Wednesday, 25 December 2013

First bit of spray painting.

Some time ago we bought a Stanley belt driven compressor to help us with our bus conversion. More recently the air driven tools went on sale and we picked up a generic branded, gravity fed spray paint kit, tyre puffer-upper and a sander.

Hubby has been sanding the roof in preparation for the skylight vent, hot water and solar to go on (we got our solar kit- more about that later).

He removed the flashing lights which came on when the door was opened (ex school bus stuff) and filled the holes. He sanded and treated some surface rust and today, tried out some spray painting!

Not sure why we thought the front and centre of the bus was the best place to do our initial test piece... luckily it worked out well.

This is the driver's side.
(That little white streak is the sunlight coming through a nail hole in the carport roof, not a painting flaw)
Passenger side.
It is going to be ONE BIG JOB to spray the whole bus!
Luckily we can do the roof, sides and back separately.
This is just the undercoat. we will paint the whole bus white and maybe add a metallic grey stripe. 

Thursday, 28 November 2013

From the top down- Solar, Vent etc

It has been a while since last posting.

I've finally scraped up enough money to buy a thing or two for the bus.

We made a decision to start from the top and go downwards on the bus because that makes a bit of sense as far as internal lining and wiring is concerned. This means we hit an expensive bump. Solar power, solar hot water, sanding and respraying the roof, an awning and roof vent.

The solar hot water.

Doesn't look like much but I picked up this little 30l hot water service on eBay for about $275. It isn't built for buses or caravans (I don't think) so we may need to do something at a later date... we will see how we go. This eBay has more information:

Next I picked up this roof vent.

It is tinted plastic and I manged to pick it up for around $150. We decided against a 4 seasons hatch because I've never seen one which didn't break after a while and this one was cheaper and looks better (in my opinion).
The vent closed from the top (it still has the protective plastic on it).
Open. There is no option to 1/2 close it or part close it but as you will see in the next picture, there is a roll out heat/shade screen you could partially pull across if need be, although, it would not be waterproof.
At the bottom is the partially pulled across shade screen, at the top is the fly screen. They retract away when not in use.
I got this vent on eBay also. 
I have ordered the solar system (although we are yet to have it delivered).
We decided to get it from a retail outlet nearby so we had access to advice and a local warranty if we needed it. It is an expensive part of the bus (almost worth as much as the bus itself!) so we want to do it properly.
After doing research, I found Australian brand Redarc to be a reputable company which is built for our conditions. I found a local outlet and we have ordered a system.
The intention is to be totally self-sufficient (no 240 at all) but we will add a charger and an inlet on the bus later if we find we need it. We will only need not run: 2x 12v water pumps, LED lighting, small 12V TV/DVD, 60l (or a little larger) 12/24/240 fridge (3 way with gas has too much draw on power), and iPhone chargers. We might add one or two other little things but there is an upgrade option for that time.
I will not go into the part numbers or mini details of the equipment (each system is different so you probably wouldn't get much from it).
2x 150w panels (with upgrade option for two more),
Remote monitor (to check all the goodies to ensure they are working),
2x 120AH  12V batteries,
Smart Start 40A,
A bunch of connectors and wires and some mounts.
We still need to get internal wiring and ports, isolation switch panel and fuses.
Later, we may choose to upgrade by adding a pure sine wave inverter (just in case we need a drop of 240), a 240 charger (just in case the panels and bus can't keep up) and another 2 panels (this would be the maximum for the relays and regulator etc.
Next we need to get the awning (to attach before lining the roof as it will be much easier) and a sander/spray kit for respraying the roof.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

YAY! Finally got some more carpet. That's the front DONE.

FINALLY Bunnings got in some more carpet and we finished off the front hatch.

As it is directly above the engine, lots of HEAT and NOISE comes up from there, even though it is insualted beneath. We decided to step p the noise and heat protection. First went fibreglass insulation wool (this also has a sound proof rating), then a welding blanket (fibreglass blend) and then the carpet.

