A long-overdue update:
First, I have decided on a name, the bus shall henceforth be known as "Miss Euphegenia." She's a sweet older lady who's very polite and proper, but knows how to have a good time. Who can tell me what movie that name is from?
Paint: Memorial Day weekend I worked on the silver. I was hoping to get 2 coats all around below the windows, but a sudden downpour forced me to pause for a few hours, so the left side only has one coat. As mentioned above, this is Rustoleum Aluminum, applied with a high-density foam roller. I rolled one coat, let it dry while I worked on something else, used a foam brush to do all the non-flat areas (panel seams, rivets, edges, etc), then rolled a second coat. There will be more to come, some type of blue and dark gray stripes, but my goal for that day was to get enough of the yellow covered to go on the road without getting stopped.
That Sunday I had some friends over (fellow bus nuts) and we went for a nice 63 mile drive around town, ending up in the camper parking lot at the Thompson Speedway to watch the "Eve of Destruction" - car, school bus, and camper demolition derbies with lots of fun entertainment. The buses held up pretty well considering the hard hits, while the campers collapsed like cardboard boxes. A gentleman seated a few rows in front of us inspired an addition to Jeff Foxworthy's list: "If you can catch a T-shirt fired from a cannon without dropping your beer, ya might be a redneck."
The paint job:
All taped up. It's a lot easier to tape when you roll instead of spraying.
I always thought these buses looked ugly with the black grille. Apparently AmTran agreed with me, because a few years later they started painting the grille yellow (before they switched to a side radiator design). The black had a lot of rust, I spent some time on it with the wire brush. Some sections were so rusted the frame came completely off. I probably could have done more, and probably should have used a rust-converter primer instead of regular primer, but I can re-do it if the rust starts bleeding through.
Looks much better now.
And the rest of the paint job:
When I removed the warning lights, I discovered an issue in the back left corner. In addition to the body work I have to do on the lower rear corners (someone forgot to watch their tailswing a few times!), I have a nice big piece of banged-up metal covered by a thick chunk of bondo. It's already cracking (you can see a mechanic tried to silicone it at some point), and I'm sure it will get worse. I bought a small wire-feed welder that I'll be teaching myself to use soon, so my goal is to replace the entire bondo'd section (and hope that it's just the flat part, not around the curves).
Before the paint job, I washed the bus of course. I spent some time hosing off the undercarriage. It's amazingly rust-free for an 11-year-old CT bus, but there were a few crossmembers that trapped a lot of sand and salt (caked on over an inch thick in some spots). I got most of it off, and made a big mess.
Got a couple other projects done this week in the evenings. I installed a lock on the side emergency door, the same way many others here have done their rear doors. The problem is, AmTran side doors are too thin (the outside handle is recessed). I made some shims out of rubber from the first section of floor I pulled up (just a small section to see how well it was glued down). It seems to work well, but the inside part wobbles a little bit, so I may install something flush to the right side of it for support.
But the really exciting part: I have music!
I installed a radio and power plug on the dash. Don't worry, the loose wires are just the 2 speakers and the antenna. The speakers are just sitting on the flat part of the dash, held in place by their magnets. The glass-mount antenna is taped in the destination sign window. All will be permanently mounted overhead, with wires properly routed. The power wires for the radio and plug are properly fused (used the circuits from the warning lights and front bumper crossing gate). The side panel where the radio is mounted has a double-wall, with two sheets of metal about 3/4 inch apart with foam between them (probably to make it easy to install things like 2-way radios without worrying about drilling into the electrical panel). I used another scrap of floor rubber to make a grommet for the 1-1/4" hole I cut (same hole saw as the side door lock).
Sorry for the long post, I should probably update more than once every 2 weeks. One other question: The water heater from the donor trailer is cracked. The seller told me he forgot to drain it last winter. Is this something that can be repaired? Replace the tank but keep the burner? Or just forget it and get a new water heater?