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Old 06-28-2016, 12:16 PM   #1
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Got my 1998 Thomas SafTLiner home last night...the good, the bad...

Well, I had a couple different threads going...figured I'd bring it all together easily here.

So the bus...paid 3500.00. Shows like 128k miles and 2221.8 hrs on the tach



I left my house at 2:20 am Monday and did a combo trip...

Shuttle from my house to Atlanta airport...
MARTA train from atl airport to civic center (megabus pickup)
Megabus to Louisville

Arrived in Louisville at 2:25 pm

Guy picked me up, we wrapped everything up quick and I was off.

I'd looked at the bus briefly, while passing through Louisville some weeks back. It sounded good, seemed solid, but was on limited time and the auction was done anyway...so it was mine.

Immediately getting on the highway I was like WHOA...the front end is super sloppy. Definitely has some wear issues in the driver wheel...bushings, joints, shocks, etc...front end is going to need a little work.

Engine feels solid but...hours meter doesn't work Tach works, but not the hours indicator within it. Tach seems accurate, but when the bus is off it doesn't fall from the idle position. Overall, the bus makes good power, is smooth, shifts pretty well, brakes are definitely good. Air pressure stays good, has an air seat, air door, etc...all works. Going down the road temps bounced between 205 and 215. Oil pressure is low at around 23-25 and real low at idle, but my searching of the CAT engine seems to indicate that's normal.

The trip went without any real issues. I rolled back into town and parked it at my shop around 3am...almost exactly 24 hours later. Position of the driver seat and pedals....HORRENDOUS. I GOTTA move back! Headlights suck...figured that would be the case...got LED action going to be happening there.

Overall....it's an auction bus...what can you do really. When talking conversion, you essentially have to take a chance on these buses being ok...what can you really do. The engine was clean, made a 500'ish mile trip with no hiccups. Tank was full when I picked it up and I drove home and still have 1/3 of a tank or so...tank must be monstrous...lol.

Suggestions/thoughts? Convert away!? I'm going to look it over more closely at my building now. Need to check oil, coolant, pull an oil sample, etc. I suppose before really diving in, the drivetrain should be confirmed, as that's what really matters here. 500 mile trip is a good start...just really hoping for good drivetrain health. It is what it is...
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Old 06-30-2016, 03:38 PM   #2
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sounds like fun, have a big rig shop check out front end and king pins, go from there...DO NOT tell them it drives bad or wanders etc, you are JUST curious how it looks, check the brakes also

Good luck
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Old 07-02-2016, 01:05 PM   #3
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^That's the plan. I have a fully equipped shop, but I have to admit I have got little to NO tooling to even handle a mechanical job of working on this thing. I don't even have a floor jack capable of jacking this monster. I'm trying to decide what level of capability I would like to get to, reasonably speaking, in order to do maintenance and what not. I really hate to pay/rely on the world of deisel and big rig mechanics.
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Old 07-02-2016, 01:58 PM   #4
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A very nice looking bus. Love the storage lockers on the side. Thats a huge plus. I am just starting on a Thomas of my own:

http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f11/th...tml#post154050

We ended up taking ours in to a shop to have a professional look at it since I still have lots to learn about mechanics, and wanted to be certain we were starting work on something that was sound.

Its great that you have a shop to work on it. I am parked in a field under the blazing Texas heat, sweating to death.

Good luck with the conversion and I will keep an eye on this thread.
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Old 07-02-2016, 03:14 PM   #5
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sounds like fun, have a big rig shop check out front end and king pins, go from there...DO NOT tell them it drives bad or wanders etc, you are JUST curious how it looks, check the brakes also

Good luck
Sage advice, if you tell them there's a problem...There will BE a problem! $$$
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Old 07-02-2016, 10:27 PM   #6
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A very nice looking bus. Love the storage lockers on the side. Thats a huge plus. I am just starting on a Thomas of my own:

http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f11/th...tml#post154050

We ended up taking ours in to a shop to have a professional look at it since I still have lots to learn about mechanics, and wanted to be certain we were starting work on something that was sound.

Its great that you have a shop to work on it. I am parked in a field under the blazing Texas heat, sweating to death.

