Family, the Bus, and our YouTube Channel

We took an extended (somewhat unplanned) break from the bus in May. Things got a bit tedious with the plumbing, as so much of it is trial and error for us still, and when it got hard, the bus began to feel like a chore.  We so crave adventure after long work weeks, too, but we want to be finished soon! So, there’s that.

Hopefully, this video gives you a good idea of where we’re at. The plan is to continue work in June on the bus, and we’re still planning to be finished by the end of the summer. July we’re taking a road trip to Washington to visit family, and Alana’s going to be beginning her last semester of grad school.

We’ll keep you in the loop.

Thanks for joining us!

SPRING UPDATE 02 | We Start Plumbing

 

On Saturday, we began plumbing the bus. Our friend, Micah, who is a plumber, came to help. He and Jeremiah installed the lines to the water heater and the water pump. They drilled a hole in our tub and glued the drain in place. They got quite a bit finished in one morning.

We’re only working on weekends, now. (We’d been doing some work on week nights, but that became a little overwhelming.) So, we hope to be done with plumbing within the next week or so. Then by the end of May/first of June, we’ll start work on installing the electricity (i.e. batteries, inverter, solar panels, etc.)

These two projects–the plumbing and electrical–have felt so intimidating to us. We were talking the other night about how beginning work on the plumbing felt like a transition, a new phase in our project. We took a week off before starting to plumb the bus because of that transition feeling. We needed a break and time to evaluate what’d been done.

Because as soon as we finish plumbing and electrical, we’ll be home-free! 

We’re hoping to be finished by the end of the summer, if all goes according to plan.

If you have any questions about our conversion, be sure to leave a comment! Sometime soon, we’ll give more details on how things have been done, and we would love to know what you’d like to hear.

Thanks so much for joining us!

 

 

 

INSTALLING CABINET SHELVES, STAIR STORAGE, AND A VENT FAN

 

These projects did take us an entire weekend, but it looks like we spent that time twiddling our thumbs. It’s an interesting period for us working on the bus. This project has been stewing in our imaginations for about a year, and now, we’re finally seeing it take on some life.

Early on, we decided to try and let go of our perfectionism in regards to this project. We’ve probably said this before, but like any creative project we do, this one will probably not live up to all of our ideals.

It will be ours, though. Imagine living in something that you totally designed! This is super exciting for us.

In this video, we started making our kitchen shelves. Our plan is for the kitchen to feel as open as possible. Jeremiah had the idea for the first level of our lower shelves to be slats, so we worked on finishing those. We’ll only have one set of drawers in the kitchen, and everything else will be open shelving.

The stairs function as storage for our water tanks, but also each individual stair will be a storage box that we’ll probably use for clothes. This week we build the lids for those storage boxes. We’ll build the actual boxes once we’ve finishing plumbing the bus.

We hadn’t planned on installing our Fan-tastic vent fan this week, but it’s been raining for days. One of our roof hatches sprung a leak. Luckily, we were in our bus when it started. So, we decided now was as good a time as any to put in the vent fan.

It’s installed and there are no more leaks!

Until next week.

 

IT’S TIME TO FRAME IN THE BATHROOM

Looking back on our past videos, it’s surreal to see how much things have progressed. It’s important for us to be reminded of that progress because it’s easy to forget how quickly things have moved forward. Just three months ago the bus was how we’d left it last year with an unfinished floor. Now, we have a bed structure, bathroom, and kitchen cabinets.

Instead of giving you blow-by-blows of how we’re doing everything, this blog and our videos are meant to be our reflection on the events that are taking place. Literally, the story of this bus conversion. That said, we want to be of help to anyone interested in doing a conversion like ours. So, if you have any detailed questions about how we do certain things be sure to leave a comment, and we’ll try to answer them!

This week, we began framing in our bathroom. We purchased a tub, and put that in place so we could make sure that it’d fit. We also ordered our composting toilet, but that came after we’d finished most of the framing. So, luckily, it fit, too! After the bathroom, we started on the kitchen cabinets. Now, most of the initial framing is done, and we’re touching up on places that we’d left for later trying to keep ourselves from getting too far into the detailed “prettier” aspects of finishing the bathroom and kitchen until we get the plumbing and electrical in. Hopefully, that will happen within the next couple of weeks.

