Our Odyssey

Project Background

Odyssey was never really a bus. It was built in 1985 by Neoplan at their plant in Pilsting, Germany, for export to the US as a "conversion shell." This is what bus manufacturers call buses that are special-ordered with no seats (and sometimes other options) for conversion into motorhomes, mobile labs, executive coaches, and the like. Odyssey was worked on by two different bus converters before it was completed and delivered to its first owner in 1991. We are the fourth owners, and Odyssey (which, at that time, we had not yet named) arrived in our hands as a complete motorhome in 2001.

We knew when we bought Odyssey that we would need to make a few changes, as well as a few repairs. What we did not know was how extensive the problems would turn out to be. The litany of problems, as well as the "close calls" that some of them caused, is the subject of a whole article unto itself. Suffice it to say that, in the course of our first year of ownership, it became clear to us that we would need to strip Odyssey down to the skeleton and completely refit her to our specifications. While this was certainly a much bigger project than we had originally bargained for, it did afford us the opportunity to start with a "clean sheet of paper," and include exactly the features we wanted in our new home.

With that objective in mind, and having learned many lessons in the course of our first year of ownership about what works and what doesn't when we are on the road (and also drawing on our previous experience living, briefly, in a factory-built 32' motor home), we began to formulate what we wanted in our rebuilt coach. We also attended a number of trade shows and conventions for motorhomes and bus conversions, looking for ideas, equipment, and companies that could help us with the project.

After talking to a number of different bus converters, it became clear that we ourselves would need to detail out the specifications for the project, to give the converters something from which to work. The result was this "Statement of Work" (SOW) that I (Sean) put together over the course of several weeks.

Armed with the SOW, we approached a number of converters for bids on the project. (For bus-conversion purists, let me just say that we lived in an urban downtown. There's no place here to even park a bus, let alone work on it. Furthermore, I have neither the tools nor the experience to handle the extensive metal work that we knew would be involved.) We ultimately selected Infinity Coach, of Sumner, Washington to take on the project. We delivered the coach to Infinity in October of 2002.

In addition to authoring (and continually revising) the spec, I did most of the design and engineering work. I created drawings and component schedules in SmartDraw6, and emailed them to Infinity as each element of the design was completed.

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