Thursday, July 18, 2013

99 pics of the bus on the blog

Whew! It has been one busy month filled with two vacations to New York and Cleveland, work for me, school for Chris and so much bus building! We hope to start living in the bus full time at the start of August. Although it won't be 100% complete at that time (who knows if we'll ever feel like it's 100% done) our main goal is to have our air conditioner, electrical and plumbing complete.

Since we have SO many updates to share since the last post, I'm going to just jump right in starting with where we left off last time.

Our awesome electrician Kevin installed our shore power plug. This is an essential step to getting our electrical system up and running. It's will allow us to hook up to 50 amps of shore power. We'll also be able to put adapter on to pair down our plug to 30 or 20 amps with the correct adapters.

I saved the metal pieces that came out of this hole to make a lovely piece of jewelry

Some people asked to see the inside of the fridge, so this shot is for you! It's a simple set up with clear shelves and drawers so we can really "see" the food we have. I don't know about you but we let one too many tomatoes go bad in drawers that you couldn't see through.

There's no ice maker but that would have required an additional water hookup, something we didn't want to have to run on the passenger side of the bus. My mom got us this awesome honey comb ice cube tray which is super space efficient and adorable.

To prepare for putting in the tub we had to install studs that were 8 inch on center to support the cement board.

While putting in the last of the wall studs, we had the exciting moment where we opened our FINAL roll of insulation! I have a love-hate relationship with insulation. I love that it insulates. I hate that it's itchy, smells funny and always seems to find a way to come between me and my clothing. In any case, it has place in our build and I've come to accept that.

It was a very exciting to start building our cabinets. One thing we had read about (and my dad shared with us once or twice) was how important toe kicks are for the comfort of working at kitchen counters. To accomplish this we made a box using 2x4's that was about 3 inches shorter in depth than the frame of the cabinets. We left the toe kick front open so we could possibly use it for storage, though we may just close it up with a nice piece of wood when the rest of the cabinets are complete.

Our cabinets were framed with 2x2's with metal braces and screws.

This is where our tub will go. Each side will have concrete board and tile

We used a shower pan liner to line the tub between the plywood and concrete board

Next we used mortar to create a 1 inch slope from the back side of the tub area to the front. Since our tub is not designed to be a bathing trough, we had to be creative to ensure that the water flows toward the drain on one end. Once the mortar hardened, we used a layer of thin set to attach cement board and then put a layer of non-slip shower tile on top.

We know that once the tub is mounted in this spot, it will be very difficult to move and thus wanted to ensure that the far wall and corners were very resistant to water seepage either down to the floor or to the sides which could effect our closet or kitchen counters.

Before we could move on to the counter tops, we knew we needed to paint the ceiling to avoid the risk of dripping paint onto the counter tops. After a long day of mortar laying, cement board cutting and cabinet building, we decided to quickly prep the bus and put the first coat of paint on the ceiling. Our friend, Lauren, came over to help (thanks Lauren!!) and things were going great until it got dark and we had to turn on all of the inside lights. Suddenly, every bug in the state of Florida decided to come and check out what was going on in our bus painting party and decided they liked our work so much they'd literally stick around and become one with the ceiling.

Fortunately, our vacuum was able to take care of most of them and the second layer of paint the next day fossilized the rest in our ceiling for centuries to come.

With the ceiling complete, we started on the passenger side cabinets so we could get the counter tops cut and mounted.

Check out that toe kick!

The cabinets on the passenger side of the bus hold the stove, an Origo 6000 alcohol marine stove. The stove requires certain clearances in order for proper ventilation and to allow the gambles to fit, much like a puzzle , so we measured very very carefully.

A Just Right Fit allows the stove to swing freely on the gambles when not secured

It was a very exciting day when we decided to cut the counter tops. We had picked it up at Ikea a couple of weeks before and I was itching to see how it was going to look in the bus. We did a lot of research on the best way to cut it and picked up a brand new circular saw blade and set up a jig to ensure the cut was straight and perfect. The saw cut through the wood like butter and we are so pleased with the quality and look of the wood.

Testing out the counter top for fit
On the same day that we picked up our counter tops, we decided to go with a different sink than the small $15 stainless steel one we had found at a garage sale several months ago. Although it was considerably more money, we both had major concerns about the size of the sink. We like to cook a lot and although it would eat up some extra counter space, we were both more comfortable with the size and look of the ceramic sink. Plus it has a 25 year warranty!

