After several weeks of waiting, we finally made the 150-mile trip yesterday to pick up our bus. The seller had mislaid the title, so we had to wait while he got lost-title documents from the state of Washington.
The bus is a 1986 Bluebird Mini Bird. It has 151,000 miles, but the seller replaced the 6.2L diesel with a Chevy 350 gas engine. Most of the seats are out and there is no lift to deal with.
I'm trying to find operator's manuals for this, since I don't even know how big the gas tank is. I put 21 gallons in it, then got another 12 gallons about 90 miles later. The guage bobs around like crazy, it's pretty hard to guess whether you're 3/4 or half, etc.
I was pleasantly surprised at its top speed--when I test-drove it, the bus topped out at 50 miles an hour. The seller said it was actually 10 miles low, so topping out at 50 would mean I was actually going 60. I can live with 60, but hated the thought of going 45 mph on the freeway. When we measured speeds on the highway going home, it was keeping up with traffic, except for the long hills. Also, I took the downhills very cautiously, and probably went a little slower than everyone else.
It definitely handles like a truck. The driver's seat seemed a little wobbly, so maybe that made things feel odd. In its furthest-back position, the seat was still about 2-3" closer to the steering wheel than I prefer. Gas pedal was fine, but I had to hold my braking foot in the air, then tuck my left foot under the heel of my right foot to support it while braking. I started thinking about bolting a piece of 4x4 right where my heel would land. The weird way of braking made going through town and hitting every stoplight on the way a challenge.
Short term goals for this bus include getting insured and licensed by the end of August for a camping trip with friends. The electric door is cool, but I want to get an RV door with a lock. The emergency escape lever on the back door is tied to the handle with heavy rope so the back door can't be opened. I've got heavy webbing and all kinds of fastex buckles, so I'll make up a strap that locks the door but can be quickly unbucked in case of emergency.
I also want to get a locking gas cap but have no idea of which one to get. I didn't realize how many varieties there were until I tried to find one last night! I got one that looked like it would work, but the lock wasn't engaging.
I want to have bunks for 4, a basic kitchen, and space for a toilet or porta-potty. I'd like to figure out a way to have a shower, but that may need to be an outside setup. For the August trip, I'm hoping to get the beds and kitchen built, even if its nothing more than a countertop unit with sink and watercans for fresh and gray water storage. Coolers and a Coleman stove can take care of cooking/refrigeration needs. Eventually I want to get a battery bank set up, a refrigerator, generator, flushing toilet and black/gray/fresh water tanks. This is a really small bus (compared to some of the guys with 70-passenger full sized buses!) so I'm going to need to think small and be creative.
Does anyone know if I can take the windows out and turn them over?
The gravel is for a parking pad for the bus--right now it gets way too wet and muddy to put the bus there.