Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 10-28-2019, 05:01 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Truthseeker4449's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 52
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: HDX
Engine: CAT 3126
The Bromobile Cruiser

I am now the proud owner of 2001 Thomas HDX! Just got home from the DMV with plates, they allowed it to be registered as a private bus for the time being. The bus itself is still at the salvage yard getting a state inspection, but I should get it back up here by Sunday. Hopefully with all the belts still on it and the radiator fan intact M&M did say that if they had a used fan and air compressor on hand they would give us those when we pick the bus up.

As sort of a last minute change in goals, we now expect to not only use this for leisure, but also as a support vehicle and participant in Lemons Rally. It'll serve as a base of operations for a '66 Thunderbird and a '95 Neon, plus whatever else the hell we adopt as a project while trying its best to keep up with the Rally. This shouldn't change our basic plan for conversion, aside from addition of toolboxes, but aesthetically things might get a little weird.

As of right now, our working design is 6 bunk beds, 4 seats in the front of the bus, a big booth on the right side behind those seats, cooking and entertainment on the left facing the booth, a toilet and a shower.

Fun stuff includes electronic destination boards, and a train horn.
Truthseeker4449 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-29-2019, 04:09 AM   #2
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 1,164
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas Built Bus
Chassis: Freightliner FS65
Engine: Caterpillar 3126E Diesel
Rated Cap: 71 Passenger- 30,000 lbs.
Congratulations! I bet M&M is glad they were patient with y'all.


The train horn sounds FUN !!!
Native is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-29-2019, 08:55 AM   #3
Almost There
 
Meathead's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: New Orleans
Posts: 70
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas
Engine: 3126b 210hp
Rated Cap: 66
Those are good busses. I have one, and I have been in touch with others who bought those busses.
Probably from Loudoun County. If you look on their website the county has 800 busses, and they drive 7.5 million miles per year. It boggles my mind the size of the operation needed just to get kids to school.

Dave
__________________
Dave

“Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.” -Robert Hunter
Meathead is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-29-2019, 10:06 AM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Truthseeker4449's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 52
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: HDX
Engine: CAT 3126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meathead View Post
Those are good busses. I have one, and I have been in touch with others who bought those busses.
Probably from Loudoun County. If you look on their website the county has 800 busses, and they drive 7.5 million miles per year. It boggles my mind the size of the operation needed just to get kids to school.

Dave
Yes it is from Loudoun County, #422. And I'm pretty sure they have way more than 800 buses now with the way they have to keep opening schools due to an explosion in population. Latest buses I've seen are numbered over 2000 and they still have buses in the fleet approaching 20 years old.

One thing of their operation that kinda boggles my mind is that all of their HDXs are now parked with the PF wheels chocked. Even the new ones. Makes me wonder if there's a weakness in the parking brake.
Truthseeker4449 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-29-2019, 12:45 PM   #5
Bus Geek
 
o1marc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Dawsonville, Ga.
Posts: 8,265
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Genesis
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466/3060
Rated Cap: 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Truthseeker4449 View Post

One thing of their operation that kinda boggles my mind is that all of their HDXs are now parked with the PF wheels chocked. Even the new ones. Makes me wonder if there's a weakness in the parking brake.
May be a safety/insurance regulation.
o1marc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-29-2019, 12:56 PM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Truthseeker4449's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 52
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: HDX
Engine: CAT 3126
Quote:
Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
May be a safety/insurance regulation.
If it was every single bus sure, but it's specifically only the HDXs. The Internationals (CE, RE, and Amtran models), Thomas C2s, and Blue Bird Visions are not chocked. The street I plan to leave the bus on is an incline so I'll follow suit for my peace of mind.
Truthseeker4449 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-05-2019, 11:48 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
Truthseeker4449's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 52
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: HDX
Engine: CAT 3126
Got the bus "home" today. One of the most enjoyable days I've had in a while, it's hard not to smile while driving it. Unfortunately we discovered during a stop for good ice cream that we had already started loosing chunks of the fan blades. By the time we got to my work it was rather clear the fan shroud was touching the fan.

