Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Dumbasses!

In every field there are dumbasses. Usually such people believe everything they read in popular tawdry rags on an online in dodgy discussion groups. A former coworker described internet groups rather succinctly as “Maximum noise, maximum time soak, minimum technical information” and it’s so absolutely true.

In the bus groups and I have been a member of many I have heard many strange things...
The AT545 is a poor transmission
The DT466 is a poor engine
You can get 70mph out of a schoolbus
Bigger tyres make you go faster
Hydraulic brakes are bad

Let’s take all these myths and lay them to rest.

“The AT545 is a poor transmission”. This is usually accompanied by some claim that the person making the claim had one burn out on them or perhaps more or had some other disaster. The actual fact is rather different. The AT545 is a fine transmission. Mine ran out of transmission fluid which stalled the engine. Rather than restarting the engine after it stalled, I leapt out and checked my fluids. There was no transmission fluid on the dipstick so I called for a tow. Because I did that, I did not damage the transmission so all it needed was a replaced seal and more transmission fluid. I now carry two gallons of spare transmission fluid, just in case. Another claim is that the AT545 cannot be used downhill to slow a vehicle. This is a nonsense claim. All transmission can be used to slow a vehicle going down a hill. Just put it in a lower gear and when speed picks up too much, brake down to the speed you want then let the brake cool while the transmission and engine eases you down the hill. For a steep hill, I suggest slipping the transmission into 1.

“The DT466 is a poor engine”. No - it’s a fine engine. It was designed for hauling plenty weight. It’s not a Ferrari engine and it never will be. This is an excellent engine for towing etc. It’s not for interstate racing. A well maintained DT466 will last for hundreds of thousands if not millions of miles. It has an upper rev limit of 2900 RPM. I have heard other say it maxes at 3000 and others say it can be made to go faster. Sure it can - just like you can put nitrous and high octane fuel in a Ford Escort. It will run fast and furious but will break pretty quickly. It’s intended use is medium speed hauling. It’s an about town hailing engine, not am interstate engine. Leave it governed to 2500RPM and you’ll have a happy engine for years if not decades.

“You can get 70mph out of a schoolbus”. Sure you can but you’re going to burn out that engine and transmission. If you throw it off a bridge I bet you can get it to go even faster than 70mph. Of course when it reaches the bottom, you probably won’t find it still runs. The official specification for a school bus is “Must achieve 55mph” and that’s it. Thus most schoolbusses can do 55mph - on the flat. Uphill it drops to 35 and downhill you can get 70. 70 is not advisable as must busses have F rated tyres. F is 50mph. For reference, here are some tyre speed ratings...
F Up to 50 mph
G Up to 56 mph
J Up to 62 mph
K Up to 68 mph
L Up to 75 mph

Schoolbusses were designed to spend 90% of their life on backroads and dirt tracks at anything up to 45mph. On my daily school runs (I drive a schoolbus) I spend most of my time in housing estates at between 20 and 30mph, depending on the speed signs. I do spend periods of up to 10 minutes at 45mph getting between housing estates on 45mph rural roads. Not once in my day do I need to go over 45mph. That’s not to say that I have not had to on some routes. I drove a route one year that involved two interstates. I used a variety of busses. Some would do 57mph with my foot on the floor. Some would barely do 45mph. They were fine. All the interstate traffic was roaring past me. On the other hand even when I’m in my car and 5 or 10mph over the limit, the vast majority are still screaming past me. Hence I stick to the limit in my car and to whatever the bus will do in a work bus.

If you want a bus that goes faster then honestly you shouldn’t have bought a schoolbus. You know how fast they go from when you were a child. You know the legal limit is 55mph for a schoolbus on a road with a limit of 60mph or faster and 45mph or the actual speed limit (whichever is the lesser) on all slower roads. Souping up your engine is not going to help - it’ll burn through fuel at a horrible rate, will wreck the engine and leave you no better off.

“Bigger tyres make you go faster” or “A higher ratio back axle makes you go faster”. Both of these are disingenuous. They will increase speed on the flat but will negatively impact speed uphill and downhill. Downhill you need the gearing and tyre size to be right in order to control descent correctly. Uphill if your ratio is wrong or your tyres too big, you’re putting way too much strain on the engine.

