Saturday, 26 December 2015

A little curtain.

We purchased a curtain rail off eBay a little while ago. This was to go between the cabin and the living space to shut it off a bit.

It is a 'special' little rail. Super slimline and comes with all the fittings.
The best parts are the fact that it can be ordered by the metre, cut to the perfect size when it arrives...

It can be bent to the shape of the roof!

It will arrive by courier, taped to a long bit of wood so it doesn't get damaged.

Anyway, we got ours and set about cutting it and bending it to shape. We had kept some of the stainless roof joiners from when we demolished the inside of the bus. My husband easily bent it to the right shape.

Next we drilled and screwed it into the bus frame and popped on all of the sliding fittings. Easy.

Yesterday we had to drop a Christmas visitor off at the train station so we took advantage of the visit to town and hit the Boxing Day sales!

We managed to pick up the perfect curtain in Spotlight for a good price.

Today I re-hemmed the bottom, making it the right size and I hung it on the rail.

Bit tricky to get the hem perfect because there is a hump in the middle of the bus where the engine is.

It all tucks away behind the pantry cupboard. I'll probably secure it with a Velcro strap.

Friday, 11 December 2015

The roof, the roof, the roof is on... well, it is in anyway.

Note to other motor home/bus converting people:
If you find something you like for your bus, make sure you buy as much as you're going to need, all at the one time!

We had enough of the white, shiny plastic coated ply for the roof interior (purchased at Mitre10 a long time ago) but only bought a couple of the 3mm plastic joining strips that we needed. It turned out that we needed LOTS more than we first expected. The trouble is, they didn't get it back in... and they couldn't order more! They pulled a gungy bit of the strip from the skip bin and gave it to us, but it still wasn't enough (I cleaned it up using toothpaste... it came up alright too!)

Today I found some.
It was in our old caravan which my husband uses as a bit of a workshop.

we put the ceiling in!

Remember this eBay purchase from AGES ago? I think it was about $83 (I think I might ave been the only bidder) and it came with a white interior surround which had a little roll out sun screen and a roll out fly screen. 

Here I've rolled 1/2 of each out so you can see.

It pops open like this.

My husband cut the hole out while I was at work. We sealed it with bitumen coated foam and black Sika seal. It stayed that way for MONTHS so we know it is well and truly watertight. A metal frame was welded up and went around this part to reinforce the roof. I stupidly forgot to take a photo. I hope the engineer can peek through the hole and see it.

Here is the ceiling partly lined. We used the same insulation as in the walls. It works really well and is also a sound deadener. Pouring rain on the roof sounds amazing. The electrical cables are running in the roof in some spots, as are the cables for the speakers up the back. They are all in conduit so as not to rub on the steel frame while driving along (see on the left of the photo. This grey stuff is from Bunnings and the speaker conduit from Supercheap).

After the ceiling was all up, we then added some plastic surround to neaten up the edges (it is mostly covered by the white sunroof surround now).

The whole ceiling in its shiny, white glory!
Shame about the building gear and cleaning stuff laying around!

Closed sun shade.

Closed fly screen.

 Opened hatch!
(Excuse the grubby fingerprints. I was too excited and took pictures before cleaning).

From the outside.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Its alive, ITS ALIVE! Power is ON.

Today is a good day.

We finally got the power connected.

We bought all of this stuff about a year and a half ago. It was from our local Jayco dealer and since then we have added lots of electrical goodies to our 'stash'. USB ports, ciga ports, etc, etc.

We've gradually been doing wiring and putting lights on as we go. We even installed the solar panels but they weren't connected to anything.

Remember this from WAAAAAY back? 
We managed to hide the cables as we went. The 25mm conduit and saddles are from Bunnings. Most of our electrical gear came from this guy who lives in our next biggest town but he has an eBay store We bought metres and metres of 6mm wire from him. Good quality and nice and thick.

But lets start from the top. We bought all of the gear from ARB and opted for good quality RedARC stuff.

Our FIRST Shopping list looked like this:
-2x 150W mono panels.
-Alternator charger thingo and a relay switch so the solar shuts off and the alternator does the charging when in motion.
-Solar regulator and thermometer to shut down if it gets too hot.
-Solar display and data cable.
-A fuse.

It cost a small fortune.

