The bus is a 2005 Thomas FS65 on a Freightliner chassis with an Alison 2000 transmission.
We searched for some time and did lots of research before settling on this bus. And by “we” we mean Joe. We wanted a short bus, but we wanted one on a truck chassis, not the familiar van chassis that you’ve probably seen. The reasons for this included the much higher GVWR of a medium duty chassis – and all the heavier duty suspension and brakes that come with it. The higher ground clearance will be useful not just for driving, but for adding build components to the undercarriage. We searched mostly in the southern states in the hopes of finding a vehicle with little rust. And our search paid off.
Sandy began life as a federal bus at the White Sands Missile Range – hence her name. After being retired and sold, she ended up as a nursery school bus in Texas. The school, though, couldn’t keep drivers with CDLs, so Sandy ended up on a consignment lot. We hired a professional to drive the bus from Texas to Connecticut. Bob LaDue of A1 Driveaway did the job – and thank heaven for him. Even as a seasoned tanker driver in Wisconsin, and a leader of military convoys, he said the job was the toughest he ever had. He struggled through a massive ice storm with poor heat and busted wipers. He is a tough professional, and earned his keep.The bus hasn’t been without its issues. We have spent quite a bit of the bus itself, in the hope that we avoid problems on the road. We made mistakes in the process. We bought it with a third party inspection, and that inspection missed some big items – like the windows being inoperable. Also, many people advise against the Cat C7 due to its being finicky with maintenance and being expensive to repair. Our edition of the engine predates significant emissions requirements, such as EGR, DPF and DEF systems. Any old strange vehicle is going to carry risks. For now, we feel we’ve done a lot of TLC and preventative maintenance and that we’re ready for lengthy trips. Having Coach-Net Roadside assistance feels good, too. Once we hit the road you can follow our journey here.
Sandy was mostly rust-free and we were able to easily treat what little rust there was.