Category Archives for "Bus Life"

Choosing a Bus for Conversion, Tag, Title & Legal – How We Did It

By Mela & Don | Bus Conversion , Bus Life , DIY , Lifestyle

As we have been sharing our journey in converting our 1996 MCI D3 Coach Bus we have been asked a lot of the same questions from people who are considering a bus conversion themselves. We did a lot of research on buses prior to picking our Coach Bus so we thought we’d make a resource video and answer these FAQ.

In this video we discuss:

  • The Pros and Cons of School Buses and Coach Buses

  • How to get Legal (registration and insurance)

  • Driving and Safety in a Coach Bus

  • Demolition: The first steps to get your bus ready for your build

The Pros and Cons of School Buses and Coach Buses

There’s a lot to consider when choosing your dream bus, I highly recommend you do a lot of research before you purchase a bus but we hope this video will help you consider some of the basics of which kind of bus is right for you.

How to get Legal (registration and insurance)

Here are some helpful links with regards to getting your bus legal that we talk about in the video:

Register your bus as an RV in Vermont

CA DMV RV Registration

Driving and Safety in a Coach Bus

View the Pre-Trip Inspection Video here

Download the Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist we created to use before we drive the bus anywhere

Demolition: The first steps to get your bus ready for your build

Often people burn out after the demolition and give up on their bus conversion. If you can find a bus that someone has already taken down to the bare bones I would highly recommend you consider buying it, or at the very least with the seats removed. The demolition is tough and having gone through the process we can understand why so many people give up at this stage. 

Knowing your limits and capabilities is important when taking on such a venture. Our demolition was exhausting but it did not break us. Watch our series of demolition videos here to get a taste of what a coach bus demolition looks like:

Full Playlist of Bus Demolition - Season 2 

Bus Build: Ceiling Prep & Battling the Elements – S03E11

By Mela & Don | Adventure , Bus Conversion , Bus Life , DIY , Lifestyle , Travel

We knew that converting our bus outside in the Midwest would present some weather obstacles. In the summer we had dug out a big hole in the ground and prepped it to lay concrete for a level pad to park the bus on.  However we had not yet had more than 4 days in a row without rain and as we moved into winter it was just impossible for the ground to dry out in that amount of time with very little sunshine during the day.  So we have been unable to pour the concrete and the bus pad had basically become a swimming pool!

What we could do was prep our ceiling even though it was only about 36 degrees Fahrenheit in the bus.  We waited to do this job until after we had our floors down, as we thought it would be too dangerous to use the angle grinder while standing only on the metal beams of the floor. Don put a 4 ½ Inch 60 grit Aluminium Oxide flap disc on the angle grinder and removed as much of the surface rust as possible from the metal beams in the ceiling.  We were hoping that by painting the roof with Henry’s Tropicool we had sealed off any minor leaks in the roof that caused this rust in the first place.  When we had a non-rainy day, we opened up all the windows and spray-painted the metal beams with Rustoleum Primer

We were still unsure about a few things in our floor plan, so we decided to go check out an RV Expo happening close by.  We took our measuring tape and measured out bathroom and hallway sizes, took notes on things we liked and layout designs that worked well.  We had no aha inspiration moments, but we did learn a few things, like a bathroom with a small square footage can feel spacious with a good design plan.

The next step in our build was to put the skylights and fans into the roof before we insulate and put our ceiling up.  With the weather the way it was, snowy and cold, we were not able to move onto this step.  Don had to travel to California for work, so we decided to just turn the work trip into a month-long road trip adventure in the hopes of returning to a kinder climate for roof work. In hindsight we are really glad we took this trip, as only weeks after our return from this adventure the COVID19 Pandemic would hit the States and we would be forced to stay home. 

Our drive west was pretty easy but quick and we had a great time visiting friends in Los Angeles in between Don’s work commitments.  I was able to pick up some Pilates apparatus parts from my old Pilates studio that we will be using to build Pilates apparatus into the bus.  Stay tuned to see what we do!

On our way back home, we took the Southern route, visited family in Texas and spent a few days exploring the French Quarter in New Orleans. We had an absolute blast, listening to lots of amazing live music, sampling the Cajun and Creole cuisine and seeing a few sites and tours.

