Interesting reading all of this "is a bus really worth it traffic" here lately. $10,000 buses, house selling, The Grand Adventure examined and scrutinized. Makes you wonder, eh?
Removed all old lettering and decals from previous owners, cleaned out, junked or removed what was not right. Installed new dash bezels (some people call them eye lids) on gauges. Fabricated two new rocker panel areas in the drivers compartment. Fabricated and built two new 6” radio speaker boxes and installed them.
First big road trip of the year, kind of expensive. Three new starter batteries, broke down and towed in Atlanta, $2,200.00 are we having fun yet? Repairs are made by W.W. Williams in Atlanta, good price and everything is in good working order. Eating all three meals per day at the local waffle house, does not require a menu, believe it or not.
Pulled engine, replaced with rebuilt V892T Detroit, installed 6 speed Allison world transmission, new after-cooler. Did a suspension adjustment, greased, lubed, oil & filter, installed transmission cooler. Bonded with my local banker. Not a whole lot of improvements made to coach this year for obvious reasons.
Two new windshields and suspension adjusted on left side. Only took 59 days ... the name of my first born male child and a note from my mother. They also leak at the bottom on the drivers side. The rest of it is now history ... Moved to the country from the city, built a 40X70 shop, new aerobic system and dump station on the property, wired in two 50 amp services in shop for visitors.
Visit to see old highschool chums proves to be fatal. Genset melt down outside of Birmingham, Alabama, no air in the summer time, are we having fun yet? Ran the rest of the trip after dark, in the coolness of the night the deep south aint all that bad. Shared the back bedroom with every misquito in Mississippi. I am starting to notice a pattern to this bus ownership and it is not cheap. Fixed Genset with new parts, new replacement parts out of Oregon are $370.
First bus meet ... Lake Afton meet in Kansas, no bus, rained out and stuck on the driveway, left the bus at home, drove the Chevy Tahoe instead. Met some new bus people for the first time, made arrangements to have a mechanic in Texas fix what others have screwed up in the way of mechanicals on the bus. Left side suspension is saggin more than a robust full-figured woman selling funnel cakes at the State Fair.
Discovered I have the worst engine in the world, use the wrong oil, and learned how to alienate other bus people without really trying. Interesting weekend, will have to purchase a T-shirt that reads ... “Does not play well with others” or something.
Back to work on the Old Hoopie, no rest for the weary.
Updated headlights to 1989 (square mounts), fixed genset problem and put it in good working order. Ordered new checks for the checkbook. Fabricated and installed new padded leather dash, new door panel (Leather), polished & mounted old Eagle emblem in door, replaced front plate with a gold eagle emblem from IBP in Florida.
Used some of the new checks.
New water pump. Next year it would pay to “winter prep the coach BEFORE winter actually sets in” to avoid this costly mistake ($180). My introduction to Happy Busing now receives even more information .... FloJet water movers are not cheap.
Installed a third brake light in the rear, under bumper mount tail light setup (six lights, 4 marker, 6 brake), 8 new side mount (LED) turn signal and markers. Stainless steel cowbell for back bumper (All you garbage haulers ... Eat your heart out!) Fabricated and custom built 8 new reflector lights (inside of old reflector plates on bumpers) and installed LED turn/markers.
Stainless steel Bingo plate on front of coach with novelty tags. New turn signals on front of coach, changed out all the tail light Len’s covers to clear, new maker light Len’s covers on top. Installed a buzzer on the turn signals, so I don’t make any more five mile left turns on the Interstate.
Pulled all the carpet and installed a new Montana Hazelnut engineered wood floor entire length of the coach, enclosed the front steps. New preacher seat dinette on the passenger side, with additional storage underneath. Upholstered to match the rest of the coach, makes into a small bed for grandchildren or whatever. Suburban heater for drivers heat.
Ah, summertime, life is good. Broke down and heating up in Phoenix, W.W. Williams for AC work and back on the road, considerably lighter in the pockets. Interstate ten has to be the absolute worst highway in America ... hands down. Some stretches are nothing more than a cow trail. If I ever see El Paso Texas again it will be much, much too soon. Spent most of the night in a small town in Texas that was so small, the City Hall was the top floor of the Dairy Queen.
Let's communicate .... Overhead signal kicker box, 500 watt Palomar for CB, gets out roughly 35 miles on a test. 2 new DVD players hooked up to digital televisions. Permanent oak tool boxes/cabinet in storage bay on drivers side, six drawers and two shelves, will finish out later.
Stainless steel kick plates for all steps, new LED floor lighting, two new chrome plated fire extinguishers. New bolt lock for front door (Thanks Paul). All flex steel furniture and couch removed, taken to upholstery shop and recovered in leather material. Fixed passsenger heater and it is now working.
Six new Firestones, balanced and mounted ($3K).
