The brake place had the bus most of the week and we got it back right before the kids needed to be picked up from school on Friday, Josiah's 11th birthday. The kids only had a half day since it was also the start of Winter Break. Tom dropped the bus off, cleaned and with Christmas lights in the back! On the way to the school I heard some clunking noises. It sounded like ice on the flaps. When I got in the pick up line of cars I checked to see if there was ice, but found them clean. I picked up the kids and three of Josiah's friends and headed home. I called Tom on the way and he said he'd heard a clunk on the way to our house, but didn't hear anything else. As we turned onto Stark Road we lost all transmission. The bus was still running but wouldn't go forward or reverse. It was like it was out of gear. Tom happened to come up just after I sent the kids walking up the road to the house.
He got the bus into four wheel drive and got it back home. I figured I had bumped it outta gear or something and we were good to go. A few hours later we all piled back into the bus to head into town. The plan was to pick Dave up from the airport and then take the troop to Bentleyville for the evening before coming back home for dinner, cake, and presents. Bentleyville is a huge Christmas lights display in Duluth. Tom and Pat were following us, thank goodness. We had gotten a few miles down the road and the bus was really acting up. She kept pulling to the left and it was pretty hard to keep her going the 50 mph speed limit. Shortly after I noticed this Tom started flashing his lights. I pulled over and jumped out. He ran up to the bus and told me to get the fire extinguisher.
Our bus has one bolted to the floor right between the driver and passenger's seat. I grabbed it and saw why. The back left wheel (the duelie) was on fire! Thankfully it was an industrial extinguisher that will put out that sort of fire. We figured something had gone wrong with the brakes and maybe we could limp the bus down the road a bit to the brake place, it wasn't far away.
We put the fire out, calmed the inmates (who were pretty excited that the bus had caught on fire) and started out slowly. We made it a block before we pulled over again. Now the wheel was started to tip and it looked like it was coming off. We called the brake place and they sent out a tow. Tom and Pat went to get some more cars and we shifted our "cargo" around so we could abandon the bus. The kids were sky high at this point yelling "this is the best birthday ever!" and whooping and dancing. (It always amazes me what will entertain 11 year old boys).
I took my crew to the airport to pick up Dave (now an hour late) while Tom went to pick up food, and Pat took some back to our place. Bentleyville was a bust. Maybe next year!
Back at home we had Olive Garden soup, salad, and bread sticks. Josiah wanted cream puffs instead of a cake and root beer floats. We watched him open up presents and sent Josiah and his friends down to the apartment to play. The rest of the kids were ready for bed after such an exciting day and the adults were ready to relax. It was a pretty memorable birthday.
*UPDATE* We found out a few days later that the back axle had broke. The brake place fixed it (they fix buses, not just brakes) and were really nice about the whole thing. We'll be going back to that place for sure (plus they are one of the few places in town that can fix a bus!) :)