Sunday, December 19, 2010

Some Final Parts

This weekend I had to finish getting two big pieces, the fridge and propane heater.

Let me give you the breakdown on how Saturday went down.

Me in a bus, all day. I drove to Springville to look at a propane tank, that didn't work for me, and get the furnace for $150. Springville is an hour and a half drive south from my house. I was able to look through three very wrecked $300,000 plus motorhomes.

Then I was able to drive north to Ogden which is 40 minutes north of my house. So I was able to put some quality time behind the wheel of the big empty bus. In Ogden I found the interior panel for the AC and a nice fridge for $350.

I decided to use vinyl flooring in the front of the bus and carpet in the back.
Well vinyl flooring can be really expensive I found out. Two places quoted me $350 and the other $569. Well guess what I did? I found a designer that did the flooring for a larger builder who was clearing out some overstock. So I got 26 sq yards of vinyl for $62.

Couple weeks ago I bought 8 lights, an outdoor shower and two windows shipped to my house for $80.

Then I changed my mind. I decided not to use RV windows.

So I sold the two windows for $80. Guess I am just lucky that way.

Last week we went to Habitat for Humanity and scored a new sink for $25.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The facts don't lie

As I was researching before starting this project I found it frustrating that I could find how to do just about anything to the bus but no one would give a list of the actual costs involved.

Now if I was going to be doing a real high end conversion I may not want to share how much I am into the project when it was finished. But I am trying to keep the costs in check. My goal is to use recycled items where possible and do as much work as I can by myself.

Before I go too far I need to tell the story about purchasing the bus. The bus was purchased through Public Surplus back at the beginning of November. The auction was about three weeks long and I was dying for most of that time waiting for the auction to end. I searched for a long time to find a low mileage, good condition bus. This auction was for a 1992 Bluebird from Tempe Union High School with 63,555 miles. There was a question made on the auction site asking if the mileage was accurate and the school district confirmed that it was so I was in it to win it!

In the end I won the auction with a bid of $3,150. After taxes and buyer premium I paid $3,758 and went out to Phoenix to get the bus. I picked the bus up around 4:00 p.m. in Phoenix and headed home leaving the 91 degrees of Arizona. The first leg of the drive I made it to St. George Utah and got 11.5 MPG. The next morning as I drove north towards home enjoying the cooler temperatures and dreaming of a radio that worked a little better I studied the worn writing just below the radio. I could make out an “S” and below that a 15. Through my incredible deductive reasoning and nothing else to do I came to the alarming conclusion that the speedometer may have been changed at some time. When I left Tempe I stopped by the transportation office and asked if they had the service records. I was planning on reviewing them in detail when I got home. Turns out McDonalds in Cedar City, Utah made a great place to delve into the maintenance records of an 18 year old bus. Well the records don’t lie; the speedometer was changed at just over a tick of 151,000 miles.

My first call was to the school district. They said they didn’t know about it, they would make it right, they were sorry… The short version of the following month is that they first said I bought the bus “as is” and they were not going to do anything. My good friend Dave from Jr. High is a lawyer (more pit-bull then bloodsucker) and was willing to work on getting this resolved and hopefully not having to go to court. Dave did a great job and when everything was said and done I ended up paying $368 plus my expenses to go get the bus in Phoenix.

So now that you have the background, here are the current costs. As a disclaimer these costs are based on finds I have made, you may be able to do better. I will keep this list updated as I go along.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cleaning House

Due to promptings, I have committed to be more diligent in posting updates.
So here are some pictures and short explanations.

We got the interior of the bus cleared out Saturday before last. It took about two hours to have everything out of the bus and loaded on the trailer and ready to go off to the recycle yard.

Because the bus was from Arizona there is no rust and every bolt came out with ease. Not one bolt had to be cut off.

The bottom cushons did need a little persuasion to leave the bus, but I did prevail.

Here is a picture of the rear heater that runs off the engine coolant. I was going to use this but I read about them leaking all over your new interior so it has to go to the recycler with the seats.

Under the aluminum covers just in front of the heater are two 1" rubber hoses that run all the way to the front of the bus. All of this will come out this next week.

Here is a picture of the bowl Jonah used to gather up all the bolts that held the seats in place.

Yes that is just over 6 lbs of grade 8 bolts holding the seats down. I wouldn't even fathom a guess in what 6 lbs of grade 8 bolts would cost, guess I will be holding on to them. I am sure I will find a use.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Odds and Ends

Had a chance to get a few more odds and ends. Found a great guy just a few miles away that takes wrecked RV's and parts them out. He had a new 5th wheel that was being taken to California but it was blown over just outside of Park City Utah.

