RAYMOND'S 4104 GREYHOUND BUS CONVERSION
Sold the Coach June 17, 2003
Raymond's dream as always been to own a Greyhound bus. We've owned several motorhomes, from a Pace Arrow, to a Sportscoach, but his aim was for this monstrosity. So, after years of planning, he found one that had already been converted back in the '80s.
In March of 1996, when he found the coach in a Sunday newspaper ad, he drove to Lake Village, AR to see it. As I didn't go on that particular trip, he took the camera and came back insisting I go to a one-hour shop and get the film developed immediately. Would you believe I was not impressed when I saw the photos? But we made the trip again the next Sunday for him to show it to me. Never a word was said about what I thought about it, or any deal being made to buy it. On the way home, driving down the highway, I started saying, "well, when we get it.....what all we were going to have to do to it"...suddenly it dawned on Raymond what I was saying and he nearly wrecked the car by slamming on the brakes right in the middle of the highway, and pulled onto the shoulder of the road. He said, "you mean you liked it?" I said I saw the potential in it, and it was the first coach that I would even consider having, that he had looked at so far, that was reasonably affordable anyway, as he had looked at some that were in the megabuck line, and we would have had to sell the house to get, which I had refused to do.
Of course that was all we talked about on the way home. The minute we arrived home, he called and told the owner that we would be back, that we wanted the bus. They said ok, the deal was done. There had been a singing group looking at the bus that same afternoon we looked at it, but he said he would tell anyone else looking at it that it was sold. Actually later he told us that group had called and said they did want it and he said it was "sold." Good thing we didn't wait to call.
The outside still looked like a regular Greyhound bus, with all the windows going down both sides.
The inside looked more like a motorhome. It has a living area, with couch, booth table, and full kitchen with gas/electric refrigerator, stove, etc. On down the hallway, on the right, is two rows of drawers with a closet in between them. On the left is a full bathtub, and a folding pantry built into the wall. Next is the bathroom. At the back is a full bedroom with queen-size bed and a vanity with chair, sink, and several drawers. It has two air conditioners, central heat, plus two electric wall heaters, and now a gas heater with carbon monoxide detector. Also a 7.6 generator.
The biggest problem was the color scheme. The couch was gold-ish, the booth seats were orange plaid, and the headboard above the bed was bright orange. They even threw in an orange bedspread as an extra treat. The carpet throughout was orange and yellow shag. Beautiful I cannot say it was!
2nd row-Pic 1: new couch, two new front chairs, new walls, booth seats gone, replaced with chairs, TV & VCR built-in, venetian blinds, new border over windows w/florescent lighting. (still have ceiling to cover with tufted lining)
Pic 2: new top cabinets in kitchen, built-in microwave, and about 2 feet cut off counter, (now have stainless steel fronts for the frig.
So, since he works a full-time job, Raymond obsessed over the bus until finally he took a week of his vacation plus the weekend, and off we went in the motorhome we owned at the time, to go get the coach ready to bring home. I drove the motorhome on trips myself, so I was going to drive it back, following him and the bus.
Upon arriving, we parked right beside the coach, and for days he began working on and checking everything out, starting it and racing the motor, over and over again. Then came the drive. The land in Lake Village is in the Delta and is flat for miles, so the owner's wife and I watched as they drove away. They drove down a road a long way, and turned left on another road, and looking out a window, I saw the bus standing still. We waited, and it was still there, so we got in her car and drove to them, and the bus had died. We had to make several trips back and forth getting needed supplies, and finally made it back to their home with the bus.
The owner was selling the bus because he was losing his sight, and could see only images, but he stayed right with Raymond the entire time. He had owned the bus for many years and been on many trips in it, and was very adept at giving instructions on what he thought should be done.
After checking numerous things, and several more trips, with me in it from then on, while driving, it would bog down and choke itself out. They thought the problem was that it was getting too much air in the system, but after eliminating several ideas, they found the problem was in the diesel fuel tank. After about two days the conclusion was that it has a 140 gallon tank, and it had sat up long enough with just a little fuel in it, that the inside of the tank had flaked off and was mixed with the fuel, and it was stopping up the lines.
