Dr. Dean Edell has made a career of helping others with their health problems, yet he can’t seem to cure himself of the bus bug he caught more than 30 years ago when he bought his 1952 Flxible Clipper.
By Lazelle Jones
Dr. Dean Edell, F10003, is one of the most recognized physicians in the United States. In addition to his work as a medical practitioner, he’s written best-selling books, has appeared on numerous television programs, and hosts one of the most popular radio shows in America, “The Dr. Dean Edell Show,” which is heard on more than 400 stations. On a daily basis he reaches millions of radio listeners, and his 90-second “Medical Report” is seen in 75 television markets.
He also is an avid motorhomer with quite a story to tell about his converted 1952 Flexible Clipper Visicoach. It’s a tale that goes back a long, long way.
Dr. Edell’s interest in motorhoming began in 1972 when he purchased the bus for $900 from Yosemite National Park, where it had been used to transport guests back and forth to the lodge. At the time, the bus still had the original V-6 gasoline engine and five-speed transmission that it left Flxible’s Loudonville, Ohio, factory with 20 years earlier. After converting it into a motorhome, the doctor gave up his medical practice, joined FMCA, loaded the family into the bus, and became a full-timer.
The bus, named “Here ‘N’ There,” carried the Edell family on adventures throughout the West, from Canada to deep into Mexico. They camped and lived for days at a time on beaches up and down the Pacific Coast. This was a time when people with converted buses of all kinds were plying North America’s byways and enjoying a Bohemian lifestyle. For Dr. Edell, these are fond memories.
After six years as a full-timer, he sold the Flx and decided to rejoin the mainstream. This time, though, he used his medical expertise to author several books. The books helped him launch the career in radio and TV that he has today.
Although the exposure helped him become one of the most famous media doctors in the United States, Dr. Edell couldn’t stop thinking about his Flxible bus. So he found it and bought it back. Actually he bought and sold the same bus several times, each time paying more for it than the previous purchase price. When he didn’t own the coach, others made modifications to the interior and enjoyed thousands of miles in it.
Finally, several years ago, his son, Caleb, who remembered walking up and down the bus aisle as a toddler, recognized his dad’s Flxible parked and ready for the scrap heap. He convinced his dad that they should buy it once again and restore it. So Dr. Edell plunked down $19,000 and the “Here ‘N’ There” was his once again.
But the bus was beginning to show its age and it definitely couldn’t keep up with the newer coaches on the road. Returning from a trip to the Sierras with his entire family on board (now totaling eight), Dr. Edell realized that the bus was underpowered, the brakes were inadequate, and, with everyone onboard, it handled less than desirably. So he decided it was time that the old bus underwent major surgery.
He began the task in 2000 by asking fellow bussing buddy James Whitbread to help him install power steering on the coach. Nine months later these two bus aficionados had finished a complete chassis modification that included installing a new Caterpillar engine, an Allison World Transmission, new front and rear axles, new basement air conditioners, a 110-volt-AC electrical system, a 7.5-kilowatt generator, and, yes, the power steering. The bus still has the appearance of a 1952 Flxible, but it clearly performs like a state-of-the-art diesel pusher. And suffice it to say, with its weight to power ratio, it runs like a rocket.
The Caterpillar 3126B turbocharged engine develops 330 horsepower and yields 865 pound-feet of torque. Air to cool the engine’s four-core radiator comes from a 10-blade hydraulically powered fan that, for aesthetics and utility reasons, uses the original ram roof scoop. The engine is mated to an Allison MD 3050 transmission (with retarder) with a large transmission cooler and an accumulator for the retarder. The bus rolls down the road on a Rockwell rear axle with a gross axle weight rating (GAWR) of 23,000 pounds and an Eaton front axle with a GAWR of 13,000 pounds. The power steering operates off a gear-driven engine power takeoff.
The Onan Quiet Diesel 7500 generator runs as quiet as a whisper and the 50-amp shore power features automated switching (it also can operate on 25-amp or 30-amp shore power). Dr. Edell incorporated Blue Sea Systems panels for both the 12-volt-DC and 110-volt-AC electrical systems. Anchor Electric fine-strand wiring was used for the phone, cable, and satellite TV. The original-equipment split wheels were replaced by new Alcoa rims.
Today the 1952 Flxible is an upscale, road-ready coach that is the envy of every motorhome aficionado who sees it. Even the folks from Caterpillar and Allison who worked closely with these two die-hard bus lovers gave them their blessing for a job well done.
Dr. Edell recently confessed that once again he’s getting the itch (no prescribed ointment can soothe this kind) to hit the road again, but this time on a semi-full-timing basis. He might even take his syndicated radio show on the road as he and his family return to exploring the back roads of North America in comfort aboard the “Here ‘N’ There.”