Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Is that a house?

No no, that's the bus.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I am now living in the bus. Last night was night #2.

Kind of cold, but so so peaceful. I leave the windows cracked so that I can hear the crickets chirping and the croaking of the bullfrogs.

There has been some major interior work going on recently. So much so, that when I post up the next set of pictures, you will not believe that it is the same bus.


Oh, and if you are wealthy, or feel like being really nice to us, you can now donate funds to support our bus project!!! Safe paypal transaction comes directly to US! :-D


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

... Is that the same bus!?!

... Okay, so maybe not that drastic of a change since day 1, but we're getting there!

But, what I am most excited about is getting that engine out of there so that we can start to take is apart...

The time will come soon enough!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bus update!

So, old rotten wood floor is out, and now a new floor is going in. The money from selling the seats went to buying some marine plywood, as recommended by Robbie Baker (who happens to be a professional boat-builder, and thus, is experienced in dealing with wet wood, and wood getting wet but staying dry).

Why marine? Different type of wood, and different type of glue, which makes it repel water without all of the lousy chemicals.

At first, when we went to buy the wood, they only had one type of marine which was not the desired width. They tried to sell me on some normal ply. I said no thanks... I don't want to sit on top of those things when they're off-gassing!

"Oh, they use something different now!" he assured me.
I wasn't convinced. "Do you have the info on that?" I asked.
"Yeah, sure I've got the flyer here somewhere..." he said. He couldn't find it, which was fine, because I didn't want to read what the producers had to say. "That's alright, can you pull up the MSDS or something?"
It ended up being this huge production, but eventually I ended up behind the desk reading the MSDS on the computer. "repeated exposure has been shown to cause respiratory cancer in rats..." "eye and throat irritant.." no thanks.

In the end, thinner marine turned out perfect. The wood was actually supposed to be a special order for someone else, so they gave me a "special deal" and so on.

If you remember, before, there was a layer of stainless steel between the wood and the wheel wells to keep water and dirt out...

We decided to take a different route to prevent that sort of rotting to happen again.

So, the undercarriage was pressure washed by Jesse and Robbie, the wood was sized, cut, (including escape hatch cutouts) painted (almost done!), and will be ready to install as soon as the weekend is over!

Afterall, my car still doesn't run, and I have to show it at Primer... last second stuff as always!

and as lovely as the seafoam and brown color combination is... the paint will soon be buffed entirely off to show the shiny stainless underneath, and the black window moldings and fiberglass... and then what we will do from there... is a secret for now!

More to come...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Rotten floor removal

So, this will be a quick update, since I really should be studying for the last two finals that I have, one of which is tomorrow... *checks the time* oh wait... Today!

Anyhow, enough of that!

Since it has been a while since I have updated, and the interior of the bus has since changed quite a bit, here are some pictures:

From the front:

and from the back:

Last weekend we ripped up the floor panels to reveal the metal underneath. There was quite a bit of wet, rotten, decaying pieces of stuff which smelled, molded, and looked like THIS. (eww.) I poked at it with a stick. I'm guessing that is what aluminum hydroxide looks like in its precipitate form? It's really asking too much to expect me to remember my chemistry from last semester.

ANYHOW, here you can see how directly underneath the metal panels are the storage units (in the far back, there is a thin layer of sound dampening material right above the transmission.) which... we are going to use to our advantage and make escape hatches! They were going to be secret, but I am excited, so I have to write about it here.

I was also thinking about maybe putting a chicken coop down there, so that I could let them outside, and I could have them play with me in the bus by just lifting the trap door, but then I decided that it might be too loud for 'em down there while the bus is in motion, and too dark for 'em when the door is shut.

Anyhow, another exciting happening for the weekend, our other bus seat guy came and bought the rest of our seats. He had seen my listing on Craig's List. (one again, CL to the rescue!) He bought the last 9 pairs for $170, which was awesome. Initially the price was $150, but Jesse and I wanted sushi and kombucha for dinner at whole foods. + $20 cha-ching! (well, okay, we gave him some hardware stuff too...)

