-2010, 06:50 AM   #2
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Location: Lansing, MI
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Year: 1998
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Re: Adventure Awaits!

The electrical plug on the front of the bus, is it only the block heater? I am figuring it is, but wanted to ask. I haven't gone out to look yet, still dark and cold.

Oh yes, and AAA was awful. Terrible. Lieing sacks of glop. I called on friday, to ask how late they are open (Bye insurance in Grand Ledge, MI is who I had been using) and they were only open another twenty minutes. I wasn't getting the VIN from Midwest until Saturday, so I asked if I can call and get insurance then. They said "yes, definitely. Just call the 800 number and they will take care of you". Of course, that was a load of crap, anytime they open their mouths lies come out. When I called the 800 number, they said "no, because you went through an independent agent, we can't add any vehicles to your policy, you have to use them, and only during regular business hours".
So, goodbye AAA, you screw up every time I need something, even the simplest things. I really have to wonder if you would be there when I really need you. No, actually I don't, I know you will let me down in a huge, huge way. I have my home, and all cars insured with AAA, but not for long, you imbeciles.
GMAC was more than happy to insure the bus, they knew exactly what to do, and were really friendly. And they wanted my business enough to be open for business on Saturdays. This is huge with me. HUGE. Being an ordinary person, I work during the week. I can't always take time from work to do things like this. Sometimes I can, but I can't count on it. That's why I value being open for business on Saturdays. In fact, GMAC said they are open on Sundays as well, and would gladly start a new policy, make changes, the whole banana, on Sundays. Thank you, GMAC. You saved my bacon.

I guess I could have avoided this by insuring every bus I was considering buying on Friday, but seriously, that would have been ridiculous, and would have tied up a lot of my funds.

So, big thanks to GMAC. Again.
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Old 03-07-2010, 09:08 AM   #3
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Location: Idaho
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Re: Adventure Awaits!

Sounds great! I'm not having much luck finding one up mid-Wisc so might have to make a trip down to Midwest's lot. Get us some pictures would you?!
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Old 03-07-2010, 01:31 PM   #4
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Year: 1993
Coachwork: AmTran
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Re: Adventure Awaits!

Congratulations!
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Old 03-07-2010, 01:46 PM   #5
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Year: 1981
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Re: Adventure Awaits!

Congratulations. That is a nice size bus, not so long that it is difficult to go places, yet long enough to give room for the bikes as well as comfortable living space. How many people are you planning on sleeping in this unit? What type of riding do you do? Enduro, X-country, Moto-X??? My sisters kids all race Moto-X and I have an old Kawasaki 250 that I play in the mountains with. My bus is too short to have dedicated space for the bike, but I may use one of those hitch mounted bike carrier ramp thingys, after all it is just one bike!
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Old 03-07-2010, 05:12 PM   #6
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Location: Northeast CT
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Year: 1999
Coachwork: AmTran RE
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Re: Adventure Awaits!

Congratulations! I drive an 02 Thomas EF every day, and my biggest complaint is engine noise. I'd suggest building a custom console to go over the doghouse (engine cover). Give it lots of insulation, and make it small enough to climb over and easily removable for checking fluids. 60 passenger? That thing must turn on a dime! My daily driver seats 84, and can outmaneuver most conventionals.
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Old 03-07-2010, 06:09 PM   #7
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Lansing, MI
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Year: 1998
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Engine: 5.9 Cummins
Rated Cap: 60
Re: Adventure Awaits!

Yes, it does turn around practically in it's own shadow, it's pretty amazing.
So, here are a few pictures. I didn't take any of the lot, but you can get an idea by looking at it on google maps. Though, the inventory has changed of course. There was acres, and acres of buses, new and used. Pretty incredible.




And one of the first things I did, since we aren't painting it right away...

Then I removed the flashing lights. Now, I have to find something to cover the holes. Any ideas? I was thinking of going to the scrap yard and getting some aluminum, but I can't cut big pieces straight enough. Even if there was a line, it would never be straight, or evenly curved.
I removed the seats, the stop sign, the bar from the front, lots and lots of seatbelts, lots of vinyl lettering, and a bit of stuff from the floor. We are leaving the floor for now, as we have a trip coming up in a few weeks. Going to just cover with some cheap carpet for now.
If the paint looks good to you, that's because it was just painted. If only I could have had them paint it some other color. Ah well, we will get to it this summer. Maybe sooner, it's getting on my nerves already, and it's only day two.
I was working on the drivers seat, but it's power, and I am having problems with mounting, because I don't have the right amount of materials. A large plate would be perfect, maybe I can pick one up this week.
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Old 03-07-2010, 07:34 PM   #8
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Year: 1976
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Chassis: Supercoach
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Rated Cap: 79 at Birth
Re: Adventure Awaits!

Great Looking Bus!!! Congratulations on you new wheels!
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Old 03-07-2010, 08:15 PM   #9
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Year: 1998
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Re: Adventure Awaits!



Tried out the rails on the walls. Working good!
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Old 03-08-2010, 08:27 PM   #10
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Engine: DT466/MT643
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Re: Adventure Awaits!

Nice bus! How many miles are on it, and which transmission does it have?
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