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Old 04-15-2018, 01:02 PM   #1
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Palmer, AK
Posts: 246
Year: 2004
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf T Liner MVP 11 window 32’
Engine: CAT 3126E
Rated Cap: 72
2380 miles to go...

What a great site! A bunch of folks collaborating positively (mostly) with at least one thing in common. Usually when I’m reading a forum it’s because my car or snowmachine broke…maybe now it’s because we’re going to buy something that might break? We’re about to buy a bus, for similar reasons that most of you have. I am going to drive it home, which is a long way from where it sits now. Just call it an over-committed test drive.

Bus Detail:
2004 Thomas Safe-T-Liner EF
CAT 3126E w/Allison 2000 transmission
Round rubber tires
32’ end to end

My experience:
I became significantly better at fixing stuff when YouTube came out. I’ve spent most of my adult life around marine diesel engines & can usually identify each part without looking at diagrams. My good common sense sometimes succumbs to an undeniable desire for instant gratification. I drove a bus for ten minutes a while back…the first thing that came to mind while I turned a great circle in a church parking lot was that it was slow and sluggish. Just like a tugboat! I can do this.

The trip:
Departing western WA for south central AK later this month. Unfortunately my family can't make the trip. It’s going to be a marathon, with little time to stop & enjoy the scenery. I’ll save that for during/after the conversion. I’ll service the engine oil & filter, transmission fluid & filter, and swap out the fuel filter(s). I’ll inspect the coolant system but unless something red flags I’ll leave it alone. What am I missing? I’m going to throw together a tool kit with wrenches & a sledge hammer. I’m curious what you experienced skoolies would not leave without on a similar trip? Whatever I bring needs to fit in a tote.

I’d be happy to hear any planning, mechanical or mental health advice prior to departure. Unless you just can't help yourself, there's no need to mention the absurdity of my plan...I'm already aware of it. Mostly I’m just excited to read & learn about/from your experiences. Hopefully one or two of you can enjoy and learn from ours!

-Eric
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Old 04-15-2018, 01:39 PM   #2
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I'd get roadside assistance from coach.net (or anyone who will tow an un-converted bus), and a credit card with a healthy limit.

Other than that, if it starts and runs, with nothing obviously amiss, there is no reason to suspect that it won't make the trip. They almost always do.
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Old 04-15-2018, 01:51 PM   #3
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You actually don't have to drive it that far. You can drive onto a ferry over to Alaska
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Old 04-15-2018, 02:34 PM   #4
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I bought the same bus, only slightly longer (40'). I often wonder why the sellers say they wouldn't recommend driving a newly bought at auction school bus 1000 miles off the lot. Seems to me a single 1000 mile trip at freeway speed is a whole lot easier on the bus than a week of twice a day stop and go for an hour.
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Old 04-15-2018, 02:47 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
I bought the same bus, only slightly longer (40'). I often wonder why the sellers say they wouldn't recommend driving a newly bought at auction school bus 1000 miles off the lot. Seems to me a single 1000 mile trip at freeway speed is a whole lot easier on the bus than a week of twice a day stop and go for an hour.
They say it to avoid any "implied warranty" arguments.
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Old 04-15-2018, 03:20 PM   #6
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Twigg- we're looking into the roadside assistance for sure. As for the healthy limited credit card, we're going to weigh unanticipated costs against providing rest stop shelter others driving the Alcan. Thanks!
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Old 04-15-2018, 06:26 PM   #7
Skoolie
 
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Originally Posted by Thomas1985 View Post
You actually don't have to drive it that far. You can drive onto a ferry over to Alaska
Unfortunately any option over water (ferry or barge) will set me back a minimum of $6K. With a little luck I shouldn’t have much more than $2K into a drive.
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Old 04-15-2018, 06:32 PM   #8
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I didn't know that it was that expensive. That's wild. I guess I probably won't be doing it either.
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Old 04-15-2018, 07:20 PM   #9
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I didn't know that it was that expensive. That's wild. I guess I probably won't be doing it either.
I looked into the ferry from Seattle to Alaska. It was over $1000 for a motorcycle.
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Old 04-15-2018, 09:06 PM   #10
Skoolie
 
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I looked into the ferry from Seattle to Alaska. It was over $1000 for a motorcycle.
Yeah, I may be mistaken, but I think one person can get from Bellingham to Whittier (where I would go) for $6-700, not counting a vehicle. We priced it a while back just looking for something fun to do with the family & crossed that one off the list pretty quick...partially because I've made the voyage many times and gotten paid for it. The inside passage has some pretty majestic scenery, both in Canada & SE AK. It's worth the money to see it at least once, I just don't recommend taking a bus with ya!
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Old 04-19-2018, 12:17 AM   #11
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She is nuts. She said it would make a fun trip I had no idea it was that far from the nw corner. Maybe a flight but no way to drive it.
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Old 04-19-2018, 12:19 AM   #12
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Ohh and welcome to the site. You guys with the long runs are alot more bold than I am.
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Old 04-19-2018, 12:56 AM   #13
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If your bus has air brakes and you do NOT have the air brake endorsement you might find yourself put out of service at the first truck scale or port of entry .

British Columbia is very serious about not allowing anyone to drive a vehicle with air brakes who doesn't have the air brake endorsement.

I researched it quite extensively and was finally able to talk to a weighmaster at the Port of Entry you go through from eastern WA. He told me that as he was speaking to me he was looking out his window at three very large air brake equipped moho's that were waiting for a qualified driver to drive.

You may have better luck flying under the radar but be prepared.

Good luck and happy trails to you!
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Old 04-20-2018, 11:12 PM   #14
Skoolie
 
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Cow...

Yeah, I'm researching as well & don't feel all warm and fuzzy about it. I plan to get trip permits in WA and plan on holding off on registration until I get back to AK. We talked to the Canadian border patrol, they had no issues but admittedly don't enforce those laws. They recommended calling the RCMP, so we did & really didn't get anyone that could speak specifically about our plan. I'm going to try again on Monday, we'll see what happens. It may be that I go for it and at the very least have an experience to write about in this forum. I've never been in a Canadian pokey.
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Old 04-21-2018, 02:36 AM   #15
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Quote:
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Cow...

Yeah, I'm researching as well & don't feel all warm and fuzzy about it. I plan to get trip permits in WA and plan on holding off on registration until I get back to AK. We talked to the Canadian border patrol, they had no issues but admittedly don't enforce those laws. They recommended calling the RCMP, so we did & really didn't get anyone that could speak specifically about our plan. I'm going to try again on Monday, we'll see what happens. It may be that I go for it and at the very least have an experience to write about in this forum. I've never been in a Canadian pokey.
The Border Patrol and the RCMP have nothing to do with enforcing the commercial vehicle rules which includes air brakes on non-commercial vehicles. The person you need to talk with is a weighmaster or some other commercial vehicle inspection officer. They are the ones that enforce the air brake rules.

It took me a couple of days of the internet and many phone calls before I finally was able to talk with someone who knew what they were talking about.

Make sure you are talking to someone in British Columbia as they are the ones who are the most anal about enforcing the air brake rules.

As the weighmaster I talked with put it, they have had one too many large air brake equipped motorohomes getting into difficulties on the highways of British Columbia. And most of the difficulties are a direct result of drivers not knowing what they were doing.

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/t...ation/contacts

Good luck and keep us posted as to your progress.
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