Since the bus isn't registered, we haven't taken it for a drive to test out how well it insulates but it sure looks the part!

We have been playing with a couple of sections of interior lining but nothing to write about just yet.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Lots of little jobs

Our finances say 'no' to doing anything expensive to the bus, like adding solar, water or awnings (all of the things we'd like to be doing but can't afford!)

Until we save up a bit, we've been doing lots of little jobs.

Here's the progress.
Passenger seat frame getting ready for welding by one engineer to make another engineer happy!

Just like brand new!
Driver's seat frame luckily needed no adjustment.
Ta daaa! Front is all done (except for that bloody engine hatch cover. Bunnings haven't ordered the new carpet yet).
Spray painted the plastic moulded bits which go on the roof/wall. Cupboards will be built over them but they needed a freshen up. We will line the roof with new stuff but it would have been difficult to line the curvy bits, so we kept these.
Before: Rusty old wheel hubs.
Shiny new paint job! Charcoal hammer coat (we didn't paint they tyre, that's just rusty dust from the steel brush we cleaned the rims up with).
I didn't get a before shot of the bull bar but it was all yucky too. Now it looks just like a new one too.
Insulation has started to go in. We can't do too much because we have to do electrics and plumbing. Luckily this section is free of that.
We've also painted the sun visors, side mirrors, lined the cabin roof, and today started lining the walls which don't have any wires/pipes to go in them (I'll add photos of that another time).

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

First engineer visit.

Today we took the drive to visit our engineer.

I got my permit to drive an unregistered vehicle last week because of all of the public holidays over easter.

It was a long and noisy trip today because the bus has been stripped to bare shell and the engine noise really echoes around in there! Thankfully it will be a little muffled when all the stuff is installed.

The bus did the trip easily and the GPS worked a treat, putting us right on the engineer's doorstep. He bounced into the bus, made himself comfy on a carpet covered wheel arch and got to talking.

He seemed happy with the size and condition of the bus and took millions of pictures. We need to get under and fill all of the holes in the floor from the seats (they need to be filled because of potential exhaust problems). I'll take photos of the process and send them to him.

He helped us out with what we needed to do to install the seats and he thought we had done an okay job of covering the dash and he gave us many tips and hints on what we can and can not do for the rest of the build. We got some printed out checklists to ensure we don't forget anything along the way.

A couple of hours later and a couple of $$$ we were on our way home again.

So, all in all a rather easy and painless first visit. Let's hope the rest of the build is so easy and carefree.

Monday, 1 April 2013

A bit more of the same before the first engineer's visit.

Just a quick post to show you some developments since the last post (not many).

We finished off the carpet and hubby bought some more to do the top of the engine box but we decided to carpet the space under the bed instead. First we had to rip up all of the vinyl and then I got in there and scrubbed and scrubbed. I have the majority of the dirt out and the lack of skin on my knuckles to prove it! I've wiped down the inside of the panels and done the windows. We shouldn't get much more dust fluffing up when we drive to the engineer tomorrow. We will do the top of the engine box when we get more carpet (perhaps tomorrow on the way?)

Looks like there isn't a lot of flooring needed for the other parts and all going well tomorrow, we might just buy some and get into it... depending on how the visit to the engineer goes. As you can probably tell, I'm a little nervous that he will want to change all of my plans!  We have the permit for driving an unregistered vehicle and the 2 1/2 hour trip should take my mind off it. We are also taking the new seats to see what we need to do to install them.

Today we hooked up the reversing camera (for a test) and tried a DVD in the multimedia thingy. We also punched in the engineer's address to see if the GPS works... it looks good! Hubby temporarily hooked up one of the new speakers so we can listen to music on the way and we can even plug my iPhone in if the radio goes into a 'grey area' (we are very rural).

Anyway, I'll do another update soon. I have a list of questions for our engineer and we will have to wait and see what he says next!