Until then, thanks for joining us on our conversion journey!

WE’RE BUILDING A STAIRCASE

Now, that we’ve started framing, the project’s end looks closer and closer. Watching all of our plans begin to take shape is exciting and sort of intimidating. We were talking the other day about our expectations for the completion of this project. We have an idealistic picture of what the final product will be, and in reality, it probably will probably fall short of many of our expectations. It’s probably not going to be perfect! But that’s the beauty of art, and that’s how we’re approaching this project.

In this video, we show you some of our work building a bed structure into the back of our bus. It’s three teared. So, the top two bunks are for our kids and the bottom bunk, which rests near the floor is for us. There will be storage under our bed and over the top bunk. The back three feet of the bus will be set aside for a garage and utility closet. The stair case leading to the top bunk will double as clothes storage and a box for our water tanks.

Things are moving along!

Our next step is to frame in the bathroom, which was such a daunting puzzle piece to place. Then, decide exactly what material we want to use for our kitchen, and begin work on the cabinets and the countertop, etc. After we finish framing, we’ll begin plumbing and electrical. We’re so excited to have you on this journey with us!

Thank you for reading and watching! We’ll see you next week!

UNBOXING OUR WOOL INSULATION

 

We bought our wool insulation from Oregon Shepherd. This is an excerpt from their website about the advantages of wool insulation over other forms of insulation.

Why Use Wool?
There are many natural insulation products available today, so why would you choose wool, or more specifically, Oregon Shepherd’s wool insulation products.
Since 8,000 BC, sheep have been able to adapt to even the harshest of environments; their wool protects them through hot, cold, damp and dry seasons. Because of their crimped nature, when wool fiber is packed together, it forms millions of tiny air pockets which trap air, and in turn serves to keep warmth in during winter and out in the summer.
The crimp in the wool fiber forces each strand to bump up against each other, as opposed to lining up side by side or laying down flat together. This keeps the tiny air pockets intact, acting as little insulators — the key to being able to keep you both warm and cool.
The unique advantage of wool as an insulator is the NATURE of the fiber.
  • It absorbs and desorbs moisture, it heats and cools as this process takes place. Wool therefore can absorb moisture in your house, preventing condensation.
  • It has plastic memory, not that there is any plastic in wool, but rather that technical description is used to explain the “crimp”; the ability to retain the shape it was in before it left the sheep.
  • The energy required to produce our insulation is less than 10% of that required to produce traditional insulation materials.
  • Wool can absorb and breakdown indoor air pollutants such as formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide.
  • Wool is a sustainable and renewable resource; every year our sheep grow a new crop.
  • Wool is completely recyclable; at the end of its life as insulation it can be remanufactured, reused, or biodegraded.
  • Wool is an excellent absorption medium of sound waves; its inherent qualities provide much more acoustic insulation than traditional insulation in similar applications.
  • While wool is generally fire resistant, our wool is treated with a 100% natural solution of organic materials that provide unequaled fire and vermin resistance. These materials are bonded chemically to the wool fiber, not merely “glued on” as in most other insulation products.  (http://oregonshepherd.com/why-use-wool/)

We found wool to be an affordable alternative for a portion of our project.

We used two layers of R-Max foam boards for the bottom portion of our wall. We did this instead of the wool because we felt the foam would be easier to work with on the lower portion of our wall where we attached 1×10 pine boards to studs we installed along the metal frame of the bus. On the upper portion of the wall, we reused the metal panels that came in the bus.

When everything is done, we will paint the bottom portion of the wall white.

COMING UP NEXT: FRAMING

Thanks for reading and watching.

 

 

FINISHING THE FLOORS

 

We spent two hours working on the bus this weekend because that’s how long it took us to oil the floors. Then, we had to wait for the floors to cure. So, we went hiking, and did no more work on the bus. It’s painful waiting to work on the bus when we have free days and nice weather, but we planned poorly is the short of it.

