1990 Blue Bird Wanderlodge
This bus is for sale Sold! See this link.|
We spent a great deal of time on our 2006 around-the-country trip talking about "the next coach" and looking at many, in RV parks, dealer lots, and on the internet. We came to the conclusion that we wanted a heavy, bus-chassis coach that was built much more strongly than the standard motor homes we had experienced.
There are a few options (other than custom personal conversions) available, primarily Blue Bird, Newell, and various "commercial" Prevost bus conversions. As we went along we found ourselves primarily interested in the Blue Bird Wanderlodge, an all-steel coach built by the Blue Bird Coachworks on their school bus chassis.
Our initial list of desirable features included some items that turned out to not be practical within our budget. Those items included a mid-entry (side door) and a "modern" engine, meaning 4-stroke diesel. Perhaps one day we will upgrade, but it is also possible that we will not. Depends on how this one goes.
So, after cataloging nearly 50 Blue Birds for sale around the country, we settled on one located in Phoenix, Arizona. We picked it up on Monday, January 8, 2007, and drove it to Quartzsite to begin the changeout process. First item of business was moving the satellite dishes, and this was done the next day.
As you can see, the 40-foot Blue Bird was only a couple of feet longer than our 37-foot Safari, but was a lot taller and most definitely heavier! It is powered by a 475HP Detroit Diesel 8V92, with a 5-speed Allison transmission.
Most of these pictures have larger versions that can be seen by clicking on them.
Mingled in with the pictures taken shortly after purchase are newer ones showing changes we have made.
|Murals on the back, while very common on Safaris, are relatively uncommon on all other brands, including Blue Birds. This is not as well done as a Safari mural, but it is still distinctive. Joy may eventually have it redone with a tiger, but it may grow on her.|
|Blue Birds are known for their extensive dash readouts and controls, which take some time to get used to. Counting a linear panel that is overhead all of the way across the coach, there are 24 dial gauges, a half-dozen digital LED or odometer readouts, and an aircraft altimeter. Switches control many coach functions, not just driving-related things, although many are repeated elsewhere in the coach.|
|The front door is something we would have preferred not to have, but in this model they only made a few mid-entries in 1994-96, plus some longer coaches in 1995-97.|
|We replaced the original front seats with these blue-cloth-covered Flexsteel seats. Very comfortable, with a layer of memory foam.|
A previous owner replaced the original CRT televisions with LCD panels. We replaced the front 23-inch panel with a 27-inch one.
The 27-inch is wider than the space available, so it is mounted on a swing-out arm to allow both front cabinet doors to open. Click here for more details on that project.
The original front air conditioner (top picture) was replaced with a high-efficiency Carrier model with heat pump (bottom picture).
|The early pictures were taken before much was moved in, but of course the computer was there because the Datastorm dish had been moved! The right side (left in this picture looking towards the back) had two barrel chairs with a small table/cabinet between them.|
|The two barrel chairs were replaced by an office chair, computer desk, and behind the desk facing rearwards, a bookcase.|
|This is how the bookcase looked from the rear by the dinette. There are aluminum rods that are easily removed, but keep things from shifting in travel. The printer is bolted to the top of the bookcase.|
|In 2011 the arrangement was changed, as we were now traveling with a new puppy. The bookcase was removed and replaced by a crate, with a couple of bookshelves above. The platform above the crate also made it easier to use a larger monitor for the computer.|
|This is the internet communication gear installed in the cabinet over the desk.|
The standard Wanderlodge TV antenna is a disc with internal rotor, mounted on a 4ft-high tower that raises and lowers by push button. The antenna on Blue Thunder was marginal at best, and almost never used, so the disc was removed and the tower used as the mount for other antennas.
A cellular antenna is mounted in the middle of the square plate at the top, and is vertical in any position of the mast. It is used for an Air Card for internet reception.
The taller antenna is a WiFi antenna, used to share our connection with others, mostly at events. It is horizontal on the roof when the mast is down, since it is not flexible and would break if it hit something.
In the lower picture all of the antennas are deployed. .74-meter and 1.2-meter internet dishes, plus a DirecTV HD dish.
|The TV in this picture is the original 23-inch.|
|> The dining area is an L-shaped seat, with a table that slides out (motor driven). There is a commercial-quality safe under the seat - happily the former owner left a copy of the combination, as they are reportedly nearly impossible to crack.|
|The galley area is tile floor, with cherry cabinets. Counter is granite-edged Corian. There is a built in blender/food center, although the only attachments we found were a knife-sharpener and an ice crusher. The right sink has a garbage disposal, with a filtered drinking water dispenser at the left sink; the right two faucets are soap dispenser and Insta-hot hot water.|
|There are pantry slideouts at the counter end. Quite a bit of storage, although we are likely to have a bit less than the Safari, and definitely a smaller refrigerator. Two of the negatives in the various tradeoffs.|
|The walk-through bath area has a microphor toilet behind the residential-style door, and a large closet over drawers.|
|> The shower includes a large garden tub, one of the things Joy missed most about our old Safari Sahara.|
|The island queen bed has a deep closet above the headboard. All of the drapes in the bedroom and living area are powered.|
|This is the bedroom with Joy's quilt on the bed, and various decorations.|
|> Here are two views of the bathroom from the bedroom, with the door to the living area open and closed.|
|One of the earliest and most complicated changes was the installation of a washer-dryer in the right-hand closet. The coach was not plumbed for a washer-dryer, so there was a lot of plumbing involved. It is working well.|
|Most of the upper radius of the coach had significant paint peeling from being in the desert for many years. After a lot of hours with a paint gun, it looks much better as seen below. Quite a learning experience.|
|We added slideout trays to the main cargo bay in order to make the space more usable.|
|The taillights and marker lights were becoming very faded, and there was corrosion in a number of the marker lights that made it hard to keep bulbs working. In late 2010 they were replaced with LEDs. That includes tail/brakelights, backup lights, 5 red markers on rear, 5 amber markers on rear, 1 red and 2 amber upper markers per side, and 2 amber turn markers on each side.|
It is common for Blue Birds, particularly older ones, to have names. Those are often painted above the windshield, but there was no name on this one. We have been thinking of names for awhile, but hadn't come up with anything. We found towels in this one that say "Blue Thunder" (you can see them in the vanity picture), and there are also four Zip-Dee lawn chairs in the basement with that name embroidered on them.|
Asking about it on a Wanderlodge Yahoo group produced a name of a prior owner of a coach with that name, and then he showed up to confirm it. He also provided this picture that shows the name was indeed there at one time, but had been painted over.
|At a rally in Gila Bend we had new lettering made by Too Crazy Ladies and this is what it looks like now.||
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