Ex-Edmonton Transit #638

Edmonton Transit #638 is a 1976 GM T6H5307N, purchased along with a total of 100 buses to be delivered that year.  Their fleet numbers were 397-399 and 601-697.  These buses were used daily and are still being used on regular service on the weekends to this day, although it is beginning to get rarer to see some of these buses out.  In it's history, bus 638 was used up until around August 14, 2001.  In the beginning of August 2001, this bus was used for special service for transporting groups of people to and from the IAAF World Track & Field games that Edmonton held.  That was just one of the many uses that this bus had during that time, it could have still seen regular service in that time. Shortly after the Track & Field games ended, this bus was retired and held for an auction which later happened on September 15, 2001.  This auction had approximately 55 GM buses for sale, including 2 1967 GM TDH5303's and the rest were 1972-1978 GM T6H5307N's.  One of the cheapest buses that sold at that auction was #714, which sold as a shell for only $50!  I did not get a chance to go to this auction to buy a bus.  Some of these buses that were auctioned off have appeared since, such as Ex-962 appearing along the LRT Line in Edmonton, 782 appearing just outside of Downtown Edmonton, 948, 952, and 686? appearing for the failed Beaumont Transportation Service that lasted for less than 4 months, and 319, 725, 515, and 638 showing up in the Northwest Industrial area.

638 was owned by a fellow who worked in the building where Martin Parsons found this bus, along with 319, 725, 515, and even 857 (An old Flyer D800B that was retired back in 1994 and found as a storage shed).  The owner had plans on converting this bus to a motor home but only got as far as removing 2 seat frames, 2 stanchions, and that was it.  I had some intention on buying a bus from one of the people that owned the buses in that building, but was more interested in photographing them, and on March 12, 2002, I looked over the buses to see if any were worth while to buy for restoring.  After receiving a phone call from the owner of 638, I discussed purchasing the bus.  I later went up to Edmonton and purchased this bus on March 23, 2002 from this fellow and brought it back to Calgary, Alberta for the restoration taking delivery of it here in Calgary on March 30, 2002.  It only took only about 2 and a half weeks to look at the bus, decide to buy it, and to transport it from Edmonton to Calgary.  

Since I have owned the bus, I have done some cleaning up of surface rust, doing some light painting to cover up where rust could occur, installed a new front destination sign (The old one was removed by ETS before the auction), painted on the E Transit logo on the passenger side, tried out recreating the stripes on the driver's side below the driver's window, and giving the bus an interior cleaning to get rid of some of the dust that had accumulated over the past year and a half of being retired.  I have also purchased and installed a farebox to add to the authentic look of making the bus look like it was still in service, installed the missing seats, installed one of the two missing grab rails, and installing the 2 missing tires.  There is some plans to have the body work that is needed to be completed in the next few months or so, along with getting the paint redone after the body work is completed.  Once the body work and paint have been completed, a new set of decals will be made for this bus and it'll hopefully look as close as possible to it's "as delivered" look cosmetically on the exterior, with items on the interior adding to the look of the bus when it was last operated, such as the 1997 destination sign, a copy of the 2000 ETS Book of Routes, the last style radio that the bus had, along with other items popping up here and there.

In this section, I hope to show photos of the bus from start to finish, showing most of the changes since.  I will be adding more photos to this section as I have time to put together more information.

Photos of the bus, taken March 12, 2002:

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The above 2 photos show the bus at the building where Martin Parsons found it.  That is Ex-Edmonton Transit 725 sitting next to 638 in this photo.

