Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Other buses.

I really wanted problem bus to be the bus, but its looking more and more like it wont be. I still haven't had a professional look at the bus but just about everyone I've asked with some car/bus experience says to stay away. I'd have had a mechanic look at it asap but surprise surprise, finding a mobile mechanic who knows about buses and transmissions is a challenge. I've got one more call to make tomorrow but then I think I'll call it (unless somehow the owner can get the bus to a shop to be looked at, then I'll give it another chance...)

So in the mean time I did another through bus search and came across a few things. None of them are perfect but they are probably all in better shape than problem bus. I don't know how far any of these options will go cause they all kind of have red flags, but worth an email to the owners. Actually on second thought I think one is a real option and the other two are 'well, might as well try' options. 

Bus no. 1

Airport shuttle bus! Not quite as cute from the outside, but I guess that can be fixed with some creative painting. The owner has been replying to my texts and telling me its in really good condition other than the paint being ugly outside and the door not locking. Runs great. Tires are good. Breaks are good. No rust. It is on the high side of price, $2,900. It is also probably on the limit of distance I can travel at the time to fetch it, like 2 hours away. This is the real option. 

Bus no. 2

This bus looks huge. o.O But I guess beyond that its pretty stylish and has already been converted (though needing a lot of aesthetic work). The owner just listed it as cash or trade. No number. I threw out $2,500. I'll probably get turned down, but might as well try. 

Bus no. 3

I know, this one is really a stretch, but apparently under all that dirt it runs! The ad was a bit vague so I mostly just emailed for info. Its ridiculously cheap (I'm growing less confident that it runs). Anyway we'll see what info I get!

In other news I'm sighing and wishing I had more money I haven't done the in depth budget post but here is the gist. I want to spend less than $3,000 on the bus itself. That will hopefully leave me with $1,000 ish for the initial renovations. More if I'm ridiculously good about saving in the next few months. The ideal situation is finding a bus for half that and having more money for the renovations/driving it to Berkeley/bus repairs. There are so many perfect buses out there for $5,000. I am stubborn and don't want to wait longer than summer to buy my bus. 

Grump Grump.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

problem bus update.

I went out and visited the problem bus today and here are my conclusions.

Buses are so big in person! I am so very glad I'm not looking for a full sized bus because just this medium bus was so intimidating. Unfortunately I wasn't able to go inside it but from what I saw I am still pretty confident this will be a very nice amount of space for me.

There appeared to be very little rust. The rust I did spy was on part of the battery compartment that was not actually attached to the rest of the bus structure. I would like to get a closer peek at the floor from the inside, but I'm feeling positive about it being in decent shape.

The friend I brought along to check out the engine says things look fine. Not a professional opinion but a good start. No red flags. It was leaking transmission fluid, but that was expected.

A downside- there were three broken windows, two in the body of the bus and one on the door. Not the end of the world because I'd have to block out a few windows of the body for the bathroom any how and as for the door I would be fine with blocking out the bottom two windows for a bit more privacy anyhow. I'm hoping this could maybe be a point to drive the price down a bit as well.

The tires are not as nice as I'd hope, but not horrible. I should probably look into how much new tires will cost in the near future.

The odd thing I should mention is that I did not meet with the owner, I've talked to him a bit on the phone and mostly over email. After looking the bus over I have told him I'd like to have the bus looked at professionally and to get an estimate for getting the transmission repaired and will work out to meet with him then. I'll also then be sure to give the inside of the bus a good look over. I also sent a few more questions off to the owner- What is the gas mileage? Is it currently registered as an RV or bus? When did the transmission problems begin, while you owned it or before?

Update! I got a response from the owner. The bus is already registered as an RV in the state of Arizona. Its past life in Arizona would probably explain the nice lack of rust. It gets 10-12 mpg. Ew, but looks pretty standard. The story with the transmission sounds like it was messed up while making the trek from Arazona to SF six months ago. Coming up a hill towards the end of the journey he didn't downshift appropriately.

