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Old 12-01-2011, 11:07 PM   #1
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The Vardo Bus

Hi, I'm a new member. I got my bus on Labor Day this year. It's a 1993 Carpenter shorty, 24' long overall. The people I bought it from had*already converted it to a basic nice looking camper; no plumbing or electrical, but a nice couch, dinette with a plastic folding table, curtains, kitchen counter, and four bunk beds in the back.

I've had so much fun redecorating. I made a wood table for the dinette, did some painting and made some bombastic drapes to separate the front room from the back room. I have plans to redo the back and add a small bathroom with a homemade compost toilet.

I was hoping to keep it in the back yard and work on it over the winter, but found out it's against city ordinance to have it parked back there, so now it's at a storage place for the winter. I had so much fun working on the bus that I'm inspired to build a compost toilet and small bathroom in my basement just to see how it works (and we could use another bathroom anyway) and planning to do more bus remodelling in the spring.

Here are some pics. The bottom picture is how it looked when I got it before I started going ape with tapestry and fringe.
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File Type: jpg Bus Before.JPG (640.8 KB, 3700 views)
File Type: jpg BusLivingRoom.JPG (1,019.8 KB, 3694 views)
File Type: jpg BusDinette.JPG (622.1 KB, 3693 views)
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Old 12-03-2011, 08:35 AM   #2
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Re: My New Bus!

Very stylish. I like the Gypsy look.
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Old 12-03-2011, 10:28 AM   #3
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Re: My New Bus!

Hi Kathy...and Welcome to the nuthouse! Love them Shorties and it appears you have a good start. I have to agree with Accordian...Love the Gypsy look! Go for it. Just take your time, search and and read through the many threads here and you will likely find most of the info you need for just about any conversion project. Any pix of the exterior?
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Old 12-03-2011, 01:12 PM   #4
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Re: My New Bus!

Ok - this is where my DIY runs headlong into my WTF

Quote:
made some bombastic drapes to separate the front
What's that?

Great job on the bus - the only thing lacking seems to be a crystal ball on the table, looks nice.
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Old 12-03-2011, 07:10 PM   #5
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Re: My New Bus!

I love your redecorating. Looks much more cozy and inviting in there as opposed to the original look of it. Too bad you can't have it on site at your house - that certainly makes it easier to work on it, plus it acts as a sort of cottage/out-building. I'd like to have a sort of gypsy theme in my interior too, but I just seem to be too damned practical. Maybe after the bus is "finished" and I'm looking for fun stuff to do, I'll get my gypsy on.
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Old 12-03-2011, 10:52 PM   #6
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Re: My New Bus!

Thanks for your nice comments. This site has been really helpful; I found this site last summer and you guys were a big influence in my decision to get a bus instead of a regular RV.

I started jonesin' for an RV last spring and looking at them online, especially on Craigslist. I thought that a Class C would work best for our family (me, my husband and 12yo son) so I went to see a few of those. One was cramped and smelled like other people's pajamas, one had a nice layout but needed a ton of work including engine, electrical systems, etc. and one was a Winnebago that was in good shape but everything was all beige and matchy-matchy and I just didn't like it. We also saw a '93 Dodge Banner Class A which was the one I liked best, even though it was in kind of rough shape. When I looked at it, I kept thinking that if I reupholstered this, and moved that over there, and took out that and replaced this, it would be cool. So I analyzed my motives and realized that I really wanted something that I could get creative with, not some ready-made boring box. I was also less than thrilled with the idea of somebody else's used RV toilet and holding tanks (eww), complicated electrical systems, winterizing and all that.

Then I found this skoolie.net site, and this gypsy vardo site http://gypsywaggons.co.uk/. You guys have made some AWESOME busses! It seems like skoolie people are the most creative, resourceful types.

My bus doesn't have a generator or electrical system set up, other than the usual school bus stuff, and doesn't have plumbing. When I had it parked in the back yard this fall, I just ran an electrical cord from the garage through the driver's side window and had a power strip inside, and that's what we'll probably do if we go to a campground with hook-ups. I used a space heater, electric burner and lamp, and of course a hot glue gun for all the fringe and ribbon. I got a good lantern and a Sterno stove for when we don't have electricity. A cooler will fit inside the end table so we don't need a fridge.

