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Old 07-08-2021, 10:10 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: Fort Myers FL
Posts: 24
Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner HDX
Engine: C7 250hp
Mechanic in SWFL?

Anybody know a reputable mechanic in the SWFL area? I'm in Fort Myers, but willing to go as far as Tampa or Naples if necessary.

My bus is a 31' 2007 Thomas HDX with a 2006 Cat C7, Allison 3000, and air brakes. I'm looking to check all the mechanicals, but fairly sure the brakes may need some service (pulls under some circumstances), steering alignment, and evaluate a minor oil leak. Ideally they'll be able to help unlock 6th gear (already starting this process with Thomas) and can do fluid analysis when it's time for service.

Anybody know anybody?

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Old 08-24-2021, 06:30 PM   #2
New Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2021
Posts: 4
Year: 1998
Chassis: TC1000
How do you like your bus?

I'm on this forum because I'm researching the same bus you have, the 2007 Thomas with the 2006 cat c7. I do not know of a mechanic, hope you found one.

But I do have a question for you. Do you like your bus? Any problems with it? Did you find a mechanic?

I have one of these on hold and can't decide to pull the trigger or not or wait for a dognose with a possible Cummins or dt engine.

Thanks!
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Old 08-25-2021, 07:29 AM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: Fort Myers FL
Posts: 24
Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner HDX
Engine: C7 250hp
So far, our bus is good. There's only been one issue so far: it leaks a bit. BUT, that was an expected trade off of buying a bus from Nevada: no exposure to rain means no rust but also nobody notices or deals with failing seals. An easy fix but a bit annoying when you're driving your bus 2,500 miles and through a hurricane.

Our dealer had several nearly identical buses. We picked one that appeared to have a newer alternator and a replaced heui pump.

Thomas has been extremely helpful. If you contact your closest dealer with the VIN they can provide some good info. Mine sent me the elevations, plans, and bill of materials (which tells you everything original installed on the bus along with weight distributions). A little digging and a found an indirect way to query the Thomas portal for all the parts info related to my bus (schematics and drawings of various systems, parts, etc). Thomas was very helpful getting my OEM letter for Allison to unlock 6th gear (officially they only process these quarterly, but they did mine in just a couple a weeks... somebody must have had a spare minute). I have my reprogrammed TCM already but haven't had a chance to drive it around and check it yet.

I also found a bunch of Cat C7 manuals that seem to be correct for my engine, but I haven't gone through them yet.

I haven't found an independent mechanic that I would trust yet, but the local Allison place was easy to deal with and I'm going to talk to the local Freightliner shop about alignment and maybe have them check and service the engine for me. I have a very small oil drip but haven't pin pointed its source yet.

Let me know if you have any questions. I'll try to answer them. If you're buying from Las Vegas Bus Sales, I can share some of my notes.
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Old 08-25-2021, 08:45 AM   #4
New Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2021
Posts: 4
Year: 1998
Chassis: TC1000
Oh my goodness, thank you so much for your response!
Yes we will be purchasing from lasvegas bus sales. I'm having it inspected today.
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Old 08-25-2021, 08:55 AM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: Fort Myers FL
Posts: 24
Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner HDX
Engine: C7 250hp
May I ask if you're also in FL? And how were you planning to get the bus "home"?

I ran into some logistical challenges getting the bus back to FL. Nothing to do with the bus, and LVBS were reasonably accommodating, but there are some challenges to address.

Your bus is almost certainly from the same fleet as mine - it will be virtually identical. I can send some info on my bus if it would be helpful.
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Old 08-25-2021, 09:04 AM   #6
New Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2021
Posts: 4
Year: 1998
Chassis: TC1000
My husband if flying up with his dad and driving back to Texas. So thankfully not as far as Florida but still a trek. They both have CDL -- but we were going to get Las Vegas bus sales to remove all but 2 seats and register it as an RV.
Yes any info is super appreciated!
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Old 08-25-2021, 09:28 AM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: Fort Myers FL
Posts: 24
Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner HDX
Engine: C7 250hp
NV to TX is a nice drive. LVBS would only release my bus to a driver with a current CDL. I don't have a current CDL and I had two drivers fall through at the last minute. Getting the bus off the lot was a pain.

