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Old 01-28-2015, 07:18 AM   #11
Bus Nut
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 546
Must know more, ready....go!

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Old 01-28-2015, 10:50 AM   #12
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Winter Park Fl
Posts: 18
Year: 2001
Chassis: Ford E-350
Engine: 351ci triton v8
Rated Cap: 15
Nice bus. That thing sure is purty.
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Old 01-28-2015, 11:42 PM   #13
Bus Nut
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Danville, California
Posts: 343
Year: 1988
Coachwork: Crown
Chassis: Supercoach
Engine: DD6-71T
Rated Cap: 78
Welcome to the Crown Skoolie Club. You have a great foundation to start your project. With any bus you must check it out mechanically. That is what I have done with my two Crowns (my current skoolie project '88 36 footer) and my three axle ''86 40 footer.

I was lucky. I found school districts that know how to work on large buses and they agreed to do the work for a fraction of what an outside diesel shop would charge. The '88 Crown that is almost finished with its skoolie conversion had very few problems.

The large 40' Crown has some more mechanical problems, but nothing that is that serious. You want to make sure that your rig is both safe and dependable on the road. If you break down away from home you run the real risk of getting abused on pricing from the repair shops because they know you are away from your local area.

I would also consider getting roadside assistance from Good Sam. I have their premier package that will allow me to be towed for unlimited mileage to the nearest qualified service center and up to 100 miles wherever I want to go. it is a little over $100 per year and is very cheap compared to a uninsured tow.

By the way, my two Crowns both have airbags. The large tandem Crown has four sets of them. Great ride and a screamer with its Cummins 855 Turbo. You will love airbags for your ride.

It looks like you have a good plan for fixing the mechanicals. I can't wait to see what you are going to do with your great bus.
Greg and Donna Marvel

Danville, California
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Old 01-29-2015, 07:29 PM   #14
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: MA USA
Posts: 17
Year: 1978
Coachwork: Crown
Chassis: SuperCoach
Engine: Detroit 6-71
CrownGuy+EastCoastCB: CG's on the money. Batteries cost $180ea, labor $100, tax $30 for a total of $490 (I rounded a bit).
I don't know if it was ever a school bus. CowlitzCoach in a previous thread said that it was originally sold to Safeways in 1980, CA. The faded markings on the bus show "Mayflower Contract Services Inc.", Kansas. From the Wyoming title I can see the previous owner bought it in 1998. Between 1980 and 1998, who knoooowwws. Though I can kinda see a layer of yellow where the white paint is flaking off...
Hey CowlitzCoach! Can you look into your crystal ball again? What else can you dig up on the 38968 VIN? I'd love to know her history.

GMarvel: Thanks for the welcome! I'll look into the Good Sam's Club. Looks like an AAA for RV'ers nice! The tip about school district bus repair is good too. I haven't gotten a good feel from the local truck garage yet. Searching "truck garage" in Google Maps worked for me on the adventure back to MA but I'm not finding much now. What's a better big-vehicle garage finding resource/strategy?

wauto: thanks, belts and hoses added to the list!

dond, bansil: you asked for it...
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Old 01-29-2015, 07:35 PM   #15
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: MA USA
Posts: 17
Year: 1978
Coachwork: Crown
Chassis: SuperCoach
Engine: Detroit 6-71
the play by play -part 1-

I'm glad you've got your popcorn ready... Here we go!
There is also a photo album of the adventure. For whatever reason they're in reverse order. Follow along!

Pickup Copilot in Worcester. I live near New Bedford, MA.

Rent a cheap car from Hertz. It's a hilarious Chevy Spark.
Blitz the 600mi down to Virginia. The nickname "Zhu-li" (from Legend of Korra) for the co-pilot, whoever it may be at the time, becomes a thing. This will end up written on the bus' 2nd seat eventually.
We have the car for 24 hrs so we sleep in the car, blasting the heat on every 2 hours to stay warm.