There's nothing special about the outside of my bus; it's painted silver with red trim. Maybe someday I'll do something different with the outside but I haven't thought of anything yet. These are my plans for the back bedroom of the bus. Right now there are four built in bunk beds. Since there are only three of us, I took out one of the upper mattresses and put three clothes hampers on their sides up there to use for storage. What I'd like to do it take out the bunks and put narrower beds in an L-shape, and somebody can sleep on the couch in the living room. I figured 24 is wide enough for a single bed, since my husband or I can easily sleep on a couch that's narrower than that. I'm going to take apart the existing foam mattresses and cut them down to size, then upholster them with some cool red paisley fabric from a couple bedspreads I got for $9.99 at 5 a.m. on Black Friday. Then I'm going to make a teeny half bathroom in one corner. This is the plan for the back bedroom and bathroom area:
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Old 12-03-2011, 10:57 PM   #7
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Re: My New Bus!

One more thing...our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore is relocating to a building right around the corner from my house. I love rummaging around in that store, and I'm sure I'll be able to find all kinds of materials and parts and doohickies for the bus over there. I have posh taste in bus decor, but I'm also a tightwad!
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Old 12-03-2011, 11:09 PM   #8
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Re: My New Bus!

Welcome! Definitely a great look for the interior.
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Old 12-03-2011, 11:53 PM   #9
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Re: My New Bus!

Nice.. but you need more gingerbread!
Gyspy Waggons All about Vardos
Vardo Pics

A little Victorian gingerbread, a little gold leaf (use the real stuff not the composite... trust me!) and lots of paint! I do love a Victorian!
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Old 12-04-2011, 11:22 AM   #10
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Re: My New Bus!

...and a few more Vardos with interiors...

http://www.google.com/search?q=gypsy...w=1219&bih=731
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Old 12-07-2011, 04:07 PM   #11
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Re: My New Bus!

HI there,

I am guessing you're from Wisconsin by the "WI" after your name. Where abouts in this great state are you? The wife and I are about 60 miles North of Green Bay.
Nice looking bus you have. Welcome aboard.
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Old 12-07-2011, 10:17 PM   #12
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Re: My New Bus!

I'm in Sheboygan. The people we bought the bus from were in Wittenberg, NW of Green Bay.

I would love more "gingerbread"...I was trying to think if a way to cut a wood arch thing to put in front of the drapes in the back, but I'm not experienced at woodworking so I decided not to mess with it. I love all those vardo interiors. I've been finishing edges of things with rope trim and different kinds of fringe and jacquard ribbon. They have awesome upholstery fabrics and fringes at Hobby Lobby. I saw some dark brown vinyl stuff that looks like tooled leather and I think that would look so cool on parts of the ceiling toward the front. I'm not sure about what would be the best way to glue fabric to the ceiling. I'd rather not use spray adhesive because of the fumes and mess, considering that the furniture is already in and bolted down. Any ideas?
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Old 12-07-2011, 10:55 PM   #13
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Re: My New Bus!

Roll on contact cement. Go for it! (just post more pix)
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Old 12-07-2011, 11:57 PM   #14
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Re: My New Bus!

You would be surprised at the precut stuff in Home Depot & Lowes. As for the arch, you might want to think about the flexible moldings. Pricy but will curve to fit. Of course the arch really doesn't have to span the entire ceiling wall-to-wall. I think I know the fabric that you are referring to. I had looked at it as a possible choice for reupholstering the vintage rocking chair I have. It may not be heavy enough for contact cement. You need to check a piece to see if the contact cement will soak into the fabric. How about anaglytpa? I used ordinary border paste to stick it to the plywood on the ceiling of the Class C.


http://www.vintagewoodworks.com/ Victorian trim for good ideas. Many of their brackets are copies of the real thing. Everyone copied trim designs. I have reproduction Victorian era house and trim books. Most gingerbread trim id fairly easy to reproduce, especially the flatsawn. But you can spend a fortune buying some trim. I drool over the trim at VanDykes. I would love to build a "storybook" house and put some of their corbels in it.


Only $48.99


$240


$195


$344.. but it's soooo pretty....



Now that I went "off" someplace that I'm not really allowed..... To set up an "arch" for a non-woodworker, you might want to look into Gable decorations. You would need a gable that can be adjusted.

this flat-sawn pattern can be used with a very shallow pitch if you use a short "drop" in the center.



These two are little more than two pieces of running trim with a center drop. The running trim can be flat-sawn or "ball & spindle" type.

Okay, I'm a sucker for gingerbread trim. I think it's great but a PITA to keep clean. Also a PITA to make. So for anyone who is wanting to put gingerbread in the bus or home.... sand all edges until very smooth. Fill any holes before painting. Paint with a semi-gloss or gloss finish (please don't paint it..... white... yuk). Those Swiffer dusters work great for getting the dust out of all the little crevices and crannies that go with gingerbread trim. The architectural PVC stuff is far more stable than wood. It's lighter weight so you may be able to just glue it in place (glue as in good strong adhesive that comes in a caulking tube). And you SHOULD be painting the trim in many, many colours (polychrome !!! look at Painted Ladies". I'm talking 5 or more colours! For gold leafing, use the real thing. Last time I looked a book was $50 had enough gold leaf to cover most anything you were doing. Composition leaf tarnishes, even when sealed, and you can not bring it back. Okay I'm a little obsessed about gingerbread and Victorians. But I do think that anyone who paints a Victorian white or in less than 3 colours should be beaten and their house taken away form them to be cared for by someone who knows what they have and is willing to devote their life to the upkeep and preservation of a fine piece of architecture. Just not me!
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Old 05-15-2012, 11:28 PM   #15
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Re: My New Bus!