Now M&M had given us a used fan with the bus so I set about trying to install it and after 2 hours of dismantling rusty tiny bolts and undoing a bunch of annoying plating and shrouding I was able to see the front of the fan hub and discover we had the wrong fan. The center hole and bolt pattern is completely different.

That should be a fun trip to the dealer, I can't imagine this thing will be very cheap or in stock. I paid $65 for a fan belt the other day, more than what i spent at CAT for some preventive maintenance parts, namely water pump belt and reseal kit for the oil cooler. M&M appears unwilling to help further as they think we had been snooping around at dark. Yeah sure we drove 2 hours down just to spy on the neighboring properties after we already bought the bus the previous day. The joys of still being very young and being followed by people even younger. Which sucks because I wanted to go back and buy AC parts later. Maybe in 6 months.

Anywho I put enough of the shrouding back on so we could keep driving the bus and we did some errands and car shuffling with the bus. All the neighbors of my friends left their jaws on the ground as we drove by. A lot of people stared in complete disbelief. One guy's coworkers starting roaring with laughter after we dropped him off at work. At one point I had to back down a residential street because I knew I didn't have enough room to turn around at the end. At 10 pm. The backup alarm works pretty good. We may have become infamous basically overnight.

We also discovered the fuel gauge isn't reading accurately, with fuel spilling out of the filler neck it only indicates about 80% full. From what we can tell though we're not getting very good fuel economy tho, it would appear to be about 4 mpg. Not 100% sure tho because I didn't otherwise verify the tank was full before deliberately overfilling it or reset our trip meter. Only got about 50 suburban miles on the current tank.
Truthseeker4449 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-06-2019, 01:06 AM   #8
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 1,164
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas Built Bus
Chassis: Freightliner FS65
Engine: Caterpillar 3126E Diesel
Rated Cap: 71 Passenger- 30,000 lbs.
Yeah, those backup alarms are quite loud, especially at 10pm! When we come in late at night, I have to back up several times to get it in the driveway. I *mostly* use neutral and gravity to do the backing.
Native is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-09-2019, 03:21 AM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Truthseeker4449's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 52
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: HDX
Engine: CAT 3126
Went to the dealer and so far am immensely pleased with Sonny Merryman of Manassas. For being someone definitely outside the norm of what they would usually see, the parts lady has been just incredibly friendly and resourceful in tracking down parts and exploring options.

Their quote on the fan is about $500, way better than what I was hoping. They also offered me several options on receiving it including basically next day delivery to my home. They're also helping me track down locking latches for engine compartment. I've already had one fall out, the rear door paddle is breaking, so might as well replace all of them with locking ones.


The fan shroud sure did a number on this fan... I have since removed and discarded the guard, I have no need to mess with it. Just don't stick your fingers in.

Also, my company has decided to scrap a bus with a blown Maxxforce 9 and they're allowing me to pull the complete AC system out of it, a row of seats, and basically anything else I want. I have to move quick though, they want the bus gone ASAP at most no more than 2 weeks dependent on when the title arrives. So Sunday we'll be scrambling to yank the rear seats out of our bus so we have room to store the incoming parts I'm pulling out of the scrap bus.
Truthseeker4449 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-09-2019, 04:28 AM   #10
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Georgia
Posts: 1,653
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: IH
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Truthseeker4449 View Post
Also, my company has decided to scrap a bus with a blown Maxxforce 9 and they're allowing me to pull the complete AC system out of it, a row of seats, and basically anything else I want. I have to move quick though, they want the bus gone ASAP at most no more than 2 weeks dependent on when the title arrives. So Sunday we'll be scrambling to yank the rear seats out of our bus so we have room to store the incoming parts I'm pulling out of the scrap bus.

What's the chance it had a front A/C system? Or salvaging the rear gears? (I have an N175 axle in mine, N190 shows to interchange, looking for gears 4.10 or numerically lower).
Brad_SwiftFur is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-09-2019, 10:59 AM   #11
Mini-Skoolie
 
Truthseeker4449's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 52
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: HDX
Engine: CAT 3126
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
What's the chance it had a front A/C system? Or salvaging the rear gears? (I have an N175 axle in mine, N190 shows to interchange, looking for gears 4.10 or numerically lower).
Yes it has cab AC, all of our vehicles do as nearly all of the buses are cutaways (Charter/Transit not School Bus). This particular one is a 2011 International 3200 with a Krystal body iirc. Evaporator or anything else in the dash is probably a no but I could snag a condenser, compressor, or some lines.

