Insulation

If you know anything about by us now, you know that we research everything we do to the nth degree… well, as well as we can.

The same holds true for our quest to find the right insulation. When we took the interior of the bus apart, we swore that we wouldn’t even think about using fiberglass at all. The insulation we took out was awful, some of it was filled with dirt, some of was smashed to pieces, and a lot of it had gotten wet. As with most fiberglass, no matter how well you cover your skin, it finds a way to make you itch.

Initially, we thought about using spray foam, but that idea was quickly extinguished simply due to cost. Our estimate set the price of roughly 700 dollars, and that’s with us doing it ourselves… With it’s R value per inch(6.5), it can’t really be beat in terms of insulating properties

The next idea was using foam boards. There are several different types…

Expanded polystyrene foam – r value of 3.5 – 4 per inch
Extruded polystyrene foam – r value of 4.5 -5 per inch
Polyisocyanurate and polyurethane foam – r value of 7 – 8 per inch

With the curves of the ceiling and the cost of these options, we mostly opted out of them too but they are all good options as well.

We scored some expanded polystyrene 2ft x 4ft x 1inch sheets for free off a job that Blake was working at. They over ordered what they needed and we ended up being able to take some home with permission. While this isn’t going to be our main insulation, it will be utilized in several different areas of the bus!

With research, we hear about Roxul, a mineral wool fiber insulation with an r value of 4.2 per inch. It’s also fire-proof (it eventually melts at 2100 degrees, but never combust) and waterproof, both things we really like.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

We were at the local ReStore and happened across a pallet of 7 bundles of 5inch thick Roxul marked down to 30 dollars a bundle. We immediately were shocked at that deal but they even knock the price down to $25 a bundle. We walked out of there with 90% of the insulation we needed for 189.90, tax included.

We never do it the easy way.

 

Blake crafted a holder for the insulation out of scrap wood. He cut the side walls to be 2″ high, which just below the middle of the insulation. At first we tried to use a wire to cut the insulation but couldn’t keep it tight enough to make the cut consistent so Blake fashioned a cutting harp out of scrap wood and the wire. We went back and forth together in a saw like motion on each piece twice. This gave us two 2″ pieces and one 1″ piece.

11

Once we finished cutting down the sheets of insulation, we started fitting and installing them on the ceiling of the bus using box cutters. One sheet fit one in between the ribs with a small gap horizontally and excess insulation vertically. We would just cut the excess and fill in the holes. We were able to use the 1″ pieces of insulation folded in half to make 2″ or pieces of it to fill in space. Somehow, we the amount of insulation we bought (which was all that ReStore had) was the perfect amount we needed. We were able to insulate the walls and ceiling using the 7 bundles.

Processed with VSCOcam with s6 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 preset

There was difference pretty quickly.

-b&c

The Floating Floor

*I’d first like to say that this post marks the first time we are actually adding to the bus. Up until this moment, we have been demoing and cleaning the bus of the life it once had and to us, putting in the floor was a huge stepping stone. It’s our first step into our future, it’s our first step in BUILDING our home. Needless to say, we’re pretty excited.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetNow back to flooring.. one of the biggest problems a bus is prone to is rust which we discovered when we were in the demoing stage of our bus. A lot of rust in busses we’ve seen and even in our own, the rust forms on the flooring. One of the reasons is because nails, screws, and bolts were put directly through the floor to secure the original bus flooring and bus seats. Over time and with the flex of the bus, water was able to makes it’s ways through these holes and eventually, you get nasty rust. This is something we didn’t want to perpetuate so we decided to make our subfloor, float.

No, It’s not a magical trick, but it does allow us to keep the sheet metal floor solid. After working so hard to get rid of the rust and to seal the floors, we didn’t want to just put more holes in it. Instead we will use pressure to keep the floor in place and this will also benefit the floors to be able to flex with the bus and allow the plywood to expand  during temperature change.

Processed with VSCOcam with s2 preset

3

Processed with VSCOcam with s2 preset

We didn’t use glue or any other adhesive to adhere the foam to the actual bus, it was only adhered to itself using aluminum hvac tape.

* side note, try to minimize the amount that you walk on your foam to decrease the dents left behind. We worked out of the emergency exit and should of started laying down insulation from front to back but didn’t. You can see the dents going down the aisle of the foam.

We were able to get all of the floor insulation laid out in one day. The next day was dedicated to laying out the plywood.

Using the foam as a guide, we cut the plywood with a jigsaw to match and fit into the corners.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

To save time and to have a guide, we used an angle iron and clamps to make a straight edge for the circular saw. This helped make each cut consistent and tight fitting. Be sure to measure for the distance of the guard to the blade on your saw though!

