Saturday, 25 January 2014

$$$ Credit $$$

Just had to add something pretty awesome.

Today I got an email. It was an email from a business... but the best type. It was from Supercheap Auto!
(Note: We have no affiliation with ANY stores mentioned in this blog, we just want to help you guys save some cash on your own motorhomes).

One thing we did when we first got the bus was buy a card to join the Supercheap Auto Club. The initial cost was $5 and we took it home and signed up online using the details on the card. Initially we bought it to take advantage of the savings and discounts which were only offered to members, as we knew we would be spending a bit on bus goodies as we went.
You simply scan the card with each purchase and you might luck out on a discount here and there.


The very best thing about the card is the credit system. If you've bought something at the store and it goes on sale at a cheaper price (within a certain period), you get the actual $ credits added to your card! You need to spend it within 30 days or something like that, but it never lasts that long on our card!

Today is Australia day and to celebrate, Supercheap offered 20% off, store wide. My email tells me I have $70 to spend... the card just paid for itself heaps of times over.
(If you're wondering what we bought previously to earn this much credit, I think it was some extra paint or thinners or maybe polishing gear for the compressor).


Two blog posts in one day! Excellent.

We planned to compound the paint and polish the bus but didn't end up doing that.

Instead we attached the awning.

The first step was to find some 3mm thick metal plates to attach the awning to, behind the wall and roof panels. The awning instructions and websites recommend using ply wood but the engineer wanted 3mm, painted steel which had at least 20mm around the awning bolts AND adhered to the panel with Sikaflex flexible adhesive. Apparently awnings blow off sometimes... but this one won't!

We found these at Bunnings:
 It has the awning bracket sitting on it and a ruler, to show the engineer. This is what is called a 'fishplate' used for joining two pieces of framing for those steel framed houses. It will do the trick I hope!

Here it is painted, Sikaflexed and with the high tensile bolts through it. If you look to the right of the picture, you can see the hole and rivnut we added to hold on the sail channel (that is the groove thing that you thread the awning onto). The rivnut gun was about $100 on eBay and it sets special little bolts into the panels, kinda like a rivet, but with a thread inside it. Here is the link to the rivnut gun:

The bottom awning bracket. This also has a fishplate behind it.
Top bracket and a fly inspecting our handiwork.
 A bit hard to see but this is the sailrail attached. It is bolted and rivnutted and also has some self tapping screws for extra stability.
Add a little silicone based lube along the sailrail so the awning slides through.

The finished product. I'm so, so happy! Doesn't look much like a school bus now!

Edited to add: I'm not sure if I said in an earlier post or not but the awning is a Carefree brand manual awning with short, curved hardware (to compensate for the curve in the bus and the gutter channel which runs along the top of the windows). It is 14' long and the colour is 'Silver Fade'. If you order one of these awnings, be sure to order the hardware and the sail rail too, as they are sold separately. The awning fabric is actually a little shorter than 14' (I think around 10" shorter. You can see that in the pictures, you measure the awning length you need from one centre point of the bracket/leg to the other). You need to order a sail rail which is at least 10cm longer than the fabric on each end.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Window Tint

Hubby tinted the bus windows the other day. He had previously tinted both of our cars so he was pretty confident that the bus would be a simple job.

Once again, YouTube was a great tutor and after some research and a little trial and error, he was tinting like a pro.

If you're planning to do your own tinting, you need to make sure the tint you use is LEGAL (see previous post for the Vic Roads info). We had legal tint left over from doing the cars so the windows next to the driver's side and passenger side were done in that. All the other windows in the bus are not driving windows so they could have been blocked out if we wanted. We only wanted it to be a bit darker than the driving windows so we got the 15% tint. Not so dark that it blocks all of our natural light, but not so light that it is easy to peer in.

We got our tinting supplies from ProTinting on eBay.
We also got the little kit of squeegees and cutters which was a good decision! They are needed. For the cleaning of the windows and wetting agent, we opted for Johnson's Baby Shampoo. Just as the videos on the internet recommended (it does work).

We will need to get a couple of meters of frosted tint for the two windows where the bathroom will be AND it turns out that the passenger driving windows are slightly larger than all of the other windows so we need to get a little more of the 35% (legal) which is a bit wider than what we already have.

    Here you can see the 2 bathroom windows which are not tinted (will be frost white) in the middle and the slightly lighter tint on the driver's door. Not sure why the white of the bus looks splotchy in this picture. I think maybe reflections off the house windows.

The passenger side. The open window at the front is the bigger one which we will need wider tint for. We still need to put the lights back on and fix up the front paint job! Whoops, got distracted with the tinting!

DO NOT tint the front windscreen. You're not allowed to and you'll fail your RWC. Also, the tinting shop I linked to earlier in the post, has a number of  mirror and metallic tints for homes and businesses. You can't use any of these reflective tints on your vehicles... even though the colours are attractive and the idea of 1 way mirror windows is fun.