I hadn't considered yanking the gears out of it, but my bosses probably wouldn't allow that as they still have to get it towed to a salvage yard. Also a fair bit more trouble than what I'm willing to do right now, not so easy to store it in the bus due to its weight until I would be ready to install it plus the costs of acquiring the tools to wrangle it.
Truthseeker4449 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-09-2019, 11:30 AM   #12
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 12,128
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
the 3rd member of the differential can be pulled and still allow the bus to roll as the wheel bearings are not dependent on the diff being there..
-Christopher
cadillackid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-09-2019, 12:41 PM   #13
Mini-Skoolie
 
Truthseeker4449's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 52
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: HDX
Engine: CAT 3126
Yes, but then the gear oil which also lubes the wheel bearings won't be there anymore. Last I heard they're having to pay almost $1,000 in towing fees just to get it to a yard that'll take junk buses. Because of the large overhang of our buses our towing company can't (or very much hates) rear towing them. It's rare they take any of our buses by the rear. This particular bus was brought over from another shop by the front after they found the block was cracked.

Honestly I feel it's more hassle than it's worth pulling a third member at this stage. I'd rather do engine and trans modifications first before changing the rear axle ratio.
Truthseeker4449 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-11-2019, 06:25 PM   #14
Mini-Skoolie
 
Truthseeker4449's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 52
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: HDX
Engine: CAT 3126
Took the bus to go show it off to friends yesterday. So much joy, and disbelief, all around. The reactions from everyone are priceless.




I've burned almost 46 gallons of fuel in the last week. Got 6.3 mpg on that tank, but I've also been really heavy on the throttle. Started being more gentle, putting the trans in neutral at stoplights, and using economy mode on the transmission, hopefully it makes a sizable difference. For those wondering, the engine is turning at about 2200 rpms at 55 mph.

Lost the left side engine door latch at some point, so I picked up two more locking ones ($15 each) from Sonny Merryman along with my new fan ($450). Also found someone else's bus while I was there, just gorgeous. It's becoming rather apparent that these folks have no issues accommodating skoolies, in fact the parts lady was happily telling me that they just had someone contact them today asking for a used bus to convert.




Then we made an attempt to start removing seats to get space for the incoming bus parts and seats. Unfortunately we found the undercoating is so thick that it's difficult to hold onto the nuts. We only succeeded in removing one out of four bolts for a single seat and loosing another before it became stuck, and my cutoff tool proved unable to get close enough to do much good. I picked up a cordless angle grinder and a good quality disc so hopefully the next go around goes much better.

I would go grinding tonight but I still have a bus I need to finish stripping. I got the front evaporator and heater out in the early hours this morning. I still need to salvage the rear unit and the condensers. Ugh the condensers are going to be fun, this bus was apparently on a construction shuttle contract for a while before it broke down so everything is covered in coating of red dust.
Truthseeker4449 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-13-2019, 12:08 PM   #15
Mini-Skoolie
 
Truthseeker4449's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 52
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: HDX
Engine: CAT 3126

After several hours of very dusty hard work in the middle of the night I have my AC. Not shown is the front Evaporator/Heater core that I already removed. I spend half an hour washing dirt out of the condensers and they still aren't clean. But they are clean enough to reveal this....



Yeah this one is shot. After washing the dirt off it turns out someone wrote "Bad" on the back of the condenser. Surprised it went most of the summer with this sort of damage. Thankfully this condenser was plumbed into the much smaller rear unit despite being the same size as the front condenser aside from only having one fan.

The compressor also feels a little crunchy and the oil in the rear circuit is a brown color instead of green. Probably not the greatest grab in history but it was free and I can probably still make something of this. Perhaps I'll take the front evaporator with heater and the good condenser to make one engine driven unit with a new smaller compressor. Then maybe get a RV rooftop unit for the rear. Do they make really low profile units or something where most of it is inside the bus?

Also got permission to yank the entertainment system so now I have three head units that somehow function as one, 4 TV screens, 6 speakers, and the wiring to go with it.


