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Old 01-14-2012, 02:25 PM   #21
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Re: The Roach Motel

Winter has returned to The Great White North and the Roach Motel as been shipped off to the auto shop to be exorcised of it's demons. The drive over to the shop was an adventure in itself. I had disconnected the electric door mechanism and thought that friction would keep the door closed during the trip. Imagine my surprise when the door popped open on a gentle left hand turn. Visions of mail boxes smashing the door flashed through my mind so I stopped and tried to wedge the door tight with a tree branch but it managed to shake loose within a few miles. When I pick it up I'll bring some rope to tie the thing shut.

CraigsList came through for me in the form of two nearly pristine captain's chairs. The guy had put casters on the bases and used them as office chairs until he retired just lately. $100 bucks for the pair was the deal of the century. Only problem is the swivel bases are missing the part that bolts to the floor. I e-mailed the manufacturer about getting parts but I fear that's futile. I'll probably end up modifying one base into a fixed drivers base and buying a new swivel base for the passenger seat.



Before taking the thing to the shop I checked the fit of my grey tank. It's only a 15 gallon barrel and I'm glad I didn't try to go larger. It's a tight fit back behind the driver's side rear wheel well. I'll build a plywood support for the top of it and aluminum straps to bolt it to the floor. Luckily, the tank will snug right up to the rear leaf spring pivot anchoring the front of the tank nicely.



Here's the floor plan.



One of the captains chairs will double as the passenger seat and part of the dinette but I haven't quite got that sorted out yet. I thought of putting both captains chairs together as one side of the dinette but they're a bit too wide.
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Old 01-14-2012, 03:06 PM   #22
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Re: The Roach Motel

Are you sure you want a "clipped" mattress?
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Old 01-14-2012, 05:49 PM   #23
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Re: The Roach Motel

I'd rather have an unclipped mattress but without the clip we'd only have a 16" aisle. That seems a bit small to me. With the clip we have a 23" aisle. 16" would work but I forsee lots of barked shins on the corner of the bed. Presently when camping we sleep in our van, and that sleeping area is about the size of the clipped end of the mattress. Another 8" of sprawling out space will be very nice.

Once the insulated floor is in I'll mock up all the major modules out of cardboard so we can decide what works before firing up the table saw.
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Old 01-14-2012, 06:43 PM   #24
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Re: The Roach Motel

I would think of as how often would that 16 be that bad?you don't go to the shower in the dark.and some padding with say the extra space under the corner for you feet would be good and if it's "difficult" to make it to the bathroom...it would be better to fall onto a soft mattress
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Old 01-14-2012, 08:51 PM   #25
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Re: The Roach Motel

We have 15" on both sides of the bed (Island) in the bus.
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Old 01-15-2012, 09:43 AM   #26
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Re: The Roach Motel

Also having limited space to work with, I am going with a combination shower/toilet and will use the "kitchen" sink for all hand washing. Saves a lot of space and you can get ready-made shower pans that are configured for that set up since they are common on many smaller units. Another idea I had after living with a little 21' Toyota Odyssey for a while, was to reclaim the otherwise lost space in the shower. It gets only occasional use, yet takes up a large interior volume. It can be turned into significant storage by building a swing out set of shelves/drawers that fit into the area above the toilet. What I'm planning will form a shower door when closed with access to the storage from the aisle.

You can get an idea of the layout in the GoogleSketch below...it is the space on the driver side where the "porthole" is. My layout is in 15 feet and has to accommodate a tool storage area in the rear, so in reality, everything else has to fit in only about 8-9 feet (the sofa is a jackknife bed).

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Old 01-15-2012, 12:06 PM   #27
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Re: The Roach Motel

All your suggestions are completely reasonable, we'll just have to mock it up without the clip and see how it works. At this point all options are on the table. I will concede that it's way easier to clip an unclipped mattress than the other way around.
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Old 01-15-2012, 09:29 PM   #28
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Re: The Roach Motel

If you have a sink in the kitchenette, I would suggest removing the secondary sink from your bathroom area and simply making the entrance to the shower on that side of the bus where the bathroom sink is now shown. This saves on some plumbing, some cleaning (one less sink), and the hassle of fitting sheets to an odd sized mattress.
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Old 01-16-2012, 08:46 AM   #29
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Re: The Roach Motel

We've debated about deleting the bathroom sink. Plumbing isn't that big a deal since the drain line from the kitchen will run right past the bathroom sink on its way to the grey tank so if I can install one without too much jacking around I'll do it. Otherwise, forget the sink.

