Good for the pictures!
Looks like y'all have a great start on the project.
Take the concept and run with it, folks!!! A bus can make a comfortable, convenient, and interesting living space with some creativity and elbow grease. The more you can scrounge, the better off you are, IMHO -- scrounging means re-cycling, which means less resource demand, pollution, etc.
Some things that I have been able to scrounge (or get really cheap):
Lumber for framing and finish carpentry. Source: industrial packing for loads of plastic pipe -- they take rough two-by-fours that look like crap and make a square frame (about 42"x42") near each end of a bundle of pipe, then strap it all together with banding steel. The advantage of these boards over pallets is that they don't have (many) nails in them. You can slice the faces off the 2x4s with a table saw and end up with decent lumber about 1"x3" wide (1/4" slice off each face). Or you can cut them to other dimensions. Point is, that the wood may look rough on the outside, but on the inside it can be in good condition. If you use a halfway decent sawblade, you can get smooth faces on the wood. Check with places that use a lot of plastic pipe -- lawn sprinkle companies, well drilling supply companies.
Plywood Source: construction site trash piles. Ask first, unless the stuff is on the road (obviously.)
Sink Source: guy that sells junk out of an old gas station. Cost $15.00 for a stainless steel double sink. It needed some cleaning, but cleaned up very nicely.
Faucet Source: Trashpile. My ex's ex-landlord (not my favorite guy if you read my early posts
) threw out a faucet during a kitchen remodel. I have seen usable sinks on trashpiles outside home remodeling jobs, as well.
Tile for kitchen Source: leftovers from old tile project.
Stone for hearth Source: picked up off side of road locally.
Stove Source: Well--- I scrounged much of the material to build a stove, but the guy who was going to build it didn't have time, so he gave me the use of a (really nice) woodstove. I *could have* had a nice scrounged stove, I think (but I like the one he's letting me use, too.) Material was primarily 12" steel pressure pipe for a water main. 1/2" thick walls. The bell end that was attached to the 5' piece I was going to use had 1 1/2" thick steel walls. The whole piece weighed right at 400 pounds. It took either a front end loader or 4 really big strong guys to move it.
Rustic (rusted) Sheet metal to cover my toilet enclosure Source: old trailer underskirting someone had abandoned at a trailer park.
Marine water heater, chronometer, and barometer Source: salvaged from sailboat. (The barometer only works metaphorically -- it is always pointing to CHANGE!
5 gallon buckets Source: commercial trash bins, side of the road, etc. (I'm using them for a toilet -- i don't care if they had paint in them...)
Amber lens covers for Red flashing school bus lights Source: local school district school bus maintenance yard. They had an old bus out back, and I asked if I could get the light covers off it. They just went back in the shop and got me 4 (2 front, 2 back) that they had already pulled from something. Free. Very nice of them. Also a throttle cable for my engine setup.
Raw wood -- sticks and branches. You can use these to make coat hooks, curtain rods, supports for shelves, handles for cabinets, or (if you are ambitious) furniture pieces. Wood like mountain laurel or rhododendron is neat looking because it is crooked as all get out, and it is smooth and the bark stays on well when it dries, so it won't flake or start looking all "shed-y".
Old silverware -- Drill two holes in the blade of an old table knife with an interesting pattern on the handle -- bend blade at 45 degrees to handle and screw it to wall -- VOILA! neat looking coat hook or curtain rod holder.
The drawback to scrounging is that you can't just go out and get something. This, however, can be good! It means that you have to consider the need that you are trying to fulfill. As you consider that need and keep your eyes open for the object that can fill it, you may come to understand how something else can fulfill the need as well -- functional equivalency -- or that you don't *really* need the object at all.
Not free/scrounged, but cheap:
Curtain material for INTERIOR (not sun exposed) curtains -- sheets from thrift store. TRY YARD SALES.
Upholstery scraps (not really cheap, but cheaper than roll fabric) for the wall panel coverings -- fabric store odd lot table. TRY YARD SALES for cheap 'fabric equivalents" (drapes, sheets, etc.)
Things I could have had for free but didn't want:
4 spotless electric captains chairs from a van -- "They're perfect for your bus!" Yeah, right, I don't carry passengers, and I don't want a bunch of chairs bolted down in my living area floor. I declined politely, but the people didn't understand how I could turn them down.
A futon frame and mattress. "That's what you need for your bus, so you'll have somewhere to sleep besides the floor." I LIKE THE FLOOR, THANKS! And, I can roll my bed up and put it under my dinette seat when I want floor space to work on a project inside the bus.
Numerous pieces of "normal" furniture -- armchairs, pappa-sans, etc. They just don't fit into the minimalist/utilitarian/flexible-space kind of personal lifestyle that I have.
A toilet. "Hey, man, take this. You won't have to crap in a bucket." I have a 20 gallon holding tank, and you're giving me an old 4 gal/flush toilet? You do the math....
Electric appliances -- toaster ovens, micro-waves, small refrigerators (YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MANY!!), electric percolators (I have a STOVE and a PERCOLATER). A) they take up floor space and counter space, neither of which I have a lot of; B) they don't fit into my electrical system plan (12VDC longterm); C) I don't keep a lot of heat-n-eat food because it requires refrigeration; D) refrigation is not necessary and ranks somewhere just under TEEVEE as a pet peeve of mine; E) I put a LOT of thought into acquiring things
(and often reject them) because then they burden me with the responsibilities of ownership; F) ....but I digress.../rant off.
Don't be afraid to say "no, thank you" to people. On the other hand...lotsa good stuff can get gone while you're thinking about it...
Contrary to the popular saying, beggars can be choosers -- just be a choosy beggar, it works, trust me.
Also, look at stuff in ways it's not meant to be looked at..."unnatural" ways. There's no reason a 36" flatscreen TEEVEE can't be used as a coffee table (well, not with the power on) if you don't need it for anything else. How would people react to that (art in utility?)? Can they bring themselves to set a drink on the face of a TEEVEE set? HORROR! (actually, now that I think about it, this would be a really neat idea. Wonder how hard it is to find a broken HDTV set.... HMMMM!!
antique wooden maple sugaring bucket + 8 quart stainless mixing bowl = rustic sink basin
Consider of each thing: whence it comes; of what it consists; and into what it changes.
I lined a half whiskey barrel (the kind you get at Wal-mart to use as a planter) with fiberglass, and now have a showerpan/sitz bath/laundry tub (SAVES A BUNDLE). total cost far less than a commercial RV shower unit.
Your world is what you make it -- you get to say what a thing is, what it does, what it means to people, and, most importantly, what it means to YOU. Don't let someone else project their interpretation of the world as the frame of reference from which YOU view things.
But, you probably already understand what I'm saying because, well, you are the kind of person who lives in a school bus!
Sorry this became a ramble.
It's supposed to be encouragement and congratulations! The bus looks good, and y'all seem to be having fun, and that's really cool!
-- first final exam in law school is on Friday! back to studying!!!