How to Install a Roof Vent in a Bus

It’s the little things that can really take up a whole lot of time, energy, and wear and tear on tools…. This excerpt is from Worker Steve, who is recovering today from his battle with the roof vent… enjoy!
One of the two Emergency Hatches in the roof of the bus was broken and needed to be replaced.  I called a bus surplus supplier to get a replacement but they didn’t have one so I decided this would be a good opportunity to replace the leaky hatch with a skylight/vent.  I found one on Ebay for a good price so I bought it.
The plan was just to remove the old hatch and replace it with the new vent.  Step One: Remove the old hatch and patch the hole with metal saved from the bus ceiling.  Measure out the metal and cut it with a jigsaw.  Break the jigsaw.  Try to repair the jigsaw.  Decide to buy a new jigsaw.
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Meanwhile, Step Two: Remove the framing for the old bus hatch.  Discover that it has been glued down with some kind of super NASA inspired black tar adhesive that was tougher than my resolve with a sawzall.  Realize that the old hatch frame isn’t going anywhere easily so why fight it.
Give up on the metal patch and decide to use wood.  Pull apart a trellis I used to grow cucumbers so I can salvage some treated lumber.  Dig around in the wood shop for a remnant of EPDM roofing I think I saved from a pond I built.  Find the remnant and decide I really should glue it to my my new wood structure with contact cement.  Drink a couple beers and decide I’m too impatient to wait for the contact cement and have a staple gun and silicone caulk that will do the job.
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Staple, caulk, staple, caulk, go to bed.  Wake up and think it was probably not the best idea but I’m in for more than a penny.  Install the new hatch cover by climbing on the roof and beating it with a hammer a few times to make it fit.  Lots more silicone.
I think this will work.
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I can’t begin to list all the ways this vent is going to make tiny home living more awesome. Thanks Steve!!!!

Making The “Tin Can” A Tiny Home….

As my Aunt Sue lovingly pointed out when she heard about this project “you’ll freeze your ass off in that tin can!!” I assured her that I will do no such thing. As part of this plan to not freeze my ass off, Steve and I found a spray foam insulation kit on E-Bay and this weekend Steve applied the insulation. And finally, followers get a glimpse of the man behind the madness… Worker Steve. He works, and his name is Steve. Some of you know him, others wonder who this crazy man is… well I guess those of us who know him also wonder. Anyhoo, he looks dashing in his Hazmat suit, doesn’t he? A bonus: he’s also prepared for an Ebola outbreak.

But before Steve could spray, we had to prepare the bus. Here is where all those episodes of Scandal and Dexter paid off…

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Windows sealed off with plastic and tape

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The front of the bus covered with a plastic curtain to prevent insulation from getting everywhere

Kelsey covering up the ceiling emergency exit

Kelsey covering up the ceiling emergency exit

We also cleaned and covered the back door so we can spray paint it shiny white. I’m thinking about adding a stencil graffiti on the bottom left… any ideas?

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Here is a shot of the spray kit. It came with a 14 page list of safety precautions… Hazmat suit not included.

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I love the way the bus looks like the inside of a pillow with the insulation in! So warm and cozy….

Look how much warmer it looks already!

Look how much warmer it looks already!

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Here is the second part of making the tin can warm… reflective insulation.

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Another item of interest… here is the butcher block counter top which will go on one side of the kitchen.

butcher block countertop

butcher block countertop

We have two donations as well. Kevin is going to bring us some lovely marble for the other kitchen counter, and Mark is donating a kitchen sink. Thanks guys, you are making our budget happy!!

The Fun Part

After only a few weeks of hard labor, the grunt work is done! Before we move on to the fun part, here is a recap of recent events…

 

The bus is completely cleaned out and prepped for building!

Clean and ready to go

Clean and ready to go

An important part of this conversion is making sure that rust will not be a problem.

All the rust is neutralized...

All the rust is neutralized…

Floor ground, wire-brushed, swept, vacuumed, mopped, and primed with Corroseal.

Floor ground, wire-brushed, swept, vacuumed, mopped, and primed with Corroseal.

We spent a buttload of money at Lowe’s over the weekend. This was quite a task… Steve built our shopping cart for hours and we were finalizing when a glitch in the Lowe’s website caused our shopping cart to EMPTY before we could complete the transaction! So Steve made a call and after a lengthy and very civilized conversation with a Lowe’s representative we got it worked out and Steve got us 10% off for our troubles. Not Bad.

 

Mary and I found some nice beadboard at the Restore which we will use on the ceiling.

The beadboard for the ceiling...

The beadboard for the ceiling…

Steve and Mary found a great deal on some nice flooring at a salvage shop in Woodbury.

Flooring... light wood is going to look so pretty!

Flooring… light wood is going to look so pretty!

Garey came over to look at the engine, but the batteries would not cooperate. More on that later.

