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Old 04-23-2020, 10:32 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: NW Illinois. Savanna on the Mississippi
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Year: 2003
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Hello from Illinois

Hello SKOOLIE.NET My name is Rick and I have been following different skoolie forums for some time now. I just purchased a bus to convert from a govt auction , but haven't actually seen it yet, hoping to get it home in early June if travel is more relaxed.
I will be looking for a lot of information on my build, so please bear with me. I am a retired union electrician and also a former over the road trucker and owner operator. We will have some special circumstances going forward, my wife suffered a massive stroke about 4 yrs ago and is confined full time to a wheel chair so our bus will need a fairly open floor plan so that she can navigate it, I will also be installing either ramp or lift because the bus I bought was not handicapped accessible. I got a 2003 Thomas FE with 5.9 cummins and an allison automatic 73,111 miles and recently inservice and inspected. Hoping to meet many of you and keep an eye out for "Suite Lorraine" once we get moving. Thanks and again Hello!
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Old 04-23-2020, 11:41 AM   #2
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sounds like a real good bus.
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Old 04-23-2020, 12:30 PM   #3
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Hello and welcome. Retired IBEW here too, not sure where I found time to work when I look back. Enjoy your retirement and have fun with the bus life!


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Old 04-23-2020, 03:41 PM   #4
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Sounds like a good bus. Too bad you couldn't find one with a wheelchair lift already installed. I hope for your sake you bought your bus a bit further south of Illinois, as rust is a real problem with buses from the northern part of the country.

For your open floorplan, I would recommend Murphy bed(s), and you might consider scavenging heavy truck salvage yards for space-saving features unique to those. It really amazed me when I was running OTR how much those trucks managed to cram into tight quarters. A dining table / bunk setup from a Volvo would do wonders for your situation. Lots of other good ideas on here as well.

From one 'hand' to another...
Angry Duck.jpg
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Old 04-24-2020, 02:45 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: NW Illinois. Savanna on the Mississippi
Posts: 12
Year: 2003
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: 1308N
Engine: 5.9 24V Cummins
Rated Cap: 44 Transit
I'm having trouble downloading a picture, but the bus I purchased came from the academy at West Point NY. It has fairly low mileage and should have received the best of maintenance. No guarantees but here's hoping..2CFBPI20195003A.JPG
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Old 04-24-2020, 03:02 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by RMiller View Post
I'm having trouble downloading a picture, but the bus I purchased came from the academy at West Point NY. It has fairly low mileage and should have received the best of maintenance. No guarantees but here's hoping..Attachment 43706
There is a maximum size (width x height) limitation. Anything larger cannot be attached. Many people run into that, something I feel should be clarified for new members.

But wow, that is a seriously NICE bus. Interesting that it has transit-bus-style windows instead of the clickety-clack up-and-down arrangement typical of skoolies. The lack of upper flashing lights indicates it was not a regular route bus, and therefore the low mileage is likely accurate, though cluster failures are fairly common in newer models and it is difficult (if at all possible) to set a replacement to the correct mileage.

I am not sure if the W.P. Academy you speak of is THE W.P. Academy of military significance, but it certainly sounds like it (I've never known the actual location). I often tell newbies to be on the lookout for military / activity / prison / private school buses like that, because low mileage is a higher probability (note: NOT guarantee) in such usage, as they are usually not regular route buses.

All in all, looks like a nice find, but I'd try to inspect the undercarriage and underside of the floor carefully. Would be good to get some pics here as well to get others' assessment of the severity of any rust or other damage found. Probably was not exposed to much road salt, if any. But still a good idea to check.

Something else noteworthy that most buses that were military or otherwise federal use tend to be well-maintained, perhaps better than a local municipality school route. As in oil being changed on a regular basis regardless of mileage or engine hours.
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Old 04-24-2020, 04:34 PM   #7
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Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: NW Illinois. Savanna on the Mississippi
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Year: 2003
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Chassis: 1308N
Engine: 5.9 24V Cummins
Rated Cap: 44 Transit
It also has the "transit" style seats, the high back individual seats 11 rows of 4 in gray vinyl. It did come from the Military Academy according to the paper work. I got this weird govt form instead of a title. They tell me I will be the original title holder of a 17 yr old used bus
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Old 04-24-2020, 05:50 PM   #8
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It did come from the Military Academy according to the paper work. I got this weird govt form instead of a title. They tell me I will be the original title holder of a 17 yr old used bus
That IS odd. Every govt vehicle I've owned came with a title, albeit all of mine were state vehicles, not military or federal.
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Old 04-24-2020, 10:56 PM   #9
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Hello! Possible wheel chair lift for you

