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Old 08-23-2021
Rover Rover is offline
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Default From 1967 Wanderlodge to Alaska's Brain Bus

First, thank you to WOG and its members. I have been on this website for over a month now and am very impressed by the kindness of members and incredible wealth of knowledge. I feel like I know some of you even though we have never met. I came here seeking information about Wanderlodges because I needed a vehicle to serve as a rolling medical clinic to serve Alaskan's with Traumatic Brain Injury. It needed to be simple, strong and big enough to house three clinicians and patients.

I am a family practice doctor specializing in treating brain injury and now, after 20 years of doing this out of my clinic, I decided I needed to do something more than see one patient at a time as they come to the clinic. Alaska has more folks with TBI than any other state and so few can get care. I have served on Non-Profit boards and State advisory committees set up to try to solve this problem over the years but we have made so little progress it is heart breaking.

The idea was to get a bus and convert it into a rolling clinic manned by volunteer clinicians to get care out into the under served areas of Alaska. While this is a low budget operation, there is a lot of passion. I have folks volunteering to help with the bus remodel and also to run the clinic. I am applying for grants and we have a GoFundMe set up to help fuel the bus (literally and figuratively). We will also have to do a bit of build out yet.

Second, thank you Jim Morton (JMorton) for donating Retro (31FC) to the Alaska Brain Bus Project. He is in California and I am in Alaska and while he has been working hard to make the bus ready to hit the road, I was lucky to get Totem Maritime to donate the fare to ship the bus from the Port of Tacoma in Washington to the Port in Anchorage. So, I will be flying down to meet Jim and the bus in a few weeks, help him button up a few projects, and then head up I-5 to Tacoma on our maiden voyage.

Third, I need WOG help. Jim is amazing in the work he has done on the bus and is very knowledgeable. He got the juice brakes working among many other important systems. I have mastered the search feature of the WOG and have found answers to most of my questions. However, there are a few things I am hoping the WOG brain trust can help with. I will post these in the appropriate sections of the WOG.

Thank all of you for your kind words and support when I introduced myself earlier and thank you the incredible wealth of knowledge contained here.

I know we all like pictures so I have attached a few Jim sent me earlier.

Here is the Brain Bus project website for those of you interested: https://www.alaskabrainbus.com/
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Adam Grove
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Old 08-23-2021
bubblerboy64 bubblerboy64 is offline
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Hi Adam, From those two pictures that bus looks to be really really really nice. Having owned a 71 ft FC which was converted to diesel using a 3208 and with significant up grades to the suspension I’m going to express my concerns. First a 31 ft FC is SMALL. Smaller then you might think and I’m concerned that for your use TOO small. In addition a 1967 vehicle of any type is really not suitable for use on modern roads. With some few exceptions. An old wanderlodge is not one of them.
I think what you are planning is commendable and I wish you all the best. I hope I am proven entirely wrong on all of this but I felt I needed to chip in with my unsolicited opinion.
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Old 08-23-2021
Rover Rover is offline
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Hi John,

Thanks for your input. I appreciate the perspective of someone who has been there. I have not stood in a FC31 to get an appreciation of the size so my appreciation of the situation is purely academic.

In looking at the floor plan for the 68, my intention is to convert the rear bedroom into one work area, the dinette into another and the front living room in the the third. One of those spaces need to house a clinician and 1 patient and a family member or two (Living room?). The dinette will house one clinician and one patient and the same for the rear area. The rear area will house a small folding massage table to serve as an exam table while the dinette will be a sit down area to talk and fill out paperwork at the table.

As far as road worthiness, this is something to take seriously for sure. I have researched this extensively and am thinking about it a lot. Fortunately, in Alaska we have very few roads which sustain a 65mph speed limit. As a matter of character I am not a fast driver and am content with 55mph and I hope the bus will be as well.