Anyhow, so Tim came down and Jesse told me, "He'll be coming in his bus, so we'll get to see it!"
Of course, I was thrilled. MORE BUSES!
Tim's bus was not quite on the same level as Urge, of course. And when Tim got the grand tour of ours, he was a little envious.
"Wow, I'd love to get my hands on one of these!" he said, "I got mine for real cheap, though! Only paid $1,500 for it!"
I did all I could to keep my mouth shut as I mentally compared our two buses in my head. (surely you must remember that this is the same price as Urge had cost me!) Of course, his did have some cool two-toned exterior paint, but... well, that's pretty much all it had going for it. (it's gas, too!) But, I am pretty biased afterall, so I'll let you be the judge of this one!

Here, I snapped a shot of Tim and his "bus" (Jesse and I now refer to these as "vans" - we have achieved a new understanding of the word "bus") while he was loading up with his new seats.

And of course, here is Urge, sitting peacefully and patiently in all of his glory.

Is there really a comparison here!?!
I think not.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Oh, the horror!

Three weeks, and no bus time!
What is going on here?
What is this?!?
Some kind of TORTURE!?!

Such is the life of a busy college student with way too many hobbies for her own good. But, I won't let this turn into a "woe is me" post.

Nor will I let this blog entry turn into an "Ode to Jesse" post, although this could also be accomplished with hardly any effort.
He did afterall
1) find a lead on some bus engine parts,
2) came up with an excellent idea for obtaining solar panels (part of my dream!), and
3) a diesel generator... which we plan on running off of grease.
The generator idea: a while ago, we had bought a diesel Mercedes engine with the hopes of installing it into the 220, BUTTTT it appears that Jesse has now found a turbo diesel, which is much more desirable.
"alright, so what are we going to do with the other diesel? sell it? part it out then sell the parts and scrap it for metal $$ ??" I asked. (DUH!)

Alright, so before I get too ahead of myself here, let me explain the happenings of the past 3 weekends which have prevented us from having time for the bus:
#1 - Easter. Don't get me wrong, I could care less, but Jesse's family invited me... so I went.
#2 - Little sister's 20th birthday and Badminton extravaganza. (and no, I'm not in that picture)
#3 - Rallycross and Dustoff

Hopefully these are good enough reasons for you all.
I could break both legs, be mysteriously teleported to Arizona by UFOs, and I would still hobble across the entire Grand Canyon to get to my bus.


Recent happenings:
FURNITURE KARMA + Craig's List addiction = An almost completely furnished bus.

The other night, Jesse and I made a trip to pick up an awesome dresser and end table that I determined I could not live without. We arrived in Woburn around 8:15 pm.
"I tried to represent them as accurately as possible" said Tim, as I admired the free bureau and end table that Jesse and I were preparing to load onto the Golf. "I said that they were old and ugly!"
"What are you talking about, I love them!" I said, jumping up and down a little.
"You must really like things from the '70s!" Tim said.
Jesse just laughed. "If only he knew the half of it!" he muttered to me under his breath.

So, barely visible, but you get the idea: once again, the golf filled to the brim with stuff! (if you click on the picture, in the large view you can see all of the cute tree pieces that have adhered themselves to Jesse's wheels!)

We got back into the car to make our trip back with our prizes. Again, we had to take moment to reflect, because of the situation. You see, this has been our fourth furniture pickup thus far, and we seem to get the same reaction every time. "Be sure to bring a truck and a couple strong guys to help you out!" is the warning that I normally get.
"I'll bring a friend!" I'll say, "But don't be expecting a truck!"