It sounds like the owner has looked into what it would take to fix it and sounds pretty confident it would be in the $1,000-$1,500 range which does not sound too bad to me. Obviously I still want a professional opinion. This gets to the unfortunate part. The bus can not leave the storage unit where it is kept until it is sold- sounds like the current owner needs the bus money to pay off the storage bill. So, I've contacted a mobile mechanic that has experience with gas school buses and I've also contacted a mechanic shop only a few blocks away from the storage unit to see if they would come down.

We will see what happens!


potential bus.

I've been watching craigslist and bus auction sites closely. I'm getting rather anxious to get my hands on my very own bus. I've still got six months until its truly bus time but I've been getting more and more into the idea of having the bus here with me in California and slowly working away at the basics like stripping it down, insulating it and getting it painted. I happen to work at a wonderful place where I will be able to pull the bus right into a big old shop full of tools and scrap material at my disposal.

 I also don't anticipate having much trouble parking my bus on the street while I am living here. The area where I work is fairly warehousey and there are a fair amount of rvs/trailers/buses parked about already. This would be a lovely alternative to paying to store my bus somewhere far away and not being able to get any work done in this extra time that isn't necessarily part of the big schedule.

I did come across a lovely bus on craigslist yesterday. I'm all kinds of excited to go check it out, hopefully tomorrow. I am, however, trying to keep this excitement from getting too big because the bus is not with out problems.

Pro con time.


-The bus looks to be the perfect size! Not too small, not too big. Just right. 

-It has already been striped of its seats and it looks like it may have been painted inside. I don't know yet if any other work has been done such as insulating or replacing the floor, but still that is a day or two of work done. 

-It is very affordable. I'll go a bit more into budget later but for now I'll say I've got a high end of how much I could possibly spend, I know the low end of whats a ridiculously good deal then there is the middle of where I am expecting to realistically fall. This bus falls between ridiculous and realistic. 

-Its local! I was starting to debate just how far (literally) I would go for a perfect bus. Would I fly down to Southern California and drive it back up? Would I go back to Oregon and drive it down just to have to drive it back up in six months? The ideal would be buying it right here in the Bay Area and not having to drive a long distance until I make the trek back to Oregon in June/July, so this bus is just right.


-Its gas. I'd been thinking diesel for two reasons, both of which are based on advice given to me, not my actual knowledge. I've heard diesel engines are a little easier to work with and less problematic. I've also heard that diesel is happier sitting around for a while if say I wasn't driving the bus for a few months. I did a tad bit of reading about prepping an RV for sitting for a month or two. They basically say both diesel and gas need prep and they looked about the same, so I' don't know how serious it is. Gas would probably be fine.

-Here is the big one. The transmission is messed up. As previously stated I really don't know what anything to do with engines or transmissions or you know, any of that stuff. I do get the impression that transmissions are a big deal though and no fun to replace in buses. I've been poking about and some people say its a $500 kind of problem. Some people say its a $5000 kind of problem. 

What is the conclusion? Because this bus is already started and is such a good price already I could probably afford to throw some money at the transmission problem. My plan right now is to go check it out and to take along a friend who knows a smidge more than I do about how things actually run. Basically I'll see what condition everything else is in. Confirm the pros. If that all goes well I will get a professional opinion and find out how much fixing this transmission problem will actually cost. If its the right price then this bus may just be the right one for me!

Ahh, I'm just so excited! (but also preparing to be disappointed)


Saturday, January 24, 2015

little things.

The other day I was showing off some tiny decoration inspiration so now I'd like to share what kinds of tiny decoration I've got going on right now.

When I moved down to California I didn't have much room to bring oodles of decorative things, so I just brought some little pieces to brighten up my room. I brought a piece of lace that once belonged to a relative and then was dyed a lovely purple by my mother. I've been using it as a little collection board for little papers I've accumulated since I've been here. I also brought a piece of bunting I made a few years ago to sell and have held onto cause its just too cute. 

I love little decorations that are also functional or practical. I've got a lovely little calender my mother gave me near my desk and above my dresser I display my jewelry as decoration. 

