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Old 03-03-2008, 11:08 PM   #21
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: San Francisco, CA.
Posts: 30
Year: 1985
Coachwork: Chevrolet
Re: Gustav

I'll take 10 points any day! City Lights is great, but I confess, I haven't been there for a long time. The anarchist bookstore I am thinking of, is a few blocks from Haight-Ashbury. it's a pretty cool lilttle place, lots of independent books, and zines, etc.

It may sound corny, but Kerouac, Kesey, Cassady, all those guys were the main reason I moved here.
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Old 03-04-2008, 05:40 PM   #22
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Vermont
Posts: 38
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Crown
Chassis: Carpenter
Engine: ISB Cummings
Rated Cap: 84
Re: Gustav

If by corny you mean awesome, than yes.. I think it's corny. I deem that a totally valid reason to move to San Francisco.
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Old 03-25-2008, 10:49 PM   #23
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Vermont
Posts: 38
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Crown
Chassis: Carpenter
Engine: ISB Cummings
Rated Cap: 84
Re: Gustav

Yes, it’s been a while since we’ve worked on the bus. Be the last few days we’ve finally had some decent weather and sunshine which has given us the motivation to get out there and work. Yesterday John took out all of the windows in the bus so that we could begin taking out the metal paneling on the sides. We needed them gone so that we could rust protect the walls beneath them and so we could also re-do the weather stripping and caulking around the windows that has been eaten away. He was also able to remove the remaining heater that was in the front of the bus near the driver's seat. He'll have to tell you more about that process as I was unfortunately called away to house-wifery errands like grocery shopping and making baklava.

Today took a trip to Wendy's (American Hardware) one of our favorite area hardware stores, and bought a load of supplies including ventilating masks, goggles, weather stripping and caulk. Then we came home and I went window-sill by window-sill and scraped off all of the remaining gunk and weather-striping while John did the ardeous task of removing the metal panels below the windows. Again, I"m not really sure what the full story was with this, other than the fact that it seemed really taxing, so he'll have to go in to it more later. Our friend Rich stopped by for awhile to act as our foreman, and to keep us on task and in line. He’s proving to be a really good resource and fount of knowledge and not only that fun to have around. And even better he’s going to be our go-to guy for much of our welding.

We were a little dismayed when read the forecast last night, and because said that we'll be getting some more snow tonight and the day after and the day after and the day after... This is a little distressing for us because we currently have no windows in the bus and a wet interior could set us back a few more days. So we weighed our options and decided that a tarp would be the best course of action. So we took another trip to Wendy’s and bought a huge tarp to put over the bus. (I have a feeling they're going to be seeing a lot of us in the next few weeks)

When we got back it was still sunny with no signs of a change in the weather, so we worked on scraping the black tacky residue off the bottoms of the windows using gasoline to help un-stick it, (under the guidance of my father). After a while the weather began to quickly change, and the sky went to a sickly grey color and we decided we’d better get the tarp on before anything worse set in. As I said the tarp is huge and it was a little tricky to get the thing unraveled. Once we did, it took some creativity to get it up and over the back of the bus. Just as we began to devise a plan, our friend Jody showed up to cheer us on. We used the skills that we learned in PE in second grade with the parachutes and did a “1… 2… 3.. up and over” action while each holding a corner of the tarp on either side of the bus and taking a good run for it. We made it about ¼ of the way down the bus before the weight of the rest of the tarp set in. John worked from the top and I worked from below and we were able to get the tarp all the way situated.

The tarp goes just to the front of the bus and hangs around the “face” of the bus so that it looks like a nun in a habit. We put the green side of the tarp facing in, and the brown side of the tarp facing out. From the outside the bus looks either like a giant tootsie roll or an oversized Swiss Cake roll.

We spent a little more time working on the goopy windows, before I decided I had to go in and get warm. John, being the trooper that he is, stayed out in the bus until well after dark getting the remainder of the metal paneling off the walls.

We finally got the sealant we've been waiting for in the mail, so we should be working in the bus a lot this week. Please feel free to check out our progress on the bus-cam, and to drop us a line at
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Old 04-16-2008, 09:49 PM   #24
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Vermont
Posts: 38
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Crown
Chassis: Carpenter
Engine: ISB Cummings
Rated Cap: 84
Re: Gustav

It’s been a busy couple of weeks! I can hardly remember all that’s gone on.
If you’ve been keeping up with the bus-cam you may have noticed that we’ve been windowless for a while now. We noticed soon after getting all of the seats out that we were having some issues with water coming into the bus, with the main leakage points being the windows. So we took all of the windows out, scraped off all of the old weather-stripping from the windows and the window ledges, de-gooed the windows and put them up in the barn for safe keeping. John also took off all of the silver metal siding under the windows. As the water was leaking in, it would pool up in cavities causing major rust on the exterior walls and damage to the insulation that was in this area. All that had to be removed, soggy insulation and all. We’ve spent a lot of time sand and scraping trying to remove the rust from our walls.
Last weekend we worked late into the night with a Dremmel and sandpaper trying to get all of the paint off of the windows sills so that we could seal them. In order to use the automotive sealant that we bought we needed the weather to cooperate. It was really tricky, because we needed it to be at least 50 degrees out and dry- but we kept getting warm and rainy or cold and sunny. Thankfully we finally had a window of decent weather last weekend and were able to seal all of the sills. (say that 5 times fast!)

