The red and white Flxiliner is #10800, one of the very last Flxible highway coaches ever produced (10822 was the last one). Affectionately known as “The Flxi Lady”, she is owned by me, Dan Aldridge of Frankfort, Michigan. The Flxi Lady started life at A&M Transit of Alliance, Ohio. Ten years later she went to Deluxe Motor Stages of Detroit, where she got the distinctive paint, she still wears.
In 2014, I decided I was going to be able to start traveling south during winter, and began looking for a suitable RV. I had just a few criteria. I needed something big enough to live in for 3-5 months at a time, with room for some office space (to run my business from), and I wanted something with no roof leaks or water damage.
My budget meant I needed to look at Class A coaches and 5th wheels ten years old or older. I looked at somewhere around 40 different RVs/Campers, and never found one that didn’t have water damage inside it.
The Flxi Lady is my first coach, but not my first bus. 25 years ago, I had a Skoolie that was modified to haul my mud jeep. I loved that rig and never lost the “bus itch”. So, I decided to go look for buses. A month later, a Flxible popped up on Craigslist about 35 miles from me. I went and looked at it, and bought it exactly the way you’re not supposed to – because I loved the look of it.
On the way home, I found out that the seller’s statement “We never use first gear because it’s so low geared, you just don’t ever need it” wasn’t quite true. It should have been “We never use first gear because it doesn’t work…”
As soon as I got it home, we pulled the transmission and sent it off to get rebuilt.
I partially gutted the interior and redid it that first year, making it my own. Through the years since, I’ve redone the front entry, bathroom, shower, kitchen, dinette, built an office area, rewired the interior, pulled the roof airs and replaced them with a mini-split system, added three Maxx-Air fans, and added countless other interior tweaks.
Click HERE to see an interior tour video.
The bus’s name is ‘The Flxi Lady’, and there’s a good story about how she got her name. When I brought her home, I cleaned out all the cupboards and closets. In one of the bedroom cupboards, there was an old Rolling Stone magazine with Jimi Hendrix and “Foxy Lady” on the cover. It just seemed natural to call her ‘The Flxi Lady’ after finding that.
When the RV Refrigerator died, I bought a residential fridge from Lowes (they delivered it to my campground!), and I put the $1,000 savings into my first solar system, 400 watts and 300Ah of Deep Cycle Batteries.
As the years went by, I enlarged the solar array to 900 watts, then to approximately 3,000 watts, and the battery bank to 400Ah of AGM batteries, then to 720Ah of AGMs, then built my own lithium battery packs, four 200Ah packs for a total of 800Ah of LifePo Lithiums.
Initially, I had a built-in Dometic icemaker that would produce the equivalent of two bags of ice per day. It was great, but way overkill and pow-er-hungry. When I started going off-grid more, I pulled it out (it now resides in the Bus Grease Monkey shop). I replaced it with a 2.5 c.f. freezer that I fill with shrimp and Mahi before I leave the coast in the spring.
In 2019 I replaced the roof airs with a 12kBTU Pioneer mini-split AC/heat pump and filled the holes in the roof with Maxx fans. The mini-split cools better, sips power compared to the roof airs, and is whisper quiet.
I pulled the big generator to make room for the mini-split, and now just carry a little 2000 Watt inverter-generator I can use to recharge the batteries if I go too many days without sun.
My bus has a Detroit Diesel 2-stroke 6-71 (the engine that won WWII!) with a synchronized 5-speed manual and gets about 8 MPG pulling my Jeep TJ Wrangler. The top speed is about 66 MPH, and she likes to run at 62. This past spring, Scott Crosby (the Bus Grease Monkey) put a propane injection system on that gives me a 25ish HP boost when I flick the switch. It makes a world of difference on the big hills.
It was missing a lot of the cool exterior stuff when I bought it. It took four years to find the correct torpedo marker lights, lenses, rear window louvers, and my favorite, the cast aluminum Flxi-ble logos for the front and rear. The parts bus has the correct original taillights (so cool, ar-row-shaped lenses) and I’ll swap those over next year.
When I picked up most of those parts and a spare pair of windshields in North Florida, they took over the bedroom. The windshields were wrapped up in blankets and pillows on the bed, and I had to sleep on the couch for the next ten days until I got home.
There were only 158 Flxiliners made, so obtaining parts is pretty tricky sometimes. I solved that by buying another Flxiliner just for parts this past spring. It turned into quite an undertaking, as the rusty subframe the driver’s side front wheel attaches to collapsed when I moved it after 15 years of sitting.
My Flx is #10800, and the parts bus is #10802, so they were probably built at the same time. The parts bus has already helped restore and preserve three different coaches with some of its parts.
To see a video of semi-wreckers, tractor-trailers, and more wreckers getting the donor bus home, click HERE.
Internet connectivity is a must for me. I have to be able to run my business while on the road, and email and web connectivity are the biggest part of that. To make that work, I’ve invested quite a bit into my connectivity. I have unlimited cellular connections from the big 3: ATT, T-Mo-bile, and Verizon.
They all connect to a WIFI Ranger system, and I have multiple boosters and external antennas on the roof and an external router that lets me connect up to 1/2 mile away from the bus. I haven’t been anywhere yet that I couldn’t get a usable signal.
A funny story – About a year after I got the bus, I had Scott Crosby (Bus Grease Monkey) come up to do some work on it. At one point, he was outside lying under the driver’s area, trying to lube the pedal linkages. I was in the driver’s seat, and he asked me to push the clutch pedal.
As I maneuvered my leg to do so, I accidentally stepped on the air horn button. Unfortunately for Scott, there was still plenty of air in the system and the horns were mounted about 10 inches above his head. Even more, unfortunately, the button stuck and the horns kept blasting! Afterward, I kept trying to apologize, but I was laughing so hard I couldn’t get the words out!
I carry a 45-gallon bladder to transport water back to the bus when off-grid camping. Between the water capacity and solar/battery bank, I can go about two weeks off-grid at a time.
I’ve added lots of little touches along the way, like a TPMS, rear and side-view cameras, vent fans, a small washer/spin dryer combo for laundry, and too many other things to mention.
I also have a 1958 PD – 4104 that I say is a long-term project. I’m not saying it’s MY long-term project, but it is A long-term project!
We typically travel from my home in Northern lower Michigan to the gulf coast and Florida in the winter. You can catch us at Skoolie Swarm, the South East Bus Nuts Winter Rally, Skoolie U.P., the summer Flxible Rallies in Ohio, the Bus Grease Monkey Rallies, CCO (Converted Coach Owners) rallies, GLCC (Great Lakes Converted Coaches) rallies, the RVillage rally, SW Florida, the Panhandle and Gulf Coast in the winter, and northern Michigan in the summer. I manage to meet up with other buses wherever I go.
My mouthy Pomeranian named Turbo travels everywhere with me, and I have great fun when people ask me if my bus has a Turbo…
Bus conversions and traveling by bus have brought a whole new world to me. I have met incredible people and made lifelong friends have seen awesome places, had amazing experiences and found a great new lifestyle with my fellow Bus Nuts. Bus rallies and bus gatherings bring together so many like-minded people that are willing to help and share with each other.