We get picked up by Jerry, a bumbly old trucker who's the vendor of the bus.
The Crown and I get acquainted with the help of Jerry. Apparently the thing has to be started from the outside/ the undercarriage...
He takes me for a spin around the lot and on the nearby long straight road. I buy a full tank of diesel (80 gals worth, there was 20gals already there) and a gallon jug of Lucas Oil Stabilizer. We add the engine-honey to the the 1/11 gals of remaining engine oil.
Next thing I know I'm in the driver's: seat upshifting, downshifting, double clutching, starting stopping... or learning to anyways. This isn't the first time I've driven stick but I was in my mid-teens when I learned and never had a vehicle to practice with since. UNTIL NOW! Fun times!
We bolt in one of the two pilot's seats, exchange money, get the paperwork signed off and voila! My bad idea is official.
It's 4pm. Before Jerry leaves he tells me that the tires are a bit old, and that the steering tie rods may need attention but that he wouldn't be shy of taking the ol' girl cross country again with nothing but n oil change.
Mere minutes after Jerry leaves does the troubles and tribulations begin.
I choose to drive the bus around the lot some more, get more experience, especially with those wide turns and changing gears. It's a little bumpy and I see Katie AKA Zhu-li bouncing around in the seat we just bolted down, laughing, laughing, gesticulating, yelling, and shortly thereafter sprawling on the floor along with the seat. It had ripped itself out, and bent its foot. We laughed, but it was a sign of things to come.
We threw it in the back of the bus and spent the next half hour painstakingly bolting the other seat in a different hole-pattern more securely. Because of angle brackets this meant wrenching the bolts one 6th of a turn at a time. Yeesh. It was around now that the name Blunderbus started to sink in.
We then met Indian, the truck lot security guard. He gave a few more pointers on driving (and unlocked the bathroom). Jerry told us to double clutch. Indian said that was schoolbus-school bologna and that regular clutching was usually fine (remember to rev engine on downshift though).
<HEY SKOOLIES! WHAT'S YOUR RATIONAL REGARDING DOUBLE CLUTCHING OR NOT? One day I'll learn to float gears which I understand is superior. I need a better feel for my engineXtransmission. Is there a doc I can look up for that?>
Dusk starts to set in and we hit the road. Next planned stop: Bryn Mawr Pennsylvanian! Next actual stop: West Virgian highway shoulder!
A light 2 minute sprinkle allows me to test the windshield wipers. Only one turns on but it's the driver's side so we're good. Except not because A) it's only wiping 1/3 of the area it's supposed to, poorly at that, and lower that where my point of view is, and B ) after a minute the tie rod pops out and the wiper flails violently across the windshield until it eventually jams itself. It stops raining.
Maybe an hour into the drive: what's this? power drop? *slows down* (20 seconds go by) what's this? MASSIVE BANGING SOUND?! must be one of the outside sideflaps or the boot that opened itself and is catching the wind *pulls over*there is a piece of rubber at the door* "HA! That can't be mine! The tires (on this side) are fiiine" *checking flaps*go around the corner* weeeellllll shiieeeet.
The two port-aft tires blew. The banging was rubber against the wheel well.
Call AAA cos I'm a member. Get transferred 5 times "closer roadside assistance centers". When they finally hear me out, they can't help. I'm not covered for 'RV' roadside assistance. In retrospect I shoulda known, I wish it didn't take an hour to simply find out.
GOOGLEMAPS TO THE RESCUE! Called a local tire shop, who referred me to a local truck garage who referred me to a local truck tire place with roadside assistance. This took less than a half hour.
While waiting I fix the windshield wpier tie-rod with with some duct tape. I find that the wiper itself has no rubber left on it whatsoever. A lil duct tape to the rescue. Hopefully I won't need it.
An hour later appears MARIO the tire-guy. This guy was out with his wife when the call came in and despite that he was a barrel of laughs. Simply awesome guy. His wife tagged along too, later Katie and she went to Walmart together.
A scant foot from roaring highway traffic, SuperMario extracted the rims from the rubbery carnage. Katie and I took turns holding the flashlight AKA my cell phone for him. It was the beginning of my intimacy with the Blunderbus' undercarriage. Fortunately I pulled over soon enough and the rims were fine.
With two tires changed I trundled to the next exit and parked at the local walmart to complete repairs. We changed the other pair of rear tires but couldn't to the front two, SuperMario only had five 22R12.5s in stock. We would have needed 6.
We bid our adieuxs, I stomached the $1700 charge which I was expecting to have to to eventually anyways (just not so soon hah) and gave Mario a $100 tip. The man deserved it. I deserved a meatball sub. It was delicious.
At about midnight we reached our destination for the day, showered, and slept very very soundly.

