Select Page

In the last update I left off when the Creative Cruiser was dropped off at a shop near Chattanooga, TN. At the time, I was hopeful that they would be able to handle doing a lot of upgrades on the chassis for such things are power steering and might be helpful in finding a paint shop to handle this project. In the end, the shop was only good for overly basic and straightforward changes (like adding shocks where there used to be some but at some point had been removed) and they were not capable of doing the custom changes my project demanded (like converting windshield wipers to electric or adding power steering). So, the Creative Cruiser just ended up being stored in their yard from the time the vintage bus run was abandoned until now.

I researched a few paint shops near Nashville, but eventually gave up the search knowing that being there in person was the only way to get what I want. As each day ticked by, I resented what Craig Dorsey of Vintage Vacations did and how he handled my attempt to bring the Creative Cruiser to his location. That made me really want to find a different shop to fabricate and install my interior. I simply could not fathom bringing my bus to anyone who could do what he did. Because of his actions, I ended up wasting three weeks of my life driving around the country and easily spent over $2500 on fuel, food, lodging and related expenses for no reason.

I researched dozens of potential alternative shops for interior work and ended up only considering a few. They included (in no particular order):

  • David Winick at in Michigan who produces very nice designs, but cannot fit my bus into his shop (it’s just too tall)
  • The folks at in Colorado who could finish the project quickly (3-4 months), but just didn’t have the attention to detail I was looking for. These guys stayed on my list until I made my final decision though.
  • in Oregon. I never got a chance to visit their shop but decided not to use a vintage trailer company at the point I was about to visit.
  • in California does some nice work, but are just too used to working on big budget projects for Hollywood clients, so I think they’d blow my budget.
  • Able + Baker Design who did an interesting Airstream conversion. I really liked Josh’s enthusiasm but didn’t want to go with someone that didn’t have much experience working on a mobile platform or bus systems. Would love to work with him the in future on a non-mobile substrate.
  • I also investigated dozens of alternatives to the above list. At most places, I found that either they didn’t have the quality I demand, they didn’t have experience with the sophisticated systems that are common to bus conversions (like diesel fired heaters) or that they did not have the creativity to pull off what I desire.
After going through all of that I was about to be stuck with my original choice of Craig Dorsey of Vintage Vacations. But, considering how he handled my attempt to bring business to his door (which I’ll detail in a moment), I was mentally unable to have any comfort with the idea of having him do the work.
That’s when Larry at Paradise Coach in Coburg, OR left a very brief message on Facebook offering to help. I was not familiar with his shop, but was excited to see that he had no fewer than three vintage Silverside buses in his shop (the only other type of vintage bus I considered purchasing). He owns two himself and was in the process of converting the third into a motorhome. The owner of that rig had nothing but praise for the shop and, in general, so did everyone else I’ve talked to. Most of the people who work at this shop have 20+ years of experience working on motor coaches. In fact, many of them have worked for Marathon coach, Outlaw coach, Country coach or another bus conversion company. That means that they are very used to working with sophisticated systems and are used to producing a quality product. The fact that they were actively working on a vintage bus conversion and that the owner of the shop owned two vintage buses himself indicates that they are not afraid of working on unique projects and that they have a passion for vintage design themes. After inspecting the Silverside they were actively converting, talking to a few reference clients, looking at photos of a few decades worth of conversions (they really should show more on their web site) and having them work on my current bus, I was able to develop a comfort level in their skills that made me comfortable bringing my project to them. Not only that, but their labor rate is darn near half of what most other shops charge and Oregon doesn’t charge sales tax, which keeps costs low. The final detail that made me want to bring my work to this shop is that they plan to finish up the Silverside project by the end of September, which should be a good time to get my project moving with few delays.

