Mechanic Michael “Cowboy” Bynum has worked on buses for more than 30 years, many of them for Busforsale.com in Goodlettsville, Tennessee. He is known for giving out “free” advice to anyone who wants to talk about buses and how to keep them running properly.
He says he has tinkered on mechanical things since he was old enough to tote a wrench. Bynum came to Busforsale.com in 2007, after the leasing company he was working for in Nashville went out of business. He previously worked for Pyramid Coaches, which is no longer in business, and for Prevost.
“Cowboy is a legend in the bus world,” said Hilary Spellings with Busforsale.com, who nominated him for the feature. “He is so knowledgeable about all things buses that we rarely have a problem that he cannot fix. He will take calls all day long — and after hours — from previous and current customers. He always offers to find out the answer if he does not know how to fix it himself. His sense of customer service goes above and beyond, and that is why we have a large percentage of repeat customers.”
Bus & Motorcoach News caught up with Bynum to talk to him about why he loves working on motorcoaches, his career highs and lows, and his passion for the business.
What repair or job gives you the most satisfaction when completed?
Any job that’s done right and the customer is happy with the work.
What’s the strangest or most bizarre repair or fix you’ve done?
I retrofitted a Detroit Series 50 and took out an 8V92. It was almost impossible, but I did it.
What’s your go-to phrase?
“#@!%$” You can’t put it down in print.
How did you become a motorcoach mechanic?
A friend had a motorcoach and asked for my help. He was putting a Series 50 engine in place of an 8V92 in an Eagle bus — that tells you how long ago this was. It was successful, and the bus ran for several more years.
What are your previous careers?
Heavy equipment mechanic.
What’s your favorite and/or least favorite repair to do and why?
My least favorite is anything dealing with a black tank, which holds waste from the vehicle toilet. It’s nasty work. My favorite is any kind of internal engine work. I know engines.
What’s your favorite bus feature?
The engine and drive train. I’ve always liked working on them, and I’ve become more familiar with that part of a bus. I’m more comfortable working on those than other aspects of the bus because I’m good at it.
What’s the best compliment you’ve received?
What’s your funniest shop/repair story?
When I discovered, after several hours of searching for the problem, that another mechanic had put a fuel line on backward.
What’s your best piece of advice for a newbie?
On-the-job training is the best teacher.
What’s your favorite bus to repair/work on and why?
Eagle, because it is a classic and I started on them.
What’s your career highlight?
Working at Busforsale.com.
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If you are a motorcoach mechanic and would like to be featured in From Under the Bus, contact Shandra Martinez at firstname.lastname@example.org.