Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Two steps forward, two steps back, and beyond...

When last we wrote, we were hoping to keep the bus running and heated overnight for the floor primer to cure, and then begin lay vinyl squares for our flooring. How did that go? Well, it bombed totally. We ran the bus all night, in some of the coldest temps of the year thus far, but forgot to turn on the heater! Ha ha ha! What can you say? The next day, the bus was colder than ice.

But, we heated it up again, and primed it again, and used the heater again. The result?

After trying out a good number of the tiles, we saw it was not going to take to the OSB. Our joints were very uneven. Also, the primer did not take very well. Lesson: All OSB is not created equal. We should have gotten the BCX kind. So, we pulled up the tiles and realized, hey, we weren't really ready to put down flooring, because we still had the walls to insulate and cover!

So we branched off into two efforts:
  1. beginning the dinettes, which required welding steel frames for them, and
  2. finishing off the walls and outlets in the walls.
Zak got Solomon set up with the welding, and then proceeded to working on the walls with some of the other kids.

The dinettes required a lot of steel cutting and welding for the frames, mostly done by Solomon. We had to acquire a chop saw, which Solomon thoroughly enjoyed using, to cut all the pieces. Zak made up a cutting list for Solomon. That done, Zak set up a welding jig for him, made up assembly diagrams, and they arranged Zak's shop to acomodate welding.

Note from Mom: You took a picture of the arc??? With MY camera???

Here is the welding bead, which Solomon later ground off, leaving a flat, nearly perfect surface.

Solomon was accompanied by Sarah or Hannah, just in case he got in a bind during welding. The frames turned out nice, and nobody was electrocuted, praise the Lord! The girls busied themselves with reading or Bible copy in the shop, backs turned to Solomon during welding.

Solomon finished the welding yesterday, and now the shop is turning back into a carpentry set up. The dinette frames will be covered in OSB, which is cheaper than plywood, and which we will finish with the same paneling we are using for the walls. (This is really a good deal, since the paneling wipes clean so nicely and doesn't require paint or varnish, etc.)

The walls were supervised by Zak, with Abi and Ben assisting. After staying up very late last night, doing paneling for the walls, Zak, Abi, Ben, and Solomon slept in a bit. (Sarah got out of the job, as she is very sensitive to the insulation.) They felt that a final late night push would get the job done, and it did.

The bus walls are insulated and then covered in cheap particle board, and the walls which will be exposed are covered in this paneling.

The work crew requisitioned Mountain Dew and unspecified "treats" to get the job done.

Zak figured a fairly flawless way to cut the openings for the outlet box. Ben wired the walls with Romex, using small PVC pipe to shield the wires as they went through the bus frame members (equivalent of wall studs). That way, the vibrations won't eventually tear the shielding on the Romex. Good idea, Daddy!

Here we are looking from the bus midsection to the front passenger door (on the far left of the photo). The black box on the floor is one of two bus heaters, and will sit inside a cabinet which separates the two dinettes on the door side of the bus. Two dinettes will be on either side of the front compartment.

With the walls done last night, the plan was for Mommy and the younger kids to tackle the flooring today. New plan: sheet linoleum. However, it took a while to get the bus all cleaned out, vacuumed, etc. Abi took care of most of that. Zak and Solomon worked on cutting out the dinettes from OSB. Ben did alot of snow removal, including roof raking, and then attempted to cap off the outlets located by each dinette. However, the outlet boxes are too small, so that didn't go as planned. Tonight, he helped chisel out the entry landing, which Mommy hopes to cover in linoleum.

Tonight, Zak and the kids had dinner and devotions while Mommy laid out cutting plans for the linoleum that would go under the seats, as well as the WONDERFUL BLACK VINYL RUNNER FOR THE CENTER AISLE. The black vinyl runner has channels that cause all the spills and snow and sand to be trapped, for ease of sweeping. It is Mommy's favorite design feature of the bus thus far. Mommy did all the geometry in the bus while the kids ate dinner. (Daddy was stuck at the office in Madison, waiting for the roads to be cleared before venturing home. Record snowfalls in this part of Wisconsin today.)

By the time Mommy had the linoleum all laid out and mostly marked for cutting, Noah showed up ready for action. He helped finish the marking, and proceeded to cut. Little hands cutting linoleum is pretty hard work, so I expected he'd be ready for one of his sisters to take over, but as they arrived, he was still going strong and did a good job. He did grant a couple of sisters to do a bit of the cutting.

These linoleum squares will be directly under the tables of the dinettes, if you can visualize that. Zak had the floor marked for us, so we knew exactly where to lay them. If all goes as planned, which happens occasionally, the dinettes will hold down the perimeter of the linoleum, and the edges of most of the runner. We shall see.

Found the perfect job for my helpers: holding down the vinyl flooring while the adhesive cured. They were told that if they wanted to stay up and help, they had to be still and not wiggle the flooring.

The boys ran extra heater hose under the passenger compartment, so the floor stayed nice and toasty, and helped accelerate the process.

We attempted to have the sheriff sign off on our bus conversion affidavit yesterday. It is a form which says the bus no longer has distinctive school bus markings and features. We have to submit it with our title registration form.

The sheriff was very nice, but wanted the front and rear flashers removed first. They are disabled, but still there. So, we removed them and contemplated the best way to cover the open cavities.

The solution: coffee can bottoms! We removed them from the cans (leaving fun cyllinders which are now buried in the snow), and Sarah took them to the basement and painted them blue with our bus paint. We caulked them on in the 15 degree weather with low temp caulk, but needed duct tape to keep them on while they cured, much to the chagrin of the boys, who were hoping to avoid duct tape on the exterior of this bus. But it worked!

Is that custom cut steel or what-- by Mommy with the can opener! Just don't tell the Winnebago crowd!

Well, that's it for now. Congratulations! You are either really into school bus conversions, or a grandparent!

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