Waiting for the Bus
Our bus overheated on the side of the road on September 18, 2016. It is now March 1, 2017 and I sit typing this blog from a hotel room in South Padre Island. We are still without a bus. What happened? Let me give you the full rundown.
First, we fretted. This is no joke. We broke down on a Sunday. We cancelled our Wednesday concert and went to Effingham. We put all of our options on the table and it was ugly. We ran budget numbers, talked to our priest, and prayed. A LOT. By the end of the week we had a plan to continue our tour until we could figure out what to do about the bus.
Second, we considered an upgrade. Our bus is old. It’s engine is even older. We knew things were not quite right, but when we stopped at a dealer, they said they were not trained on the engine.
“But it’s s Detroit Diesel. You’re a dealer!” I pleaded.
“Series 60 and newer.” they replied, unsympathetically.
Maybe our best bet was to get something that people could work on. That is part of the reason why we borrowed the bus from the Thirsting. The newer engine DID make a difference. We looked at busses by Prevost and Vanhool. We made a budget for doing our own RV conversion. We toured a bus that was mid-conversion. Ultimately, we decided that any bus that was in our price range was going to have a myriad of problems. It was a better plan to wait until we could get something reliable.
Third, we got a final report on our bus. The shop confirmed that the pistons were scraping, and the engine was not usable. The repairs would be at least an entire rebuild - and they were not going to cover any of it under warranty.
Then, We reviewed buying another bus again and our options were not looking plausible. Michael called our shop again to see how much it would be to install a “running take out” engine. Our hope was that if our bus was running in any capacity, we could at least sell it to raise funds for an upgrade. They agreed to install an engine at no cost if we supplied the engine. We looked at engines ranging from $750 smoking and knocking to $14,000 engines that were made to spec and included a warranty. Michael felt like this was a rare opportunity and ordered the nicest engine. By this time it was November 5th.
The website from the engine company said that lead time was generally 3 weeks. Our shop said installation would be about 1 week. We know our engine is old and parts are tricky, so we were hoping that we would have the bus ready in 2 months, by Jan 8th, when we would start our Spring tour. That was about double the advertised time.
The engine company did not have core engines on hand, so they had to have our shop remove our engine and ship it to Michigan. The first shipment was missing some of the needed components, so they had to make a second shipment.
We missed our window to take the bus to Florida in January.
Once all the parts were inventoried and inspected they ordered what was needed and started machining. They realized that certain bearings were 10 degrees offset when they had ordered standard. We lost another week in shipping.
We missed the window to take our bus to Texas in February.
They promised that they were working overtime on the engine and it would be ready, but the mechanic got a stomach bug and had to go home sick.
They realized they needed another part shipped from Illinois. We missed the window to take the bus on the second half of our Texas tour.
...and so on and so forth.
We got the call from the engine company that they had the engine dyno-tested and were ready for final payment. It should be in route to Illinois.
Our next stop in Illinois is Easter. We are hoping for the best!