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Old 04-30-2009, 09:50 AM   #1
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Location: Datil, New Mexico
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Year: 1989
Coachwork: Thomas Transit Liner
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Engine: CAT 3208 Turbo
New Owner/Member with Thomas Transit Liner Questions...

Hello all! My wife & I just purchased a 1989 Thomas with the 3208 CAT engine. We are sooo green to the diesel pusher & are looking for maintanence books to help us service our baby & to us help to learn as we go. I am not sure of the chassis on our bus but will check the tags. If anyone has any sites or info on manuals for our bus please pass it on! Thanks in advance!
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Old 04-30-2009, 10:06 AM   #2
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Re: New Owner/Member with Thomas Question

Nice bus! welcome to the insanity.

Chances are you have a Freightliner chassis. If you look around in the interior, you should find a metal plaque riveted in somewhere with the VIN, GVWR ratings, tire sizes, and other assorted information. All of that information is useful.

Finding manuals might be troublesome. See if you can contact the fleet maintenance people for the fleet that it was in and they might still have manuals and maintenance records. It doesn't hurt to try anyway.

Does your bus still have the neat signs in it? You could have a lot of fun with that.

The 3208 seems to be a pretty solid and reliable engine. They made it in many different horsepower ratings. It is also quite popular in the marine world.

This site here: http://www.wanderlodgeownersgroup.co...ead.php?t=1996 has a lot of manuals for bluebird busses (not thomas), but that also includes some manuals for the cat 3208 engine.


I'll re-iterate the common cry here: photos! we love photos here.

You're lucky to have the transit style windows already.

Do you know if you have the turbo version of the 3208? If so, I'm jealous.

Good luck with your conversion, and welcome aboard!
jim
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Old 04-30-2009, 12:07 PM   #3
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Re: New Owner/Member with Thomas Question

Hello Jim,
The bus is at the mechanics getting a new rear airbag & basic look over to see what it needs off the top. The airbag has a small leak & the bus will start tilting as the air leaks out of the rear bag. Our mechanic told us we scored a good running bus & said we stole it! Makes us feel good as this is our first purchase of such a huge vehicle. This is not a turbo 3208 from what I can tell. Our mechanic told us we can't go wrong with the 3208.
I will include some more photos since nothing says more than some good pics! I do know that this bus was in service in Sarasota Florida (remaining sticky residue shows "SCAT" which is Sarasota Area Transit - funny name!) - we recently moved from Sarasota...
The bus does indeed have the signs on both the upper front & to the left of the doors there is a sign panel behind the window. The front works but I haven't checked the side... Now we just need a name or slogan to put up there!
The flat front, smooth body style with the tinted transit windows are what drew us to this cool bus. That & the fact it is not a full size as we don't need all THAT room ( I am sure many will be to differ)! I like the Alcoa aluminum wheels also. I believe this is a 23 passenger. Another nice feature is all the lights are LED & BRIGHT!!! The air door, seat, wipers, & who knows what else is air is also cool! I am wondering how to lock the main door so no one can access the interior? The side access door has a hefty latch & lock but the air door can just be opened from the outside by hand.
We are going to keep the wrap around seat in the rear of the bus along with the seats over the wheel wells for the time being.
This bus was purchased to move us from Sebring Florida to New Mexico in july-aug. We just bought a cabin in NM with 9.3 acres & this bus will serve as our internet business office & inventory storage till we build a structure. THEN, its conversion time.. We are stoked!!!
Jonathan & Dara










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Old 04-30-2009, 12:24 PM   #4
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Re: New Owner/Member with Thomas Question

Oh... what is the body of this bus made of? Steel or aluminum?
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Old 04-30-2009, 12:36 PM   #5
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Re: New Owner/Member with Thomas Question

I'm officially jealous now.

Although, for my needs, I really wanted the full length bus, so I guess I'm doing ok.

The big plusses I see with your bus vs my own (1982 thomas rear engine) are the air operated door and seat, led lights, curbside secondary exit, the cool signs, the high-top roof (thomas makes 3 heights, drop, level, and raise; you go the raise and I have the drop), multiple flip-down "jump" seats, transit style windows, smooth body/skin (vs schoolbus rub rails), nicer bumpers, and the wheels.

I prefer electric wipers, but that's just me.

I don't know what is under your bus that requires a breathable panel on both sides as well as what looks like a fuel fill port, but I would love to know. Look amidships, beneath the side door on one side, and what appears to be straight across to the other side.

If you ever decide to part with some of those pull-down seats, I'd love to get one. I think that'd make an ok seat for putting over the steps when driving.