I haven't posted in awhile because my bus was in storage for the winter. But as soon as I got it back this spring, I started working on the back room. The back room originally had twin size bunk beds on both sides with a narrow alley between. There are only three of us and somebody can sleep on the couch, so we don't need all those bunk beds. I also wanted to put in a bathroom, and got the idea for a homemade compost toilet from this forum, so that's what I did. I also made a simple sink and vanity set-up with a sink that drains into a 5 gallon jug underneath.
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Old 05-15-2012, 11:33 PM   #16
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Re: My New Bus!

I decided to put the sink outside the bathroom to make it more handy for the kitchen, so only the toilet is inside the little room. The "pipe" behind the toilet is fake plumbing; I put a box above the toilet attached to the wall where I keep the extra wood chips for the composting toilet, and made it look like one of those old fashioned toilets with the pull-chain tank up above.
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File Type: jpg BusBathroom1.JPG (936.6 KB, 1078 views)
File Type: jpg BusBathroom3.JPG (821.9 KB, 1078 views)
File Type: jpg BusBathroom4.JPG (947.1 KB, 1078 views)
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Old 05-15-2012, 11:45 PM   #17
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Re: My New Bus!

Here are a couple more pics of the back. I made the beds like couches, they don't fold out or anything. Everybody in my family is smallish and can easily sleep on a normal couch, so I made the sitting/sleeping area 24" deep, which is actually deeper than the average couch. The supports for the couch beds are cabinets I got at the ReStore along with some extra wood. The couch along the back wall isn't permanently attached so we can still use the back door if we need to. The medicine cabinet is an antique from the ReStore ($2.50!); I had to replace the glass shelves with some homemade plastic ones because they bounced around like crazy and I didn't want them to break.
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File Type: jpg BusBack3.JPG (659.2 KB, 1078 views)
File Type: jpg BusBack4.JPG (1.18 MB, 1078 views)
File Type: jpg BusBathroom7.JPG (914.6 KB, 1078 views)
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Old 07-29-2012, 07:46 PM   #18
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Re: My New Bus!

Love it! Did I miss the kitchen/cooking area in those pictures? Any pics of the outside?
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Old 08-27-2012, 09:04 AM   #19
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Re: My New Bus!

Don't know how I missed this bus but I did, Really nice set up, I too luv the gypsy look..... super looking bus......
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Old 08-29-2012, 05:16 PM   #20
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Re: My New Bus!

The outside still looks like it does in my profile pic; it was like this when I bought it. It's painted silver with the rub rails, grille and bumper painted red. But next month I'm going to take it to my brother's place up north where there's more work space, and paint the outside black and white. I was inspired to paint it black and white by the traditional gypsy horses...I'm not going to try to make it look like a horse or anything, I was thinking more like the way two-tone VW minibusses are painted. As it is, I think it looks like a beer can.

The "kitchen" in my bus is just a small counter space with three drawers under it. I have an electric burner, and a sterno stove for when there's no electricity. My small cooler fits inside the wood end table across from the kitchen area, along with other food, so that's like the pantry.

Earlier this month I had my 50th birthday and decided to go camping by myself at Kohler-Andrea State Park. Everything worked fine, although I wish I had remembered to bring a fan because it was hot. I'm coveting the portable ACs some people on here have rigged up and I might do that someday.

Since I took those pictures I changed a couple things (I'm always changing things, but that's the fun of it). I took the advice of Lornaschinske and made some shades for the back that I can lower from the top, to replace the curtains. I found that I like to open the two back windows while driving to get some airflow, and the curtains flapped around too much. These new ones work perfectly. The way they work is that they're attached at the bottom corners of the two back windows on each side with sheet metal screws (such a delicate girly girl way of hanging curtains) then I sewed on cords at two places on each side, and there are hooks on the wall at the top of the window and a few inches down, so the shade can be either all the way up or open a few inches when the window is open.
http://s256.photobucket.com/albums/hh19 ... 010001.jpg

I also took down the drape on one side and put a "cabinet" over my kitchen area. I might still do something different with this, not sure what.
http://s256.photobucket.com/albums/hh19 ... 010002.jpg
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