There’s an annoying slow down that happens right after those first thrilling “TURNING A BUS INTO A HOUSE! LET’S DO THIS! ENABLE BEAST MODE!” projects. You spend hours ripping out seats and the floor. Then a few more pushing all of the buttons and flipping switches and poking about in the engine. Then there is an unhealthy amount of time spent in forums, groups, and on YouTube where you watch 17 different videos about how to paint the floor of your bus, despite knowing full well how to use a damn paint roller.
You’re full of noob enthusiasm, and you just can’t help yourself. You proudly point out bus related injuries to whoever will listen (sorry lady at Kroger…the line was long and I saw you eyeing my princesses) and wear each bruise and band-aid as a badge of honor. At the end of those early bus days, you will realize that you’ve never been quite that filthy or stank/stunk quite that much and been so happy about it. The water running brown and thick around your feet in the shower at the end of a bus day was a signed certificate of how hard you had been working…verifiable proof of how much heart you were already putting into this.
And then your rush turns into a trickle.
The big, instantly gratifying LOOK AT ALL WE HAVE ACCOMPLISHED! MARVEL AT OUR BUS BUILDING ABILITIES! work is done for the time being and as a (nearly) new bus owner, there’s a bit of disappointment to contend with. You scroll through Instagram and grumble over the builds that are pressing forward…not hampered by children, a lack of funds and time, or a thirty-something back that seems to permanently need an icepack.
And that’s where we are in our stage of the conversion. All the big and flashy stuff that can be done, has been. Now its little projects and agonizing over the floor plan and making a million tiny, three-quarters informed decisions that will impact a hundred other things that we haven’t even thought of yet.
It’s an anxious person’s nightmare.
But in the meantime, here’s a few of the little things we’ve checked off the list…nothing too terribly exciting, but still…each is a baby step forward.
Say hello (followed by a quick goodbye) to our coolant lines. We were already well acquainted with these lines since they provided our first bus baptism by fire when one blew on the side of I-95. (In Florida. On our way HOME from getting the bus!) They ran along the interior of the bus, taking up valuable floor space and threatening to split open with dry rot. Our first inkling was to just cut them off, but the wealth of wisdom that is the Skoolie community advised against it. When the engine starts to work too hard (like going up a mountain), you can crank your heater up to cool the engine down fast. Learn something new every day! They obviously earned the right to stay on the Pigeon Bus. So we replaced the lines with new hoses and ran them under of the bus.
The entire project took about a day and a half (with lots of “help” from the kids) from draining the original lines to running the new hoses to hooking everything back up to figuring out a few mysteries (“What do you think THIS thing does?! Google it! Ask in the skoolie group!”) along the way. It also required a good amount of this:
Really though, there isn’t anyone else I’d want to hang out in an engine box with.
Next, one of those “what’s this thing? think we should bang on it?” mysteries led us to the driver’s seat. We knew we wanted to replace it (it was super nasty and smelled like pond scum that hadn’t showered after working on a 24-year-old bus all day), but since it was up on a platform, we were worried it would be more involved than we were ready to deal with. So we, in typical adult fashion, ignored it.
And this was a solid plan of action until all that poking around to rerun the coolant lines led to discovering the bolts that were holding the driver’s seat in place. Well hell…we’re already under the bus! Might as well! Of course, the first bolt came out with no issues. It was the second, third, and fourth bolts that put up a fight. It was a solid hour of me sitting under the bus holding the nut with vice grips while Jake tried to get the bolt out from the top before we switched. Jake could hold onto the vice grips tighter than I could and it wasn’t long before the rest of the bolts gave up. It was zero fun, but eventually we were truly seatless on the bus, and left to face this mess:
All that rotten plywood that we had expected to be hidden under the main flooring was all located right there under the driver’s seat. Jake had to break out the saw in order to cut the worst of the wood away and leave the part that’s under the pedals. We’re still scratching our heads on what to do about that part. We don’t want to disassemble the entire pedal configuration to remove the existing wood and then put in something different, but we don’t want nasty wood rotting away in there either. (Currently going with Plan I…that’s “I” for “Ignore It.”)
In the very least, this part of the floor has a date with the sander and a can of rust converter. We’ll continue to ignore the rest of it and use a lawn chair as our driver’s seat whenever we do our monthly moving of the bus to a new spot in the yard. (Classy!) Meanwhile, I’ll be spending way too much time on Shop 4 Seats (that’s really the name of the website despite the fact that it sounds like I made it up) drooling over new seats while worrying that they all look too nap worthy to be a safe driver’s seat option. (Tell me that seat doesn’t look comfy as all get out.)
What’s next? Just two little things called the final floor plan and the roof raise. No big.
Until then…somebody needs a shower.