Also, you have something attached to the engine block in the middle of the triangle formed by the belts that I don't have. Could you ask your mechanic what that is? I'm going to guess that it might be an automatic air baffle switch for the radiator grill, but I just don't know.

It sounds like y'all have a great set of plans for the use of your new bus. I look forward to reading about your conversion when you get to it.

jim
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Old 04-30-2009, 12:42 PM   #6
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Re: New Owner/Member with Thomas Question

and I really wish I could see your pictures.
(they are on photobucket , I cant see any pictures on photobucket or flickr due to network restrictions)

but congratulations on your bus anyway. have fun converting
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Old 04-30-2009, 01:17 PM   #7
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Re: New Owner/Member with Thomas Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by swinada
and I really wish I could see your pictures.
(they are on photobucket , I cant see any pictures on photobucket or flickr due to network restrictions)

but congratulations on your bus anyway. have fun converting
Send me your email, I will forward them to you later!

Jim,
I will ask about the engine piece... I am going to the garage in about 2 hours to discuss service & repairs. We would part with a seat if you are interested as we really don't need the flip down seats. I think that it night be a nice addition as a jumper over the steps - good idea!
Jonathan
I am going to have many more questions like - how do I find out the capacity of the diesel tank? Is there 2 air compressors & tanks - brakes & accessories are seperate?
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Old 04-30-2009, 01:44 PM   #8
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Thomas bus

I also have a Thomas similar to your bus. These buses are great but do have a few problems that can be resolved. I have not finished converting my Thomas to an RV. My side door is on the curb side and my plan was to permanently close off the front door, because of wasted floor space. The 3208 Cat is an OK engine but the mountains make the engine grunt a lots. When driving, the rpms and temp gage dictage the road speed and trans gear. I think you have chosen a good bus. Now get a good hitch installed and seee the USA. Good luck for you. Ther than body parts, all other parts are easy to locate either new of used. Frank
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Old 04-30-2009, 02:15 PM   #9
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Re: New Owner/Member with Thomas Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by ezbme
[
I am going to have many more questions like - how do I find out the capacity of the diesel tank? Is there 2 air compressors & tanks - brakes & accessories are seperate?
If you look at the triangle of belts on your engine, the upper left corner is the air compressor. Looks like a bendix model. The upper right corner of the triangle is of course your alternator. There's a metal tag on each of those that will have the details about it. Getting your head in there to read the one on the alternator might be a challenge.

There should be a minimum of 2 air tanks (one for front, one for rear) if you have air brakes (which I bet you do). I think my bus has 4 or 5 total tanks. I plan to get under there soon with a camera and photograph every part of the underside so I don't have to keep crawling underneath every time I wonder something. The tanks are usually between the frame rails, so you'll have to get way up under there. I think on mine there is one larger tank forward of the rear axle, and 2 or 3 smaller tanks behind the front axle.

I believe you aren't supposed to have any accessories running from the brake tanks by law. So, 3 tanks would make sense.

As for the capacity of the fuel tank, ask your mechanic for his best guess. Worst case, it is likely a round cylinder, so you can apply some math to calculate the area of the tank and turn that into a max volume number. Measure around the tank and the length of the tank (or length and diameter), and the rest is just some math. Bear in mind that often the fill hole is down the curve a bit from the tip top of the tank, so you can't really get it completely full. Also, when fueling, you might want to wear gloves. Diesel seems to enjoy getting all over your hands.

I think my tank holds 50-80 gallons... I forget. I found that I dislike going below 1/2 tank, so just start looking for a good price at that point.

If you have a good mechanic, then ask him a lot of questions and remember him on your christmas list. A good mechanic is worth taking care of.

jim
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Old 04-30-2009, 06:52 PM   #10
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Re: New Owner/Member with Thomas Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by baadpuppy
There should be a minimum of 2 air tanks (one for front, one for rear) if you have air brakes (which I bet you do). I think my bus has 4 or 5 total tanks. I plan to get under there soon with a camera and photograph every part of the underside so I don't have to keep crawling underneath every time I wonder something. The tanks are usually between the frame rails, so you'll have to get way up under there. I think on mine there is one larger tank forward of the rear axle, and 2 or 3 smaller tanks behind the front axle.
Ok, so my memory and understanding of my tanks was incorrect. The vertical canister just forward of the differential on my bus is the air drier. I expect the same might be true on yours as well.

Laying on the ground under the bus was both fun and not fun. We have a sweetgum tree that created about a gazillion round balls (about the size of golf balls, only with spikes), and the ones under the bus haven't been gotten up yet. These things hurt.

Anyway, I didn't spend too much time under there, but it looks like I have only 2 tanks. I know the windshield washer, air horn, air throttle, and automatic chains also run off the same set of tanks somehow, so read into that what you will.

jim
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