Here is an update taken from our website Elyrahs, been workin on.... Have Fun
We are wicked excited about our new bus. It is going to be an amazing experience creating our own custom home and we look forward to being able to share it with others. It is so liberating and confidence-building to grow as entrepreneurs, and create our own reality and living space just as we want it.
Our intention is to periodically update our blog with the improvements that we make to the bus as we build it into a comfortable home
Our bus adventure began at the end of July of this year. We had an awesome 1971 Chevrolet G30 Camper Van which we sold for $3,000 to a couple of girls who have plans to convert it to hydro (yes, water!) power. The next day we bought the bus for $2,000 from a local church. Our bus is a mid-size 1997 International 3800. It is in great condition and so far we have only had to replace one tire due to dry-rot from sitting in the sunlight for a few years and a part called a cam position sensor. We read online that many people recommend always having a back-up of these because they are inexpensive and break frequently. The symptom tends to be, and was for us, the bus shutting off rather randomly, and especially at slow speeds or stopping at lights. It was not a fun problem while we had it, but at least we could still make it to where we needed to get.
Mikey, along with some help from family, removed all but two of the seats. Once we have at least one more (but we want two), seats with seatbelts we will remove the last two. He also set up his jeweler's workbench in the back of the bus. At the moment most of our belongings are on the floor in bags or a hutch and we sleep on a foam mat. We have a small propane stove that we use for cooking. Just having the space is a big up from the van for us. It's also pretty nice to not have to “pull-out” or “put-back” the bed every day. We can just flip over the bed which can fold up how-ever.
It is not really a “new” problem since moving out of the van, because really we did not plug up often enough to use the one we had, but not having a fridge makes cheap AND healthy eating a little more difficult. We often end up getting pre-made things at grocery or convenience stores. This is definitely not our only option however. Eggs do not need to be refridgerated, pastas, beans, fresh vegetables etc. can be cooked on the stove. A fridge would simply make keeping things fresh for longer a lot easier as kale and other things often can't get eaten fast enough before it goes bad. It is also a little less appetizing to eat left-over food that has been left out in the warm and humid summer heat rather than in a cool fridge. A fridge will also save us lots of money on drinks because drinking warm water out of plastic jugs all day is not our favorite so too often we will buy convenience store drinks (picking the least of the poisons).
I'll mention our “problems” for the sake of sharing our experience, but we just grin and bear them and use them as motivation as we look forward to solving these ourselves. We know some day soon our food can be in cupboards, pretty safe from the dog hair floating around. Things are only going to get more comfortable and convenient from here.
Since the day we got the bus about three weeks ago, we have been living inside it already. We stay in the same spots as we would with the van- places like Walmart, Lowe's, travel/truck stops, rest areas, and family and friends' places.
For finding a shower here in New England we have just been utilizing family's showers, however in other states we have paid for a shower at truck stops.
As far as temperature inside the bus goes, it isn't bad. The bus is white so that helps a lot, along with being able to open a bunch of windows. It will be worth it to get an air conditioner in the future, however. So far our experience with the bus has been great. We check Craigslist.org almost every day for free things. We hope to get as much for the bus for free or inexpensive as possible. We know we can have a wonderful home without spending a fortune. Check back soon for more updates! <3
For those of you out there who have or would like to get your own bus, stickers on the outside of the bus will more than likely be something that you'll be removing. Covering so much area, this could potentially take quite a while to do.
When we first got our bus, there was sticker lettering on the side and back with the name of the church we bought it from. We looked online for ways to remove the sticker and tried out several methods. Two of them were fairly efficient. The other methods did not work well enough to continue working at it with. Here's what we tried and what worked best for us.
We actually removed the actual stickers themselves first with a razor blade. The whole process took about an hour or so. We removed the glue residue that was left behind another day. A bit of dirt had built up on the glue so it was about time to just get to it.
First we tried WD-40. I saw this used to remove vehicle stickers on a YouTube video and it appeared to work quickly. For us, it was just time consuming.
Baking soda was next. The abrasion was helpful. Between the baking soda and WD-40 I removed the small DOT numbering from the side of the bus. As a last attempt for the day Mikey's mom gave me a Magic Eraser to try but it just started tearing up getting caught on the glue. I decided to find something better for next time.