They'll probably cover it, but if they don't, ask them to go over the starter interlock and how to start the bus from the back. It doesn't take much to trip the emergency exit sensors and prevent starting the bus from the front. I also had minor issues with the side door lock sensor wiggling which makes the buzzer go off (that was an annoying couple of miles) and the door sensor on the lift was stuck which disables the lift. All very minor things, but you can waste a ton of time tracking them down.

I had some water leaks around the roof emergency exits and the front clearance marker lights (which causes water to drip down the front of the windshield). Again, minor issues.
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Old 09-14-2021, 04:20 PM   #8
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Join Date: Sep 2021
Posts: 1
Hi, First time skoolie owner. It appears we have identical buses, probably from the same fleet. I purchased from Las Vegas Bus Sales in June 2021. Being home based in Michigan I did not want to deal with the rust from a local bus. I too will be seeking out a trustworthy place for service and repairs. I liked reading in your post that Thomas was helpful with documents and info,and was wondering if that came from the dealer or manufacturer? I would certainly welcome and appreciate any info and tips on how to acquire manuals and electrical diagrams. Good luck with your bus. Don S.
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Old 09-15-2021, 08:39 AM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: Fort Myers FL
Posts: 24
Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner HDX
Engine: C7 250hp
We're first time skoolie owners, too. And we're more than happy to help how we can and share what we know.

I reached out to the manufacturer first. They redirected me to a local/regional dealership. I went back to the manufacturer for the Allison unlock authorization. The only thing I've had trouble with is portal access. I've seen anecdotal comments about dealerships helping owners get access to the Thomas portal. I was told by the dealer and manufacturer that the portal is reserved for "fleets", not private owners. *shrug* I'm not really sure if there's any value to portal access, so I haven't pushed for it.

The dealer I've been working with (Matthews Buses Alliance in Orlando) runs buspartexperts.com - they have a bunch of Thomas related parts online. Twice I needed a part that wasn't online. Once I wasn't sure what the part us and they helped me track it down. The other time I had a part number but didn't see it online - they had it online for ordering the next day.

I'll DM/PM you the same info I sent to Malizzle.

We're tracking our build on Instagram @thegrantrobus. We're a bit slow to get updates posted and are further along than it looks. If you're also on Instagram, give us a follow and we'll follow you back. We've found a couple people converting essentially the same bus.
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Old 10-06-2021, 10:13 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2021
Location: Santa Fe
Posts: 12
Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: HDX
Engine: CATC7
Rated Cap: 36,300 GVW
Hi there! I too have the same bus from the same place!
When I purchased my bus I had LVBS change the title to an RV and remove the seats and lift. That way I did not need a CDL to drive it. Also Alex at LVBS was very helpful in taking my bus over to the Allison dealer and having them unlock 6th gear, which I paid for.
I drove mine 650 miles to get it home, and it ran better and better the longer I drove it.
I got a solid 8 MPG going as fast as I wanted, but mostly 70 -75 MPH in 6th gear.
I weighed it at a truck stop scale and it weighed 20,600 lbs, with the front axle at 6400 lbs and the rear at 14,200 lbs.
It definitely needs more weight on the front axle.
So far in my work I have removed the Zonar wiring, the door buzzers and the red flashing lights. I will leave the yellow flashing lights as emergency flashers.
The current project is scraping off the reflective tape and the lettering.
I will say the a/c system in these things is killer, it will cool the bus to 58 degrees on a 95 degree day.
You mentioned you had info from Thomas, i.e. the build sheet - could you please forward that to me ? I am having a fun time checking my bus out.
Can't wait to do a road trip!
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Old 10-07-2021, 08:01 AM   #11
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: Fort Myers FL
Posts: 24
Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner HDX
Engine: C7 250hp
Greetings!
No problem - I'll private message the build info I have from Thomas. Do you want anything else? I have manuals for the C7 and a link into the Thomas Portal for this batch of buses from CCSD which includes an extensive list of parts, diagrams, schematics, etc. I scrapped the portal page (just in case) and have found it invaluable while tracing things like the wire harness or disassembling various things. I have manuals for a variety of other random things on the bus - the Ricon lift (for people that still have it), the Bostrom drivers seat (which isn't all that mysterious, but nice to have anyway), etc.

