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Old 04-27-2008, 08:48 PM   #21
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Re: S-caper...Part 2

I can not (or refuse to) believe how much time goes flying by!

Illusion is still sitting right outside my window and I walk past several times a day. It still starts almost instantaneously and still drives like a champ. However, I haven't done any work for about a year now. In spite of all the talking my wife and I have done I don't think we really knew what we wanted. Or we did at the time but circumstances and situations change and what you thought you knew goes right out the damn window.

So...Illusion is for sale (and I'll post it over in the For Sale section). But! We're not out of the bus game. I'm going to hunt down one more; this will be our third bus and hopefully the third time is the charm!

In a bid for more room (amongst other imagined attributes) we sold S-caper, our conventional-nosed 1978 Bluebird 66-passenger bus with a DT466 and MT643 automatic (a bus I flew from Seattle to Denver to pick up and bring home in 2003). Turns out that probably wasn't a good thing because we've come full circle. Due to what we want to do with the next bus the Thomas diesel pusher we have now isn't going to work. What we're fixin' to do is create a school bus based toter. That is, we'll keep the front part of the bus back about 4 to 6 windows (depends on body style) intact and cut off the rear part of the bus so that we end up with a smaller "toterhome" to pull a rather large fifth wheel trailer. I don't need a flatbed setup with its length so we'll cut the frame off just behind the rear wheels and have about an 8' deck with a fifth wheel hitch installed there. We'll end up with about 120" of living quarters inside the bus for trips away from the fifth wheel.

Why? Becuase this is for retirement and no matter what I did to the floorplan of our bus I just could never work out all the space allocation issues. You can do it on a 40' (or 45') motohome with triple slide outs but I couldn't fit it all in the bus. We started looking at fifth wheel trailers and their prices and it made more sense to us to go that way. We can get a lightly used 40' fifth wheel with a garage in the back (for a Smart car, or Mini, or such) with triple slides for no more than it was going to take me to convert our Thomas the way I really wanted it. I also could never resolve the issue about towing a car or a boat behind the Thomas; I couldn't do both. Sure, I could move one first and then the other but it meant using our home (the bus) to do it. By using using a bus toterhome I can move the fifth wheel first, get Shelley and the dogs set up and she'd have the car that's in the fifth wheel garage, then go and get the boat with the bus toter home. When we want to make trips with the boat we can pull it with the bus toter home and still have a nice small camper on the road with a bed, toilet, shower, refer, sink, and cooker...all the comforts of home!

So, the thought is I get to do the bus conversion I've always longed to do but on a smaller scale without all the implications of having to make it a home. I also need a hauler robust enough to pull a 10,000 pound boat and a 20,000 pound fifth wheel (not at the same time!) so a pickup isn't going to cut it, or provide the creature comforts. I can get what I want without having to do the conversion; I just don't have the $125K to $150K (or more) for a new toterhome or the $50K to $60K they want for the used ones. And, I still want to do another conversion doggone it! As always...I want it my way.

I'm also going to use this to haul the boats my dealership gets out of Halifax, Nova Scotia to the Seattle and Nashville area and it may do some other hauling for others I know in the boat business.

If anyone sees a likely candidate please let me know. Here are the requirements:

- It must have a DT466; this is non-negotiable.
- It needs to be a full sized bus to get the length needed for the camper part and fifth wheel deck.
- It can be a front-engine transit style bus or a conventional long nose.
- I prefer an automatic but it can not be the AT545 (generally that leaves the MT643).
- It can be a manual which would probably get better mileage but I'm getting lazy and would prefer the auto.
- It must cruise at 65 mph; I'm not dealing with another 55 mph at wide-open-throttle bus. I have to be able to maintain 60 or so (comfortably) when covering the 4000 miles from Halifax to Seattle.
- It must have relatively low miles and be in ready-to-run condition so generally something from the 1990's though I'm not stuck on that.
- I'd rather it come from somwhere west of Chicago since I don't fancy a trip from New York or such just to bring back a bus (not to mention the cost of the trip!). I'd also rather avoid the rust belt areas. The I-5 corridor would be the easiest but anywhere is the west would work.

Anyway, any sighting reports would be most appreciated. Post it here or send me an email.

Cheers!
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Old 04-28-2008, 12:52 AM   #22
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Re: S-caper...Part 2

Hmm, you want S-caper back?
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Old 04-28-2008, 11:44 AM   #23
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Re: S-caper...Part 2