Then, of course, when Jesse and I show up in his little golf, the responses vary from, "Well, you can look at it, but you won't be able to take it in that..." to, "Oh, there's no way that you're going to be able to lift it yourselves, and I can't help you..."
Always polite, but never positive, and certainly not expecting the two of us to happily admire the free piece(s) of furniture, lift it up with ease onto the roof of the golf, strap it down with only the one yellow strap, and be ready to drive off withing minutes - with hardly an ounce of effort. We had the routine down.

"Wow," Tim had said, "I guess you guys have done this a few times before! I won't interfere then!"

Jesse and I took a few minutes to laugh and give high-fives.

"Anja, we can do anything!" he said.

Perhaps its true.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bus blueprint!

So, a classmate asked me if she could read over my notes from Wednesday's lecture, because she missed the first half...
"Uh, well, you're welcome to look over them, but you might not gain anything useful from them. You see, I just got this bus...!!!" I tried to explain to her.

It's a good thing I happened to have done the readings that were assigned, because I don't think I wrote down a single word from anything school-related all week. So, I decided that perhaps I could prevent future class distractions by trying my hand at some computer-generated schematics.

Turns out, I am pretty terrible at them, but "Easter" weekend has found us far, far from the beloved bus, so I had to satisfy my addiction somehow.

So, observe my rendition below:

And now, descriptions to go with the schematic:
A) The wooden bunk-bed that we found on the side of the road. Complete with tons of pillows and my black satin VW Beetle comforter.

B) The bathroom. Tile floors, custom-designed wallpaper, shelving units, and gravity flushing system. Obviously when parked on the farm, this shall not be in use, but I will be building a composting toilet in the woods. (Maybe I'll build a cute little path out to it made from flat rocks.

C) Workstation/desk. Even though there will be no electricity, so no computer, there is still need of a desk for drawing pictures, writing stories, and doing paperwork, so there it is. Hopefully I will find a nice rolly chair on Craig's list for free.

NOTE: between this section and the rest of the bus, there is a wall partition thingy. I am thinking that a sliding door would be cool there, but tapestry + beaded curtain would also = awesome.
In this section there is also an emergency escape hatch, which is going to be accessible by ladder. I would like to make the ladder a permanent fixture (moving it around would be difficult and I would most likely break things) with hinges on the roof, and have a pulley system so that it is like a drawbridge and stays out of the way, up against the ceiling when not being used. Also I could hang stuff from it when its not being used. As for the emergency escape at the front, well maybe that one can have a removable ladder, but what I would really like is if it had a slide that would shoot you right into the open space near the kitchen. I bet I can make this happen. (I did find a pool slide for free on CL, but it was too far North, and I had to get to school.)

D) These two chairs would be those awesome victorian chairs with the carved wooden dragons and ladies on them. To the left, against the partition that separates the desk
area, will be some shelving and storage space. In front of these, in between the chairs and the couch (item O) there will be a nice rug and coffee table, I was just having problems trying to make a circle with photoshop, which was the lousy program that I was using.

E) Countertop for the kitchen! Complete with dish drying rack, cutting board surface, etc. Underneath there will be compost bins. The goal will be to have hardly any waste produced by/in/related to the bus. Recycle, compost, burn in the fire pit = okay.

F) The counter on the other side of the kitchen. Hoping to build shelving on it, with a small "pass through" window in the middle to reach the dining table on the other side. Above and to either side, storage units for stuff.

G) The only remaining original seats from the bus, facing each other, with
H) table in the middle! Maybe I'll attach the Craig's List bread box to it.

I) Floor of the "mud area" will be tiled, or some sort of laminating that will be easy to clean.

J) These are the '60s couches that we found on CL. Because the legs broke off, we were going to make new ones, but then I thought, "storage!" so, we are going to build a cabinet for them to rest on top of, so shoes, boots, tools, backpacks, etc. can slide underneath and out of sight.

K) Partition between the driver's seat and the couch. There will be hooks for jackets on the couch side, and hanging folders for maps, paperwork, etc., on the driver's side.

L) SHELVES! And there will be planties on top of it.