Hello and welcome, Rick! I am from southern Illinois, near St. Louis (Go Cards!). I just bought our school bus last week with the intent to convert it so my daughter can take it off to college with her. It came with a fully functional wheel chair lift. I was going to list it on Craigslist or FB Marketplace next week. If you're interested, drop me a note.

Ken (a.k.a. Fat Boy)
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Old 04-24-2020, 11:17 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RMiller View Post
Hello SKOOLIE.NET My name is Rick and I have been following different skoolie forums for some time now. I just purchased a bus to convert from a govt auction , but haven't actually seen it yet, hoping to get it home in early June if travel is more relaxed.
I will be looking for a lot of information on my build, so please bear with me. I am a retired union electrician and also a former over the road trucker and owner operator. We will have some special circumstances going forward, my wife suffered a massive stroke about 4 yrs ago and is confined full time to a wheel chair so our bus will need a fairly open floor plan so that she can navigate it, I will also be installing either ramp or lift because the bus I bought was not handicapped accessible. I got a 2003 Thomas FE with 5.9 cummins and an allison automatic 73,111 miles and recently inservice and inspected. Hoping to meet many of you and keep an eye out for "Suite Lorraine" once we get moving. Thanks and again Hello!
Welcome aboard Miller. I retired from Local 716 in 2017. Glad to have you.
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Old 04-25-2020, 12:46 PM   #11
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: NW Illinois. Savanna on the Mississippi
Posts: 12
Year: 2003
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Chassis: 1308N
Engine: 5.9 24V Cummins
Rated Cap: 44 Transit
Local 176 Inside wireman... Thanks
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Old 04-25-2020, 02:35 PM   #12
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Local 176 Inside wireman... Thanks
Excellent !!! 42 years for me.
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Old 04-25-2020, 02:52 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by CHEESE_WAGON View Post
That IS odd. Every govt vehicle I've owned came with a title, albeit all of mine were state vehicles, not military or federal.
I believe this is related to the military not paying taxes or registration on their vehicles...

(and the entire DoD fleet is "self insured" ie: no insurance payment/policy either)
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Old 05-04-2020, 09:02 AM   #14
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Quote: “We will have some special circumstances going forward, my wife suffered a massive stroke about 4 yrs ago and is confined full time to a wheel chair so our bus will need a fairly open floor plan so that she can navigate it, I will also be installing either ramp or lift because the bus I bought was not handicapped accessible. “

There are three wheelchair users on Instagram you might want to look at. SpecialSkoolie in FL are a brother (quad) sister team doing their conversion now. SkoolieMissionAdventure has an elevating bed and huge walk-through bathroom, she is a “walking Para” and waiting in Germany to ship her bus to the US. ImpactOverland converted a van with an arm-style lift you should definitely consider. He is a quad traveling South America, great photographer.

One more person I met in Florida, I have to find him online for you. He uses a scooter, and has made all kinds of modifications himself including a lift up to his roof deck.
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Old 05-04-2020, 09:15 AM   #15
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Look for Rickey Irvin from Alabama on Facebook. His bus is The Covered Wagon. WC lift to the roof deck, added steps up to the emergency doors, has no qualms about cutting and pasting vehicles together!!!

Barbara
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Old 05-04-2020, 09:26 AM   #16
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I love hangin out with Rickey!
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Old 05-05-2020, 01:39 AM   #17
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
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I(and the entire DoD fleet is "self insured" ie: no insurance payment/policy either)

Yup, the deep pockets and lawyers to defend "self insurance".
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Old 05-05-2020, 04:41 PM   #18
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Hello and good luck with your new adventure!
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Old 05-05-2020, 05:35 PM   #19
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we must be neighbors as we are in davenport
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Old 05-05-2020, 06:30 PM   #20
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sorry cheese wagon but the volvo bunk sucks for sleeping as i tried but it was ok for a dinette. however it is not in any way wheelchair accessible which is one of his requirements
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