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marbury 03-12-2017 02:12 PM

DARV - 1995 Thomas/International 3600
Well, I've been lurking for years and finally found The One! Bought the bus from PublicSurplus from Bend, OR and got her home yesterday at midnight.

Thus, I give you DARV: Dog-Appropriate Recreational Vehicle.

DARV and I had a decent start. For some reason (I expect operator error) I had difficulty getting over 20mph for a few blocks, like it didn't want to shift out of first. Warmed up some and was fine. Got on the road and was having a blast before one of the inner rear tire tread sluffed off and gave me a fright. Luckily we were six minutes from the nearest town with a whole bunch of tire centers so we waltzed out four brand new rear tires richer and nine hundred dollars poorer- which wouldn't have been quite as sad had the tires not been described as "good" when I bid on the bus. Turns out they're 10 years old. But an auction is an auction and that's totally on me to verify. To their credit the front ones are still in great shape.

Although I had no actual trouble with the brakes, we did get the brake pressure warning on and off. My 'chase car' told me my brake lights were flickering occasionally during those periods as well. I'd pull over and turn off the bus for a while and it would be fine. Sometimes it would be 150 miles before the warning came on again and other times it was 60 miles. Ran up the cascades without breaking a sweat and cruises at 65 comfortably.

Scale was relative and illuminating. When I parked at a rest stop among the big rigs I was marveling at how petite and adorable the bus looked. Then I parked it in my suburban driveway next to my 'dad van' and realized how massive it actually was.

Anyway, DARV is a flat-floor beauty. Short of new tires and a trip to the mechanic to see whats up with my brake system I couldn't be happier. Interior panels are all screws ( :dance: ) and aside from the dash illumination all the electric works AOK. Roof is in great shape! We drove through decent rain and I haven't found any leaky spots yet.

Scared and intimidated by what I've chosen to take on but super excited. The goal is a vehicle outfitted to travel with 3-6 dogs. I trial and show (and camp) and my van just isn't big enough to sleep in with all the dogs. Build goal is to have a 'garage' in back (accessed via a half wall through the main body of the bus and from both emergency access doors) for crates and muddy gear/dogs and a living area with a small bathroom/shower, bed, kitchenette, and desk. I'm not game enough to try a black tank or electric pump plumbing so it'll be oldschool hand pump water and boiling water for showers on this rig. I expect this will be slow-going so I apologize in advance for that.

Carytowncat 03-12-2017 02:20 PM

Scooby doobie doo!
Sweet bus, what a wonderful fur adventure. Fur friends seem to love bus travel. Way more cozy that car travel, with lots of nooks and crannies to hide in and since it is home and familiar less stressful.

Good luck! I'm confident others with more knowledge of your motor will be along soon.

marbury 03-12-2017 02:40 PM

Update: all the kids on my cul de sac are currently taking turns playing Bus Driver... hopefully the 'woah cool!' factor will keep any curmudgeonly code-picky folks from phoning us in! :angel:

Robin97396 03-12-2017 02:43 PM

Hello marbury
I think most of us have the overwelming desire to backpeddle as soon as something goes wrong with our purchases. Nice vehicle choice honestly.

I've got a question. Is that thing like the Tardus on Dr. Who? You know, bigger on the inside than it is on the outside? Sorry, I've got that out my system now.

I like the size, mostly because I have parking problems with my 26'er. Besides, those short buses are really comfortable to drive, and they tow really well. I've had two short buses and I always ran out of space really fast.


brokedown 03-12-2017 06:23 PM

Hey, we've got the same bus! Well, almost. Ours doesn't have the handicap lift. It's a neat bus, but surprisingly hard to find info for!

The T444E is well known, but ours has the Allison AT542 transmission which has almost 0 data online.. But it turns out to be basically the same as the AT545 which is very common. There were a few options for the bus, but you can climb under the bus and there's a plate on the passenger side of the transmission where you can check your model. If you're cruising happy at 65 you've either got a different transmission (maybe something with overdrive), a different rear end gearing, or not actually cruising as happy as you think! 2300-2400rpm is the sweet spot.

Also, on the engine valve cover on the passenger side there's a plate that will tell you (among other things) which power rating your motor ha. We've got the lowest, 175hp, which is Just Fine...

As far as your brake warning light goes, I'd guess tha the warning light is for fluid level and that should be easy to check.

marbury 03-12-2017 10:26 PM

Question: how do I prep and paint fiberglass? The hoods on these pug busses are fiberglass. Can I use the same sand-and-paint as the rest of the body? Would oil-based implement enamel paint be OK?

I have so many questions... It pains me that I have to wait to dig in and get started because of my schedule!

Stewzer55 03-13-2017 12:18 AM

I think the scuff and paint with in implement oil-based enamel would work, but I've never done it, YMMV

zelseman 03-13-2017 10:15 PM

What a cool bus! I love the front end!

marbury 03-27-2017 11:27 AM

I never want to unscrew a stripped screw again in my life. Every panel has one or two that I can't get out with an air tool, drill, or manual driver. The result is I have 90% of the screws out but only two panels in the whole bus completely off! I got the back seats out (which was deceptively easy because they were just bolted onto the wheelchair tracks) and had to stop at the actual seats because I need a second set of hands under the bus to help get those out.

Biggest concern: the dang wheelchair tracks in the floor are bolted (as in nuts under the bus) through the floor. Every six inches. All over. The heads are supposed to be hexes but most of them are perfect circles (totally stripped). How the heck am I supposed to get these off?

brokedown 03-27-2017 11:31 AM

For the screws through panels you want an impact drill with a #3 Phillips. Anything else will just eat the screw heads.

Jim_Rockford 05-31-2018 11:53 AM

What kinda MPG are you getting ?

mikerob643 05-31-2018 03:00 PM

Me and my wife recently got the same bus and are in the process of converting it . we ran into the the same l track problem as you with maybe a bit less stripped heads , we documented our removal process in our build thread, desert sands . it ended up being three weeks of work and one of our most memorable bus days when we finally got the last track out
Ive been crawling aroubd the bus for a few months now and know it fairly well, im sure not as well as broke down but if you have any 3600 specific questions feel free it give me a shout.

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