On Tuesday, I drove over the bridge to Brian’s house, where I dropped some gear off, and then we went out to the field where the bus had been stored for a few months. It fired right up, and I followed Brian back to his driveway where he had a pressure washer ready to begin cleaning. He had to take off for another job so I set up a camera and got to work spraying several years’ worth of grime off of the bus. That didn’t take very long, so I climbed inside and started tearing sections of the interior out.
First came the bedframe in back, and then I worked my way forward to the seats. These were repurposed from a couple of minivans and mounted on modified bus platforms, so I had to do a lot of climbing up and down inside and out of the bus to get vice-grips on the fasteners underneath. At a certain point after I was hot, tired, and sick of the process I said fuck it, busted out the angle grinder, and cut the heads off the bolts. In retrospect that should have been how I started the process. All of the seats came out except for the two rows up front. The single seat by the door was also holding a platform connected to the battery inverter, charging unit, and fuse block. Since that was all still live and hooked to four deep-cycle car batteries in parallel I left it alone.
Brian made it back home at about 4 and I nervously pointed at a huge pile of debris in his driveway, but he was happy with the progress I’d made. We then drove the bus over to a rented shed in Rock Hall, backed it in, and called it a day. They’re putting me up in a beautiful travel camper they bought new last year; I have running water, electricity and air conditioning out in their driveway. I slept in a bunk above the hitch tongue with three screen windows providing a cool breeze all night.
Wednesday I drove out to Rock Hall, pulled the bus out of the shed, and got to work pulling the last of the seats out and stripping the floor. There was a layer of wood laminate down over the original rubber schoolbus floor, and all of that had to come out, so I was happy I’d packed a hammer, chisels, and plenty of podcasts. Some of the floor came up quickly and some of it fought me inch by inch. I took a break mid-day and found a lovely market in Rock Hall for a sandwich and an iced tea. The rental shed is about 1/2 mile from the marina, so I pulled into the parking lot, put the tailgate down, and ate my sandwich with the breeze blowing off the water, watching boats come and go. By 4PM I had about 2/3 of the floor up and piled in a corner, and my back was tighter than a guitar string. I headed back to Brian’s and his son handed me a fresh chocolate smoothie as soon as I got out of the truck. I could get used to that.
After dinner I had to cover the Scout with a tarp, as a big thunderstorm blew through the Mid-Atlantic that evening. Thursday morning I drove back out through a light rain and got at it early; by about noon I had the remainder of the rubber up off the floor and in two (heavy) contractor’s bags. Brian came out and we got some lunch, and then he deconstructed the charging/fuse system while I took measurements and cleaned up the workspace.
We then spent a couple of hours formulating a plan. We have a good spot for the diesel generator up between the driver’s side axles, and Brian ordered three locking steel storage units for the other free areas under the bus. This will give them 27 cubic feet of dry storage outside of the main living area—which is key, as there isn’t a lot of space inside. He has a guy in Colorado who’s supposed to be building a rooftop tent but dude been hard to reach, and we don’t have exact measurements for that yet either. We do have a plan for the platform it’ll sit on, and a way to get the kids up into the tent; one of our next big jobs is to source the steel and weld the platform together so that it accounts for the slope on the sides of the roof and sits as low as possible.
We’ve got a plan for the rear bed but the vendor for the new seats is being flaky and there’s no data sheet available for them to review. Without that information we can’t do much with the living space inside—it all hinges on how much space those seats need and how big they are when they fold down into beds.
We have the generator, and the steel storage units will be here on Thursday. I think we’re going to get the generator mounted first, and that’ll help us work out the plan for the storage units. I’m going to get busy planing the rest of the rubber off the floor to make it flat as possible, then cut and fit plywood to go over the floor that’s there so we’ve got a clean surface to lay checkerboard tiles on.