With a few exceptions, Alaska does not have mountain passes and the areas we would be traveling in the Brain Bus would be primarily southcentral and interior Alaska which are largely flat. This makes me feel better about brakes and suspension. Growing up in Colorado in the 60's and 70's I recall with a shiver many stories of run away trucks and busses on the mountain passes. I hope that careful driving, the retarder and well functioning hydraulic brakes will suffice.

I really do appreciate all opinions and value the input of all of you who are so much more familiar with these vehicles.
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Old 08-23-2021
bubblerboy64 bubblerboy64 is offline
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Adam. To clarify you are anticipating the possibility of six or more people in the bus at one time? Please inform if my understanding is correct or not and I will allow others to respond. Are you anticipating removing ( gutting ) the interior down to the outside walls or working around the kitchen , bath and existing RV structures?
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Old 08-23-2021
Rover Rover is offline
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Yes, six people. It might be cozy but i am also coming from the perspective of decades of traveling in a Volkswagen van with three people and 1-2 dogs .

I currently conduct my clinical work in a 10x10 office with space to spare and bookcases and file cabinets and a desk. I envision the forward and rear spaces to be as open as possible, no desks (other than the dinette) and seating will be on folding chairs which allow flexibility. Most clinicians now a days are used to working on laptop computers which will be handy.

I am hoping to work around the core of the bus leaving the kitchen and bath intact. It will be nice to have those at hand.
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Old 08-23-2021
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Mike Hohnstein Mike Hohnstein is offline
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This not what you need. Move on.
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Old 08-23-2021
photoadjuster photoadjuster is offline
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Come on guys. He got a free bus and he deserves it. Why be so negative?
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Old 08-23-2021
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Darryl Darryl is offline
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Adam, TBI is devastating and I speak from the results of a terrible motorcycle accident. Thank god I was wearing a helmet. What you are doing is fantastic and to have you, Jim and others donate skill, equipment and funds is all you can ask for. The 31’ bus is a great place to start and the price is right. My prayers are with you and your patients for success. Wishing you the best Adam. We need more like you.

Darryl in Detroit
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Old 08-23-2021
bubblerboy64 bubblerboy64 is offline
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I think it unfair to say that any one of us is trying to be anything other then helpful. Some of the best advice I’ve gotten in life ( much of it I will admit I didn’t take ) is exactly what Mike said. I can pretty well guarantee you Adam’s feelings are not hurt with the “negativity “. No doubt about deserving .None of us knows what we don’t know nor do we know what the other guy knows. All we can do is to offer opinions and ask leading questions for Adam to consider. I’m speaking from the point of some experience but I also respect the opinion of others. It easy to be a Monday morning quarterback and years from now say “ I knew that wasn’t going to work” I think a wide body coach would be SO much more adaptable for this purpose. Three times the space and so much more road worthy. I’d just ask Adam to consider . As I said in my first post I hope I’m wrong. Haven’t convinced me but I’m not the one who needs to be
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Last edited by bubblerboy64; 08-23-2021 at 08:28 PM.
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Old 08-23-2021
Rover Rover is offline
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Thank you all! I would not have brought the whole thing up if I was not willing to consider all opinions. I appreciate all of them.

At this point, I need to do something. Two months ago, a patient told me about a colleague of hers who had sustained a TBI and 6 months later killed himself because he could not figure out what to do nor could his family. I cannot stand any more stories like that so 31 feet, juice brakes and a gas engine or not, I am going to give it a try because I don't have other options.

I totally understand where John and Mike are coming from and I am not saying they are not right but I cannot wait for this to be perfect. Ideally, I can prove to important people that this works and they will help us get something more suited for this like the 40 foot, 1996 Blue Bird mobile medical clinic on Ebay for $125K.

I am an optimistic person and am convinced I can make this work as a proof of concept if nothing else and save some lives. Something has to change up here and I do appreciate all of your ideas and suggestions.

Maybe I should scale things down to consider two clinicians to avoid unpleasant over crowding. That would certainly be doable. It is something I will consider moving forward as I develop the operations plan.

This is all good input, keep it coming guys!
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