Monday, August 9, 2010

The Land

In case you haven't noticed, there is a new page across the bar up there:  The Land.  Check it out.  I posted some pictures of our property.  Noticed how I said "our property?"  Yep, that's right.  We closed on the property and it is officially ours.  I wanted to post videos on the "The Land" page but Blogger wouldn't let me for some reason. So I will post it here.  Hope you enjoy.

Still working...

We are still here!  We are still working on the polyurethane floors.  It is a super slow process.  We've busy been sanding, wiping, coating and then drying for some days.  In between that, we have been busy with a garage sale (first of many), construction on our house and a vacation.  Jim Bob is starting back in the studio to produce work for the big show in October, The Texas Clay Festival.  That means that the bus will take the back burner until November.  I'm sure there will be intermittent work between now and then but probably nothing drastic.  We did buy our kitchen cabinets at Ikea while we were in Round Rock.   The cabinets are in boxes in our kitchen.  I should take a picture of that.  It will probably take us until November to put all those freakin' cabinets together!  Got to love Ikea! Jim Bob wanted me to give a "shout out" to Rachael at Ikea.  She really knows her Ikea kitchen software.  She got us hooked up and squared away, super patient and easy to work with.  Highly recommended! Thanks Rachael!

Jim Bob is still applying poly to the floors.  Today, he got up early and applied the third coat.  It's looking great.

This time around, Jim Bob thought he would try out a new applicator.  He said it worked much better than the sponge business.  It seemed like it went a lot faster.

You can see that line between the 3rd and 2nd coat of polyurethane.  The grain is really looking nice.  I think we have 2 more to go.   

Sunday, August 1, 2010

First Coat of Polyurethane

The first coat of polyurethane is down.  The floor is soaking it right up.  We tried applying the poly with a sponge roller but that put too many air bubbles into the polyurethane.  Bubbles and poly are a very bad combination.  So, Jim Bob is rolling the poly onto the floor with the sponge roller and then wiping the air bubbles away with a sponge brush.  I know that they have those wooly polyurethane applicators but Jim Bob didn't like the texture they left behind.  This is what he came up with and it is working out great so far, just a bit slower.

Before the poly could be applied, we sanded down the raw washed surface.  This will be done a lot!  If you will notice, that sander Jim Bob is using is t-i-n-y!

Sanded floor.

After sanding, Jim Bob had to go back and wipe all the saw dust off the floor with a damp cloth. 

The top/right side shows the first coat of polyurethane on the floor.  The bottom/left side shows the raw floor.  You can really tell how the poly makes the wood grain pop!  Of course, this is wet and it won't look this shiny after it is dry but maybe it will look close after 4 or 5 coats.

One coat of polyurethane complete.  Four more to go.

The floors are washed in green!

We made it back in town after being away on a week long vacation.  Now it is back to work.  Before we left, we were able to get the floor "washed" and the first coat of polyurethane down.  It looks great.  Each coat of poly that goes down will make the floor look even better.
The floor was sanded down and wiped clean.

We watered down latex paint in a bucket and used a rag to "wash" the floor.  Then we used a clean rag to wipe away the extra watered-down-paint.

The paint was pretty runny and didn't take much to stain the floor.

Jim Bob had to be pretty careful not to overlap or drip the paint.  We didn't want it to turn out spotty or darker in some areas.

Finished wash floor with no polyurethane.  You can see the wipe marks at this stage but that will go away after the sanding and polyurethane.

Closer look at the floor.  After the paint dries, we will sand it down to get rid of any raised surface area.  That will allow some more grain to show through the paint.  We will be sanding between each coat of poly too.

Our dang cat!  She jumped right in the bus and walked all over the place! I threatened her life but she didn't care.  I guess she was just checking it out.  It would be fun to have little cat paw prints on the floor!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


So, our bus leaks like a sieve.  All the gaskets are just worn out and letting water in.  We found this out because we had a ton of rain in West Texas lately. Today, Jim Bob worked on waterproofing the bus.  The cool marker, blinking lights are gone.  They were super old and creating damage to the body of the bus by leaking lots of water.  In order to combat that problem, Jim Bob made some more nifty metal covers to go over the light holes, which means we had to remove the cool lights.  Darn!  They were fun!  I thought for sure that Jim Bob would want to use them in some funky art project but I think he was happy to see them go.  The one time that I wouldn't mind some crazy thing hanging around the house...I see it in the trash.  Figures.  Oh well!  We are moving into a bus and can't keep clutter around anymore (this is my new mantra).

The bus is insulated.  We are going to have to remove the insulation because it was mildewed pretty bad because of the leaking.  Jim Bob posted a request for insulation on Alpine's Free Cycle website; sure enough if he didn't get a phone call telling him that someone had some insulation to give.  I love Alpine.  The folks here are the best in the world.  This picture also shows some pretty bad dents. 