Once I decided that Paradise Coach could handle the job, I thought it was time to talk to Craig Dorsey at Vintage Vacations before I made a commitment to make a change. I called Craig to break the news and was amazed at his total and complete indifference to anything I said. Now remember that I had told Craig that I was going to fly out to pick up my vintage bus, spend ten days driving it across the country to his location in Nova Scotia, only if he was ready. He responded that he was remodeling his kitchen and that my project would be a great dessert to that project. Only after driving halfway across the country did he reveal that he had taken on a new client and would not be able to work on my project until that one was done, which should be six months… eight months after an update he gave me. He took the new client BEFORE I emailed him saying that I was about to head his direction and he chose to not mention it to me and that resulted in me wasting over $3,000 on fuel, hotels, flights and other expenses associated with driving to his location. I will further incur expenses to re-ship all the appliances I had bought and had shipped to NJ that were to be picked up on my way to his location. I will also have to pay to have the bus shipped from its current location to the shop that will ultimately fabricate and install the interior. The expenses I will ultimately incur due to Mr. Dorsey’s actions will most likely bump up to around $5,000 by the time it’s over. Keeping that in mind, I expected him to at least be apologetic about how he handled the situation. But, then I called him, he said things like “I’m good with it… I’m going to move on the moment we hang up… and …I’ll be clean.” Had he simply said he was sorry about how he handled the situation, then I would have been OK (but not thrilled) about what happened. Instead, I registered the domain of (which I’ll simply point to this post) and filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau as a few first steps. Next, I will consider small claims court or getting my attorney involved. None of which would have been on my mind if he handled things in a professional manner. Nobody should consider having him work on a project without knowing how much he can screw things up.

Here’s an edited version (stuff chopped out for brevity wherever you see “…”) of the email I received a day or two after he revealed that he took on a client and couldn’t work on my project. That was one hour when he actually seemed to care, unlike today:


I fucked up! And I don’t even know how to begin to make it right. Some how in my mind, not confronting you and telling you that I was working to button up another client and being open about the situation head on while trying to balance everything out seemed to be the solution, but it didn’t works.

As I am sure that it was for you, I am having the hardest time writing this email. From the moment that I got off the phone with you last night, I haven’t stopped vibrating with a deep down feeling of pure panic, fear and self loathing for what I have done to you and the situation that I have placed you in by not telling you that I was about to button up another contract I know that there is absolutely nothing that I can say or do at this time to relieve you of the negative emotions that you have for me and this situation
All that I can say at this point is that I am very sorry for the way in which I dealt with this situation and for the hurt that it has caused you and I ask you to please give me a chance to make it right.
That was in response to a message I sent that included the follow (content removed for brevity wherever “…” appear):
“Craig, I really don’t know where to begin with this message. Here I am, with my completely gutted bus, in “middle of nowhere, USA,” and thousands of dollars into a trip to your place, when you tell me you that you have suddenly taken on another project and can’t work on my bus for another six months.Is there a particular reason you didn’t tell me about this new project, say, two weeks ago, BEFORE I booked a flight to TX to pick up my bus? It was THEN that I asked you for your exact address and I told you that it would take me 10 days to get there. I specifically told you that the bus “would be ready this week” and that it should take me “10 days to drive it there”.

BUT, now I’m in the middle of the flurking country and have no idea where anything will be done! I’m about to explode emotionally and don’t know why I should consider having you do the interior at this point. I have to say, I feel pretty screwed here. All you needed to do was tell me that you were asked to do another project. Look below and read the exact quote I sent you… here it is :

The vintage bus will be ready this week and I should be picking it up by mon or wed and driving your way… IF you’re ready.

Let me know what’s up on your end… it should take me 10 days to drive it there.”

Did you notice the “IF you’re ready” part of that message? Had you mentioned THEN that you took on a major project, then I could have shifted gears and gotten paint/body work done back in Texas!  It would have been a bummer for me, but I would have totally understood and re-adjusted my plans. But now, I’m up a creek without a paddle….
I’ve wasted thousands of dollars and lots of time, and now I’m sitting here in the middle of nowhere, pretty much screwed. I literally don’t know what direction I will head in the morning.Why, why, WHY did you not tell me about this project you took on BEFORE I flew to TX to pick up my bus? The April 11th email indicates that the bus will be ready within a week and that it will take 10 days to get there… that would make it right around NOW.I realize that I’m freaking out a bit here, and I’m sure you can imagine why. In fact, I’ve got to end this e-mail right now, before I say something I might regret.
That should give you a sense for what I went through when I attempted to bring my vintage bus to Craig Dorsey and bring him business. I’m happy to say that the interior will now be done by Larry and the gang over at Paradise Coach Interiors in Coburg, Oregon. Let’s hope this next chapter has a much happier ending than the one that involved Craig Dorsey of Vintage Vacations. He’s a very creative guy who is also an amazing fabricator, but his clients do not deserve to be treated that way.
Sorry for the rant. I needed to get that out of my system so that I can move on.
My next step will be an attempt to find a driver with a landall trailer to move the bus from Chattinooga, TN to Coburg, OR. I can’t wait to see actual progress on the interior!