M) Kitchen floor = tiled.

N) OOps, I already said this. Coffee table, rug, etc. You know!

O) This would be the famous gold couch. Hanging slightly over/to the right of it, is where one of the hammocks is going to go. It will be adjustable, so that it can hang either lower or higher depending on the occupancy of the couch... ;-)

P) Ladder for the bunk bed. There will be a nightstand behind it with a lantern, some candles, and flashlights... probably some plants.

Q) This is the location of the fire escape where the ladder is going to go.

R) There is a shelf here over the engine bay. I am going to put a pole here to hang clothes on.

S) bookshelf

T) Sink - hopefully two - found on CL. They will drain in to greywater buckets underneath (yes, yes I know that I could build a septic system easily - I am choosing not to) so that I can wash things with that soap that degrades into plant nutrients, and pour it on the gardens. Above the sink will be an iron rack that takes up the whole window, with multiple shelves where I can put pots full of herbs and baby plants.

1. We are going to build a diesel generator that will run off of used fryer oil.
2. Also, stove setup... perhaps some other type of flammable gas, and then have some ventilation system.
3. The roof of the bus: there will be a deck built on top, with railings of course. Up there will be a picnic table with benches, lounge chairs, a BBQ grill, and maybe some tiki torches.
4. The bus seats are ending on eBay tomorrow morning!

Interesting notes:
-There is lots of storage, but... not really any stuff to put into the storage spaces. Oh well. Stuff = unnecessary.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Building a bus on a budget

So, these gigantic books...

Those would be the manuals to the bus!
One of Jesse's friends found them on the internet, I think, and had them printed and bound.
I originally titled this page, "building a bus on a budget" because, well... we have limited $ funds to put into the bus; only time, energy, enthusiasm, and in Jesse's case: a whole lot of knowledge and skill.
So, the title came from the fact that I had decided that the entire interior would be furnished and decorated using nothing but things collected for free off of Craig's List (for those of you who do not know of this magical website:, found by the side of the road, of given by friends.
I still haven't settled on an appropriate title yet, but that one doesn't work, because budget implies that we have SOMETHING saved up somewhere, money-related... but this is not the case!

But, back to the important stuff: the bus.
After removing all of the seats, I swept, and then started bleaching the floor. There was significant mold and gum stuck all over, (I am never ever going to chew gum on a bus again!) but things were going well until I realized that the floor was... spongy... especially in the back. Not sure why, I began ripping up the carpeting and rubbery matting, to reveal a completely rotten wooden base.

Next project: remove all of the floor, replace with new wood, refinish.
I'm thinking tiling the "kitchen" area - not entirely across, and not too much because the bus bends. Then something that is easy to wash for the rest of it, covered by some tasteful Craig's list rugs.

This weekend's project was to:
1) remove the overhead storage bins on the driver's side of the bus
2) figure out what was wrong with the engine of the bus
So, here's how it went. Saturday had been mostly dedicated to repairing my poor car after she had an unfortunate incident with a large SUV/truck thing.
Sunday was our day. The Universe knew it. I think the Universe likes the bus project, and is acting as a kind of "oversee-er" of this entire thing, because it keeps on gifting us with these little things that are too much of a coincidence to explain.

I wanted to put bunk beds in the back, for good reason:
1) fit people!!! Sleep over-H2O!!!!!!!!!
2) extra storage for blankets and pillows and stuff.
3) bunk beds are cool.

