My girlfriend Angie and I (Daniel) are *hopefully* 2 months away from embarking on a cross country road trip researching how different cities are implementing green technology. The research will culminate in a comprehensive documentary of our findings. Our method of travel and living space for the next year will be a 1991 Chevy G30 Diesel Short Bus. Fuel will primarily be used veg. oil supplemented by diesel in a dual tank system. Electrical power generated by solar panels. Whatever money we will need on the road for food and other expenses we hope to raise by selling art and picking up side jobs doing construction/murals/whatever we can find. As the research project details are finalized I will post more info.. but for now here is the status of our bus:
1991 Chevy G30 6.2L Diesel. 285kmiles @ purchase.
rebuilt engine/trans. new exhaust. passed inspection 1/11
around 8mpg and got up to 75 easily on the way home (Richmond, VA) from Charlottesville, VA.
All plastic window latches broken. Interior lights/fan/aux not working, no radio.
$2500 off craigslist.
So far bus progress has been slow, but in the next couple months I will be switching to a part-time work schedule and should have plenty of time for the bus. First thing of course was pulling the benches out, they made great seats for our porch out back! Then I jumped on the door. I wanted to keep the bus door mostly so I could still look out while driving. I removed the door opening assembly and (regrettably) I welded the hinge shut so it would swing open like a regular door and installed a deadbolt. The next day I saw how Lily had used the garage door mechanism on her Leap of Faith thread and kicked myself for jumping the gun with the welding... but whats done is done. It works so no big deal, just a few cosmetic touches left on that.
Next I started fooling around with the electrical problems inside. Sorting through the jungle of wires around the pedals was a giant pain in the butt, and its still not fixed entirely. By trial and error I found the wires that are suppose to power the interior lights, fan, radio, and a few other things.. but I'm still not sure where they are suppose to get power from. Right now I have them spliced to their own fuses and stuck in the ignition fuse spots on the fuse box. So they only have power when you turn the ignition (not all the way to start the bus), and when you turn the key something in the panel above the driver seat clicks pretty loudly but I can't figure out what exactly is making that sound and it doesn't seem to be sparking or anything so for now I'm ignoring it. The horn is also not working which is curious since it passed inspection shortly before I bought it... not sure if that's something I did or what. I know the previous owner said he clipped some wires underneath the bus by the driver seat to make the rear door alarm turn off, maybe he clipped the wrong wires? Haven't investigated that yet. Electrical stuff is not my cup of tea. I did manage to swap the stock radio back into my truck and put my aftermarket in the bus without too much hassle tho.
While investigating the wires I decided to leave the panels covering the exterior lights off for storage room, same with the bin above the driver seat. That one I had to extend a bunch of wires so I could hide them behind the plexi I put up. Still need to cover some holes, shield some wires off, and finish off the edges, maybe with wood trim or scrap leather/rubber.
As for the living space.. I had a really small pull out couch I wanted use instead of a permanent bed structure, you can see from the photo it fits perfectly (if not just a little too snuggly) when opened. It will sit on a carpeted platform that will house a fresh water tank (possibly the battery bank for the solar too) with a hinged door for access. Next I found a metal kitchen sink cabinet in a house we were fixing up at work that also fit perfectly (and very snuggly) between the couch and the edge by the driver seat. I have this bullet proof glass I shot up with some friends I really want to use for the top and pour a nice table top resin finish on it. Shelving bins will go above the windows on both sides, probably the back too. Found the roof ladder @ a scrap yard, $5.
The shower compartment will be the first spot on the left as you get on the bus, we'r going to use a detached shower wand type thing that has a good pressure setting to hopefully wash dishes with as well. We'v decided for now we'r going with an emergency only toilet consisting of a 5gal. bucket and sawdust (similar to this but without the fancy wood box: http://home.earthlink.net/~tabletophomestead/potty.html
). Its the cheapest and easiest solution till I have money to drop on something nicer, and that will be stored in the shower compartment. The 30gal. fresh water tank has come in, still need to get a $40 water pump from harbor freight and start hooking that up and build the shower...
I ordered new $1 plastic bus latches from here: http://www.schoolbuspartsco.com/WebPage ... talog.html
I couldn't figure out how to get the springs loose like all the websites and blogs I went to said you were suppose to do... so I gave up, got my dremel out and cut a little bit of the metal away till I could pull the broken pieces out and slide the new ones in. They all work now
I salvaged the driver seat off a van we were scrapping @ work for my copilot... Still need to bolt a lap belt on. I'm going to remove the little dash cup holder piece, but as you can see from the picture Angie will have to straddle the engine cover. Probably not the safest spot but there's no where else to put it and she says wants it so..
Second major purchase for the trip was the dual tank kit to run waste veg. oil. I bought mine from http://www.greasecar.com
for about $1,700. 40gal. aluminum tank, manual controller, upgraded SV200 valves, and a bunch of other stuff. A few coworkers have kits from greasecar and have been running veg.oil for years with no problems so I'm pretty optimistic. I already have a filter station I bought off craigslist for $200, but I'll have to rework it for the road. My plan is to keep 2 50gal. blue rain drums on a small trailer, probably will need to get some biocide given that I wont be able to keep the drums cool and bacteria is likely otherwise. When we get to a city we will try to refill on veg. oil from restaurants asap so it will have as long as possible to settle out before we move to the next city. I'm going to prefilter with jeans, then probably run it through these filter housings on my set up to get it down to 5microns. This is all in theory so far.. the tank kit just came in this week so we'll see how it all pans out. Here is a useful diagram I couldn't find online till I bought the kit to explain how it works..
SO.. thats where I'm at. I still need to find a cheap trailer (maybe 5x8?) for the barrels and my tools, art supplies.. The barrels don't need to be enclosed I suppose but the rest will, so unless I find a really good deal on an enclosed trailer I'll have to fabricate the enclosure myself. I also need to find a cheap 50cc scooter we can go around on in the cities so we won't have to move the bus all the time. AND I want to fabricate a deck on the roof kind of like Smittys to hang out on and mount the solar panel to. Probably going to buy the solar panel from this local business called Abakus Solar USA Inc., they have 220Watt Panels for $550. ...sigh... if only I had majored in a field that made money, except with the way things are now that may not have helped anyway =/