Paint and body work, completely stripped and torn down. All screws removed whenever possible and replaced with rivets, all seams filled, old bondo removed, in some cases as much as an inch and one-half thick. Two step Imron, Gun Metal Grey (Metallic) applied with two clear coats over-laid. One color paint, no stripes or accents. A quoted three week job was finished in just a little under 12 weeks and at twice the cost.
Cancelled out on another bus meet.
Polished all the wheels and alum. body side moulding with 7.5 inch grinder, diamond plate polished out, detailed out door openings, new front & rear hub covers, painted lug nuts (smoke grey). 58 hours working from the front to the rear and back again. Removed screws from side panels and replaced with large snap caps. Purchased a new 4” grinder to replace the burnt out one that caved during this project.
Fabricated and installed new LED’s tail lights and turn signals all the way around. Converted all overhead markers to LED lighting. New flasher units (for LED’s), pre-wired in resistance lights in rear of bus (engine compartment). New overhead lighting in drivers area. New controls for all added lights, ceiling fans, stainless steel plate, with toggle switch covers. Stainless steel toggle switch plates new ID Plates for all toggles and Jake Brake switch.
Pulled down mirrored ceiling on the interior (no more late night naked sky divers in the bedroom!) and fabricated a new three piece ceiling fixture out of oak for new air conditioning registers up front ... One piece oak in the rear bedroom with two new LED lights and plates.
Wife makes three courtesy passes thru the shop today muttering “Is that new? Where did that come from?” over and over.
Installed two new 15,000 btu/heat pump AC units (Low profile units). Discovered that previous owner has BOTH units on same circuit, this sucks. Cannot run both at same time, trips the breaker. Fixed basement AC unit, bad circuit board, all four AC’s now working. Primus heating system reworked and now is in good working order, works just fine. Painted rear hubs and installed 50 new hub nut covers. Picked up the second water pump, wonder if they are cheaper by the dozen?
Six new LED interior lights, with stainless steel plating installed in overhead. Pimp Lites on underbody, red neon tubes and did toad also. Tow-bar set up on Little Truck (HHR) and wired same, no aux. braking system. Screw the feds!
Drivers heater under the seat fails ... always something.
Three new dash fans, removed backup camera set up and trashed, back up cameras are for sissies, that is why you have mirrors. 6 new toggle switches and rocker switches on dash area, new Sony stereo and CB set up, added driving lites, Oogah horn, new underbody electric air horns, aux. back-up lites, new custom switch panel controls and rocker panel box drivers side, four-way by pass switch, interior running lights (all red from the drivers area to the rear of the bus).
Grand Canyon make ready and summer mechanical's.
Powerwash on engine compartment and tidy up whatever. Oil and filter on engine, oil and filter on Genset, lubricated and greased, fixed speedometer, fixed Jake brake (adjusted both sides), air bagged suspension on the drivers side (worn out torsion bar) right side is okay (for now). Fixed both windshield wipers left and right. Fabricated & mounted two new splash guards for front wheel wells.
New window tint all the way around (all side windows on coach and windshield). Reworked all battery connections on house batteries and refurbished compartment and basement AC. Michelins ride much, much better than the Firestones, no doubt about it.
Toilet problem .... What’s that smell? What’s that smell?
New seals in poop-shooter, pulled the Pep Boys Lites off (ground effects) and replaced with good United Pacific LED Light-bar units. Trying to do stuff on the cheap, is NEVER a good idea. New stainless steel hub covers for the rear, replacing the ones lost on the Interstate. These “bolt on” and no more of the press on type, mickey-mouse and a waste of money.
Flap weights on rear mud flaps, no naked women (this is after all a class act).
Fixed CB Radio and is now in good working order. Which is kind of ironic, ‘cause no one talks on them any more, and if they do, they are not using English. Extended front driveway to 39 foot width to accommodate larger coaches. NO Vacancy sign for bedroom, stainless plate to cover bad body work on passenger side.
New Pimp Lites front to rear (don’t ask what that cost or as Mama would say “there went my new kitchen counter tops!) ... Light in bedroom, new light in kitchen, stainless steel hub covers (these BOLT on) ... New harness for the tow car (neglected to hook up the pig-tail and drug the old one many miles ... ruined).
Spare headlight and marker lite box fabricated. Coach is now 100% LED lighted except for the gauge lighting, converted and switched over. Winter claims but another water pump, this is really getting old now, $177 per pump, it is getting old fast! I suspect buying a rebuilt unit was not in my best interest.
Trip to New Mexico and throttle failure, had to limp home 640 miles on nothing but a King Cruise Control and resume feature. This was interesting, especially in the numerous small towns that line the route back home. Replaced servo unit on throttle and everything is just peachy-keeno, give me another shot at it Lord, I think I can make it now.
Rebuild alternator, only putting out five amps, used some more new checks outta the checkbook. New worked up truck model, 250 amps, installed and ready for the road. Kind of expensive but well worth it (I hope?).