So, I was planning on building some, perhaps out of random wood found at the "Banch Barn" (you can find anything you need in that place!) and maybe left-over palates from CP, but then, as we were driving to the shop to drop off some stuff before heading to the bus... there is some stuff... on the side of the road. Jesse spots it.
"Anything there look good?" he points.
I see an old Victorian-looking cushion-y chair. Its got some crazy golden floral design on it, with a similar color to the magical golden couch.
"Pull over!" I demand with excitement.
Upon closer inspection, the white wooden carvings that make up the arms, legs, and back of the chair resembled a pair of dragons, a Ukulele, and some nude ladies... AWESOME! There ended up being two... and then, much to my pleasure and surprise, the Mexican family getting rid of these lovely chairs also had... what else but a wooden twin size bunk bed frame!!! We took that as well, and a cool round mirror, which I am planning to put in the bathroom, across from the other mirror, so that when you look into one, you see the other one, and the back of your head, and it looks like the bathroom goes on forever! This is a spatial trick: it gives the illusion that our bathroom is huge! (and is also kind of trippy)

So, Jesse manages to fit more stuff on the top of his car (mind you, there are already two couches up there already, left over from a CL retrieval from the previous night) and the rest goes into the back of a VW pickup truck, which is following us. We're always prepared, it seems.
We then form a chain and drive together with our goods down to the bus!!!

"Bobbert" here in the Jetta wagon ahead of me:

and Jesse in his diesel behind me:

So then of course, we arrive and the work begins!
Jesse once again disappears into the bowels of the bus,

and I begin to tackle the storage bins, not knowing exactly how they are attached, or where is a good place to begin, so I just grab a drill and begin unscrewing all bolts within view. Apparently I made some headway, because after a while I began to hear some creaking, and pieces begin to sag. Before the entire unit came crashing down to smoosh me, I called for backup.

... though no one answered, so I ran around back of the bus where Jesse was still buried underneath it.

"Come look at this!" he said. Always looking for an excuse to crawl around on the grass, I got onto my back and squirmed underneath the engine bay, where the oil pan had been removed. Jesse was pointing his flashlight up into the engine. "There were some chunks in the oil pan," he explained, "so I thought this would be a good place to start looking for the problem!"
Sure enough, he had found it: a large crack... in the crankshaft.

He didn't seem too bothered by this, though. We both stared up at it in silence for a moment. "Imagine the amount of force that went into cracking that!" he said, with obvious amazement. I smiled. It was amazing. Our bus is powerful!
"The good news is now we know what's wrong with it!" he said.
Fixing it, of course, is no small task. The entire engine will have to be removed.
"We can build a shelf for it, and then it slides right out!" Jesse explained excitedly. I looked at the thing. The engine weighs more than my car... with all the furniture on the roof... and then some!

We thought about it for a while, and came to the conclusion that the idea of having the engine out of the bus... WILL BE AWESOME! Then we can check it out from all angles!
Better yet, we can put it on the back of the Unimog, and drive it down to the Peter Pan place for E-rock's dad to take a look at, or anyone to look at, or purely for the pure joy of driving around with a gigantic engine behind us....!!!

Even better yet, then we can repair the damage to the shelf where all of the metal had started to rust due to the deteriorating wood. I can fire up my welding skillz and get in there and do it right, without that giganto engine in the way...

So, really, these are all great things...

With the combined forces of Jesse, Bobbert, Dave, and myself, we managed to let the storage bins drop to the ground. With a few quick slices from the saws-all, the mouse-pee infested storage unit was sliced and ejected swiftly from the bus, either through the door, or tossed out fire escape windows.
With this new spacious section, the bunk bed will fit perfectly in the rear, and the holes in the roof will be useful for hammock-hanging... more to come on that later!

And of course, as before, you can view the complete set of photos here!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Preview of this past weekend...

Because it is late, and I am too tired to upload photos and write about it all, I am sharing this video as a sneak preview of this past weekend's craziness!!!


Instead of sending a bunch of emails to everyone who wants to follow our but project, I decided that it would be a wonderful idea to create a "bus blog" for everyone's viewing pleasure.

