Slow moving for the past month, so many things beyond my skillset. This past month we received out license plate, took it to two mechanics, and are currently waiting to get it back from inspection. So much of this internal build for this bus done in the first few weeks after we bought it but the state slowed us down tremendously. Now we are regaining speed and getting closer to serving food to you from this bus. Blue Sparrow is about to take food trucking to the next level.
Funny story about the first time I drove this on a public road: So learning to drive this bus in a parking lot is one thing, but taking out on the road is completely different. I have my Uncle Larry to thank for showing me the ropes of driving a bus in Pittsburgh.
When we finally received out license plate our priority was to get it to a mechanic for state inspection. In order to do this I had to drive it from north of the city, through town and to a mechanic toward the west. For those not familiar with Pittsburgh there are tunnels and bridges everywhere as well as narrow roads with confusing traffic patterns. Knowing the roads well made it easy for me when I was planning the easiest route from the parking lot to the mechanic. I was going to go down 279, across the West End Bridge, Merge onto 376, and take the exit that lead to the garage. It was easy, there were no tunnels, there was no driving on route 51, and I was happy with the route I chose for my first time on a public road.
Now this is where the story get interesting. I was driving on the road and feeling comfortable as I’m going down 279 in a flipping bus. I was so excited and nervous that I flipped my brain into autopilot mode and took an exit to drive to my house, and not the mechanic. As I am so casually getting off this exit I look to Larry and say ‘Crap, i have to go through a tunnel now don’t I?’, because the road lead directly to the Liberty Tubes. He responded very calmly and very matter of fact ‘Yup, our busses [Port Authority] have routes through there, and you have to go down 51'. Instead of making a bunch of turns to avoid the 2 things I didn’t want to do, I manned up and drove that dang bus through the Liberty Tunnels and down Route 51 to get onto 376. Doing this spur of the moment detour build my confidence immensely, and I am glad I made that wrong turn. And I definitely thank Larry for helping boost my confidence through out the whole event. I am now more excited than nervous to drive this bus all over town to serve food.
Mechanic one took a look over the bus and gave us a list of about 15 things that needed fixed before it would pass inspection. They told us most of the work would be cheaper if we did it ourselves and recommended that we pick up the bus and fix what we can before bringing it back. This list included tie rods, bushings, torque arms, panels, battery tie downs, and an assortment of other items. We were hoping we were going to drop it off and it would just pass, but that wasn’t the case. This mechanic also recommended that we take this vehicle to a mechanic that deals with old vehicles.
We were a little discouraged after picking it up without an inspection sticker, but we now had a definitive list of what needed fixed. So after reviewing the list, and fixing what I can fix, I was referred to a mechanic in Cheswick (a little north of Pittsburgh) who dealt with older vehicles and was highly recommended by another food truck used their services. I gave this guy a called and after a 20 minute conversation I found that he had worked on 100+ Detroit 671 diesel engines and his dad used to be a driver of an old GM bus for a charter company. He knew old vehicles and was familiar with this particular bus, we found our mechanic.
I then drove the bus to this new guy and he was able to locate all the parts he needed to fix it up. We are hoping to have the bus back with an inspection sticker before the end of November. It is a very exciting time as we are wrapping up the food truck season with our other vehicle and looking forward to transferring into the bus.
Thank you all so much for reading this and following this story, I promise you that we will be bringing this bus to a brewery near you.