Clearly tiny bunting/flags/hanging things are my favorite. They just add so much to a space. I think I literally have something drapy  on every wall/window of my room. 

So those are a few of my room's tiny decorations. I've got some sneaky plans a foot involving tiny art and decorations that I can't wait to share, but its got a little more work that needs to be done first. 

Til then,

Thursday, January 22, 2015

this bus. tiny bus.

Do you see this lovely bus here? Well this lovely bus has been taunting me for months. I ride to work the same way every day and for a few months it was parked outside this one house (actually they had two buses, one of which I did make an offer on and never got a reply. :\) But this bus, it is the perfect bus!

I decided a bit ago that a shorter bus is the bus for me, for what I hope is a few good reasons

- Um, have you seen full size school buses? They are huge. I thought I was making myself a tiny house, not a huge house. If my house is going to be the size of a whale I'd prefer it to be a small whale.

- To go along with the hugeness, I'm not the most confident driver. I don't have a lot of experience driving huge things and if my life could be based around driving something something a little less huge, that would be great. 

-A small bus would be a little more manageable as far as finding parking, short or long term.

-My mother told me I should get a small bus. She usually knows what is up. 

So now that we've established that a tiny bus is the way to go (aren't my reasons convincing?) What are the downsides to tiny buses? I think it pretty much boils down to space and availability.

Tiny buses are (surprise) smaller than standard buses! Many nice finished tiny buses you see are pretty comfortable looking, but then you realize they eliminated the bathroom. I do want a bathroom in my tiny bus and I am working on ways to be as efficient with space as I can.

It seems like tiny buses are also a little harder to come across. I guess I should also be clear I'm not looking for the tiniest bus. I don't want a really tiny 'short bus' but a medium class B bus. Usually when you shop for buses you see the really short buses with about 15 seats and the huge buses with 40-60 seats. What I am looking for is a 25-35 seater. A perfect Merma size. Well, Merma + pug. 

I'm just about at the six month mark in my fellowship which means I am also six months out from my bus build. I've seen a lot of cute buses come and go for sale and passed them by because I knew it was too soon to buy, but I think this is the shift. With six months to go until actual bus building time I could feasibly buy a bus if/when the right one comes along. 

So tiny bus, wherever you are, I am ready! Come find me!


P.S. Yesterday two of these buses came up for auction on my favorite bus auction site. They both have a problem or two and they are both in Salem, OR. I am very tempted, though at this point it may be better to get a bus in California and keep it with me until the migration back north... I'll keep you updated. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

pinterest pictures.

My 'interior design' pin board has been calling to me lately. Its my biggest board (867 pins!) but I feel like I don't really use it for anything productive. It also hit me the other day that in a few months now I will be building my very own home and can do whatever I please with it, so I better start sorting out my interior design thoughts!

One pattern I noticed in my pinning that made me a little sad was lots of large scale paintings/posters and also also interesting layouts for hanging pictures. 



I have so many lovely pictures as well as some large scale paintings that I love to have in my life, but won't be able to enjoy in bus life. This got me thinking about the idea of having small scale art and decoration for my small scale house, or as my mother and I say 'tiny house tiny art!' Something I realized I've already been doing, since I didn't bring most of my big art down to California with me. Next time I will share some of the tiny art I've already been playing with, but for now here is a little tiny art inspiration pulled from my pin board. 






Friday, January 9, 2015


While planning out this bus building business, I am primarily planning around the month and a half of time between festivals I will have this summer. I will finish my fellowship (current job/housing arrangement) and be going straight to working on my set for the Oregon Country Fair. Construction for Fair takes about two weeks and then there is nothing but bus until Burning Man in late August!

Looking at other bus's construction and schedules, a month and a half seems like nowhere near enough time. Many folks take a year or more to do their buses. So beyond the fact that a month and a half is the amount of time that happens to occur between Fair and Burning Man, here is why I am confident in this length of time.

