Thursday, March 25, 2021

The BoggsMobile Story

Tuesday I wrote about the BoggsMobile being in our family for thirteen years this week. Along the way, I tried to answer some common questions we receive, but it seems I generated some questions as well.

How did we end up with a bus and this bus in particular?

First, the bus thing had been years in the making. It may have begun when my Dad converted a school bus to a camper when I was a small kid. That bus never strayed far from my mind.

Through two different rounds of evangelism and a period covering many years, we have owned and traveled in three fifth wheels pulled by three different trucks.

In 2008 we had a 2004 Chevy Duramax and a 2004 Newmar Kountry Star. I had previously thought fifth wheels fell apart going down the road 30-40,000 miles a year because they were old. The first one was thirteen years old when we bought it and the second was eighteen years old. 

We fixed that. We purchased the Kountry Star new and ordered it like we wanted. 

After pulling the brand new Kountry Star a couple years, I discovered that fifth wheels, or any RV for that matter, fall apart going 30-40,000 miles a year, because they are not made for that purpose. RVs, even well made, four-season fifth wheels from Newmar are made to use two-three weeks in the summer and eight or nine weekends each year.

The Kountry Star was in great shape when we moved out of it, but the handwriting was on the wall. I had replaced springs and shackle brackets way sooner and more often than I thought I would. It was only a matter of time until the miles I was pulling would begin to show.

Commercial bus chassis are designed and built to run two-three million miles and to last decades in their service life. Thus began our long and often discouraging bus search.

We drove many hundreds of miles and even flew from one coast to the other to find the elusive unicorn we were seeking. We desired a low milage bus with a strong engine and a well-done interior conversion for a low price.

What we often found at the end of the rainbow was a pretty nice paint job or a beautiful new conversion built on an old charter bus with unknown mileage (Often a million or more) powered by a tired two-stroke diesel that had been rebuilt by someone in the dark and shady past.

But, they were in our price range!😁

God had put men in our path who had forgotten more about buses than I will ever know and they all said, wait. Wait for a four-stroke 60 series Detroit. Wait for low mileage. Wait for those models to fall into your price range. It may take a few years, but they will eventually come down.

And, they were right.

When Kelly Jo first saw the advertisement for the bus that became the BoggsMobile, our price range was 55% of the recently lowered asking price. Ouch, that is a long way off!

I offered the dealer my price and they literally laughed out loud. But the bus sat on their lot for many, many months and would not sell. That was in our favor.

Our bus was taken in as a trade on a newer used bus and for various reasons, it did not sell for over a year. What kept it from selling? A few things.

It did not have a paint job that said, "Million Dollar bus", but we liked it and we still do.

It was advertised as an accessible bus for the handicapped, but it was not. It had a dangerous setup that no person in a wheelchair would use IF given the choice. We could work with that, but people that did not need an accessible bus did not even look at it after they read the advertisement.

The high quality Berber carpet was dirty down the walkway. People looking for a glamorous bus, probably did not walk past the door because of the carpet. We were willing to deal with it until we could change it a year later.

It had a mid-door configuration that is unusual and not desirable by Prevost buyers. The original purchaser ordered the mid-door and in doing so, the bus became the ugly runt in the litter. 

All of these things, plus old tires and a few bells and whistles that did not make any sounds at all, conspired against the old bus and it sat.

It sat long enough for us to buy it for our original offer and they replaced the engine computer at their expense.

Our bus was not the prettiest bus on the lot. Our bus was not the newest bus on the lot. Our bus was not the lowest mileage bus on the lot. But by the time we waited several months, I guarantee you this, our bus was the cheapest bus on the lot!

The day we bought it was the first day we had ever seen diesel at $4 per gallon. You know what came next, right? Fuel prices kept rising and families had to choose between buying gas for work or paying the mortgage they barely qualified for. Soon the shakey mortgage market fell apart.

A year later  I could have purchased the bus cheaper, but lending had tightened up to the point where a bus that age did not qualify for a loan and I probably would not have qualified either.

We feel like we bought the right bus at the right time and it has served us well. We hope and pray every day that it does well for many years to come.

I reckon that is enough for today. Thank you for reading.


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