The back window did not turn out as well as the simple, square, side windows. It was a 2 person job which wasn't too difficult but the horizontal AND vertical bend in the window made it very difficult to tint. A number of 'fingers' and wrinkles appeared around the edges due to the window shape being 'bubble-like'. Oh well, you can't win them all! That back sticker also needs to come off. I'm not sure what it is glued with but it is difficult to remove cleanly and we have been chipping away at it, bit by bit.

Yesterday we drove the 3 hour round trip to get a part for the awning which the shop forgot to tell us we needed. Whoops! They DID give us a discount though.

Today we are compounding the paint and polishing it. Once again, the compressor and air tools are a godsend and are getting a work out.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

A bit more paint.

After a long week of 40C+ heatwave, we have finally has a cool day and managed to get the black sections of the bus completed (just a little more to do on the front, that is why the masking is still there, as you can see in the pictures). I am a bit arty and we are contemplating airbrushing a scene or something on the sides.

It is such a great feeling to begin to put all of the mirrors, rubbers and door handles back on! I can not wait to tint the windows. They should look great with the black paint as they will be quite dark, with the exception of the driving windows being legal tint for the RWC (here is a link to the info if you need it: ). The tint arrived in the mail last week.

Yesterday we picked up the awning. It is a Carefree branded awning, 14' long with curved, short hardware. The colour is Silver Fade. As usual, there are engineering requirements for the installation so I will write a whole new post about that later.

Now for updated photos of the paint!

As you can see, the dark tint should really set the black off. We will leave the aluminium windows as they are (I'll have to buff them up) because it would be difficult to get any paint to stick to them and if we did, it would end up scratching quite easily anyway.

You can see how we have painted the front and each side with the diagonal line heading up to the windows, this is to mimic the windows of the newer models.

The side mirrors have been painted with grey hammer coat (to match the wheels and bull-bar), as will the windscreen wipers. The headlights had pieces of perspex screwed over them, which was acting as headlight protectors. It was not UV stabilised and they were no good anymore. Luckily, the perspex was the exact size of the flat number plate protectors at Supercheap Auto. Voila! New headlight protectors. Keep an eye out for them on the bus later.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Question: How much paint can you get on a little Civilian?

Answer: 2x 4l tins of base coat and 4x 4l of white.

FINALLY all of the white is down on the bus.
After a few mistakes and a few more hours on YouTube trying to figure out what was going wrong, hubby managed to get all of the white paint finalised today.

Here are some FRESH pictures.

The overspray on the tyres will come off but I think we will get new tyres as these are retreads and not the best.
There is still some black paint to go around the windows and on the front of the bus. I will mask this black area to look like the newer model Civilians and Coasters as the shape is similar to this model but the windows and surrounding paint areas are slightly different. This should work quite nicely with the dark tint we got in the mail yesterday!
That flashing light sticker on the window is going and the back window will also be tinted dark. As you can see, the 'Brilliant White' colour shows up the few knocks on the panels. We opted not to get the panels worked on as there aren't many, they are quite small and I am planing to cover them with some airbrush work later. We kept the emergency stickers which weren't essential but the engineer likes extra safety stuff.
The paint is still soft (actually it was probably still drying when we took these pictures this afternoon!) but after it hardens (a week to a month) we will use a cutting compound and get some more shine happening. A week of 35-40C degree days forecast for the rest of the weeks should speed it up.
Ta daa!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

More painting.

For some reason I imagined painting the duco of the bus being one of the last things we would be doing. Turns out it is happening right now!

This is an extremely big job.

Even though we have been lucky and the bus is rust free (excepting a few patches of surface rust) there is still lots of work to do to prepare and paint it.
There aren't any big 'dings' to patch or pop back into shape and the existing paint is in pretty good condition. Sanding the bus is still a necessity to make the new paint stick properly and that has taken days of work.
The air sanders that we have purchased don't seem to heat up and stress like regular power tools so they have endured longer working times.

We opted for acrylic lacquer paint. The end result will be softer than enamel but it is much easier to lay down and you get a better result. Also, the colours we want are shelf-standard colours at Supercheap Auto which makes it MUCH easier... no mixing anything special.

First we sanded and treated any rust we could see.
Filled small nicks and dings (we have not done this perfectly but it is still looking better than leaving it).
Sanded and tidied up stickers, bubbles and chips in the existing duco and sanded the whole bus with a 200 grit sandpaper to 'rough it up'. Then we used a finer paper to get rid of the deep sand-marks.
We washed the dust off and cleaned any greasy stuff off.
We masked sections and undercoated with about 6 coats of regular grey primer.
Sanded with very fine sandpaper, washed.
Masked and painted about 6 coats of white topcoat.
(We did take off a few bits so we didn't have to mask it all).

Photos of the progress so far:

Roof sanded and ready to spray with undercoat.

All undercoated! 

Roof undercoat from the back.

...And from the top.
Colour going on.
 From the back.

Just the roof done. The paint colour is 'brilliant white' and it sure is whiter than the original dirty duco!

Now to undercoat the sides.

Here you can see how we took some parts off, sanded off the peeling stickers and masked all the rest.
For spray painting lessons we hit YouTube. It is amazing how much you can learn off the internet if you can filter out all of the misguided and crazy stuff!