Earlier in the week we borrowed a sandblaster from our neighbor, and on Saturday we began to sand down all panels under the window ledges. It was pretty slow going at first. The air-compressor that we were borrowing from my dad did not have enough um-pah to work for any duration of time, so it was really really slow going.
On Sunday our friend Jody came to help us which was great! Fortunately her father also had a much larger capacity air-compressor that we could borrow which made our progress a lot better. John sandblasted which Jody and I tried to keep the sand swept up and filtered so that we could get multiple uses out of a bag of sand. Sunday was a shorter day, and that evening we rewarded our hard work with pizza and a movie.

On Monday we started in the late morning and continued sandblasting. We were still working getting all of the rust and residual insulation out of the walls. Things were going really smoothly until late in the afternoon, right around the time I took over the sandblaster. I swear I only used the blaster for 3 minutes when it stopped working! We decided to pack things up and start afresh in the morning- thinking that it was probably just a full filter or some such nonsense.

We also had a whee of time moving the bus! Gus came to life on Monday after Rich tinkered with it for awhile and we moved it back onto the driveway from behind the barn. With the warm weather and sunshine that we’ve been having the ground has started heating up, thus causing our bus to start to sink into the mud. It was quite a trip trying to rock and roll the beast over the ruts we’d created. John did an excellent job and was able to maneuver through the trees, between the barns and not hit a single thing! I’m so proud!

The next morning when my dad took a look at the filter things looked a little more dire. The compressor has something called a steel-plate peacock valve- a very thin metal piece that was shaped like a fan with six fingers. One of those fingers had broken off. This wouldn’t have been a problem except for the fact that Sears was no longer making the part and the thing was made out of spring steel (some that’s very trick I’m told), which means that we couldn’t easily have another manufactured. We spent a lot of time running around to different places trying to figure out a good fix and it seemed that there was none to be had.
I also realized late the night before that my wedding ring had gone missing- so I wasn’t really in the frame of mind to deal with another crisis…. So Tuesday morning and afternoon were not the best times for me.
The day improved later in the afternoon when I remembered to breathe, told myself that we’d done all we could with the compressor and that my wedding ring was more than likely in the house somewhere (or in the yard if the dog got it as we sort of suspect) and if it wasn’t it was just a thing, and although I love my ring and it means a lot, it is just a thing.
We worked with the little compressor for awhile and as the sun was setting Jody showed up in work clothes and we worked late in to the night and were able to paint many of the side walls with sealer.

Yesterday and today we’ve been focusing on trying to get all the rust off the floor. Yesterday, Jody dropped off her the part that was broken which her father had done a quick fix to, and we were able to get rolling again. It seemed like we were blasting forever- and unfortunately it’s still not done. We’ve decided that we’re going to buy an angle grinder after all, and finish de-rusting the floor with a wire wheel. I didn’t think I’d ever say this, but I am so sick of demolition! I am very much ready to begin construction.

We are having some technical glitches with the camera- either it’s uploading to our website and not saving the pictures to our computer or visa-versa. We’re not such what we’re going to do as of yet, (John is pretty sick of the thing as it keeps breaking down), but we’ll keep you posted. Thanks for watching!
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Old 04-16-2008, 09:51 PM   #25
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Vermont
Posts: 38
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Crown
Chassis: Carpenter
Engine: ISB Cummings
Rated Cap: 84
Re: Gustav

