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Author Topic: Has anyone converted a classic red London double decker Roadmaster bus?  (Read 11809 times)
Kevin Warnock
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« on: July 22, 2008, 03:48:49 PM »

I was wondering if anyone has heard of a classic Roadmaster bus being converted? The guy I bought my RTS from has a really beat up one on his property. He said he planned to convert it, but it looks like it's been sitting for ten plus years. The head room upstairs is such that you can't stand up except in the aisle. But I think the upstairs could be great for a couple of bedrooms with full size queen beds. You couldn't stand up in the bedrooms, but you could stand up while walking to them. These busses are short according to Wikipedia - around 26 to 30 feet. Here's the article on Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Routemaster

These are the most recognizable bus design I think. They have the engine in the front, and have an automatic transmission. They are still in use on limited routes in London. I take it someone who planned to convert such a bus would have to learn how to do everything on it personally. How about an engine swap?

Does anyone know the maximum speed?

I ask all of this because it's fun to think about for the future. I am busy with my RTS conversion, and don't plan to actually convert a London bus. But I would like to dream about it. Can you imagine the attention you would get with such a thing???

Do they have airbags or springs? Has anyone here ever driven one? Apparently they accelerate quickly and are very nimble and light.

Finally, are there any for sale in the US? Any problem importing one? I take it they can be imported because they are over 25 years old? If anyone has seen them sell on EBay, do you remember the price and condition? And does anyone know the fuel consumption?

Thanks for any comments!
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Kevin Warnock
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« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2008, 03:50:23 PM »

Whoops... I meant to write Routemaster, not Roadmaster, in the original post! Sorry.

Kevin
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Jeremy
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« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2008, 04:31:52 PM »

Lots and lots of hippies living in old Routemasters - so much so that it's become a bit of a stereotype (bigger version of a VW microbus I guess). There is a fairly famous film starring Cliff Richard (British version of Elvis) on the subject. They are also very widely used as advertising / corporate entertainment / spectating vehicles at sporting events etc. I was at a sailing event last year where a drinks company were using a Routemaster with a big awning as a bar.

They are still being used in London, and in fact may become more popular again as there is currently a campaign to ban the modern single-decker bendy buses because they cause too much congestion. The disadvantage the Routemasters have is that they require two members of staff to operate them (one to drive, one to sell tickets), whereas modern buses are designed so the driver can sell tickets as well. The Routemasters apparently were incredibly expensive when they were new, but effectively have an infinite lifespan as you can just keep rebuilding them whilst generations of newer buses wear out and get scrapped. I don't know how long they are incidentally, but certainly more than 30 feet.

I wouldn't want one as a camper conversion personally as they are designed to trundle around town at low speed, rather than cruise at high speed for long distances. Also the height would be a problem I expect, although presumably no more so than a double-deck coach.

There have been discussions of Routemasters on here before - I remember posting photos of the Harry Potter triple-decker Routmaster and also a 'roof chopped' Routemaster that was built by a hot rod club here which attends a lot of custom shows etc.

Jeremy
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« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2008, 04:53:13 PM »

When I was in high school, my art teacher went to England and brought back a red double decker- the one with the high radiator on it-just like in the picture.  It had a 200hp Leyland diesel with a 4 spd preselect semi automatic mid mounted transmission. It worked by first selecting the gear, then when you want it to shift, lift up on the gas pedal and depress the "clutch" pedal and it shifts for you.
Some problems with using the old double deckers-getting parts since Leyland is not sold in the U.S. The height of the bus is 14'6" which some cities will allow, but otherwise the national overall height restriction is 13'6".  Plus their top speed is 45mph-50 down hill.  I wouldn't recommend it.  Good Luck, TomC
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Tom & Donna Christman. '77 AMGeneral 10240B; 8V-71TATAIC V730.
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« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2008, 05:55:59 PM »

I think if I was going to convert a double-decker, I would likely choose one of these:
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Mark Morgan    near Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
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Charles in SC
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« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2008, 06:07:28 PM »

I have kind of been out of the loop a long time now but there used to be one of those that was operated in Greenville by a bar that had what they called the Pubcrawl where people rode around from bar to bar on the bus kind of like a route. I do not know if it is still running.
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« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2008, 06:19:43 PM »

There was one that actually ran and was driveable in Winter Garden Florida
for quite some time. One of the Bus dealers had it on their lot and used it
as a sign. It was across the street from the Setra dealer but may have been
moved by now.

