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Old 11-19-2017, 03:53 PM   #1
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Ashtabula, Ohio
Posts: 133
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International
Engine: T444E 7.3L
Mullet's Thunder Bus Build

I been searching for a school bus to build for a few months and finally got one! I did not want a very large bus and I did not want a small bus to build, but something in between. I finally was able to locate one in southern Pennsylvania that a friend linked me since he knew I was looking. I called the number and was able to arrange to look at it.

I drove 160 miles down there and found this 1996 Thomas Internataional 3800 with the T444E and Allison automatic. The bus only had 177K on it and looked to be in good shape with less rust than expected. It had a new exhaust, batteries, alternator, rear brakes, front shocks, and seemed to be well maintained. The church I bought it from owned it for 10 years and the same driver took care of that bus and it was regularly serviced and State Inspected.

I took it for a test drive. The bus ran great, but this road was a long, uphill climb and the bus was a slow turd. It did well once up to speed, but slow getting there. I told the guy I would have the money in 2 weeks and he said he would park it by the church and hold it for me. I told him he did not have to do that in case I find something else.

During those 2 weeks I continued my search, but nothing out there could meet my criteria and most of the ones I looked at were really rotten and needing work.

After seeing what was available within a reasonable distance from home was pretty much too expensive, too big, or too crusty, I decided to buy the bus. I called the guy and he said he knew I would call back and was still saving it for me
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Old 11-19-2017, 04:04 PM   #2
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Ashtabula, Ohio
Posts: 133
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International
Engine: T444E 7.3L
The Purchase

I returned to the bus and bought it. I got the keys and it started right up. I left the bus warm up and we got fuel first since we only had about 1/4 tank. Took 30 gallons to fuel up. The bus was slow accelerating, but once it was up to speed, it drove great. It also ran better the warmer it got and accelerated better.

The transmission shifted smoothly, there were no vibrations or noises, and everything on the bus worked as it should. Top speed was 64 MPH and it seems to be governed there, but that is fine with me.

The bus made the trip home with no issues at all. It fits good in my driveway and I even drove the bus to work the next day and drove everyone for lunch. My next update will be when the actual transformation of the bus takes place. My goal is to build a 100% off-grid motor home with plug-in capabilities. I want the build to be simple and mostly 12V powered.
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Old 11-19-2017, 04:10 PM   #3
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Ashtabula, Ohio
Posts: 133
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International
Engine: T444E 7.3L
First Video

I did a walk around video of the bus today. Here is a funny story. One of my parts vendors at work heard I bought a bus with a 7.3L and Friday he gave me a brand new starter for a 7.3L Powerstroke for free. He said it was in the store for 4 months, has no idea who it belongs to, and there is no paperwork on it.

Today I uploaded this video and listen to what happens when I try to start it.......

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Old 11-19-2017, 05:11 PM   #4
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Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Tempe, AZ
Posts: 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mullet View Post
I did a walk around video of the bus today. Here is a funny story. One of my parts vendors at work heard I bought a bus with a 7.3L and Friday he gave me a brand new starter for a 7.3L Powerstroke for free. He said it was in the store for 4 months, has no idea who it belongs to, and there is no paperwork on it.

Today I uploaded this video and listen to what happens when I try to start it.......

Congrats! Nice size bus, looking for a something similar myself. Looking forward to watching it come together!

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Old 11-20-2017, 03:39 PM   #5
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Ashtabula, Ohio
Posts: 133
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International
Engine: T444E 7.3L
Went to the DMV today and got the title transferred into my name still titled as a Bus at the title dept. At the license branch next door the lady told me if I have no issues parking and working on my bus at home with no plates on it, then after you meet the Ohio requirements for an RV conversion, re-title the bus as a motorhome and then get plates. Otherwise I am unable to plate it as a bus unless I pay over $100 for an Ohio State Highway Patrol inspection and then need to pay the expensive passenger bus registration fees.

I renewed the registration on my Geo Metro and brought the bus home unregistered for now. This gives me the motivation to get started on the conversion sooner!
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Old 11-20-2017, 03:47 PM   #6
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 7,950
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International S3800
Engine: DT360
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
interesting as they did no inspections on either of my busses. other than to verify the VIN...
-Christopher
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Old 11-20-2017, 04:08 PM   #7
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Ashtabula, Ohio
Posts: 133
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International
Engine: T444E 7.3L
They had to verify the VIN at the license branch. I did not want to lie to the title branch and tell them the required conversion was done since the license and title branch are in the same building and the ladies all know each other. I will just wait until I can do it legally.
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Old 11-20-2017, 08:45 PM   #8
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Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: pa
Posts: 520
Year: 1998
Coachwork: 1 corbeil 2 Thomas
Chassis: 1 ford e350 2 mercedes
Engine: 7.3 powerstroke MBE906
what kind of geo metro do you have? Are you on the geo forum. We have three geo's converted to electric. They were converted by a company Solectria. One of them is a parts car.

later J
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Old 11-20-2017, 10:31 PM   #9
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Ashtabula, Ohio
Posts: 133
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International
Engine: T444E 7.3L
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeblack5 View Post
what kind of geo metro do you have? Are you on the geo forum.

I have 3 Geo Metro cars and I am the Owner/Administrator of Geo Metro Forum

Here is a video from today..........

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Old 11-20-2017, 10:55 PM   #10
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Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: pa
Posts: 520
Year: 1998
Coachwork: 1 corbeil 2 Thomas
Chassis: 1 ford e350 2 mercedes
Engine: 7.3 powerstroke MBE906
How cool is that. It is a small world.
Later j
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