Les: I think I have some ideas you might want to think about. You really don't need a bus, you need something bigger, something that can haul a big load with ease and do it comfortably. A friend of mine just sold his converted toy hauler and I think you should look into one of those. His was a Freightliner with a 425HP cummins and a 9 or 10 speed with a 20 foot conversion on the back that was georgous. Air ride suspension, air conditioning, diesel generator, water, everything you would want on a long trip or to camp. It would do a 100 MPH pulling a 40 foot race car hauler and fuel mileage was pretty good considering it was built to haul 60,000# and was just idling along with his trailer. It was a single axle tractor with a 6 or 8 foot flatbed on the back with a fifth wheel ball for smaller goose neck trailers (not large commercial trailers). It also had a bumper hitch to haul regular trailers. Now you are thinking that you would need a CDL to use something like that but in Missouri if it has living quarters in it you can get it licensed as an RV and you don't need a CDL, anyone can drive it, insurance is cheap, tags are cheap, etc. I know a bus seems like the thing you want but if you are going to make money doing commercial hauling then you need to look commercial, not homemade. It makes it hard to ask a commercial price if you don't look the part. That brings up another thing, if you are getting paid to do commercial hauling you will need a CDL, do books, etc, no way around that unless they pay you under the table. I am just trying to give you another option to look at (like you haven't already look into it I'm sure). sportyrick
ps if you go to racingjunk.com, then towing, then toterhomes you can see plenty of examples and prices.
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Old 05-01-2008, 09:05 AM   #24
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Re: S-caper...Part 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by Demonknight
Hmm, you want S-caper back?
What? You aren't using it!?!
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Old 05-01-2008, 09:28 AM   #25
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Re: S-caper...Part 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by sportyrick
Les: I think I have some ideas you might want to think about. You really don't need a bus, you need something bigger, something that can haul a big load with ease and do it comfortably. A friend of mine just sold his converted toy hauler and I think you should look into one of those. His was a Freightliner with a 425HP cummins and a 9 or 10 speed with a 20 foot conversion on the back that was georgous. Air ride suspension, air conditioning, diesel generator, water, everything you would want on a long trip or to camp. It would do a 100 MPH pulling a 40 foot race car hauler and fuel mileage was pretty good considering it was built to haul 60,000# and was just idling along with his trailer. It was a single axle tractor with a 6 or 8 foot flatbed on the back with a fifth wheel ball for smaller goose neck trailers (not large commercial trailers). It also had a bumper hitch to haul regular trailers. Now you are thinking that you would need a CDL to use something like that but in Missouri if it has living quarters in it you can get it licensed as an RV and you don't need a CDL, anyone can drive it, insurance is cheap, tags are cheap, etc. I know a bus seems like the thing you want but if you are going to make money doing commercial hauling then you need to look commercial, not homemade. It makes it hard to ask a commercial price if you don't look the part. That brings up another thing, if you are getting paid to do commercial hauling you will need a CDL, do books, etc, no way around that unless they pay you under the table. I am just trying to give you another option to look at (like you haven't already look into it I'm sure). sportyrick
ps if you go to racingjunk.com, then towing, then toterhomes you can see plenty of examples and prices.
Hiya Rick,

You're spot on! I actually started looking at them first but I've yet to come across one that I could afford and looked like it had some life left in it. Then I went looking for a Class 8 semi tractor (which I used to drive professionally) and they too can be licensed as motohomes (at least here in WA) and not require a CDL and they're a lot less money than a toterhome. The living quarters are much smaller but would still be ok for what we want to do.

However, one of the things I want to do is a little hauling because I need to get our 25-foot boats from the factory in Halifax, Nova Scotia to Seattle and Nashville. If I'm doing that I might as well try and grab something that needs to go where I'm going; like getting another boat built here in WA to the Northeast while I'm at it. I have to have commercial insurance (I do through my boat dealership) if I'm hauling and that means in a semi having a CDL, etc; so that idea went down the drain. I'll not be doing commercial hauling as such; more along the lines of hauling other boats for the manufacturers I already know since I'd be running east with an empty boat trailer. If I stay under the 26,000 pound limit I can stay away from the high costs of being in the "trucking" business full time when I'm only making the run a few times a year and since I'm in the boat business and have commercial marine business insurance when I haul a boat I'm covered. I don't neet an MC number, DOT authority, cargo insurance, and such for that which seems awfully expensive if I'm not going to do a lot of general hauling (really Hot Shotting).

I believe I could make the bus look fine but in reality it really was the only way to get something close to what I needed since unless I do go full commercial I can't afford the toterhome route. Acutally, I'm looking at a 1-ton dually 4-door truck, it'll haul what I need to haul and give us the option of using a truck camper or pulling a fifth wheel as well as take care of the boats and it doesn't look like a commercial rig when we're just off for fun.

Good ideas though and thanks!
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Old 05-01-2008, 12:01 PM   #26
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Re: S-caper...Part 2

Les: there's one on there (racingjunk.com) that needs some finishing in the bathroom for $22,000. Not to bad looking either. sportyrick
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Old 05-01-2008, 10:18 PM   #27
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Re: S-caper...Part 2

Nope..shes doing the same as my first bus..sitting in storage costing me money *S* We, well I, decided to get rid of both and go with something smaller... I bought a 10 (they claim 12) foot row boat and by the time I'm done with that its going to be pretty heavy, and while I could tow it with the bus (and never know its there).. once there that leaves us only the bus to go fart about in... I love driving them, but not down to the local store for a loaf of bread. I make you one heck of a deal *S*
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Old 05-02-2008, 06:04 PM   #28
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Re: S-caper...Part 2

yeah, this is fiberglass ( a badly done job at that), and the wood parts of left wet, so its rotten..I plan on going back with the red oak that one can get from pallets.. I know that stuff is tough as hell, but its also HEAVY. I did draw up[ plans that included most of what you describe (nice to know It can be done) plus a nice little remote controlled winch.. once i got to thinking about the weight of the wood hanging down with nothing but a few stringers...well I just rather not test out how well that wood stays put And if its just me, the wife and the kid..not much room is needed...
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