More Rust Removal. See previous blog post for tools.
This one is mostly about school bus floor removal.
The video starts off with a traditional title screen made in physical space on the project. Then I start working on cleaning the rust off a small part of the floor to get an idea for how the process will go.
For some reason I wanted to make the gas cap look really good. I think I was zoning out listening to something and I just kept working on it until it looked great.
Existing School Bus Floor Removal
After fluffing around with the gas cap, I cleaned out the bus so we could remove the floor. The floor was attached with steel nails. We pulled all the black existing school bus material up with the plywood. No need to pull up the rubber first, just go straight to the plywood.
The key is to use what I call a decider.
A decider is a giant prybar. Something like this. It’s really expensive to buy one, so if you don’t have one you can use a giant steel pipe over a more regular sized pry bar. The one I had is a friends who has had it in the family for a long time. It was amazing.
One thing that made a big difference was preparation. Because we took great care to remove all the metal trim from around the plywood, the floor came out with some heavy pry work. If we hadn’t spent much of the day preparing the floor to come out, it would have been a nightmare.
Floor Removal Process:
- Remove all metal that overlays the floor
- Insert sharper prybar between steel floor and ply wood at the rear of the bus
- Use the gap to insert a decider pry bar (meaning a really big one)
- Hold it like you’re doing a dead-lift (straight back, lift with hamstrings)
- Once flooring is raised to be perpendicular from floor, have someone use a razor knife to cut the black existing bus flooring
- Take the floor board out of the bus to maintain a clean working space
- Remove all floor boards, then go around cleaning up left behind screws and nails
- Shop-vac everything, clean shops are critical to success
Tools and Products Used
- CLC Mechanic Gloves – These make everything I do better during the conversion
- Milwaukee Cordless Grinder (Not recommended, get one with a cord)
- Blaster Penetrating Catalyst – Liquid which helps clean up grimy spots
- Husky Razor Knife – Disposable blade for cutting gross things
- Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer – Great for cleaning up rust… not recommended for entire floor.
- Knot Brush – Put this on a cord grinder and you become a rust killing monster. I used one of these brushes to remove all the rust on the sub-floor of our 40′ 2001 Thomas School Bus
- Blue tooth head phones – These are way more expensive than normal ear protection, but I love these headphones. They cancel noise, but you can listen to an audiobook or music while doing something super loud
- Vise grips – Multi-use, great for removing exposed screws with stripped heads
- Shop Vac – I like the Ridgid for the lifetime warranty. This one is the perfect size for this small project.
School Bus Conversion Electrical System
Today was hard to explain. We tested continuity of wires. We wanted to know if a wire runs to a light we didn’t need. If the controls to that wire attached to the fusebox (for lack of a better word) in a way that was no longer necessary, we knew we could take out that component.
The end goal was to wire the bus to run as a vehicle with road legal lights and take out everything else.
Two School Bus Home Electrical System
We have two separate electrical systems:
- The Vehicles Electrical System – Charged by the engine
- The Houses Electrical System – Charged by the solar energy system
Electrical Removal Decision Process
Knowing that the bus’s electrical system would be separate from the vehicle’s system empowered us to take out a lot of wires, relays and other devices. That helped move the project along all day.
“Is that element essential to the bus for regulations or driver comfort?”
If no, get rid of it.
If yes, label it and move on.
Honestly, about 15 pounds of wire was removed after everything was said and done. Some of the wire is this awesome 12 gage copper wire that we can use for lights and whatever else. That’ll save us running a lot of wires later into the build.
Moving the Floor
We’re ready to have a big day of existing floor removal tomorrow. Please feel free to watch that.
School Bus Electrical Disassembly
Today we spent the day removing things that are generally part of a school bus. Things like the kid gate, the stop sign and the internal heaters for the bus.
The back exit (emergency exit) had some sort of a short so we decided to take all the electrical aspects out it. Now the back door doesn’t have running emergency red light or the buzzers if someone opens the emergency door.
There were two heaters that warmed up due to the engine coolant running through the bus. To take those out, I got a little dirty crawling under the bus and reconnecting all the coolant hoses. We have a lot of nice coolant hosing now. That was a really dirty afternoon.
The New Fuel Pump Problem
It lead to a fuel problem. Now when we start the bus, the fuel filter pours out diesel. So I’m seeking a solution to that problem.
Big Thank You
Big thanks to Erik for being our sparky. We couldn’t have done it without you buddy.
If you’re reading this, I’m in the process of designing the flooring system. So my notes and ideas are shown in real time in this blog.
Once I commit to a strategy and implement it, this blog will explain of the floor’s design and the implementation process.
Later, once we spend more time in the home, I’ll share my results here. Thank you for reading.
To Remove Existing School Bus Floor or Not to Remove
From the looks of our existing floor, it seems like we might not need to take it out. I can’t see any places where the flooring is in terrible condition.
That said, we’re building something that we want to last for at least 100 years. I can’t make the assumption that everything is fine under there. We’ve decided to take the existing flooring out so that we can seal the existing metal floor with anti-rust paint and rebuild a bulletproof strategy for going forward.
Rust Proofing the Existing School Bus Metal Floor
I’m going to experiment with bondo and epoxy to plug any existing holes in the floor. We want to the bus to be water tight. All the holes made to secure seats will need to be sealed in a bulletproof manner.
Once the floors are all sealed up, we will be using Rust-Oleum 7792 Gloss White paint to seal the metal school bus floor.
Flooring Insulation and Finishing
Choosing School Bus Conversion Insulation
We would like this bus to be rated to live in Lake Tahoe in the winter so we are going with the upper range of Zone 5 as recommended by the US Department of Energy (DOE).
This means the following insulation ratings for our walls, floor and ceiling if we’re to spend much of our time in the Lake Tahoe area:
- Floor – (R25 to R30)
- Ceiling – (R49 to R60)
- Walls – (R15)
So it turns out that in order for us to get that DOE rated insulation, we will need to extend the roof of the bus. To get simple R15 insulation, the best thing I could find is 3 1/2″ inches deep which is too little insulation in too thick of a space.
I couldn’t find any R50 insulation that is 2 inches or less in thickness. Indeed, we would need another foot in the roof to get close to the reccomendations suggested by the DOE. This doesn’t seem prudent to me.
Also, the DEO is writing these requirements for relatively large homes. The heating expense of this bus will be a fraction of what a normal house would require.
The Plan for the Ceiling Insulation
We are very lucky with our bus. The existing insulation is in excellent condition. There isn’t a drop of mold on any of the main parts. The biggest weakness to the existing insulation is that it doesn’t fill the roof cavities entirely.
To solve that, I plan to buy some spray insulation to fill the gaps left from the regular insulation. I’m exploring the following products:
* This spray foam could be used on the bottom of the bus as well as the product brags that it adheres to metal
Floor Material Design
We don’t want to build up with floor height much as there is limited vertical space in the bus. That said, the bus needs to be as comfortable as possible. Here is how I see the plan for floor materials:
- Vinyl Plank Flooring (1/16″ – 5/16″) – Floor & Ceiling
- Plywood (3/4″)
- 1.5″ Insulation (link) + Framing (2×4 s are actually 1.5″ thick)
- Existing School Bus Steel Painted with Rust-Oleum
I Hope You Found This Useful
Please let me know any thoughts or comments you have in using the links below. I’m done on the computer for the day, it’s time to go out and remove the rest of that floor in the bus.
Direct SketchUp School Bus Template Download
Thanks to 3d Model Foundation
Big thanks to the creators of this bus 3d model. I used their design, but I modified the scale to fit the reality of our own 2001 Thomas School Bus which we are deconstructing now.