The main sticking point in the great aisle controversey is the blasted wheel well. If not for that we could have a nice wide aisle and a full width bed. The floorplan shows the porta-pottie sitting on the wheelwell with a 3/4" plywood wall next to it. An alternate floorplan had the entire wheelwell enclosed as a closet and the PP next to the shower with no sink. I do like the idea of more storage and less plumbing. If the sink doesn't make the cut that will make my life easier all the way around.
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Old 01-16-2012, 10:23 AM   #30
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Re: The Roach Motel

Quote:
Originally Posted by roach711
... The main sticking point in the great aisle controversey is the blasted wheel well...
Darn those pesky wheel wells! They are always in the way. Bus builders need to just bury them under the floor so that the folks who convert later down the road will have a nice smooth floor to work with!
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Old 01-16-2012, 02:07 PM   #31
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Re: The Roach Motel

Just switch to 12" tires and level'em off!
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Old 01-17-2012, 09:03 AM   #32
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Re: The Roach Motel

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tango
Just switch to 12" tires and level'em off!
I can just see us screaming down the road at 45 mph.
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Old 01-23-2012, 09:00 AM   #33
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Re: The Roach Motel

We dropped it off at the repair shop a week ago to have the alternator problem fixed. It sat in their lot for a few days and when they finally got around to looking at it discovered some bare wires and an aftermarket alternator. They did tape up the bare wires but instead of fixing the thing they tucked their tails and told me to come pick it up. Apparently the alternator setup ruined their intellect. Of course the batteries were almost dead from starting the thing three times so I brought them home to charge. This afternoon we'll reinstall the batteries and bring it home to wait for warmer weather so I can puzzle the thing out myself. They probably saved me a lot of money but I have to say that my opinion of the shop dropped like a stone.

I really hate working on engines, especially big engines shoehorned into van bodies, but if they can repair the stuff so can I.
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Old 02-13-2012, 10:52 AM   #34
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Re: The Roach Motel

Winter has officially returned to Michigan so progress has been glacial. One day last week was fairly warm so I opened up the handy-dandy hatch in the floor and pulled the fuel pickup out of the tank to give it a good cleaning. Of course I had to make two trips to the auto parts store to get the right special tools to disconnect the fuel lines. There are two small filters in the pickup and they were full of junk. A quick spray with some carb cleaner had them looking like new.

I had to crawl under the bus to reconnect the fuel gage wiring and while I was down there decided to pull out all the hoses going to the rear heater and unbolt the little diesel powered heater that was back behind the fuel tank. Turns out that the mystery controller was hooked up to that heater.

Once that was done I pulled the driver's seat and took out the rubber floor mat for a good cleaning. Man, that thing was nasty but after three scrubbings and some Armorall it looks almost like new now. The area under the floor mat was wet and a bit rusty so I may have a leaky windshield to fix.

The sun was quickly fading into the west but "when you've got it up, keep it up" so I decided to keep going and try removing some of the adhesive left behind when the side stripes were removed. I tried acetone and diesel which did work, more or less, but gasoline got the prize. I'd slather it on one section and wait a few minutes for the adhesive to soften, then scrape the goo off with my little plastic razor blade. I highly recommend the plastic razor blade (with holder) to anyone removing tape stripes. It's an essential tool. While working on one section (about 18") I'd slop some gas on the next section to soften it up while I scraped off the preceding section and the process went fairly quickly from there.

The fiberglass under the stripes is all shiny and bright but the rest is dull and drab. There are also some holes that need filling and some spots that need patching so I'll be learning the finer points of fiberglass repair when the weather turns in a month or so.

Looks like my project will kep me occupied a bit longer than I thought.
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Old 02-14-2012, 11:17 AM   #35
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Re: The Roach Motel

Quote:
Looks like my project will kep me occupied a bit longer than I thought.
Wish I had a nickel for every time I heard that! Just leep pluggin' away.
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Old 02-14-2012, 12:29 PM   #36
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Re: The Roach Motel

Yeah, my "project rule of thumb" is to make my best estimate on time and money then double them.
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Old 02-14-2012, 04:58 PM   #37
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Re: The Roach Motel

We're all picture junkies here so here are some recent ones.

