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Old 07-13-2018, 11:47 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: May 2018
Location: Seven Springs, NC
Posts: 15
Year: 2007
Engine: CAT C7202
Turning lemon into lemonade!

Hello,

I am new here and my name is Ken. I was born deaf and fluent in American Sign Language. I'm 43, never married, and no kid. In 2016-2018, I spent good amount of time traveling on motorcycle from NC to Prudhoe Bay AK to Ushuaia. For you that don't know, Prudhoe Bay AK (aka Deadhorse) is northernmost city by road in USA and Ushuaia is southernmost city in the world at the bottom tip of South America. Photo or it never happened so see pics below.





My motorcycle is currently in Uruguay in some house owned by American guy in Seattle, and I haven't really decide what to do with it. It's for sale but I'm not really motivated on selling it. I've been back to USA since April 13. Shortly after April 13, my friend and I stopped by to look at used truck and there was a decent Bluebird bus on the lot. It was 2011 with 143k miles on it. But the price tag was whopping $17,000. I knew I could find something similar for cheaper so I kept looking.

Few months and few unsuccessful bids on few buses, I finally scored on the bus that no one really wanted. The listing originally said 65 passengers with wheelchair lifter so I bid on it first. But after few inquiries and someone asked the seller a question he didn't believe the bus had correct information. The seller updated the info to 22 passengers and NO Air Conditioner. It is a 2005 Thomas with CAT C7207 engine and AD2500 tranny with 144K miles on it. Too late to retract my bid and I had hope someone would outbid me because I suddenly had eye on a bus with 77 passenger for $2,500. Well, nobody bid on the bus so I was the winner for $1,500. I had no choice but to turn a lemon into lemonade!

The bus is located in Cincinnati OH but I have a good friend living in Georgetown, OH and he works 15 minutes from where the bus is so I worked out a deal with him. I flew out of RDU airport to Cincinnati and he picked me up. I haven't seen him since I stayed at his house in 2016 when I was on my way to Alaska so we caught up. We became a friend in 1998 when he had 30th Anniversary Camaro Z28 and I had 30th Anniversary Camaro SS, and kept friendship through years. He still has his Z28, but I don't have my SS. He promised me in 2016 that the next time I come to Cincinnati we would go for a riding in his Z28 so he fulfilled his promise and down the memory lane for first time since I sold my SS in 2002.

Next morning, we rode to the county bus garage and they had title ready. We head out to BMW to get temp tag and they didn't really care to give me the tag but for $18 and changes they gladly obliged. All the process took less than 1 hour and I was already on my way to NC.

Pic taken when I filled up the tank after I rolled out of bus garage in NW Cincinnati.



I had 3 fuel/rest breaks on the way to home. Left at 9am and got home at 11:30pm. Maximum MPH was 65 and I was happy so I won't be bothering with the govern thing. I'll leave it alone. Unfortunately, ABS light was on and the brake is not working properly. It is hard to press the brake and if I slam it hard, the brake pulls bus to the left. Too much free play in steering wheel it's a bit terrifying to drive in the mountains of OH/KY/WVA/VA. Nonetheless, I got home ok.






Cruise Control buttons! But it doesn't work.. maybe line was disconnected or something. I'll figure it out somehow!


Despite being the only person that bid on the bus, it has brand-new tires I won't be needing new tires for few years.. it has some nice features on it.. and two fans with lo/hi speed was sufficient through hot weather. Ooh air ride!! And comfy seat! Wheelchair lifter has 700lbs rating.

The bad? ABS light is on on the dashboard and brake is not working properly. Too much free play in the steering wheel. No AC. Bus is so dirty. Overhead is 6' and I am 5'11" so I see roof raising in the conversion.

Why did I buy the bus??? During my motorcycle trip, I didn't spend enough time in far north of Canada, 10 days in AK, and barely enough time in west coast.. 1 month in Mexico but had to zoom 5 days through Central America to Panama and turn my motorcycle over to the shipper to put it in shipping container to be shipped to Cartagena, Colombia-Nov 2016. I spent good amount of 2017 in S America. I am not satisfied with North/Central America but my spine is getting real bad. I fractured lumbar 5 at work in 2013/2014 and my back has gotten real bad. Much worse after horrible roads in Bolivia late last year. I'm due to see specialist at Duke Medical on July 19th due to the complex of my spine. But the goal is to convert bus into RV and do more traveling. Mount the motorcycle in back of the bus when it is mobile so I can use bus as Command Center and ride motorcycle around places such as NP or etc. I'd like to spend few months in Alaska, visit few more places in Canada and see more of west coast (USA) and explore Mexico/Central America. Bus should be almost self-sustaining if possible.
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Old 07-14-2018, 12:26 AM   #2
Skoolie
 
Join Date: May 2018
Location: topeka kansas
Posts: 161
Year: 1954
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howdy howdy

You know, the first thing that crossed my mind when I looked at the picture of your bus..... "That ought to get into and out of some tight spots" and then the second thing, " That is the first time I looked at a bus and thought 'I wonder if you could put helper air bags on it and lift it up three or four inches for rough roads' " Then bring the ride height back down for improved surfaces.