Hi All!
We've taken the last few days off. We had a lot of sunshine all last week and were able to get a lot of work done, but we became pretty exhausted. We've been checking the National Weather Service's website religiously the last few weeks (mostly searching for sunshine and warm weather- thanks Jim for delivering!) so when it said that we were supposed to have a weekend of rain and wintery mixed we were a little excited for a few days off.
On Saturday we went up to Rutland to our weekly "trip into town." There is a fabulous winter's farmer's market there that we've really enjoyed this winter. The market’s access is through a little hallway in the back of the food co-op and walk through a door into this huge room with expansive tinned ceilings. The whole room is filled with life; there are several booths selling yarned goods, several more selling local artisanal cheeses, booths with hydroponic tomatoes (something completely ____ to see this time of year), tables filled with last fall’s root vegetables, stacks of delicious homemade pies, and usually someone playing music over the sound system. Everyone in the room is moving to the beat of the music: discussing the freshness of the pies, whether or not the eggs are cage-free, or bouncing a baby on their hip. Everyone’s favorite vendor though, is the samosa guy. Samosas are an Indian pastry, generally filled with a spicy mix of potatoes and chickpeas. The samosa guy at the market has branched out from that and usually has six different varieties. My favorites are the broccoli-cheddar filled ones, or the ones with a tangy asian sauce; John likes to switch it up every week. We were able to exercise restraint this week and only get one samosa apiece- a very difficult feat!
We came home and I took a power hose to most of the dog poo in the yard searching for my wedding ring, (still no luck) while John did some vacuuming on the bus.
On Sunday we helped Juli and Tim put the rest of this year’s firewood into the basement, while they stacked up next year’s wood outside. By the time we got finished it was late morning to early afternoon. Our friend Jody popped over to help us with the bus. Unfortunately there was not enough work to go around, and we weren’t really in the mood to go looking for more work. We decided instead to go to Glens Falls, New York (about 45 minutes away) to go pick up a tool and catch dinner and a movie.
We had a great time at the industrial box hardware store. It’s tremendously fun to go to these types of places when you look like dirty hippies- which we did! Jody and I danced around the aisles, while John found an appropriate looking power tool. Who knows, maybe someday if you go to and type in “girl’s dancing in aisles at Lowe’s” you’ll see footage of the security cameras… it wouldn’t surprise me. : P
Monday and Tuesday were kind of off days and we didn’t get much done even though the sun was shining. : /
Today was good though. I had a great time working in the store this morning and early afternoon covering for Juli, while John did some work vacuuming (we are always vacuuming!) and trying to finish de-rusting the floor. The weather here is absolutely gorgeous. I can hardly believe that it’s so nice- it seems like a big practical joke that Mother Nature is playing on us, and it could begin snowing again any moment. John continued to grind down the floor while I painted above the windows and repainted the window sills. Fortunately, I remembered to wear deli gloves, so my hands don’t look like creepy corpse hands like they did last time I painted.

We’ve still got a ways to go on the floor, but the end is in sight, although we’ve been saying that for two weeks now, I believe it’s finally true.

We’re trying to make decisions on subflooring and insulation now. I think we’re going to go with Advantech brand subflooring. It supposedly has lower formaldehyde and nasty chemical content than most particle boards, and it has a 50 year warranty to boot. We’re really trying to build “green” and make a living space that is healthy for us and for the environment.
Well, I should be hitting the pillow soon; it’s been a long day. I believe the webcam is up and running again; please let us know of any glitches that you experience!
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Old 04-26-2008, 09:17 PM   #26
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Vermont
Posts: 38
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Crown
Chassis: Carpenter
Engine: ISB Cummings
Rated Cap: 84
Re: Gustav

Our subflooring and insulation was delivered today! Very very exciting!
We finished up with the auto paint/rust protector on the inside last night around 9pm. It looks all slick and black in there, sort of the like an inverted beetle. It looks really nice, but even so, I am looking very much forward to covering it up.
We got all of the windows back in a few days ago, complete with new weather stripping. We spent about an hour this afternoon, enjoying the bright azure sky and sunshine.

Spring has come to Vermont. There are daffodils everywhere, like little bursts of sunshine popping up from the ground. The trees have gone from completely barren last week, to that wonderful state of misty-green buds early this week, to tiny dark green leaves by weeks end. It’s been quite a week!
We scavenged two steel air conditioner covers from A/Cs that were bound for the dump, and are planning on cutting sections out of them to patch the holes in our floor. The covers also have vents in them, which will be useful later on when we build battery and propane bays.
Things are very exciting and are moving right along! I skipped out to meet the delivery guy today when he brought our plywood, etc. As we were unloading the truck he asked if this was my first building project, and I told him that indeed it was. He chuckled and said he could tell.
Unfortunately the bus cam is still not working. Well, let me re-phrase, it’s working but it’s not uploading to the site. Also, the site hasn’t been allowing me to update photos either! It’s quite a catastrophe of minimal proportions! Hopefully soon we will be able to link our site with our site so that you can actually see some photos. They’re worth a thousand words I hear. …

So, tomorrow is going to be a work day, so I best get to bed.
Good night!
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Old 04-26-2008, 10:55 PM   #27
Almost There
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Buffalo, NY
Posts: 87
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Ford
Engine: 5.9l Diesel Cummins
Rated Cap: 20
Re: Gustav

Great to hear things are going well for you guys. Do you have pics to share?
My 1997 Ford / Thomas shorty
5.9l Diesel Cummins w/automatic tranny

Photo's of my bus build
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Old 04-28-2008, 12:28 PM   #28
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Vermont
Posts: 38
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Crown
Chassis: Carpenter
Engine: ISB Cummings
Rated Cap: 84
Re: Gustav

On Saturday night/Sunday morning we had the first rain we’ve had in a long while. I don’t remember another cloudy day that in all of April. This was unbelievably good for the plants that were beginning to look a little woebegone from lack of water, but was a mixed blessing for us.