Here are a couple of pictures of the small amount of progress.
The carpeted section under the bed. I guess it's a boot.
I'm pretty proud of the dash. Can't wait until those horrible, ruined, beige seats are gone. When we took the driver's seat out, it was actually installed with one side higher than the other. I can not believe they allowed that to happen. Oh well, not for long.  

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Carpet (sort of)

I promised myself that I wouldn't post half completed jobs on this blog but I couldn't resist today.

I think we did quite well. Hubby added the GPS antenna, ran some new speaker wire in the hard to reach places and set up the multimedia unit so we could test it with our new speakers. It works!

We started and almost completed laying the carpet.

Here's the before shot:
If you look closely, you can see the heat proof fabric we have used to insulate where our legs will go when we are driving. Another sheet of heat proofing will go on top of that engine access door, then we will cover it in carpet too.
Here's what we got up to today:
MOST of the carpet is in. Just have to complete the hatch and the small curved step (closest to the front of the photo). As I said, we need to insulate the access door and cover that too. 
I've spray painted the seat mount on the left because I think we will need it for the new seats, even though we do need to ask the engineer's opinion when we see him next week at our initial inspection appointment. Sadly the new seat didn't fit on the driver's side as we expected so we had to remount the old one for now too.
Here's a little sneak peek at the new seats:
Cool huh? 

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Front end and dashboard refurbishment

The dash of the bus was a dusty, mission brown mess.

Cracks were starting to appear and it kinda smelt funny after years in the sun.

After a good clean and scrub the dashboard looked a bit like this:

Left hand side has some screw knobs and a board covering the washer fluid. The cassette and radio does not work so it is to be replaced. The dash on the driver's side is a challenge. Lots of knobs, bumps and holes. 

Someone at Nissan decided it would be a good idea to install a dash which comes off in twelve pieces! What a jigsaw. Luckily we took lots of pictures of the process.

Next up is respraying the wheel with plastic spray. In some places it is rubbed so shiny, the paint won't hold but that will be covered with a cover later.

Knobs and ashtray (now 'spare change keeper') gets a freshen up too.

I thought these flat panels would be easiest to start with. This is felty/carpety stuff which has a line through it. Quite difficult to get straight and running all the same way.

Pegs hold the edges while the glue dries.

I resprayed the parts which could not be covered over andcut around the vents etc with a heated foam cutter (my mother, knowing I like 'projects' bought it at Christmas time. At the time everyone thought she was crazy. Turned out to be VERY handy!)

The 'inside the bus' part.

With vents re-attached. I AM rather proud of that seam too!

The tricky part. It took me a while to figure out the best way to do this part.
All done! The new GPS/multimedia/reversing camera unit fits perfectly in the hole which once housed a cassette AND radio.

You can see that we have started sticking some heat proof mat down on the floor (the engine is housed beneath it) and we will carpet tomorrow.

We also bought new seats because the others were falling apart and revealing the sharp steel frame. No chance of re-covering. We purchased two new SAAS seats from Supercheap Auto which are ADR approved. We will have to get them signed off by an engineer as they are replacements but the rest of the bus needs signing off anyway, so luckily that isn't a problem or extra cost.

I'll be sure to take photographs of the carpeting process too!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Stripping.. not me, the bus.

As promised, here are some pictures of the bus strip-out.

I started on the seats while hubby washed the car and got the dust out after the horrible trip yesterday.
As you can see, the seats really needed to go. Under that duct tape on the back one was a pool noodle! The school children must have been hard at work, picking the foam out of the seats. Little rats!

Seats are out and started working on the internal panels. Lots of little bits of chrome edging and millions of screws to hold it all in place.

Looks like the bus had made the dirt road trip on more than one occasion... yep, that's at LEAST an inch of dust inside the walls, on every structural 'shelf'. Hope the vacuume is up for it. (By the way, my nails and hands aren't usually that beaten up and grubby!)

Almost done. Hubby has removed the heaters that you can see in the photos, if you have a Civilian and want to remove yours, be aware that the radiator pumps through them. You'll need replacement coolant and joiners.

