More of the floor…

So after seeing the floor in the back section I was nervous about the condition of the rest of the floor though I did have a feeling that it would be better. So today I started to rip up parts of the rubber floor starting with the centre aisle. Most of the screws were stripped so I used the pry bar on most of it one screw at a time.

I shared this picture yesterday but it shows what the back section looked like yesterday in the centre aisle… and the sides were worse

Rotten, moldy wood that smelled awful and was falling apart in our hands…

Aug13-62

and we had checked a small portion that was on the other side of the wall and saw that the wood was better but it still didn't look that great, especially the condition of the screws…

20130815_134119 20130815_134138

But then as I starting to pry the middle aisle rubber up I was able to grab a hold of it and start pulling and what was under is much more promising!

20130815_134300

The Plywood is in great condition. You can even read the stamp on it.

20130815_134602

Not only that, but the screws are also in great condition and I can take them out no problem!

20130815_143942

So, hopefully, I will not only be able to take them out easily but I will also most likely be able to reuse the plywood in most of the bus. I looked under a section of flooring that would have been at the feet of one of the rows of passengers and it also looks great. But not only that. As I was taking the floor off a few splinters came up with the glue and instead of the moldy stink that we had in the back and that was still lingering, It smelled like wood. And it actually changed the smell inside of the bus.

And of course, if the wood looks good, there are good chances that there will be little rust underneath also.

20130815_144150

Next step is to move the heaters out of the way and remove the seats to continue getting the floors out while salvaging as much wood as I can.

 

By |August 15th, 2013|Bus Conversion, Our Bus|Comments Off on More of the floor…|

The wall is out!

So I decided that an air compressor and an air chisel would be a good investment with all of the rivets that I have to take out.

Yesterday my mom came over with a friend and while she watched the kids, Michel and I went into the bus and worked. The air compressor was a great buy. I had done most of the rivets in the wall already so after getting the wood frame the previous owner put in we were able to start taking the wall apart. We had a few rivets left where I was having trouble getting to with the drill or with the cold chisel but the air chisel makes it much easier but only if the rivets are previously drilled.

Here is Michel taking out the last of the rivets with the air chisel.

Aug13-49

 

The wall was able to come out after that.

 

Aug13-51

 

Here is the framing that was in the wall which I will be able to reuse. The wall was also insulated.

Aug13-52

 

The boys had already gotten most of the screws out of the back portion so after the wall was out we started getting that part of the flooring out. Because that portion of the bus was for baggage etc with holes made by the baggage hooks it was an easy place for water to infiltrate and the floor in that section was soft and I knew the plywood was rotten.

 

Aug13-62

The plywood was a pain to get out. Luckily with it being wet some of the flooring was easy to peel off but where it was still dry it was completely glued down. Also because the plywood was swollen and moldy and the screws were buried and rusted. Some screws we were able to unscrew, some we could no find at all and many broke.

Aug13-64

 

We finally did get it out though.

I was looking forward though to seeing the steel underneath to make sure that was still in an acceptable condition and honestly it really isn't that bad. The rust is concentrated around the spots that had the baggage hooks but it is surface rust only. Where the plywood was a bit more dry, the floors were still nice.

Aug13-70

 

In the picture above you can see the floor rails a bit out. We got a bit of the flooring up and the plywood is dry and still in great condition and the floor is GLUED down and it will be a pain to get up. Though the friend that was over was so much help I found it a bit hard because he besides that back section that was visibly rotten, he doesn't get why we would pull up the rest of the flooring or pull out the walls to re-insulate. I get that it is a lot of work but I hate having to explain my reasons and then doubting myself.

 

Next on the list:

  • Continuing the floors
  • Figuring out how to get the heaters out (one or more)
  • Starting on the top luggage racks/ducts and getting the air conditioner out.

 

By |August 14th, 2013|Bus Conversion, Our Bus|Comments Off on The wall is out!|

Inspection, plates and starting on the bus…

Buying a 20 year old, 40ft bus that you have never seen in person may be a bit nutty. Taking the train and driving it 900 km home without knowing if it was 100% mechanically sound (and running into problems) is quite nerve-wracking. Standing in front of said bus as you wait for an inspection to make sure that it is road worthy so you at least try to then get plates, could make your knees buckle a bit.