Photos of the bus, taken March 23, 2002:

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These two views show the bus at Grimshaw Trucking in Edmonton, Alberta.  Grimshaw was contracted out by Mullen Trucking of Aldersyde, AB to bring my bus down to Calgary as it was missing two of it's tires on the rear axle.  The interior shows the bus missing only 2 of it's seats (One from either side of the bus) at the bottom of the photo (Although it's hard to tell, but they are missing)

Photos of the bus, taken March 30, 2002:

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This was the lucky day!  638 is shown in the first two photos sitting in Aldersyde, Alberta waiting for City Wide towing to pick up and load the bus for the rest of the journey to Calgary.  The third photo is shown on Highway 2 at the turnoff to Okotoks and Mossleigh Alberta as we followed the bus back into Calgary.  The fourth photo shows the bus entering city limits in Calgary, Alberta on Highway 2 before we turned off onto Highway 22X at the very south side of Calgary.

Photos taken June 30, 2002:

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About 3 months after the start of the restoration project, I began to clean up this bus and prepare for the future ahead of me with this bus.  After pulling the bus out for photos, I had cleaned up the interior of this bus.

Photos taken July 1, 2002:

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The next day I came back to the bus to photograph and continue cleaning up.  For my own personal benefit, I decided to retrofit a 12 volt electrical system consisting of a 12 volt automotive cigarette lighter that I can hook up my AC inverter to operate such accessories as the stereo that is shown in the last photograph above.

Photos taken July 28, 2002:

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After considering some options on retaining the paint on this bus, I decided to attempt to cover up the worst spots of paint on the bus with some standard off the shelf white and black paints.  While I was working on the body colors, I also took the liberty to try out painting the E for the Edmonton Transit logo on the passenger side and tried repainting the stripes below the driver's window.  It didn't turn out too bad, but I decided to hold off from continuing on recreating the stripes on the lower skirt panels.

Photos taken August 8, 2002:

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After working with painting of the bus, I took delivery of an antique Cleveland Farebox for my bus took take it's place in my bus until I was able to find a Duncan farebox that Edmonton Transit had originally.  In the photos above, the first one shows the farebox before I repainted it on July 30, 2002 while the third and fourth photo shows the bus with the farebox the day I installed it.  The last photo in this series shows me in front of my bus just before sunset.

Photos taken August 15, 2002:

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Although nothing too fancy, I decided to retrofit a car stereo into the bus so that I could enjoy some music while I worked on my bus.  The two photos show the way I had it installed behind the driver's seat.  I wish I was able to find a better spot to install it where it wasn't too hard to get access too.  Nothing like driving the bus and having to try and reach behind you to control the stereo.

Photos taken October 27, 2002:

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After a long wait, the place where I was storing my Ex-Winnipeg Transit #271 had a spot for 638 and I brought it into their storage facility.  The photo above shows my two buses parked near each other.  I nicknamed this photo "East meets West" where my Winnipeg bus and my Edmonton bus got to meet for the first time.

Photos of the bus, taken November 25th, 2002:

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The above photos show the bus about 8 Months after I had purchased the bus resting in a storage lot during the restoration process

Photos of the bus, taken July 29, 2003:

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The above photo shows the bus stored at a farm near Balzak, AB where I had it stored from May 2003 until Mid-February 2004.  Unfortunately after running the bus this day, the started totally died out on me and I wasn't able to move my bus until mid-February 2004 when I had a new rebuilt starter installed on this bus.

Photos of the bus, taken February 17, 2004:

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After a long period of time of waiting to get my new starter replaced on the bus, I finally had it replaced on February 16, 2004 with the help of my friends who own Canadian Premier Charters of Calgary, Alberta and A1 Auto Salvage of Edmonton, Alberta.  The photo taken above shows the bus the day after the starter got installed and the bus was driven back into town.  It is now stored in a lot with Canadian Premier Charter's buses and my Ex-Edmonton Transit #22.