“Hydraulic brakes are bad”. This is utter nonsense. Cars have hydraulic brakes with hardly any problems. Somebody wrote that their hydraulic line suddenly burst and left them with no brakes on their bus. That is complete nonsense as all hydraulic systems have a cable backup system. It is also indicative of a complete lack of inspections and maintainance going back several years. The cry is “air brakes are safer”. Not really - if an air hose breaks or gets snagged then there’s a sudden release of pressure which means the brakes all come on full instantly which in traffic can have deadly consequences. Air brakes and hydraulic brakes both have their pluses and minuses. It’s like drum versus disk brakes - they’re both equally good. The sole advantage of air brakes is that it’s very simple just to add a couple of hoses and control the brakes on a trailer. With hydraulic there’s a lot of fiddling using ancialiary electrical systems.

So, in conclusion - if your stock schoolbus won’t do what you want to do then sell it and buy something else. For the rest of us that have no desire to race on interstates, guzzling fuel, a schoolbus is just fine.
In other news, this is the completed battery hanger with its final coat of paint. I’d run out of white so I had to use silver. That’s just waiting for a weekend for me to get under the bus to fit and bolt it into place. When my connectors etc arrive I can wire it into place and install my despised Harbor Freight battery.

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Final Answer to the Insurance Question

Today I had been hoping to be off on my next trip in the bus. I’d had to book to see the HR people about my 401K so I’d booked early and asked if there was space in the parking lot for my bus as I felt I’d be pausing in my bus on my way somewhere. That’s not quite how things happened though. Let’s run back a few days...

I normally work from 5:30am til 4:30pm with just two two hour breaks. That means overtime every day. Anyway, there was a hurricane that swept through the state on Thursday so on Wednesday they announced work would be cancelled for Thursday. Friday was already a day when work was not scheduled. Thus I’d arranged to go to HR on Friday morning. Well, Thursday came and the hurricane swept through. The rain was pretty intense and managed to enter the bus through the roof vent that Carpenter put at the front of the bus. Normally water does not enter. It was not entering majorly but it was entering and probably soaking the insulation inside the roof cavity. It was dripping onto the door opening handle in the centre of the console and water was dripping over the instrument cluster and in other places under the console too. This is not a very happy state of affairs!

So, I set out on Friday to my HR meeting and got there in time despite not really knowing the way and having left my GPS in the bus. Speaking of GPS mine is fine for my car. I need one that will avoid steep downgrades and very low bridges for the bus. I gather Magellan might do one. Mine is a Garmen.

The meeting went well and I left the HR guru after a good chat about busses and motorhomes. From there I went to Tractor supply as on the way I’d decided that since both my Harbor Freight and Duracell 35AH batteries experienced rapid voltage drop when a 3.92A load was applied then an instant voltage recovery when the load was removed, they were both probably not ideally suited to a load greater than 2amps.

Having decided to put an extra battery hanger on with (at the moment) my Harbor Freight battery paired up with my Duracell, assuming the Harbor Freight battery still has a decent voltage when I check it, I went to Tractor Supply for supplies. I got the nuts and bolts needed to secure the battery but all of Tractor Supply’s steel was hidden behind a thick layer of rust that I had no wish to deal with. Let somebody else brush all that rust off and leave the steel soaking in vinegar for 4 weeks!

Moving on I went to Harbor Freight for some more batteries and there I saw the usual arrangement of tools crying “buy me now”. I held firm in my resolve and exited with just the batteries. These were D cell for my shower, AA for whatever and the big coin cell batteries for my Harbor Freight meters.

Home Depot was the next port of call. There I would have purchased four adjustable chain links and two turnbuckles as well as some steel angle. I got the steel angle with no problem. Two 4 foot lengths. I failed totally to get the links and turnbuckles because the aisle was blocked off while somebody was up on a great big electric lift, grabbing merchandise off the top shelf. Not feeling too much like waiting, I bought my angle steel and moved on.

