If you knew me (Billy Tatum) you’d know that I drive a lot, a whole lot. I would say I’m efficient, others would describe it as crazy, or fast, or a jerk. All of it stems from me not stopping for food, drinks, restrooms or retail outlets. The idea of having a motorhome has been mentioned, even a 15 passenger van due to my large family of 6. Also, my brother (Bryant) usually goes with us with his family of 3.
I guess this all officially started with a weekend road trip to Oklahoma for a wedding where the hotel was thirty minutes away from the venue, and stopping ate up so much of our time. while on the road we looked at motorhomes, but nothing can or ever will accommodate 9 people while sleeping and traveling, so started the bus conversion talk. googling specs, sizes, engines, economy and prices.
By the time we got back to Texas we had decided on a flat nose 15 window (rows) 40 foot bus, which is the longest they made. a temporary plan was drawn up in Powerpoint (Pictured on the left remember, we’re on a 3.5 hour drive here, a LOT transpired)
As you can see, we were slightly off on our dimensions, we also realised that the kids would be crammed and the back living area would lack functionality as well.
in the next two weeks Bryant sold his old Chevy Duramax and the hunt for a used bus was on, why not a motorcoach? Well, that’s what I wanted. but Bryant is right, initial cost, plus extra maintenance would put us out of budget quickly. School buses are cheap! simple, tough, and easy to find!
So we stumble on this ad in Houston Craigslist that seems a little high for a used bus, but when you’re pricing buses everyone has an opinion about what it’s worth. Just remember, it’s worth whatever you find valuable.
Enter the 1996 International Amtran Genesis (As seen on the craigslist ad- Right). Powered by the famous DT466 I6 diesel engine with only 77,000 miles it was a little steep at $5,000 and tires that looked like they were just put on in order to squeeze it off the lot. Here’s where the “worth” comes to play individually. This thing already had all but 4 seats removed, the motor was shiny, the electrical panels were shiny, oil was clear, and TONS of belly storage. the only thing I couldn’t tell was the type of transmission it had, either the MT545 or MT643. as soon as I drove it I knew it wasn’t the right transmission, but everything else was PERFECT.
We slapped our temporary tag on it and hauled ass. (here we are about to leave the lot)
First, we had to ditch the Hertz rental car at
Hobby airport. It’s fun driving a bus through
the hertz rental return. Next was fuel after we hit the loop in Houston, because just like the tires, this place obviously squeezed all the equity out of this thing before selling it as they could, it was EMPTY.
Then North for 4 hours, which went OK, we hit a little traffic, and somewhere near the Sam Houston statue while running an easy 70mph the familiar sound of tread slapping the wheel wells started happening.
That can be patched, right?
The good thing about dual rear wheels… keep rolling when it’s midnight and you’re low on cash after paying more for a bus than you were lead to believe you should have.
we limped her on in at 55 the rest of the way, getting in Palestine around midnight.
Based on all the other stuff I see on the forums, for us to get the idea, a plan, and find a great bus, get it insured, a temp tag and get it home all within two weeks has got to be a record… but like I said in the beginning.. I’m efficient as hell.. wait until you see what we accomplished by the 14th day of work.