Have fun. see ya round some day.

william
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Old 07-14-2018, 12:32 AM   #3
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: May 2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wkheathjr View Post
.... Unfortunately, ABS light was on and the brake is not working properly. It is hard to press the brake and if I slam it hard, the brake pulls bus to the left. Too much free play in steering wheel it's a bit terrifying to drive in the mountains of OH/KY/WVA/VA. Nonetheless, I got home ok.

Cruise Control buttons! But it doesn't work.. maybe line was disconnected or something. I'll figure it out somehow!

The bad? ABS light is on on the dashboard and brake is not working properly. Too much free play in the steering wheel. No AC. Bus is so dirty. Overhead is 6' and I am 5'11" so I see roof raising in the conversion.

ABS light may just be a sensor. As for the brake pedal itself, I had an old cabover Pete that did the same thing. Spend some time disassembling it, cleaning everything, give the moving places some lube. As for the pulling to the left, you'll need to check the brakes themselves. You may have one not doing its job - if it's worn out, the other may not be far behind and the last thing you want is that brake to "cam over" (this happens when brakes are worn to the limit, and once it happens *YOU HAVE NO BRAKES*). If the brakes still have some thickness to them (and keep in mind, 1/4" thickness is *WORN OUT*!), then check for grease/oil on the shoes and drum.


Play in the wheel could either be the steering box, linkages, or "kingpin bushings", or wheel bearings (unlikely, but still check). Worn kingpin bushings can be checked by jacking up a tire and checking for in/out movement of the tire (have someone check for movement of the pivoting assembly in relation to the axle). The kingpins are basically the hinge points for the steering and the bushings do wear out (especially if not greased regularly.)


As for the lack of A/C - retrofit one from a boneyard. That's what I plan to do.
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Old 07-14-2018, 06:20 AM   #4
Bus Nut
 
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Howdy and welcome Ken!!

That is an awesome motorcycle trip!! WELL DONE!!!

Your bus looks like a good project. I like your attitude! Love your plans!
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Old 07-14-2018, 07:49 AM   #5
Bus Crazy
 
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Location: St Petersburg, FL
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Welcome! That F650 might just fit through the wheelchair lift door!

My brakes felt really bad on my Bluebird when I first got it. I guess some things were just sticky because the more I used it the better they got. My brake pedal had 0 travel and it felt like you were just pushing harder on the ground. Now it has several inches of progressive actuation and I'm no longer terrified to see a red light!

BTW - I slipped a fes discs many years ago and was nearly wheelchair bound. My doctor recommended surgery, but everyone I knew who had back surgery regretted it.I went to one of those "non surgical" spine places and their method was basically to stretch you out and do some electric shocks. Turns out an inversion table was just as effective for me, and that's kept me upright and functional for 15 years. My limits are a bit lower than they were (to be fair though I hurt my back in my 20s so that's gonna be the case now anyway) but unless I'm moving bags of concrete I'm good!
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Old 07-14-2018, 07:50 AM   #6
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Taylor Lake Village, TX
Posts: 118
Year: 1994
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Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DT408 6.7L L6
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As for the lack of A/C. I have 2 A/C units in my bus, I know one of them is disconnected and missing hoses, but I plan on removing one of them anyways. Once I get to that stage where it is removed, I'll post it on here. I'm sure there will also be others that do the same. It may need a few pieces/parts to get it running, but it shouldn't be anything a competent A/C technician can't diagnose and correct.

Or if you're really in a rush to collect parts, you're welcome to come to Houston and pull it out yourself.
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Old 07-14-2018, 10:32 AM   #7
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Location: Dawsonville, Ga.
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You had one up on other deaf babies that you were born fluent in sign language. I would address the worn steering parts immediately, you are correct in how dangerous that can be, you're turning into the next turn and waiting for the steering to catch up is scary.
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Old 07-14-2018, 10:50 AM   #8
Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
You had one up on other deaf babies that you were born fluent in sign language.

can't tell if serious or trying to be funny?
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Old 07-14-2018, 11:09 AM   #9
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Location: Ashtabula, Ohio
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Year: 1996
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Welcome! Great intro!
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Old 07-14-2018, 11:17 AM   #10
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Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Huntington beach
Posts: 360
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: T/C 2000 28 foot Handy Bus
Engine: Cummins 5.9 Mechanical
Rated Cap: 2
Hi Ken,

What an adventure !
Good luck on your conversion. I am converting a Bluebird handicap bus about the same size, 28 feet. Good luck with chasing down the gremlins in your ABS and the steering.What kind of work do you do? Seems like you are plenty self sufficient!

Joe
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