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Old 05-03-2007, 09:10 PM   #1
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Swinada's Bus Conversion progress...

It is official, as of today we have joined the Skoolie owner club.
I didnt see our bus yet, but it is ours. I wasnt able to make it to the auction, but a friend happend to be there and bid for me. I didnt really want a big thing like this, but the price was right.
It is a Thomas ?56Pax? flat nose with a Cummins 6CTA, 250 hp, Allison A/T. No clue what year it is or gear ratio etc. Apparently it has 320'000km that would be 200'000 miles.
I'll pick it up next week, and then the adventure can begin.









I will keep you posted on our progress, and of course will come back many times for tips and hints.

Ah, almost forgot, I paid $1750 Canadian, with auction fee and taxes probably just short of 2K Can.

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Old 05-03-2007, 09:36 PM   #2
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Congrats to you. Now let the insanity begin!!
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95 IH 72 passenger transit school bus w/ DT466 and 545 Allison.
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Old 05-03-2007, 10:11 PM   #3
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Year: 1995
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Chassis: 3800
Engine: DT408, AT545
Rated Cap: 23 500 gvw
Looking good. It might be 56 adult passengers but more like 84 kids. I think I bid on one Thomas with the bigger windshield and it was a 1991. They changed somewhere around '90. My '89 Bluebird with that motor got 10.5 miles per gallon. Good luck.
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Old 05-03-2007, 10:35 PM   #4
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Oh, yeah, you got a good 'un!!! I'm counting 14 windows so you have a 40' (well, about 39' and a few inches) 84 passenger bus. It's a '90 or newer (probably '90 to '94). It looks like the roof is the low line one, which is okay. It has the deep windshield (goes about 6" lower than normal - can somebody say v i s i b i l i t y?) and the cool raised dash. From the angle the steering wheel is at, it looks like a tilt wheel (oh yeah!) and I bet it's an air door. What's really intigueing is that in addition to the normal emergency exit door on the driver's side it looks like there's another one on the passenger side AND it looks wider than normal. I would say it's a wheelchair lift but there's no mechanism visible on the inside... Having a wide door like that is VERY cool and unique. Are those overhead racks on the inside passenger side? If so, it may be geared as an activity bus (Oh, yeah!!!) And you're lowered on both sides- I'll bet those storage compartments go all the way across. And WOW what a price!! If the tires are halfway decent I am very jealous!! Chrome mirrors- I bet they're heated!!

The mileage is pretty decent- Do you have access to the maintanence records? If not, find out the schood district it belonged to and get in touch with the head mechanic to see what's been done to it. Better yet, drive it to the bus garage and see if some of the mechanics will come out and reminicse for you...

Congratulations! I was hoping you'd get a real bus like the rest of us Thomas RE SafTLiner owners!
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Old 05-03-2007, 10:50 PM   #5
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What's a Bluebird, Swiss Cheese?
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Old 05-03-2007, 11:59 PM   #6
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wow, I just ran a VIN number check and it came back with being a 1996 has been registered in BC all of its live.
Cant wait to go and pick it up.
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Old 05-04-2007, 05:34 AM   #7
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Congratulations! Now if you can JV with Elliott, you can have it looking like your avatar in just a few days (based on the record-setting roof lift).
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Old 05-04-2007, 05:04 PM   #8
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Hey, you have a newer bus than the one I've been running on a route the last few days! I've been driving a '95. It's got 189k miles and it runs strong up and down the one lane hollows of TN. The bus runs a long route (about 1 1/2 hours one way) and will be replaced next year. If yours has 200k in less time it's definately been covering some ground!
Hey CrazyCal I have nothing against the BB's- I'll take one of those anyday over the newer Thomas'! Especially an All American! BUT the RE Thomas are vury, vury nice...
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Old 05-04-2007, 07:48 PM   #9
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Pfft....real buses were made by low ball bidder Wayne and powered by crazy Ford inline diesels with everything stamped in Spanish.
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Old 05-04-2007, 08:40 PM   #10
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That one is made by Freightliner.... and the bay doors underneath are something I sure wish my Thomas had on it. That should save you tons of work instead of having to manufacture under carriage storage bays...
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Old 05-05-2007, 08:49 AM   #11
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Let's get to the heart of the matter. I think we are all invited to a big party in Canada. There's going to be dancing girls, pony rides, beer, lots of beer and a whole bunch of really good food. And when the whole thing is over and we all go back home to our caves, our friend in the north will still have about $20,000 Canadian Dollars left in his pocket.
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Old 05-07-2007, 10:32 PM   #12
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oh man, I absolutly love this bus. Drove it home today, and it is a dream to drive. Plenty of power even to go over the rockies. Cruising at 65 is niceat around 2200 rpm, it powers out between 70 and 75 somewhere.
Drivers seat is air ride, cant feel all the bumps in the road, this thing drives smoother then my pick up or full size van. Sure it hurts when the tank is at an 1/4 you put $170 in and it is still only 3/4 full. But the driving is just nice, big window to see everything.

