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Old 11-19-2017, 08:14 PM   #1
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my mobile Gnome Home

Well, I guess I will start my personal conversion thread. I hope that (a) someone finds ideas or info that helps them, and (b) that you can be a bit entertained. Normally, I keep things like this to myself. I'm big on privacy, etc. I have no real need to show off my bus. But here I go!

But first, all y'all long-timers in skoolies in general and those on this site for making it realistic for me to get my own skoolie without major hair-pulling, trying to figure it all out myself.

At this time I still need my tools shipped from Hawai'i. All 2000lbs of them (why I bought a bus - to hold them all in one enclosed vehicle; a one-ton van would barely hold the volume of them, and my back would break trying to get them in and out). So conversion progress has been slow. I bought (more) tools to change the oil and service the tranny, fix the treadle valve for the brakes, etc...

After dumping the seats off at a local Good-Will store (with permission), I drove it on a temp tag from Tucson where I bought it, to Eugene. I started the "conversion" process there, so I could title and tag it as an RV. It is pretty easy there. All you need is "permanent cooking and sleeping facilities."

But first I will start with the first upgrades I did: hammock and chimes, bed on the floor, and bead-seat cover.

Note the hammock is hung right off the factory installed wheelchair tiedown track that runs above the windows. Eight of these same tracks run the length of the floor, and the seats as well as wheelchair tiedowns bolt to the floor along them (much nicer than seats bolted through the floor!). Searching Home Depot, I found an extra-large pipe-hanger bracket had the one-hole mounting flange with a hole big enough for the special track-bolt that I needed. Padded with a 12x12 inch rag folded several times, they make great hammock hooks.
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Old 11-19-2017, 09:18 PM   #2
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To pass "inspection" for RV conversion, I bought a bunk-bed on craigslist for $30. That was easy. For the stove I bought a cheap Ozark Trails propane stove at Wally World. But it has to be permanent, according to the DMV website. The actual law does not specify anything, from what I could find, just that it is used to live in.... The DMV seems to have added the specific qualifications, legally or just because, I don't know.

Some holes drilled in the metal bunk legs (I had to buy another - 3rd - cordless drill) and some angle brackets, and I could bolt it to the floor-tracks (see first post on this thread).

The stove required more creative thought. I have a magic-plastic Home Depot card, so I wanted to get everything I could from there. I got a 5-tier wire shelf (wanted chrome, but that was out so I got black) and a hood-vent for home use.

I put the cooking-unit together, but ran out of time to get everything bolted to the floor. My temp tag was expiring that very day, and I needed to get in the DMV before 2:00pm I figured to take my driver's license test and get all my paperwork on the bus done.

No problem they told me. "If you want it registered as a motor-home, we will title it as such." They took my word that it had a bed and stove. They never "inspected" it, but did do a VIN check, since I brought it from out-of-state, (but Arizona did one also). If I lied about the bed and stove, they would have known.

One thing I did wrong: I got Oregon insurance (from State Farm) before the tag/title was changed to motor-home. Seemed the right thing to do, but Oregon does not check when registering your vehicle. It was insured at my mom's address on the east-coast as a "commercial vehicle for private use" through State Farm so it wasn't a hazard (I break rules left and right, but I really do believe in liability insurance), and I insured it in Oregon the same way. Had I waited till after I got the title changed, I could have insured it as an RV, my agent said. But she could not change it until after the binder cleared, and the policy was issued. That could be 4-6 weeks. Damn commercial policy procedures. My auto policy was immediate. And you would think they just transfer the info and policy from one state to another without hassle. Now my agent has twice the work, and I am probably paying a lot more for this 4-6 week period, plus any longer delay while they "approve" that policy...

