Yes I have now gone completely gaga and bought this basket case – except underneath the depressing exterior is an almost new coach ready for a renaissance.
This coach chassis number 9118345 was built in 1992 under the specific instructions of Mr. Stefan Boone of Best Tours in Brussels. Unlike previous Jumbocruisers, this coach has the power unit mounted right at the rear driving the last trailer axle. The other axle on the trailer is a fixed twin wheel unit. The engine is a Mercedes 440 ps V8 and power is by an air controlled gear connection system on a ZF box.
The danger of a pusher is in wet conditions where the back section is still trying to push the front section so an automatic gearbox would not be safe. The coach was built to carry up to 80 passengers in extremely comfortable seats with full leg support, better than most business class seats in planes. The usual route was Belgium to Spain on high intensity work. Around 160,000km from new the coach was rolled. At first the insurance company claimed against Neoplan for making an unsafe vehicle but eventually it was established the cause was due to driver error while handling a cup of coffee at speed.
This coach was tested at the Nurburgring by Neoplan and also by Michelin at Clermont-Ferand at speeds in excess of 140km/h. There were issues regarding snaking but these were resolved by using computerised rams similar to anti-jack-knifing systems on trucks.
It is our intention to use a very enthusiastic and reputable coach restorer in Mons in Belgium to do the restorations. I can not tell you the price quoted but let us put it this way, we will get a vehicle up to new standards that has only done 1 year of work before being kept in a warehouse until 2 years ago. It is a unique vehicle that would cost over 800,000 euros to build today but we get the whole bus for little more than the cost of a new good quality single decker coach. I quote from their quotation to us, �In great lines, we see 3 phases: repairing the accident and renovate the body, adapting the interior to your wishes and last but not least, a complete technical round-up of this coach.�
Starting with this last point, we intend to build out engine, gear box, retarder and to check/evt. renovate them. New radiator, intercooler and oil cooler. New hoses, tightenings, belts, ... Standard exchange starter, dynamos,... Completely revisioned heating, aircon, ventilation system. On all these jobs you get a one year or 100,000 kms guarantee, except for the engine, gear box and retarder on which you get two years of guarantee or 200,000 kms (whatever is reached first). The weakest point of this mechanical chapter will be the articulation. I told you about the coaches history and you are aware of this central “computer,” which is the “Achilles-heel” of this coach. For performing the best as possible in repairing this damaged articulation, I called in the specialists that built it: Hymer Leichtmetallbau from Wangen, Germany. They let me know that, after the “debacle” with some of these articulations, they stopped to produce them and they sold this division about seven years ago to HÜBNER, also in Germany. There I got in contact with Mr. Uwe Sippel, whom seemed to be willing to help us. I have to mail him some more detailed specs. before this week-end. He promised to come back with an answer before next Wednesday. We hope you can understand that we can only give you the guarantee that Hübner is going to give us on this articulation.For safety reasons you and I agreed that the coach will be speed limited at 100 km/h and that no more then max 20 persons will be on this coach while driving.
While repairing the damaged body, we suggest that we give it as much as possible the new Skyliner-look and that we put in the darkest windows available. Our electrician is also looking for how to change the complete dashboard.
About the inner lay-out of the coach (we spoke from 16 beds, some leather seats and a well equipped kitchen) I suppose we set up a meeting specially for this purpose. But anyhow, we did already more of these projects and by experience we know more or less where we will end with times and prices.
The Belgians are really moving on with the project. We have decided to fit the bus out with the latest Neoplan paneling which is a little bit of a problem because the Jumbocruiser is not 2.55 metres but 2.52 metres wide of course.
See the new rear end and smooth side. Also is the mess in the turntable area that hardly seems possible to fix but will be..