We were also in oil country with numerous oil wells pumping, so they drove to a company and got a polyurethane barrel. Raymond drained the fuel from the tank, and it was awful to see the debris that came out of that tank. After taking out the old tank, and putting in the barrel, he then cut a small square out of the top of it, and hooked hoses from it to the engine in the back. They put just enough fuel in it to drive to a service station and put fuel in it. Then we drove it up and down the highway for a test drive. It "ran like a sewing machine."
All this time, we hadn't even paid for the bus yet. Every night Raymond would say he didn't know if we were doing the right thing or not in buying the bus. But when he got it fixed, it was a different story. Unless you do or know someone who does mechanical things, you have no idea how dirty he was, with black all over him and his clothes, but owner's wife had cleaners that restored Raymond and his clothes back to normal.
Now came the serious part, getting the dealing done. Owner's wife and I went into Greenville, MS and shopped, and left the guys to haggle it out. After two days of relaxing and finally enjoying being there, Raymond told me that the owner was wanting our motorhome plus cash, so they would have something his wife could drive on their trips. After getting everything signed, sealed and delivered, we parked our motorhome door even with the bus door, and I had to clear it out and put it in the bus. It took hours, but the next morning we were ready to go home. We backed the bus out onto the road, and took photos, jumped in the bus, and headed home. The owner said he sure hated to sell the bus, but he knew it would be in good hands with Raymond, since he has the ability to work on it.
We were so excited, we couldn't believe we were actually driving it home, and didn't have any problems on the way.
Our son Kent came over and instantly loved it. The bus was really dirty on the outside, and he washed and polished the entire bus one afternoon.
Raymond did lots of work on the bus, replacing hoses, wires, and belts. Even put new tires on it. His next project was taking out all the windows, and putting metal over where they had been, even the back window.
By the time our two week vacation came in September, everything was ready to go, although the bus didn't have a window in it except the front windshield. We drove from Arkansas to Greenville Alabama, Butler County, to do some family treeing, (can you believe that?) As it happened, my cousin Marian and her husband Gene, who I thought was in Louisiana, were parked right beside of us at the camp site. We had several days of fun visiting and searching together. Then we headed to Mobile, AL. and toured the USS Alabama, then to Dauphin Island, where we stayed a few days, and toured Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan, then drove the Alabama-Mississippi coast, we toured Jefferson Davis' home in Biloxi, and along the way, stayed in a different campground every night and then nearing New Orleans, went on to Alexandria, Louisiana to visit cousins. Then finally headed home. Not a single problem with the bus on the whole trip.
Then came the painting of the bus. Since my favorite colors are burgundy and silver, Raymond had the bus stripe painted burgundy, and and the long metal a darker grayish, and the top a lighter gray. We also had burgundy stripes put on the sides in the darker gray area. The gray is not as dark as the photos show.
Here are photos of the bus, just after we drove it into the driveway, stripped totally of any bumpers or lights or any kind of chrome.
Until the next vacation, we had taken several weekend trips, but in September of 1997, we loaded up and went to Oklahoma City via Route 66, to visit my sister, Betty and her family, and have a family reunion, and while there, visited the Oklahoma City Bombing Site. Folks, there is an awesome feeling there. After several days, we headed to Durango, Colorado, going through the panhandle of Oklahoma, then New Mexico, through Clayton, Raton, and over to Bloomfield, then up to Durango. There we camped at an actual Dude Ranch, rode the train from Durango to Silverton, then the next day, went back to Silverton in our vehicle, then on to Ouray, and Ridgway. We went to the Gold and Silver mines, and to a Ghost town. Then we left that area, and went to Cortez, then twenty-three miles up a mountain to see where the Cave Dwellers lived, then on to Four Corners, where we had our feet and hands in four States at once. Then went to Monument Valley, Utah. There is no way to describe that! I took eight rolls of film there, of every Mesa, Butte, and rock I found, it was so spectacular. Then we went to Kayenta, Arizona.
The story behind Kayenta... the Mazda truck we were pulling behind the bus somehow got the steering wheel locked, and we had to go into Kayenta to buy new tires, since it had nearly burned the rubber off of the others.
