Bringing our Bus Home

Bringing our Bus Home

We recently won an auction for a 97 Blue Bird TC1000 (kinda) Airport Transit Bus. We’ve been looking for something just like it for a bit over 2 years now.

A combination of living in weird areas, lack of resources, time, and money has made it really difficult to find the perfect deal. So finding this in our area (about 2 1/2 hours away) was exactly what we’d hoped for. It was on auction via PublicSurplus.com

We bid on it after 2 other bids, and then those other bidders disappeared. It was a sure thing that we’d win it but at the end of the day, due to a small misunderstanding on our part we didn’t meet the reserve which apparently was $5500. We had no intentions of paying that much for the bus anyway, so we resolved ourselves to move on and try again for the umpteenth time. Three days later, after a depressing weekend, however we got a call from the sellers and they let us have it for $3500 after all fees!

We paid for it the next day, and drove up to pick it up two days after that on a Thursday. We were handed the keys and told it had to be jumped to start and had a full tank of gas as a bonus, SWEET! After a quick inspection, some testing of limits, buttons, switches, brakes and tires, we took off.

Thirty minutes later and we we’re on the side of the highway because it had made some alarming noises, and stalled. After trying to crank it with zero results, I checked the batteries which were in fact forever dead. A quick trip to nearby shops and $400 later, we had two brand new batteries in, and it still wouldn’t start.

I called up my absurdly smart and intuitive mechanic brother. First thing he asked was if we had any gas, to which I replied, “yup a full tank!” Without skipping a beat he asked “Is there a full tank or is the gauge just telling you it’s a full tank?” Ashamed at my lack of thought I walked out of the bus with a wrench and banged on the incredibly hollow diesel tank. She was dry and the alarming noises had been the injectors spurting out air.

Another quick trip to the nearest gas station to buy some entirely overprices jugs and 10gallons of diesel, and we were finally underway again.

She drives beautifully! No rattles besides the seats and luggage rack. No wobbles, no weird noises, except for the fully functional roof mounted AC units. She accelerates fine, and can easily cruise at 65, which is perfect!

No problems at all with the bus on the drive at all, that is until we hit Tennessee about 20min from home and hit the mother of all potholes on Highway 65. Thought for sure we’d flip that bus over, after being rattled, my Dad turned back to facing forward and noticed we’d basically exploded the passenger side windshield. It had been so bad the windshield is out of its seal!

I really doubt TDOT will pay for the damage, so hopefully insurance is willing and not too expensive if we can even find someone to do the change and has the windshield in stock.

So here she is finally home.

Its 25 feet long, and the door is in the middle and its air powered, the brakes as well. The Engine is a 5.9L Cummins diesel, the transmission an Allison AT545. The floor is flat, no wheel wells which is nice. The floor to ceiling right now is 6’3” (75in) which is nice. The floor looks to have ¾” rotten ply. The ceiling looks to be about 3 inches thick (?) based on the emergency hatch. If we’re lucky we’ll get to keep our ceiling at above 6 feet. We’ve got about 21 feet to work with from doghouse to the back and 7 feet 6in (90 inches) across. That’s a total space of about 158 sqft. It’s not much but we’ll make it work.

We’re both full time students with full time jobs and 2 dogs, a Great Dane, Sif, and a Little Weeny, Hebe.

We’re going to work hard, because it’ll be worth it! My parents are amazing and will be helping as well. Hopefully we’ll finish this thing for when we’re done with school a little over a year now.

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