The weather is getting warmer, which means it’s not quite as painful to stand outside and bang knuckles against cold steel, which is everyone’s favorite winter pasttime. I woke early on Sunday to drive over the bridge to Chestertown and pick up work on the schoolbus, something we haven’t done since early December when we put the seats in.

The first order of business was to get it started. It’s been sitting in the shed for months, so we put a trickle charger on the battery and futzed around with the windows inside. Testing out the theory that the windows are easily interchanged, we moved one of the emergency exit windows forward so that it sits directly between the passenger seats and is easy to get to.

Once we got it running and pulled out of the garage, we decided it would be much easier to work in Brian’s driveway where power and tools were easily accessible. We caravaned back to his house and then had to jockey trailers and tools and building materials around to make room in between the house and his new garage footer.

With that done, we got to work disconnecting the engine and storage batteries, pulling the wires, and disassembling the battery box. It took a while to get the box itself out, because they’d welded the back corner of it to the frame and spot-welded the edges to structural supports on the side. We wound up having to step on the edge to push it downward, shove a prybar between it and the frame, and whack it with a sledge to start separating the materials. Several sawblades, a trip to Ace Hardware, more pounding, and some specialized curse words later, we released it from the underside of the bus and dragged it away.

The plan was to replace it with a newer, bigger box where more batteries will fit and be be easily accessible. But now that the box was gone, we could also mount the passenger seat base permanently, which went relatively easily. Putting the new box in was more of a challenge; we realized early on that we were going to have to drop the other box we’d labored over in September. With that out of the way we got the mounting bolts in place and roughed in the battery box. By 7PM we were beat, the boxes were cattywampus, and the sun was down behind the trees. We called it a night and went in for a cold beer. I laid down on Brian’s spare bed at 9:30 and was fast asleep fifteen minutes later.

Monday morning I made sure my automatic replies were set correctly and we got back at it. Dropping the box, we found a couple of reasons why the box was hanging incorrectly and beat them into shape with a hammer. With that box hung, we put the longer box next to it in place and I set to work fastening both boxes to each other and to the stair wall.

Now that the box was in, we had to sort out how to put a set of industrial ball bearing rollers in and fabricate a shelf. The rollers were pretty easy to mock up, and I figured out a way to reuse the shelf from the original box with some new angle iron. Another trip to the Ace scored us the hardware we needed, and by about 5PM we had the shelf in place, the batteries mounted, the wires rerouted, and everything reconnected. Brian turned the key and the bus roared back to life.

We had a new power awning ready to be hung, but found quickly that the arms were too long, so we packed everything in and I hit the road for home.

Today most of my joints are sore, I’ve got gouges in three of my ten fingers, and I feel like I could fall asleep as I write this. But I’m happy with the results, and we’re that much closer to the interior work.

Date posted: April 12, 2022 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »

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