Parts for sale
This page was started to document the information of the conversion of the bus.
2004 Having a motor home was never my first plan, or my second
or third or any plan for that matter so how did I end up here?
For me the deck reshuffle started when I discovered my wife had removed
over half a million dollars from the value of our home and spent it at the
casino it was the final straw. This was not the reason for the divorce but just
the final reason. I almost lost everything but for the compassion of good people
I had some very good friends who I owe and immense debit of gratitude to and as
long as I live I can never fully repay them for their assistance.
For a while I was with out income or a home as I had lost everything except my tools and my truck. For a while I slept in my truck. One day one of my friends loaned me his bus conversion to stay in which I did for a while. It was very comfortable but basic. He had done this conversion (his first) over 16 years prior. Since then he had helped many other do conversions and was himself in the process of doing a new one using all the tricks he had learned in the process. He introduced me to a fellow motor homer who had finished his conversion a couple of years earlier. It was the same bus chassis that he was working on himself. When I walked into this conversion I was extremely impressed. In my life I have stayed in some nice places, fine hotels and beautiful homes, even had a nice home myself for a while. But none could top this, and he did it all himself. It was then I realized that a bus was in my future. Someday, but not today, as my wallet was empty and so was my spirit.
I have met and know a lot of people, most are nice, some are exceptional, a few are butt heads so you just give them distance. One of the really nice people I know is in charge of a fleet of busses. I approached him about finding a bus to convert. I said I wanted an air bag suspension bus and he said he had several that were coming out of service soon and would be available for a reasonable sum. I had no money at the time so I was just shopping. Later after doing some research, talking to experienced people and looking at the project I decided to seek a spring suspension bus instead. Originally it was because of the simplicity and dependability of springs versus air bags and the fact that the air bag suspension used more space under the chassis than the spring package did. I had taken a ride on coil spring bus and could not pick the difference in the smoothness of the ride. Finally when (not if) you have to replace a air bag it can be a challenging job as it never happens when you are in a garage and have plenty of tools available. Busses sit low and when the air bag goes down they are very low. Now try to get a 10 ton jack under to jack it up to change the air bag. Spring bus is for me. Spring busses leave more room for water tanks, pumps, generators, battery packs and storage bins. I went back to my friend at the bus company and told him of my desires and he said “Have I got a deal for you!”
In Australia once a bus is 25 years old you cannot use it for public transport anymore.
There were a series of busses built in Adelaide that were constructed with out power steering. What insanity! No one would drive them. Finally after sitting for nearly 8 years they converted them to power steering and started using them. Now usually a bus will get several million kilometres put on them. It doesn’t matter as anything that wears out gets replaced anyway. Tires, brakes, bearing, engines, transmissions – anything.
Now because this group of busses had very very low kilometres on them a submission was made to the government to allow them to be used for another five years. The government agreed if the busses were fully inspected and the brakes, suspension and running gear was all removed and updated. This was done at the cost of nearly $25,000 per bus. This was good value since new busses cost nearly $450,000 after this was done and the busses were put back in service the government changed their mind and said you can’t use these busses now. Nice huh? They ordered nearly 50 new busses and have to take these out of service now anyway.
There was one bus that my friend selected. My friend said to me," Don't let the skin fool you, I know the service records on these vehicles and because the body has a few wrinkles in them where some idiot driver rubbed up against a pole or something doesn’t mean it is not a good vehicle. You want to make sure it is a good running gear and chassis, and this one is a good one. Just after it was upgraded the diesel injection pump on the engine failed and since I had several units in stock that were not being used I just parked it and put anther bus on the route. That bus sat for over a year because I did not need it. It hasn’t run since. It doesn’t run now and you can have it for this $XXXX”. I won’t divulge the price because he was being very good to me. I had no money and the payment plan was very friendly.
Sorry pics got deleted... I have to go back and find them and reload them...
I thanked him profusely over and over again. I told him that if he would get it towed to where I was staying at the time I would pay the wrecker bill. I left very happy.
My plan was to strip it of all the internal bus stuff. Seats and rails and the like. Make a quick bed frame and move in so I would have a place to stay while my life is being rebuilt.
A few days later I was away on a road run picking up stuff to finish a job with for a customer when I returned to find the bus sitting there. I thought it had been towed there. When I asked a neighbour when it arrived and how it got there I figured I owed someone some tow money, he said they drove it in. COOL
I called my friend and when I queried him about driving it
he said,” I am phasing these busses out of service and have several of the fuel
pumps in stock that wont fit the new busses so instead of throwing the fuel
pumps away because I have no need for them I had one of the mechanics put one on
your bus and they delivered it to you.”
neighbour and I spend a day taking the seats out and stripping it.