One more story about the trip...we were headed home, through Albuquerque, New Mexico, since we never go back the same way we came, then Gallup, Moriaty, and Tucumcari NM. Then through Amarillo, TX. Here's where the fun comes in. The whole trip the bus purred right along, and since we couldn't see the truck we were pulling, Raymond had put a flag sideways on the front bumper so he would know the truck was still there. I was forever asking if "anything was still following us," and his reply was that there was a flag that was following awful close. While going down I-40 we noticed an 18 wheeler passing us and driving on the shoulder of the far left side. Raymond looked in the rear view mirror and screamed, "My God, we're loosing it!" That's one time I knew to be quite, so he could do whatever he had to do. He finally eased off the highway, and eased to a stop. He said later that when he looked, he "saw" the truck, like it was going to pass him, and then it was gone, then back it came. Somehow, the ball had broken off, and then one of the safety chains had broken, and the truck was hanging on by one piece of chain. Thank goodness, he had put strong chains on, or else the truck would have been long gone a long time before, and we probably wouldn't have known it until someone had stopped us, or when we stopped to camp. Thank goodness it didn't come off and cause a terrible wreck. I had to drive the truck about 50 miles, until we came to El Reno OK. As it happened, we had an extra ball, so Raymond fixed it, and the next morning, off we went again heading home.
We didn't have any problems at all with the bus on the trip, just the truck incident.
Just as soon as we got settled, Raymond had decided, even though he had the bus painted, he didn't like the roundness of the top front and back. So we ordered front and back caps that would square it up, and he installed them just as soon as they came in. It does look a lot better, but then it had to be repainted. We decided to paint the whole top and sides solid burgandy . Here is a photo of the bus with the unpainted caps.
During the winter of 1997-1998 Raymond has worked every evening and weekend, remodeling the inside of the bus. First he put new walls in the bedroom, and where the back window was, he made a wall bookcase headboard, with shirt closets, and overhead cabinets for books, and a long mirror in the center. He totally re-did the vanity, and put trim on the drawers and even the pull out chair. Then he put new carpet in the bedroom to the hall.
Then he took out the couch, and replaced it with a new one. He took the booth seats out, and I went shopping for four "real" chairs. Then he took out his driver's seat, and replaced it with a new one, that swivels, and is a recliner. Then even after much pleading not to, he cut several feet off of my kitchen counter, to make more living room space. Then added top cabinets, and a new built in microwave. I had one in the bottom counter before he cut it off. He also put in a new refrigerator with stainless steel panels. He insisted everything had to be built in, so we got a new TV and VCR and they are now in the wall, along with his stereo system. Then he made doors to cover the drawers by the closet. He had a venetian blind company make blinds for the windows.
The next project was the closet doors. He wanted mirrored sliding doors but decided on louvered instead.
On September 7, 1999 we had the bus repainted, mostly because we had put the new caps on the front and back, but also because we were not happy with the colors we had previously chosen.
Soon he is going to take out the bathtub and put in a shower, to make room for a washer and dryer. Then he is going to put a tufted covering on the ceiling. He is still trying to figure what he is going to do exactly with dash and the very front of the bus. Then we will install sliding drapes over the front window.
Oh yes, he is going to install a camera and monitor so he can see if our tow vehicle is still there.
In April 2000 we camped at Tar Camp State Park.
On our September 2000 vacation we spent several days at the Crater of Diamonds in Murfreesboro, AR and stayed at the State Park there. Then we found a privately owned campground just past the park, and became friends with the owners there. He is also an artist and he painted our favorite scene on the back of the bus. (A montage of Monument Valley, of course) Notice our silhouettes in the lower right corner.
Now Raymond's bought aluminum rims that he has polished, with rear stainless steel top hats and all new chrome plastic lug nut covers.
We've been asked why anyone would want to go through so much work, when it would have been easier to buy another ready made motorhome. Raymond says he has enjoyed every minute of refurbishing and redecorating it.
Here is what his "toy" was before the bus, and sold because he said he couldn't take it with him in the bus.
Raymond and his '69 427 big block corvette
He says we are traveling when he retires, and has many plans of all the places he wants to visit. That's fine, as long as he puts on top of the bus, a satellite dish with an internet connection, and my laptop computer hooked to it, with me firmly attached! And he stops along the way at courthouses and cemeteries.