Other improvements to the bus include a quick-release lever for the rear-view mirror, and an outside door handle. I was worried I would wear on the rubber door-seal trying to pry the door open. The rear-view mirror is in the way of the overhead storage above the front window, and must fold down to get access to the storage door. The bolts that mount it must be tight to keep it from sagging down-down-down as I hit bumps on the road, but when they are that tight, I can't move the mirror to access the storage. I was using a bamboo back-scratcher to push the mirror back up into place (or pull it down as needed with the hook-end of the scratcher) while driving, but that was annoying, especially on bumpy roads in traffic. Bicycle wheels use lever-locks for quick removal from the frame. I thought they were nuts on the end of the wheel axle. I went to REI and asked about getting one. He looked puzzled. Turns out, I was the clueless one, as the lever-lock is actually part of the axle itself, and the axle was several inches long. Way too long. Then he said that they use them for quick-release bike seats (so you can take your $150 extra-cushy seat into the office with you, so the hoodlems outside don't steal it off your chained bike, or it stays dry in the rain) and they have shorter threaded rods (like the much longer wheel axle). He pulled an old used one out of a box of parts and gave it to me, custom thumb-nut on the end and all. The rod is thinner than the mirror's mounting bolt, but for $0.98 I got a spacer at Home Depot that was the same outer diameter as the original mounting bolt, with an inner diameter that fit the level-lock rod perfectly. Its length was also perfect for the hinge-joint when the two outer washers were in place. No fabrication! Perfect like factory! Now my mirror stays where I want it, and getting in my storage is simple, no wrench needed to loosen the mirror-mounts.

I also need to add a handle to the inside of the door, plus an inside lock. At this time, I can not lock it from inside. Air-pressure will keep it tightly closed, but it leaks out in a few hours with the motor off. I can not even close it all the way from inside without air pressure. I want to keep the drill-holes to a minimum. I am thinking a custom inside handle with a square-tube bar that can insert through it and cross both doors to the walls on the sides. I.e. a lock-bar. Of course it would be as easy as breaking off the handle on the outside with a small hammer to gain access past the lock-bar. Its mounting bolts are thin. But breaking a window is just as easy...

also note how I mounted the stove to the shelf using steel-cable ties.

The door handle reminds me of the symbol that my hero Jose Wales puts on his door when he finally gets to find peace in his life. The sign of the Apache - the last of the truly free men that America has seen...

A wonderful book: Empire Of The Summer Moon. Quanah Parker is another of my heroes. Not about skoolies, though....
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Old 11-19-2017, 09:38 PM   #3
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I forgot to say I need to cut the top of the shelf down a bit. The backside (against the wall) is just an inch or so too high, as the ceiling curves down a the sides. Then I can move it against the wall and put in "permanent" mounting brackets from the wall where it is tied in with cord, and the floor. With my interior's mounting tracks, this unit can then be moved to anywhere in the bus as I get time, funds, and stuff to do a more "friendly" conversion. Love the above bed storage, but the bunk has to go. Too bulky. I want a foldout couch / futon bed. You can't sit up on either mattress with the bunkbed.

One thing I like about this bus is that I can see out the back and sides using my center rear-view mirror. Motor-Home RVs require side-mirrors only. RE buses don't let you see what is on your tail. The bunk-bed and stove-shelf both block part of my view out the side windows from the mirror. Definitely needs rethinking, but then everything is always a compromise. No configuration will be perfect.
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Old 11-19-2017, 09:44 PM   #4
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I forgot to say I need to cut the top of the shelf down a bit. The backside (against the wall) is just an inch or so too high, as the ceiling curves down a the sides. Then I can move it against the wall and put in "permanent" mounting brackets from the wall where it is tied in with cord, and the floor. With my interior's mounting tracks, this unit can then be moved to anywhere in the bus as I get time, funds, and stuff to do a more "friendly" conversion. Love the above bed storage, but the bunk has to go. Too bulky. I want a foldout couch / futon bed. You can't sit up on either mattress with the bunkbed.

One thing I like about this bus is that I can see out the back and sides using my center rear-view mirror. Motor-Home RVs require side-mirrors only. RE buses don't let you see what is on your tail. The bunk-bed and stove-shelf both block part of my view out the side windows from the mirror. Definitely needs rethinking, but then everything is always a compromise. No configuration will be perfect.
Rear view cameras let you see behind very clearly.
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Old 11-19-2017, 10:27 PM   #5
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Rear view cameras let you see behind very clearly.
All in good time. But mirrors are free!

Eventually, cameras all around, but for security, and to keep the cops honest. Would have helped me in Maryland when heading to a music festival over the border in West Virginia a few years back... Seriously Nazi county out there at the end of the panhandle...

However, the cop in Roland Oklahoma who threatened to kill my dogs unless I bent over and signed paperwork and paid a $1100 fine did so after inviting me into his cop-car's front seat.

