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Old 12-13-2004, 06:12 PM   #1
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Driving the new bus home -- suggestions?

Hello-

Just purchased my bus for conversion, and will be driving it home (1700 miles) from Wisconsin to Arizona starting next weekend.

Without getting into the sanity of such a decision ( )-- are there any tips for the drive? This is my first bus & first diesel machine, but I am familiar with automotive basics regarding engines, electrics, etc. In addition to a tire pressure gauge, voltage test light...any recommended tools? How cold is "cold enough" to plug in the block heater, generally speaking?

It's a 1993 Genesis/International, DT360 engine.

Thanks in advance -- looking forward to hearing from you & sharing the conversion journey.

Sean
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Old 12-13-2004, 06:53 PM   #2
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Are you going to be traveling on I-80 going through Des Moines, a bunch of us could get together and grab a bite to eat/show and tell or something.
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Old 12-13-2004, 07:03 PM   #3
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Hi Steve-

Unfortunately, I'll be going south from the Milwaukee area: I-39 to I-55 to (maybe I-44) to I-40. I only have a few days to get the driving done, and have to take the most direct route.

That's an excellent offer though --- will take a raincheck for now. It would be good to see some conversions in person, meet the people who did the work/busted their knuckles/scratched their heads [repeat] to make it all happen.

Thanks
Sean
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Old 12-13-2004, 09:11 PM   #4
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among other things, i would bring:

tire plug kit

a gallon of 15w40 rotella T oil. Or mobil delvac

a gallon of anti-freeze

a winter coat and hat

a blanket or piece of foam to fill the small gap at the bottom of dorr to help keep heat in.

duct tape

good sam club roadside assitance....only $100.00 per year, they'll tow your vehicle unlimited mileage to the nearest appropriate facility to reapair it (or someplace closer) free of charge

a 5 gallon can of diesel fuel.

jumper cables

learn how to prime the fuel system

check the oil, trans fluid ect before leaving, and monitor them on the way home when you stop for fuel. If you do this on your way home, you'll have a good idea about what if anything is leaking, burning ect.

I don't have much info on the dt series engine. The ford 6.6 liter will start at any temp until about 10 degrees or so without being plugged in. IT's much happier if it gets plugged in with anything in the 30's or less.

IF you're worried bout her starting in the cold weather.....why not just leave her running and sleep in her during the couple nites it takes to get home? I would not recommend getting in the habbit of leaving your vehicle run all the time, but doing it just a couple nites in a row to get her home shouldn't hurt anything. Alll the big trucks at the truck stopps run 24 hours a day.
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Old 12-14-2004, 01:28 AM   #5
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Wow, thank you for that bevy of info!

Sean
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Old 12-14-2004, 12:45 PM   #6
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To add to the advice a little, make sure whoever is selling it to you goes over some "need to know" stuff about the bus. Some diesels have preheaters for the engines so look into that and how it works, if it has one. These work great if you can't plug the bus in. Up here in the frozen tundra it's a good idea to know how to preheat the engine any way possible.

The weather up here is very unpredictable this time of year so check to see what the temps are going to be and dress accordingly. Bring blankets and cold weather gear in case you break down in the middle of nowhere and have to camp out in the cold bus until help arrives. We had 9 degrees this morning and if you are from the south you can't imagine what that feels like on your hands until you experience it. It gets much colder, but 10 degrees or colder has a very memorable snap to the air. You have several cold states to travel through so I thought this was worth mentioning in detail Good luck in your journey and let us know how it went. Photographic evidence of this experience would be best!

Merry Christmas, God bless and God speed!! ;)
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Old 12-14-2004, 05:20 PM   #7
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How are you dealing with CDL, registration, and insurance - or shouldn't I ask

I'm getting ready to purchase and have identified a number of dealers that will deliver to my house since Massachusetts has no temp tags of any sort, mandatory insurance, and no way to register as a motorhome without a title change requiring an inspection by the State Police (that's is been converted, safety inspection is the same as a private car).

Jake
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Old 12-14-2004, 05:24 PM   #8
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You don't need a CDL and he should be fine to drive it home with a sign that says "In Transit" on the back.
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Old 12-14-2004, 05:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve
You don't need a CDL and he should be fine to drive it home with a sign that says "In Transit" on the back.
Hmm, are you saying I could buy a bus in Illinois and just drive it home to Massachusetts with my class D without a title conversion? That would really open up my options. http://www.used-bus.com/ has several of the rear engined Thomas busses I'm interested in.

Cheers,

Jake
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Old 12-14-2004, 10:25 PM   #10
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Hi vonslatt,

You're trippin' into a very grey area with the CDL, temp tags, and such. The real problem is that the rules are not uniform throughout the U.S. and it's hard to tell what an Officer of the Law would do in any particlar area or circumstance.

In my (this time humble) opinion if the the bus still has the commercial (school bus) plates on it from the State of purchase and the seats are all still in there it's going to be a chore to explain that you are *not* driving a commercial vehicle requiring a CDL. That Officer *may* choose to understand the situation with your bill of sale and such but then again...

If the plates came off the vehicle and you had a trip permit or better still temp tags (or best of all non-commercial plates) you could probably make the trip without much trouble; especially if most of the seats are removed (get under that magical 15-passenger count).

So, if Mass has no temp tags what happens there when you buy a new car? Do they have plates on hand so you can drive home immediately?

Do you know anybody in another State that can get the bus registered as a non-commecial vehicle (private truck, suburban, private bus, etc)? Then you should be able to get the bus registered in Mass without too much hassle since you bought it from a private party with non-commercial plates. Then after you get it converted you could change it to a motorhome.

Initially the key here in Washington was just to tell them I had a bus that I wanted to register as a private vehicle; I didn't go the motorhome route. At least here, there's nothing to prevent you from licensing a bus just like a private truck as long as you don't exceed the passenger and weight limitations for commercial vehicles. Once the bus is legally an "RV" you sidestep those issues. [Wouldn't you know it, right after I registered the bus they changed it so I could register as a motorhome without the inspection! Which I did! (thanks J.B.)]

Cover your nether regions on insurance for sure; you can get insurance on a private bus from GMAC insurance (GMAC is also available through Camping World and Good Sam (at perhaps a better price)). Make sure the bus is *not* still licensed as a commercial vehicle then GMAC just needs the pertinent info (VIN, Year, Make, etc) to get the policy in force.

So here's the YMMV part! This all worked for me and I never ran into any problems at all; most importantly I was never driving a "commercial" vehicle and a CDL is *NEVER* required on a non-commercial vehicle (that's Federal Law). That doesn't mean various States can't require extra endorsements to your regular non-commercial license though so be careful. If Mass is a State that requires an endoresment for Air Brakes (even on non-commercial licenses) and you buy a bus with air brakes make sure you get that endorsement before you start driving home. Some States require an endorsement (again, on a non-commercial license) for "extra large" vehicles so do your homework. And if the bus exceeds private weight limits in your State and can not be licensed as a private bus/truck/suburban you're outta luck without getting it licensed as a motorhome (that's when the Federal exemption kicks in on the CDL requirement).

Hope some of this rambling helps....
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