And as always, measure twice and cut once as dad would say!

Processed with VSCOcam with s2 preset

With just a little trimming, one sheet would cover the floor of the bus, left to right. We used only 9 sheets of plywood or so to cover the floor.

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Lay down your plywood from where your working, out. For example, we were working out of the emergency exit, as you can see below, and we started laying the plywood from there to the front. This allowed us to walk on the plywood instead of the foam.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

It was so cold that day. For Christmas, Blake bought us both some insulated bibs and they really came in handy for working in temperatures like this.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

This photo shows a strange cut that was made easy by picking up the foam we had laid down the day before and using it as a pattern on the plywood.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

And there we have it, a floating subfloor!

To answer a couple questions we have had:
1. Most of our cabinetry will be attached to the walls and screwed to the plywood floor but not completely through to the metal floor which will help keep our sealed floor, sealed.

2. We were really against using OSB plywood at first because we were concerned with it’s water handling capabilities in case of leaking that happened before in the bus but since we’ve sealed all of our holes and made it water tight from bottom side, we were okay with using it and plus, we got it for free, which helps!

3. Once the plywood relaxes, we will seal between the edges of each sheet with silicon which will both add to the “waterproofing” and also allow our floor to flex without any squeaks, which we all know that a 40ft bus is bound to flex a bit while driving or changing weather conditions.

thanks for reading!

-b&c

 

 

Tiny House Expedition

One of our favorite things that has happen since starting this project has been to become apart of this whole new world that is the tiny house community. With resources like skoolie.net and Instagram, we have had the chance to connect with other people who are working on similar projects, brainstorm ideas, troubleshoot problem and be inspired. Even better then the connection via internet is when you get the unique opportunity to sit down, enjoy a beer and interact in person.  Awhile ago we had the pleasure of hanging out with our new friends Alexis & Christian of Tiny House Expedition!

Alexis-and-Christian-Tiny-House-Expedition.jpg

It was awesome to talk about how they built their home and how life has been on the road as they document tiny house living across the country! It’s fun to meet other people who have taken that step to live outside the box and share creative ideas. Unfortunately we got so distracted in conversation and by spending the evening in their tiny home, we forgot to take pictures. However, they are both very talented artist and you can find photos of their home and how they built it online at their website www.tinyhouseexpedition.com/ or  follow them on their Instagram @tiny_house_expedition . It’s beautiful inside and out!

After spending the evening with them, they came over the next day to see our future home and it’s progress. We were honored that they also included us in the documentary. Here’s what they shot!

Thank you Alexis & Christian for hanging out with us and also putting up with our awkwardness in front of the camera, haha. We hope to visit you one day once how home is finished! It means so much to be apart of your project and can’t wait to see what other places you’ll go and people you’ll meet!

-b&c

Goo-Gone to the Rescue

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

On day eleven, we have been scraping the reflective tape and sanding the exterior of the bus in preparation to paint it before it gets too cold.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

A razor scraper works great but takes time. I will say this was better than when we were removing rivets. A lot of people on our Instagram suggested we used a heat gun or hairdryer to help ease and quicken the process but we don’t own either and didn’t want to spend the money on it. We’ve come to the understanding that we have a tendency of making things a little harder for ourselves, but oh well.

If you’ve been following along with us, you might of seen that we had a letter of nuisance and one thing we did to appease the city was simply paint over the schools name where we got the bus. Now in prepping for painting, we pealed the vinyl letters off and are sanding it away.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

This is the last visual evidence of Bixby Schools, thank you for helping us make our dreams come true!

So like I said earlier, we want to use our money for plywood and paint instead of a heat gun so we had to put a little elbow grease into taking the reflective tape off. Instead, we used Goo-Gone and cheap razor blade scrapers from Lowes Home Improvement.

We sprayed the tape and allowed a few seconds for it to soak in. The tape then came off pretty easily. IMG_0862However, we chose to buy cheap, retractable scrapers and the issue is that they kept wanting to retract. I would suggest you spend a couple extra bucks for a better scraper. Also, buy a box of extra razors, you tend to break some here and there on the rub railing.

After we got the tape off, we went back over each section with a new razor to get the remaining glue residue off which can be best described as sticky, snot-like gunk. Then just wiped it down with a rag. To get an even paint coat, you need the residue to come off.

-b&c

We’re A Nuisance!

It’s been a while since our last update.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Not long ago we received a notice on our door that the bus was a nuisance to our neighborhood as deemed by somebody. Whoever that may be, we have no idea.

Our notice stated that:

#1 Our bus is “..detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of the inhabitants of the City of Tulsa..”