After our month of fun we returned to our bus, ready to start work on the ceiling. But as life would have it, things never work out quite that straight forward.

 

Up Next
We find some problems we need to fix and we settle on a floor layout that we both feel confident with.

Some of the links we share are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, Rehabit8 will earn a small commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please understand that we have experience with all of the products we post and share them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions we make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

4 1/2 In. 60 Grit Aluminium Oxide Flap Disc
This disc did a great job at sanding off surface rust on our metal beams, formulated for long run times without needing to change discs.

 

Rustoleum Primer Paint
We used this Rustoleum primer to coat our metal floor beams. It is a durable protective coating with excellent rust prevention to be used on metal only.  It provides a base for excellent adhesion and withstands demanding, heavy-use environments. 

 

Bus Build: Planning the Floor Layout for our Bus Conversion Tiny Home – S03E10

By Mela & Don | Bus Conversion , Bus Life , DIY , Lifestyle , Travel

Our original bus floors were made of ¼ inch plywood and in order to keep the engine hatch (at the back of the bus) accessible it made complete sense for us to use ¼ inch plywood for our new floors too.  However, once the floors were completed we were not happy as it did not feel solid enough. Especially over the area where the ramp had previously been which we built up to all be one level.

If we could go back in time we would have put down ¾ inch plywood everywhere except the back of the bus where it needs to be ¼ inch near the hatch.  In order to keep the conversion moving forward, we decided our best option was to just put another layer of plywood on top.  

We chose to put an underlayment down on top of the ¼ inch floors to insulate and act as a moisture barrier, then placed ¾ inch plywood on top of that.  This was much easier the second time round as we were screwing wood to wood and didn’t need to worry about securing down to the metal beams.

We have been working on our floor plan since before we even bought our bus but now that we finally had floors we could tape out our design and get a feel for it.  There are so many details to consider and we found that once we were actually in the bus what looked good on paper (or the computer) didn’t necessarily translate in the space. We had prioritized the kitchen countertop space, yet taped out of the floor we questioned if it was really big enough.  Were our hallways too narrow? Would the bathroom feel claustrophobic? We found ourselves going back again and again to our design and considering many different variables.  

This phase of the build was getting us particularly excited as it was all getting a little more real.  Especially as we began receiving gifts from our wedding registry, like an electric fireplace by Touchstone and my dream kitchen sink, a stainless steel farmhouse sink by AKDY.

We set the fireplace up inside the house and it has been working great at keeping us warm on these chilly winter nights. Above the fireplace we were looking for a solution for a TV Lift as we shared in our inspiration video.  Thanks to our friends at Touchstone for helping us turn our bus conversion dreams into a reality by sending us a Touchstone SRV 2800 Pro TV Lift.  It can accommodate up to a 50 inch TV and extends up to 55 inches.

We are so excited to start building our entertainment center, but first we must finalize our floor plan.  Coincidentally there was an RV Expo happening around this time, so we headed off with our tape measure and measured bathroom, hallways, countertops and more.  This was a great opportunity to really feel what felt too big, too small or just right for us!

 

Up Next
We learn a lot at the RV Expo and come back more sure of what we want in our design.

Some of the links we share are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, Rehabit8 will earn a small commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please understand that we have experience with all of the products we post and share them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions we make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

Touchstone Pro TV Lift
For 50-inch TVs and smaller. Full extended height: 55.125 inches. Advanced technology including RS232, soft start and stop, safety stop up and down, and 3 remotes (wired & wireless RF and IR). We look forward to setting this up and showing you how we do it.

 

Touchstone Recessed Electric Fireplace
The Sideline 40 allows you to change the heat, flame intensity and color using your electric fireplace remote. It is simple to set up, easy to use and has kept us warm so far during a Midwest Winter living in a basement!

 

14 Small Space Design Ideas for Our Bus Conversion

By Mela & Don | Bus Conversion , Bus Life , Lifestyle , Travel

As we work to plan out the layout of our bus conversion, we reflect back on some of flats and apartments we stayed in on...

