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Old 01-07-2020, 06:44 PM   #1
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Losing faith

Hi,
I have a 1998 for e350 decommissioned school bus. I've had it for just over a year now. We've come along way in the conversion process, but I've honestly lost steam in the process. We did all of the demolition inside anand we started at bare metal basically. Ripped out all the old wiring. Put down insulation and subflooring on the floor, and insulated the lower walls. Because there was a leak in the roof, we couldn't insulate the roof. We installed solar panels, but they are charging nothing because I cant afford the "correct" batteries. We have all the wiring installed, but no shore power yet. We have the bathroom framed out and the bed framed out and ready to use.
I know we have made a lot of progress from where I started, but I'm honestly lost on where to go now. I had been living in an apartment, so I had limited funds to work on the bus, and now that I am staying with a friend at a cheaper rent price, i have more funds but I'm kind of lost. I have boxes of stuff on the bus, because its things i use often, so my bus is more packed than it used to be. It's harder to move around.
I had set a goal to be living in the bus by now...but that plan got derailed. I dont have electric, water, heat, or a/c. Its currently too cold for life, and I can barely function.
I took a break for the holidays and I hoped when I came back I would have an idea of where to start, aaaannnnndddddd NOPE. I'm just as lost and confused of where to start.
Do I do water?
Do I do propane?
Do I order the composting toilet?
Do I order more solar panels?
Do I hook up batteries?
Do I just live in it and get over it? With no power, water, heat, or like insulation
I just dont find the conversion fun anymore. I dont know where to start anymore. I feel hopeless. I feel like a mooch to my friends. Everyone says itll be okay, but they aren't technically homeless. That's how I feel, homeless, I have a 25%done bus and a suitcase and a dog. I feel like a failure. I dont think I'll ever finish this bus.
Can anybody give me advice on where to start or how to stay motivated to keep working?

**I'm the shorter girl in the dress, I was Ms. Frizzle from Magic Scool Bus for halloween. Trunk or Treat was a success **
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Old 01-07-2020, 07:26 PM   #2
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What would Ms. Frizzle do? Fly away in her bus!

Go drive it around, skoolies bring smiles to lots of people, especially if you go dressed like that! Go on a campout!

Dont forget it's post christmas dreary times in much of the US. I'm rehabing an apartment now (I'm a carpenter) and it's tough to go to work plus so much to do. I feel like an ant, little here little there...

Good luck!
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Old 01-07-2020, 07:41 PM   #3
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Start by finding and fixing the roof leak.
I pulled seats, put down floor, had my friend run 110 electric, threw down a mattress and moved in. Took me an add’l 8 months to convert it while I lived in it.
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Old 01-07-2020, 07:41 PM   #4
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That's rough. It's hard to say, without knowing more details of your build, how you should proceed. I wouldn't go ordering a composting toilet or more solar panels just yet though. IMO you should focus on getting heat, which likely means a propane system, and finishing your electrical. Propane can be as simple as a BBQ tank or 2 and the correct black steel piping. Electrical might be as simple as getting the correct batteries. Plenty of small buses have really basic water systems, with a collection jug under the sink and either a hand pump or a small battery powered one.

Your bus might be pretty easy to get to a state where you can live in it and continue to work on it.
Some of the people here are pretty knowledgeable and willing to help out, and some others will offer an opinion regardless of whether they know what they're talking about or not! More information about your budget, some pics of what's done so far, etc. couldn't hurt. You've come much further than many of the people who throw in the towel so don't give up hope yet!
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Old 01-07-2020, 07:52 PM   #5
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Don’t give up because you feel stuck. Small bites.

Get some bearings on what to do next:

Do you have a breakdown of all the work that you need to do? Folks will help you prioritize based on order of construction.

What project do you feel would lift your spirits to complete?

What materials do you have on hand to work with?

What can you do on your own or have readily available help to complete?

Probably the thing to do aside from finding some direction based on these questions is to do things that don’t cost much money.
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Old 01-07-2020, 08:19 PM   #6
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Thank you

Quote:
Originally Posted by Danjo View Post
Don’t give up because you feel stuck. Small bites.

Get some bearings on what to do next:

Do you have a breakdown of all the work that you need to do? Folks will help you prioritize based on order of construction.

What project do you feel would lift your spirits to complete?

What materials do you have on hand to work with?

What can you do on your own or have readily available help to complete?

Probably the thing to do aside from finding some direction based on these questions is to do things that don’t cost much money.
Thank you for all the advice, I'm mostly just having trouble prioritizing what I should do first.
I would be happy with just heat in the bus, but because there is no insulation on the ceiling, I'd just be heating the outside. But because I want to expand on my solar system later, I'd have to rip out large portions of insulation and probably have to throw it away, which seems kind of like a waste.

