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Old 04-15-2016, 12:22 PM   #1
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Hello there! and where do i begin?!!!

Hello everyone, Happy Spring!
I bought a 97 international midsized bus (7 windows) last spring and am now ready to begin the conversion but am not really sure where to start. Seats are out and i have moved the radiator heater that came with bus over to the other side of the bus to be placed under the seats that i am planning on using for dining table. Now what? sub floor? plumbing? what is the order of operations here? Help! Thank you in advance.

My goal for the bus is to be able to live in in full time. wood stove, grey water and fresh water holding tanks, and solar power. I have many of the pieces already, a floor plan, and a bit of money saved to begin. i am a bit of a perfectionist and really like to think things through so i don't have to redo things. Also my budget and time are limited so i would like to get as much right the first time as possible.

Excited to get started,
Jenn
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Old 04-15-2016, 12:40 PM   #2
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Get ready for fun!!

Welcome to the madness!! There really is not a universal order to do things. Some times people just jump around and do stuff all over the place. For flooring, some people will do the base 1st and wait until the end to do the finished surface to protect it from damage during the build.
In our case, we prioritized what we wanted to have working first and went from there. Toilet and electric were our "first things".
There are so many great builds on here that you can get some amazing ideas from. As always, take lots of pictures. We love pictures.

Cheers, welcome, and have fun!!

John
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Old 04-15-2016, 12:50 PM   #3
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Welcome, welcome!
I presume, since you want to live in it full time, you'd be stripping floor and existing insulation, redoing a subfloor, walls and ceiling? at a minimum check state of current insulation? Being a '97, might be in good shape...

If you already have a layout and are happy with the condition of the interior, I'd say start framing your living spaces.

Are you going to custom-build all your interiors, or will you have say...an actual couch, tables and chairs to bolt down?
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Old 04-15-2016, 12:55 PM   #4
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Welcome Jenn
You've been very patient if you bought your bus last spring. I hope you've been taking it out for regular exercise. Bad things happen when they sit for to long.
Ready, just fire off your questions and watch the replies accumulate.
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Old 04-15-2016, 01:00 PM   #5
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yes! patient. But we have gone on a few camping trips in her and runs around the block just for fun. She seems to be running great still.

My first question is sub flooring i guess. My floor now seems to be just metal with a rubber over it. I had to cut a couple of holes in it to move the heater tubing under bus and back up so that i wouldn't be walking on it. So if i were to do my subfloor next....do i want to go ahead and cut out holes for my holding tanks and such before hand? and what about the heater that i moved.....it doesnt' have much clearance under the seat so i wouldn't want to raise it any at all....without raising the seats too i guess....could i just not put flooring there?
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Old 04-15-2016, 01:35 PM   #6
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Generally when you're doing a floor or anything it's obviously easiest to just lay the entire floor all at one time without worrying about where holes are yet. The holes align a lot better if you cut them one time when you're further along with your build.

It's possible you might occasionally change your mind about some things as you go along. Some buses have the heater core attached to the underside of the seat frame. Beats having a section of no flooring. I don't know about you but even in a bus I like to move things around now and then, so my accoutrements are modular and movable. You don't want a section of flooring missing, except for plumbing holes and stuff.

So what state is your floor in? Steel with rubber over the top? Someone must have removed the plywood.

From what is said here you would clean the floor really good to prepare for Ospho painting to preserve the metal. That locks up all the rust. It's reported to be kind of noxious and you may need several coats depending on the condition of your floor. Some people put a heavy coat of paint over the Ospho before laying rigid insulation, then plywood and eventually flooring.

No photos huh? It really helps if people can see how far along you are and the possible conditions that you'll want to correct.
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Old 04-15-2016, 01:55 PM   #7
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I'm curious about this myself. From reading the conversion threads, here's what I've gathered so far, please correct me if I have something wrong, or missed some important steps:

- Remove the seats
- Double check your plan. Maybe tape out the floorplan to make sure everything fits the way you think it will. Figure out where tanks and such are going to go.
- Generally, take down the interior ceiling panels, the interior side panels (walls next to the seats), and pull up the rubber flooring and plywood underneath
- Remove the nasty, moldy insulation (some people get lucky and don't need to demo quite so much, but it seems like most do. Either we're an ambitious, overachieving bunch, or it really does make that much of a difference to replace the insulation. Probably a little of A, a little of B)
- Kill any rust you find. Sand, blast?, weld on new sheet metal if the rust has actually eaten through, paint on some rust converter to prevent further deterioration, prime with some sort of rust protecting paint.
- If you need to add bays underneath to hold your tanks and batteries and whatnot, it's probably reasonable to do this while you have the floor down to bare metal.
- If you did a roof raise, or plan to cover some windows, or otherwise modified the skeleton of the bus, then attach additional sheet metal to "skin" the exterior. If you took windows out to raise the roof but want to reuse them, you may also want to reinstall those, and reseal them with caulk.
- Add in studs (maybe optional? but it seems like several folks use a jig to drill some pockets into wooden studs then attach these to the steel ribs of the bus)
- Insulate as desired. Lots of folks use foam sheets. Some use wool or cotton? Some use spray on foam. Some use stuff that looks like bubble wrap. Some use foil backed insulation. Some use house wrap (tyvek) for a vapor barrier. I have no idea what works the best.
- Lay down some plywood to use as a sub floor (does this get screwed in, or does it just sit on top of the insulation? I hear people saying they don't want any holes in the bottom of their bus, and that seems like good sense!)
- When do we install seatbelts? I thought I read that they get anchored through the floor? Do you install them before you even have seats?
- Walls? Ceiling? I think this seems to be the point where people usually start covering the interior back up.
- Paint the exterior of the bus. This could maybe come later, but if you plan on putting solar panels or a deck on the roof, you probably want to do it sooner rather than later.
- Install windows (if you're using RV windows, this seems to be when they get installed so that they fit the full thickness of the insulated walls)
- Start framing out the interior. Any partitions, built in furniture, etc.
- At SOME point, I assume the electrical and plumbing (such as it is) need to be handled. This could be before you start covering everything up? Or maybe after you've at least roughed in where everything is going to go?
- Probably test all that before you get too crazy with interior decoration. I'd hate to have to rip apart something that was already "finished" to troubleshoot issues.
- Install lighting, vents, heat, a/c, shower, sink, etc. (this all kind of goes with the wiring and plumbing)
- Paint/stain/etc. the interior now that you have walls and partitions up.
- Finish up any built ins, things should be pretty functional by now.
- Lay the flooring
- Add textiles and upholstery
- Do any finishing, trimming, etc.
- Move in your personal belongings
- Celebrate!