Removing the tape and lettering was tedious, but not hard. On mine, the exposed reflective tape was very friable. I parked it in the sun for a bit and it came right off with a sharp medium-firm putty knife. A little Goof Off and some scuffing pads took off the lingering adhesive. The problem areas were where they covered the school info with fresh reflective tape - pealing the fresh stuff off leaves patches of old stuff and most of the adhesive behind.
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Old 10-07-2021, 10:22 AM   #12
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2021
Location: Santa Fe
Posts: 12
Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: HDX
Engine: CATC7
Rated Cap: 36,300 GVW
Thanks for the reply! I would definitely like any of the info you can send my way, it all helps! Figuring out the wiring is a tedious dusty dirty project -- and there are lots of unused wires in that bus!
The Bostrom seat is lots of fun, the seat part is getting replaced with a leather seat from a Saab - it's heated too.
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Old 10-07-2021, 12:06 PM   #13
New Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2021
Location: Tualatin, OR
Posts: 5
Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freightliner
Engine: 6.4l Mercedes
Rated Cap: 60 passenger
If it is any help in your consideration, Caterpillar abandoned the truck market for their engines with the onset of EPA2010 emissions (I worked for Freightliner in manufacturing at the time and did the tooling to handle the new emissions equipment; SCRs DEF systems).

I personally would avoid a CAT engine - the service (at least through Caterpillar) would be my main concern but if you're handy might not be of great concern. I'm sure parts will be available for a long time.
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Old 10-08-2021, 07:53 AM   #14
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: Fort Myers FL
Posts: 24
Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner HDX
Engine: C7 250hp
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmythomas View Post
Thanks for the reply! I would definitely like any of the info you can send my way, it all helps! Figuring out the wiring is a tedious dusty dirty project -- and there are lots of unused wires in that bus!
The Bostrom seat is lots of fun, the seat part is getting replaced with a leather seat from a Saab - it's heated too.
The wiring harness seems to be generic - lots of spare wires and folded back on itself in a few places. I've been weeding mine whenever I have a spare moment.

I'm curious, where'd you wrangle a Saab seat? I've had a couple Saabs over the years - too bad they're gone.
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Old 10-08-2021, 08:20 AM   #15
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: Fort Myers FL
Posts: 24
Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner HDX
Engine: C7 250hp
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wicked Mickey View Post
If it is any help in your consideration, Caterpillar abandoned the truck market for their engines with the onset of EPA2010 emissions (I worked for Freightliner in manufacturing at the time and did the tooling to handle the new emissions equipment; SCRs DEF systems).

I personally would avoid a CAT engine - the service (at least through Caterpillar) would be my main concern but if you're handy might not be of great concern. I'm sure parts will be available for a long time.
Interesting. I weighed the internet's general distaste for CAT engines before committing to my bus. My engine seems in good shape and I'm not personally concerned about service, but I saw a few that looked on the edge of failure... time will tell. I'm big on preventative maintenance and monitoring - I'm pulling data off the engine and transmission in real time to keep an eye on things.
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Old 10-08-2021, 10:24 AM   #16
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2021
Location: Santa Fe
Posts: 12
Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: HDX
Engine: CATC7
Rated Cap: 36,300 GVW
Where did I get a Saab seat? My primary business is a Saab Repair Center. I have lots of Saab parts, and they are a good match for the Bus! The powertrains even share a similar CAN Bus design. The wheel chair restraint tie downs are the same as the cargo tie downs in the back of a Saab 9-5 wagon.
As far as the reliability of the C7 -- start with one in good condition, keep clean oil and fuel in it and I think it will be fine for the amount of miles I will put on it.
Mine is pretty impressive with how well it starts and idles really clean with no smoke and very little diesel clatter or smell. And monitoring engine functions is pretty important.
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Old 10-08-2021, 11:58 AM   #17
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: Fort Myers FL
Posts: 24
Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner HDX
Engine: C7 250hp
My last Saab was an '08 9-3 Aero XWD 6-speed. I lived north at that time and it was an absolute blast in the snow. Had to go about an hour and a half to find a good Saab shop - but worth it. The locals were less than competent and I wasn't going to rip my knuckles off trying to get around that engine compartment. Sold it when I went overseas for a bit - wish I'd kept it. I worked for a vehicle telematics company at the time and was constantly pulling data off all my vehicles for work and fun.

The buses out of Clark County seem well maintained. At my first stop I yanked the Zonar and started pulling data for myself. I didn't see anything exciting in the 2,500 miles home - ran like a champ. Other than a flat tire, taking in a little water, and driving around a hurricane, it was an otherwise uneventful trip.
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