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Old 04-18-2019, 04:38 PM   #1
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Starting on my mobile tiny home adventure

Two days ago I bought a 20-seater short bus! This will be my full time home once the conversion has progressed far enough.


I'll use this thread to document my process and am happy to hear suggestions.




The plan:
- remove seats
- remove flooring
- remove wall fittings
- remove ceiling fittings
- build framing
- insulate
- build flooring (hard wood), walls (gypsum) & ceiling (wood also?)

As construction is not really something I have spent too much time with so far (built a small garden shed and various furniture) I will need to go in baby steps, and build in some room for mistakes.

For example I'd like to setup an off grid solar system and my plan was to let the cable runs and sockets sit on top of a channel inside the insulated area of the bus. This is to allow for more flexibility for the interior design of the living space. Later on it should not be hard to open the walls and hide the electrical cables should that be desired.



Plumbing will be a similar deal, all done inside the insulated space for easy access and revisions.

My water system will be fairly simple, with a freshwater tank under the bed, a water pump feeding into the sink as well as an inline heater. The sin leads to a gray water tank. As the bus is targeted as a mobile home that will be immobile most of the time, I would also have the ability to hook up to fresh water and electricity from the grid. In a settled scenario I could see the grey water being diverted to a wetland are instead of the tank.

I haven't solved the question of a toilet yet. My favorite solutions are: a porta-potty for it's simplicity or a composting toilet with urine diversion.

Heat will be added during late summer. I am hoping to find a suitable small wood stove for that purpose.

One aspect which I haven't fully figured out is insulation. At this point I am leaning towards a solid foam approach in two layers in 4" which would give me ~R26 all around. I might remove an inch or so of that on the floor just to give myself more headroom. Sadly that does not satisfy the target value of R38+ in the ceiling which is what is recommended for norther Washington & southern BC (I live in Vancouver, CA). Soon I am planning to contact some spray foam contractors and see if I can't get a higher R value in less space.

I tried removing the bolts of one of the seats and after some pulling and pushing I decided to invest in an angle grinder and deal with it, like so many before me have


That's it for now!

Cheers,


fuzzblob
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Old 04-18-2019, 05:07 PM   #2
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I have a Wave 6 for the bedroom and a Wave 8 for the front. No wood stove; these catalytic heaters really put out the heat.
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Old 04-18-2019, 05:58 PM   #3
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I got most of my seats out by cutting the bolt heads with an angle grinder since I was working alone (the cutting wheels are more effective than the thicker grinding wheels IMO) and it really is a lot of fun once you get the hang of it. But if you have a helper the job will go a lot quicker (and be less toxic) if you have a person underneath locking a vice grips on the nut and a person inside first loosening the bolt with an ordinary wrench (and optional hammer for the recalcitrant) and then using a ratchet or a power drill the rest of the way.

R38 is probably way more than you need in a skoolie - without doing a roof raise, you're going to lose a massive amount of headroom inside trying to insulate to that extent. I'm going with 3" all around (not sure what material(s) yet) and that's probably more than necessary.
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Old 04-18-2019, 06:21 PM   #4
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I didn't realize there was that much difference in R value between rigid board and spray foam. Rigid being about 3.7per inch compared to 6.5 for spray. 4" would give you 26R. Is 38 even conceivable in a bus?
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Old 04-18-2019, 06:38 PM   #5
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R38 is the normal roof target for building (with foundation) in the area. Since I'm not raisng the roof that will probably be not achieved. But if I can fit more into the 4" space allocated in the ceiling I'd love to. The rigid foam boards I'm planning on using give me R6.5 per inch (2" boards, R13.1, reflector foil).
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Old 04-18-2019, 06:40 PM   #6
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I have a Wave 6 for the bedroom and a Wave 8 for the front. No wood stove; these catalytic heaters really put out the heat.

