My Bus

My bus is a 1990 Orion 1.508, originally purchased by Pierce Transit of Tacoma Washington with an order of 19 coaches (420-438). It was delivered in December of 1990 as #427, and retired on March 31st, 2004 after 13 years of service. I bought 427 at auction on May 3rd, 2004 for $1900 and its now a private collector's vehicle. A few of her sisters survived on, some went to Alaska and others went to McNeil Island, although as far as I know all of them have been retired. A few also wound up in private ownership, however I have not seen them in years. There are a few other orion 1s being preserved, but not too many so this makes 427 a unique bus, not only for some of the options she has, including the fact she is now an orphan with Orion shutting down. At the time of this writing I have owned her for nearly as long as she has been in service, which is kind of amazing since I really didn't know what I was getting into, or anything about being a bus mechanic when I was placing a bid ten plus years ago.

The Interior of the coach remains in its Origonal condition. It is still seated, and I have even re-added a fare box (a GFI TVJ, this is a electric "dump" type box, it has a similar cabinet as a Cents-a-bill that 427 would have had when she entered service. The only differences are it has a black vault cabinet instead of stainless steel, and instead of a separate bill and coin path with electronic counters, it has a simple electric dump mechanism and a manual counter instead of an electronic system. This particular box was last used in a 1987 Orion 1 #417 before the whole fleet was changed out for Cents-a-Bill boxes around 1990). I have also added a Motorola Spectra W-5 radio control head and handset so the interior is about what it would have been in service for Pierce Transit over a decade ago.

Mechanically the bus is in good shape, and the engine was rebuilt about 3500 miles ago by Bates Technical College. The engine is a Detroit Diesel 6V92TA DDEC IV. Its unusual in the fact it has a mechanical block dating from 1987 with electronic heads. The block would have came out of the 401-419 series Orion 1's that were bought in 87. The Transmission is a ZF 4HP590 4 speed automatic.

The body of the coach is in fairly good shape, although it needs to be repainted. It has some areas where the Bondo skim coat is failing and cracking, leading to some surface corrosion. otherwise the coach is rust free unlike coaches in Canada or on the East coast. 427 has a small front sign cap, with square headlamps and oval turn signals. Most Orion 1s did not have square headlamps, or oval turn signals. She still has her Luminator MAX designation sign that works, with the programming from when she was last in service. The wheelchair lift is a Lift-U platform lift, and it works, although I do not mess with it often as I don't want to get it stuck.

#427's retired life of leisure consists mostly of joyrides on the weekends in her old stomping grounds in Tacoma where she still gets mistaken for an in-service bus (and the expressions of people as a drive by is funny, they yell, wave, get their stuff together and stand at the curb while I drive by and they usually have a very puzzled look on their face). I try to take her out at least once a week to make sure everything stays running, buses do not like to sit for long. The farthest I have taken her is Olympia in 2006 or 7, and Seattle this past year. She has also made a couple trips up to Sea-Tac and back, and looped through the Airport drive like the last of her sisters that survived at PT until 2010 (they were in storage, and reactivated for the Link Light Rail airport Shuttle for 6 months, from Tukwila International Airport Station to the Airport, afterwards they were retired and sold at auction)


Created with flickr slideshow.



Donations are gladly accepted to help keep 427 on the road for the next twenty years.

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