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Old 03-23-2008, 12:12 AM   #1
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Bus #2... saved and with a new home

Greetings!

Due to a moment of insanity, I am the proud owner of bus #2-87, a Bluebird S1800 with only 139,000 miles on her. She sports a D466 engine and the Allison 545 (EDIT: MT 643) automatic transmission. Mechanically and structurally, she's nearly perfect, but there are some issues. She has sat in an open yard for nearly three years in the northwest corner of Washington. The moment I opened the door for the first time, the mildew literally rained down on me (we get over 100 inches of rain a year here, and this is what she looked like when I walked up to her).

However, not all is lost. The battery switch had been on the entire time she sat there, yet a turn of the key had her idling in less than 30 seconds! Additionally, any rust issues are minimal... there is some surface rust in the rear, but nothing substantial or serious.

Less than a week later, she is cleaned up and waiting for me to decide what to do next. I've inspected her stem to stern, and apart from a few minor wiring issues, she is looking good, and runs like a champ! We'll see what awaits next...

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Old 03-23-2008, 09:40 AM   #2
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Re: Bus #2... saved and with a new home

Hi, Let me be one of the first to welcome you. You'll find a lot of information here and you'll also enjoy the company.

BTW, that's really a nice bus, and the undercarriage storage can't be beat.
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Old 03-23-2008, 11:16 AM   #3
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Re: Bus #2... saved and with a new home

Wish i had it... i was thinking about adding my own, but don't even know where to start
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Old 03-23-2008, 11:55 AM   #4
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Re: Bus #2... saved and with a new home

Well, thanks for the good wishes, and yes, I am very pleased with the under storage compartments. There is also an additional storage compartment on the other side, and two battery access panels. A couple of the doors are in need of some TLC, but nothing major.

This particular bus has two fuel tanks, like the one I drive for the school district. I'm thinking that this setup might be perfect for a veggie oil fuel project. I've been doing a lot of reading on this site about conversions, and thinking "why not?"

I don't have any specific plans for the interior (yet), but want to keep the exterior looking like a school bus. So... I'm projecting a metallic dark grey/black enamel finish with dark, mirrored windows and black trim. I've photoshopped a few practice runs, and it actually looks quite good!

Anyway, everything seems to be checking out ok. I have a leaky air drain valve to replace, the big 7" tail lights won't come on (although the brake lights work) and the dash lights won't light, but other than that, she's ready!

Thanks again for your best wishes. I'm sure you'll be seeing me here a lot these coming months!
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Old 03-23-2008, 04:39 PM   #5
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Re: Bus #2... saved and with a new home

we have mirror tint on its way! there are some pretty good deals on ebay for big rolls that is just enought for a bus, lets see some pictures that you photo shoped!!
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Old 03-24-2008, 12:15 AM   #6
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Re: Bus #2... saved and with a new home

It ain't rust, its manna.
Cape Flattery drives some stout buses.
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Old 03-24-2008, 10:08 PM   #7
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Re: Bus #2... saved and with a new home

1) I didn't save any of my Photoshop stuff, but trust me, she looks MEAN. ;) I'll see what I can do in posting some images.

2) Yes, Cape Flattery has some very stout buses. Very stout. They have to be.

For example, do the early morning run to Neah Bay on S.R. 112 in the dead of winter, and life takes on a whole new perspective. You get the whole thing: ice, snow, sleet, rain, fog, a slew of logging trucks cheating into your lane, the occasional drunk, tree falls, landslides and about 6" of clearance before you tip into the ocean. This is all while the roads crumble under the tires before your very eyes, and the windshields fogged up to the point of no visibility. Trust me: you are QUITE awake by the time you get there.

But yes, these buses are WELL-maintained. And they are battle tanks. This school district takes care of their equipment.

I am very pleased with Bus #2. I've worked out all the kinks, now it's time for seat removal. Pictures to follow, soon...
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Old 03-25-2008, 12:20 PM   #8
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Re: Bus #2... saved and with a new home

I'll definitely post some pics once the weather clears up here.

I've gone through everything on this bus that I possibly can, and presently have seven things on my "hit list:"

1) No dash panel lights
2) Leaking air release valve (the one on the side under "Drain Daily"
3) Need air filter and housing for air compressor intake
4) Front bumper needs to be straightened on one side
5) Roof vent motor needs to be replaced
6) One blown out clearance lamp bulb
7) Left side storage compartment door will NOT open (a real head-scratcher for me)

That's it! Everything else works and is in fine shape. No leaks, no nasty surprises...
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Old 03-25-2008, 03:55 PM   #9
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Re: Bus #2... saved and with a new home

Thankfully (for me), the district has another one of these buses- an identical carbon copy- still in service. When I have questions, I just go over and see how things work on THAT bus. In this case, the panel lights brighten by turning COUNTER-clockwise. Still no success. I believe I may have a bad switch.
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Old 03-26-2008, 09:56 PM   #10
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Re: Bus #2... saved and with a new home

I have read much here- and elsewhere- about paint. Perhaps someone can educate me a bit... I see that Rustoleum is the preferred paint. Would it be safe to assume that the Ace Hardware equivalent is acceptable, too? It is an alkyd enamel.