And that is where we were last week. Inspection and plates.

IMG_20130731_185702We can officially say that the bus is in great condition. There are a few little things that need to be done but the only three things that made it onto the inspection that we needed to get done right away were three lights. One burned out, one a bit rusty and needed new screws to be able to ground and the other a socket that needed to be replaced. That was it… big sigh of relief!
I followed the mechanic around and asked tons of questions. It is my nature, and though he seemed a bit off put at first he had no problem within a few minutes. As I am very visual so I get a lot out of having things pointed out so going to the mechanic is something I love to do and watch. One of the major things I wanted to know was how to adjust the air brakes which need to be checked once in a while. I had checked on Youtube but being under the bus and seeing it up close was exactly what I needed. As I waited for the inspection to be done the sun was going down and my nervousness shifted again to backing up in our driveway. This time in the dark. I did it though and now there are no more excuses to get to work.

The day after the inspection I headed to the SAAQ for the plates. This was another thing that was making me very nervous. Quebec makes it hard for you to change a title from bus to RV. To get it done you may need an inspection and you must have the following:

  • a kitchen that includes: a stove, refrigerator, counter, sink and table;
  • sleeping quarters that include: a hide-a-bed or bed;
  • a complete bathroom that includes: a bath or shower and a toilet with a permanent hook-up to a drainage system;
  • an electrical system that is independent of the vehicle’s motor;
  • a propane gas system with a certificate of installation compliance;
  • a potable water tank;
  • a sewage tank;
  • a water heater;
  • a heating system that is independent of the vehicle’s motor;
  • a minimum of two seats with seatbelts;
  • a number of seats with seat belts greater than or equal to the number of places to sleep (maximum nine).

http://www.saaq.gouv.qc.ca/en/road_safety/vehicles/converted_motorhomes/index.php

Of course… our bus has none of these. But the other problem is that we don’t want all of these either. The main thing that would make a problem is the sewage tank or black water tank. We want to have a composting toilet and that would have caused a problem because from what I have heard the inspectors don’t like it.

So, one of the big reasons that I bought a bus 900km away was that it was already titled as an RV. For me, that meant having a bit more freedom with what we want compared to what is “required” and encountering less problems and keeping the possibility open that we could simply use it to move if it came to that. However, after talking to the SAAQ a few times and talking with people,  I had doubts as I waited for my turn with all the documents in hand to get my plates. But, confusion by a new staff and a few strategically answered questions made the whole process go over quite smoothly and I walked away with my plates in hand. However, it is not yet on the road. Registration fees for a large vehicle is expensive!! Since I will not be driving it around for fun just yet and have a lot of work to do on it, I decided to keep it off-road. We have year for the inspection to be stil valid so I think that a year is a reasonable goal to get things done.

And so it has started. The first job is getting the back wall out. This bus was a military bus and the back section was for baggage and for weapons. The back wall is made of metal and like the rest of the bus, that means rivets. Oh my… I already hate rivets!

There are a few ways to get Rivets out… The first is to drill the center and then “pop” the head off… (when people say “pop the head off” don’t believe them… it involves a lot of banging and prying) I have seen a few videos that make it look much easier so I might be doing something wrong but these things are HARD!

 

 

Aug13-4 Aug13-8

Here are a few of the rivets that I have gotten off… still more than a thousand to go… yikes!!

Aug13-10

The second way to get rivets off is by grinding the head off or making an “X” with the grinder in the head of the rivet and though yes, it is faster. The grinder still scares me with all of those sparks. I have the protection (though I want to find a pair of coveralls) but the grinder is still scary.

The kids are also involved in the bus demo. Xavier has almost gotten all of the baggage hooks off and Colin has helped him and has also unscrewed many screws along with Khéna.

Aug13-12 Aug13-16 Aug13-19

Even Willa has been helping out!

Aug13-22-2

BTW… in the above picture you can see the tight fit in our driveway. We had to take the fence gate off because we are so close to the gate so that our car can also fit.