We have since added:
-One more solar panel.
-2x 75AH Optima batteries 'Yellow Top' (smaller AH means faster charging and the AH works out to be okay for us... we hope)
-A Narva 8 switch and fuse panel.
-A circuit breaker.
-5 and 10 port bus bars (for actives and neutrals)
-Heaps of various wiring, shrink wrap etc.
-Battery mounting brackets.

More money gone.

Anyway, my husband is an ex-electrician so I was pretty confident that all would be well.

The panels went on with rivnuts, rubber, Sikaflex and rivnuts AGES ago. Wiring joins are tucked away neatly in junction boxes and wire is in conduit which is saddled to the roof. Pretty sure I blogged about it back then.


Next... well, lets let the photos do the talking.

Inside wiring is mostly inside the top cupboards and 'capped' with these things. It basically means we can work on stuff without ripping walls off. This stuff is from Bunnings.

Batteries have to be vented to the outside because they can produce hydrogen gas when charging. A few 5mm holes in the floor are fine according to the engineer. These batteries are good quality and are almost guaranteed not to do it. Best to be safe though! They also need to be locked down with a strong bracket (see the one on the right) and sealed so they won't leak to the inside of the caravan.

Don't ask me about wiring, I don't know. I would suggest getting wired in by an auto-elec if you don't know about this stuff. 

Regulator on the right, alternator charger on the left (not wired in yet). There is a big fuse wired in somewhere and a temp monitor too. These are protective devices to save the equipment in extreme conditions or if there is a surge. 
I may get a 240 charger at some stage and add a port to the outside... depending on if we find we need to or not. Also, I may get an inverter. At this stage, we are not planning to have one though.

Here is the remote solar monitor. You can also see the cords above the door, There ended up being more than this lot though!

Hidden by a padded head bumper thingo I made. The light under it runs on the bus' internal lighting system.

Spaghetti. This all comes into a pantry type cupboard behind my passenger seat. That circular thing on the right is a speaker. The square on the left is the monitor. The door has the switchboard set into it. 

Wiring in progress. You can see the bus bars and circuit breaker on the right hand side of the cabinet. The switch board also has a fuse for each switch. Don't forget to write everything down as you wire stuff in. I've made a wiring chart to save the frustration in later years if we need to work on the wiring again. I've laminated it and will stick it in the back of the cupboard.

As you can see, there is still space for other stuff to be added later. We are considering an outdoor ciga port for an additional fridge/freezer.

Somehow the spaghetti has been tamed!

Switches with the cover off, you can see the fuses. 

Time to test it out!

The fridge is working. Awesome. 

The outdoor light works!

And this one!

Bathroom is all good!

Lots of light for the kitchenette.

Bead head lights are good too!

Lets just switch them all on.

Glow in the dark. I'm pretty happy with that!

Sunday, 5 April 2015


Here is the tale of the kitchen.

Remember the fridge purchase from a few posts ago? We bought it from our local Jayco dealer. The price was close to online pricing and we liked the idea of being able to take it back to the dealer if it broke. We went for this model because reviews were good, it was a 12V with low draw, the size was the biggest we could fit in the gap in the kitchenette and it has a little freezer. It will also fit a litre of milk in the upright position. This is a must for use using UHT or if we can only get carton milk on the road.
See the fridge here.

We built the rest of the kitchenette around the fridge and gas install. We wanted to carry a small gas bottle but the box needed to store it ended up being much the same as a 9kg... so we have gone with that.

The only plumber with a 'ticket' to install gas in motor homes within 500kms turned out to be a nice bloke. He gave us some tips and instructions and I was able to send him a few pictures via email, to see if our ideas were able to be achieved. He even came down to see the bus and give our first consult free of charge! (He lives 110kms away. I guess that is ONE perk of living in a tourist town, he was able to have a 'working holiday').

Anyway, the box could be made of one inch thick 'form board' (Bunnings) which is plastic coated ply which can be used outdoors but it needed to be completely sealed and secured in a way which will withstand a massive jolt. Luckily our engineer has been training us up for securing everything well and we were easily able to bolt and lock it down with iron angles. LOADS of cutting to just the correct shape and it was in! About 3 tubes of Sikaflex later and we were ready for connection. We have made some vent holes under plumbers instruction and have had to add pipes. I suggest having a good talk to your own plumber about what will work for your install (so I won't go into too many details about ours).