Cameras and a Lojack system or similar. (yea, I'm that old).
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Old 11-19-2017, 10:41 PM   #6
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Rear view cameras let you see behind very clearly.
I guess I like that I can glance up and see all around my bus, sides, behind, etc. to make a judgement about changing lanes, etc. How many camera viewscreens can a brain comprehend in a moment? Each screen will show a different angle (2 sides, one back, minimum) and they will not be one continuous view. Your brain needs a moment to process a view, then it is comprehended holistically. It would need basically 3 times the amount of time to comprehend the 3 camera viewscreens. Mirrors rule, but yes, I will get cameras also. The more the merrier.
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Old 11-19-2017, 10:46 PM   #7
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I guess I like that I can glance up and see all around my bus, sides, behind, etc. to make a judgement about changing lanes, etc. How many camera viewscreens can a brain comprehend in a moment? Each screen will show a different angle (2 sides, one back, minimum) and they will not be one continuous view. Your brain needs a moment to process a view, then it is comprehended holistically. It would need basically 3 times the amount of time to comprehend the 3 camera viewscreens. Mirrors rule, but yes, I will get cameras also. The more the merrier.
Set up right you get a 140 to 170 degree view directly behind, and your side mirrors for the blind spots. One screen.
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Old 11-19-2017, 11:03 PM   #8
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Set up right you get a 140 to 170 degree view directly behind, and your side mirrors for the blind spots. One screen.
I was thinking of just having to glance up to see everything. You are still focused forward down the road, not turning heads sideways to see mirrors. That would require 3 cameras. One rearview camera and 2 sideview mirrors is still 3 "views" and things can change quick in rush-hour city traffic as you look from one side to another to a camera screen. I check my sideviews for hidden motorcycles, smaller cars, etc, then my rearview mirror shows me one view of both plus the back in case some guy comes screaming up behind me, changing lanes to go around me at the last second. I just feel it is much safer. I drove my pickup with a fiberglass camper-shell that had a tinted rear window you could not see out of for a year. I learned to rely on my sideviews. But I ditched that thing and made my own slant-back clamshell top with wood and covered it with clear plexiglass. Great idea, crappy choice of materials. But I could see like I wanted.
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Old 11-20-2017, 09:50 AM   #9
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Looks like it is coming along nicely.

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But it has to be permanent, according to the DMV website.
hmm, What "permanent" in the world of RVs ? lol
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Old 11-20-2017, 10:24 AM   #10
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Rear view cameras let you see behind very clearly.

which cameras are you using? im in the market to buy some for my busses..
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Old 11-20-2017, 11:03 AM   #11
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which cameras are you using? im in the market to buy some for my busses..
-Christopher
I'm not using one right now. They move so fast that the last one I used would be obsolete now.

If I were looking though, I'd be looking for an HD camera with a fixed external mount, and a 7 to 10" screen. Some of the ones dedicated to vehicles overlay lines that represent the space the vehicle will move into while reversing.
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Old 12-25-2017, 06:22 AM   #12
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So, as far as your build so far, was this only to pass inspection.. meaning temporary, or is this how you want it?
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Old 12-25-2017, 10:29 AM   #13
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I've got a backup camera with the overlay lines and I still run into stuff. There's a major depth perception issue when looking at the screen.
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Old 12-25-2017, 12:32 PM   #14
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I've got a backup camera with the overlay lines and I still run into stuff. There's a major depth perception issue when looking at the screen.
I use the Rear View Safety 770613 system. It has a 130-degree camera, but with it mounted just under the middle of the three rear marker lights I can see the entire width of the rear bumper (useful to check for exhaust smoke!) and about 10 feet behind. Top quality, and reasonably priced at Costco. Well worth it.

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Old 12-25-2017, 08:08 PM   #15
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good info...thank you!
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Old 12-25-2017, 09:28 PM   #16
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I have the camera, but use the mirrors by choice. My system will handle a front camera too, but I'm gonna continue using the windshield.

I'm still waiting for autodrive software.
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Old 10-10-2018, 07:47 PM   #17
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E-hatch upgrade.

So I finally started the real buildout of my bus this last week. Starting from roof down...since it has leaks.

Part one of the roof is painting it. Step one to paint it I need to seal the leaks first, and replace the roof emergency hatch with something better (note the solar-dry-rotting plastic that crumbles at the edges, and will scratch-off with a fingernail). Following a lead in another post here, I looked into "yacht hatches." A bit pricey, to say the least, especially one sized big enough for a 2'2' hole. So fabrication time it is!