I'm honestly probably overthinking things.
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Old 01-07-2020, 08:25 PM   #7
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I don't know what you have for solar panels now or what you got for appliances and stuff, but you can make this happen! My bus has two 100 watt panels charging 2 batteries and this powers my ENTIRE bus. All my lights, pumps, fans, TV, radio, etc are 12 volt. I have a power inverter to make 110 volts and it runs my fridge. The only place to plug any 110 volt appliances in into the inverter, so no house wiring running through my bus. I have plenty of 12 volt outlets and USB through the bus.

My oven is converted to propane and runs off a standard BBQ propane tank. The oven can be used for heat if need be by cracking open a roof vent. If it's really cold, then we break out the portable propane heater.

Water can be a simple jug setup under a sink with a fresh tank and a waste tank the sink drains into. A simple 12 volt pump can pump the water from the fresh tank to the sink. If you need hot water, boil some on the stove.

We have a regular portable toilet so it is used only for #1 but if #2 comes up with no nearby bathroom, then we line it with a bag and dispose of it.

Simple builds are easy to use and less hassle in my opinion. You can do this! At least get some lights and stuff going and this may inspire you.
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Old 01-07-2020, 08:34 PM   #8
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Thank you, I am trying to get heat set up, but I need to finish insulating. It's a big mess. I'm probably just overreacting. I'm just stressed. I'll probably get a propane heater, and start spending nights in it, but it's not just me staying in it. My dog, Finn is living there too, and I cant risk him getting hurt. I'll probably take baby steps to get there.
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Old 01-07-2020, 08:36 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajankows38290 View Post
Thank you for all the advice, I'm mostly just having trouble prioritizing what I should do first.
I would be happy with just heat in the bus, but because there is no insulation on the ceiling, I'd just be heating the outside. But because I want to expand on my solar system later, I'd have to rip out large portions of insulation and probably have to throw it away, which seems kind of like a waste.

I'm honestly probably overthinking things.
Don’t worry about how efficient it is. Don’t worry about the insulation yet. If you want heat now, do it. What do you have in mind for a heater?
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Old 01-07-2020, 08:37 PM   #10
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Thank you, as soon as I have insulation, electric, and heat I can live in it partially. But I will not leave my dog in it while I'm at work. Until it's safe for him, I wont live in it full time, its not safe.
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Old 01-07-2020, 08:43 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajankows38290 View Post
Thank you, as soon as I have insulation, electric, and heat I can live in it partially. But I will not leave my dog in it while I'm at work. Until it's safe for him, I wont live in it full time, its not safe.
That’s wise. What are you doing for a heater now? What do you want to have?
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Old 01-07-2020, 08:47 PM   #12
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Right now I have an electric heater to run off of shore power, but because my shore power isnt hooked up I cant really run it that well. And without the insulation, I'm essentially just heating the outside
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Old 01-08-2020, 06:44 AM   #13
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I know there is a lot of scarey ideas about propane heat, but the reality is they can be used safely, some ventilation is needed and a co detector is wise.

I use one that I got from Tractor Supply that holds a 20lb bottle inside of it. It works real well. I do also use an electric heater when shore power is available.

If you have to have a composting toilet... for now two 5 gallon buckets with a toilet seat, yes they do make toilet seats for a 5 gallon bucket. One bucket for pee the other with peat moss for poop. Cheap and simple. Refine it later.

There is paintable roof sealer. I would at least get up there and see if there is any noticeable places that could be caulked for now until warm enough weather to seal and paint the roof.
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Old 01-08-2020, 06:53 AM   #14
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YEah seal up the roof and go from there.
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Old 01-08-2020, 11:16 AM   #15
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Realize that when you estimated when you'd be done, it was based on nothing. You had no way of knowing the work involved, the skills you'd need to learn/outsource, how much everything would cost or what you'd have to pay, etc. It wasn't an estimate based on reality - the reality is that for most of us there's no way to know - but rather what you hoped or wished. When is it going to be done? When it's done. That's the only realistic answer.

The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. But if you focus on how long 1000 miles is instead of the next step you need to make, you'll just sit down & say "screw it". Try to not focus on the end result, but on each small task at hand. Break everything up into small enough tasks that you can complete them without undue emotional or financial stress. Let each small success fuel your motivation & confidence.

Developing your priority list is paramount. But keep in mind many of the priorities aren't the 'fun' parts. We've made two lists... one is priorities that have to come one before the other (for example, we have to seal the roof before we can install the floor, otherwise rain will destroy our work). The second list, however, are all the 'one-off' jobs that can be done at anytime (for example, greasing the chassis). Sometimes you find yourself waiting a long time learning skills or saving money for the stuff that needs to be done in order (like now, we're saving up $$ for paint). But we can always do the 'one-offs' to keep moving forward & keep our enthusiasm level up. To me - greasing the chassis IS fun. To you maybe not. Find what makes you happy and do those little jobs when you're lost on 'what to do next'. You don't have to know the answer to everything to do those little jobs now. And as each little task is marked off the list, the anxiety over the job at large will shrink.

