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: www.craigslist.org), 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!

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