Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Rippin' Out the Seats and other delights....

Hey all,

We got the bus right before we went our vacation to California - so that's where we are right now.

In the few days that we've had it, we've managed to rip out all the seats and un-bolt the heater system from the left-hand side of the bus. We found a pretty awesome tool chest in the bus under one of the seats. It has a lot of the right-sized tools for the various screws and bolts in our bus. Nice! Of course, we also have a garage-ful of Julia's dad's tools at our disposal, which is real handy. He's more of a carpenter than a mechanic, though, so we'll have to pick up some extra things for our conversion.

In other news, we developed a woman-approved system for removing rusty bolts and screws without the use of toxic crap like "liquid screwdriver." You take your appropriately sized screwdriver and attach a vice-grip to the handle. Then you have one woman balance all her wieght on the screwdriver while the other one yanks real hard on the vice-grip. Most all of them gave under this system. The ones that didn't got smacked with our mallet until they fell into line. ;)

We bought a corded electric drill for this purpose too. It's not a champ at loosening the real stuck ones but it is good for run-of-the-mill unscrewing. It'll come in handy for drilling holes for the various pipes that we'll need to run to the outside of the bus, too. We almost bought a Sawzall but we're holding out until we make it to the used tool place outside of Eugene. They run about 60-80 new...of course you *can* pay more....but we'd like to pick up a quality used one if at all possible.

The heater is an interesting doohickey to play with because it runs off of the engine coolant - it's just basically a big loop of hose that runs the engine coolant down the left hand side of the bus and uses a fan to blow it out at the far end of the loop. We haven't capped the system yet but we got it and the housing for it up from the floor so it's free-floating and able to just perch on the driver's seat while we work on the floor. Since the veggie oil conversion is going to probably use the same lines (since it uses the coolant to heat stuff, too) we're leaving it until that aspect of the project begins to take a more concrete shape.

We've ripped up part of the vinyl floor, too. There's funky plywood under there - screwed down with disintegrating screws. I think we'll just take a crowbar to it and see if we can't rip them up in one go....that's for when we return!

Also- scored some angle iron out of a dumpster behind the goodwill here in Santa Rosa! Woohoo...only got a small scolding as we were driving away with it.... :)

J's boss also happens to be a reclaimed wood-dealer who resells dismantled school bleachers so he's looking into our wood floor while we're away. Hopefully he'll have it for us when we get back...he thinks he can hook it up for $1 a square foot plus $50 to plane it. It's either going to be ceder or southern yellow pine. Nice!

Pics of the gutted interior to follow when we return from our Californian vacation.

-E and J

Saturday, May 12, 2007

It Begins!

After a year of planning and saving, Julia and I finally bought our bus yesterday! A pretty sweet 3rd anniversay present. :) She's a looker....

Found her on craigslist. It's a 1988 International Harvester with a transplant Cat 3208 Diesel engine and Allison (automatic) transmission. Perfect length for our purposes - 32 feet bumper to bumper and it has an extra-tall ceiling. Paid $1750 for it. Our bus is at Southern Oregon Diesel right now in Roseburg getting a basic service before getting picked up by our seller and delivered to our house in Eugene this Wednesday! WOW! Still in a little bit of shock.

We went down to Southern Oregon Diesel yesterday nervous out of our minds about our pending purchase. We scheduled a 30 minute inspection before we committed to buying it but we ended up spending 3+ hours with the guys there listening to country music, learning how to drive the thing, getting oriented under the hood and rolling around the underside checking out the air brakes and everything. They were over-the-top helpful, very generous with their time and only a little condescending... ;)

I spent today hacking the bushes and trees back from J's mom's driveway so that we can actually park the bus in the spot where we're going to work on converting it. She is 8 feet wide after all. In order to fit the bus up there, we're also going to have to move the mailbox. Of course, moving the mailbox from it's spot has proven harder than we originally thought - more digging and jiggling scheduled for later this evening.

Once we get it up there, first thing's first : removing the seats and cleaning our baby out! She has a minor wasp/spider problem that needs to get taken care of for sure. Still not convinced that we'll need a bolt cutter to get the seats out but we'll see. After that, we're going to tape out our floorplan and see how it feels.....

Since J and I have been planning our conversion for a while now, we've had time to gather up a lot of the parts and pieces for our future house. We have a really pretty apartment-sized, blue Intrepid woodstove, a mid-sized 2-way RV fridge, a propane RV stove/oven, an RV kitchen sink, an RV bathroom sink, wooden toilet seat for our composting toilet, two wooden corner shelves and a kitchen cabinet. Everything except the fridge we were able to score FOR FREE (thank-you universe!) so the total cost of the conversion so far has been $20...for our used RV fridge.

Before we start making it too cozy, we need to install the main systems - photovoltaics, internal electrical wiring, plumbing (fresh and grey water) and propane. We haven't gathered any parts for any of this so far. I have priced many of the components and we expect the main costs of our conversion to be in the installation of these systems so it'll feel good to get them over with first! Since BioDiesel is available in Eugene right now, we're thinking of holding off on the veggie conversion until we reconnect with some of our Vegadvocates back in California. (I'm thinking that putting the veg in after the fact of the conversion should be OK as long as we plan for veggie oil tank placement and fuel line placement ahead of time....)

Woosh! Lots to do, lots to learn and a whole summer of hard work ahead of us. It feels great to finally get the ball rolling......

More updates to come!