Got a 25' piece of 1/8" thick structural aluminum 2"2" angle beam. That will make the inner flange, and the door. Need to go back and get a 1/4" thick 2"2" T-beam for the top (outer) flange. I think I will use the original hardware that raises and lowers the door, allowing it to open like a car sunroof, if I can find a 5/8" inner-diameter tube to replace the part of the hinge that was plastic. The hole itself will be covered with 3/8" thick clear Lexan; I should be able to stand or even jump on it when I'm done. I really like the skylight for visibility inside. But to keep out the hot sunlight, I'll make a "pillow" covered in that reflective bubble-wrap stuff. My last pickup truck had a glass sunroof: hot as hell in the Hawai'ian sun! I cut a piece of fiberboard I pulled from the interior roof of an old van to the size of the sunroof, covered it on one side with thick aluminum foil (facing up) and the other (facing down inward) with that aftermarket automotive carpet made from recycled plastic bottles. Trimmed the edges with automotive door edge protective trim, and it looked "manufactured". The window cover for my bus will be similar, but thicker and with a tight flush-fit to keep warm in the winter nights.

I was just going to bolt, screw, or rivet the aluminum pieces in place, but they do not line up by themselves naturally, so I called a local welder who says he does aluminum; I will have all 4 corners of both flanges and the door welded, hoping he knows how to do it without warping the framework. This will make it much stronger and vandal/theft proof.

I had to open the hole in the roof a bit, make it bigger, more centered, and more square to the bus' frame. Looks like someone handed a 13-year-old millennial the E-hatch and said "install this," and he eyeballed the hole to cut, using you-tube as a how-to guide. As for me, I hate cutting sheet metal. I tried using my very old jigsaw (probably older than me - the only plastic in this tool is the wire insulation) but the blades went dull in 3"-4", and it kept jamming (forcing me to take it all apart), and finally blew the circuit breaker and the GFCI receptacle as I flipped the switch off. I had to cut the jigsaw blades' length in half anyway, or it hit the top sheet of metal. So I went to a circular cutoff blade on a drill. Messy stuff blowing all over my bus interior, on my arms, etc. Seems like fiberglass, and makes you itch afterwards.

Any hints at an easy way to cut into the thick sheetmetal used for bus panels? I have tin-snips that I use for thinner stuff...I just hate the cut-off wheels...but they seem to work best.

Waiting on the rain to pass now, but it is showing me where the leaks are...looks like it is coming down the AC lines that go from the exterior roof, to the interior ceiling mounted units, then down through the floor to the motor and battery. Maybe a window or two also? I should know tomorrow as the Hurricane passes over...but then half my AC unit on the roof is covered with a tarp right now.

Aloha to y'all for now.....
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Old 03-02-2019, 10:37 PM   #18
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Angry 1week=4months

So, after thinking I could get the roof painted within a week, maybe 10 days max, I pulled that e-hatch off the roof back in October, as my last post here says. How long can it take to put on a coat of primer and a coat of paint?


As I pulled it off, I thought to myself "the no-turn-back-point has been crossed...now it will be March before it is on the road."


"No! Don't be paranoid skeptical!" was my next thought. "Just a week. Simple stuff..."


Now it is March and only half of the roof is done. What was that I was saying it that last post about waiting for the hurricane to pass???.....it went, but the rain is still lingering.


My last 5 or so months in Hawai'i last year were spent living out of my truck, sleeping in a tent 120 feet from the shoreline at the end of a "Jeep" trail (the Jeep I rented would never make it out there!) across an old lava flow, that with even a 44 truck you scrape the frame, in a remote part of the Island. It rained nearly every day and night. Sometimes I would wake to find a bucket in the bed of my truck 6-12 inches full of rain overnight. All this rain was coming from the central Pacific Ocean, just an endless river of rain...when it let up a bit for a day or two, it would hit California, and life-changing rain events were occurring there.


I went to Oregon last Summer, and it just rained, and temps were often in the 60s, whereas the Summer before it was in the 100s those same months. Went to Wyoming. It rained more than not.


Headed back to Hotlanta last September to get my stuff and do the hard work on overhauling my new bus, Weather in Georgia in the autumn in usually so nice....it started out in the mid 90s.


Then the temp dropped to the 60s in a single day. And rain started.


Meanwhile I started pulling apart my roof...just takes a week...


During that process I was turned on to that Insuladd stuff. Mix it into the paint, and it insulates. Non-toxic ceramic, made for NASA space missions. Why wouldn't I use it?