Posted by Rehabit8 on Wednesday, April 15, 2020

During our honeymoon we stayed in some small Airbnb apartments and a tiny hotel room in Europe. These are typical sizes for the areas we were in, but we realized this was an opportunity to take notes on what we liked and what didn’t work for us while living in a small space. 

We gathered ideas from our accommodations and turned them into notes for things we want to look into including in our Bus Conversion Design.

Watch the video to see our ideas!

Some of the links we share are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, Rehabit8 will earn a small commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please understand that we have experience with all of the products we post and share them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions we make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

Chase Travel Sapphire Preferred
This is the Chase Sapphire credit card we used to earn points to purchase flights for our honeymoon.

Apply for the card through our link and earn 60,000 Bonus Points and we will get 15,000 points for the referral.

Get $55 off your first trip with AirBnB 
​​If you are new to AirBnB, use this link to sign up and receive a $55 discount on your first trip.  ​

 

Bus Build: 8 Bus Conversions That Have Inspired Our Design – S03E09

By Mela & Don | Bus Conversion , Bus Life , DIY

We have been looking at other people’s bus conversion on YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and more for a few years now.  As we nail down the details of our floor plan we thought it would be nice to share some of the designs that have inspired us and give them a shout out for their work. In no particular order, here are 8 designs that have influenced us:

Wild Bus Films

Louisa converted a 2004 Thomas Built, Mercedes powered 40ft School Bus which is not just her home on wheels but an off-grid mobile production unit covering stories of all things wild in the Pacific Northwest.  She has some amazing woodwork art in her bus, but the real highlight, we think, are her skylights down the center of her bus. Her use of a feeding trough as a bathtub is clever and affordable!

Instagram @wildbusfilms

Check out her YouTube Channel here

The Mayes Team

One of the first skoolie conversions that I really liked was Debbie and Gabriel of the Mayes Team’s conversion of a 40ft 2000 Thomas Bus. They are no longer living in this bus, currently they are busy renovating a small house.  This was the first time we had seen an L-shaped kitchen in a bus and we love how spacious this makes the living area feel. As minimalists they do a great job at creating a clean and clutter free look with white walls, ceilings and kitchen cabinets.

Instagram @themayesteam

www.themayesteam.com

The Solbus

Sarah and Stephanie converted a 2003 Ford E550 Super Duty Shuttle Bus. These digital nomads and their 2 dogs travel full time in their adorable home, The Sol Bus. They have a sofa which can convert into 9 different configurations!  We probably don’t need all 9 options, but love the idea of the sofa pulling out into an L shape for lounging on, or becoming a bed for guests. We love the overall aesthetics in their interior design, but their entertainment center is really what grabbed our attention with a built-in electric fireplace and a TV monitor mount which comes out of the table behind the fireplace.  I love that the tv can also disappear and leave you with counter space and a clear view out the windows.

Instagram @thesolbus

www.thesolbus.com

Fir and Finch

When we started our bus conversion we were lucky to connect with Whitney and Andrew. They have the same MCI coach as we do, just 5 ft longer.  They have been super helpful in sharing tips and information on their build, what worked, what didn’t work and design details. Their layout is very similar to what we are planning on doing so this really gave us a chance to see what our bus could look and feel like.  They were able to keep all their windows down the one side of the bus which has been a top priority for us too.

Instagram @firandfinch

Check out their YouTube Channel here

Mountain Modern Life

This is not actually a bus conversion but an renovated RV.  We had to include them as Katie and Eric of Mountain Modern Life have a very helpful website and Youtube channel, full of great DIY builds, how-to videos and Tiny living design ideas. They do a great job of combining a modern clean look with rustic finishes which is right up our alley!  They too, like the Solbus, have an entertainment center with an electric fireplace and TV Mount that comes out the cabinet, BUT there is also a large table extension that pulls out the front. We love clever design like this offering multiple functions for one piece of furniture.

