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Old 12-30-2010, 06:46 PM   #1
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My new B700 Thomas

I've been working on a Bluebird Minibird for a while now, but I've come to the conclusion that it's just a bit too small for what I want to do. So about a week ago, I drove to Wisconsin from Idaho to pick up my new bus. It's a 1996 Ford B700 with a Thomas body. The trip out to Wisconsin in my Crown Vic wasn't bad, but the return trip wasn't so nice. Before I even got out of Wisconsin, the bus blew a brake line in a truck stop. We ended up staying overnight in the bus in our sleeping bags until the next morning when we could get it into a shop. Once in the shop, it only took a couple of hours to get it fixed.

Somewhere about Cheyenne WY, we ran into a gnarly snowstorm. For a few hundred miles there were trucks and cars off the road everywhere. Speed was under 40 mph. We finally got out of the snow driving just east of Ogden UT. Here's just a few of the accidents we saw on that stretch. Nasty...





Once we got to Ogden, the rest of the trip was easy. Here's a couple of pics of the bus with my Crown Vic right after loading up the dolly at a truck stop. It's a long bus rated at 72 passengers. Most of the buses I've seen like it are 66 passenger.



I've had the bus home for about a week now, and so far I've removed about half the seats, the big fisheye mirrors, the stop sign assembly on the side, and the bar that flips out on the front bumper. I've eliminated about half the wiring mess with unneeded switches and equipment. I've also installed my new JVC stereo system in the stock location, but it's not going to be there for long. It's in an incredibly stupid place down next to the side of the seat. The speakers are just temporarily installed too. Their location will change once I start working on the interior.




So that's it for now. More to come as stuff gets done.
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Old 12-30-2010, 07:07 PM   #2
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Re: My new B700 Thomas

Congrats on the new bus. I'll be that feels incredibly huge in there compared to the MicroBird! It looks like a similar first trip that I made with the Silver Snail from Ohio to Kansas! What a mess!

How did your bus do with the pass from Cheyenne to Laramie? I'm just curious. I was just out in Laramie last week and I can't bring myself to try my bus over the pass into Cheyenne. Mine isn't a turbo, and I'm pretty sure that's 90% of the problem. So wondering how it went for you with your 5.9L.

Good luck. I wish I could afford a short right now...I'd love to have one for moving around town...grr.

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Old 12-30-2010, 07:26 PM   #3
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Re: My new B700 Thomas

Good luck! It's going to be a ton of fun. Before you get too far along I might suggest you rethink getting rid of the convex mirrors up front. You won't miss them until you need them...which is just about all the time!
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Old 12-31-2010, 10:27 AM   #4
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Re: My new B700 Thomas

Quote:
Originally Posted by the_experience03
Good luck! It's going to be a ton of fun. Before you get too far along I might suggest you rethink getting rid of the convex mirrors up front. You won't miss them until you need them...which is just about all the time!
Agreed...I didn't have them on my B-700 (removed before I got it), and didn't realize how nice they were to have until I drove a truck that had them. Had I kept the B700, I would have put a set back on. All conventional MD/HD trucks should have them.

Quick check: with you sitting in the driver's seat, have someone stand in front of the bus and walk away from it until you see their feet. Get out and see how far away they are...you will be STUNNED at the size of that blind spot! It's something like 20-25' on my work truck, and that's a 2007 Freightliner M2, which has a substantial slope to the hood...it will be considerably more with the Ford's higher, flatter hood.
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Old 12-31-2010, 11:15 AM   #5
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Re: My new B700 Thomas

Great pics of the road trip and a cautionary tale about the road - the bus is always a handfull - long trips on the road always an adventure.
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Old 12-31-2010, 11:23 AM   #6
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Re: My new B700 Thomas

Grats on the new bus and OMG are you nuts!? lol I want my bus but I'm too dang wimpy to go driving the northern states in the mid of winter Let me guess, you did Black River truck stop? You must have driven right past my house
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Old 01-05-2011, 07:24 AM   #7
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Re: My new B700 Thomas

Quote:
Originally Posted by NewSkewlHauler
Congrats on the new bus. I'll be that feels incredibly huge in there compared to the MicroBird!

