Monday, April 29, 2013

Just Right Floor Plan

Well we finally have some Just Right Floor Plans. Ok, who am I kidding, they'll probably change a hundred times between now and the end of this journey, but these are what we've come up with so far. Feel free to check out the 3D image on your own on our floor planner page. I'll also give the tour here.

From the top left to right starts a couch with a middle table insert. Next to the couch is the refrigerator and with a pull out pantry next to it. The next room is our toilet and then a closet with shelves that go over the wheel well  and hanging clothes next to it. On each side of the bed are 12" wide storage cubbies for clothes and to act as night stands.

From the bottom left to right is a 12"x12"x12" wood stove (more to come on that later), our alcohol oven and sink and then the horse trough bathtub (strangely, they didn't have horse troughs on the floor planner website). We plan to have a fold up counter top over the bathtub to extend our counter space for more kitchen work area. Next to that is our washer/dryer combo on top of the wheel well and then another closet.

We plan on making the table between the two couches adjustable so it can move down and extend the couch in the middle or move up to become a booth style table.

We also mapped out the underside of the bus so we can plan for our tanks and exterior accessories. It's not as exciting to look at but still important. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Planning and Patience

This week we finished installing the rest of the insulation and got the last ceiling panel back up. Hallelujah! We also perfected the panel installation method. This was helped along by my dad who bought us an awl from home depot. We stuck the awl into the hole of the middle screw on the panel to line up all of the screw holes and then used the middle screws on either side of the panel as a pivot point to line up the rest of the screw holes.

Our trusty awl

The final panels with lights installed!

We also started working on removing the reflective tape from the back of the bus. The heat gun and paint scraper worked well to get the initial layer of tape off.

After peeling off the tape, it left a sticky layer of glue on the bus.

I used a squirt of mineral spirits and WD40 to wipe down the stickiness and a flat razor blade to scrape off the goo.

After vacuuming up all the metal splinters that fell to the floor from the hundreds of screws we put into the ceiling, and the itchy scraps of insulation, we spent most of today working on the floor plan and finishing adding the final piece of plywood. We gathered all of the things we've already bought for the bus to put them in place and get a feel for the layout. We're still not sure of the exact order of the oven, sink, washer/dryer combo/tub but are getting much closer!

Willow's mid day siesta

We had an extra box spring which we used as a place holder for our bed.
The dogs really liked having it there, so did Chris.

Trying to determine how high we want the counter tops. This is the sink at a standard 36" high.

After planning all day, we decided we wanted to get something physically accomplished, so we set about putting in the final piece of plywood for the floor.

It was a funky cut around the driver's seat and stairwell but fit nicely after careful measurement.

The corner needed some adjustment to fit.

Just Right Fit!
Next on the agenda is getting the electrical wiring and plumbing installed. We're still trying to find an electrician with experience wiring RV's (or boats, or bus conversions) with enough knowledge of battery banks and solar to hire. If anyone recommends anyone that'd be interested and qualified for the job, please feel free to share their contact info with us!

It's frustrating that we aren't further along, however every time we settle on the "next step" we manage to think of something else that needs to be considered before that step can occur. Things are slowly but surely coming together, as they always do, but this whole process is taking a lot of patience on both of our parts. Fortunately, Chris and I work so well together and always manage to have a lot of fun in the process!

While we worked the dogs played by running in circles around the bus and wrestling.

This awesome bromeliad is blooming near our building site.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Insulation and Dirty Paws

We've been very lucky to have such comfortable weather to work on the bus. However, it's been warming up quite a bit and will be hot, muggy Florida Summer soon enough, so we've started preparing. This involves insulating the ceiling and walls as best as we can and researching the best air conditioner for the space.

We had some rain this week which was nice for the plants but no so nice for our freshly painted floors. Winston and Willow managed to leave their muddy paw marks all over one morning as I caulked the windows. They quickly lost their fear of the bus and will frequently lounge underneath it or play, running in circles around it as we work.

The dogs clearly feel they are considered "authorized persons"

My dad pointed out that the silicone we used to fill the holes in the metal floor of the bus isn't paintable. I'm not sure what we plan to do to the metal around the windows but I didn't want to rule out painting it so we picked up some paintable silicone to replace the old caulk that I scraped out last week.

First I used painters tape around each window to make clean lines for the caulk to  go.

Then, after squirting the caulk into the gap around the window, I used this rubber finger that my dad had to smooth out the edges and then removed the tape to create a nice, smooth seal.

We also got some gaps and cracks insulating spray to seal up some of the beams and add some insulation to the corners of the roof.

There was definitely a learning curve to making it go on smoothly

Before we reinstalled the roof panels we gave them a good scrub.

They didn't seem that dirty until we put the first one up and saw it next to one that we weren't able to take down and scrub because it was attached to the roof via the seat belt.

Ew! This one will be scrubbed throughly..eventually.

 Next we prepared to install the insulation. When we were taking the old insulation out of the bus I was covered in it for days and it was so itchy! This time I prepared with a rain jacket, hood, and gloves.

We did a lot of research into the type of insulation we wanted. Spray foam was the best r-value for the space, but would have cost about $1000, eek! Foam board would be an affordable option with very good r-value as well, however when on fire it creates toxic gas that is lethal. Since it's such a small space, and the ceiling is so close to our heads, we felt this wasn't worth the risk. So we decided on traditional fiberglass Pink insulation, R-13. We were originally concerned that the 3 1/2" insulation we chose wouldn't fit in the 2" gap of the ceiling. However, it was easily held up by duct tape and compressed into the space.  Also, it was on sale!  Just $70 for all that we needed!

The most challenging part, as expected, was reinstalling the 50lb, steel ceiling panels. Getting those holes to line up with the ones in the cross beams was a pain in the butt. The first day, Chris and I worked alone and were only able to get 2 panels up in 4 hours. Today, my dad helped us and we were able to get 5 up in the same amount of time. They certainly weren't easy, but the extra set of hands and strength was so helpful. Thanks dad!

It was a unique dance getting the panels up. We developed a nice groove where Chris and Dad would hold the panel up and I'd scramble around telling them which way to push, pull, or pivot. Then I'd frantically drill the screws in the holes that did eventually line up.

We finally reached the panel that held the overhead lights and my dad reattached the wires

Eureka, they work! Eventually, these will be replaced by nice, low watt LED's, but for now these will do.

We put the screws in loose at first so that the panels would be flexible if they needed slight adjustments, then we went back and tightened them all. We also only added screws to every other hole, or there abouts. We plan on using the extra screw holes to attach the overhead shelves/studs to the frame of the bus. Our thought is that it's better to use existing holes than make more.

 With more than half of the panels up, the sound difference in the bus is obvious. I don't think there's much of a temperature difference yet, but I know it will make a ton of difference once the real heat hits.

After a long day we got to panel #9. Even after an hour of wrestling with it, we just couldn't line it up. It was getting late and harder to see (even with our newly installed lights) so we called it a night. We were really hoping to get all of the panels back up this weekend. I was reminded that it took almost 2 weeks to get them all down and we managed to get 2/3 of them back up in 2 days, not bad!