Back at the ranch I procrastinated a bit then pulled out the angle grinder and cut the steel to fit a new battery. This time I cut the steel big enough to allow half an inch all around the battery. That’ll solve problems with batteries that are quite oversized.
I cut two approximately 12 inch lengths. These will attach to the ribs under the bus. I cut four exactly 10 inch which will act as the vertical hangers from those two bars. Then I cut two approximately 8 inch lengths to go along the sides of the battery and two approximately 5 inch to go along the ends.

I simplified the design of this hanger from the previous one considerably. Now the battery is supported at the sides only. The end pieces are just there to stop the battery from sliding. The end prices on the old hanger also support the battery.
At the end of the cutting, I had just 3 1/2 inches of steel angle left. I’ll use some to make my attachments for the turnbuckles and will weld them onto the base later. The older hanger also had a piece keeping the top pieces a set distance apart. I’m not really sure that’s strict necessary.
I was defeated when the strange glowing orb in the sky vanished for the day. I’d got almost to the end of the welding on the main body. As can be seen in the photo, the base is done and one side is complete. The other side needs the other bar to be attached then the two sides welded onto the base. Then I have to make and fit my attachment points for my turnbuckles. I don’t need a top bracket as I already have one that will do perfectly.

Tomorrow, assuming sunny weather I shall complete my battery hanger, including painting it with anti-rust primer. Then it will be time for topcoat. At some point I shall go under the bus to install the battery. Cabling is next but I need two more self-resetting breakers. I might have these set at 5A each with each going off an individual battery. I also need another battery connector like the other one. Yet more 8 gauge wire too.

Now I missed a bit. I drove past my insurance agent today. I popped into State Farm to find out about insuring my bus as a motor home. Chatting with them I found my existing car insurance was poor. It was expensive and poor. My bus insurance is collision only and is poor. State Farm offers fully comprehensive bus insurance for the same as I’m paying Progressive for just collision. All they needed was photographs of the interior and exterior to show that there were no passenger seats remaining and that I had a permenantly fitted bed and permanently fitted cooking facility. That’s no problem whatsoever! They didn’t even need me to retitle the bus as a motorhome. That saves me hassle if at some point I have to insure it as a bus.

The totals for the bus came to $609. The lady couldn’t type it into the computer but had to work everything out manually. Thank Heavens for people that can think! My car insurance will rise, which is unfortunate but I’ll have adequate coverage.

It strikes me that the problem people have with getting bus insurance is due to their laziness. I went out and met an agent and she came up with a quote. She knew how to get a quote together. None of these online things actually seem to work. Not insurance quotes and not the search for insurance. My quote is for a product that is not sold online. I’d not really been ready to talk insurance before. Now, I am.

I can say that Progressive only does bus insurance, collision not. AllState did not offer anything for motorhomes that weren’t purpose built by the original manufacturer as a motorhome. State Farm seems to offer insurance and doesn’t really care too much about what they’re insurring. They dont even want the bus titled as anything but a bus.

So I sent off photos of my bus interior and exterior and will now await my responses. Meanwhile tomorrow I shall complete my battery hanger and shall paint it. I’m not sure whether I’ll put the holes to hang it from yet or whether that’ll be something for another day. Whatever, things are looking up!



Saturday, October 6, 2018

New Toys and other thoughts

Today I put together two of my latest toys. A camera and a digital recorder. Now before you go saying “but you could have bought an all-in-one unit” I bought two separate pieces for a specific reason. The rear camera used solely for seeing what’s right behind me is excellent but as collisions from the rear are pretty common, I figured I’d put a recorder onto that camera. That will involve putting a Y connector onto my existing camera so that the image is shared between the rear view monitor and the recorder. Put together it all looks quite a muddle.
I’ll have to do some work on it. The power inlet on the recorder (the blue unit) has no indication of polarity and is bizarrely supplied with a 120v power adaptor that also has no indication of polarity. The camera comes with a color coded blank ended cable. Now that I can simply connect to my 12v system with zero issues. It took a while to work out how to put it together as the instructions are in Chenglish. Needless to say the recorder unit came straight from China for $20 and the camera came from somewhere in the USA but likely originated in China for $10.
The instructions for the recorder unit are somewhat more opaque than a tub of black paint but it seems that the recorder will record in VGA and QVGA. Apparently if I fiddle with it enough I can get it to record in VGA. I don’t really see the necessity of that to be honest. QVGA will adequately show a vehicle failing to stop and running into the back of me. It’s not as though a front license plate being recorded in detail is important because in SC as in many other states, nobody uses front license plates.
The camera is a little strange. It seems there’s no right way up that’s clearly identifiable and it’s not adjustable. That’s OK though as that is eventually intended for use in the front windscreen. I’ll hide it behind the second driver fan so it’s not impeding my view of anything. It’s supposed to be weatherproof and I’m supposed to be able to put it on the exterior but behind the windscreen makes more sense.