Got a coupple of questions for the people that know. This bus is an "automatic" it has a digital diplay with 2 number fields, one is called "monitor" the other "select" it has an up and down button, D, N.
Are you supposed to shift this bus or is it supposed to gear shift itself?
When i put it in drive it shows monitor 5 and select 5, to get it in to 1st i have to push the down button till i get to the 1 and then with speed have to push up till i'm back at five. isnt this supposed to be doing it by itself?

Also does anybody have a user or maintenance manual for this bus? Paper or CD version, or can point me in the right direction where I could by this?

The wide door on the passenger side used to be a wheel chair access door, however it has been deactivated, but it shouldnt be to much trouble to get it back in to service again, I will defenetly try to open it just to be able to get all the seats out a little easier.
The engine needed some boosting first but once the batteries had enough charge it started right up, no blowing smoke.
Really like the jake brake.
And did i say it already??? Cruising is so nice with this bus.
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Old 05-08-2007, 08:31 AM   #13
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check the freightliner motor home/ bus chssis website for the operaters manual and service recommendations.
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Old 05-08-2007, 01:19 PM   #14
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Check out page 23 after you download this PDF.

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Old 05-08-2007, 02:08 PM   #15
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thanks, for the tips and link. Now I got lots to read.
Contacted the Schooldistrict where the bus came from, apparently they shipped all the records with the bus when it was sold a year agao. The present seller said he didnt have any records. Maybe he was just ticked that he didnt get the money he wanted. There is a seller sticker on the window which listed this bus with $17'900, so I guess my $1750 didnt cover that quite.
School district stated that it was a good bus mechanicly, they had to get rid of it because it developed to much under belly rust to still be able to pass the schoolbus inspection.
Will see what they say when I want to have it inspected as a RV.
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https://picasaweb.google.com/swinada/BusPictures https://www.swinada.com/bus.htm
https://lh4.ggpht.com/swinada/SL91F-b...opbussmall.jpg
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Old 05-08-2007, 05:29 PM   #16
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Well, all I can say is... Yeah, baby, yeah!!
Now just hope you don't get into much mechanical troubles 'cause that computerized stuff is a few more $$ than the older buses. However, a push button 5 speed? Oh, yeah!!
The pushbutton buses I've driven have a normal mode and an economy mode (E), which I guess changes the shift point to give a little better fuel economy. Always make sure you have your foot on the brake when you shift out of nuetral or else the display starts flashing and it doesn't go into gear. Not a big deal- put it back in nuetral, put your foot on the brake, shift into gear and away you go! Another different thing- in cold weather make sure the bus is warmed up before heading out or else the transmission may lock out on you. It has to be fairly cold for that to happen- maybe in the mid teens farhenheit.
And a simple but important thing with these computerized buses- if the "wait to start" light is on, wait until it goes out- never crank it in a big hurry and run it cold or else you'll have an unhappy computer (and motor!). I'm not a mechanic, these are just observations as a driver.
And yes, you got an incredible deal. It was reasonable for the seller to hope to get 17k since the bus is new enough to put into service. Check the rust of course and get rid of any that's affecting the structural integrity! I'm curious just how bad the rust is though. These buses take some doing to be rusted so bad it won't pass inspection!
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Old 05-09-2007, 07:19 PM   #17
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I really love the flat-nosed pushers. Awesome buy! I'm jealous.
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Old 05-10-2007, 01:20 AM   #18
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Quote:
Check the rust of course and get rid of any that's affecting the structural integrity!
And what is the best way to get rid of rust? Just wirebrush it off, clean and repaint? How about on body panels or in seams like bottom part of door?

Started a little picturebook on my webspace, hope to have some time later to also document somewhat what we do and expirience in this Bus adventure.
http://www.swinada.com/bus.htm





Big sidedoor


The seats are going

Should a guy rip off the old lino or just put new flooring on top? I kind of fear that if I take the old flooring off I will just discover some things that are better left undiscovered. What you dont know doesnt bother you, right?
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Old 05-10-2007, 02:07 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swinada
Quote:
Should a guy rip off the old lino or just put new flooring on top? I kind of fear that if I take the old flooring off I will just discover some things that are better left undiscovered. What you dont know doesnt bother you, right?
I think you nailed it on the head there. Would you rather discover the problem now while it's easy to fix or later when the conversion is done? My floor looked great, but I was glad I pulled it up. Others on the site have left it be. It's a personal decision. One thing I noted when I pulled mine up is that that "bus smell" went with it.

To deal with light surface rust a wirewheel and good paint will work well. For the heavier stuff or stuff on structural members I would look into getting some POR-15. The stuff is AMAZING. It just won't look so great on an exterior panel, even if you paint it.
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Old 05-10-2007, 10:04 AM   #20
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I would say that pulling it up depends on how in-depth you want to be. Pulling it up is best but not really necessary. The bus is new enough that the floor underneath might be in pretty good shape. Are there any soft spots? If so, pull it up because you've got rot underneath. If you're raising the roof and building up the floor, I wouldn't worry about it. I agree, it will help w/ the school bus odor, but it may not be a big deal to you.

Is the storage all the way across underneath? If the school district canned the bus because of rust underneath the storage bays you're probably in great shape with structural rust. Wirewheel and POR-15.

Wow, you have a 90 passenger bus! I'm curious to know the outside length! It's longer than everybody elses 84 pass. buses on here. Do your automatic chains work well?
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