I would appreciate any, and all, feedback.
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Old 03-26-2008, 10:11 PM   #11
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Re: Bus #2... saved and with a new home

i'll agree that rustoleam is perfect for painting buses....but i prefer the "commercial" by the gallon cans of rustoleam. However, i'm pretty sure it's oil based, not an alkyd. I used alkyd based paint on my first skoolie.....some months later i scraped off what was left of it and repainted with rustoleam.

also, acetone is your friend. I think it works much better than mineral spirits for thinning rustoleam.

spending the extra $$ on automotive clearcoat when you're finished is well worth it. makes it extra shiny, and more importantly keeps it looking that way for a long long time.
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Old 03-26-2008, 10:48 PM   #12
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Re: Bus #2... saved and with a new home

Much obliged, my friend. I shall shy away from the alkyds.
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Old 03-27-2008, 03:25 PM   #13
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Re: Bus #2... saved and with a new home

Gotcha. I'll re-read it yet again.... I guess my main question here is if Ace Hardware "Rust-whatever-it-is" is the same kind of paint as Rustoleum. I note that the Ace brand sez "alkyd" on the side of the can while Rustoleum does not. I also note that several commenters here have had serious problems with alkyd paints.

Any experts on this?
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Old 03-31-2008, 04:18 PM   #14
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Re: Bus #2... saved and with a new home


No expert here, but I am under the impression that the words "alkyd" and "oil" are somewhat interchangable for our purpose. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alkyd

Perhaps you were thinking "latex", which is water-based paint. You can test a paint to see if it is water-based or oil-based. All you need is a few drops of the stuff. If you can clean up a drop of it with water, it is water-based paint. If water just makes a mess of that drop, you have oil/alkyd paint.

Ace Hardware Rust Stop is reported to be "generic Rustoleum". I used it on my first bus, but didn't keep that bus long enough to say anything about durability.
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Old 03-31-2008, 11:08 PM   #15
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Re: Bus #2... saved and with a new home

i used some paint from sherwin williams, i think it was the stuff in this link:

http://www2.sherwin-williams.com/im/kem_4000.asp

and it was alkyd....had to be thinned with xylene, and dried to the touch in 15 minutes. Certainly wasn't latex, and i think it dried too fast to be oil based. I'm no paint expert though.
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Old 04-02-2008, 12:09 PM   #16
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Re: Bus #2... saved and with a new home

After much searching and reading on this site, I have decided to go with True Value X-O Rust, with Rustoleum Hammer Finish paint for the trim. It seems that everyone has been happy with those choices. Now I just have to decide on the colors (probably a gray/silver/black scheme) and wait for a couple of warm spring days!

In the meantime, I am working on the interior paint. I have been using X-O Rust primer, then Rustoleum, and am happy with the results of both of those.

I still have no idea what I'm going to do with the interior, but I'm not worried about it at this point... it will come to me one of these days!
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Old 04-09-2008, 12:23 AM   #17
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Re: Bus #2... saved and with a new home

That paint Lapeer is talking dried fast because of the xylene. It's a much "hotter" chemical reaction. The painter I used to use on our jobs would use xylene instead of mineral spirits because it sped up the drying process and made for more coats faster. Powerful stuff.
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Old 04-09-2008, 11:09 AM   #18
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Re: Bus #2... saved and with a new home

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hawg wagon
Hey Wccawa nice to meet you. Maybe I can help with your luggage door not opening problem. I had the same problem and it was a real head scratcher. that is If you have the same boxes as I do and they use small cable ran to each out board latch. Use one of the boxes that does open to get measurement of where the outboard latches are exactly. Then go under the bus and drill a small 1/4 inch hole in the nonopening box to push the latch headon with a small screwdriver. Also these small holes will come in very handy while readjusting the cables. Hope it works good luck.
Nice to meet you as well, and thanks for the advice!

I can lift the latch part-way, and I can here the little latches moving somewhat, but there must be something gummed up somewhere.

I'm gonna try the drill trick and will let you know what happens.

And to reprobate... thanks for the tip on xylene. That sounds like a real winner, especially in my climate. The problem here is it's so cool, it takes literally forever for anything to dry. Xylene might just be the ticket!
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Old 04-14-2008, 11:22 PM   #19
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Re: Bus #2... saved and with a new home

I've come to the conclusion that the "grinder" method of getting seats out is far inferior to the "vise grips" method.

This afternoon, I knocked out 8 seats with vise grips underneath, and am about 1/3 of the way through. If I had an assistant, I would have had them ALL out within a couple of hours. It's simply the way to go. At least a third of the bolts broke off, making things even easier.

I WILL say this, though. There is nothing more pleasing to the ear than hearing those vise grips PLUNK to the ground when the nut has given way. It's just heaven!

In the meantime, I have a rear heater just hanging there, and I'm wondering what to do with it. I'm thinking of replumbing a bit of coolant line and putting it right up against the rear left of the bus. My floor plans are taking shape, at least in my mind, and I think that would be a good place for it.

Speaking of learning things... I've found it absolutely amazing that you can pour a glass of wine in the evening, sit in the driver seat, and just LOOK. Just stare at the whole thing. You see what is, what can be, and what might not. The whole thing kind of takes shape as you just, well... SIT.

I can not over-emphasize the importance of just sitting and looking. It took me three weeks to come up with a basic floor plan, just by sitting and looking!

And I finally got that stubborn side compartment to open. Two bolts held the pivot arm on both sides. I undid the bolts, lifted out the door, and voila! Open space!

And to my amazement, not a speck of rust showed itself. That thing had been sealed up for over three years. It was simply a matter of cable adjustment...

Anyway, things are coming along nicely. I'll post some pics soon, as I have been keeping a photo diary. EDIT: I've uploaded two "in progress" pictures.
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Old 04-16-2008, 01:23 PM   #20
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Re: Bus #2... saved and with a new home

Just a quick update, as several people were asking for photos... Here's where I am presently: only six seats left to go! I should have those out by tonight.
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