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
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.