My friends' house was very comfortable. We prolly stayed too long and left around noon. Neighbors could now see what had probably loudly woken them up the night prior hehe. The late return actually favorable because the prior evening there was lots of black ice and accidents around Philly. At midnight the roads were clear.
The GPS directed us under a local low-bridge. With Zhu-li outside the bus eyeballing the roof I inched through the trough under the bridge. I heard the antennae twang against its underside. This is were I learned my height limit.
Less than an hour into the trip. BLAMO! Another tire blowout! This time on a busy on-ramp right after tolls. Fortunately there was enough shoulder that we didn't obstruct traffic. We could see the looks of people on the opposite off-ramp. They're expressions were fun to watch.
We dance the dance of call referrals. Art to the rescue! In retrospect I should have specified to bring two replacement tires. In retrospect I also should have gone straight to a tire garage that morning instead of hoping the bus could make the remaining 5 hours trip back *sigh*.
Art changed one tire and we followed him back to his tire garage. This was a lot of town-driving and was new to me.
We came across a stoplight that I **** you not gave you 10 seconds of green tops. The bus (with my skills) takes like 5 seconds to cross.
Next thing I know there's a rave party on my bum.
Parked at an intersection of another light, I am interogatted. Apparently I went through a redlight. Office Ryan board the bus (I push the button that opens the air door for him which in my mind is hilarious, I feel like ask him for his bus ticket, but I've enacted on enough bad ideas for the day) and asks the usual: ID and registration. I hand him ID and the title + bill of sails, explain that I recently bought the thing.
At this point he notices katie out of the corner of his eye blending into the pilots seat. He slowly turns his head and utters, "that thing got a seatbelt?" Katie does one of those point at the crotch taunt like things, only slower, the silvery buckle clearly visible. Without a word, he slowly swivels his attention back at me.
He asks for the VIN, I show the 5 digits on the title and get a "Dude, this isn't a VIN". He seems huffy, arguing is pointless. I point to the vehicle placard thing <real name> and sure enough embosed in the metal plate is the 5 digit VIN.
He walks in further, to the back of the bus where some junk is. "What's that!" That's my backpack officer. "What's all this!" Junk, officer. "Is there anything in here that shouldn't be?" .... That's a pointless questions officer (I don't say), the answer regardless of truth will always be no. Instead: "No officer! No drugs, no weapons, no aliens, orphans or no organs" (I may be embellishing a bit, I know not to be fresh with an on-duty law-man)
Finally he gets off, says I'll receive something in the mail, and that's that. I give the thumbs up to Art and we make it to the tire garage. (There was also this massive hill that we braved, stuck her in low and up we go!)
We get our final tire and under the table Art gives adds a pack of these little beads between (I think) the rim and the tire which will supposedly help dynamically balance the tires. Whatever it was, Blunderbuss did handle better after that.
We Katie and I take this opportune pause to have a diner dinner. Yum.
And off we go into the night! We bust out of PA, we punch through NJ, we avoid NYC like the plague, and enter CT at midnight *dumDumDUM!*
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Old 01-29-2015, 07:39 PM   #16
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: MA USA
Posts: 17
Year: 1978
Coachwork: Crown
Chassis: SuperCoach
Engine: Detroit 6-71
the play by play -part 2-