-My background is in planning, scheduling and budgeting construction. I will be planning my month and a half out as to maximize all of my resources.
-I am planning my construction in stages based on need. Would beautiful built in cupboards be nice to start out my life in the bus? yes. Are they necessary? no. I want to use this month and a half to make the bus livable, and then work on making it pretty. 
-I can totally keep working on it after Burning Man! I don't have a set plan for next fall, I am however assuming I should be looking for a job by then and won't be working on the bus full time. 

So I guess that isn't quite as cool as a conclusion. The reason I know I can build it in a month and a half is because I won't be building the whole thing in a month and a half. But I think the key here is that I am going to make it livable in a month and a half. I want to think of this bus as an ever evolving thing. I guess just like decorating your home. You don't expect to move into a new house and have everything be perfectly decorated. Sure you may do some initial painting or repairs before moving in, but you're expecting to work with the space for some time to get it right.

Thanks for keeping up with my crazy bus lady ramblings,


Monday, January 5, 2015

day bed.

One idea I very much would like to use for my bus is having a day bed or a couch bed along the back. Since the bed is such a large use of space in the bus, I'd love to make it usable for something other than sleeping. The other thing drawing me to putting a couch/bed along the back of the bus is to take advantage of all the windows along the back! I love waking up to natural light and would like to take advantage of it as much as possible.






In regard to mattress, obviously a twin size would take up less space. While I will be building this bus with the intention of just me living in it, I do want to have the option open for two people to sleep in the bus. I am hoping if I do end up with a sofa bed setup that I can choose to lay it down for a large bed or leave it in couch position and still have a comfortable small bed. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

building a new life.


I figured the new year deserves a little reflection on what I have done with my life, what I am doing with my life and what I would like to do with my life. This post has been written and re written so many times. I still don't think it is as articulate as I'd like, but here it is.

I always refer to different points in time as my different lives. I had my college life. I have my summer life. Right now I'm living my Berkeley life. During each live I have lived, there is always the plan in the back of my head for what the next life will be. Maybe its me not being appreciative of what I've got then. Maybe its me caught up in the future. Maybe its that I've not found the right life yet.

What is the answer to this fixation on the future? I could try to be more appreciative of my current life, which is always a good plan. I could also stop dreaming of new lives, which sounds like a horrible plan. I think I keep dreaming because I am afraid of is settling into a new life, finding out I hate it, then feeling stuck.

I've spent the past five years of my life doing what a young person is supposed to do. I went to college. I got an internship. I moved to the big city. I got another internship. Now I'm trying to figure out what the next step is. I think the expected thing is stay in the city and get a job. I'd move from one tidy little box into the next tidy little box. I would be doing what one is supposed to do. But I am tired of doing what one is supposed to do.

So here is my new year's resolution. I am done living in boxes. I am not going to fight my dreams of new lives, instead I am going to create a way of living in which I can be moving from life to life whenever I please. No sitting around waiting for this job to be over, this season, this semester. No more feeling guilty for wanting to go somewhere new. I will now feel the freedom of going where ever that is that I want.

Sharing my bus ideas with friends and family I feel like the consensus is that I am crazy. Usually its crazy in a fun way, but not always.

 There is the thought that building a bus to live in is a crazy fun idea. Sure everyone pins pictures of cute little air stream trailers on their pinterest and talks of adventure, but who actually goes through with it? Who wouldn't love to have a tiny house all their own, its such a crazy idea! But its just that. Its an idea.

Then there is the crazy when people realize I am actually going to do it and wonder if I know what I am getting myself into. I know there are some hard things ahead of me and a lot of problems I will have to figure out how to solve. Can I fix a diesel engine? no. Do I know how to plumb a house? no. However the tiny house community is full of stories of people who needed a change and decided to build their own house with every little experience. I may not be a mechanic or a plumber, but I am a carpenter, a welder and a creative problem solver. So they are right, I don't know what I'm getting myself into, but I'm damn sure going to figure it out.

I've got so many lovely little inspiring quotes on my pinterest it is hard to choose just one. I settled on the one above to open the post but to close it I choose one of my favorite lyrics from a song by Jason Webley.

"You're wondering if I'm crazy, well you never have to worry of course I am!"