Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Black Hills of South Dakota
Coachwork: Union City?
Engine: 95hp Flathead
Bullethole - 39 Ford Skoolie
Thought I would introduce myself and my project "Bullethole", a 1939 Ford Skoolie.
My name is Jeff, and I live in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Bullethole was my first bus, but not my last. I am also working on a 1947 Flxible Clipper, and had a 85 Ford / Bluebird converted to a camper.
While looking for an old bus to make into a camper, I heard about the Ford from a guy who saw it at an auction, but couldn't remember eactly where it was. I remember the auction, although I didn't go to it, there was another auction the same day about 50 miles away and it had more things that I was interested in listed. I had a general idea where the bus was, it was sitting in a field, and it was close to my house, so how hard could it be to find?
After about six months of looking I had just about given up, when I saw a quick flash of yellow in the distance while topping a hill. That had to be it! I pulled over and hiked down into the field, and there she was, hiding in a draw, and not visiable from the road except for a second or two, if you had to be looking in exactly the right spot. I drove by this place several times a week, my wife worked just up the road, and passed it every day on her way to and from work, but neither of us had seen it.
Now that I knew where it was, I had to figure out who owned it. Talking to the neighbors got me the name of the landowner, who lived about 200 miles away. I contacted them, and told them that I was interested in the bus. They didn't even know it was still there, thought it left with the auction, but agreed to let me haul it away! Looking it over more closely, I could see that it was full of junk, and missing the wheels and tires, but was in really good shape, considering it's age. I scoured the local junk yards, and found 4 tires and wheels that would fit, lined up a trailer to haul it out on, and made plans for the weekend. Unfortunatly, this was fall in South Dakota, and along with the weekend, came snow, a LOT of snow! The bus was in a draw in the bottom of this huge field, and there was no way I was going to be able to get it out until the snow was gone.
Checking on it several times during the winter, I realised that it was going to have to wait until spring arrived, and things dried up, before I could haul it out. Finally in early summer, it looked like it was dry enough, so I contacted the landowner again to make sure it was still OK to haul it out, and they informed me that they donated the land to a Univirsity! They thought I had hauled the bus out in the fall, but decided that since the donation did not include the bus, they would let me take it out, providing that I did so immediatly. No problem, I was on it! Went back and checked on it, the ground was dry, the bus looked just like it had in the fall, all I needed to do was round up the trailer again, and head over on the weekend.
Saturday morning, I had my jacks, tires and wheels, come-a-long, ramps, and other items that I thought I might need to pull it out, and headed over to the field. As I was driving into the field, I noticed thatr they had cut hay in the last day or two. As I got closer to the bus, I also noticed that it was full of holes! Apparently the haying crew was bored while eating lunch and decided that they needed some target practice. There wasn't a panel on the bus that wasn't shot, including the dash, radiator, emblems, even parts of the engine. I almost cried. But, I had been thinking about what I could do with the old girl all winter, and was not about to give up now. This was the coolest bus I had found, and it was going to be mine.
The first problem came when the 3 ton jack wouldn't lift the bus. Upon closer inspection, I found out that the interior was full of junk, most of it iron. Two pick-ups full later, I was able to jack it up enough to put the wheels on it. Next problem was that it wouldn't move. Hooked it up to the pick-up, and jerked it a few times, and got the brakes loose, then started to pull it on the trailer with the come-a-long. The sun was starting to set (I had been busting my butt all day), and it was just about on the trailer when the cone-a-long cable snapped. Damm, what else could go wrong?
After blocking everything up so it wouldn't move, I disconnected the trailer from the truck, and headed home for a well deserved cold one. Sunday morning I borrowed another come-a-long, and managed to get it loaded, and out of the field (although it took 4WD Low, and a lot of slipping and sliding to do so).
1939 Ford Skoolie
1947 Flxible Clipper