Instagram @mountainmodernlife

www.mountainmodernlife.com

Check out their YouTube Channel here

Gilligan Phantom

We started following Justin and Val when they first started converting their bus purely for entertainment. This was long before we considered buying a bus ourselves. Now that we are planning the build I find I keep going back to so many of the videos on their channel for information. We love their use of LED strip lights where the wall and ceiling meet for mood lighting. We have recently been rewatching how Justin mounted his roof deck and solar panels, plus the install of a boat hatch as a skylight.

Instagram @gilliganphantom

www.gilliganphantom.com

Check out their YouTube Channel here

Happy Homebodies

Nick and Frankie's 40 ft BlueBird Skoolie is probably one of my absolute favorite conversions.  They call themselves Happy Homebodies and they sure do look happy in their cozy yet spacious tiny home. Their spacious living room/kitchen has a lot of that clean white design but they have warmed the room up with plants, lots of blankets and decor in warm wood tones. We first learned about the Nebia showerhead from their instagram photos.  Nebia offers technology that reduces the amount of water you need to use while still offering full coverage by creating a mist rather than a stream of water.

Instagram @happyhomebodies

Technomadia

One of the first bus conversion couples I started following was Cherie and Chris of Technomadia. They have a gorgeous 1961 GM 4106 called Zephyr, which got us looking into GM and MCI buses for our conversion. I love how they expanded the size of their bathroom by opening their doors into the hallway, plus the fact that these doors have little cat doors at the bottom.  They also run MIA (Mobile Internet Aficionados) a membership site with news, information, a forum and gear reviews. It's been so helpful for us planning our mobile internet solutions.

Instagram @technomadia

www.technomadia.com

www.mobileinternetinfo.com

Check out their YouTube Channel here

 

Up Next
We find a solution to the problem with our subfloors and begin taping out our floor plan.

Bus Build: Paint the Roof – S03E08

By Mela & Don | Adventure , Bus Conversion , Bus Life , Lifestyle , Travel

The weather is fast changing in the Midwest and with Winter approaching we decided we should get outside of the bus and work on the roof before temps drop below freezing.

We borrowed a power washer from our cousin, cleaned off the roof and while we were at it we decided it was time the whole bus got washed! We used a gasoline powered washer and it was powerful and did a great job. We had been watching the weather carefully and chosen to work over a period where the weather forecast predicted no rain. The next day we started covering up the windows to paint the roof. We were about halfway putting up the covers when it started to rain. The wind picked up and started pulling our covers down, so we just pulled them off and decided with rain in the forecast now for the next few days we should just go do something fun.

We learned that the fall foliage  was at its peak, so we headed out to Brown County to enjoy the colorful leaves and some down time before all the leaves disappear. The colors were truly magnificent and I’d highly recommend a visit here in Fall. It was drizzling all day with a fair amount of fog, which meant our trip to the Brown County State Park was crowd free and easy but it did mean all the vista lookout points were too hazy to enjoy. We made the best of it and had a fantastic day walking on the trails and collecting different colored leaves. We stopped off in the quaint village of Nashville​ for a bite to eat, enjoying traditional fall cuisine like hot soups and mulled wine. This is a charming little town with antiques, art, music and lots of fudge!

After a wonderful little getaway we came back to a rain free day and got to work painting the roof of the bus.  We used Henry’s Tropicool Roof Coating. It is a 100% Silicone Paint which is a wonderful sealant, water resistant and reflects the sun’s heat.

We have a lot more work that needs to be done on the roof, like a roof deck for the solar panels, putting in skylights and fans, but with the temperatures dropping we will have to move back inside and start hashing out the details of our floor design.

 

Up Next
As we start to nail down the details of our floorplan, we revisit the bus conversions that have inspired us.

Some of the links we share are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, Rehabit8 will earn a small commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please understand that we have experience with all of the products we post and share them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions we make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

Henry's Tropicool Roof Coating
With Extreme Durability, & Superior Capabilities Of Sealing & Protection from the Sun’s UV Rays, Henry’s Tropicool is a must for all RV’s, Skoolies and Bus Conversions.

