School Bus Conversion | A Minimalist Family Adventure

A Family of 5 Living on a Converted School Bus. We blog about skoolies, travel, family, and minimalism

Month: April 2016

Bus Demo

Over the past month or so, we embarked on an adventure to “Demo” the bus.  This turned out to be quite the task and we hope to never have to…

Over the past month or so, we embarked on an adventure to “Demo” the bus.  This turned out to be quite the task and we hope to never have to do it again. I’m partially kidding as we now realize that demoing the bus is a right of passage for any skoolie owner.  Demoing is both a grind and riveting (you will get that amazing double pun after reading on).

In the following post, we wanted to share the breakdown of this phase of the bus development.  We have detailed the list of supplies as well as the steps that we took in order to prepare the bus to be built up.

Tools And Items

  • 2 Angle grinders (Harbor Freight) $30
  • DeWALT Impact driver and hammer drill combo set (Lowes) $250
  • 2 cut off wheels pack of 10 (to remove rivets, Harbor Freight) $20
  • 2 grinder wheels (to remove rust, Harbor Freight) $10
  • Safety goggles, gloves, masks (to protect your sexy face, Harbor Freight) $20
  • 2 jugs phosphoric acid Prep & Etch (neutralizes rust, Home Depot) $30
  • 2 cans Rustoleum “rusty metal primer” (Lowes) $54
  • Paint brushes, rollers, and extender (Lowes) $30
  • 5/16 hex sheet metal screws (Lowes) $6
  • Metal shears (Harbor Freight) $30

Pro Tips

  • Find a friend who has completed a bus conversion so you can learn from them (thanks Denver and Vanessa Miller)
  • Lowes gift cards at Office Max or Staples

I dabble in “travel hacking” and have learned a couple tips to maximize travel points. For this project or any DIY project the best card to apply for is the business Chase Ink Plus . This card offers 50,000 points after spending $5000 in the first three months and 5x the points on purchases made at office supply stores such as Staples, Office Max etc.  Office Max sells Lowes and Amazon gift cards in high amounts.  I go there and buy a bunch of gift cards and Im able to do all my bus purchases with the gift cards.

  • Using ceiling panels to patch floor
  • Once comfortable with using the angle grinder remove the guards and BE CAREFUL
  • Angle grind seats out but don’t try and unscrew the bolts, its a waste of time
  • Buy the warranty on the angle grinders because they over heat
  • Ceiling rivets cut x’s then hand chisel out (This task is “riveting”)

Steps We Took To Demo

  • Angle grind out the seats (and karate kick them out)
  • Remove the center walk way strip of flooring
  • Disconnect and remove heaters and hoses (warning antifreeze will get everywhere)
  • Remove rubber floor
  • Remove wood sub floor with crow bar (it was still wet, ew!)
  • Remove the vinyl from wheel wells
  • Unscrew all lights, speakers, fans, any and all things that can be unscrewed with a drill.
  • Unscrew all emergency exit windows to access the rivets underneath
  • Angle grind out rivets holding side panel walls on

  • DO NOT REMOVE THE LOWEST RIVETS OR PANELS this panel and these rivets hold the top of your bus to the bottom frame.
  • Throw away all old nasty insulation
  • Start your ceiling rivets by making a X in them and then hand chiseling them off with a cold chisel and a mini sledge hammer.

  • Hold on to a couple ceiling panels we used the sheet metal to patch the larger holes in the bus floor from rust
  • Grind off any nails or screws that are still poking upward in the floor
  • Sledge hammer all the large chunks of rust
  • Angle grind with a large grinder wheel around all the holes and on all rusty spots (in our case the entire floor)
  • Clean up the mess, we used a blower, a shop vac , and a huge push broom
  • Spray phosphoric acid on the entire floor of the bus. This is to remove/neutralize the remaining rust.

  • Let it dry
  • Rinse the floor and sweep out the excess water
  • Let it dry
  • Repeat

  • Paint the floor with Rustolium using the roller and use the brush to get in the corners, around all wheel wells and in and around holes.
  • Let dry and apply another coat

  • Use metal shears to cut ceiling panels to patch holes in the floor.

  • We used 5/16 hex sheet metal screws to attach the metal patches to the floor
  • Fill small screw holes with silicon caulk

And voila! The bus is (finally) ready to be worked on.  Now on to the fun part…

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