I haven’t said anything about our onsite body shop so I think now is the time to tell you all about it. We have a journeyman body man who does everything related to school buses. He replaces and repairs body panels, repairs and replaces seat covers, replaces damaged and fogged glass and paints where required on the bus front to back. He also looks after the white fleet full of cars and trucks of all sizes.
Our buses take a beating on windshields which depends on the size of the pebbles highway crews lay on the road. Our C2 Thomas Saf-T-Liners have a one piece windshield that takes 3 glass techs to replace. It’s extremely heavy and was designed that way to add integrity to the body of the bus. The windshield has to be glued in so there is approximately a 4 hour curing time.
The International buses we run just have the split seal that takes less labour and the downtime is minimal. The cost is much less because it’s flat glass that can be cut to size by the glass shop. The Thomas C2 glass is curved and must be purchased through a distributor. The windshields also have to be designated AS1 safety glass. AS1 glass does not shatter like regular glass and protects the driver and passengers. The rock chips are also repaired using an epoxy injection kit the body man uses that may prevent further damage.
The side windows in all of our buses are designated AS2 which is also safety glass. The biggest problem with side windows including the entrance door is the seal fails causing fogged windows. This decreases visibility and the glass must be replaced. Luckily we can send out our sealed units to the local glass shop where they reseal them and charge must less than the OEM glass.
Bus seat repair is a regular task for our body guy. A lot of the damage comes from students poking holes in the seat backs or picking away at the stitching. Of course there is the regular wear and tear.
The body shop comes equipped with an industrial sewing machine for vinyl seat repairs and there is seat patching equipment that melts on extra material to make repairs when necessary. Complete seat covers are available from the dealer and are used when repair is not possible.
The government motor vehicle inspectors do not like rust so they write that up if the rust condition is severe. Most times severe means surface rust and they want it repaired before you can poke a hole through the body with a sharp instrument. Another problem is body cross members that rust out but that usually occurs close to bus retirement. We have sold a few buses before they are due because of severe rust problems.
So our body man keeps very busy throughout the year and I should add he also has several fender bender repairs that are always unexpected. Job security for sure when you sign on as a school bus fleet body man. In the long run having an on site body man saves the school district a lot of money. Most body shops might have more tools and manpower but the cost differential is significant.