#2 We must “Remove all inoperable vehicles from the entire lot or store within a fully enclosed structure. Unlicensed vehicles cannot be parked or stored on a residential lot.”

yay.

I should also mention that we received this notice on the door at 7:30am on a Monday and we hadn’t had our coffee yet. Imagine the initial frustrations that went through our heads half awake and not yet caffeinated.– After coffee we felt more at ease because as for #1 the bus obviously isn’t “detrimental to the health, safety and welfare” of Tulsa, and #2 the bus is in perfectly fine working order and is turned on often to get it’s fluids moving.

We called the number for the office and tried to figure out what was going on and why we were being notified of this when we had done the research and have met all ordinances and policies to the best of our knowledge.

Turns out that all we needed to do was put the license plate on it and take off any letter that implies that it is still owned by a school. We also moved it completely back onto the RV pad just in case anything came up (Before we had pulled up further on the grass so we had a larger walkway to the garage when working).

We wanted to post this to encourage anyone who is starting a project like this, please make sure you do your research. Each city/state has different zoning policies and laws that you need to educate yourself and become familiar with in case of situations like this. Luckily we did so we knew we were following protocol and will be fine. You kind find this information on your cities website.

Thanks for reading, b & c

Rivets suck.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had the pleasure of removing a rivet but let us tell you that it’s a chore. I understand it’s an incredible tool -sturdy, long lasting, durable- during the construction process but for those of you who are preparing to remove them, know that it’s not a picnic.

We decided to remove all of the ceiling panels and the side panels to inspect our insulation and replace it with something that would give us a better chance at keeping our bus cool and warm depending on the season. The insulation in our bus was sloppy and really didn’t do much, to be honest.

This was quite the process. We researched the what other skoolie owners suggested to remove all the rivets and came up with a few options.

The first was to use a pneumatic chisel and take off all the heads of the rivets. While a great idea in theory, sadly, our little compressor wasn’t up to the task. If you happen to have a large compressor that can deliver the CFM go for it. You will be much happier than we were.
The second idea that we found was to use an angle grinder and grind/cut the heads off. We attempted this and for whatever reason it didn’t seem to work that well, we actually saw the metals fuse together while trying to cut them off.
The third was to use a drill to go through the heads and pop the pins. When we tried this, we just kept breaking drill bits and it didn’t seem worth it. If you YouTube videos, you can see many people have success this way but it depends on the rivet type and tools perhaps.

And finally, the most brutal and yet successful option, we ended up using a punch
to pop the center pin out of the rivet and then use a chisel and hammer to cut the head off.

Our arms got tired…. not to mention our backs.
We worked pretty well together, Cheyenne went ahead, popping the pins out and Blake would follow behind and knock the heads off. We were able to get the whole ceiling down in an afternoon.

After that, we pulled all of the insulation out of the bus. Blake actually repurposed the old bus insulation in the attic of the house. Some of it was pretty nasty, we itched and itched, even after taking showers.
WEAR – Long sleeves, pants, gloves, masks and goggles !!!!!!

In the end, it’s all worth it.

– b&c

The process of flooring.

In the past few weeks, we have been taking the bus apart in various ways but the one thing that has made the most progress is the floor.

We started by ripping up the old rubber and plywood flooring to see just how bad (or good) our sheet metal underneath might be.

Starting with brute force, we ripped up the rubber with nothing but determination and a few cuts using a simple utility blade.

What we found underneath was plywood that had been wet in a few places, which let us down a little as this meant that the possibility of our floor being rusted out was higher than we originally thought.

We attempted to pull the plywood up with nothing by a hammers claw but that turned out to be pretty much useless so we ran over to our favorite discount tool place and found an inexpensive( $18 ) 3ft pry bar which helped out immensely!

Finally, we had all of the old flooring up and were able to inspect the damage from

the retained water that the plywood soaked up. Our flooring was relatively clean, with most of the rust being concentrated in the back behind the wheel wells.

The whole process took an entire day.The next big task was to clean up and scrape off as much surface rust as we possibly could.

We had an inexpensive angle grinder with a wire wheel that we were sure would make quick work of the rust, but unfortunately, this idea was quickly killed when it died about 4 minutes into the process. Not fun.

What we ended up using was a collection of; a wire wheel on a cordless drill, a orbital sander with 80 grit, and the most useful and odd choice was a chisel.

This chisel is becoming one of our favorite tools as it helped us get the rivets out and it made quick work of the loose rust that was on the floor. Big chunks would fly off like it was made of wood. After that, Cheyenne hit it with the wire wheel on the drill and Blake would follow with the orbital to make sure that we were getting all of the surface rust off.