We’ve spent the last two or so months trying to remove all traces of rust from our floor and sidewalls. We finally accomplished this aim last week, when we finished auto-painting the entire interior of our space. We’ve also spent a lot of time trying to prevent any new moisture from getting in. The bad news is even after the minor rainfall we had (way less than an inch), we still have rivulets of water on our floor and full fledged puddles near the wheel wells. The good news is that the POR-15 auto paint that we used held up, and that all of the water was beaded up on the surface, not soaking into our metal floors. Luckily, we found out about the leaks before we'd installed anything that could be damaged.

We sucked up all the water with our Shop-Vac, and started trying to come up with a plan. We decided that we should continue the caulking job that we’d started on Saturday, not being sure whether that meant caulking EVERY seam, window and crevice. Unfortunately, we were nearly out of caulk and as it was a Sunday afternoon, and we live in a sleepy Vermont town, nothing was open (we did call around to all the local places first, I swear). We ended up taking a lovely Sunday afternoon drive up to Rutland- I will spare you any more jubilations about spring in Vermont. After finding one of our favorite hardware stores closed we went to *gasp* Home Depot. Jorgi (our little white dog) was most excited to accompany us. We’ve found that nearly all Hardware/Lumber yard type places allow dogs if you just ask first.

We found the caulk that we needed (alongside about 25 different types that we didn’t need). We also talked to several nice employees who helped us with our flooring and appliance questions.

When we returned home, we took the advice of someone on one of our ‘skoolie’ sites, and took a hose to the bus to simulate rain so we could find where the water was coming in. Fortunately, the roof seams and sidewall seams were solid. Unfortunately, the water was coming in through the windows in torrents.

We decided that instead of just caulking around the base of the window like we'd done the day before, we needed to seal around the entire thing. It took two windows before we finally got the hang of things, and it took us a good long time to do each window. We worked out a system where John applied the caulk and I smoothed it out with my finger or a paint scraper and removed the excess. By the time we were experts. We were only able to do about one-third of the bus before it got too dark. Just as we were finishing up, our friend Rich stopped by to check on our progress. It’s so fun to have guests!

After we ate a late dinner, we decided to put the tarp back on, as there was a 100% chance of rain today, and neither of us felt like doing any more vacuuming than needed.

Today, as promised it’s raining. You can almost hear the grass and flowers squealing with delight (not to mention watch them grow before your very eyes). John is currently working on two contracts, and has been staying up most nights working on them, so we decided that since it’s raining, we’d take another day off and recoup and plan out our next move. We're also going to try to upload most of the pictures from our conversion today. Stay tuned!
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Old 07-17-2008, 04:55 PM   #29
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Vermont
Posts: 38
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Crown
Chassis: Carpenter
Engine: ISB Cummings
Rated Cap: 84
Re: Gustav

Summer has arrived in the Green Mountains, and I have the barefeet calluses to prove it! It has indeed been a long, long, long, long, long time since
I have blogged. We have been working very hard (just ask Rich). We were abducted, not by aliens, but by Mary
Lou at the Slate Valley Museum- more of this to come later.

We finally got the leaking in the bus to cease and desist,
at least for the most part. There were a
very frustrating days way back in May where we’d think that we had the leaks
licked, but then it would rain and there’d be water all over the floor and we’d
have to start looking for leaks all over again. John spent many a warm day on top of the roof
scraping out all of the old nasty caulk and replacing it with new. This means
not only do our windows not leak, but our roof is drip-free, too! Hooray.

We have also been trying to paint the bus with a
tractor-primer coat for a very long time.
We got most (95% or so (but my math and estimation skills are lacking so
ask John about the exact number) of decals off the bus, and scuffed the ENTIRE
surface to prepare it for painting. Unfortunately, we need a stretch of three
perfect days in order to paint. We’ve
had several of these stretches in the last few weeks, but unfortunately, they always
seem to coincide with other scheduled events.

Last week we insulated the walls. We are using board foam
insulation, with foil backing, which means that it has a higher “R” value. For
those of you who are not total geeks, the “R” definition of value is, “a measure
of a material's resistance to the passage of heat, the higher the R value, the
more insulating.”