Good luck with the conversion and I will keep an eye on this thread.
The big question is going to be, can I fit it INSIDE my shop though...or do I have to work on it directly out front. My coor is 10ft, and I measured my roof at 9'11". I am hoping that airing everything down (tires, bags, etc) will get me inside...THEN we'll be rockin.

I'll probably start a build thread...since that's how people roll in here. I been chillin in general because I didn't have the bus yet. Bus is in hand though, and I've got it pretty much built in Sketchup at this point...all dimensions correct to the tee, as of yesterday. I'm planning a bit of an alternative layout, so I wanted to get it in digital before really hitting it.
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Old 07-03-2016, 10:15 AM   #7
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Let a lot of air out of the tires and try moving in slowly...with a spotter.

Working indoors beats the hell out'a dealing with nature all day.

Best of luck with it.
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Old 07-03-2016, 02:02 PM   #8
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I did the same wit my Bus.. when i got tires I told them to completely go over the front end... they came back with the shocks were shot (I knew they were bad)... they also found the alignment Toe was off by 29/32 total!!!! no wonder it wandered!!..

they said the steering gearbox felt a little bit laggy but wasnt out of spec.. however other than the play they noticed a little side to side motion on the output bearing that would cause some wierd steering feedback...

so they said "drive it and then bring it back and we can replace the box if you feel the need"...

so they didnt gouge me.. and after the simple alignment and shocks my bus drives a whole lot better.. im told that commercial trucks / busses go out of alignment easier than cars.. and its often overlooked as "it drives like a TRUCK!"....

-Christopher
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Old 07-08-2016, 12:17 AM   #9
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Getting my shop sorted here over the past few days. Hoping to get this thing pulled in here shortly. Just trying to get everything where it belongs and allow space for the bus to go in angled.
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Old 07-08-2016, 04:02 PM   #10
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Sucks to hear about the hobbs meter. Hopefully the odometer is right.
Sounds like a normal bus wear and tear wise. And I've never been a big fan of the Thomas brake and accelerator pedal placement. It makes the seating position awkward.

All in all sounds like a decent bus at a nice price. Hope you get a good report from the shop!
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Old 07-08-2016, 04:31 PM   #11
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The positives I can truly say are, the maintenance of the motor, by all accounts, appears very sound. Filters, belts, batteries, hoses, connections...everything visible has been touched, replaced, and is current. Another plus is the floor, bolts, ceiling screws...no rust anywhere...bus appears to be very solid. Air system holds indefinitely, so no leaks and literally everything functions as it should. Overall...the bus seems to be as well kept as can be expected by a large, active school district. The odometer functioned properly on the trip back, so I have no reason to believe it isn't accurate, but the hobbs well...who knows when that quit.

Interestingly, the CAT is the 330hp engine, which by all I've seen was only in the fire equipment and rv's. I expected it to have the 250 engine but, low and behold the valve cover stamp says otherwise. Someone earlier said the black headlight surrounds indicated some premium features in some ways...I suppose when purchasing the bus with the belly storage, they also opted for the higher output engine for the expected weight on board. I suppose that's a plus also.
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Old 07-08-2016, 05:05 PM   #12
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Wow. 330hp! So what were your interstate speeds/rpm?
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Old 07-08-2016, 05:12 PM   #13
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Good find, RC000E! That's something that prospective buyers might want to know and usually not included in the advert...
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Old 07-08-2016, 05:28 PM   #14
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The positives I can truly say are, the maintenance of the motor, by all accounts, appears very sound. Filters, belts, batteries, hoses, connections...everything visible has been touched, replaced, and is current. Another plus is the floor, bolts, ceiling screws...no rust anywhere...bus appears to be very solid. Air system holds indefinitely, so no leaks and literally everything functions as it should. Overall...the bus seems to be as well kept as can be expected by a large, active school district. The odometer functioned properly on the trip back, so I have no reason to believe it isn't accurate, but the hobbs well...who knows when that quit.

Interestingly, the CAT is the 330hp engine, which by all I've seen was only in the fire equipment and rv's. I expected it to have the 250 engine but, low and behold the valve cover stamp says otherwise. Someone earlier said the black headlight surrounds indicated some premium features in some ways...I suppose when purchasing the bus with the belly storage, they also opted for the higher output engine for the expected weight on board. I suppose that's a plus also.
Hell I'd take a Cat with 330 hp any day man!
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