After that, we used a rust converter on the floor utilizing a spray bottle that we
found in the front of the bus when we were cleaning out the compartments. When we were done spraying, we spread it and scrubbed it in with a car wash brush.

This had to sit for roughly 24 hours and during this time the converter turned all of the active brown rust to a inactive black color! Alas, it was time to clean a bit more and then seal it all up!

I don’t know if you’ve checked out the “whoops” area in the paint section of a big box store where they put all the paints that have problems( wrong color mixed, dented can, etc) But! we found a gallon of paint marked down from $30 to $9. This is especially awesome because after we lay the flooring down, we’re never going to see the color of the paint ever again! We lucked out and got white, all because the can of paint didn’t have a handle on it.

And so after all of this, we have a beautifully painted, white floor that is willing and ready for the next layers of insulation, plywood, underlayment, and flooring!

Flooring:

We have been going back and forth trying to figure out what kind of floor to put down in this bus of ours.

Hardwood? too expensive but would be really cool to have. We really tried to find some that was on craigslist or elsewhere that was even attainable price wise. We liked that we could stain it match whatever other woods we were going to put in the bus after. Plus, it doesn’t really bend and move with the bus.  $3.50sqft and up

Laminate? cheaper, but not real wood, composite/pressed wood underneath but ultimately durable. It’s not waterproof though. $0.99 sqft to around $3

Vinyl? Cheyenne was pretty against it initially, but after seeing some of the better looking options, opened up to the idea. We found some that we liked, but were going to wait and see if any sales popped up. The stuff we liked was around $2 a sqft which was a little more expensive than what we were hoping for.

The Choice

All Labor Day weekend we ran errands and while running around we would go to Home Improvement stores looking at various things that were in clearance or on sale. (We seriously went to almost every Lowes and Home Deopt in Tulsa.

Eventually we ran into this Laminate flooring that had a good color to it, and surprisingly, was priced at 0.68 cents a sqft! We also noticed that a few of the boxes were opened or had a couple damaged pieces inside. Blake thought it was worth a shot to asked if there was any chance that they could discount these boxes, and THEY DID! We got 6 opened/damaged boxes of flooring with 7 dollars off EACH box. In total we picked up 11 boxes which is roughly 294 sqft of flooring for 0.58 cents a sqft foot with our discounted boxes and tax included.

Our choice was made up for us, but we are really happy about our savings afterthinking that the flooring was going to be close to $450 by itself.

We encourage you to shop around and always compare prices and value. Also, don’t ever be afraid to ask questions!

-b&c

Weekend numero uno

We had the bus delivered to the house and that began our endeavor in this crazy bus life.

To get the bus from the front yard to the back was an entirely different matter. There is a driveway that connects the front of the house to back yard where an Rv pad sits, waiting for our bus. The bus is roughly 7’11 3/4″ wide but due to the weird easement between the house the two houses we couldn’t use the 8′ 1″ gate to the backyard. So yes, the (metal) fence had to come out!

tools for fence removal and rebuild

In total, we cut four fence posts. We had to lay the chainlink down instead of rolling it up because the bottom was encased in concrete. With a little bit of luck, removing everything that stuck out on the left side of the bus, and Cheyenne’s expert guidance, we finally made it into the backyard. This literally took all day long. While it doesn’t sound like it, it was a lot of work.

IMG_6957
We were stopping every few inches to double and triple check we were clear of the house and the neighbor’s air conditioning unit. We had less than an inch clearance on either side and at the back wheel wells we had even less than that… kissing the air conditioner with the rubber surround of the wheel well. We put the fence back up, connecting the cut posts by using a smaller diameter pipe bolted inside the original.

We got it in the backyard. Day one finished.

Note – We will not be going out the same way out that we came in. There are a couple chainlink fences, that aren’t attached to concrete that we will remove to get a ton of room for our eventually, freshly painted bus.

Day two!

Seats. Blake was down below the bus reaching in all the nasty crevices caked in dirt, mud, oil and whatever else made its way up there.. with Cheyenne inside the bus, with the remnants of children’s trash thrown about the interior. Did I mention that we decided to do this on the hottest day of the year? 108 with a heat index well over the high teens.. FUN!

on the left, an impact wrench to remove the seats. the right, an air hammer to remove the rivets during days 3&4.

We acquired an inexpensive pneumatic impact drill from a discount tool store

(Harbor Freight) for less than $20. This was useful about half the time with all the weird angles under the bus. In retrospect, it would have been well advised to have inside the bus with Cheyenne. It would have made her life much easier as Blake didn’t have a lot of room to crank on the nuts below with all the weird angles.
IMG_7047Next were the chair rail bolts. Let me tell from first hand experience, it was pretty gross. So many candy wrappers. This was, by far, the dirtiest we’ve gotten through this process so far. There was leftovers from the kids who rode this bus for years and so much dirt that had collected from it being stored outdoors.