 

Back in the Bus: Building our Floor Extension – S03E07

By Mela & Don | Bus Conversion , Bus Life , DIY , Lifestyle

Coming back to the bus build post honeymoon, we had to attack the problem we left behind.  We had to complete the floors in the back, leaving the hatch to the engine accessible, and building up the floor in the front of the bus so it was all one level.

Before we left for honeymoon we had cut a hole in the plywood for the back of the bus, but the hatch cover didn’t sit perfectly in it.  We realized we needed to bolt down the hatch in place to get the correct measurements as the hatch could move around inside the floor frame if it wasn’t. Most of the bolts were rusted out and broke off inside the hatch.  We bought some new bolts and using a combination of Blaster Penetrating Spray, a Tapping Thread Tool, brute force and a drill we were able to get the old rusted ones out. Now that we were able to bolt down the hatch cover, we changed our approach and cut 3 separate pieces of plywood to cover the back of the bus around the engine hatch and it all fitted perfectly this time.

Our bus had a ramp down the center isle of the bus and the front 2 chairs were on a lower level. We wanted to level all this out so we built a wooden frame to attach our plywood floors to.  We used metal joists hangers to fasten our new wood frame in place. This was definitely the most challenging part of our floors as there were a lot of different angles to deal with.

 

Up Next
We clean and paint the roof with a sealant.

A Break from the Bus Build: Honeymoon in Paris and Crete – S03E05

By Mela & Don | Adventure , Bus Conversion , Bus Life , DIY , Lifestyle , Travel

We worked as hard as we could to get our floors down before leaving for our honeymoon. We managed to get about 75% of the floors down, all that is left to do is the very front and back subfloors of the bus. In the front area we need to build the floor up first, the original coach bus design had a ramp going down to the steps, but we’d like to make it all one level. Plus, the back of the bus has a hatch that we need to keep accessible to the engine.  We cut a hole in our plywood floorboard for this hatch but it didn’t fit perfectly. With so many things to prepare before our travels we decided to leave troubleshooting these problems until we got back. It was time for some adventure and relaxation!

When we made this huge change and left our old lives we had to be smart with our finances. One smart thing we did do was purchase our bus on our Chase Sapphire credit card. We immediately paid the card off and gained enough points to cover most of the flights for our honeymoon. 

Le Marais, Paris, France

Our first destination on our honeymoon was Paris, which worked as a home base for us on this trip as it offered direct flights to all our locations. We spent 2 days in the Le Marais area, a trendy hip location for restaurants and bars with close proximity to many famous Parisian sites.  We booked an apartment on Airbnb called The Sleeping Lion. It was a typical European size apartment offering Parisian charm with a center courtyard, a long spiral staircase and a Juliet balcony off the bedroom.  It was stylishly decorated as you would expect in Paris and a very comfortable stay while being another opportunity to learn what’s important to us in tiny living.

Paris is known for amazing cuisine and wine and our favorite restaurant in this area was Vins Des Pyrenees. We were also able to find a restaurant that offered Gluten free and some dairy free options of traditional french pastries called NoGlu which was a treat for me (Mela) as I have a few food allergies.

We spent half a day exploring The Louvre​, the world’s largest museum and the home of the Mona Lisa. We pre-purchased our tickets online which I highly recommend.  The line to get in is long, but by pre-purchasing we were able to get in fairly quickly. We picked out a few highlights to view, but it would be easy to spend 3-5 days exploring this museum and it’s architecture as it is a colossal old palace from the 12th to 13th century decorated by the greatest artists of the day and filled with a world renowned collection of art.

We enjoyed a walk along the Champs de Mars​ , a large public greenspace in front of the Eiffel Tower. Having been up the Eiffel Tower in a past trip, I highly recommend it and the view of Paris, but the Champs de Mars offers a few money saving and atmospheric perks.  People picnic and socialize in the park, it’s a nice walk, plus offers lots of photo opportunities of the Eiffel Tower without the ticket cost.

We thoroughly enjoyed a night walk along the Seine River. People come out with picnic blankets, cafes offer food and drinks, buskers line the river and create a lively spirited night time ambience. There are many cruises along the river which I have done in the past.  The cruise is a great way to get more info on the city and it’s sights, but enjoying the local atmosphere along the river for free is just as fun!