Do I have the right general idea?
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Old 04-15-2016, 02:49 PM   #8
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You've been keeping notes!

That's pretty much it. Lots of variation depending on your particular climate and needs.
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Old 04-15-2016, 03:26 PM   #9
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So....my bus doesn't have plywood flooring between metal and rubber. I bought the bus from a school in New Mexico near where I live. Rust isn't a huge issue here because we don't salt roads and it is dry. But now that I have read some of these threads here and gotten some advice, I will be ripping up rubber asap and planning my subfloor. I hadn't planned on removing either the ceiling or the wall panels.....But now I may consider it. Had planned to just add 1 inch rigid insulation and cover with wood paneling for walls. Really glad I am asking these silly questions. Thanks for the help. All new to me.
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Old 04-15-2016, 03:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mysty View Post
I'm curious about this myself. From reading the conversion threads, here's what I've gathered so far, please correct me if I have something wrong, or missed some important steps:

- Remove the seats
- Double check your plan. Maybe tape out the floorplan to make sure everything fits the way you think it will. Figure out where tanks and such are going to go.
- Generally, take down the interior ceiling panels, the interior side panels (walls next to the seats), and pull up the rubber flooring and plywood underneath
- Remove the nasty, moldy insulation (some people get lucky and don't need to demo quite so much, but it seems like most do. Either we're an ambitious, overachieving bunch, or it really does make that much of a difference to replace the insulation. Probably a little of A, a little of B)
- Kill any rust you find. Sand, blast?, weld on new sheet metal if the rust has actually eaten through, paint on some rust converter to prevent further deterioration, prime with some sort of rust protecting paint.
- If you need to add bays underneath to hold your tanks and batteries and whatnot, it's probably reasonable to do this while you have the floor down to bare metal.
- If you did a roof raise, or plan to cover some windows, or otherwise modified the skeleton of the bus, then attach additional sheet metal to "skin" the exterior. If you took windows out to raise the roof but want to reuse them, you may also want to reinstall those, and reseal them with caulk.
- Add in studs (maybe optional? but it seems like several folks use a jig to drill some pockets into wooden studs then attach these to the steel ribs of the bus)
- Insulate as desired. Lots of folks use foam sheets. Some use wool or cotton? Some use spray on foam. Some use stuff that looks like bubble wrap. Some use foil backed insulation. Some use house wrap (tyvek) for a vapor barrier. I have no idea what works the best.
- Lay down some plywood to use as a sub floor (does this get screwed in, or does it just sit on top of the insulation? I hear people saying they don't want any holes in the bottom of their bus, and that seems like good sense!)
- When do we install seatbelts? I thought I read that they get anchored through the floor? Do you install them before you even have seats?
- Walls? Ceiling? I think this seems to be the point where people usually start covering the interior back up.
- Paint the exterior of the bus. This could maybe come later, but if you plan on putting solar panels or a deck on the roof, you probably want to do it sooner rather than later.
- Install windows (if you're using RV windows, this seems to be when they get installed so that they fit the full thickness of the insulated walls)
- Start framing out the interior. Any partitions, built in furniture, etc.
- At SOME point, I assume the electrical and plumbing (such as it is) need to be handled. This could be before you start covering everything up? Or maybe after you've at least roughed in where everything is going to go?
- Probably test all that before you get too crazy with interior decoration. I'd hate to have to rip apart something that was already "finished" to troubleshoot issues.
- Install lighting, vents, heat, a/c, shower, sink, etc. (this all kind of goes with the wiring and plumbing)
- Paint/stain/etc. the interior now that you have walls and partitions up.
- Finish up any built ins, things should be pretty functional by now.
- Lay the flooring
- Add textiles and upholstery
- Do any finishing, trimming, etc.
- Move in your personal belongings
- Celebrate!

Do I have the right general idea?
This should be a sticky somewhere...maybe start a "n00b" section?!?
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