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Old 08-28-2010, 07:56 AM   #101
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Re: Schoolbus Homestead

Greetings from Chita, Russia.

Browncrown: Thanks for the well-wishes.

Coma: The other person (I assume you mean ex-GF) flew the coop over a year ago. Kitty has a new home, and I even get regular updates! She's doing fine.

The ride is going well. I'm treating myself to a hotel (hot shower!) after 4 nights camping in the forests of far east Russia. The mosquitoes are vicious but the people are awesome. On Sunday I should enter Mongolia. Woot!

Later on, fellow bus people
Sean
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Old 08-28-2010, 10:58 AM   #102
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Re: Schoolbus Homestead

From Russia with Love

How cool is that keeping up with us skoolies from the Russian outback and I'm sure Coma appreciates it too.

There's something very familiar about Coma`s avatar, I just can't quite put my finger on it.

Well yeah thanks Sean for keeping us abreast of the situation.
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Old 08-28-2010, 08:56 PM   #103
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Re: Schoolbus Homestead

From Google Earth
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File Type: jpg Chita Russian Federation.jpg (141.2 KB, 942 views)
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Old 08-31-2010, 10:53 PM   #104
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Re: Schoolbus Homestead

Safe travels again and Im sure youve seen Long Way Round. To anyone who has not seen it check that out. When I was first searching for camper style buses (like the Westfalia) I came across your bus blog. It was the first school bus conversion I had ever seen and it is also the reason I started converting my own bus, so thank you.
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Old 09-04-2010, 03:45 AM   #105
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Re: Schoolbus Homestead

Greetings from Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia!

Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad to hear my bus story is helping fellow skoolies and skoolies-to-be.

I'm enjoying my ride but I miss my bus & my cat. But I would not want to be doing this trip in a bus, for two reasons. 1) The roads would be torture. The bus would need mega suspension upgrades. 2) Too much independence & being shielded from the locals. Being on a moto I'm always right within reach of people, who for the most part have been very kind and welcoming. Only downsides have been crazy drivers and a few cold shoulders in Russia.

Keep on skoolin

Sean
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Old 09-04-2010, 10:49 AM   #106
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Re: Schoolbus Homestead

Odd how we like to shield ourselves off in the US but when we're vagabonding in other countries we want exposure
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Old 09-04-2010, 04:59 PM   #107
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Re: Schoolbus Homestead

Wow! I just finished looking through your posts and blog. I sent a link to your blog to hubby to help give him some ideas on our conversion. Of course your bus is MUCH larger than ours but you have tons of good ideas. Thanks so much for posting everything. I hope you are enjoying your trip.
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Old 09-04-2010, 08:11 PM   #108
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Re: Schoolbus Homestead

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seeria
Odd how we like to shield ourselves off in the US but when we're vagabonding in other countries we want exposure
In Russia, many times simply ordering a meal in a roadside restaurant was a frustrating experience. Many rural Russians have no patience for foreigners staring at menus written in Cyrillic, or mangling their language, or doing an impression of a chicken to indicate what they want to eat. In fact I started to dread going into cafes, and have lost quite a bit of weight in the past two weeks from eating one meal every day. If I had my bus, I would just stock up at grocery stores and cook up my own meals, controlling my exposure to those uncomfortable situations. Sad but true, and I hate to say it, but if the safety shell of the bus was available, I'd be in it missing out on some of the many rewarding interactions I've had with locals.

True story: Around noontime, after riding for a few hours I went into a roadside cafe in Siberia for a late breakfast/early lunch, and stared at the menu for a while trying to look for a familiar word (I do know a few food words in Russian.) Nothing jumped out at me, the lady at the counter grew impatient and walked away, never to be seen again. I went to another cafe further down the road, ordered something familiar, and while I was waiting a lady walked in who I had seen at the previous cafe. She smiled and walked right up to me (which in itself is uncommon in Russia) and handed me a bundle of warm food. She'd seen my utter failure to obtain food at the previous place, so she and her family had ordered something extra 'to-go' with the hopes of seeing me further down the road. This is a good example of how I found Russians to be either hot or cold, with no comfy lukewarm middle-ground. And although it is statistically impossible to tell, it is also something I probably would not have experienced if my familiar bus home was available.

One thing I like about Mongolia is that the cafes have menus with pictures for their less literate clientele...like me.