If the recorder works then I might be getting a couple more and another camera. That way I can hide one camera so that it records everything and everybody coming up the steps with one setup to record happenings in front of the bus and the existing backup camera being used to record happenings behind the bus.

The recorder has apparently got some date-time thing on it but that’s never going to be accurate as it’ll only be on while the ignition is on. I just don’t see the point of recording anything when I’m parked as all it does is burn up battery power.

The other day I was in a discussion on one of those school bus groups. You know - the kind of group that makes you roll your eyeballs and question how such people managed to slither out of their mother’s womb! In fact that sparked a conversation at work.

Where I work, I work with mechanics, school bus drivers and people of all kinds of professions. There’s even a former Marine sniper working with us. Thus, I work among experts on school busses. I’d even say I’m an expert too since I drive about 30K miles a year with them and diagnose faults.

On that god forsaken group they had been complaining about engines and transmissions burning out and about how useless some transmissions are and how useless some engines are etc. This same group is the same group that talks happily about feeding engines designed to run off diesel with trash vegetable oil that’s been thrown out by McDonalds etc. Needless to say when I brought reality to their fantasy, I was summarily ejected from the group with no notification or anything else. I regard myself as quite happy now. That group had been spoiling my mood for weeks. The problem of people preferring fantasy over truth is very evident in today’s world. Look at the number of kooky pseudo religions that proliferate! This was a problem known about thousands of years ago and is even mentioned in the Old Testement.

So, according to the “group” I should be running my schoolbus at 65 - 70 mph and getting 12mpg out of it. According to them it’s all because my engine had been de-tuned and the transmission de-tuned. All of that is the biggest load of horse dung I’ve ever heard of.

School busses (as opposed to activity busses) are specified “must be able to achieve 55mph” and are limited to 55 or 57mph by a governor. School busses are designed specifically to spend 90% of their time on back roads and dirt tracks, not on the interstate. In my time driving school busses I did drive on the interstate for a few miles most days one year but that was the exception. My current route is 100% back roads, dirt tracks and winding country roads. Those roads are so narrow I have to hit the rumble strip every time something big comes in the other direction.

Then there’s the going up and down hills and the fact most don’t seem to understand why there are markings on their automatic gear shifter other than D, N and R. Notice there’s no P (park) position on a bus gear selector unlike on a car. On long down grades and steep down grades it is better to have the gear selector in something other than D so the engine can take control of speed. Eventually brakes will heat up and fade rendering them temporarily useless. This is why there are runaway truck lanes on many hills. Similarly going up hills, you can max the acellerator and try to keep up with the traffic, overheating the engine on the way or you can recognize you’re driving a big vehicle and keep the gear selector in a lower gear and keep the revs down to 2,000rpm. That will prevent you overheating and straining the engine. You will be going slowly but that’s what big vehicles do - you’re not driving a car.

I’m going to hypothesize that most of the most irksome people on that laughable group don’t actually own a school bus and have no idea how to drive anything bigger than a small car. Add that ignorance to a complete lack of understanding of how to drive something wide, tall and long then throw in air brakes as well which is another level of complication and the situation gets scary. in fact, at work where we all have CDLs (commercial driving licenses) and drive busses every day, we’re all a bit nervous about people driving big vehicles that don’t have CDLs and experience.


Friday, September 14, 2018

Aftermath of the breakdown

Well, it seems that had the first people had the time to service my bus like they were supposed to then I would not have been in the predicament I was because the leak in the transmission would likely have been spotted. It is what it is, however. When I got there I had a smoking back wheel. That was diagnosed as a sticking brake caliper which they fixed with PB Blaster 16 for which they charged $260 in total. I did buy a can of PB Blaster after for $3 in Walmart.