Garey came over with his boys to look in on the engine, and we learned some new things about voltage and battery charging.

Garey came over with his boys to look in on the engine, and we learned some new things about voltage and battery charging.

We saved a few hundred dollars this weekend! Also checked in with the chickens….

The chickens seem to be doing alright since their excitement with Kora

The chickens seem to be doing alright since their excitement with Kora

…and spent some time in the studio.

What Steve does when he's not building tiny homes. He's so talented :)

What Steve does when he’s not building tiny homes.

And now for The Fun Part! …

The Stripping Continues…

The past few weeks has been filled with lots of “grunt work.” I wish I could be there doing the grunt work. I think it would be fun, though Steve assures me that it is not as much fun as I think….

Removing the floor was pretty difficult... but it's ready for the fancy paint!

Removing the floor was pretty difficult… but it’s ready for the fancy paint!

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The original heater will be kept to warm the bus when traveling...

The original heater will be kept to warm the bus when traveling…

View from the back of the bus

View from the back of the bus

Steve and Darius found a little bit of rust today. The plan is to treat it with the same fancy paint that we will paint the floors with.

Steve and Darius found a little bit of rust today. The plan is to treat it with the same fancy paint that we will paint the floors with.

It’s pretty much looking worse and worse! In the meantime, Steve and I are talking sink, cabinets, fridge… Mary is holding out for a fancy refrigerator/freezer with drawers and has picked out some beautiful paint. It’s fun to be planning this with them. If anyone has suggestions about where to find re-purposable (I made up a word) base cabinets, sinks, those kinds of things please let me know. I also need a good used sewing machine to make some simple curtains.

Gutting The Bus (or “we really screwed ourselves”)

The first step in a bus conversion is gutting the bus. For this you need some willing grunt workers who still have the youthful ideal that just about anything can be fun! I wish I could have been there last weekend when this was going on.

Austin taking a break

Austin taking a break

On Saturday Garey and Kelsey showed up, and I regret to say I have no pictures of them at work, at least none that have been approved for sharing on the internet. The Sunday crew: Steve, Kelsey, Tyler, Austin, Stephen and Chelsea. They showed up and unscrewed countless screws, wrestled bolts and seats and metal siding…

The seats were screwed in through the floor, which meant one person under the bus and one in the bus...

The seats were screwed in through the floor, which meant one person under the bus and one in the bus…

There were lots of screws

There were lots of screws

Chelsea in the foreground...the unscrewing continues...

Chelsea in the foreground…the unscrewing continues…

This is Tyler, and he's working hard

Tyler tearing it up.

Seats are gone, on to the metal siding...

Seats are gone, on to the metal siding…

Thank you to the demolition crew! Next steps: remove the floor, then paint the whole thing with some really expensive paint.

Stephie got a big old bus

Welcome to my bus conversion! At the request of some awesome friends I am going to keep everyone up to date on this project via this blog. So let me start by saying I made a decision to build a tiny home. Now on to the rest….

When you buy a bus at a government auction, you may get to meet the mayor!

When you buy a bus at a government auction, you may get to meet the mayor!

About two weeks ago I bought a bus at an online auction. The bus was in Shelbyville TN, and the auction was at govdeals.com. I had a friend of a friend, who is now a friend (thanks Randall and Kevin!), drive over and check it out to be sure it was worth bidding on, and after a thumbs up from Randall the bidding began. I planned to spend about $3000, so when I won the auction at $2125 I was pretty stoked! Last weekend I drove over to Tennessee and spent some quality time with my daughters, Kelsey and Taylor, and my friends Steve and Mary. Kora traumatized Steve’s chickens and I got to watch the first episode of the new season of Walking Dead. Steve cooked some great meals, Mary refused to let me help her clean, and there was football and laying around doing nothing. It was fabulous, and we discovered that chickens do have short term memory.

Kelsey helped me work up the courage to drive the bus home... XO!

Kelsey helped me work up the courage to drive the bus home… XO!

On Monday Kelsey and I drove over to Shelbyville and picked up my bus. After a quick tutorial and practice run around the neighborhood with one of the bus drivers (basically, don’t hit a stop sign when you’re turning and don’t pump air brakes, and it looks like you need to stay right but actually you need to stay left.) I drove it back to Steve and Mary’s back yard…

Isn't she beautiful?

Isn’t she beautiful?

Anyhoo…. The bus is a 2000 International diesel, 60 passenger bus. The living space will be about 220 square feet. It has 98,000 miles on it and runs well. I chose a bus because it costs less than a trailer bed and it already has an engine, and I can use it as an RV when I no longer need it to live in. Also it’s way more romantic than an RV. Yes I just said that.

I am SO happy for all the love and support for my tiny home project. More to come….

Kora approves of the bus

Kora approves of the bus