My father had some chemicals in his garage he offered for me to use. We tried out a few of them.
As soon as I tried mineral oil, I saw immediately that it was much more effective. I almost did not even bother trying anything else after that.
Acetone worked just as well as the mineral oil for us. Mikey thought it was a little bit better but I continued with the mineral oil for the most part.
We also tried a bug and tar remover. It smelled nice, but it did not work.
Between the mineral oil and acetone we removed all of the stickers from the bus in about an hour or less. We are not sticker-removing experts! This is just what worked for us out of the things we tried. The whole bus conversion process for us is one long learning experience. We try to make it fun, and hope that sharing both our failures and successes can help others in some way. Please feel free to comment below and share what's worked for you when it comes to removing stickers from vehicles.
Quite a bit has happened with the bus since our first update! Definitely feeling that it'll be well-worth it for everyone for us to post more often, and more in depth in the future with each thing that we accomplish.
The first thing we did after removing all of the seats was build the frame for our bed. We built it with some free wood on Craigslist and the lumber which was not pressure treated was used for the bed. The pressure-treated wood we have set aside to be used for the rooftop platform. The plywood we purchased at Lowe's.
Basically, for the bed, Mikey made the measurements and cut the boards to size. Notches were required on the sides and near the door so that the door handle could move. He also added a couple supporting pieces of wood across the middle for extra support. The plywood was cut into a few pieces. The bed was built so that the majority of it would be storage space for our vending supplies underneath, only accessible from the back door. The other part will be drawers (or some other type of storage space).
One thing I wish we had done before building anything was give the floors a serious scrubbing. I rushed to get the bed area scrubbed before Mikey started putting it together. Honestly, the rest of the bus has still yet to be scrubbed down. Part of the reason for this is simply that from day one we have been living in it, so to move all of our things around, which were all over the floor until much of it was put under the bed once it was built, would have been difficult.
We also found some cabinets and a counter-top for free on Craigslist. The people we got them from were very kind and even through the sink in for free as well, even though they were thinking of keeping it when we first got there. With a new paint-job and some handles they should look quite nice.
Mikey had to cut the counter-top down to size. We choose to cut it to match a section of the cabinets we were using for the under-sink area. He cut it twice because at fit we were going to have it longer with an open area underneath the sink but we decided it would look better covered. He screwed it into place
We got a camper oven for free from a friend of ours, and just the other day we went to Vermont to pick up an RV fridge we found for only $100. Most of the propane and electric fridges we have seen online were at least $600. Besides this one, $300 was the lowest we found. It is just the right size and we think we will be happy with it.
Today we cleaned off the glue from our ShadyBoy awning we kept from the van and screwed it to the outside of the bus. We have it on the door-side of course. It is in front of a few of the windows but from inside you can still see over it even when it is open.
Our layout plan has been mostly in our heads. Since we are getting everything we can for free and as it comes, it is tricky to know exactly how much space every item will require. The plan has changed many times, including today.
At this point, our plan is to have, starting from the front right going back, a couple bucket seats or a bench seat with seat-belts in place of the original bus seat. The impact(?) cushion will be replaced with a banister of some kind. The sink will remain where we have it now and we will more than likely be making a back-splash of some kind with room to see over the awning. Next will be the oven, on top of a platform over the wheel-well. After that will be a mini-woodstove and whatever space is left will be extra storage in front of bed. On the left side starting in front will be a kitchenette booth which can be made into a bed, then the fridge, then a bathroom. The bathroom will have the shower over the wheel-well and a composting toilet beside it. On top of the bus we will have a 20 foot platform with a ladder to get up there. On the side of the bus under the awning will be a fold-out table for metal-work and crafting. We have had thoughts of a small back porch eventually but we also would like a small trailer to turn into a little workshop and keep a small enduro or scooter to travel around on.
We have really been enjoying building our bus into a home. Yes, it's been messy. No, we have never done this before. But in the end, we will continue to be rent and mortgage free and able to work and live comfortably anywhere in the country. THAT is true luxury, if I do say so myself.