Sacked by the "downturn", an unemployed architect touring the country in a bus...



I used to live in New York City. I designed homes for the tycoons of Wall Street; Park Avenue, Scarsdale, Greenwich. It was great fun. And, after years of saving up for a down payment, I was just about to buy my own little place in Fleetwood, half an hour north of the city, when the economy fell apart. Architects are like canaries in a coal mine when the economy slows, and true to form, there were massive layoffs in firms all over the country. Devastation of the profession. So, I decided to try to find something else to do for a while. I bought a 23' school bus and I'm on the road to see if I can figure out what that might be.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hi Sam F!

I learned about you from a certain M. C. I heard you are 7, which means you are probably my youngest reader. And I understand you like buses. How wonderful! I do too. My bus...
was built in 1999 by a company called Collins. They built the bus body on top of a Ford 450 chassis, with a Powerstroke 7.3 Diesel engine. It's pretty powerful, and it has to be because the steel bus is very heavy, 12,000 pounds, I think. And if it were full of people, it would be a lot heavier. If you Google Collins Bus, you can find their website. Mine is the Grand Bantam model.

I had all the seats taken out so that I could build in a living space. So far I have my bed, which I designed to fold into a couch, and I have a dresser of drawers, and an architects drawing table so I can do some work. (I have had the table since I was about 7 or 8, and my brother in law just shipped it to me so that I could use it in my bus.) I also have a musical instrument called a vibraphone set up inside so I can practice when I have time. The vibraphone is pretty big, so my bus' wheel chair lift is very handy for unloading it to the sidewalk.

There are some pictures of my bus you can see. The were taken some time ago. Scroll down the right hand column and find the picture of the outside and click on it, and you will see a slide show of pictures of me working on it near M. C.'s house, in Durham.

Right now, my bus is in for a repair. The emergency break was completely worn away. In order to fix this particular type of break on this bus requires an unusual amount of work compared to more common emergency breaks. On my bus, they had to remove the drive shaft and the rear of the transmission, where the break is located. When they got that far, they discovered they needed another part, a rubber seal to keep the oil in when they put it back together. Unfortunately, they have to order a new seal and it won't be here until Monday or Tuesday.

My two favorite parts of my bus are the windows and the lever that operates the passenger door. I like the windows because they are the old fashioned kind, where the window is in two pieces and the top one slides up and down. It's called a double hung window, and I remember windows like these on the school buses I rode when I was your age. My other favorite feature, the lever that operates the passenger door, also makes me feel very authentic. Whenever I let someone in that way, I always ask for 50 cents to ride, but I'm just kidding around and they ride for free, of course.

Would you like to see some more recent pictures? Let me know in a comment, and I post some more.

What's your favorite kind of Bus? Are you familiar with Crown? Or Bluebird?

Thanks for reading!

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