More DOT Training

Today I met with my DOT trainer to go over pre-trip and post-trip inspections for The Cool Bus.  This is one aspect of operating this business that I did not expect when I wanted to start this, but everything I am learning is very useful and is helping me in covering my butt should anything arise in the future.  And its just good protocols to have in place for a business like mine.  

We went over things like my lights, Emergency exits, fire extinguishers, signage inside the bus, the ever so important white line to stand behind (this is actually what allows people to drink on the bus legally), and even opened up the hood of the engine and went through various parts that I needed to be on the lookout for.  Now I'm not saying after this that I am not a professional mechanic, but it did help me in identifying certain aspects of the engine.  

We also talked about wheels, brakes, and emergency equipment that is mandatory on board a commercial vehicle (fire extinguisher, 3 orange triangles and extra fuses).  Kind of interesting fact though, but there is no rule stating that I must have a first aid kit on board.  Don't worry, I have one, but just thought it was interesting that it wasnt mandatory.  

We also went over Annual Inspections, Monthly Inspections and preventative maintenance schedules.  

There is just so much more to this business than getting a bus, having a cool sound system and lights and learning to drive the vehicle.  #themoreyouknow 

Interior work, A/C install and yet another issue...

After 3 1/2 weeks of waiting, I finally got a phone call saying that the interior of the bus would be ready.  Well, at least most of the interior would be complete.  The guys working on the bus said that they were going out of town for a week and said I could pick up the bus if I wanted.  This worked out perfectly because I was able to get the A/C installed during this time.  

The work that was completed on the interior to-date was:

  • Paint the interior black
  • Add lighting above the seats
  • Install new upholstery
  • Install security cameras and rear view backup camera
  • Hookup new radio with Bluetooth and USB charging outlets

They still need to install the handrails, connect the cameras to the DVR, and add lighting under the seats.  But that should only take a day or 2 at most.  

I picked the bus up on Wednesday, 4/20 and dropped the bus off to get the A/C installed Friday, 4/22 at Camping World of Houston. 

But another hiccup would be revealed on the way to get the A/C installed.  As I was heading down I-10 to Camping World, where I would get the A/C from, about 10 minutes from my destination, I started to smell something from the engine and my brake light came on.  In addition, the pressure in my air brakes had dropped significantly.  All of the sudden, my brakes locked up and forced me to pull over on the side of the road.  After shutting off the engine, I let the bus rest for about 45 min. I started it back up and the pressure rose back to sufficient level as I was able to drop the bus off to get the A/C worked on.  

I picked the bus back up Tuesday and immediately dropped it off at DI Performance for an inspection.  A few days later, I got the call that the air compressor was faulty and there were multiple leaks in the lines.  They estimated that the repair will take about a week.  

As frustrating as it has been for issue after issue to pop up, I am glad that I am identifying these now as opposed to when I have customers.  I just have to keep delaying the start date of The Cool Bus, so now it looks like the bus won't be ready till Memorial Day weekend, depending on how long the paint job takes.  

As the repairs and fabrication work have been taking place over the past few weeks, I have also gone through DOT (Department of Transportation) training.  I have learned quite a bit of information that will allow me to properly operate under the federal and state rules/regulations as a commercial motor vehicle.  I knew that there would be a lot of information to consume, but I didn't realize how much I would be responsible for as I am running this business in the coming weeks, months and years.  

A wise man once said, "Patience is a virtue"

It has now been 3 weeks since I dropped the bus off to get the interior customized.  They say it should be complete this week, so I'm crossing my fingers.  

One thing I have learned in this whole process, is that when you are dealing with another trade and they give you an estimated timeline for the job completion, go ahead and tack on another week to their estimation.  

I don't want to rush any of these trades that are working on the bus, because I want to make sure that the work they are doing is being done correctly.  But it is a little frustrating that it took 5 weeks for the engine to get fixed and now 3 weeks for the interior.  But like I said, patience is a virtue. 

While I have been waiting, patiently, for this work to finish, I have been taking care of a few other things in the meantime.  

  1.  I have confirmed where I will be getting the exterior of the bus painted.  The same company doing the interior renovation will actually be able to get the bus painted as well.  This will save me the hassle of moving to/from another location and they can just keep it at their shop to begin the paint job.
  2. I am also working on my DOT Certification.  There has been some paperwork and other items I've had to fill out that I wasn't aware of, but are essential to getting the bus up and running as a commercial business.  There are a few online forms and a couple of training sessions that I will need to complete to make sure I am in compliance of the necessary law and regulations.  
  3. Finalizing the design and order for some promotional items - ladies tank tops, koozies and of course, the sunglasses.  
  4. Continuing to get quotes on the graphics.  Now that I have decided to paint the exterior first, the quotes that I received initially from companies in regards to wrapping the full exterior of the bus, are no longer applicable.  I will need new quotes on just adding the graphics as if it were a decal.  For future buses, depending on the condition of the paint job, I should be able to get them wrapped.  

I am hoping to have some pictures of the newly renovated interior by next week that I can post on the site.