I suppose I should start with some sort of introduction to how this whole process began:
It was March 5th, over a month ago now, when Jesse found the ad on Craig's list and emailed it to me. He had made a habit of it by this point, because he knows that I miss living in a bus, and that it has always been my dream to have my own, custom-build it, live in it, and drive it around places. He also loves old diesel things like I do, so he's always got en eye open for cool stuff.
He had sent me a couple others this week, but this one actually had a price tag that I could [almost] swing...
The ad read as follows:
"Coach Bus - 1990 Prevost best offer

Coach Bus - 1990 Prevost 8V92 Diesel.
This bus has been used for commercial charter work, but the engine is no longer running. Can be used for parts, or rebuilt by someone with the know-how and ambition. Make an offer and it's yours.

* Location: Harvard MA
* it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests"

I responded with something to the effect of: "I wish I wish I wish I wish I had more then $250 to my name!" I emailed the guy anyways, and let him know that I was interested, and wanted to make an appointment to swing by and check it out. I decided on the following Saturday, not really believing that by that time, the bus would actually be there, unsold, waiting for me to check it out.
Surprisingly enough, however, when Saturday morning rolled around, the bus was still there, and Jesse and I got ready to check it out.
"I don't know, Jesse, you sure you still want to go up there? There's no way to afford it, and I don't want to waste your time." I remember saying.
Jesse just shrugged his shoulders, "What do we have to lose?" he asked. Good question.

We drove up to Harvard, MA to the small, independent bus company where the bus was sitting, crippled, next to the large service barn. I immediately jumped out of the car, and ran to the door of the bus, pulled it open, and climbed inside.
This was no ordinary bus... this was a legit coach bus, outfitted with all of the luxuries, tons of storage space, and a bathroom! Immediately, my mind began to run wild with ideas and plans for what I would do if the bus were mine. First of all, I'd turn all of the luggage compartments underneath into a giant grease system... !!! I ran up and down the aisle a few times, (waaaaay too excited at this point to smell the overbearing pee smell that had drenched the cabin) then met Jesse around back, where he had disappeared into the engine bay. The size of the engine was huge - 12.6L displacement, which would total over eight times the size of my little VW, Gaia!
I'm guessing Jesse's excitement was parallel to my own. After we found someone to talk to us about the history of the bus, we ended up standing outside in the cold, listening to the bus maintenance guy tell us everything he knew about it for over an hour. I hardly noticed the time pass.

The following week was spent mostly in front of my email, contacting various people, and trying to get a plan together. As soon as we left that place, I knew I had to have it. Jesse knew I had to have it... we just... HAD to have it. There was no debating it.

I sent a text message to a good friend of mine - someone who has known me for quite a while. "I need to borrow [insert absurd amount of money here]" was all it said. He knew I was serious.
I emailed Jesse, "I think I can buy the bus. Can you figure out towing?"
Jesse had already been thinking from the other side. He had found information online about every mechanical component of the bus, how it all works, where it all is located, the specs, the known issues, where to find parts, what they are worth... He spoke pure technical bus for days...
... actually, he still hasn't really stopped.
There remained only one problem: where to put the bus?
You can't just stick a bus anywhere, you know... we scrambled to find a place: searched Craig's list, looked for rentable storage units (they won't let you live IN your bus while it stays there), but eventually a mutual friend let us put it on his property, alongside a menagerie of other cool vehicles.

I drove to my friend's house, and we went to the bank.
Jesse found an awesome tow company that had experience with busses, and could be there on Monday...

Monday afternoon, we drove back to Harvard, MA and sat in the window seat at a dunkin donuts, eating apples from whole foods, and watching for our tow truck to go by.
I grabbed a piece of paper, which happened to be a DD job application, and drew out schematics for how I envisioned putting the bus together.

A few hours later, and $2200 more broke, (towing cost $700), we pulled into Dave's yard with this following behind us:

It was then carefully backed into its resting spot, which is where it shall stay while it gets refurbished and rebuilt!

You can view the complete photo album of this day here: BUS ALBUM DAY 1

Oh, and this is important: here is a picture of the original interior!

Now, stay tuned and watch it metamorphose into something amazing!!!!