I broke down on the way back. To be more precise I’d found the bus was getting ever less revs out of the engine than before. That started just before I reached Orangeburg and then the revs reduced until I finally ground to a halt in St Mathews. That was 30 miles from home. I felt the tow truck took me on a slightly longer route to maximize mileage but perhaps that was the better route.
As can be seen, the route looks longer on the map but could well have been the better route. The tow truck driver on the phone wanted to know what size vehicle I had and I was afraid he was going to send a dinky little tow truck for a car. I impressed on him several times 32.5 feet long, 27,500lbs and that it was a bus. He turned up with the right tow truck though.
I had broken down just outside a church - 7615 Columbia Road to be precise. I’d been lucky in that it was possible to roll into a turn lane dedicated to the church. The steering without engine power was dreadfully heavy. I was lucky not to have air brakes as I could just keep rolling until I hit the brakes.

Anyway, I got towed to W W Williams in West Columbia. That’s not the closest repair shop but they did a good job. I could have had them fix the problem but I had them run over the whole bus diagnosing everything. It transpired I still had some fluid in the transmission - just not enough to get it to work properly. The problem was the front of the transmission had not been properly secured so the fluid had leaked out when it was under pressure. That made sense. So now I’ve had all the fluids changed and new filters in place. They didn’t do the air filter which says a lot for them. They looked and said it didn’t need doing. That’s a complete contrast to the sharks at car repair places where they tell you things need doing that do not. I didn’t know but I actually had a cabin air filter. They changed that too.

The bill came to $1,143 and change. I knew I was going to have to spend at least $700 on getting the bus serviced prior to this. It seems that the oil pan gasket probably doesn’t need changing. This is, of course, why I like to use a paid mechanic rather than a trade deal or a favor mechanic. I get a way better job done. I can honestly say I feel way happier now.

So, I spent $280 on getting the brake fixed, $525 on a tow truck, $1,143 on getting the problem solved and an overall checkover. I also spent $40 in total on Uber to get to and from my bus. Actually it wasn’t strictly Uber. It was a friend that drives for Uber and I called her and gave her money for her trouble and we didn’t put it through Uber. So, this weekend I’ve spent around $1,988 on bus related things. Now I know I’m good to go wherever. The next oil change will be September of 2019.

Having been through this I realise that these busses are built like tanks. They will take anything. The transmission was not damaged. Mind, as soon as the engine stalled and I coasted to a halt, I parked. Then I leapt out and checked under the hood. As the engine wasn’t overheating there was clearly plenty water. I checked the engine oil and that was fine. Transmission fluid - that was below the level on the dipstick. In fact I couldn’t see any so that was clearly the culprit.

I was happier to be stuck outside a church than I would have been in some areas. It was also pretty quiet and nothing much was passing on the road. If I’d been anywhere suspect, I’d have been sitting in the cab waiting for my tow with my 9mm ready to hand.

On another topic, I had an interesting query on my previous blog entry...
Enid VerdantSeptember 11, 2018 at 11:00 AMWell. I've been following you for years and never quite thought I'd see the day when you'd finally be able to take it camping. With what you know now, do you think your next project might be one your school district retires, with a known history and configuration you want (e.g. air brakes) and none of the hillbilly mess to undo
To answer that one, I don’t think I’ll be attempting another bus conversion in the foreseeable future. I learned an awful lot from doing this one and would definitely do the next one very differently. Air brakes (now that I understand them - which I didn’t before I learned to drive school busses) would definitely be something that interests me. Having said that I might instead go for a smaller bus or even a van for quick camping trips but tow it behind a bus. I’ve seen schoolbusses being delivered with a car being towed behind them. As for the school district I work for at the moment, they scrap all their retired busses. By the time they get to the end of their lives they’re mostly 30 years old and falling apart. Not all school bus drivers are as gentle on the busses as I am.