Jim Bob pounded those dents out with a planishing hammer and dollie. He couldn't even screw the plates to the body without some metal work.

Front of the bus with no insulation.

He cut 24 gauge galvanized metal for the covers and filed off the metal burs.   He siliconed around the edges to make sure they were waterproof and screwed them to the bus.  No more blinking lights (sigh) but most importantly, no more leaks!  We wouldn't want to damage those new floors!

Birch Plywood In!

We finished laying the birch plywood yesterday.  It was a bigger, more stressful job than what we were both anticipating.  I remember the other bus floor going so much smoother but Jim Bob and I figured it was because the plywood we were laying was just 1/2" and flexed much easier.  That 1/4" difference resulted in a much smoother install.  Now we know. When we convert bus #3, we might do things different.  Tomorrow we are going to sand and finish off the floors.  Well, the first step in finishing the floors.  Polyurethane is so not one step. 

It feels so much better with out the rusty floor.  Lena Marie loves how smooth the floor is...she gets good speed.

Jim Bob had to use a template to cut the front step shape.  You can see the layer of foam board and then plywood on top.  We will put metal trim around the step to clean it up a bit.  We will drill the holes for the driver's seat after the polyurethane goes down.  Pity to drill holes in a new floor but we do need to drive it!  I like my hand shadow...I wasn't trying to make anything particular but it is fun...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I'm Floored!

The floor is looking fantastic but we came across a couple of hiccups.  1. The cost of a bamboo floor, sub floor, foam board, tar paper and screws.  2.  We forgot about that little ledge that runs along the side of the bus that holds the seats up.  That is making it very difficult to lay the plywood all the way down. (see video)  3. Screws are snapping off!

Hiccup 1.  We decided to go with 3/4" birch plywood, foam board, and tar paper because of the cost of a bamboo floor.  I think we guesstimated that a bamboo floor would have cost us in the neighborhood of $1500.  That includes all the layers of flooring and gas to drive to El Paso and pick it up.  The birch is local pick up, not bad looking and cheaper, much cheaper.  We are going to paint-wash it and then polyurethane it to finish it off. 

Hiccup 2.  That freakin' little ledge is making Jim Bob's life poopy.  The ledge is about 1 3/4" and runs the entire length of the bus on both sides.  When we are trying to put a piece of plywood down, it catches the plywood and won't let it fall to the floor.  Jim Bob is having to use a pry bar to manhandle the plywood past that ledge and jump on it at the same time.  Check out the video.

Hiccup 3.  The screws were snapping off in the plywood.  We think that it is because the screws were not strong enough to go into the metal even with a predrilled hole.  I think he went to McCoys like 12 times.  Okay, it was four times.  Finally, he found a screw that worked but he is having to grind off these little wings on each of the screws.  Time consuming!

Supplies are bought and ready for install!

The bus awaiting a floor.

We are laying three layers.  First is the tar paper.  We are using 15 lb tar paper as a moisture barrier.  Why would we need a moisture barrier?  Jim Bob thought it was necessary because of all the holes in the floor of the bus.  Next is the blue insulating foam board.  It has an "R" rating of 3 and is 1/2" thick.  Then we laid down the 3/4" birch plywood.  It is all being screwed down by self drilling, flat head w/ wings (that we are grinding off), 12 (size) - 24 (threads per inch) x 2 1/2 (inches long) screws.  Who knew screws were so complicated? 

Another view of the layers in the bus.  You can see that ledge on the left that is making things very complicated.

Jim Bob is using a circular saw to cut the plywood to make it fit.

This is hiccup #2.  Check the video out at the bottom of the page.

Jim Bob made a template to insure that the plywood would fit perfectly around the wheel wells.

The blue marks on the floor are a rough layout of the kitchen. 

Here is the brainstorming paper.  I think we have settled on this layout.  The bed is the far left rectangle, then the toilet and shower, then the washer and then the kitchen.  It is REALLY tight but I think we will fit. 

We had to jump on the plywood every time we installed a sheet (that was nine times.)  Each time my stomach would hurt a little!  I thought for sure one was going to break in half.  

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Adventure of the Blue, Green, Orange and Yellow School Bus

That yellow school bus is no longer yellow inside!  We painted it a nice blue, green and orange.  Jim Bob was worried that it would be too busy but I think it looks fantastic!  What do you think?  I think the sky blue really opens up the space.  (Jim Bob is laughing at me right now.)  The task was simple but daunting.  The ceiling took 2 coats, the green sides took 2 coats and the orange around the bottom took 3 coats.  We still have some cutting in to do but nothing crazy.  It sure feels good to have that done.  It took us about 4 days to finish.  We used XO-Rust oil-based enamel (the True Value equivalent of Rustoleum) and, of course, drying time was insane.   All is done and now it is time for a floor.  Check out the finished product:

We had to make some metal plates to cover interior lights and speaker holes. 