Foam board is a great product, the only down side to it is
the squeak factor. Imagine driving down
the road with a whole bunch of Styrofoam in your car, eeee rrrr eeeee rrrr
every time you hit a bump. Now magnify that by 40 feet. You can see our
dilemma. We had already purchased this
stuff called Red Rosin, which is used when you are laying down a floor to keep
squeaks out of the flooring. John had the brilliant idea of wrapping all of our
foam in this before putting it in the walls. So, he cut and measured the foam, while I put
the foam into little pink packages. It looks like our bus is making out like a
bandit at Christmas time. We have jumped
up and down in search of any noises and things have been quiet.

Before we began working on the floor, we had several holes
that we needed to cover up to prevent bugs and moisture and colonies of gnomes
from moving into our bus from below. I
was really concerned about this aspect, being certain that it was going to be
too difficult for us to do with out some sort of outside help. Neither of us had ever experienced cutting
metal before, and it seemed like a totally different ballgame than cutting
insulation or wood. But, after going out
to a great brunch in Londonderry, John and I
decided to tackle it. We got out the old
air-conditioner casing that we scavenged from Juli’s
trash pile, and set to work. We measured
the holes and drew templates on to the steel, and within probably 45 minutes
had all of the metal we needed cut out. It was WAY easier than I had anticipated. The we set to work making a caulk seal around
all of the holes before placing the metal on top and riveting it down.

We also laid down insulation on the floor with subflooring
on top. We began this project one
evening after I’d been in the store all day.
We’d been having a hot stretch here, where it was 98 degrees and it felt
like it was at least 130. It was so hot it took my breath away and made me want
to cry and scream at the same time. We
were tired, hot and frustrated, but decided that we wanted to make some
progress that evening. We cut out the Red
Rosin to go on the floor and laid the insulation and just as we were starting
to cut the subflooring the sky began to rumble. We decided that we were determined to get at
least one board in before it rained, and we did. Just after we dropped the
board, the sky broke open and we went and danced in the rain. It felt so good
to have the heat break, and the rain helped wash away the frustrations of the

It took us a few days to finish, but it’s all in now, and
looks great! As of last week we’ve been
married four years and holding. It’s amazing how fast time has flown by. We spent our anniversary at the Slate Valley
Museum, helping them to
get ready for their big opening on Saturday. We love Mary Lou, and will gladly spend any
anniversary painting for her!

This week has been somewhat adventure filled. We went up to Bristol (about an hour and a half away) on Monday,
to go order our wood floors. On our way
up, the brake light and ABS light in the truck came on. Now, growing up I drove our old Toyota pickup, whose
brake light was ALWAYS on, because the emergency brake wouldn’t go all the way
in. This kind of desensitized me to any dashboard light-up warning mechanisms,
so I didn’t really think anything of it. That was until, we were coming up over a hill
at a T intersection, and no matter how hard I punched the brakes we weren’t
gonna stop. Fortunately, there were no
cars in our immediate vicinity and we were able to get to a automotive shop. Unfortunately,
we had to try three automotive shops before we found one who could or would
help us. When we popped the hood we found that there was no brake fluid left,
but that the shop couldn’t get us in until Wednesday. Not wanting to be stuck in Bristol, or miss our Monday night potluck we bought some brake fluid and headed back to Middlebury. I learned a lot about driving a manual that
day, and am now quite an expert. Heck,
who needs brakes anyway? We found a nice
garage in Middlebury who was willing to get our car in that, and have it ready
by the following day. We rented a car
from Enterprise,
and headed down the road.

The car we got was really really nice, especially compared to the truck, with
no power-steering, brakes or radio. This
one had all of the accoutrements, including a kicking stereo with XM. Now
normally, I can’t stand XM. They’re a big radio conglomerate… don’t get me
started… but on this occasion, it was really nice to be able to drive home
listening to Bob Marley with good windshield wipers and brakes.

We went back up to Bristol
on Tuesday and ordered our wood floor. We were going to go with Maple and had
already checked some out at a place in Bristol.
After talking with a friend of ours we decided to check out a different wood
company than the one we were going to go with, whose wood comes exclusively
from Vermont,
and is sustainably harvested by Vermonters.
The other store definitely couldn’t boast these types of credentials,
and the second place had more of a selection and better prices. We ended up deciding on hickory floors,
because they are harder and lighter than maple. Although it’s not what you typically think of
when you think Vermont, this too is an all Vermont wood. Unfortunately, it still needs to be planed
down, which means another trip up to Bristol
next week *sigh*.