I will say right now that schoolbusses while very solid and well built have a higher operating cost:

  1. My insurance is $245 every 6 months but I’m registered and insured as a private bus
  2. Regular maintainance is going to be $800-$1000 a year.
  3. Tyres are going to be $200 each approximately and you’ll need 6. The steer tyres you need brand new - no questions - every 7 years. The drive tyres you can get part worn but don’t get remolds. 
  4. Keep sufficient in the bank in case of a breakdown. 
  5. Remember diesel is cheaper than gasoline and gets you more to the gallon. Don’t faint though when you find the bus does 8-10mpg and has a 50, 75 or 100 gallon fuel tank. $20 of diesel at $3 a gallon will only get you 56 miles! 

While I was at Givhans Ferry I did have my Olympus camera with me. I didn’t stick to taking pictures with a cheap phone. I’ll now include those images.



















Monday, September 10, 2018

The first adventure

I’d booked to go for 3 nights to an RV park on Edisto Island. I’d booked it months ago but on Wednesday the organizer decided to cancel and refund all monies. Thus far no refund has hit my bank account. But three of those going plus me decided to head to Givhans State Park which is about 85 miles from me.

The first port of call was a local service center to get my bus serviced only to find they had no time to do it at the time I’d booked. By then I’d noticed one of my back wheels was smoking and somewhat hot. That turned out to be a hanging brake. So, $280 later I was good to drive. Their fix, by the way, was to spray the calipers with PB Blaster 16 (which costs $3 a can from Walmart - I bought my own can later). I got home to book the camp site for Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights only to find I could not book Friday. Thus I booked for Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday I drove down through the heat, sweating profusely. On the way I was continually passed by drivers that showed scant regard for their safety nor for the safety of other road users. On one occasion, somebody blasted past me when there was a driver coming in the opposite direction. Indeed, instead of braking and getting safely behind me, he actually forced the other driver to take avoiding action and get off the road onto the grass on the side of the road. I wish I’d had a front camera as I’d have sent a copy of that video straight to the Highway Patrol. That was beyond incompetent or arrogant driving and more into attempted vehicular homicide.

My hydraulic brakes I found are just not as good as my air brakes at work and the height of the brake pedal is a safety hazard. I’m going to have to find somebody that can do something about that for me. Thus far I’m just having the usual (for the want of a better phrase) bunch of wankers that can only order stuff off easy websites or who can’t be bothered to see the problem.

Anyway I got to the National Park and found my parking bay. Then I had a message that due to an impending hurricane one of the members of the group was unable to come. Apparently she was on Red Cross hurricane relief. The other two ladies made it safely and one brought her bus along. We had a great time examining each other’s busses.

We all sat on the picnic bench next to my bus and one of the ladies pulled out a box of wine which we all began to consume while we chatted. A couple of hours went by and we felt hungry so having a some quick foods available, I whipped up a quick meal for everybody. It wasn’t luxurious - a small pot of instant mashed potatoes and a can of sardines each. I have to say it was delicious though.

One lady had to go home to feed her husband and children so that left two of us and we chatted and chatted until about 2am by the light of a candle-powered lantern that I’d bought to compare with my LED lanterns. I have to say the LED lanterns put out far more light but the single candle put out a much more pleasant light.

The next morning the lady came round for coffee and brought some military MRE packs. I’d already eaten but it was a nice gesture. So after that we moseyed on down to the river, during which time I had to nip back to use the loo - alcohol upsets my tummy a little. On the way I noticed a sign that stated that drinking alcohol in state parks and displaying alcohol in state parks was against the law. Oops. Still, none of us got drunk and I believe the spirit of the law is that nobody does anything that impedes anybody else which is what happened often when people get drunk.

Eventually, after following the working path for about half an hour, I got down to the river and found the other lady. We spent quite a while chatting and she looked very comfortable in the water. I am though a confirmed non-swimmer. I did try to learn one time as an adult but inhaled most of the swimming pool after which I really didn’t see much point in continuing. The fear of drowning had gone and with it my need to learn to swim. I wasn’t afraid any more.

The other lady left later that day and I stayed a further night. It was a really quiet, pleasant park with trees overhanging the bus which kept temperatures down. That put me in mind of future changes that I need to effect. One of those would be to add a 5A 15v charger that I can run off the 120v plugin in order to charge the batteries so I can keep the 12v stuff running for prolonged periods.