To install the sink we flipped it upside down, traced the outside and then measured 1/2" inwards.

We then cut small holes in each of the corners

Then, I used the jigsaw to cut the hole for the sink

We spent a long time trying to decide how we were going to do the back splash of the counter. We discussed tile, wood, metal, and having no back splash at all. While at home depot we stumbled across 2, 8 foot long, 2 inch thick and 8 inch wide piece of rough cedar. We loved the way it looked and smelled and was pretty confident we could sand and oil them up nicely.

It was very rough when we first got it but had a beautiful grain pattern
I sanded them with 60, 100, and 120 grit sand paper and then oiled them several times with mineral oil and am so pleased with how they turned out. I also used mineral oil on the counter tops and was just amazed at the difference.

Before and after the sanding/oiling

Cutting the hole for the stove was much more complicated than the sink. Since it would be visible, we couldn't just cut the holes in the corners and use the jigsaw as the jigsaw's cuts never looked as clean or straight as the circular saw cuts. With limited resources of just a circular and miter saw, we developed a complex jig that allowed us to do a "plunge" cut for the back cut. Unfortunately, I was so busy prepping and practicing that I didn't take any pictures of the process. We are very pleased with the way it turned out though and would be happy to answer any questions anyone may have about the process.

We didn't permanently mount the back splashes behind the counters because I want to be able to remove them to clean the windows. They are secured though so they don't become projectiles when we're driving.
I remembered to clean the windows behind the backsplashes before mounting them.

Willow came outside to join us and took refuge under the sink during a thunderstorm

How the  stove/counter/back splash turned out on the passenger side

We also took some time to work on the wiring for the lights in the bus. This involved putting in a couple of switches, all of which worked perfectly! Now we just need to install the rest of our lights.

Simple switches
While picking out the back splashes we also brought home some thinner pieces of cedar for the cabinet face and siding.

Siding on

We left space under the cedar cabinet siding so the floor could slide under it for a nice, finished look. Here's a preview

Once the siding was on the cabinets, we started to work on the faces.

Now we just need drawers, shelves and doors!

On to plumbing! We spent what felt like years (but was actually closer to 4 hours) at home depot picking out the fittings for our plumbing. After a few mix ups we finally had everything we needed (or so we thought) and started putting it all in place. We're using pex, quick-connect fittings and really like their simplicity and fast setup.

Plumber Chris

Some people have requested more broader shots of our progress and I was hesitant to post them because our bus frequently looks like this.

all kinds of crazy

However, this is a blog of what it's like to build a bus into a house, and it would be unrealistic to think that it always looks like this when we're working (though it feels SO good when it's this clean in there)

We're fortunate to be the recipient of a lot of free materials from our friends and family. That included several boxes of tile. We didn't have enough of the blue tiles to do the entire tub area so we stopped by a tile wholesale place and picked up a box of black and white pinwheel tiles that appealed to us to integrate into our design.

We extended the back splash behind the tub area so that we could have a fold down counter top to extend the kitchen counter top when we're not bathing. This is supported by two smaller pieces of cedar mounted to the side of the tub on the hamper and cabinet walls.

We also found our new faucet at Lowes. I looked online for days for the right one to match our tub faucet. We're pleased with the one we found, it has a side sprayer which we still have to put in.

Our new faucet really gives the sink a more finished look

Our most recent vacation took us to Cleveland for about a week. While we were away we left the bus at our electrician's house so he could build the rack to hold the batteries and the air conditioner compressor. We went to his place tonight to pick it up and were very pleased with his work. We also got the compressor mounted under the bus. Although it hangs a littler lower than we'd prefer, it cleared all of the speed bumps with more room to spare than a typical car does. We'll just be careful when off road. We hope to have our batteries tomorrow, though it may not be until Monday.
Mounting the AC rack
Condenser in place!
I followed behind Chris on the way home to see how the unit looked going over the speed bumps and was very happy
This will be a very busy weekend for us as we'd like to get the rest of the outlets in place so that we don't have any hot wires when we install the batteries. We'll also be working on the plumbing drains as well as the toilet. I'll try my best to not let so much time past without a post and appreciate all of our our loyal Facebook followers! Wish us luck!