For those of you who are interested in the details of how we finished our floors, here goes an attempt an explanation:

We bought a blend of Tung Oil and Citrus Solvent (called Half-and-Half) from the Real Milk Paint Co. This oil blend is all natural and non-toxic, and it’s supposed to cure and naturally polymerize. So, it should be waterproof by the end. We applied two coats of this on our floors with a foam roller. This blend is pretty forgiving. It doesn’t matter what direction it’s applied and it’s not a big deal if you walk on it. Dust doesn’t collect in it. In theory the application and cure process of this couldn’t be simpler. Apply and wait. You can walk on it and buff it with rags. It takes about 7 days to cure.

Like we said, we meant to do more work this weekend, but that didn’t work out because once we oiled the floors we needed to give them a few days to set. We did install some insulation in the walls a few days later, though.

If you have more specific questions about how we did our floors, please contact us. We’d love to help!

Thanks for watching and reading!

 

STARTING OUR BUS AFTER A YEAR

 

In our very first blog, we talk about how over the winter after the temperatures started dropping to below freezing our batteries froze because they’d apparently lost charge. According to my first Instagram post about the bus, the last time we had started the bus was nearly a year ago. That’s insane! It does not feel like a year.

Well, we purchased new batteries this week and installed them. Before that, though, we wanted to disconnect the tubes from the auxiliary heater and reroute them, as the engine coolant runs through those tubes and we don’t want to build our house around the heaters.

Then, after finishing that, Jeremiah drained some diesel out of the engine, added some tank cleaner, and we started the bus!

It was amazing that it took so little effort. Thankfully, we know a couple of people who are bus mechanics and they gave us some pointers, but really, as easy as that was, anyone could have done it. After starting it, we moved it a bit in our driveway. Then, last thing on the checklist for the weekend was to fix the lock on our door, which will probably take a little more finagling.

We thought that this process was going to take much longer, and were concerned about it. So, we didn’t have any of the materials ready or ordered for our next project, but it’s all ordered, now, and in the meantime it’s so great that we got the bus moving!

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Thanks for joining us!

SANDING OUR RECYCLED WOOD FLOORS

It’s finally happening! Well, it’s been happening. . . as of this month, we’ve been doing more with the bus than we have in more than six months! And there’s so much to do!

This weekend, we started by cleaning around and inside the bus. We’ve had a pile of bus seats behind our bus all through the winter, and it was time to dump them. So, we had a friend come with his truck and help us tow them away. Then, we cleaned the floor of all of our tools and scraps, and rented this orbital sander  from home depot to sand our recycled wood floors with. After going with this choice of sander, we realized that maybe we could have gone with something better, but it worked for our purposes.

After sanding the floor, we started placing studs on the inside bus walls so we have something to attach our wall to. Some people take the physical interior bus wall off and bring everything inside down to the bus’s metal frame and exterior skin, which makes sense because it theoretically gives you more interior width to work with once you’ve put your insulation and walls up. But we’ve decided to leave the metal bus wall in place, and put our insulation and wall on top of it. We really don’t want to have to take any rivets out of our bus, so that’s determined a lot of the decisions we’ve made in regards to the ceiling and walls.

Everyone does there conversion differently. That’s what makes tiny homes and school bus conversions so great!

In this vlog we show a couple of short clips of us driving towards a piece of land out in Osage County, Oklahoma. Jeremiah and I don’t actually know what’s next after we finish our bus. We know we want to live in it! But we’re not sure where we’re going to park it. We’ve talked about traveling with it like some families do, and we’d love that for sure. But we’d also like to stay in Tulsa for a little while after we finish our bus, maybe save some money, etc. We’ll see what happens.

One of the ideas we’ve had is to buy an affordable piece of land near Tulsa that’s zoned so we could legally park our bus there without building a house, and we found something that we thought might be perfect! But after driving out there, we found that the land is smack in the middle of a tiny tiny town and essentially what looks like a mobile home park. It’s a nice piece of property on its own, but it just didn’t feel right. Plus, it didn’t really fit our vision of a piece of land out in Osage County. It wasn’t secluded enough. No problem, though. We’ll keep looking and brainstorming.

If any of you have any ideas of where we could park our bus legally, or if you live in a Skoolie or RV and would like to share with us what you do, please leave a comment! We’d love to hear from you!