|the march hare - project - page ii
|Findsomethingandburnit.com 2004-2020. Doc J.Vicious & Murph-O-Minion enterprises. Godfrey, ON.
Content may be used on the condition that the original author be clearly credited.
Three years ago, while on severely restrictive bail
conditions awaiting the conclusion of a criminal
trial for, among other things, allegedly killing my
best friend; the oddly enough still to this day very
much alive, well, and happy Murph-O-Minion, I
would spend my evenings coveting the wares of a
certain online U.S. bus reseller.
I recall one specific instance of a near mint,
virtually pornographic, low mileage International
3800 14 row four-wheel-drive (!) safety yellow sex
kitten. Akin to the Tiffany Walker of my
masturbatory fantasies. Unfortunately, this is not
that story realized.
The 'Hare was purchased without so much as a
cursory undercarriage inspection. I wanted a 13
row forward control bus. Will it make the drive
home? I'll fix it. Pay the man.
What would be the point? Given enough time and
effort I may very well have found a bus
meticulously cared for by an
obsessive-compulsive livery owner.
But I'm five decades into my alloted three score
and ten, and good buses cost money..
Unsurprisingly, upon closer inspection once
home, the Ontario Canada salt belt operated Blue
Bird TCF revealed itself to be riddled with
advanced body and structural cancer.
I believe that most sane people after discovering
that they'd just purchased $800 worth of scrap
metal for $4000 would have curled themselves
into a fetal position on the floor and cried.
Thankfully, the delusions of grandeur that I tend
to suffer allow me to shrug off such caveats. I can
The first natural order of business for any of the
ilk with grand plans to re-imagine a bus was to
remove the seats. A relatively straightforward one
day (correction, two day) operation with angle
grinder and cold chisel.
This relatively technically simple albeit tedious
task in the rear-view, my attention turning to the
decidedly 'squishy' vinyl covered plywood
In for a penny so the adage goes.
Somewhat frighteningly, this bus still possessed a
valid bi-annual ministry decal certifying that it was
roadworthy and safe in the province of Ontario for
the wee next generation of millennial Satan spawn
on the date of purchase.
Although as a private owner, I wouldn't have had
a chance in any of the seven levels of Dante's hell
of passing the required ministry inspection in
order to register her.
Rust perforation being an immediate fail, Occam's
razor by default dictates that the only logical
conclusion, skulduggery aside, is that this
corrosion accumulated entirely within the last 4
months of service.
Seems totally legit.
Not that I necessarily have an issue with
corruption per se; I just wish that everyman had
an equal opportunity to bribe their way around the
hoops that be, set by the man.
I had expected a fourteen year old bus to be
rough, but I was somewhat shocked by the state
of the structural floor plating under the rotten and
decidedly moldy plywood sub-floor.
But not to worry, Daddy's got Muy Chutzpah. A
plan of attack was immediately formulated.
But wait .. There's more!
..And then immediately rejected upon discovering
via exploratory surgery that every one of the
thirteen structural cross members supporting the
coachwork have fractured.
This bus is absolute and total junk!
Ah, perhaps to the average bear, but the dreams
of crazy people tend not to be so easily thwarted
The solution appears exceedingly simple really:
Devise an ad hoc method of supporting the skin
of the exterior coachwork so that the entire
assembly of interior structural body support, floor
plating, and cross-members carefully designed by
a team of six figure per year boffins can be
removed with $150 worth of consumer grade tools
and the entire coachwork re-engineered on the
lawn at the side of the driveway - by a grade four
educated copier repair dude.
How difficult can this possibly be?
In hindsight almost laughable. This silly puppy naively
fretting at the time how I would clean the seat rub mars
from the galvanized "wrinkle" interior cladding, and
wondering what colour I might paint her.
The first indication that all was not well at all in Denmark:
The plywood sub floor was moldy and rotten, and the
first holes discovered in the steel floor plating.
But glass always half full, right? Nothing that I couldn't
clean up with the MIG in a few afternoons.
Uh oh. This is going to be a bit more work than I had
The secondary plate support members (right) had rotted
away, as well as significant portions of the floor plating
adjacent to the coachwork supporting structural chair
No problem matey. Arrr.
Replace the members with 1 x 2 x 0.10" rectangular tube
and seam in new plating where required. Perhaps two
weeks worth of work.
What a puny plan.
Thoroughly and vigorously fuck me sideways with a
rusty chain saw. We're totally boned!
Not only are the lower half of the chair rails
compromised beyond repair, but all of the thirteen
structural cross members supporting the coach have
work hardened and fractured over the years.
There is nothing useful remaining between the roof and
the frame rails - a complete ground up rebuild is going
to be in order.
And yet .. The glass somehow remains half full.
I truly and fully believe that I am the only lone wolf shade
tree weekend wrench insane enough to tackle a job of
This should take less than 18 months of weekends to
I've been told that every journey begins with a good
drunk and a myriad of choice cusswords.
The first order of business is figuring out how Blue Bird
assembled the damned thing.
Some disassembly required.
Not entirely unlike attempting to reverse engineer the
Mattel's Big Jim's Sports Camper that I received for
Christmas 1975 - save this particular camper weighs 9
tons. To expose the intricacies of Tab A, I'll have to
undo Slot B and Widget C.
Translation: Time to wreck my new bus.
Yes Virginia, there is a Sinterklaas, and we're really
going to tackle this job with nothing more than a
Princess Auto angle grinder, a Canadian Tire Sawzall,
cold chisels, and a bag of mismatched hammers.
Whatever they'll say about me when I'm gone - it will not
be that I lacked ambition.
"The Plan" Version 3.0 - Formulated and execution
underway with lunatic vehemence.
One row at a time the entire support structure is
removed and replaced with 2" x 4" lumber bolstering the
exterior coachwork and roof via the vertical roof bows.
A quick calculation (assuming equal distribution)
revealed that each shoring point is supporting 206 of the
approximately 4715 pounds of remaining exterior coach
Although squarely within the static cantilever loaded
capability of sistered 2" x 4" SPF timbers .. At least
according to what I could find on the Internet, and by
further testing a single timber with my 250 pound fat ass,
I'm concerned that should this build go though the
winter, that the timbers may sag.
Time may be of the essence.
|Last updated Jan 4, 2019.