Interior before paint.  You can see in this picture that there were several of those metal covers.  We primed the galvanized metal to help the paint to stick.

Inside of the bus before paint.

The tedious job of cutting in.  Nice job Jim Bob!

We had an afternoon visitor in the bus today.  Pretty little butterfly wanted to help us paint.

Here it is!  Interior of the bus painted (except a few spots I have to touch up and cut in.)

Jim Bob sweeping the floor.  We are getting it ready for some flooring!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Where's the driver?

While I was scrubbing away twenty years of dirt, Jim Bob undertook the not-so-fun job of removing the driver's seat. We waited to take this out because we had to remove the air line and some electrical wires that were connected to the seat which would be, well, just a pain in the rear. But, once again, JB crawled under the bus and removed the nuts from the bolts that were holding the seat in place. Inside, he disconnected wires and taped them off and then man-handled that seat right out of the bus! Once the seat was out, it really opened that space up! We gained 4 more square feet (every bit helps!). The seat is now living on some plywood outside the bus. We are keeping it because we will have to put it back in when we drive the bus to another location. Although, it would be fun just to pull up the lazy boy to the steering wheel and cruise around in comfort. So why take it out you ask? Well, we removed it because: 1. Installing the floor will be so much easier and 2. We want that extra space when the bus is parked. So when we take it back out we don't want a dirty black square on the floor. We will just drill holes in the new floor to put the seat back in.  Next is paint!

Ripping the seat out.

Where does the driver sit?

The seats temporary new home.


That dirty old bus is officially clean as a whistle. Jim Bob and I (and Lena Marie) scrubbed every single square inch of that yellow monster. Good old Dawn dish soap and green scrubbies were the aids in this incredible feat (and the occasional chisel to help with the removal of 20 year old bubble gum)! It was a long nasty day of scrubbing but the end result was glorious. It has that "just vacuumed and mopped" know the one that you get right after the house is cleaned and nobody has walked across that spotless floor? What a great feeling! Boy, was that yellow bus dirty. The water was nasty and our scrubbers were beat up.

Lena Marie was helping me (moral support) clean out the bus.

She is clean!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Nasty Floor is History

That nasty black floor that haunts every school bus is no longer in ours! Thankfully the floor came out willingly and without the use of rented tools and additional man power. All it took was your ordinary shovel and some elbow grease. It seems that this particular school bus did not have a plywood sub-floor that some other school buses sport. It had that rubber black floor stuck right to the metal flooring with some sort of glue. Over the years, the water made its way between the black flooring and the metal dissolving the glue and wa-la! off pops the nasty floor! I guess there are some benefits to buying an OLD school bus. What is underneath that nasty mess? Well, now we are looking at a rusty, old metal floor waiting for a good cleaning, insulation and a sub-floor. Along with taking the floor out, we had to remove the auxillary heater and the heater lines that contained the antifreeze. Sounds pretty straight forward but by watching Jim Bob take this stuff out - not so simple. The heater plus the heater lines contained about 4 gallons of anti-freeze! We are disposing it at a mechanic' s shop in here town - they said they would take it. It was kind of difficult finding a place that would take that toxic stuff too. So now we have the floor, the heater and 45 ft. worth of heater lines out of our future home. Moving on.


Yesterday we did the nasty job of pulling all the seats out of the bus. I think this is the worst part of the whole process. (This is actually our second school bus to renovate.) The first time we pulled the seats out of a bus, one of us was under the bus holding onto the bolt with a wrench and the other was inside the bus unscrewing the bolt from the floor. Major pain and super time consuming. This time we have moved up in the world (just a little bit) and used an air wrench. I say "we" when actually I didn't do any of the work. Our friend, Hunter, came over (thank you Hunter!) and was kind of enough to unscrew all the bolts from the floor using the air wrench while Jim Bob was under the bus (along with a whole bunch of chicken poo I'm told) holding the nut so the bolts would come out of the floor. Last time, it took us days to get the job done. This time around, we had all the seats out that evening. It was soooo much smoother! What do you do with 26 bus seats, you ask? Hopefully, we can sell them to the school district here in town. If not, we will put them on the Tradin' Post or the Brewster Free Cycle. We would like to sell them for $10 a piece and maybe buy an appliance with the money. Once all the seats were out of the bus, we were left looking at a lot of trash. The usual: candy wrappers, plastic toys, and lollipop sticks. But this time Jim Bob found a little stash of hash on the floor! I thought it was pretty darn funny that some kid was hiding his pot on the school bus!