Well, that’s pretty much all the news on this front. I am
truly sorry there aren’t more photos. We actually just got new cameras (yes,
one for each of us!), and there should be many many more pictures coming soon! Thanks
for not giving up on us!
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Old 07-17-2008, 04:56 PM   #30
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Vermont
Posts: 38
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Crown
Chassis: Carpenter
Engine: ISB Cummings
Rated Cap: 84
Re: Gustav

It seems entirely impossible that it has already been a month since I last posted, but as I’m looking at the last post I see that it’s only three days shy of a month. It’s incredible. Needless to say, we have been busy and time has been flying.

Since the last time I wrote, we installed walls,made it up to Bristol to pick up our floors, laid the floors and even hard-waxed them! Like I said, it’s been a busy month.

Right after we finished the floors, we began working on the walls. For this we bought more Advantech plywood-like substance, which is low in chemicals, is waterproof, and has a 50 year warranty). We decided to put an extra layer of insulation on the walls, in addendum to what we’d already done. We cut and wrapped huge 4 foot-long (or longer) sections of foam board in Red Rosin paper to keep it from squeaking. We had to do two pieces for every length of wall for both the foam and the Advantech, as there is a metal lip running down the length of the bus, about a foot of the floor. So there was one piece of foam/Advantech that would be over a food and a half for the top part, and one that was around 10 inches for the bottom part. Then as someone said, we “screwed the holy hell out of it.”

We really wanted our walls to be solid, and solid they are. After John cut the boards to size, we took a drill with a counter-sinking bit, and bored holes in the wood where it would be able to screw into the metal bars under the windows and in the center of the wood just for good measure. We used hex-headed self-tapping screws. For those of you like myself who have no idea what those are, they are screws that have a head that is about 3/8 of an inch tall and hexagonal in shape. Unlike a normal screw with a Phillips head, these are much stronger and won’t strip out as easily. The self-tapping part just means that it has a small drill on the end of each screw, so that you do not have to pre-drill the holes. Unfortunately for us, we often had to pre-drill, because the screws would begin to melt once they got through the wood to the metal. We bought a box of about 1000 screws, and I’d say we used just under half of it. I have pectoral muscles of steel from boring holes!

All of the walls are the same height, except for a piece in the middle of the bus, which is four windows long. Eventually this will be where our kitchen counters are. Even though we’re really trying to keep the space open we decided it’d be ridiculous to try and do them the same height as everywhere else, as we’d basically have to get down on our hands and knees to cook. This wasn’t an option we liked and we decided we could sacrifice four windows.

During the first week in July we took Tim’s pick-up, “Ben,” as it is larger and able to bear more weight than the truck we’d been using. Unfortunately, unlike the rental car, this meant no Bob Marley for us.

It was a rough trip up and an even rougher trip back. We went to pick up the wood late in the week, because the place that we bought the wood (Lathrop’s Exclusively Vermont Wood Products), would be closed over the weekend and the entire next week. It was threatening to rain as we left, and we encountered some heavy-ish rain along the way. As usual, when we are working under someone else’s schedule, tensions were a little high.

Even though we left in plenty of time, we made it up to Bristol only 45 minutes before they closed, and just after a huge downpour of rain. One of the workers, a great guy named Jody, helped us load the wood into the bed with a skid loader. We put a tarp over all the wood, and tacked a red plastic cup to the back (it was the only red thing in the truck that we could use as a caution) and were on our way home and our tension began to subside.

This was short lived. After pulling out on to the road, we realized that what we really needed, and had failed to bring was a tow-strap. Even though we had it tied down with ropes, every time we hit a bump the wood would bounce, and every time we went up a hill it’d slide toward the rear and the open tailgate.

We crawled back towards Middlebury, the nearest sizeable town with stomachs in our throats, on a windy, hilly and bumpy back road. Then we had to merge on to a busy intersection that was uphill and nearly lost the wood out the back. At our wits end we stopped at the nearest building, a hotel, to find whether there was a hardware store nearby where we could by supplies. Unluckily, there wasn’t. But there was a large gas station just up the road which serviced semi-trucks that would likely have what we needed. And as an added bonus, the road to it was mostly down hill.

We crept back on to the highway and backtracked, inching our way along. When we finally got there, I pulled in and began to fill the truck with gas while John went in to see what they had. He came back out within minutes, as they had nothing that we could use. We went back in to talk to the girl behind the counter, to see if there was a hardware store or auto-parts store anywhere in the next town. She looked at us rather blankly, chewing her gum, and said that there wasn’t. We tried asking her several different things, trying to convey to her our desperation, and still she looked at us blankly. John quickly gave up on her, and went out to the parking lot to see if anyone had a strap that we could buy from them. As they say, the third time’s a charm. After asking two people, John struck it lucky, and a very kind and generous man said that he had an old strap that we could have. He refused any money for it, and even helped us tie everything down. It restored our faith in humanity for the day.