The Insuladd says "two coats for optimum performance." OK. So a coat of primer, and two coats of paint. 10 days max, to allow for sufficient drying before bolting back the AC unit onto fresh paint, & dealing with the hole where the AC lines and power go through the roof. With good weather.


We had 2 days of "good weather" for painting: humidity below 70% and temps above 70F. That was back in October, and I missed them.


I did find a day here and a day there where it was warm enough and dry enough to paint. But the first coat with Insuladd left my paintjob like sandpaper: it is "micro-ceramic balls." Great.


It took four (4) coats of oil-based enamel paint. Two (2) with the Insuladd, and 2 more to cover the Insuladd enough to get the paint smooth. Otherwise, cleaning the bus would be outrageous, it would always be collecting grime, and the micro-balls would eventually be rubbed off in places leaving pitted paint ready to rust the metal below.


And I only got the back half done. And that fell inches short of painting enough to get the new hatch installed. All because of the AC lines going through the roof that couldn't be disconnected. The AC unit is big and cumbersome. I had to lift it up enough to paint under it. I used 16-foot long 24s; the longest I could find. (see pics) If I thought it might rain 5-7 days a week, and freeze at night during the other days, endlessly for nearly 5 months now, I would have focused on only painting the center of the roof, then doing each end. 20:20 hindsight.


So during the 4 or so months from early-Oct to mid-Feb I tried to paint any day I could find that (a) it was above 50F --- that turned into above 40 as time progressed... (b) not freezing (below 32F) at night, and (c) low humidity, or at least "clear skies."


The first two (2) coats with Insuladd I brushed on. I totally suck at painting. It was streaky, and in places, the paint "dripped" in large sheets along the curveline of the roof, leaving a wavy look. Besides the sandpaper texture, the gloss paint was not in any way glossy, either.


Meanwhile, autumn was in full swing. My parking spot is under trees, and they were dropping stuff in my wet paint left and right. I set up a tarp hung 3-5 feet above the roof of the bus, but the wind would just blow stuff under, anyway.


So for coat number (3), I pulled it out of the hole under trees and moved to the top driveway. Still the wind.... So out into the street, parked in the center of the 100-foot wide col-de-sac, away from trees, is where I painted it. They said it would be clear and dry for the next 24 hours, with a low around 37. Just as I finished rolling on the paint, at about 5pm (took that late in the day just to warm up enough), the clouds rolled in. The dew settled on the fresh paint. Then it froze. In the morning there was 1/8-inch of frost, only on the fresh paint, which was still completely wet to the touch. Since I have pains for neighbors, I moved the bus back under the trees just after dawn, and the stuff fell on the ice, which melted and left the stuff stuck in the paint.


But wait! The stuff that fell in from trees was nothing! I used a 20-year-old (but unused) cheap-o creap-o roller I dug outta the basement. I don't paint. I didn't know. It left thousands of little pieces of fuzz in the paint, sticking up.



OK, still needed another coat anyway, to cover the sandpaper effect of the Insuladd. I spent a day with a razor-blade 2 weeks later (it took that long before the paint was not still soft and smear-able - cold and wet!) shaving the roof of my bus, holding the little blade gently with my fingertips to not gouge the fresh paint.



I waited, and waited, and finally some time in January I think it was, I got coat number (4) on, using a high-quality brand-new "woven" roller. Again, they said it would be dry and warm, and it was dew and freezing nights. I left the bus in the col-de-sac all day, side windows removed, half painted roof with the AC unit on stilts above it all, looking like a complete mess. The paint still came out looking terrible. And fuzz left over from the previous coat, that got mixed back into the can before I realized, was in this last coat. Better than the 18-year-old Tucsan-sun-baked chalky original paint that would wipe off on your hands and was running down the side of the bus every time it rained, though.


And although the "roof" was down to the tops of the windows, the side-parts will be re-covered with blue spraypaint, and the top can't really be seen.


Next was fixing the hole where the AC lines go through the roof. The AC unit sits on mounting brackets that are shaped for the rounded rooftop. The quality-minded installers cut the hole to where it was directly under the bracket. This made sealing the hole near impossible. And they used globs and globs of silicone piled high. The small leak at the bottom didn't care how much was piled on! Sometimes I really wonder...


