Saturday, June 23, 2007

Enviornmental road block...

Hey all

We've hit a little road block: how to deal with the holes in the floor in the least toxic way possible.

Jerry's - our local giant hardware store - had lots of suggestions...glue flashing down over them with liquid nails, coat the whole floor in tar or some other roof sealant, fill in the holes with some kind of putty. Upon further investigation, we found that all of these ideas involved applying toxic crap to our home so we kept looking...

Turns out that Eugene doesn't have a green building supply store. The closest one is in Portland - 2 hours away. We went there yesterday and discovered that they have a lot of the stuff we want.....and that only a fraction of it will fit in the Honda. F*&$!

While we were there we were only able to get some no-VOC paint for the ceiling (a nice sandy mellow color) and some low-toxic caulking for the holes. After talking to the people there, we decided not to coat the metal floor with anything. Yes, there's a ton of toxic concoctions on the market that claim to deal with your rust for you. David visited us a few days ago and suggested that we just get the rust all the way off the old fashioned way: by sanding the crap the out of it. He clued us into the fact that there are neato attachments for our drill that would do this for us - imagine that! Lol....this is turning out to be an awesome learning experience...goodbye hand-held bristle brush. Before his visit, we spent an afternoon sanding the floor by hand and our progress was pitiful.

Long story short -we're going back to the green building supply store on Tuesday. This time we're renting a U-Haul. (Of course we would take the bus but it's not registered or insured yet and it can't be until it has been converted into a motor home.)

That way we'll be able to get the 4 bundles of this R-13 Bonded Logic insulation that we really want. It's made out of recycled denim and has none of the toxic stuff that other insulations do. You can even touch it with bare hands and install it without a respirator. It's old blue jeans! As a fiber-loving person this was a no-brainer for me. :)

We'll also probably be picking up 6 sheets of low-toxic plywood for the subfloor...unless we find another solution. For a while we toyed with the idea of foregoing a subfloor for our T & G and just putting the joists (no, they're not called studs when they're on the floor!) closer together - like maybe a foot apart instead of the usual 16". Then we got to thinking and we decided that if we were going to be bolting stuff like the our gorgeous 350-pound woodstove down that we'd better be biting into more than just some 3/4" T & G. This is still up for debate.

Anyway, these last few days have been frusterating but very educational. Once you start learning about how nasty modern building is its hard to stop thinking about it. I realise every other place we've ever lived in - or shopped in...or worked in - was built using lots of toxic stuff. We've found that most people are very sensitive to this fact and that they do NOT want to be reminded of it. Rightfully so - its freaky and people feel that its out of their control (often it is...). And yeah, toxic stuff is a bit cheaper than non-toxic stuff but since we're building our housebus from scratch and we've been lucky enough to have saved up a bit of cash for this project we feel good about trying to do it right the first time. There's something really vital about green building, it won't "save the world" by itself or anything like that but it sure is more fun and reassuring to work with stuff that you can feel solid about.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Finally - pictures!

A stack of bus seats - bubble gum and ketschup packets everywhere.

Bus before floor demolition....

and after...

Here's the gear we used for ripping up the floor...screwdrivers, mallets, crowbar....elbow grease and goggles highly recommended....

Our technique: wedge screwdriver under plywood w/ mallet. This prys it up just enough to bang the bent side of the crowbar under there. Now rip that thing as hard as you can. Repeat all along sides of each piece of plywood....

Twinky broken crowbar vs. new burly crowbar.

Stay tuned for floor sanding and priming....

Monday, June 11, 2007

Floor Part 1

We're back from vacation!

It was hard to leave the bus for 2 weeks but it was really refreshing to get out of Eugene and see our very dear friends and family.

Even though we've only been back for a few days, we've already made a lot of progress. We scored a Honda Civic-full of recycled red oak tounge and groove flooring from Bring Recycling for $70. We spent an afternoon sorting the flooring into three piles: perfect boards, fixable boards and totally hopeless boards. We think we might have enough perfect and fixable boards to cover the whole floor! Of course, since it is a used floor there are big long staples sticking out of it that I think we'll have to cut off. Tounge and groove flooring is delicate and I worry that trying to bang out the staples will destroy the joins.

Today we finished ripping out the rotting plywood that was nailed and screwed into the metal floor of our bus. It was really hard! In the middle of the day I had to bike down to the hardware store because I actually BROKE a crowbar trying to get this stuff up from the floor. Yikes. We prevailed in the end, though. We also took up the rest of the heater encasement and we finally ripped the pole-dancing poles out from the front of the bus, too.

Next: sanding the rusty floor down and plugging up all the holes with some kind of putty stuff. Pictures of all this and more to follow. :)

Saturday, June 2, 2007


This is the current incarnation of our floor plan - we expect it to change as we get a better feel for the space. If you click on the image, you can get a full-sized view.