Finally - there's no shame if you end up deciding in the end this isn't for you. I figure it's common for most folk to grossly underestimate the work & $$ involved until they start getting their hands dirty. It sure was for us! But do so by examining the problem from a realistic perspective, instead of an exasperated one. Is there a reason it HAS to be done by a certain time or it HAS to cost less than a certain amount? If not, just slow down, take your time, and it will be done when it's done.
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Old 01-08-2020, 11:36 AM   #16
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where abouts are you....

another skoolie or more than one could show up an have a "work day" and help you get over this .... I am in topeka kansas.


I you came out here I would give a weekend of time to help you do stuff, and you get a road trip too......

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Old 01-08-2020, 11:48 AM   #17
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Hubbard has it right. Focusing on the "End Result" with so much to do will easily overwhelm you. You have a basic list of stuff that needs to be done. All of us do (well, most of us, anyway). Prioritize what needs to be done. Seal a roof leak? Yeah, fairly high priority. Repaint the outside? Not so much (in some cases). Replace the tires? Only if you need to drive it soon. Focus on small goals such as "I have heat", even if it's an El Cheapo camping heater. "I have water" even if it's a 24 pack of bottled water.


Some of us have what's called "Executive Dysfunction" which isn't simply laziness or procrastination (easily differentiated by "I want ice cream but don't feel like walking to the kitchen to get it"). Try to set a small goal, and feel free to do a little celebration when it's done. Oh, and just like model railroads, are bus builds ever *Really* finished? Isn't there *Always* one more little thing to do, one change we might like to make, or something we would have done differently?
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Old 01-15-2020, 04:41 PM   #18
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It's like this with any project believe me. If heat is your priority then by all means start there. I used an RV propane funace for my mine I built. A couple of 10-15 lb tanks will work until you can decide if you need more or a larger tank. You'll need to map or draw out the floor plan no matter what you do to keep from redoing things. But just start doing something, because once you accomplish a project, no matter how big or small it helps to keep you motivated. The big thing is just do something.
Good luck
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Old 01-15-2020, 07:36 PM   #19
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Some great suggestions in this thread. Maybe do a “no build conversion” or “no build build” for a temporary setup? See the Cheap RV Living videos for examples. But first you can do the basics like sealing the roof leak and finish the walls with insulation and paneling then the rest can be easy peasy: Folding tables and cot. Portable everything: portable propane heater, portable cooker, ice chest, etc.
I’m in the same boat. I did my roof raise then I ran out of funds and time before Winter and am stalled with my conversion partly done. But come hell or highwater I’m going to go camping come Spring and work on it in camp. Even if I have to live in a tent next to the vehicle. I don’t recommend living in a vehicle and working on it but sometimes there’s no choice. Meanwhile I’ve got 3 extra months to go with which to research, plan, and collect materials.
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Old 01-15-2020, 08:58 PM   #20
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You have to base your priorities on the answer to this question: What are the absolute basics you need to survive and remain inside the boundaries of civilization? I would start with 120 volt outlets. Get your shore power system designed and installed. Don't worry about 120/240 50 amp for now. Try to get 30 amp of 120 volts into a circuit breaker panel and get some 120 volt outlets on 20 amp or even 15 amp circuits established. With 120 volts comes a ton of options such as heat and light. Power up your circuit breaker panel from a piece of 10/3 flexible cord. If you don't already have one, establish a 120 volt, 30 amp 3-wire RV outlet at your shore power location. On one end of your cord install a 120 volt 30 amp male cord cap to plug in to your shore power. Run the other end into your circuit breaker panel through at least an appropriately sized NM cable connector. A strain relief connector is better. Run the black wire to one of the two breaker busses and jumper the two breaker busses together with at least a #10 conductor. The white wire will go to the neutral buss which must NOT be bonded to the panel steel. You need a separate ground buss which IS bonded to the panel steel and the entire steel buss frame and exterior/interior. Run the green wire to that. Even if you just temporarily run some #12 NMB cable wild with some receptacle outlets on them get some 120 volt outlets established. Heat, light, power tools, microwave, music, a million options are now available.
A toilet of some kind. Pressurized water. With just those 3 things you can function and survive to continue your build in some state of civilized comfort.
I have my 120 volt 30 amp incoming set up so I can plug into either shore power or the on board generator. You just get the shore power done. You can see the jumper between the two "hot" lugs, the green going to the ground buss, the white to the "neutral" buss.
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