Stalida, Island of Crete, Greece

From Paris we headed off to Crete for a week of sun, sea and relaxation. We stayed at The Raspberry Junior Suite , another AirBnB rental, just steps from the Mediterranean Sea in Stalida which was just far enough away from the touristy side that you have peace and quiet yet many tavernas are within walking distance. We woke up every morning to a breathtaking sunrise and had a dock just a few steps from our front yard to go swimming.

The Cretan way of life is very relaxed and laid back, which we fully embraced.  We spent much of our time swimming, snorkeling, dining on fresh local cuisine, wine and raki​.

Crete was the center of Europe’s first advanced civilization, the Minoans. We visited the archeological site of the Malia Palace dating back to 3000 BC. I highly recommend reading up on the history before visiting the ruins, it really helped us understand what we were looking at.

On the east side of the island is the charming town of Agios Nikolaos.  We enjoyed a day trip to this bustling little town with its narrow roads and long staircases nestled between buildings, it’s a great city for walking. It has a unique lake in the middle of town with a narrow inlet to the sea with tavernas, bars and music all around it’s a fun place to visit. Not far from town is the Cretan Olive Oil Farm where we were able to do olive oil tasting and learn about how they make olive oil and raki.  If we ever return to the island we are definitely heading back here to take their cheese making class!

A highlight of our week in Crete was a trip to the Lyrarakis Winery​ in the Lassithi Mountains.  It is a family run winery credited for their revival of two ancient Cretan varieties, Dafni and Plyto, and a “vineyard treasure”, the indigenous Melissaki. This made for a unique tasting experience that was also complimented by traditional Cretan cuisine. We ate a lot of good food on the island but this was by far our favorite dining experience.  

It was so hard to leave this paradise, we had had the most amazing week here. I could never tire from waking up to our view of sunrise over the Mediterranean Sea and there was so much more we wanted to explore on the island.  I can see us returning to Crete in the future.

 

Up Next
The Honeymoon is far from over as next we head to my (Mela’s) hometown in South Africa.

Some of the links we share are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, Rehabit8 will earn a small commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please understand that we have experience with all of the products we post and share them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions we make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

Chase Travel Sapphire Preferred
This is the Chase Sapphire credit card we used to earn points to purchase flights for our honeymoon.

Apply for the card through our link and earn 60,000 Bonus Points and we will get 15,000 points for the referral.

Get $55 off your first trip with AirBnB 
​​If you are new to AirBnB, use this link to sign up and receive a $55 discount on your first trip.  ​

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at The Sleeping Lion in Paris and The Raspberry Junior Suite on the Island of Crete.  ​​

Bus Build: A Bigger Undertaking Than We Imagined – S03E04

By Mela & Don | Bus Conversion , Bus Life , DIY , Lifestyle

With the batteries charged up again we were able to start the bus!  We were so glad that this was a simple fix. From here on out, while we are building out the bus, we decided to always unhook the batteries (not just switch them off) while the bus is stationary for months on end so as not to drain the batteries again.

After starting the bus we were able to open our luggage bays and take out the air compressor bolts so that we can open the luggage bays without needing to turn the bus on. In the long run we’d like to switch the airlock system to an electrical system, but we aren’t sure if that is possible yet and will have to keep researching. 

Now that we have gotten our method down (see our Dummies Guide for Putting Down Your Subfloors from Episode 3), we are moving a little faster and getting close to having completed floors. Although, our priorities are changing.  When we started this build we wanted to try to complete the build in 6 months. We had underestimated the amount of work there would be in the bus demolition and we are not the type of people to cut corners. We were close to burnout when we finished the demolition and decided to take a new approach to tackling this project.  

We are lucky to have the ability to take our time with this build and the whole point of this lifestyle change was to be able to better look after ourselves which we had not been doing.

So we decided to take a month-long vacation for our honeymoon and reignite our gypsy souls, in the hopes of returning to the bus conversion feeling renewed and refreshed.

 

Up Next
We attempt to complete the floors before leaving, but we run out of time before our first flight to Paris.