Before painting I had cut out the hole in the roof with a Dremel cut-off-wheel, elongating it out from under the bracket. After painting, I cut a new piece of sheet-metal to cover part of the hole (under the bracket) and reshape the overall hole to be circular again. That allowed me to reuse the edging that circled the hole, protecting the rubber hoses from the sharp metal (very much like the door-edge trim for cars that protects the edge from bumping the car parked next to you). The sheet-metal cover I riveted in place, and I sealed it and the edging stuff in place with urethane body sealant. I thought the stuff I had said it remained pliable, but it dried hard. I can't read the tube anymore, it rubbed off in transit from Hawai'i (bought to fix my sunroof, but I just gave the old 1986 truck away when I left, as the head gasket was going out, the body had a growing hole behind the dash that refused to be filled with expanding foam (living at the beach, no metal survives!), and the hood was smashed from before I got it; 6 months before I was offered $3500 for it - any running 44 pickup work-truck with tow-bar and bed-liner gets the eye there - I doubt I could give it away here in GA with the head-gasket in tact!).


The AC lines and power-wire I sealed in place using Great-Stuff expanding foam for ponds. All the others say "not for filling voids." This stuff expands less, and is much more easy to control, and is specifically designed to fill voids. Yet it sticks and seals well, just like the construction-grade foam. Plus it is black, not puke yellow, so it hides itself well under the AC unit.

After taking the AC unit off the stilts, I could paint the last (forward-facing) section around the hole for the roof-hatch. The thing was the footing for the stilts needed to sit on a roof cross-beam, or it would have possibly (probably) bent a panel from the weight. The hole for the hatch butts up against the cross-beam, and the next beam is another 2 feet away (towards the front), just shy of the 16-foot 24s making it from the back-end-cap (fiberglass "rounded corners" part).


Painting this small section just required 24 hours of continuous warm-dry weather, since I didn't have to worry about it drying fast enough to cover with a tarp when the rain started back; because the tarp could be above the fresh paint, not touching any of it. So that was 10 days for a coat of primer and 2 coats of gloss white, no Insuladd. I would have tried to do the whole front half, if only they said it might not rain for a week...but instead it might not rain for a day.


Back in October I got my frame for the hatch started. I cut my aluminum beams with metal-cutting blades and a miter-saw. The cuts came out terrible, since the blades flexed, no matter how slow I went. The guy who welded them said to use carbide-tipped steel blades for cutting aluminum beams.



So don't cut metal with metal-cutting blades, don't assume NASA uses well-documented quality products, and don't paint with paint rollers or brushes. The things I am learning this project!


Meanwhile, the paint has dried, and I'm about ready to install the hatch. Still need to construct the actual door for it. Got the mounting frames near-done. They need to be aligned, and have holes located and drilled to mount into the roof cross-beams. I will use a drill-press to get them as "perfect" as possible, then mark the roof through the holes and pre-drill the roof's bolt-holes by hand. Hinging the door has been my delema. I wanted at first to re-use the hardware from the original hatch to allow the door to pop-up as well as swing on a hinge, but the door is shaped different, and will bind when swinging. So door-hinges with removable pins in the front will allow it to swing and be removed altogether when desired, and the pins can be inset, hiding under cover from the rain, and away from prying thieves. I still want to use the pop-up hardware if I can in the back, but I will have to make a fancy mounting bracket for it to attach to the hatch door. Waiting for the rain to stop so I can set up the saw and start cutting stuff. But those moments are spent painting instead.



In between all this mess, I took out three side-windows back in October, one of which I identified as leaking. I though I would clean them and the hole they mount into, have the roof painted white, and be spray-painting the sides of the bus blue within a week. Gotta paint the roof before the sides, and want to do the whole side all at once to keep it from looking splotchy. So gotta paint the whole roof to reinstall the windows, or deal with another pain-in-the-butt time of trimming off the windows with tape and cardboard. And trimming off fresh paint with tape can be hazardess!



Plus I got this MetalCast paint from the auto-parts shop that "gives shiny metal a dazzling, anodized look". I want to paint my aluminum window frames with it. Don't want to paint them while they are installed in the bus.


This past week it warmed up enough to get out and clean the 3 windows I removed, scrubbing them with Bon-Ami ("hasn't scratched yet! since 1886"). I bought a metal-polishing kit from Home Depot, with 3 compounds: (1) for cleaning hard metal, (2) for cleaning soft metals, and (3) for polishing metals and plastics. The cleaning compounds did nothing. Not a thing. A hand-rag removed more dirt. The shining compound would shine, but by scrubbing with Bon-Ami first, the shine comes right out without work. So now they are mirror-shiny in most places; cleaned from grimy-dingy kid-boogar gray. They are old, scratched and dented in places, and it was hard to get the large buffing wheel into the inner corners. I tried a Dremel buffing wheel, but it buffs a tiny-tiny spot before needing more shining-compound, so I could spend another 3 days detailing the three windows. I am hoping when I paint them with the MetalCast paint (which is like a tinted clear-coat), the imperfections fall to the background, and must be looked for to be seen. Maybe I'll try painting one and see how it looks; if I have to detail all 16 windows like that, wow, that's some time spent.