Thanks for the suggestion. This is propane operated if I understand correctly? That seams like an appealing option. Bookmarked
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Old 04-18-2019, 07:04 PM   #7
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While gypsum board can be used it isn't going to hold up as well as say 1/8" plywood sheeting as it jostles about when you are on the road. Gypsum is quite heavy as well and simply for that reason I'd steer clear of it. My $0.02 worth.
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Old 04-18-2019, 07:15 PM   #8
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While gypsum board can be used it isn't going to hold up as well as say 1/8" plywood sheeting as it jostles about when you are on the road. Gypsum is quite heavy as well and simply for that reason I'd steer clear of it. My $0.02 worth.
Jack
With the weight of water tanks and other items in our buses, I doubt the weight difference between plywood and drywall would be significant enough on the few sheets you would need to make it a deal breaker. If it's screwed and glued drywall should hold up well in a bus.
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Old 04-21-2019, 12:30 PM   #9
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Thanks everyone for chiming in!
I was thinking of Gypsum for the lower fire hazard (I'm planning on a wood stove eventually). I think I could live with wood but it feels like a step down to me - gut feeling? Not sure what all the factors are in that decision.



Yesterday I tested out the angle grinder and removed the first set of seats! 7 seats to go. I'll leave a single set of foldable seats in for the time being. When doing seat removal on your own, this approach of cutting the bolts is much more satisfying than trying to wiggle them apart - or maybe I just don't have the muscle for it. Also the diamond plated cutting disk is proving to be a worthy investment. The more conventional thin disks I had for cutting disappeared very quickly :P


Today I'll get back to seat removal. Once those are out I can start poking at the flooring. It's a layer of asphalt texture. Seems like a foil or glued down... Not sure what it is or how to remove it quite yet.
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Old 04-21-2019, 12:35 PM   #10
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Thanks everyone for chiming in!
I was thinking of Gypsum for the lower fire hazard (I'm planning on a wood stove eventually). I think I could live with wood but it feels like a step down to me - gut feeling? Not sure what all the factors are in that decision.



Yesterday I tested out the angle grinder and removed the first set of seats! 7 seats to go. I'll leave a single set of foldable seats in for the time being. When doing seat removal on your own, this approach of cutting the bolts is much more satisfying than trying to wiggle them apart - or maybe I just don't have the muscle for it. Also the diamond plated cutting disk is proving to be a worthy investment. The more conventional thin disks I had for cutting disappeared very quickly :P


Today I'll get back to seat removal. Once those are out I can start poking at the flooring. It's a layer of asphalt texture. Seems like a foil or glued down... Not sure what it is or how to remove it quite yet.
Gypsum board is heavy and is not likely to hold up to the movement encountered in a moving bus - for fire proofing I plan on using coloured metal roofing on the walls and perhaps ceilings
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Old 04-21-2019, 12:37 PM   #11
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I met a gent at a bus rally that used sheetrock in his conversion. He had a lot of trouble with cracking where the screws were and along the joints.
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Old 04-21-2019, 01:00 PM   #12
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I met a gent at a bus rally that used sheetrock in his conversion. He had a lot of trouble with cracking where the screws were and along the joints.
That's what drywall glue is for.
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Old 04-21-2019, 02:58 PM   #13
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All the flexing and twisting going down a road?
The drywall glue woups just tear the paper off of the back of the drywall and then it would be useless?
The screw holes will Waller out a lot quicker in shitrock than it will in a solid ply board.
But in either application if you plan for bus twisting,expansion/contraction of material with humidity and leave whatever material a 1/4" to 1/2" short and Use a flexible sealant or a trim like the floating floor idea you are less likely to have issues?
Don't think even type x (fire rated) Sheetrock is a good idea unless you are planning on keeping your bus space conditioned 24/7?
If you still want to go that route I would look into moisture resistant rock like gold board? But it still has to be covered by solid surface or tile. That I don't think would work well in a bus but there is an epoxy grout for tile I have heard that might work?
I think the plan for movement in the bus body,expansion/contraction with flexible sealants is the way to go and I don't see Sheetrock holding up at all?
I used sheetmetal studs and some track to make 1-1/2" walls and then covered them with 1/4" thick bead board/wainscoting . But that was my choice.
Good luck
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Old 04-21-2019, 03:46 PM   #14
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That's what drywall glue is for.
To glue the mud back in that popped out of the screw holes?
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Old 04-21-2019, 04:15 PM   #15
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Okay so the consensus here seems to be not to do dry wall. I can live with that

Took two more seats out so the reality of building inside the bus is coming into reach slowly.

Also I took some pictures which may be helpful in identifying the flooring? From the hole around the seat bolts it looks like it's one thick layer of [something]. Not sure if there is a layer underneath or if I'll just have to build on top.







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