Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lipstick on a pig

It has been awhile since my last post but I have been busy camping. I have been working on a few things. When I painted the front of the bus I thought it would look good with an orange pinstripe. Later I thought it would look good pinstriping around the red stripes. Like putting lipstick on a pig. 

 Well 240 feet of pinstripe later I realized it was a bit more then I was expecting. But the bigger story by far is how much we have enjoyed camping.

We have been able to go on three camping trips this year. The first was to Pineview Reservoir. The last two were Lava Hot Springs in Idaho.
Lava was wonderful and I was able to work on our "speed issues". What I have learned was that the bus was set up to keep the maximum rpm's to 1,800. So the top speed was right around 53 -55 mph so there was some changes were needed. Working with Scott Geoff from Geoff Injection I was able to move the pivot point on the accelerator so the throttle now has full range and increased the RPM to 2,300.  Then Scott showed me how to move the throttle plate forward increasing the fuel.
For our latest trip we traveled north to Liberty Utah for a couple of days of camping. The drive up to Liberty was much better with a speeds topping a very acceptable 65 mph. The camp was a great experience and we found a couple things that we want to change and more things that we just loved about camping in the bus. We are now getting ready for next weeks three day camp to Smith and Morehouse. Smith and Morehouse Campground is located just 12 miles south of Oakley, Utah, adjacent to Smith and Morehouse Creek and Reservoir at an elevation of 7,800 feet.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Almost There!

I have made some headway this past few weeks on the bus. Deciding what to do next has been tough but I made the decision I would really like to get the outside finished up as much as possible.
We first painted the middle rib red and immediately knew it needed another stripe, so one more red stripe was put into play.

My next door neighbor Mel, who so kindly shares her driveway with me, made me some drapes. I must say that the quality of these curtains are beyond compare.  
I also found some window screens at Lowe's and Wal Mart that fit the windows. At less then $5 a piece you just can't go wrong.
We are going camping in two weeks so I have turned my attention to the bunk beds. I chose to "over build" these bunks. I am using 1/4" steel and they weigh about 150 lbs. Each one will hold just about any adult and any kid I know!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Like Titanic... only different

Made some great headway on the bus in the last couple weeks. We had the maiden voyage of the bus two weeks ago and went camping. This was a great opportunity to see how everything worked and changes we want to make before everything is finished. Unfortunately my camera skills are somewhat lacking and all the pictures I took while camping were set at a half meter focus... yeah, gonna look at that setting next time I take some pictures.

I decided that I was going to give the top of the bus two coats of roof sealant to help with heat and put a good seal on the roof. The required me on top of the bus a number of times and a rounded metal roof is just the recipe for disaster. Luckily my deft footwork surpasses my camera technique and I am happy to report no injuries.
While rolling the paint on top of the bus my oldest son was taking pictures. He yelled up at me.."Dad go to the front of the bus and do that scene from Titanic where she is on the front of the Titanic." So I go to the front of the bus and did my best Kate Winslet. As soon as he snapped the picture he said, "You're such a dork."
Well I guess I learned my lesson.
I won't lie this was a tough job but I know if I took my time and did it right I would not have to be up here again so I made the best of is and the comments that came my way.
* Looks like a prison bus.
* Is that bus from the Afghanistan conflict?
* If I had a big yellow bus I would paint it flesh color also.
Saturday was the big day to get the bus all the same color. During the week and late into Friday night we scuffed and masked the monster. It took about two hours and 1 1/2 gallons of paint to get the mono chromatic theme completed.
So this is the final base coat. Now I can work on an accent stripe and putting the front of the bus back together. We have camps planned in three weeks so I need to get the inside in a "working" order.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ricky and Lucy's Bedroom

Finished building the rear bed platform today. The goal was to build a rear king size bed but we couldn't fit a king size mattress through the back door, so we went ala Ricky and Lucy with two twin beds.
The cabinets were finished and attached on the right side of the bus this week. I won't lie, fitting the top cabinet was a challenge but I am really happy with how it turned out. This gives us plenty of storage now.
Before I could build the rear platform I needed to finish the rear lights. Early on I knew I was going to lose the big bus lights. Using LED lights take less power, are brighter and look much better. To get them to look right I had to weld in some holes and cut and space the lights so they looked right.
You can now see the outside color for the finished project.
This next week we are going camping. It will be a good shakedown for the bus and see how everything works so far.
Hope we don't freeze....