Atmospheric River is the new term they are using. The same river that was flooding me in Hawai'i last year, and is causing major flooding in California this year as well as last, is also flowing at most other times now (so it looks to me on the GOES East and West satellite views) across Mexico (instead of heading North up the West Coast) and into the Southeast US and is dumping rain on my bus here in GA.


Poor me, but those people in Cali seem to have it worse this last week...


Pics include the tarps after one of the storms...barely hanging on, and full of water.
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Mountain Gnome is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-21-2019, 11:01 PM   #19
Bus Nut
 
Mountain Gnome's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Posts: 971
Year: 1999
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: TC1000 HandyBus
Engine: 5.9L 24V-L6 Cummins ISB
Rated Cap: 26 foot
Well now it's late April and the weather still has not let me finish the roof-job on my bus. 6.5+ months and counting... Been pluggin' along as I can, when I can...


Got the letter from the HOA a few weeks ago. "illegal to park a commercial vehicle (bus) within view of the street".


return email:
=============

This is to state there is no commercial vehicle (bus) parked in my driveway, nor has there ever been.
There is no vehicle registered as a commercial vehicle parked in my driveway, nor has there ever been.
There is no vehicle titled as a bus parked in my driveway, nor has there ever been.
There is no vehicle insured as a commercial vehicle (bus) parked in my driveway, nor has there ever been.
There is no vehicle marked or painted or with advertising as a commercial vehicle (bus) parked in my driveway, nor has there ever been.
There is no vehicle that is outfitted for use as a commercial vehicle (bus) parked in my driveway, nor has there ever been.
There is no vehicle being used as a commercial vehicle (bus) parked in my driveway, nor has there ever been.
There is no vehicle that has been used as a commercial vehicle (bus) parked in my driveway, nor has there ever been.
There is no vehicle that is intended for future use as a commercial vehicle (bus) parked in my driveway, nor has there ever been.

==================
They can figure the rest out on their own and send me another letter when they do. That will buy time. Word is the staff are really slack there. I know it was my neighbor who complained. He has no reason to come down to the col-de-sac and turn around, but he does every day, and stopped at the top of the driveway to take a pic one day. His real name is Dick. He has been far less than friendly to me and my best friend (a dark-skinned guy, and these days I'm thinking maybe that was it. Bigot!) since I was 10, for no reason, from the first week he moved in (we are the last original family on the street). His wife is just quiet and unobtrusive and seems sweet, and kids were always nice, but never hung-out with us.





Got the front half of the roof painted with the white oil-based enamel stuff...again more problems with dew on the fresh paint making it dull, not glossy. In fact the second coat, with the Insuladd texture in it, was glossier! No dew!
My problem with dew is that it has been cold in the morning (40s) on days that it will be clear for the following few days. Those are the days I paint. Then by noon, I'm dodging the sun. It would be after 4PM before I could paint in the warm shade. Sun set at 5-5:30 then. So I would paint, and then the temp would drop fast, and dew would settle. Now finally the sun sets after 8:00.


The whole time I've been dodging either falling leaves in the fall, or flower petals and seed-pods from the trees in the spring. I tried for the third coat, painting at the top of the driveway, out from directly under the trees, but not in the col-de-sac to appease the neighbors. Even parked in the center of the col-de-sac for the last coat, the wind was blowing the flowers off the trees, and they would float over into my paint, 70 feet away. In my driveway, I'm parked under pines, and they drip sap, needed to be cleaned with mineral spirits. The day after I put the finishing coat of white oil-enamel was the day the pine trees went crazy (they do every spring, but this year was the worst I've seen) and clouds of yellow pollen were falling from the sky. It was cold the night before, and the paint was barely dry to the touch... But I stood in my driveway, glanced out across the col-de-sac, and it was hazy! What?!?! Then I looked up the street and a gust of wind blew through a pine, and a cloud so thick I could not see through it fell out of the tree and spread across the ground.


