Jim Lee's

1954 Chevrolet 3800 School Bus

and a 1954 1-Ton stock truck, 1953 Chevrolet Pickup and a 1954 1-Ton Dump Truck

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23 January 2006
# 1387

From Jim:

          Please accept the following narrative and photos for submission in your Stovebolt Gallery. I know I enjoy reading the stories and pictures of other old Chevrolet trucks!

          The bus is a 1954 Chevrolet 3800 series, 6 cylinder motor, 4 speed floor transmission, PTO (to drive the knife and scissor sharpening tools formerly in the bus), single wheels (pickup style on the front -- I met a fellow Stovebolter through the forum who has a set of adapters to fit bud wheels -- conveniently he lives 90 miles from me) and dual wheels on the back. The wheels are 17 inches. The bus was bought new in 1954 by a guy who sharpened knives and scissors in St. Louis, MO. When I bought the bus, my Mother and Father knew the bus and remembered it. There is a huge bell inside the bus and the sharpener would drive up and down the streets ringing the bell and people would bring out their utensils for him to sharpen.

          I traded a 1956 VW and a 1960 rag top VW to the man's grandson for the bus. It had 73,000 original miles when I got it. (It has a little over 75,000 miles now.) As I recall, the man passed away and his grandson got the bus. I had seen the bus at the local Chevrolet garage in the late 1980's and saw it once in Hemmings around that time for around $5,000. If anyone remembers the bus from Hemmings, I would like to get a copy of the photo ad, as it shows the bus when it was a knife sharpener vehicle.

          The Grandson had taken all the equipment out of the bus when I got it in around 1992. I sanded it and painted it. Regrettably, I didn't take any pictures of it before, when it was painted for knife sharpening business. I put school bus seats in it and my family used it for parades and camping trips. It has duallies in the back and regular rims in the front. I can't determine if those rear wheels are original or not. The lug bolt studs are short, which leads me to believe they are not original. It was as it came from the factory. The gauges, horn and lights all worked. It had no flashing marker lights or stop sign arm.

          Around 1996 or so, I started collecting army trucks and my wife said I had too many vehicles. I sold the bus to Lowell Davis of Red Oak fame. He in turns sold the bus to Sam Bucher of Precious Moments fame. Precious Moments repainted the bus and added two more seats. They also used the bus as advertising for their Chapel.

          I always regretted selling the bus. In December of 2005 I heard the bus might be for sale. I went down to Carthage MO and bought it for what I had sold it for to Lowell Davis. I borrowed my brother's truck and trailer and went to Carthage and brought it home (Springfield MO). Other than the paint job, they had done nothing to the bus. I bought a new carburetor off eBay and installed it. The bus runs perfectly.

          Before I sold it, we used to "theme" the bus with tempura water paint for each trip. My favorite theme was "Mr. Peabody's Private School for the Extremely Clever." Each August a small German community about 25 miles away has a beer feast (Freistatt, MO). We take the bus down there with a load of friends and paint the bus up. I have a German beer mug collection and took the sayings off a whole bunch of comic mugs and painted them on the bus. I later found out they were risque sayings! What fun we had.

          Our son and his friends painted it up as a hippie bus for their high school one day. We have used it for birthday parties, parades, and Christmas caroling. We took all the grandkids and neighbor kids on a tour of Christmas lights and used it to shuttle our children and their friends on New Years Eve. I was the designated driver. I pick our two grandsons (8 and 6) up from school on Thursdays and Fridays in the bus. They love it! Nobody doesn't like the yellow bus. I am glad the bus is back. Every time I get tempted to sell the bus again (I have had a lot of offers), I get outvoted by our children. When they were younger they hated to ride in it!

          I am in the process of removing the Precious Moments signage on the bus with acetone -- a long process. The bus needs the rubber strip on the door, any ideas where to get one? Most of the ones I find are brittle and not as good as the one currently on it.

          The school bus body is made by Wayne. A fellow bus enthusiast sent me the following email about the buses

"Very interesting Crown.Was it built that way or was that an after school conversion? I've seen a few of those -- mostly US mail versions. I thought they were long gone. Too bad Crown also went out of business. You can thank Carpenter Body Co for Wayne and Crown's demise. Ironic you have two great examples of their work before Carpenter purchased them and buried both."

          We also have a 1954 Chevrolet 1-ton stock truck, a 1953 Chevrolet 3600 3/4-ton and a 1954 1- ton dump truck. Here's where you can find more photos of the bus and some other interesting vehicles. More information on them will be forthcoming.

          I like old Chevrolet trucks. My brother, on the other hand is a Ford man. (I have never seen his wife so mad as when we brought a 1952 Ford dump truck home from an auction!) He and his wife raise miniature horses.


Jim Lee
Bolter # 9441
Springfield, MO

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