At the park I was very surprised to find I was close to a toilet that also had showers. They were pretty clean and on the last day I met a young lad who was cleaning the toilets and showers. He was driving a 6-wheel drive vehicle called a Polaris and that intrigued me greatly. That looked a very interesting vehicle to drive.

I did come up with a list of things I’d like to work on
  1.  The beaded seat cover does stop my back getting sweaty but my bum gets awful sore after 3 hours driving.
  2.  I need to install traffic cameras. I had 3 jerks overtaking me across solid yellow lines including one that forced another driver off the road. If I’d had a camera recording that, I’d have handed that footage straight over to the highway patrol!
  3.  Sand is a problem so my broom is very useful.
  4.  Bedroom shoes would be great. I don’t mean flip flops because I never can get them to go on my feet correctly when I’m sleepy.
  5.  Trash... on this trip because I’d bought a couple of things after finding out I was going to have electricity I have a bit more trash than usual. So, trash bags are needed.
  6.  My two shower pump units work. The one with the broken battery compartment worked until the battery died but the duct tape had slipped so I had to keep my foot on it. The 12v pump works brilliantly though it spouts water out of one of the connections.
  7.  Both my grey water tanks drip a little. As I’d forgotten to get an orange juice bottle with a wide mouth, the pee had to go in one grey tank. The result is for the next few hours the campsite will smell of pee.
  8.  The campsite has toilets. Yay. It meant I didn’t have to use mine. Again, I need a bucket with a lid to put full toilet bags in. I can set that outside until I can take it to empty it. If some mo good runs off with it then that’s his problem.
  9.  My digital door lock likes to beep randomly. I even tried powering it off to no avail.
  10. As my site was under trees I got very little solar power. I had plenty in the battery for lighting but just not enough for ventilation etc. That’s where my window screen cane in handy.
  11. I had bug spray to ward off mosquitoes. That stuff burns when applied to the skin. It probably burns the sensitivity off the skin enough that you don’t notice mosquito bites rather than repelling them!
  12. Food covers are a good idea for outside as I had to dump one cup of coffee after an acorn landed in it.
  13. The campsite has showers though I did not use them and they had a young lad who mopped out the bathrooms.
  14. Everybody loves the look of my bus from the outside.
  15. The few that have seen the inside love it too.
  16. Despite being 4 years old, the oil and transmission fluid got me here. Looking at it, it’ll get me back too but after that it absolutely must be changed.
Sleeping in the bus was very comfortable. The shower was excellent. The toilet I know is excellent. The gas cooker I never used. The microwave was excellent. Washing dishes was a challenge. I can see disposables being a better choice. My bus never got too hot. It got a bit muggy at times but nothing that was too awful and I had a nice picnic bench outside.

The journey back started fine. I drove through back roads as I had on the way to Givhans Ferry. I kept to 45mph and got most of the way beck when the engine started slowing and surging. Then the revs began to drop before finally the engine cut out. I slipped the transmission into neutral and coasted to a church turn lane.

Popping the hood to find the problem I found the engine oil was fine. The water I had checked earlier in the day and that was not the problem as the engine was not overheating. Every gauge had been fine - oil pressure, fuel, battery though the battery gauge had been fluctuating. The rev counter was doing its usual thing of occasionally dropping out but had been showing me slowly reducing revs for a few minutes. I’d checked the engine oil and transmission fluid last night so they should have been fine. I checked them again anyway and found there was no transmission fluid on the dip stick.

Just then a thunderstorm started with lightning and very loud thunder. I was stopped between two churches on a road not far from home. I downloaded the Truck Down app and fairly soon a big tow truck arrived. The driver took me a circuitous route to a truck repair place that was further than I’d really have gone myself. I suspect he was maximizing his mileage. Anyway, I was dropped at a truck repair place where I asked for the full diagnostic, told them everything the bus was doing and everything that was wrong before this. Just the diagnostic is going to be $825. The towing fee was $525. I’ve already paid $260ish to get a hanging brake fixed. By the time the bus is fully operational, the costs will have exceeded $1,610.

Meanwhile there is a hurricane bearing down on us. That’s due to arrive on Thursday. I’m hoping that tomorrow the repair shop will have time to examine and repair my bus. Then, if need be, I can relocate further inland. While I was sitting at the repair shop, work rang stating that the governor had ordered all schools to be closed and all government office to be close. He had also ordered the mandatory evacuation of coastal counties.