Still working on that back seat (it seems to be fused into place through years of bums being planted on it). I'm getting stuck into the flooring vinyl but haven't finished yet. It has puckered in some areas which would make laying new flooring difficult (floating timber laminate), that means the old stuff has to go!

Here's a shot of the 'business end' before I ripped everything out.
The tired old seats will go and be replaced with nice racey ones from Supercheap Auto!
I will wrap all the dashboard componants and sun visors in felt to give them a fresh start.
Knobs will be sprayed black and the engine area under the seats will first be insulated and then recovered with carpet... snuggly! We are hoping to get a new stereo system and a reversing camera with GPS (maybe santa can afford one at Christmas in 30 more years!)
Tomorrow's jobs are to finish the flooring strip-out and clean, clean, clean, inside and out.

Bringing the bus home

Collecting the bus has been a drama.
Not only was it five and a half hours away, it was way over the hills and almost at the state boarder!

We got up before six am and were in the car, on our way by five past six. I had planned for the trip and the car was full of fuel, with munchies and drinks for the long road trip.

I wasn't looking forward to it.
I'd been there before, about eighteen years ago.

The main reason I wasn't keen to go was that I was well aware that there was going to be lots and lots of winding road ahead. Tight hairpins and narrow roads going up and down the mountains. The second reason I was pretty bloody reluctant to go was because of the sixty four kms of dirt road winding through the hills which was clearly marked 'unfit for caravans' (rough as guts) and was shared by log trucks. I was going to have to brave it by myself on the way home, while hubby followed along in my rear vision mirror, in the new bus. YUCK.

This was the 'nice' bit. At this point I was over it already and had only gone  eight kms in.
Rather tricky to see but there is a cliff which drops steeply away along the side of the road.
At least the view was nice.
So, we got home without killing the bus through over heating (it was a thirty six degree day) or denting either my car or the bus. There was at least an inch of dust throughout both vehicles. We are currently stripping the bus out and I've just popped inside for a break (and to write this blog post) I'll post some photos of the internal stripping process later.
 Home safely!

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Here... we... GO!

Hi everyone!

So, it has all started, this morning I made a verbal contract with a guy to sell us his bus, so we can renovate it into the motor home of our dreams.

A little about us:

My hubby and I are just seeing the kids grow up and leave home. Not that we have them here all of the time, they live with their mother but our holidays have pretty much been 'reserved' for the kids since hubby and I met. Now that they are leaving the nest and finding apprenticeships and girlfriends, we are coming to the realisation that we won't see them as much and will have more time to ourselves over the holidays.

We also have dogs. 2 big silly greyhounds. These guys are 'special'. Super needy. They require us to be around at some stage every day. As a result, the most we have been away from home in the last 11 years is about 3 overnight stays... or maybe 2. They are around 10 years old now and looking every bit of those years. It will not be too long before they won't be with us any more. Maybe a few years, the perfect amount of time to get this show on the road!

I am a school teacher and hubby is a school bus driver. This is fabulous for the children visiting us on holidays but means we are stuck here at other times of the year. Our holiday times aren't very flexible.

Staying at home is nice, we do like it but are starting to get a feeling that we'd like to go away occasionally. I'm not sure that we are keen to travel for months around the country but we want to be able to wake up on a Saturday morning and say 'Lets go to X overnight and do some fishing!' How great would that be?

Which led us to think that we wanted a bus.

No hitching anything to a car. No setting up of this and that, checking poles and pegs and packing it all in. No real packing required except food and clothing and if you wanted, you could get food on the way!

We hunted on the internet and found a pair of buses which would do the trick. Not so big that you can't park them or take them anywhere, not too small, so we can fit everything we want in.

Here are the original pictures. There wasn't much info.
Ex school buses.
19 seats.
3 monthly inspections (this is required for all school buses so we feel quite confident buying this one over the internet, unseen).
1994 Nissan Civilian.

(Photos from the original listing)

We will try to pick it up next weekend (all going to plan) so keep an eye out for the updates!