Bus Prospect Number One

In a few days, we fly up to Portland, Oregon to check out the bus that we think will work best for our bus conversion. Here are some pictures of it:

I’m not going to lie. This is a scary thing to undertake. It’s a good chunk of money and a big time commitment. And it’s going to be alot of really hard work.

But it’s such a big, empty, powerful canvas to use to create something amazing.

Look at all those mirrors.

That swinging yellow bar will have to go.

I’ve read that the flat nose buses have much better turning radiuses.

If we get this bus, those seats are dust.

I count 24 seats. Is that what you got?

It’s a bit dusty, but everything looks in order.

If we get this bus, that seat will have to go too.

We’ll need something that can swivel.

Maybe I could convert it into a swivel chair….

Mucho dust. No mucho miles.

These busses are built to do 500,000 miles.

Apparently this bus weighs 30,000 pounds which is a challenge for the regulators. According to the rules, V  will have to get a class A drivers license with the State of Nevada in order to drive this beast.

Researching the Bus Situation

  • AD2000 Transmission – Documentation
  • Massive Safety Test Done on a Trolley with the same motor as our bus- Documentation
  • Non Commercial Class A, B and J Endorsements for the State of Nevada (Documentation)

History Lesson of the Thomas Bus Company

Ok so this is a Thomas Bus. Thomas Intl. is a company based in North Carolina and is the oldest surviving American bus company.

They were founded in 1916. That’s 101 years in business.

Thomas A. Perley was an excellent craftsman and his first employer lost him to the Southern Car Company who hired him away as their chief engineer and draftsman. But the Southern Car Company folded in 1916 which made it so that Thomas A. Perley was officially laid off.

That didn’t wipe him out though. He received a contract with the Southern Public Utilities Company to help them improve their rail cars. A year later, he started a company called Perley A. Thomas Car Works. They went on to become famous for their streetcars.

You could find the Perley A. Thomas Car Works’s street cars all over the world in places like Detroit, Michigan, New York City, Miami, Florida and San Juan, Puerto Rico. They were known everywhere. In fact, if it weren’t for Perley A. Thomas Car Works, there may have never been a play set in New Orleans. You might have heard of it, it was called A Streetcar Named Desire.


In 1936, Thomas came to the realization that the future of the transportation industry would lay in buses. Later they changed the companies name to Thomas Built Buses, Inc., and grew into one of the the three largest bus building companies in the United States of America.

Thomas Built Buses, Inc. stopped building busses during World War 2. Their building capacities were put towards creating trucks for soldiers. Thomas Built Buses, Inc. was put to work building trucks like these:

GMC CCKW (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GMC_CCKW)

Perley A. Thomas may have died in 1958, but his company lives on. To this day, Thomas Built Buses, Inc. is the oldest surviving American bus manufacturing company.

Though the bus we found in Portland was built in 2001, we plan to breath new life into this vehicle which is a symbol of American design and ingenuity.


Today we purchased tickets from Sacramento (SMF) to Portland (PDX). We arrive to Portland late Tuesday evening, to have a look at the beast Wednesday morning. Providing all the details that the seller has provided are accurate, we plan to drive the bus from Portland back to our woods cabin in Grass Valley, California. It should take us 1 full day if all goes to plan. Then we’ll begin converting the bus into the greatest school bus conversion tiny home that the world has ever known.

First off, we need to get some rest. Speak to you soon. Thank you for reading.

One Reply to “Bus Prospect Number One”

  1. Ian, I loved your films and thanks for sharing all of the journey!
    I just bought a 1995 MCI and it’s in Pa. but I live in NY. I know you did a piece on how to buy a bus in another state and get it home by getting a temp. tag of some kind.I cannot find the piece when you explained how to get that tag and what it’s called. can you tell me please? You guys really rock and ROLL !

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