How did your bus do with the pass from Cheyenne to Laramie?
Mine was a Minibird so not quite as small as a Micro, but indeed, the new bus feels quite big! I've driven medium duty trucks a bit, but this thing is the longest by far at nearly 40 feet long.

There were a couple of passes that I slowed down to about 35 or 40 to climb, but I made it up them ok. I'm sure the turbo deserves some thanks there!

Quote:
Originally Posted by the_experience03
Before you get too far along I might suggest you rethink getting rid of the convex mirrors up front. You won't miss them until you need them...which is just about all the time!
Hmm... I'm going to try it without them, but maybe I'll keep them around just in case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seeria
Grats on the new bus and OMG are you nuts!? Let me guess, you did Black River truck stop? You must have driven right past my house
People have questioned my sanity more than once. My entire family thinks I'm a little crazy wanting to live and travel around in a bus and the lengths that I'll go to getting what I'm looking for. Personally, I think they're crazy for wanting to be tied down to living in one spot and having to rent a truck to move 3 tons of crap half way across the country every year or two. But I guess to each his own.

The name of that truck stop sounds vaguely familiar. If I would have known you were there, I might have been beating on your door looking for a room!

Thanks for the kind words everyone! I didn't get very far on the smaller bus before I realized it was too small, but I'm looking forward to building this one.
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Old 01-05-2011, 10:10 AM   #8
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Re: My new B700 Thomas

No room to sleep here but a night of parking would have workd! We're off hwy 54 past Wisconsin Rapids, route leads right to BR truck stop which is pretty much the only central one that has full service everything for truckers.

We want more pics!
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Old 01-16-2011, 04:23 PM   #9
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Re: My new B700 Thomas

The weather has been cold and nasty here, so I haven't gotten much done lately. It's not fun to be under the bus in the cold and wind holding a wrench on seats bolt nuts! The last couple of days it has warmed up a bit though, so I've finished getting all the seats unbolted. Now I just have to get them hauled off. A few friends and family members have said they want some seats, and I'm happy to let them have them, but I just wish they would get over here and get them so I can get them out of the bus! I can't do much when the back half of the bus is piled high with seats. I guess if they don't come get them by tomorrow night, they're getting hauled off.



So far, I've decided to keep only 2 seats so someone can ride with me for now, and they might be used for temporary dinette seating until the real thing gets built.



Last night, I got the channel removed that protects the hoses that run to the rear heaters. I still have to remove the heaters and the hoses, but at least I can get to them now. I also removed the big duct that sends heat back to the first few seats.



I can't believe the heating system on this bus. There are 4 separate heaters in this bus that control 6 different components of the heating system. Last night I was studying the heater that sits right by the entrance door, and I think I will be removing it. Right now, it controls the defrost function (among other functions) but I think that I can re-route air from the driver's side heater for the defrost. That will open up room in the door area for a passenger seat, since I plan on moving the entrance to the bus back in front of the rear tire.

This is the mid-rear heater. It's a single fan unit while the far-rear heater is a double fan. Once progress is to the point of framing, I plan on installing the smaller heater in the bedroom area and the larger heater under the dinette or kitchen cabinet to heat the living/kitchen area. I plan on having propane or possibly wood heat when all is said and done, but it's nice to be able to warm the bus from the engine when it's running. No sense in letting those BTUs go to waste.



That's it for this update. I'll probably get more done tonight. Hopefully...
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Old 01-16-2011, 05:21 PM   #10
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Re: My new B700 Thomas

On our bus, the "front heater by the door provides all the heat for the driver and defrosters. When I pulled the cover off the heater (and removed the hoses for replacement) All I found was 1 "radiator" and a couple of squirrel cage type blowers. We are keeping the front heater (and the rear). The front heater will be our OTR heater.
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