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Old 04-18-2020, 07:09 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Bennington, NH
Posts: 44
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466E Navistar
Rated Cap: 28,900
Yo Schoolie Peeps.....It's go time!!

So I've been a lurker, reader, studier, dreamer on this site for about 4 years. I've been building a bus in my head for about as long. Tomorrow I'm going to get my bus!!! Due to some recent huge changes in my life ( which I may cover at a later date ) I am currently in the position to purchase my starting point. A 1997 Thomas International conventional with a DT466 and an automatic transmission. The bus has about 140,000 mi, I have not put my eyes on it in person yet but all of the pictures that I've seen of this bus look fantastic. The paint's nice, the windows are tinted, it's got polished Alcoa's, brand new tires all the way around, and the seats and the inner steel ceiling panels have already been removed. As far as I'm concerned, I don't think I could have found a better bus. The only thing missing from this bus that I wanted was a six-speed standard transmission. I'm okay with the automatic transmission as long as it's not an Allison 545. The current owner says it's capable of cruising at 70, so that right there tells me I'm clear. I've got a ton of pictures that I copy and pasted and then cropped, so if I can figure out how to post them here I will. I think I have the attachments available below, we'll see after I post.

Thanks for the read, Smitty
Attached Images
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File Type: jpeg Screenshot_20200418-192012-01.jpeg (284.3 KB, 6 views)
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Old 04-18-2020, 07:46 PM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 21,422
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
wow looks like a real well kept bus!
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Old 04-20-2020, 04:05 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Bennington, NH
Posts: 44
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466E Navistar
Rated Cap: 28,900
Now that was quite a first trip....Sorry but this is a long read

So my buddy Jay picks me up at 9:00 a.m. and we leave New Hampshire and head for Connecticut. Get to the dude's house at noon on the money. I start looking it over and going through it. Everything is pretty good, not as good as the photos I posted, but I was pretty much expecting that. Those photos were from when he originally bought the bus, I had found them on my own. Still has the Alcoa's on it, which I love. Fired it up with no issues, and it did all the stuff it's supposed to do. Oil looked okay, coolant looked ok, lights all worked. Check, check, chech. The body nice and straight, couple small rust spots, but nothing serious. Underneath looked fairly well, frame has got some typical surface rust, but nothing eating away. Most of the floor supports we're good as well, except for the ones that surround the rear wheels wells. They are going to need attention, most likely replacement. My plan is to oil the entire undercarriage once it's all straightened out, so I'm not worried. Then it was test drive time. About a 15 minute ride with some good hills and some highway. I did get it up to a little over 60 with room to go in the operating range, so I ruled out the 545 transmission. Got back to the guy's house and we went into his garage and he included an awning setup that needs a new swing fabric, a set of 20 gal propane tanks on their own mounting system, a bunch of cushions, a hot water heater, an inverter electrical system scavenged from an RV, a replacement rear door, and a couple of other odds and ends. I got a little more flexibility from him because of the floor supports, and we settled at $3800. I paid the man, thanked him, and we hit the road. I headed for RT 8 south to get me back to RT 84 headed for home. I'd say we were about 2 miles in to RT 8 when she just quit. No stumbling, no gradual loss of power, just OFF. I coasted to the side and was able to go far enough to get passed the barriers so we could be 5 feet off the side instead of stuck right on the white line. I was in freak out mode. It has not been 15 minutes since I paid for this rig and dead! Jay and I got to looking for the issue. He looked around under the hood for abnormalities and I looked through the fuse / breaker box. Zip.....no smoking guns. Now the reason I'm in panic mode is because in order to go to Connecticut and pick this bus up and get everything done in one trip, I had borrowed a license plate to put on the bus and drive back to New Hampshire with. So If a police officer had stopped to check on the situation, my new bus would be going to impound on the back of a tow truck at a cost of at least $1,000 for the tow. So first thing we did was remove the plate, that way it was just an unregistered vehicle and not misuse of license plates as well. Jay and I tried a couple other things to no avail. So I got on the phone, at this point I wanted to get it off the highway before the police had to take a look. I called a dispatcher at the closest heavy duty towing service and spoke with dispatcher and gave her the lowdown. I got a call back within 10 minutes from a tow truck operator who was about an hour and a half away. He asked me what the situation was and I explained exactly what had happened. He asked me if I was mechanically inclined and I enthusiastically responded yes. He gave me three things to check to see if they made a difference. The first one was to check the fuses that were in the battery box. There were a couple sets of fuses in there but the first one I opened up looked pretty suspicious. The two female parts of the fuse holder were a little wonky and didn't hold the fuse tabs tightly. I pulled the fuse out and bent the tabs in opposite directions so that maybe it would create a little spring tension and touch both sides of the fuse holder. Damned if it didn't work! The bus fired up and idled. We made a couple more checks through the plate back on the back side of the bus and hit the road. I ran it for about an hour after that and then stopped at a rest area north of Hartford just to have a look over. Couldn't find any problems everything looked, good so on we went. We cruise the rest of the way up 91, I watched the gauges like an eagle. The bus held 60 to 65 running 25 to 2,600 RPM, and the temp ran a needle's width over 210 most of the trip. I could hear the fan clutch kicking in as we went along so I knew that was doing its job as well. We took the Brattleboro exit to get on route 9 heading for Keene New Hampshire. That section of road has some pretty steep inclines most of which I climbed at 45 mph. We went through Keene on route 9 and got into more hills and the second round of trouble started. While keeping my eagle eye on the temp gauge, I watched it start to creep up. It never got to the red zone but it was probably a needles width away once I crested the last hill. Then I cruised another five or so miles with the temperature right back down in the 210 area, and she quit again. I pulled off to the side of the road went around to the battery box again and just made sure everything looked good there, which it did. Not the problem. I got the bus started again and it would idle fine, but as soon as you try to go anywhere it would stall. It started up again, revving it up in neutral it was fine. And it would idle in gear and move the bus, but as soon as you put a load on she would shut down. I was able to finagle the bus onto a little dirt road side pull off, so that it was in a safe place out of the way. I went and knocked on a door and was lucky enough that the people who owned the little dirt road said I could leave the bus there overnight. I contacted a couple people who know their way around these motors and decided I would go to get a fuel filter and throw that thing on where it sat. Once once I did that earlier today everything was good. I drove it to a friend's house and there it will sit till it has a real set of plates. Wow. Thanks for reading, that was a long one! Schoolie Conversion Commence!
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Old 04-20-2020, 04:22 PM   #4
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 21,422
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
Check fuel filter(s). Good to hear you made it!
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Old 04-20-2020, 04:48 PM   #5
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Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Picton,Ont, Can.
Posts: 1,902
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: GMC
Engine: Cat 3116
Rated Cap: 72
A day you won't soon forget getting her home.
Good job and good luck.
Go after the gremlins if it has been sitting for a while.


John
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Old 04-20-2020, 04:52 PM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Bennington, NH
Posts: 44
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466E Navistar
Rated Cap: 28,900
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackJohn View Post
A day you won't soon forget getting her home.
Good job and good luck.
Go after the gremlins if it has been sitting for a while.


John
Yes, I imagine there will be a couple more lurking around in there. At this point the plates are the priority, then I can get it to where Iíll park it to work on it.
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Old 04-21-2020, 04:06 AM   #7
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Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 2,711
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas Built Bus
Chassis: Freightliner FS65
Engine: Caterpillar 3126E Diesel
Rated Cap: 71 Passenger- 30,000 lbs.
A hearty congratulations! Looks like you for at least your moneys worth in the tires and rims.
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