It was one of those things where he was gone as quickly as he came, and we didn’t even catch his name so that we could write him a thank-you note. I went back in to the station, to ask the girl behind the counter if he was a regular, and if she maybe knew who he was. She said that he came in for coffee almost every day, if not several times per day, and I was astonished when she told me that she had no idea what his name was.

My family owns a country store, and we know probably 95% of our customers on a first name basis, especially our regulars. I felt really sad and frustrated about the corporatization and de-neighbor-fication (a new word I just made up) of our country. We left without being able to say a proper thank you, but with a resolve to help others out in the future.

We made it back home safely although slowly with out much incident. As soon as we rounded the bend at Lake St. Catherine, and headed for home the skies turned black and they opened up with full fury as soon as we pulled in the driveway. We sat in the truck for a few minutes watching the rain and then went and sat in the bus and waited for it to subside.

As soon as there was a break in the clouds, we ran back to the truck and started undoing the strap and the tarps and the metal bindings that held the wood. We began trying to stack the wood in the bus, two pieces stacked together at a time, as quickly as we could before the rain began again. Our friend and neighbor Jason was really sweet and jumped in to help us. John took the brunt of the labor of hauling over 600 pounds of wood from the truck to the bus and stacking in a neat pile. It was well after dark after we finished and we were pooped.

Unhappily, at this time we only had the walls partially finished, so in the end we had to move the wood to the other side so that we could complete our walls. We also had to finish up some of the subflooring in the very front, and in the driver’s area and along the wheel well before we could lay our floors. John again did the majority of this task.

Finally the day came last week when we were able to begin laying our floor. And just like anytime we start anything, it was the hottest day that we’d had in weeks. My dad went out to help John and Juli’s contractor, John (who is working on her house)while I took his place in the store. By the time I got done with work at six, John had almost half of the floor laid.

We borrowed a floor-nailer from our friend Josh, who is a great carpenter and cabinet maker. The nailer isn’t an air-powered one, but one that you strike with a hammer. You have to line the nailer up with the tongue of the board, keep it steady as you bend over it, and whack it soundly several times with the hammer. “Whack, Whack, Whack.” The thing that you are striking is spring loaded, and drivers further and futher down into the machine, pushing the nail in until it reaches then end when it pops back up for you to begin with the next nail (does that make any sense? Perhaps John, who did the nailing can describe it better?).

The next day we got up and started the whole thing again. I had bought some “green” floor adhesives from a place on line (, but instead of sending us the 4.5 gallon container they sent us a 1 gallon container. This mean that by the end of the first day, we were not even half way done and out of adhesive. (I did call and they did refund us, no worries). It had taken over a week for the stuff to get to us in the first place, and we weren’t about to wait a week to continue with our floors. We bought some conventional stuff from a hardware store and were about to set forth when I read the cautions on the bottle. It was really horrific. I really have a lot of trouble using anything that is a neurotoxin and so I was really torn about what to do. I didn’t want to stall the project, but I didn’t want to put us in danger either. I called one of our local hardware stores to see if they carried anything that would be suitable. Now, Upstate New York and rural Vermont are just beginning to ride the “green” wave, so I was pleasantly shocked that our local guys had just started carrying an eco-friendly line of products. We rushed right over, (much to my father amusement I think) and bought six tubes.
Now before nailing the floor down, we first put down an adhesive. This will keep the floor from buckling and from squeaking. This was my job. We also had to use a miter saw to cut the ends off of each board, so that they’d have a flat edge and make a snug fit. My job was to hold the ends of the long board while John or my dad cut the other end, so that the board would be flat all the way across(t). Then the board would go into the bus where John and I had chosen, we tried to lay similar boards together. Then came the difficult part, because each board had to be laid with its groove in the previous board’s tongue, and had to be pounded tightly against the previous board before it could be nailed in. This often proved tricky because either the board would be slightly warped, or the bus would be cured and once you got one side pounded in, the other side would pop out. John and my dad rigged up a great system using some large wooden posts, scrap pieces of flooring and a car jack and a person (usually me) standing on the board. It was quite a thing to see. John really did a beautiful job, and we only have a handful of gaps to speak of. The pieces against the final wall were tricky, and had to nailed in by hand and then screwed down because the nailer couldn’t fit that closely to the walls.

On Friday John cut out the pieces to go around the wheel well and the driver’s area. I really can’t remember what I did…. But I know that we worked until 8 o’clock at night. After working, we went up the road to Tinmouth, Vermont to SolarFest, an eco-minded music festival that they hold every year. It’s held a place called the Forget-Me-Not Farm. There is a huge sound stage, with a full light display, many vendors of solar systems, sustainable living things, and of course hippie clothes, which are all powered by solar! We ate some really great food provided by none other than our favorite Samosa Guy (of Farmer’s Market fame) and talked to a guy about power systems.

