As I mentioned in my last post, lately the bus has been our top priority. I have been too still for too long. I ache to travel. The drudgery of our current day to day life is really wearing us. So, we have been working hard, and it is paying off.
The progress has been strange. July 26th marked six months from our first workday on the bus. On that first day, we bought an angle grinder and spent an entire day removing the last couple rows of seats that were left in the bus. Between learning a new tool and freeing a few very locked bolts, that was all that we accomplished in an entire day’s work.
These days, we typically get a bit more done. We’ve gotten better at working as a team and we’ve learned a ton. But, if I were to pick one thing that has really sped us up, it is an increase in our confidence with the work.
When we started working on the bus, we were terrified of everything. We had a bunch of new tools and we were working on a project unlike anything either of us had ever done before. We watched countless YouTube videos and went into every new task with fresh anxieties. As the project has progressed, however, we are realizing that we’re actually not half-bad at this. Our build is more complex than many out there, and even the most prolific youtube posters seem to be wrong pretty often.
We also had the good fortune to attend a van-building workshop with a local company called Satsang Woodworks. In two days they ran us through the basics of everything you need to know to convert a van or bus. We definitely left that class feeling like we had a better handle on everything we were planning.
But certainly the greatest increase in our own confidence has been the result of mistakes and failures of the “experts” that we brought questions to. For people like us, without much building experience, it is easy to defer to just about anyone who has lifted a hammer before (okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration). But as we continued to do this to mixed results, we finally realized that we need to give a little more respect to ourselves and the research and thought that we put into our decisions. Lots of the advice we have received has just not been very good. We might not be great at this, but there aren’t actually many experts out there when it comes to building out a van (except the guys at Satsang–they’ve been invaluable).
There’s the update on our emotional growth so far with the project. Now for a bit about our recent progress.
We finished demolition some weeks ago and have moved into the more fun part, where we are starting to put our mark on the bus. Here are a few of the larger milestones of late:
We put in a passenger seat
We sealed off the front door in order to make space for this. It wound up being an enormous challenge to find a space in the limited cab area where we could punch through four bolts to secure the swivel to the floor, but we pulled it off. There was no way I was driving to Alaska with one of us laying in the back without a seatbelt.
The subfloor is in
We rattle-trapped to reduce road noise, which we then overlaid with a layer of reflectix. We are tall, so we wanted to maximize headroom by minimizing floor insulation. The floor of the bus is corrugated metal, which has been a thorn in our side from the beginning. It is hard to secure a flat floor to corrugated metal. The reflectix should be an elegant solution. Reflectix is very thin insulation intended primarily for radiant heat. Without getting too deep into heat transfer, radiant heat barriers require an air gap to be effective. We were able to utilize the undulation of the corrugated metal as this air gap to hopefully maximize the insulative power of reflectix while also keeping the overall height of our insulation quite low.
The subfloor itself is pine plywood that we screwed down with sheet metal screws and treated with a couple layers of polyurethane to protect it from leaks and spills.
All the holes we didn’t need are filled and the ones we do need are cut
Vents for the chimney, toilet, heater/AC, fan, etc. are in and sealed. Cutting holes in the side of the bus can be frightening, but we have gotten pretty good at it now. Everything we need to stick out the side of the bus now has a well-sealed path.
The bus is wired
We definitely called in help for this one. Once our design was finalized I spent weeks agonizing over the electrical plan. Then spent additional weeks putting off the install out of fear. We finally decided it would be wise to bring in Mike from Satsang to ensure our plan was solid and to show us how it’s done. With his instruction and skill, the three of us managed to get all the wiring done in a day. In fact, it was early enough to make happy hour, where we brought well-earned gusto to our taco and margarita consumption.
As you can see, things on the bus are moving along quite well. Some of the scariest projects are done, though many remain. Next up Bea is getting a fresh coat of paint on the outside and a nice layer of insulation on the inside.
I’ll keep updating here on our progress with the bus, but also be sure to give us a follow on Instagram at @letsliveeverywhere and @hook.rifle.spade!