Cheers
Sean
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Old 12-06-2011, 05:19 PM   #109
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Re: Schoolbus Homestead

Just an update on bus life.

We're currently experiencing a cold snap in Silver City, in the mountains of SW New Mexico at 6000' above sea level. Last night the temps dropped to 12*F. I had an electric heater running (a Lasko brand ceramic element model) on high, which is 1500 watts (or 5,118 BTU). (Yes, I'm on grid power!) At the coldest point of the night/morning, just before sunrise, the inside temperature was 42*F. Up until recently I've been able to leave the heater on low (750 watts/2,559 BTU), and the overnight lows in the 30s would result in inside temps in the 50s. So using the electric heater I can count on a reliable 20 degree temp rise on low setting, and a 30 degree rise on high setting.

I also have a Big Buddy propane heater, with settings of 18,000 BTU/hour on High, 9000 BTU/hour on Medium, 4000 BTU/hour on Low, connected to dual BBQ-sized propane tanks (which are installed in a box under the bus). Even though I have a CO alarm, I try not to run it while I'm sleeping. The obvious advantage to the propane heater is being able to make heat without electricity.

If the day is cold but sunny, I can count on getting some heat from having the curtains open on the south-facing windows. If the outside temps are in the upper 30s or higher, I can open the curtains and turn off all heating appliances, and have temperatures in the 60s inside.

This may not be mentioned in the conversion log, but I have a quilted curtain that hangs from the ceiling just behind the driver's seat. It started life as a king-sized quilt, and was cut down to fit, including the ceiling curve. It hangs from about a dozen small hooks that are screwed into the ceiling. It's far from an airtight seal but it really helps keep a lot of the heat in the living space.

During the summer months here, the temps can get into the mid-90s, with thankfully low humidity. During the warmest part of summer, I'll open all windows from sundown until mid-morning, letting the breeze bring down the temperature of what little mass I have in the bus. When the sun rises, the curtains on the south side are closed to keep the sun from roasting the inside. When the inside temperature starts to creep into uncomfortable territory (usually around 90 for me) I close all windows (leaving some slightly open) and turn on a portable evaporative cooler box fan (Essick brand, for the curious). I have it situated at the front of the bus with the quilt curtain draped over it so that it is pulling dry warm air from the driver's area. On High it can blow a 70-degree breeze through the bus, though the effect is mostly felt within about 10' of the fan. And of course as the outside humidity rises, the cooling effect drops.

During spring & fall, and on mild summer days, I can pretty much regulate temperatures by opening & closing curtains & windows on either the sunny or the shady side of the bus. I can also put up or take down the front curtain as needed.

This is where I make the case that it's best to park your bus in an east/west direction, regardless of the season. In winter, you can open your curtains and let the sun shine in to harvest some of that free solar energy. In summer, a bus parked north/south may present a smaller surface to the southern sun, but the broad sides will get roasted by the long morning and especially long & hot afternoon sun. Parked east/west you'll also have a defined "sunny" side and "shady" side, making it easier to regulate temps by opening or closing curtains.

In other news, I made a small modification to my RV-500 on-demand water heater (install info). Despite having a built-in anti-freezing mechanism that senses freezing temperatures and runs the burner for 20 seconds, I have had the heater freeze over night. To prevent this I installed a small 12vdc muffin fan in the side of the sheet metal enclosure to circulate some heated cabin air over the copper coils. There was already a removable metal panel on the side of the heater, so it was super easy to do. If the forecast calls for temps below 30*F, I'll open the cabinet doors under the sink and switch the fan on before going to bed. This has prevented the unit from freezing so far and IMO is something they should have done from the factory.

That's all for now! Cheers to my fellow bus dwellers, past, present and future.
Sean
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Old 12-06-2011, 06:45 PM   #110
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Re: Schoolbus Homestead

Quote:
Originally Posted by SeanF
... If the forecast calls for temps below 30*F, I'll open the cabinet doors under the sink and switch the fan on before going to bed....
Like tonight? Socorro is calling for a low of 12F! But the roads are melting off! By Thursday we should be able to leave here. We are packed and ready to go. It got so cold last night that I turned the thermostat on for the RV furnace to heat the Class C. The little Patton Milkhouse heater just wasn't doing it all by it's lonely. And that is what we have to heat the bus with. Hope it warms up for a few weeks, until we get the heat exchanger hooked up. This is gonna be fun....
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