And these are the new seats, pulled out 4 doubles. More comfortable, they recline, and most importantly they have seat belts. Because after the driver slams on the brakes a couple times for, er braking performance evaluations, you kinda want those.
Truthseeker4449 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-13-2019, 05:41 PM   #16
New Member
 
OliveBlueBird's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Location: WI
Posts: 1
Year: 2003
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TC 6000
Engine: Cummins 24V Turbo
Rated Cap: 48
Congratulations.
OliveBlueBird is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-13-2019, 08:32 PM   #17
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Virginia
Posts: 532
Quote:
Originally Posted by Truthseeker4449 View Post
I am now the proud owner of 2001 Thomas HDX! Just got home from the DMV with plates, they allowed it to be registered as a private bus for the time being. The bus itself is still at the salvage yard getting a state inspection, but I should get it back up here by Sunday. Hopefully with all the belts still on it and the radiator fan intact M&M did say that if they had a used fan and air compressor on hand they would give us those when we pick the bus up.

As sort of a last minute change in goals, we now expect to not only use this for leisure, but also as a support vehicle and participant in Lemons Rally. It'll serve as a base of operations for a '66 Thunderbird and a '95 Neon, plus whatever else the hell we adopt as a project while trying its best to keep up with the Rally. This shouldn't change our basic plan for conversion, aside from addition of toolboxes, but aesthetically things might get a little weird.

As of right now, our working design is 6 bunk beds, 4 seats in the front of the bus, a big booth on the right side behind those seats, cooking and entertainment on the left facing the booth, a toilet and a shower.

Fun stuff includes electronic destination boards, and a train horn.
Who did you find that would insure the bus in VA and what was the cost? Lack of finding verified reliable insurance is one thing that has kept me from pulling the trigger on buying a bus from the local school districts in Va.
dgorila1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-14-2019, 01:21 AM   #18
Mini-Skoolie
 
Truthseeker4449's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 52
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: HDX
Engine: CAT 3126
Quote:
Originally Posted by dgorila1 View Post
Who did you find that would insure the bus in VA and what was the cost? Lack of finding verified reliable insurance is one thing that has kept me from pulling the trigger on buying a bus from the local school districts in Va.
Unfortunately the bus is uninsured at this time. My research had suggested that any initial insurance I would get would be dropped upon beginning the conversion (specifically removing seats), so I resigned myself just paying the uninsured fee until I could finish the conversion. Definitely need insurance for Lemons tho.

That said I did notice that sutphinins is an insurance agent from Virginia with their contact info in their signature. Their company claims to insure anything so I need to give them a call when I'm not so busy.
Truthseeker4449 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-14-2019, 02:47 AM   #19
New Member
 
Join Date: May 2018
Posts: 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Truthseeker4449 View Post
Then maybe get a RV rooftop unit for the rear. Do they make really low profile units or something where most of it is inside the bus?
Do a search for RV basement ACs. They are more expensive than roof ACs, but most are bigger (greater output) and are heaters (heat pumps) too.

Not that many motor homes used them, but when big headroom was a thing 20 years ago, they needed a way to raise the roof without raising the ACs (and constantly scraping them off). This let them raise the roof 10-12” inside and you could use shore power for heat in a campground instead of propane (important for extended camping).
Davard is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-14-2019, 08:16 AM   #20
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Virginia
Posts: 532
Quote:
Originally Posted by Truthseeker4449 View Post
Unfortunately the bus is uninsured at this time. My research had suggested that any initial insurance I would get would be dropped upon beginning the conversion (specifically removing seats), so I resigned myself just paying the uninsured fee until I could finish the conversion. Definitely need insurance for Lemons tho.

That said I did notice that sutphinins is an insurance agent from Virginia with their contact info in their signature. Their company claims to insure anything so I need to give them a call when I'm not so busy.
Yeah, the Virginia uninsured motorist fee was a route of last resort, but it would be nice the find a place that will insure school buses in Va with no hassles and for a decent price. The insurance agencies are strict depending on the state, and it appears we live in one of those states where they don't want to insure a school bus for private use.
dgorila1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:30 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
×