So, Our goal for the bus right now:

  • take out the wall (still have a couple of rivets and it will be done)
  • take out the luggage racks  (grinding the front posts then rivets)
  • take out the floors (there is a soft spot in the back that needs to be checked out)
  • take out the walls (more rivets)
  • Most likely take out the ceiling… (even more rivets)

Any tips for taking out rivets are appreciated!

By |August 6th, 2013|Our Bus|3 Comments|

Bringing the bus home…

I took the bus to Montreal on Wednesday afternoon and was a the train for New Brunswick with time to spare. We headed onto the train and then finally left a bit late just after 7pm. I was sitting next to a couple and we talked for a couple hours while we went through a part of Quebec and got further and further from home.

I slept uncomfortably but was able to at least rest for a few hours and I knew that I had a long day ahead so I tried my best to get as much rest as I could.20130710_224503I woke up early in the morning and we were stopped just before leaving Quebec while a few cars of the train were separated to go another direction. A couple hours later we were pulling into the Bathurst station. Strangely, I had no idea whoI was looking for but finally I found Mike, the guy selling the bus.

We headed to Caraquet, about 45 min away and then I was there. Next to the bus and realizing even more how I would have to be driving it home. We went over the bus and went over a few details, filled out a few things and then headed to NB services to make the transfer. I choose to get a 24 hour transit which I thought would be enough time to get home. Maybe I was a bit too hopeful.

Our bus is a 1992 Bluebird Coach style bus that for most of its service was in the military. Mike bought it six years ago at auction in Alberta and then came across the country with it using it to move their stuff and pull their car. Her registered it as an RV in Alberta when he bought it and took out all of the seat. Since then, it had been sitting mostly in his driveway with him moving it once in a while. He had done a few things on it over the years including changing the fuel line from the tank to the motor, opening the back wall of the “garage” and a few other things.20130711_100921

After transferring the bus, I then took it for a ride with him and then I drove it back and dropped him off and went on my way. It was so weird making that first turn. Having the wheels in back of you means that turns need to be much wider then you are used to and you feel so strange suspended over a ditch while you think of where your wheels are as you make the turn. All in a fraction of a second of course. First stop was the gas station. As I came out of the bus, two trucks arrived and the guy in the one behind me offered to do the gas. I accepted saying that I had never done it before and then the attendant came and took over. She put the hose in and had not noticed the big warning saying to go slowly as there is a long nozzle to the tank. Diesel flew out of the nozzle all over her. I felt so bad for her but so happy that it was not me. I realized that I was not dressed to be driving and fueling a bus. I closed the door behind me on the way to pay and when I came back, I couldn’t get the door open again. I didn’t understand completely how the door worked. With two people coming to the rescue we finally realized how to open it again about ten minutes later. Yeah. Ten minutes.

20130711_135556

I got into the bus and started down the road. Within minutes a light came on and I found a place to park and I realized that something was wrong. Great. I called Mike and he came and met me and realized that I was leaking fuel. He found the problem and tried to patch it up but it wasn’t going to be enough.

We headed to a parts store where he knew where he could get the line and the mechanic there replaced a part of the line though he could not see where the line went into the tank. Mike paid for the repair saying that it should have been done before. Nothing was leaking but I had a feeling that if the line was that volatile and cracked around the engine that it would not be much different the rest of the way to the gas tank. I decided that another 24 hour transit would be a good idea to give me just a bit more time in case I encountered more problems. I left again this time a bit more nervous than the first time.

Parked at the Grocery storeI made a stop at the grocery store picking up a few things and spending the co-op money that I had gotten while getting gas.
Soon after leaving, the Engine light came on again and a buzzer came with it that could make you easily go mad. I stopped again and nothing was leaking. The bus was driving well and nothing indicated anything else was wrong besides the light. The next diesel mechanic however was over an hour away and after talking to a few people over the phone explaining the problem the light and buzzer could easily be the result of a sensor. So I decided to drive and hoped to make it to at least to Bathurst. The drive was absolutely beautiful though the warning light had me a bit on edge and the buzzer was already driving me mad. I turned on the fan that was pointed at me and drowned out the noise slightly. After about 40 min, just as I was approaching Bathurst, the light and buzzer turned off. I decided to try to make it to try to make it a bit further. As I passed Bathurst the light and buzzer came back on, and again I tried to drown the noise, and just keep going as everything was operating fine. I stopped just outside of Dalhousie next, a bit more then 150km from where I started and checked under the bus again. There was nothing so I decided to keep on going and get as far as I can.

