I travelled back to the United States over the Easter long weekend. This would be the first time I had seen the bus since purchasing it and placing it in storage back in February. I had four days to get the bus serviced, collect my permits and drive it 1300 miles to northern Washington State.
The bus was booked in to see the mechanic at 8:00am. At 6:30am I arrived at the storage centre and boarded the bus. I insert my keys and the dashboard lights up. After a few seconds the ‘Wait to Start’ light goes out. Turning the keys, the starter motor ticks over but fails to power up the 5.9L 24v Cummins turbo diesel.
Convinced it was a symptom of being left in storage for two months, I waited thirty seconds, and tried again. No joy.
I opened the cover to the battery box. A giant ON/OFF switch glared at me from inside the box. Being a bus novice, I did not realise I needed to turn the bus off, prior to leaving it dormant for two months. I was trying to convince myself it was nothing more than a battery issue. Otherwise, I would have to admit there was a greater (and potentially more expensive issue) to fix.
I raced down to the nearest AutoZone, and laid down a $100 for a jump start kit. Although I’d bought the largest capacity available, it wasn’t enough to start a bus.
So back I went to AutoZone. With no other options, I laid down $250 for a new battery. It was now 08:15am, and I had missed my appointed at the mechanic. I raced back to the storage centre, switched over the battery and attempted to start the bus once again.
Keys in. Dash lit up. I turned the key and bus roared into life. Success!
I set off towards the mechanic, desperate to get the bus in for inspection. If I missed this appointment, I’d be a full a 24 hours behind for my 1300 mile journey north. I wasn’t prepared to attempt the journey without it.
Sadly, I was too late. Another stumbling block, before I’d even started.