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Spring Progress

I firmly believe that I got much more done on the bus when it was 20 degrees outside. Now that spring is here that means warmer temperatures and the beginning of kids organized sports, and I use the term organized very loosely. For the past month my Saturdays have been consumed by watching pre-pubescents chase balls of differing sizes is an air of semi-organized chaos. Great for them to get the energy out and run around, but it seriously hampers production on the bus.
All that being said I have been able to steal a few hours here and there to work on the bus so I have made some headway. That coupled with some serious negotiations with the wife I have been given “sports amnesty” for the past two Saturdays. But it was at a considerable cost which will be extracted from me over a drawn out time frame, but still worth it.
I have begun to work on the interior walls and finish up some final wiring and secure the furniture.
I have set up two plugs behind the fridge one is shore power 110v and the lower will run to my 2000 watt inverter. I made the decision a couple months ago to sell the propane/elec fridge and move to a dedicated 110v fridge. Running the two Trojan 6 volt batteries coupled with the new efficiency of the smaller fridge I am hoping for the best.
The passenger side wall was more complicated with all the wiring that runs down that side I had to compensate for the wall thickness, but it turned out pretty good.

The last great step forward was installing the stereo and getting the rear view camera hooked up and working.
The stereo will play DVD's, Ipod, CD's and radio. After manuvering the behemoth a few times I knew I wanted a better view out of the rear while backing up. The voyager color camera works great.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Two Coats and a Loft

For the past few weeks we have had some seriously awful spring weather. For the last three days it has snowed every day. Today is snowed litterally all day long.

What I have been working on is getting the inside ceiling painted and building a loft for our youngest.
It is really just a bunk but in selling it to my daughter I sold it as a loft so it will now and forever be known as the loft.
What I did was use 1/8 inch 2X2 angle to build the frame then secured it with grade 8 bolts to the frame.

The frame turned out really great and I will use some 3/4 plywood to complete the loft, yes the loft.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Since my last update I have working on getting the windows finished up. Last Saturday I removed all of the windows and window skins on the right side and cleaned all the 20 year old caulking, let me tell you that stuff does not just fall off. This took a ton of time but now that it is sealed up right I won't have to deal with it ever again.
This took almost a full Saturday.

The next job was to convert the red and amber flashing lights to flood lights that can be used when parking at night or loading and unloading.
First I removed all the flashing light wiring and used two Hella switches that will match the switch for the front auxiliary lights.
Also wanted to set up the rear camera that will be run through the stereo and add the new LED marker lighting.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Gimme some skin

Today we worked on getting the windows skinned. Originally I had the idea of taking .080 aluminium in large sheets and covering the windows. As I read of other projects I found it better to skin each individual window. This last week I took two 4' by 12' sheets of aluminum to Complex Fab and had the window blanks cut out.

I prepped all the aluminium with primer and put one coat of Rustoleum Hammered Brown. The hammered look will be great for hiding some of the imperfections.

My helper today was my daughter and I could not have done all this without her. Riley helped me take the aluminum blanks and use 1/16" aluminium angle to secure each one in place of the old windows.

The last part of my day was getting the back of the bus painted so I can install the Voyager rear view camera. I am using Black Jack 10 Year White Siliconized Elastomeric Roof Coating. This is after three coats so I will definitely be using a primer when I get to the rest of the roof. You can see the corner of the back where I rolled some of the hammered brown to see how it looks. I am really pleased with the Rustoleum paint.

Something intersting we found out. Each window weighs over 15 pounds and the window skin with the brackets to secure it to the window frame weighs just under 6 pounds. By changing out the 10 windows we will be saving over 100 pounds when you consider two emergency exit windows.

Not that this big girl is watching her weight, I'm just saying...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Like a fat kid attacking a twinkie

Christmas came in February this year!

Three weeks ago I ordered a custome built 36" dinnete and table.

So what do you do when you get your custom built booth home??

You cut it up.