We had to bolt in a 9kg bottle holder (just a cheapy galvinised one from eBay) and one of these access doors:

I also grabbed a gas storage sticker off eBay and have affixed it to the door (this is a must have item in the gas guidelines).

 Regulation gas box from the inside. You aren't allowed to be able to access the gas bottle from the inside of the bus.

Gaping hole on the outside.

As you can see above, the fridge doesn't come up past the window edge. I didn't want it to, as cleaning behind it would be difficult and I think it looks funny. I wanted to be able to open those windows up fully. The little stove/sink combo has a lift up lid which acts as a splashback/heat guard.

This picture shows how we have raised the floor inside the cupboards to match the step inside the bus, but the gas sits on the original bus floor. We insulated and covered in the walls where we could but the fridge needed a top and bottom vent to the outside. We bought stainless ones here:

The water pops out from the shower wall (all hidden in the vanity for access if anything stuffs up) and the power ran in conduit under the bus and up the wall. The stove has a 12V auto ignite and the fridge needs a dedicated wire.

The bench top is laminated pine panel, as are the doors. The frame is ply and various sizes of structural pine. These are glued and screwed and then bolted to the bus with M8s and 3mm steel brackets.

These don't get the varnish... just white gloss and the same standard door knobs we've used through the rest of the bus. The large door is actually a very small cupboard as the gas box almost fills the entire space under there.

Millions of coats of varnish.

Pull out drawer system from Bunnings (those pipes will be connected and saddled to the back of the cupboard out of the way later).

The finished kitchenette! The kick-board needs to be white. We will probably put another 2.5kg fire extinguisher (with hose and bracket mount) in beside the fridge, to the far left and we have a fire blanket to attach to the wall beside the stove (all those good safety things the engineer likes). We will probably put our CO2 and smoke alarm on the roof or wall but not too close to the kitchen.

The dinette table is the same shiny varnished pine and I just completed the cushion covers for the seat today. That will probably be in the next blog post! 

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Last bit of overhead storage DONE!

This post is about the storage above the kitchenette.

These were a little different to the ones over the bed because the foundation structure was different. The steel came up higher on the side of the bus and there is now a bathroom wall to bolt things to. We did not need to make as heavy duty frame as the previous shelving required. It is, however, still bolted with 3mm steel angle, aluminium angle, and M8 or M10 bolts and rivnuts to the steel parts.

The wood used was the same Bunnings laminated pine (sold by the panel) and other pine lengths which we cut, routed with a 'bull nose', so I don't bang my head on a sharp corner. It is puttied, sanded and painted with gloss.

We used the same 'easy fit' hinges from Mitre 10 or Home hardware but we have hung them so they open fully and do not clip into themselves (which almost never happened properly due to the movement and weight of the door).

The latches have been purchased from eBay and are those used in caravans/motorhomes (see previous posts for the link). It is a requirement that "latches are such that they do not come open under the rigors of travel" according to our engineer checklist... so that is what we bought! They lock when the knob is pressed in.  

Here you can see bolts, steel aluminum AND rivnuts used. The crack in the plastic moulding will be filled with... something... later. It is just cosmetic.

Wood edge finishes it off and ensures stray cans don't drop on our heads when we open the door.
The insulation is the same as we have used throughout the bus. It was purchased from Bunnings and has a good sound AND heat rating. 
We will line the roof with some shiny plastic covered ply stuff. We would have loved to use the same 'WallArt' as in the bathroom but it is expensive and very heavy.

We ran the cable for the light through the roof (in conduit), into the cupboard and capped it off with this thing to cover the connection and protect it from damage. All these little junction boxes, conduit, saddles etc are available from Bunnings. We got the wire online as it is specific for the job (I'll talk about it in a later post).

Here's the hinge and how we have attached it in a different way. We could only get them in a brassy colour but you don't see them much from the outside so they don't clash with the brushed pewter/silver of the other fittings.

 All done! 
Well, except for the end bit on the cupboard on the right but we have to leave that bit off to finish the electrical stuff. 

Here you can see some of the shiny lining panel (from Mitre 10) that we will continue to use when we line the roof.
On a side note: Look! The Rollaway shower screen/bathroom door from Northcoach RV can be seen and is in the closed position. We did need to cover it with frosted tint as the original door was very see through. On the right of the door we may or may not stick a full length mirror panel. We have not decided yet.