Bus Build: Putting Down Subfloors for our Bus Conversion – S03E03

By Mela & Don | Bus Conversion , Bus Life , DIY , Lifestyle

We had carefully planned out how to cut the plywood in order to secure the subfloor down to the metal frame in the floor. Because the inside width of the bus is 8 foot 2 inches, we wouldn't be able to use a standard 8 foot piece of plywood. See the video and blog post for season 3 episode 2 for the diagram we made for our floors boards.

We went in all gung-ho as we were so eager to get our subfloors down. But, we hadn’t thought through the order of the steps. We needed to ad glue in the correct place on the frame AND then somehow know where the beams were once they were covered with the plywood so that when we drill down we didn't miss the frame. Or worse, drill or screw into the pipes that run down the center of the bus.  We sure felt like idiots when we put the first piece of plywood down on top of the glue and then realized we hadn’t marked the beams on top of the plywood.

We have found a lot of people who have documented the conversion of their school buses or skoolies, but an MCI coach is a little different. We also have been unable to find any documentation or videos detailing the conversion of an MCI D3, which is one of the reasons we decided to document our process in such detail so that perhaps we might help someone else who wants to convert an MCI and not make the same mistakes we have! 

Dummies Guide to Putting Down Your Subfloor in an MCI 102D3 

  1. Place the wood down in the appropriate area and line in up so that you can screw into the middle of the beams.
  2. Using a Chalk Line Reel, mark the middle of the beams so you have a clear line of where you can screw the wood down into the beam.
  3. Remove the plywood so you can apply glue on the appropriate beams.  We used a Silicone Sealant Caulk which seemed to work well, however after the fact a knowledgeable bus guy advised us to rather use a polyurethane sealant for a moving vehicle. He suggested Sikaflex 252.
  4. Place the plywood back in the appropriate spot on top of the glue and first drill a hole for the screw to go into.  Just because you are drilling into metal don’t feel like you need to apply extra pressure, let the drill do the work. Then use self drilling wood to metal screws, we used TEKS, to secure the wood down to the metal beam.

We were using 1/2 inch plywood, our reasoning being that because we chose not to do a roof raise we wanted to conserve every inch we could in the floors and the ceiling.  However we were quickly learning that this was not thick enough to create a strong supportive floor especially over the area in the center that runs over the pipes. As we stepped in that area the floor would sink.  Using ¾ inch plywood would have been a better decision.

We decided to reuse an aluminium ceiling panel that we took out during the demolition and cut it to cover the gas tank in the middle of the passenger side of the bus.  We felt like it would just give us a little peace of mind to have a metal barrier between the gas tank and battery compartment and our bus interior. We used an Industrial Diamond Blade to cut the aluminium sheet to size and sanded down the rough edges. We glued the sheet down to the metal frame first and then glued the plywood to the steel sheet and then screwed it all down into the frame.

Mistakes were made, but through trial and error we seem to have figured out the best way to put our floors down. Hooray!

 

Up Next
Our batteries are finally charged up so lets hope the bus starts now!

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​Chalk Line Reel
​We used the chalk line reel to mark off where the center line of the beams were on top of the plywood to make sure we drilled in the correct spot.  It is also useful for measuring out our cut lines for the pieces of plywood running down the sides of the bus.

​Gorilla 100% Silicone Sealant Caulk
​This is good for sealing gaps between surfaces, so we used it to seal our plywood floorboards to the metal floor frame of the bus.  It's 100% waterproof, mold and mildew resistant and good for indoor or outdoor use.

Sikaflex 252
We did not use this glue, however it was recommended to us.  Had we gotten the recommendation in time we may have rather gone with this.  My understanding is that it has more elasticity so is better for use in a moving vehicle.

TEKS Self Drilling Screws
​It seats flush into the wood. The point has precise cutting edges to improve drill performance with less effort. Wafer head design has a large bearing surface ideal for plywood.

Masterforce Diamond Blade for Metal

​Up to 65x longer life than standard abrasive wheels for cutting various ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Blades provide constant depth of cut and less machine downtime. For use on 3-3/8" multicutting saws to cut iron, steel, stainless-steel, rebar, copper and aluminum.

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