I was able to get the range, microwave and water pump for $200. All are brand new.

The Microwave still has the glass platter packed in the shipping styrofoam.

The pump is tough to judge. I found used pumps for $200 so I am confident this is not the highest quality pump but I will mount the pump and water tank near the back of the bus and it will be an easy upgrade down the road.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

How far until a deal is no longer a deal?

What is the distance you are willing to travel for a deal? Does it depend on the price, the savings, how bad you need the item or items.... What are the factors that help you decide the time you will spend behind the wheel?

Trying to find the parts I need to cobble this project together is not that easy. My criteria is both quality and price so I have to expand my area to search. For the past month I have been searching for a dinette and couch and found a matching set out of a newer 5th wheel. The only problem was that it is in Brighton Colorado. By the old Google Maps that is just a tic over 525 miles and by no means as the crow fly. I would have to traverse Wyoming via I-80.

What was the factor that pushed me over the edge to travel to Denver? The willingness of my sweet spouse to travel with me so we had the chance to get away for the weekend. What a great chance to spend some time together with no kids, read a book, eat out and stay in the beautiful wilds of Cheyenne Wyoming. Oh yeah, we were thinking about Aruba but we chose the Cheyenne LaQuinta. Just living the dream.

So Saturday we headed out to meet Aly and Brandon in Brighton to get their dinette and couch/hide-a-bed. For $200 we got both and tried to beat the first big storm of the year. On Saturday Utah was getting pounded by a snow storm and we were covering the beautiful wilderness of southern Wyoming (read sarcasm). I-80 through Wyoming is an awful, awful way to spend a day. Good thing I had someone reading a book to me to help pass the time.

So in conclusion I was able to pick you these great items and pay roughly two and a half times the cost of them in gas and lodging. Crazy? Nay I say adventurous and willing to go to great distances for a deal. So to answer my original question how far until a deal is no longer a deal? Just over 500 miles one way, if Jennefer will go with me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Kitchen Cabinets

Working on putting the kitchen together. There are a number of ways I could go about creating a kitchen. There are companies that sell specialized cabinets just for RV's, the only problem is that they are very expensive.

My goal is to make the bus very nice but keep costs down. So I am utilizing as much second hand building materials and parts as I can find. I keep an eye out for key components and this week I was able to get a complete set of cherry wood cabinets from a remodel job for $150.

There are some parts that I will not be able to use but I really like the quality and color.

Key to a happy marriage AND working your project

One key to working a project and keeping your wife happy is to understand one important concept in working projects.

"Understand when you are negotiating and when she is just letting you know what she is going to let happen."

That being said I thought I was negotiating some changes to our property so we can fit the bus. I realized she was just letting me know what was going to happen.

Our property does not really have a straight shot to store a 33 foot bus.

So we had to do some "modifications"
I haven't even begun tearing the bus apart yet and I have to find someway to get it on our property.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

How to lose friends, alienate your family and have your neighbors hate you.

Just when my family thought I was somewhat normal, just when my friends stopped snickering when they drove up and there was a enormous green army truck at my house. Just when the neighbors stopped shaking their heads when they drove by... that is when you drop the bomb.

Well here it is the ire of the neighborhood. The reason for my Mother to say my kids will need therapy, our new bus.

Now before you make any judgments let me explain my thought process. We had a motor home that was great, but only had one normal bed and was too small for all seven of us. Se we sold that and bought a trailer that could sleep all of us but still only one or two people could stand at a time. So I decided we need a bigger adventure vehicle. I was looking at older motor homes and larger trailers and I found a motor home I wanted. The only problem is that it was $30,000. As I have pounded into my kids over the years that "debt is dumb" it just didn't make sense to do that and go against what I am trying to teach my kids. This project will have to be done within the budget.

The reason I chose a school bus is because they can only be in service for a period of time so you can always find one, they are extremely well maintained, very reliable and they are built like a tank. But there are some down sides to a school bus. The bus has a governor which means it has a top speed of 58 MPH. Yea give that a minute to sink in, me hurling through the Arizona deseret at a blistering 58 MPH. Now that is a top speed. There was more then one hill I crested at 35 MPH with a trail of travelers behind me that were not thrilled with my new purchase.
The bus was retired from Tempe Union High School District. The great thing about Arizona is that the winters have no snow, no snow means no rust. I will post up some more pictures and give updates on what I am doing.