Read an interesting article on WVO and powering a diesel on French Fries ... According to my latest doctor report, I have enough in my cholesterol for at least four miles per gallon, but the transfusions I suspect would make me weak in the knee’s. I am sticking with Big Oil.
Or should that be Big Oil is sticking me ... I am confused, broke, in pain, and they are going to love me at the home.
Why in the world did You buy a bus or in other words ... You can try and teach a pig to sing ... but it won’t work ... And all you do is irritate the pig.
New Ice Chest for forward bay. Entertainment Center, 31” Phillips TV, Sony AM-FM-CD and DVD player, Oak Cabinetry. New DVD storage box and finished off (stained) spare headlight box and fuse .... storage for misc items. Ordered more checks!
Start trailer project to haul the toad in. Should have this finished and ready to go this spring. Trailer parts are now in, lights, camera, action ... Mr. DeMill I am ready for my closeup! New mud flaps with chrome weights (no naked women), need to pick up some mounting hardware. LED Tag Lite setup (what else?). Shop concrete is very cold in the winter time, make a note of that, this isn’t a good time to be crawling on the floor like some kind of reptile.
Two Utility Reefer door backing plates from Utility Trailers in OKC cut, sanded down and painted to match trailer, pick up some snap caps (almost 200). Cut some 1/4 inch steel plate for the front of the trailer and have to work that up. Tie straps for car from Frank’s Trailers, $121 ouch! Add on marker LED’s (
Franks Trailers $16.95 each ... Again ... Ouch.
Find a new source of parts b’sides Franks Trailers. Too rich for my blood.
Installed 4 LED docking lights in the old locations, bus is now 100% LED with the exception of the dash instrument lights. Built three heater boxes, sanded down, rounded the corners, ready for staining. Two new storage boxes for the trailer project, sanded and ready for paint. Spring arrives, I once again, consider sending a letter to the I.R.S. to ask them to remove my name from their list ... Increase the monthly allotment to the diesel fuel fund.
Backed down on the trailer for the first time and broke out the aux. backup lights (Failure in communication between the driver and the Mrs.) this will cost $80 to replace. Removed overhead lights in trailer, figure out LED replacements for these. Order stainless panels for tail light replacement, new back up lights (I don’t want to talk about it) new alum wheels for trailer (polished almost like bus, nice, kind of trick).
Trailer wiring is now complete all that remains is to crawl on my belly under the bus and string enough wire to handle the new trailer brake device ... should be a lot of fun ... I can hardly wait. As an Eagle is low slung and close to the ground, even a sheet of cardboard makes you too tall to slide well underneath. Things should be okay, until my belly and the rear differential meet up, then it is going to get a little dicey, as I am now scratching parts of my body I have not seen in five years.
Stopped in Texas by the D.O.T. “too many red lights” on my trailer, issued a safe driving award and signed on the dotted line. Buy some yellow LED’s from Frank, are we having fun yet?
June & July: Reworked all the bays on the passenger side, refurbished and wood floors installed, new LED lights in each bay. Pulled doors and painted insides, replaced caps where necessary. Battery compartment reworked for starter batteries, fuel bay and battery compartment (house batteries) reworked and refurbished.
August: New low pressure switches (out of Washington State) installed, reworked bays on driver’s side of coach, moved dump hose and reworked holding tank and water pump areas. Installed new LED lights in all bays, and worked up a Road Tool Box and new diamond plate shelving. Shut down bay work and get the old hoopie ready for a 3600 jaunt throughout the west.
Air Bag failure in Arizona, total cost to make repairs was a little under $2,000.00. Bracket welding, shelled a brand new tire, air bag lunched ... are we having fun yet? Bonded with a bus nut named Van and some tire changer-welder type named Ruiz. Had to abort the vacation and come home at a greatly reduced speed (slowly). Weighed equipment, 43,540 gross, way too heavy and corrections and repairs will now have to be made.
First order of the day is to park the trailer and put it in the barn until further notice. That is a big time, major disappointment, believe me. Three months of labor down the tubes and now a trailer sitting in the barn that is basically not usable or meeting my needs. On top of that, it is roughly $10K outta pocket that isn’t coming back.
Guess I will have to build me a new trailer, finish up on what needs finishing up, and then check myself into the center for treatment. I am contemplating a book for sometime this fall, “How a tired old bus and Prozac changed my life.” Look for it Borders sometime after Thanksgiving.
So there it is ... That’s the way it often goes ... first yo’ money ... and then your clothes. Is it worth the time, the money, the effort? I dunno.
So here we sit, EIGHT LONG YEARS LATER ... Yesterday the bill from the hospital on my open heart by-pass arrived, $163,840.00. And y’all thought buses were expensive. Like the late Wil Geer says in the movie, Jermiah Johnson, “You’ve Come Far Pilgrim.” Unlike Robert Redford who replies, “T’Weren’t Far.”
With me, its a tad bit different, looking back on it all, it certainly feels like “far.” And it were not cheap.