You might call ABC Bus in Winter Garden and as if any of the sales people
have seen it lately. Or one of the other dealers in Winter Garden may know
where it went.

Dave....,
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« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2008, 08:56:15 PM »

there was a fleet of them for tours in Victoria BC, might still be some in use there, but there's a whole yard full of them non-functional near Parksville now .... can't imagine it'd be a very practical conversion

Bill
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Kevin Warnock
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« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2008, 09:07:54 PM »

No, I don't think it would be that practical a conversion either. Especially if the top speed is 45mph and there is no rear door at all. Think of the wind noise and trying to heat or cool a bus with a permanently open large door. Of course, I would put in a door, probably inset and parallel to the short side of the bus, so as not to ruin the 'no door' look.

This seems like a great project to look forward to when I retire. I think it would be a second conversion, for short trips of an hour or two from home, since if it were to break down, it would probably need to be towed to my house for repairs. But I'm pretty sure a conversion could be made that would work... after all, people make conversions out of much smaller vehicles all the time.

I would imagine even if I never drove it, and just converted it and had it on my property as a 'guest house' that I would have a lot of fun with it. There doesn't seem to be a hurry to start... I am sure I will be able to find one of these years from now, as I doubt too many get crushed if there are yards full of them in non-operational state.

But of course, I would love to drive it... Any idea if a modern engine and transmission could be installed, and if so, if the top speed could be boosted to freeway speeds? Do you think there might be an issue with it just not being safe at 70 mph since it's never been tested or driven at such speed?

Thanks for the comments even though I'm not a serious buyer right this moment...

Kevin
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Kevin Warnock
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« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2008, 11:06:47 PM »

I just discovered there is a Routemaster Magazine, published by the Routemaster Association. Here is the URL:

http://www.routemaster.org.uk/

Looks like there is a passionate group of people dedicated to these vehicles.

Kevin
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tekebird
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« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2008, 06:40:48 AM »

I saw a show on a Family in England that had one as a Motorhome.  thiers did not go fast at all, they fabricated a door for the rear entry.  Very hippy style conversion.

would be unique but totally inpractical....

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buddydawg
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« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2008, 06:44:06 AM »

Then again who ever said that a busnut was practical!
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TomC
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« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2008, 09:15:08 AM »

One thing to look for and be wary of is that the English double deckers were framed with wood to keep the weight down.  By this time, much of the wood may be rotted out (wood version of Eagle?) making for a very intensive rebuild.  Considering their odd mechanics, narrower than 8ft, many without power steering, over height, etc, it would make for a hard conversion.  But then again, nothing is simple.
As to a engine swap, either the Cummins ISC/ISL, International DTA466/530, Caterpillar 3126/C7, Mercedes 926, etc would be the right size at around 300hp and 800lb/ft torque.  Then you'd have enough power for both hill climbing and highway speeds.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2008, 10:01:33 AM »

I can't really think of any reason why a Routemaster conversion should be any more difficult than any other vehicle of that vintage, apart from the 'usability' issue that the bus was only ever intended for relatively low-speed travel. I imagine this isn't a concern for many people that live in old buses as their lifestyle is such that they stay in the same location for months at a time, and then only travel fairly short distances when they do move. It's a different matter if you are using the bus for holidays and need to travel large distances fairly quickly - I dare say engine changes etc could be done, but personally it would seem a lot more sensible to start with a more suitable vehicle.

This is the type of use that Routemasters tend to be used for; as I said before, there are a lots of this type of conversion out there:



The company that did that conversion also convert Routemasters and other double-deckers for living purposes:

http://www.doubledeckerliving.com

Jeremy
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kyle4501
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« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2008, 10:56:42 AM »

.  .  .  .would be unique but totally inpractical....

That can be applied to almost ANY old bus.  Roll Eyes

It is the enjoyment during the journey that makes it worth doing, NOT the residual value at the destination.

If someone wants that look & doesn't mind planning ahead (overhead) when choosing routes, I think it would be a great place to start.
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