Photos of the bus, taken February 24, 2004:

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After having the bus being stored out at the farm for almost a year, I decided it was time to get back to work on fixing up 638 to look like an Edmonton Transit bus.  Thanks to A1 Auto Salvage in Edmonton, Alberta, I was able to get a set of advertising cards to put on the interior ad panels, an ETS Bus schedule rack, the one of two missing grab rails, and the two missing seats that were needed to make this bus complete.  In the first two photos shown above, you can see the grab rail installed (The curved one beside the windshield) that was previously missing.  The two interior photos shows the complete set of passenger seats on that bus.  And in the last three photos, the first of the three shows a holder for the registration paper and destination sign sheet that came from Calgary Transit 1011, the second of the three photos shows the Edmonton Transit style radio installed on the bus, and the third of the three photos shows the schedule rack installed as well.  Thanks to Ashton Wong, I now have a set of Edmonton Transit bus schedules to show off in there besides my Calgary Transit bus schedules.

Photos of the bus, taken April 26, 2004:

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To help customize the look of the bus for the restoration project, I ordered a pair of personalized license plates for my bus.  I picked T6H5307 to be the plate number because I wanted to show the model number of the bus on the front of the bus.  Alberta only allows 7 characters to be on their plates, otherwise I would have got the full plate number as T6H5307N.  The license plate is fully able to be registered for regular use if I wanted to.  After long and hard searching, thanks to A1 Auto Salvage, I was finally able to acquire a Duncan Industries fare box to stick in the bus to complete it's interior restoration to match similar to what it looks like if this bus would have continued service with Edmonton Transit.  I was also able to replace the missing green covers for the front destination sign after I came across a destination bulkhead that still had them to take for my bus.

Photos of the bus, taken May 15, 2004:

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After two years of enjoying owning this bus, I took it out one night to pose it for a couple of night photos at a local Wal-Mart in Calgary.  I posed the bus with some former route number system destinations such as Route 49 - Kaskitayo and Route 76 - Davies.

At this point of the restoration project, I have done everything to "cosmetically" restore the look to feel like an Edmonton Transit bus to it's 2001 retired state with a complete set of seats, the two missing tires replaced, the two grab rails replaced, ETS style radio and farebox installed, schedule rack installed, the April 1997 destination curtain installed, and the 2000 ETS Book of Routes like I intended to have the bus look like when I first started the project in March 2002.  Although it took me two years to find all these parts to complete the bus, there is still the bigger task of replacing body panels, painting the bus, making new decals for the bus, getting the engine tuned up, and any other mechanical work that may need to be done to this bus.  Right now, this bus is on hold for the further restoration work as I turn my focus to my 1969 GM T6H4521 to be restored.  Once that bus has been restored, I will come back to finish the work needing to be done on this bus.

Photos of the bus, taken May 23, 2004:

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On another late evening, I had my bus taken out through the Skyline Industrial area to photograph my bus.  This photo was taken on 11 Street NE near 50 Avenue.

Photos of the bus, taken June 13, 2004:

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This day, I decided to take the bus out for a cruise to see how well it would perform in the rain.  It didn't do too bad and had only a couple leaks in the passenger windows.  There was a severe thunderstorm that rolled through Calgary and surrounding areas, including a funnel cloud being spotted out near the town of Vulcan, AB.  The first photo stop along the way was in Huntington Hills on Hunterview Drive NW in a bus zone for the Route 2 - Mount Pleasant.  The second photo shows the dark clouds behind the bus that shows the severe thunderstorms moving off to the east.

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The next stop along the way for a photo was taking the bus through the community of Highland Park, stopping along 42 Avenue NW near a park.

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The final stop for the day was down on Kensington Road NW to visit some friends of mine down at the Tarjan Block.  In the background of the third photo of this group, you can see the Calgary downtown skyscrapers.

Photos taken June 28, 2004:

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A friend of mine wanted to come check out my two buses after I had taken delivery of my 1969 GM T6H4521 Ex-Edmonton Transit #22.  On this occasion, I only had 638 in operating condition, so I brought it out to photograph out in the morning sunlight.  I will eventually have a photo to show my two buses side by side.

This page last updated on August 24, 2004

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