This is the diesel powered heater and engine warmer that I removed last week. I downloaded the manual and was surprised to find out that it can be used to heat the bus and has a 7 day timer so the engine can be nicely warmed up when you come out in the morning. New, these things go for about $1700 so I'm going to clean it up and see what I can get for it on eBay. Maybe I can defray some of my unexpected costs. Or maybe I'll keep it around for a while and see what brainstorms blow through.

I used to be indecisive but now I'm not so sure.



Here's my magical plastic razor blade tool. I got it at the auto parts place for a few bucks.



And last, but not least, my grey tank setup. The plywood part will bolt directly to the floor from underneath and the tank straps will bolt to the floor with threaded rods and big washers. The back of it will snug up against the rear spring hanger so no worries about it moving fore and aft. It's only 15 gallons so I'm not expecting any big weight issues. It's made from exterior grade plywood but I'll be spraying it liberally with auto undercoating before mounting it.



The inside support arches

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Old 02-24-2012, 01:52 PM   #38
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Re: The Roach Motel

I spent a coupla days sorting out a good way to control the power entrance doors from inside and outside and did finally come up with a switching setup that was secure and fairly easy to use. I even considered using Lapeer20's idea of using an aftermarket remote keyless entry setup. THEN I started brainstorming some way to weather seal the doors (they're seriously leaky) and THEN I began to wonder just how much juice the door actuator would drain out of my starting batteries on a long boondock. To avoid the battery drain I thought of just bolting the two doors together into one unit and adding some sort of residential door lock. By that time my brain was well fried and the fix was looking way too much like work.

My solution to this whole magilla is to just replace the damn door altogether. I saw some Anderson storm doors being used on other busses and (wonder of wonders) they'll fit perfectly. I looked at the Andersen 4000 series and the Larson Secure Elegance doors. For all practical purposes they're identical and are available from Lowes and Home Depot for about $310. Both have a three-point latching system with an outside key lock and laminated glass.

I had also considered using an RV door but the storm doors look way better and actually cost a bit less with shipping factored in. The full view doors will keep the "bus look" so it's not too obvious that it's now an RV.



I finally got power to my Fantastic Vent and it works perfectly. The trim ring was busted up and the dome got scratched up when the previous driver tried to drive a 10'6" bus under a 10' 5" overhang. I called Fantastic Vent for parts and they're sending them out for FREE. You gotta love that kind of customer service.

My wiring adventure continues with the front clearance lights getting no power. I spent an hour or two trying to trace the wires back but no joy. I'll do what I should have done in the beginning and just run a new wire from the switch to the lights with a new fuse inline. Here's the control panel and the add-in sub panel. Of course nothing's marked.



To more easily trace the wires I pulled the front fiberglass trim. The trim piece covers some dead space above and to the left of the driver's seat that I'll make into a nice storage area. At least some good came out of this fiasco.

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Old 03-03-2012, 07:50 PM   #39
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Re: The Roach Motel

I finally got the front clearance lights working so I got to cross one job of my ever-expanding bus to-do list. Yesterday I found a Costco that stocked the GC2 6v golf cart batteries and picked up two at $80 apiece. Depending on who you talk to they're made by Excide or Interstate or Johnson Controls. They have a 220amp 20 hr. amp-hour rating. This week I'll make a battery box.



My battery cable supplies arrived and I cobbled up some short battery-to-battery cables for the chasis batteries. Soldering them up was harder than I thought it would be but the cables turned out pretty good. I re-did the first one twice before I was satisfied with the solder joint and even did a bit of destructive testing to be sure I was doing it right.



Those thick cables are a real bear to cut. I tried cutting them with dykes and that failed miserably. A hack saw worked better but left the cable end too chewed up to fit into the connector. I finally tried cutting them with my wood shop chop saw and that worked really well.





It looks like the weather up here in sunny Michigan may be turning a bit warmer soon and maybe I can get the engine stuff out of the way and get to the building phase.
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Old 03-04-2012, 11:17 AM   #40
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Re: The Roach Motel

I cut all my large wires like those with my metal chop saw.
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