IMG_6973

We closed out day two with all the seats out minus the one with the rear heater.

We think that day 1&2  was a success!

b&c

Why this Bus.

Over the past few years, separately,  we’ve been weighing the options of different styles of tiny homes.

The typical answer to this is to build a tiny home on a flat trailer out of the typical building materials that a house uses. These are usually very cool looking and look something like a smaller version of a quaint cabin. The perk of the tiny home is that you get to create a home that is custom fitted to your needs. Also, since it is built like a house its very efficient and solidly built which should last a lifetime. However, building codes in most areas aren’t very applicable to these and as such, it seems that finding a place to park a tiny house is harder than an RV unless you have your own land where your neighbors don’t care. Over time, this problem has been getting better and easier to handle because more people are opening their eyes to these tiny houses but still should be considered in the back of your head if you are considering going this route. The other issue that we still haven’t found a straight answer to and changes depending on where you’re from is insuring such a domicile. Since it’s not technically a house, housing insurance won’t touch it and since it’s technically not an RV, that insurance won’t touch it. What we have heard is that if you can play your cards right and go through all the right channels that you can have it classified as a Custom Trailer and get it insured as that though I am doubting it won’t be for the full amount of money that you spent to build it. But hey, something is better than nothing!

If anyone has any insight, or corrections to this knowledge for Tiny House in the state of OK, feel free to time chime in, we would love to read about success stories in getting tiny houses recognized through the proper channels.

A little more “normal” is finding an Recreational Vehicle that is already outfitted and ready to go for you to take anywhere you want. You don’t have to build anything and everything you need is typically already there for you to live somewhat comfortably. The perks that we can see is that used RVs can be had for relatively cheap and they’re ready to go. Plus you can insure them pretty easily. We’re not a big fan of them though because they aren’t very sturdy, soundproof or efficient.

What we decided is somewhat middle of the road of these but maybe we’re a little biased since we just bought it, a Bus! We have been looking at craigslist for a little while now, off and on, and this guy popped up from a local high school down the road!

Perks of a bus in general

School buses are designated as a commercial vehicle originally but in our state, you can take it down to the DMV and have it re-registered as an RV once you get it converted which means that you can have it insured by pretty much any insurance agency!

Customization. Like the tiny house, you can rip out all the seats and poof (I wish it was that fast. ha) you have a flat floor plan that you can lay out in any crazy way you desire.

Drivetrain. Most of these school busses are designed to carry a busload of kids day in and out. Our bus for example was designed to carry 83 passengers. Lets say it was a middle school bus and lets say that a middle school student weighs 100lbs. That’s 8300 lbs of cabinets, beds, water, solar panels, and the kitchen sink while you’re at to work with. And that’s before you rip out the weight of the heavy seats.

Diesel engines have been known to go a million miles if you treat them right!

Why This Bus

Well first, is cost. This bus was well maintained (inch thick service records) and pretty cheap, plus it was less than 15 miles away which made transporting it to the house a pretty easy endeavour.

Flat front. The flat front/front engine format of this bus means that there is 34feet behind the driver of usable living space in this one. That’s 255sqft of living space! Pretty huge by tiny house standards. This will enable us to have a storage area accessed by the back door for our bikes/camping gear/whatnots.

We had to compromise on one thing, and that was the transmission. While an Allison trans is pretty stout, this one only has 4 gears though it is offset by our rear differential ratio which means that at 65 mph we will be able to keep it around 2200rpm. For diesels, this is maybe a touch high, but doable. Not that you want to see a school bus flying down the interstate at 65-70mph..

If you couldn’t tell, we’re pretty stoked about this bus.

-b&c

The dream becomes a reality.

For awhile, Blake and I separately have dreamt of living minimal and traveling the world. When we first met, this shared desire was one that brought us closer. We quickly decided that this was a dream we could make possible, so we began the search for the perfect vessel.

Tiny houses, though are becoming a trend, are hard to come by and still difficult to find research because every house is different. People build their homes to their needs, dreams, and uses. The stories you’ll read are amazing! However, it can be difficult when decide you want to build your own home. You want it to be custom for your needs and a lot of the time, those answers of how aren’t easily available.

This blog is going to be a description of every step of our process in building and researching. We hope to answer questions that we searched for and had to find out for our own.

Thanks for joining us on your adventure!

-b&c

day two.