The items included all parts information, wiring schematics, diagrams, blueprints and supplier, vendor and service records.
Coachworks, which shut down production last spring, was not affiliated with school bus manufacturer Blue Bird Corp.
”The importance of retaining this vital information for Blue Bird owners is critical,” said Parliament President Steve Mitchell. ”There are approximately 3,500 Blue Bird Coaches operating through the United States and Canada. I wanted to provide an obvious needed service to these owners and make sure they did not end up as orphans.”
Family-owned Parliament Coach is a manufacturer of high-line coach conversions, specializing in sales, marketing, painting and other services. As a franchised dealer, Mitchell and other family members have been representing Blue Bird since 1978.
Blue Bird motorcoach owners and their coaches, similar to the one shown at left, are converging this weekend upon Vernon Downs in Vernon, N.Y., for the race track’s RV show.
The show, which was organized by Tom Warner, of Vernon, commenced Thursday (June 25) and will continue throughout the weekend and into Monday, according to the Oneida Dispatch.
“People from all across the social spectrum come together because of our common interest in Blue Bird buses,” says Warner. The group’s weekend events will include discussions on improving and restoring classic coaches. The show is also a chance for RV owners from across the country to socialize and trade stories.
“The oldest RV we have right now is a 1982,” says Warner. RVs from 1982 to 2009 will be at the Downs this weekend. Warner says, the newest RV attending is worth $1.2 million.
Shane Fedeli, the proud owner of a 1985 Blue Bird Wanderlodge named Bellavita, arrived at the Downs Thursday morning. “The name means ‘Beautiful Life,’” says Fedeli.
As he set up his RV’s awnings, more coaches arrived and started doing the same. “We won’t get too many today, but tomorrow the big ones will start rolling in,” says Warner with a smile. “When we all set off our horns tomorrow night, you’ll be able to hear us in Utica.”
Fedeli’s Wanderlodge exemplifies the general interest of this group of RV owners. Warner and his friends prefer the classic Blue Birds. “I’m lucky in the fact that I have some mechanical abilities,” says Fedeli. “And one of the great things about these RVs is that they are very simple to work on. The hardest thing is finding parts for the older models.”
The first model was made by the Blue Bird School Bus Co. in 1964 and was called the Wanderlodge Motor Home.
“The president of Blue Bird got the idea for the mobile home in 1963, when he had gone camping with his buddies,” explains Warner. The president’s friends told him he should make a large vehicle to go camping in. He did and “then everyone wanted one,” says Warner with a chuckle.
Fedeli’s RV can hold 150 gallons of water and 300 gallons of diesel fuel. It has four air conditioners, a 14,000- to 15,000-watt generator, a telephone system and bathroom, kitchen and satellite TV.
“We wanted to pick a significant place for these significant buses,” says Warner. “And Vernon Downs is it.”
Warner is a Vernon resident who thinks highly of the Downs and believes more events should be held there. “There is just so much to do here,” says Warner.
More RVs will be arriving throughout the weekend. “We all have our reasons for loving these buses,” says Warner. “It’s great that Vernon Downs has helped us coordinate an event where we can all come together to share this interest.”
Coachworks Holdings Inc., Fort Valley, Ga., has shut down production of luxury Blue Bird Wanderlodge buses and is selling off assets, according to a reliable source.
Coachworks Holdings declined comment.
School bus manufacturer Blue Bird Corp., which sold its Class A RV and Express seated bus business to Coachworks Holdings in 2007, issued a statement on Monday (April 27) refuting rumors that it was going out of business. “We no longer have a financial connection with this unrelated business entity (Coachworks Holdings) as it is a completely separate company,” the Blue Bird Corp. statement said. “Blue Bird Corp. is as strong as ever and in excellent financial shape.”
Coachworks Holdings built custom-made Wanderlodge Premier XL Class A buses, which went back into production last fall after a year-long hiatus.
The original Blue Bird Body Co., was founded in 1927 by Albert L. Luce Sr. to build all-steel school buses, which previously had been assembled with wood. The Blue Bird Wanderlodge Class A motorhome was introduced in 1963, and Blue Bird Body began building commercial buses in the 1970s.
A management group bought the Blue Bird company in 1992, and in 1999 Blue Bird Body was sold to Great Britain-based Henlys Group PLC, which also owned Volvo and had an ownership interest in Canada’s Prevost Car Co., a Blue Bird Wanderlodge competitor.
After running into financial problems, Blue Bird filed for bankruptcy in 2006, after which its assets were acquired by investment firm Cerberus Capital Management LP, the current owner of Chrysler Holdings Inc.
In 2007, Cerberus sold the Blue Bird RV and commercial bus division to Coachworks Holdings a sister company to Complete Coach Works Inc., a 22-year-old California company that specializes in refurbishing and selling used transit buses.