After Campbellton I took the road south instead of north. If you look on the map it looks like it would be longer and going in the wrong direction but I had been told that the road going north into Quebec was rough and being so new to driving the beast and a bit nervous, I decided that the slightly longer route would be better. However, for the next 100km, there was nothing except for a few houses, endless trees and the occasional moose. I saw four of them including one that took his time crossing the road in front of me and then when I finally got my phone to take a picture, he ran the rest of the way and down the hill.

20130711_201104 20130711_200805 20130711_195351

It was dark by the time that I was approaching the next town and the buzzing sound of the warning light was still blaring and my brain was about to explode and I was starting to get tired. I decided that I should stop and rest and saw a few trucks parked behind a Tim Hortons. I was in St-Quentin and there was a big Western festival that closed the downtown core and I could hear music in the distance. I thought the bus was big but as I pulled up next to the trucks I felt tiny. I should have taken a few pictures but I was too tired and it was dark. I had a pillow and a blanket but I hadn’t really thought about it enough and it was much colder then I thought it would be and I didn’t want to get a motel room so I tried to relax in the bus.

There were two options: Sleep on a box spring that had been left in the back of the bus or sleep on a bench. Neither were comfortable.

I went from one to the other and slept for about 3 hours and woke up tired and needing to go to the bathroom. I headed to the Tim Hortons and debated on if I should leave then as I was quite awake. But it was still in the middle of the night and I decided to try to sleep a bit more. I tried to get comfortable again but it was nearly impossible but I was tired enough to sleep so I slept for another couple of hours waking up shivering from the cold. It was 4:30 (well 3:30 in Quebec time) and decided to head to the bathroom again and get some coffee. There were truckers there getting ready for their day and there were partyers coming in from their night. I asked on the of truckers where I could find the next mechanic and one of them told me to follow him to where he works out of and told me that they could help me there. When I got there though the light stopped and he said that I could wait until they opened or I could just keep on going. I decided to take the road again and head to Edmonston and a few minutes after I left the light and buzzer made their appearance again.

I chose the cold air of the fan even if I was freezing over the sound of the buzzer.

An hour later, just before Edmunston, I stopped to find a garage. I found one and I parked in an Arena parking lot. As I got out of the bus I realized that I was leaking fuel. There was line that was trailing my path and I could see it it dripping right at the place that the line had been repaired. I found the mechanic alone and busy and he told me he could not help me but gave me a number of someone who could. I called my insurance’s road side assistance number for a towing service and was told that my account had not been activated in their system. I called the mechanic and he told me that he could send someone at 8 which was 2 hours later. I called home. The mechanic that said he could not help came and put a bucket under the line that was leaking and I walked around a bit and found an internet connection and waited. I called the other mechanic again and they said they don’t take take insurance for towing anyway so I asked them to come get me explaining that I had a bus and that it was leaking fuel. They told me that they could not bing me if I was leaking fuel but they had a service truck that could do things on the spot and sent that to me.20130712_080547

 

When the guy arrived he was able to fix part of the line that was leaking but I mentioned that the rest of the line might be as rotten and sure enough, the rest of the line also had small leaks. He had repaired it enough however for me to follow him to the shop a bit past Edmunston. It was about nearly 11:30 by the time the bus pulled into the shop. He started looking at what he had to do and then left for lunch at 12 and someone replaced him at 1pm. they needed a new line and someone went out and got one and came back with the wrong one. Then someone else left with the wrong one and again came back with the another wrong one. Finally by 2:30pm the right line was picked up and they began to work on it. The only other thing they saw was that it was in need of a bit more prestone/water in the radiator.  It didn’t take long for them to finish and I asked about the light/buzzer again. They said if it started again to come back and see them. Sigh. While I was waiting for them to finish up I decided to call Bluebird and left a message with the service department. When I left, instead of heading home though I went the opposite way so that I could ride a bit and that I could loop around when the buzzing started again. Which it did. And, By the time got back to the garage, Bluebird called me Back. Good news, because the 92 Bluebird has no computer and is only mechanical, the light and buzzer could only be one of 4 things. Engine heat, which was perfectly fine. Oil PSI which was also fine. Radiator fluid which was low and was added, or a sensor. I asked what I could do about the sound and he said to disconnect the buzzer. It wasn’t where he said it was going to be so the guys at the garage ended up taking off the dash to find it and after about 15min, they finally found it.

