Hello! I just purchased a 2006 Chevrolet Collins 5 window bus. As in drove it home today. Many props to the terrifically knowledgeable folks here who have my mind running overtime on what is to be.
Wouldn't you know that Jay, who drove me to the yard in the morning, has done several bus conversions himself! And used them commercially too. A real, living and breathing pro. He had plenty of useful suggestions and stories which made the drive super quick. His confidence in the project was calming and appreciated.
My experiance at Midwest Transit was great overall. The test driver spoke plainly about a steering squerm and the bus' imperfections were detailed in their inspection. Note the inspection didn't include driving the bus, which I can see was an assumption on my part. Well, I signed some papers, watched the 100s be penned, received the temp tags and title, shook some hands and away I went. Just like that.
Every mile closer was great news. It was an extra long 2.25 hour trip back due to highway tragedy that kept me on mostly county roads, an expanse of opportunity to have a situation. One time, approaching a bridge and about midway (meaning close to nothing), my heart sank when I smelled something not good. Thankfully whatever it was dissipated and I drove on.
The only awful thing I noticed on the maiden voyage is the driver's chair. Horrible. A torture device. That has to go. Next, in order, is wow the bus is loud. First there is the road noise, by that I mean how much the thing rattles and booms at even the slightest imperfection. Then there is the engine. To the point where I could not always hear the directions on my phone even at max volume. There's a protrusion at my feet making for an awkward foot move when having to brake. Did I say loud? That's really it for the problems.
Steering is great. Easy with one hand even in the world's most uncomfortable seat. I didn't notice any shimmying. My new friend Jay told me that he's seen vehicles not driven for a bit have sticky pistons and we both agreed that'd be a splendid resolution. As far as I can tell, he's right. Stopping in of itself is good too. OMG is that engine powerful: just to see what would happen, I pressed down the gas going uphill on a freeway already at 65 and wham! the bus downshifted and motored; I really left behind those loser slowpokes.
It turns out there is diesel and biodiesel. Are they different? Yes that is how new I am to all this. Does the bus care? I don't know and, at the gas station which sold the latter and desperately searching for answers on my phone, acquiesced to simply not fill up until I had attained certainty.
Here is a photo after the drive back.
Tomorrow I register and start the tear-out. The goal is to be able to carry 11 people, their things and perhaps 2 days of food and water comfortably and safely during a 2 1/2 month trip. Once the building process starts, I plan to apply soundproofing mat, dynamat or something, all over the floor and to the area below the windows. Then closed call foam. Then painted plywood to which the to be built wood benches will be attached. I also am going to paint the thing to cover the "school bus yellow." To either side of the rear emergency exit will be shelving, though I don't plan on blocking the windows which I think are awesome. Maybe shelves across the back except I am leery of lowering the ceiling height. For sure a full length shelf on the driver's side up above the windows. Plus of course my mountain bike has to fit in there. There will be 3 benches: two shorties and one full width which will also convert into a bed. The walkway will be on the passenger's side (if there was one). And, obviously, that tragedy of a driver's chair needs replacing pronto. I have a couple of weeks.
Next are on the hopefuls. This includes adding a battery in a box accessed from the outside of the bus and charged by the alternator with all the circuit breakers and other needed gizmos, a water tank underneath with some kind of pump action happening, and of course bug screens would be nice right? If there is a toilet, it'll be a simple all in one that some unlucky person gets to dump from time to time. I'll add the 110 plugs and stuff before the walls are put up for sure; I'm not sure if the second battery is going to happen prior to departure. Lastly, there is some under carriage rust to ameliorate.
I sincerely hope to get advice and suggestions along the way. Please hold no punches!