The GPS suggests we take CT-15, it's shorted that I-95. Ok we say, ignoring the multiple "no trucks" sign leading to CT-15. The max height for the route is posted and we have experimentally deduced that we are under that limit previously, ride on. A short distance on that highway we see an oasis. At this point Zhu-li is sleeping on the floor by the heater and need a pit stop after driving for hours. Since I'm at a gas station I might as well top off the bus. This was a bad idea.
Five miles later, on a hill, across the road from a cop, I lose power, downshift, lose power, downshift, lose power... and stall. Sh!t.
I'd already started pulling onto the shoulder but got only maybe 20% of the way there. Hurray for air brakes. It's not busy at all so I engage the clutch with the goal of coasting and maneuvering backwards onto the shoulder. No power steering. Sh!t.
I climb out of the bus to restart it (didn't know I could use the ignition key at the time, had always used the undercarriage starter) and she won't catch. Sh!t.
Cop who had to drive a good few miles to get to us from the other side pulls up. Sheiiiit.
Fortunately this Officer Ryan is well tempered and just wants to see us safely off the highway, for now. A series of miracles ensue.
Miracle! We get the engine to turn over!
Miracle! With three feet on as many pedals, Katie revs the gas and I work the clutch and brake and we shift into first AND GET MOVING!
VICTORY! The engine strains but we gloriously crest the hill and.....
have to pull off the road at the next exit at the top of the hill. That moment however felt epic. Note that I have never started a manual vehicle on a grade before. Big win here. That vibe however was short lived.
As nice as Officer Ryan was he dutifully had me ticketed and towed. He could have been harsher, I only got fined for the unregistered vehicle. I wouldn't have gotten far anyways, the bus being poisoned and all. I still did not know the cause of the incident at the time.
And so began Blunderbuss' 5 day sejour in Stamford CT's in the company of Lone Star.
Lone Star is the towing company and repair shop we ended up at. They dropped Katie and I off at the train station to regroup, rest, and come up with our action plan for the day when, you know, they and the rest of the world are actually awake.
We did indeed formulate a plan that night, especially since Katie had classes that afternoon she didn't want to miss. (Though we ended up missing the classes anyways oops). But before getting into that I will defer to Katie to describe... the night at the station!
So, you want to hear of the fable of the Bust Trip, featuring Rooster and the Homeless Clan, eh? Well gather round children, as I tell you this pirate’s tale.
There we were, left off by the dreaded tow truck crew of incredibly nice people at the train station for the night, our bus haven immobilized, captured. Lo! What were we to do, a pirate crew of two without a ship (Captain's edit: barge) to sail? Yargh, said we as we performed the walk of shame to the station, our jimmies thoroughly rustled.
In the station we went, silence creeping upon our lips like a yeti. Surrounding us were a clan of homeless folk, staring us down. We did not belong here.
But lo! Out from the deafening silence came a voice, NAY, a cock-a-doodly-doo! Suddenly we turned our heads to see a glorious, magnificent being, whose hair whispered sweet nothings into the wind, ROOSTER, leader of the homeless folk! He took us under his metaphorical wing and gave us an honorary seat amongst the clan, teaching us such wonderful things as how to fool the night patrol, let go of our humanity to release sexy animal noises in the air, and who could forget the glory of sleeping on a trash can, a throne of titans!
Much merriment was found that night.
As the morning sun rose, we shielded our eyes and shook our legs, only to find that we could not feel our legs as all circulation had been cut off in the uncomfortable positions we endured. Alas, such sacrifices are necessary when adventure calls thy name!
Daybrake! And off we were, ready for the new day!
Here's the plan (times are opening business hours):
7AM-Hertz: Rent a car for return in MA (contingency to the bus not starting up)
7:30-LoneStar opens, get special access to the vehicle to retrieve title Usually you're not allowed to get items from the vehicle, eg Katie' laptop which she needs for schoolwork, until the fee is paid off.
7:45-DMV opens, confirm over smartphone my insurance policy number (another post on insurance at a later, mamamia). The DMV lady likes to talk about how "America isn't what it used to be." I humor her but I get an elbow jab from Zhu-li; we're on a schedule. I look at the temp registration, under vehicle type it says "van." I look at the old title and it says "bus." *shrug* so much the better, I've got my paperwork done!
We stop by Bank of America, except it's not a bank of america, just an ATM kiosk. hmm dunno if I can pull out $800 this week (cash towing fee) but with the combined powers of my Debit and Credit card I get the paper money I need. My wallet's never felt fatter. The feeling is short lived.
Distances and morning traffic and the DMV being what they are the morning runaround takes a few hours.
Back at Lone Star I pay my dues and try to start the bus. Nothing. We hook up 3 big trucks to the battery... nothing.
Now it's afternoon and we've got a hot air canon warming up the engine, starter fluid, those trucks... nothing can't turn over and we start getting black smoke. I get asked a question, I'm skeptical but look at the receipt from the last gs station and to my horror: 30 gallons.... REGULAR. noooooooo
At this point it's too late for Katie classes. She's mad, I'm beaten. We drive back to MA at our lowest.

