Selecting, Purchasing, and Driving Home

Ever since I was a kid I wanted to “grow up” and travel around the country as much as possible.  I think this was ingrained in me during my young and impressionable years by my parents.  I can remember many weekend day trips we took in our van.  When I was about 11 years old my Dad purchased a 1956 Crown School bus from one of the school districts in Portland, OR.  The bus had the number “5” on it from the school district and we simply ended up calling her “Old number 5”.  My dad put a bunch of bunks, a port-a-potti, a home made couch, and a counter top in and called it good.  Of course, finances being what they were for us at that time it was a very nice conversion.  We used a Kerosene heater for warmth and open windows for cooling.  The trips we took in that bus were real memory builders.   Later in my life I found the enjoyment of weekend tenting trips with my wife to be real times of contentment, bonding, and enjoyment.  However, the weather didn’t always make it so nice to be out in a tent.  So, a couple years into our marriage I started talking about how nice it would be to get a bus and convert it into a real nice motor home.  My wife, knowing we didn’t have the money for it gave me the impression she was actually considering the idea.  However, to her it was really just a “Big Hairy Deal”!  A number of years later, much to her dismay(?), we found ourselves in a position financially that we really could seriously consider getting a bus.  We looked at some, met other people who were doing conversions, looked at used products, and had a very rainy tenting experience (the last one!).  After many long conversations/discussions and much trepidation she finally agreed to the project ONLY if I would not let it become the only thing I ever did!


I’d seen this bus on the website for about 8 months before I made it out to CA.  Walking up to the bus was an impressive experience.  Before I’d seen this bus I’d only been in 4 other Over the Road coaches.  All of the coaches I’d been in except for one were of an “older” design.  I was overwhelmed and extremely excited because I really liked what I saw and scared all at the same time.


Looking back at this picture years later I think I was more nervous at the thought of actually driving this thing home than I was excited about it.  How weird the emotions we experience after a decade+ of dreaming.  To ABC bus this was just one in a line of old trade in’s they needed to dump.  To me, it was the beginning of a journey.


This thing sure does look long!




The first thing I noticed when I opened the engine doors was how oily the engine area seemed.  Many miles later I learned that many gaskets had long since given up their role of keeping oil in!



This was the last picture in the series of pictures taken during the weekend before I picked up the bus.  The next week I spent arranging insurance, getting the inspection, and figuring out how the money was going to get transferred, etc.


On November 15th, 2002 it was almost 90 degrees in LA.  ABC was squeezing all the work I’d ask them to into the last few minutes of early Friday afternoon.  The oil had been changed, new batteries installed, air dryer serviced, new wiper blades installed, air cleaner replaced and the coolant topped off.  All that was left was to prove to me the heater worked.  A few hours later the mechanics “declared” the heater was good to go.  Apparently the outside air temperature “confused” the mechanic…..?


I’d offered to take a bus driver from ABC bus to his hotel so he could wait for warranty service to be done to his bus.  After dropping him off he took my picture for me.  After here, it was all up to me!  Oh my goodness!


We’ll here goes…  I’m on my own and on my way …  2000 miles later I would arrive home.  Tired, but happy


This picture was taken at a rest stop in Utah.  By this time I’d discovered that the heater really did NOT work.  I’d also learned that if I opened the rear hatch over the turbo charger that I could get enough heat up front so I didn’t freeze in the 40 degree weather.  Burrrr!  Of course, nothing is free.  The noise levels were very loud!  The good thing about this experience was I learned the “lag” time from applying more fuel and when the turbo charger actually got spooled up enough to deliver the extra power.  Hearing really truly is believing.  That time of listening to the engine really helped me to learn to anticipate the need for additional power and to give the fuel ahead of time to be ready for the hill, passing, or whatever.