Thinking about it, I worked out how I was going to get back home. I could not get the usual suspect to transport me as I had to transport my guns safely and the usual suspect is not permitted to be near guns. Thus I called a friend who drives Uber and gave her what she’d get from Uber but didn’t put it through Uber. We were all happy. I got home.

Now I am watching people theorizing about what’s wrong. My theory about the lack of transmission fluid is that the hillbilly that owned the bus before me had plugged a leak with chewing gum and it had just broken through. Having said that there was no fluid ever seen to be leaking. That is a mystery. Somebody was casting aspersions on my diesel because it has been in the tank for a couple of years yet it gave no issue on the way down. Had there been plenty transmission fluid I’d have had a go at restarting the engine instead of calling a tow truck.

When I called the number on the Truck Down app, I actually called for a mobile mechanic rather than a tow truck but they sent a tow truck instead. I suspect a mobile mechanic would have got me on the road faster.

And now a miscellaneous selection of images from my trip....
 That’s my bus broken down outside a church on Charleston Highway.
 That’s my breakfast on the final day - coffee and home-made muesli with almond milk.
 This is my DIY protection against falling acorns that spoilt one cup of coffee yesterday.
 That’s my on-tap water. Press the button and I get free flowing water.
 This is my 12v powered shower head. This was pretty good but would be much improved if it didn’t leak as evidenced by the photo.
 This is my battery powered shower pump. This would be better if the catch hadn’t broken. I quite like this pump as it’s 100% independent of solar power.
 This was taken on the last night. This is my candle lantern. It produces more light than it appears to from this image.
That’s the same image but with flash to show everything more clearly. Yes, that’s a bottle of real lemonade.
 That’s my tea one afternoon. Quite a nice spiced breakfast tea.
 The camp showers were very clean but I used my own shower.
 That’s some of the mown grass at the national park.
I didn’t think of photographing my lunch before I ate it. That was baked beans with weinies and a lemonade. Very nice it was too.
Down by the river. In this picture I believe you can see one of my companions for the expedition.
 I loved the scenery. The Edisto river is quite beautiful.
 Beside the river there was plenty to amuse me while my friend swam.
 When I got lost on my way to the river I took the opportunity to photograph some flowers. No idea what this yellow flower is but it’s quite nice.
 This purple flower is also quite pleasant.
 At the end of the trail which is when I knew I was barking up the wrong tree, I found the cabins for hire. They look quite luxurious and not the rustic things I was expecting.
 That’s a quick video in which the other lady’s bus appears.
 This is, of course, my bus, parked at the camp site. Getting in there I almost mowed down the power and water poles in my attempt to avoid mowing down the wooden picnic bench.
This is the sign I saw after we’d had our wine. It seems we’d been naughty but no harm done. We’ll just have to remember for next time. I had a bottle of wine in one of my drawers but ever pulled it out.
 Near my campsite were these interesting berries. Heaven knows what they are but they’re a lovely color.
 This is, of course, the bus one of the ladies brought along. She hasn’t yet decided on a paint scheme but I will say her paint looks better applied than mine.
 That’s the shower and toilet block. It was really close - possibly 200 feet from my camp site. I used that toilet rather than mine though I did pee on the bus. Speaking of which I simply poured the pee into one of my waste tanks. I did try emptying that tank when I was broken down but it made the ground nasty and smelly so I closed the outlet valve. It drips anyway but I figure what I’ll do is put some other urine collector in. I’ll keep the grey tank as a grey tank rather than turning it into a liquid black tank.
 That is the toilet in the camp.
 A view of the trees and sky above the bus. There really isn’t much space and hardly any sunlight.
Here you can see the picnic bench right beside my bus. Many people have awnings. I didn’t really see the point of an awning - so much trouble to put up and so liable to wind damage.
Thats my coffee that I had for breakfast the first day.
 Again I had muesli for breakfast. I love that stuff. I was lucky to find an 8 pack of small containers of almond milk.
 The furst thing I did was to have a pot of tea after I arrived. It was a mark of success!
The final photo - my bus parked nicely in the campsite.