I attacked that booth with a jig saw like a fat kid attacking a twinkie. (I can use this analogy)

The problem with where I am putting the dinette is that there is a big wheel in the way so I need to make some adjustments..

Then I decided to take a swing at the windows .

Saturday, February 12, 2011

More go go juice

Today I worked again on the electrical for the bus. I have run 99% of the wire with just one more line of 110 wire to the rear AC unit.

I am running two 6 volt Trojan batteries. The two batteries were almost as much as I paid for the bus but very well worth the money.

The ability to run deep cycle batteries are a great assett when dry camping. I will also be running a 1000 watt pure sine wave inverter.

I also ran a power line to the storage compartment so I can see what goes bump in the night.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Butt Crack and Therapy

For the past 40 plus years I have done my very best to keep the white fleshy part of my back side covered and not out for display like the underwear from some prepubescent skater dude. As time has marched on my efforts to keep the east west divide that is located south of my Mason-Dixon Line covered has become more then my Levis can handle.

So I have been dealing with snide comments from my kids about my alternate life as a plumber, moon coming out in the middle of the day, good place to put a screw driver… etc. And then I got a neighbor that likes to honk when she drives by and my fair skin back side is reaching for light from the dark recess of the dungarees, yea you know who you are.

What then does a middle aged guy do that just wants to get some work done and occasionally reach down below the knee? Well I got a neighbor that works for the railroad and he swears by his Carhartt overalls, so I gave them a try. No I am not talking about the seersucker overalls railroad Bob wears with the red bandana these are nice blue overalls that fit over your boots, great pockets up front and the fly has got to be 9 inches long, they can’t be beat.

Now my kids are telling me that I am causing them irreparable damage by wearing these magical crack hiding wonders in public. They tell me they are going to need therapy to deal with the damage I am causing. My thoughts are if I am building a bus into a motor home and they are living with a big yellow bus parked next to the house my choice of pants will not send them straight to the bell tower their sophomore year of college.

Besides that I rock these overalls.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Let there be light

This weekend I finished up installing the recessed lights.

I put a total of 14 recessed lights through the bus.

This year at the SEMA show in Las Vegas there was a company that sold a tool called the Bad Dog Biter. This attaches to a drill and cuts metal like it was nothing. This tool was great to cut 14 of these small holes and then run the wiring.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Juice Box

Today I worked on getting the electical panel installed in a corner cabinet. This is one of the key parts that need to be done so I can lay out the rest of the electrical.

You can see in the picture I have ran the 50 amp cord up to the box and ran then other end out to the left rear of the bus. My plan is to use a 50 amp extenstion cord and hook to shore power.

This is also where I will put the inverter and converter.

Last week I also scored a new seat for $43 off the local classified ads. The seat is in good shape and I was able to connect it to the base of the original seat. The steel is a little weak and bent so I will need to beef it up a bit but it is quite an improvement from what I had. After riding in the stock seat it felt like someone took a 2X4 to my backside for a couple days.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Floor

This week I got the floor installed in the bus and boy what a difference it makes.
I was thinking of installing the floor on my own but have never laid vinyl flooring before and when Randy came out and installed the floor I realized I would have done it all wrong.
This was the best $150 I have spent in a long time.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Floor, Fridge and BOOM!

Today I soldiered on through the blustering 23 degrees getting the floor preped to lay the vinyl flooring this week.

Last week I built the frame for the fridge and the furnace. Building this was a challenge because the roof curves and with limited space I want to put the fridge up on top of the furnace.

I have had an idea on what I want to do as far as a stereo/video in the bus and last Saturday I was able to finally put my plan in motion. I found a young couple that was preparing to marry and the bride to be was more then happy to sacrifice her future husband's stereo in lieu of an engagement ring.
So for $300 I got a Jensen stereo/DVD player with a 7" retractable screen, a 600 watt Alpine amplifier and two sub-woofers in a lighted enclosed box built by Duel. We tested the stereo out in the garage and I was a little startled how loud it was, Hayden was very excited, Jen was not. The stereo has an output for a monitor so I can run a DVD and play it on another flat screen. Another great option that I really wanted was the ability to run a rear view camera to help backing up the behemoth and this stereo fits the bill.