And then the rain would come, so between every coat of paint I had to clean the bus, in a hurry, mind you, before the next rain would set in. That all meant my paint job turned out absolutely horrible. Fuzz in the paint from the f-ing rollers still sticking out, brush strokes, drips; all should have been sanded to smooth by the last coat at least, but the weather has me like they say in the army or in jail: "hurry up! Wait! Hurry Up! Wait!"


Jail is how I feel stuck here in this hellhole of a city (what city is not?!) without a vehicle on the road. I traded my minivan for $300 to buy this bus. Damn I miss that van. It ran great!



I took extra care to prep the original paint around the rivets. I kinda remember doing that to the rear half, also. I did sand the entire surface with 220 grit, then took a big wire-brush on a drill to the area with the rivets, but used a Dremel with a mini-wire-wheel around each rivet head, where the sheet metal divots in a bit, and all other paint-prep stuff failed to reach. To me, I'm painting the roof for two reasons: (1) the old paint was turning chalky, leaving streaks on the sides of the bus when it rains, and (2) to seal out water around the rivets.



I had to fix a small crack in the fiberglass end-cap for the roof. Looks like there was a "bubble" when they manufactured it, and it "popped". I used JB-Weld, but I forgot to take an after pic, it seems...


I had to peel off the metal tape around what I guess was an antenna mount (thus the metal tape for better reception), and clean it with the erasure wheel. Need to find a nut that fits those threads...



I re-mounted the AC units with new rubber to replace the isolator-bushings that were original and deteriorated. Original bushings had a brass or steel threaded insert at the center, and the bolt came down from the top and screwed into the bushing in the long mounting brackets (the brackets adapt the flat-bottomed AC unit to the rounded roof), and then had a fender washer and nut on the bottom, hidden under/in the mounting bracket. I could not find replacement bushings that matched the original hole size, and lazy me did not want to resize them. I did find a regular rubber bushing with the correct inner and outer diameter, and the correct groove height. But the groove depth was too shallow. The weight of the AC unit rides on the outer top edge of the original bushing, which would be 3/32" rings of rubber (4 total) for the new bushings, whereas the original bushings were 3/16"-1/4" rings. And that groove depth would not hold the bushing from pulling out, in the upwards direction. The old bushings had that fender washer as a backup, but held themselves in place. So I encircled the bushings that fit the hole with rubber pipe washers. All was lubed with good ol' Dr. Bronners liquid soap. It will lube your rubber without degradation, lube your interior door hinges on kitchen cabinets once and for all (I had to lube them every 6 months with sewing machine oil before; Dr. B's has lasted 20 years) and be non-toxic, you can brush your teeth with it, yet as a mechanic, I can testify that it (specifically the Peppermint) works better than any other stuff...Lava Mechanics Soap, Dawn (Dr. B's would have been so much better for those poor oil spill birds!), Liquid Tide, whatever. I fixed an old pair of pliers with it; I got them from my grandfather, and they barely opened 1/4 inch - and it was hard! WD-40 slowly got them moving to 50%, but in 2 weeks they were locked again; I did that several times. Then I tried Dr. B's when I learned what it did for my hinges. Within 30 seconds, the pliers were moving, and adding a few more drops, liquid crud came out the joint and it freed up to 100% and remained that way.


Oh yea, mounting the AC... I ran the bolts from the bottom up, which makes it easier to remove in the future, since you can't get to the bottom side of the bushing with a ratchet without removing the bracket from the roof. But a long strait box-end wrench (mechanics have them) or an offset box-end wrench (found at Sears, Lowes, Ace, etc.) can reach down the inside of the bracket from the end and hold the head of the bolt; and the threads can be sprayed with PB-Blaster (skrew WD-40) on the topside, and the nut ratcheted off with ease. I had to tear the old unit off the bracket, since the bolt bonded a bit to the original threaded isolator busings.



Been working on adding color this past week. No more oil-based stuff, rattle-cans now. Got the roofline down to the bottom of the window done with a first coat, then, yes, it started raining again. Finally today I put on a second coat of color, and ran a can or two short.


I have no other vehicle, and borrowing one has become a problem. Who knows when I will get more paint.


And I need a few corner-angle-brackets (3-sided triangle style) to finish the roof-hatch. It has been coming along nicely, but again I am now stuck in a holding pattern until I can (a) get the side windows in my bus and get it back on the road (this week I hope) or (b) find a car to borrow for a day during the week. Then I can get to True Value 20 miles away where I saw the brackets I need.
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