A few days go by and Friday I get a call from LoneStar. They drove the bus around the block... she's fixed! I look at the weather: snowstorms Saturday. I call up Katie, she get's off at 4pm. I call back LoneStar, they close at 10pm nice. I call up Hertz in MA, they have cars available! I call up Hertz in CT, the close at 7pm. I do the math: the trip from Katie's location takes a little under 3 hours. It's tight. I call Katie, she's game. I make the calls and an hour later I'm at the car rental being handed the keys to a Ford Focus.
What a lame car. The Chevy Spark at least knew what it was and rocked it. Driving the Focus feels like it's just whining at you at whole time. Literally the engine whines. The Ford Fiesta we rented on the way from CT at least had fun LED lights inside. Anyways, there's no time, /endrant Time to pick up Katie and blitz down down to Stamford.
We make it to the Hertz with single digit minutes to spare!!
Since we have a few hours before they Lone Star closes we decide to hoof it and scout out dinner on the way. We feast from the fast-serving take-out lane of a place called Dinosaur BBQ. It was excellent.
Now at Lone Star, we exchange currency, I hop in the bus aaaaand
It doesn't start.
IT DOESN'T START! Will this charade never end!
We get the guys out there, they try and do what they can but it's near closing and they'll look at it in the morning. They're nice enough to chauffeur us - in a massive flatbed truck - to a hotel.
Sidenote: The Amsterdam Hotel in Stamford CT is very nice for a good price. Better than a train station trashcan for sure.

Lazy morning lounging in the hotel, complementary breakfast and lunch at the Tacobell next door. Every couple hours I call up Lone Star and see what's up. Supposedly they're 'running around town looking for parts'. The hotel's lobby has very nice leather couches, I don't mind the wait.
Finally, we get the call. All set! We get picked up, pay for new batteries, Blunderbuss is running when get there and off we go!
We avoid CT-15.
Some roads have construction and the lanes are miiiiighty tight. Big cold watery drop on our left in a floaty bus and roaring trucks to the right. Not cool. We make it back to Mass unscathed.
I drop Katie off in downtown Worcester. It's rush hour but I guess the storm warning scared everyone away haha! Not this pair of loonies!
I do a driveby of my old apparment where my old housemates still are. That was brief but fun (nowhere to park, also getting dark and snowy).
Good time to mention that the driver side window is broken. Like nearly shattered broken. And the window can only be opened enough to pass most of my hand and arm outside. This made tolls, talking to Officer Ryan, and waving to my friends doable, but hilariously awkward.
Now to solo ride the 2-3 hours back to my house through a building blizzard. Fortunately the bus keeps warm very easily. In fact my throttle foot is right next to a heater vent and is uncomfortably warm.
I hit slow traffic. Far ahead I see sets of tall yellow flashers and a long stream of red rear lights behind. Must be monster plow trucks. I think I'm in third gear to keep page with the molasses of traffic but in retrospect I think I was still in 5th. No wonder bus struggled on the shallow but slow grades. Also at those times the engine heat would rise, despite the subzero conditions.
Eventually the traffic gives way and I get to my exit. At that point my one working windshield wiper FRICKIN LOSES ITS MIND! The duct tape fix from day 1 did it's highway job and kicked it at the exit. Good enough for me! Turn it off and the defroster is warm enough that snowflakes don't have time to accumulate. The world looks a little wet but I'm in my neck of the woods so it's ok.
Ten minutes, a nudged driveway fence and a dislodged neighbor's rock later (backing up well is hard)... I. Am. Home. Hallelujah.
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Old 01-29-2015, 07:44 PM   #17
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: MA USA
Posts: 17
Year: 1978
Coachwork: Crown
Chassis: SuperCoach
Engine: Detroit 6-71
the play by play -aftermath-

I got my MA camper plates and registration today woohoo!
I've called up traffic ticket attorneys in PA and CT to see if I can avoid these unregistered vehicle tickets and increased premiums and driving record whatnots. fingers crossed.
I've found a local large-truck garage. I'm bringing them the bad idea to their lot Feb 9th.
Blunderbuss looks cozy with her blanket of snow. My car on the other hand is dreadfully drowning.

Thanks for reading!

-SquidBat =3
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Old 01-29-2015, 11:58 PM   #18
serpent's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Black Rock City
Posts: 64
Year: 198x
Coachwork: Crown & TMC
Chassis: 40ft Tandem/40ft MC-9 Tag
Engine: Cummins 855 BCT/6V92TA, RTO-910/Allison 740
Rated Cap: 91/13
*grin* ...good times ahead!
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Old 01-30-2015, 04:54 PM   #19
Bus Crazy
Stu & Filo. T's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Vacaville, Ca
Posts: 1,082
Year: 1988
Coachwork: Crown / Pusher
Engine: 8.3 Cummins
As an ex trucker driver heres my advice on double clutching, don't move the clutch pedal to far you only need a few inches of pedal movement not full travel
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Old 01-30-2015, 09:35 PM   #20
Bus Nut
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: MD near DC
Posts: 310
Damn, you're a good writer! Start of a book here, I think. Need more pics though. Awesome looking bus!
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adventure, crown

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