20130712_080532

It was then 4:30 pm and I could finally head home.

I got on the road and a few minutes later I looked down and I realized that my odometer was no longer working. It was a construction zone so there was no where to pull off so I had to wait until I found a place which was a little further down the road in a rest area. I called the Garage again and said that they must have disconnected it while they were looking for the buzzer. They wanted me to head back but there was no way I was going back again and they sent the person that had found the buzzer with the service truck to come check. About 16 min later he got there and he at first he could not find anything. It was hot. It was 5pm. I was still nearly 500km from home. I was tired. I was crampy and I had had enough and I went inside the tourist center I was parked in front of and broke down crying. After a few minutes and a few deep breaths I saw him motion for me to come back and it was fixed.
And that was it. I got in the bus and then headed to Quebec. After a few mountain passes and steep hills that I had not noticed when I was by car in the past, I stopped for some food. It was just about 6pm or then 5pm Quebec time and my first food of the day.
I got on the road and drove. 100km per hour seems to be the bus’s sweet spot and I cruised at that speed for the next couple of hours. I finally figured out how the radio works (and had fun trying the PA system) and just drove. About an hour from home I made my first and only stop of the leg of the drive. I had to get out and move around because I was starting to lose feeling in my legs and needed a bathroom break. I got back in the bus and then got home a bit more then an hour later and parked in the street for the night. My head was buzzing and my legs were sore. I was tired and stiff and I desperately needed a shower. I headed to the shower first and then laid down in bed with Wilhelmina and cuddled and nursed her to sleep and then I was out. But it wasn’t done. My whole night was filed with dreams of backing up into the driveway. Driving the bus is no problem but backing it up into the tight space of the driveway was something that was scary to me. I woke up bright and early and jumped right to it. I had a few people guiding me but it went much more smoothly then I would have thought. And there it sits now… Waiting for us to start working on it.

20130713_083001 20130713_085110

The adventure has begun!

I am a bit speechless… Our journey is beginning.

See this?

c-ViewAdLargeImage

It is the bus we wanted to buy last year which did not work out. The owner was understanding but I told him to not give up on us. His bus was our perfect bus. Every bus I have seen (except for an amazing already converted bus we tried to get a couple months ago but went to someone else) I have compared to this one.

A few month ago, after the holidays, I e-mailed him to see if it was still available and he said that it was. We continued to save up our money. The add expired and he did not put it back up. He went on vacation for two months and when he returned he said to make an offer and we could probably work something out. Well, on Saturday  we did.  And about an hour later, he accepted our offer. Of course, it is New Brunswick, so I will have to take a train and drive it back. Insurance is already on it and starting next week when I plan to go, so barring extreme circumstances…

 

It is ours!!

 

Here are the specs for those interested or know about this type of thing 🙂
1992 All American/All Canadian,
8.3 Cummins diesel automatic 298000 km.
Air brakes. Single rear axle, tinted side windows, air conditioning, basement storages,
#5 towing rig 7 and 4 hook-up wire, trailer brake leaver by steering ,
air seat suspension.

It was a military vehicle until it was sold at Auction in BC to the current owner that used it to move across Canada. He then decided to not convert it and decided to sell it. It was inspected when he moved but since then he has moved it around his property every few weeks but hasn’t driven it off the property.

P1010365P1010390P1010389

We are not blind to how much work it will take to get the bus into the home we want it to be but now we can start!

By |July 2nd, 2013|Our Bus|15 Comments|