Many people come to the event and camp for the three days, but we had too much to do so we went home.

On Saturday, we rented a huge pad sander from Wendy at American Hardware, and set to sanding the floors. I had the honor of doing a lot of this, although John helped considerably, especially toward the end. On Saturday I sanded the whole floor down several times with 36 grit paper (a really really rough textured sand paper), to get as much unevenness out of the floor as possible. Then I did the whole thing over again with a 60 grit paper. By the time I finished it was dark, and we headed back up to Solar Fest. We walked around for a while, I bought a great Rose Quartz necklace, and we listened to some great blue-grass music which was being played away from the main stage. Then we ran into our friend Kate and Adam, who were exhausted after being there all day. We talked with them for awhile before wandering around some more. We came up over a hill, and found that there was contra-dancing going on! Contra-Dancing is sort of like square dancing, except way cooler. You stand in long lines (not like line-dancing though), and face your partner and move through a series of steps that you learn at the beginning of each step. It was so fun to watch, because the dancing was being done out doors, under colored lights and everyone was dressed like hippies, so it gave the impression of faeries out for a frolic. We joined in several of the reels, and I tell you what, I need to get into better shape! I was winded and breathless within a few iterations of the dance! Now, one would think that with my history as a ballroom dancer, that contra-dancing would be no problem, but this is not so. I have a lot of confusion when it comes to right and left, and when I don’t have a lead partner there to direct me, mayhem ensues, the hardest part was when we had to face the other two partners, clap opposite hands, and then turn to our partner and do the same… But things began to look up just before the dance ended. It was so much fun! I am really excited to do more of it in the future!

On Sunday, we finished up with the final floor sanding. We first did the whole floor with an 80 grit and then John and I finished it together using 100-grit paper. Now the floor feels like a baby’s bottom. It feels amazing on bare feet! Yesterday, under the recommendation our building guru, John Richardson (my sister’s contractor) we mixed some wood glue with sawdust and filled the holes along the walls where we had to screw the floor down. Our friend and foreman, Rich stopped by after being mysteriously absent for a few weeks. We were really glad to see him, especially because he proved knowledgeable about what we were doing.

this morning I had a few minutes of freak-out, as the wood glue dried much darker than it started, which looked really awkward against our untreated and lovely floor. This brings up an interesting point. I LOVE OUR FLOOR! Every piece is unique. Some are light with dark streaks, other have what looks like licks of fire running through them. I could wax poetic all day about it! It is magnificent…. We got out the sander and started again with 36-grit, working our way back up to 100 grit, going over each screw hole multiple times. In the end John got it looking really good (he’s the one who did most of the sanding, while I worked on the outside of the bus and made phonecalls).

After he was finished, I vacuumed the whole floor several times, but still couldn’t get it clean, so I got out a dust mop and dust mopped it before going over it twice with tack cloth. When I was finished it was like butter under my feet.

Under the recommendation of some fellow bus people, Moss and Pixie ( we decided to use a finishing product on the floor called OSMO Hardwax. Unlike a polyurethane finish, which makes a plastic-y build-up on the floor, OSMO leaves the wood feeling natural. It’s also water-resistant, and can be used on children’s toys as it’s non-toxic. It’s also a German product, and we figure that the Germans know a thing or two about dealing with wood. : ) Late this afternoon, as the sun was getting low we did the first coat of it on our floor. I must admit, that after two weeks of looking at the natural wood, and falling in love with every board, it was a bit shocking to see it turn a different color. Even though I love the color, I think it’s going to take a while for me to get over the natural boards. The natural boards were really light in color, with almost pink and red under tones. The finished product, although beautiful is darker, with butter-scotch and cherry (wood) tones. Don’t get me wrong, I adore it, but it’s going to take a while to get used to.

In other news, we’ve order several accoutrements for our kitchen, namely the cooking stove and a refrigerator. We ordered the kitchen oven/stove from a marine place. It’s much shorter than a regular stove, but just as deep and as wide. It even has a broiler! Hooray! It’s being built in California by a small family operation. I also ordered the fridge today. It’s one that runs well with solar-electric and has amazing efficiency. It should arrive next week from Massachusetts.

A few weeks ago we also ordered a few small boxes of tile. Rich (a friend from Vermont) definitely called my bluff on this one, because even though we bought it locally, it did come from Brazil. But really, it was too cool to pass up. It’s similar to this ... /512/prd/0 , but much much cooler when you see it in person. We will find a use for the local slate that comes from Vermont, Rich. Don’t worry! : P

Well, that’s about all for now… I just got some residual sunscreen in my eyes, so it’s time for bed. I am still working on photos, but now that the webcam is up, you at least have something to look at!

I hope all is well! For those of you in Iowa, we look forward to seeing you soon!
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