Why a bus chassis versus a Winnebago deal? First the bus is a much more robust vehicle designed to run millions of kilometres. It has big brakes, big tires, a strong engine and strong transmissions. The standard motor homes are constructed to a price which always means taking short cuts to meet the price. Finally, why buy something (I have little cash anyway) when I can build it EXACTLY the way I want it with the features I want. Every dollar I spend on the conversion I get that dollar back three times when (if) I ever decide to let someone else become the proud owner. Every dollar I spend on a Winnebago I lose thirty cents. Which one do you think is the better deal?
While I was rebuilding my life I wanted to make as much money as I could and spend as little as possible. I hate throwing money away on rent and stuff that does not make money. I remember early one winter morning lying in bed listening to the rain on the roof of my bus. I got a warm fuzzy feeling. I was living in MY home. A fully paid for home. If I did not like my neighbours I started the engine and left. If I did not like the view out of the window I could change that. Independence is a powerful feeling. I am a turtle. I take my home with me wherever I go. My home is as nice as I want to make it. I want to make my home nice.
It never was and still isn’t my intention to live the rest of my life in my bus but it was temporary and it is good. I cannot complete the conversion properly while I am living in the bus. It is kind of like living in a house while you are renovation it. You can, but it is harder than necessary.
As my life improved, some due to my low overheads but mostly due to a LOT of hard work, I moved out of the bus and the bus was always on the plan for renovation but had been moved to a back burner for now.
I wanted to get a bigger truck to move a race trailer with as my old Chevy was now over 30 years old and who still uses a truck to work with when it is that old. It could be renovated but even if it was it did not fit the current plan. The Chevy Dooley was perfect when I got it but it just does not fit the plan today.
Road rules change and now you are allowed longer vehicles (always knew it would come but just didn’t know when) and now the option of using the bus as a tow vehicle for pulling a race car trailer is now a viable option.
Now the bus is back on the front burner. Forget the truck; get the bus going so I can use it like a truck while I am converting it. Travel in comfort, forget motel bills, forget restraint bills, and forget the hassles both of them have. Now I can use the bus for business towing the race car trailer or I can leave the trailer at the workshop and take the bus and go motor homing or camping or sightseeing. Options are a good thing.
Since it is a motor home registration is cheaper much cheaper than the Chevy Dooley is and insurance is cheaper as well. This just keeps getting better and better.
Spoke to my friend about the power on the bus and what I want to do with it and he reckons a Cat 3208 and 4 speed Allison will get the job done and they are cheap, well they are cheap through him. I can make up the frame to hold the engine and transmission and we can use the facilities at the bus garage to pull the flat six and two speed automatic out and put the V8 and four speeds in. Just like my neighbour did. Now I would not have to do this but I want to tow with my bus and it needs the four speeds to tow with. The extra power of the V8 won’t hurt either.
My neighbour has the same chassis as I have and has his bus conversion moving quickly. It had stalled for a while but has made tremendous progress in the last 12 months.
He has modified the exterior of his so it looks less like a transit bus and more like a motor home. His internal lay out will be very similar to my bus and Clive’s bus conversion.
This is the same bus chassis as the photos above. Looks different doesn’t it?
2 November 2006
A review of the situation caused me to
reconsider my BIG plan. If I could find the right "package" I have hatched a new
plan. Still need a motor home, nothing has changed there but the execution of
the plan has. Since the bus is too long I needed a truck chassis to build my
motor home on. Shortening the bus was not a viable option although it was
considered briefly. That consideration went out the window when I found a near
new (low km's) truck that had fell over sitting still wrecking the cab. It is a
18 ton Mitsubishi FM557 with only 317 on the clock, near new. It was a council
crane truck that fell over sitting still and did no damage to the chassis and
enough damage to the cab to set in motion a series of events where the truck was
sold to someone who was going to fix it and it sat for 5 years and was never
repaired. When I inspected it I rengoated the price after pulling the oil pan to
find some enigne damage where it laid on its side while the engien was running.
I bought it less the tray and the crane and kept the hitch on the back. The
chassis is in near new condition. A good friend of mine is a highly qualified
diesel mechanic and he has a race car that needs a front half. He got his race
car fixed and I got a completely new engine for my truck. I did spend a bit of
money getting the fuel system done so EVERYTING is like new. It is a 250HP Turbo
Intercooled 7 liter diesel with a full syncro ten speed transmission in a 18 Ton
GVM and a 25 Ton GCM rated chassis and it is nine meters long.