Removing the Floor of a Thomas School Bus

This one is mostly about school bus floor removal.

Fluffing Around

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.

School Bus Floor Removal Process
Once the floor was prepped, it only took a short time to remove all the floorboards from the old school bus

Floor Removal Process:

  1. Remove all metal that overlays the floor
  2. Insert sharper prybar between steel floor and ply wood at the rear of the bus
  3. Use the gap to insert a decider pry bar (meaning a really big one)
  4. Hold it like you’re doing a dead-lift (straight back, lift with hamstrings)
  5. Once flooring is raised to be perpendicular from floor, have someone use a razor knife to cut the black existing bus flooring
  6. Take the floor board out of the bus to maintain a clean working space
  7. Remove all floor boards, then go around cleaning up left behind screws and nails
  8. 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.

2 Replies to “Removing the Floor of a Thomas School Bus”

  1. Thanks for the details… we just bought a bus and are going to be starting… the dreaded floor removal!

    Sharing your link as a resource for others on our website!


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