Friday, May 29, 2015

Days 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 (oh my!)

Its been a long bus week. I'm going to be lazy and chronicle the whole week in one post.

Sunday the silent partner and I went in and started by removing more of the sheet metal so we could access the rest of the framing in order to cut it. We hoped to just remove the two sides but the framing at the front was being difficult as well so we removed that too. The other places we just drilled out the rivets along the bottom so the original sheet metal could just move up with the raise.

With the sides removed.

The back.

I debated keeping the sheet metal I removed (and I've still got it in the back of the bus) but decided not to use it for the sides. I had bought two rolls of 1' sheet metal for the raise but decided to exchange one of the rolls for 20" metal so I wouldn't have to re attach the metal from the sides. 

The first day of cutting the framing I was using a hand held grinder. On the second day we tried out a few different saws including a portable band saw and a sawzall. I was reluctant to try these two saws at first. Since I was having trouble getting all the way into the cut with the grinder I doubted we'd be able to get the portable band saw in. Once the extra sheet metal was removed it was quite possible though. For the sawzall I was worried the force would just rip through the steel and leave it all torn up. It ended up being a good solution for the awkward framing that we couldn't get to with any other saw and it didn't make the metal too torn up. It was also the fastest of all the cutting options.  

The other fun adventure in cutting came when I found two big steel plates in the front framing of the bus. I used a plasma arc cutter to cut across the plate and then the silent partner got the last bit of framing with the sawzall. 


Next, we lifted!

Actually, we went around the bus to a few places and lifted up on the roof. There were a few missed rivets or bits of framing we hadn't cut so we had to find them by lifting the roof as far as it would go. We may have bent a few parts of the framing. Oops. 

No more roof!
We brought if off to the side so we could get it level and squared to the bus low to the ground and not be pushing around a giant piece of steel over our heads. 

Once the roof was ready we put it back into place and welded the corners one at a time to make sure it was all squared. After that we went to town welding the rest of the uprights!

The roof has been raised!

Monday was a holiday so I left the bus in the shop Sunday night. After that success I decided to enjoy my weekend a bit and went to the city with a friend for the day Monday, planning to come back to the bus Monday late afternoon to put up the sheet metal. Little did I know how much of a pain in the ass sheet metal is. I worked from around 5pm to 10:30 pm and only got two pieces of sheet metal partially on, pretty sloppily I might add. My two biggest problems were that the sheet metal was very heavy and floppy so it was hard to get into position by myself and also that the rivets I bought to attach the sheet metal were not the right size. I ended up using machine bolts which was a fine solution. At the end of the night I grumpily put up some plastic sheeting over the front and back holes and asked the silent partner to move the bus back onto the street on Tuesday morning. I'd already set off the building alarm once for being so late so I didn't want to mess with getting the bus outside that night and the silent partner gets to work earlier than I do so he could move it out before the shop began work.

After not getting all the sheet metal on Monday I was quite grumpy and was determined to get the rest up on Tuesday after work. Of course I ended up working at the theater that day (not near where the bus is parked at the shop) and was exhausted from moving furniture all day so I called it quits after work. Wednesday I did end up working at the shop for the second half of the day and I finished my work early so I got a few hours of work in on the bus prepping the sheet metal for the other parts that I'd left open.

The following day I took a trip to Home Depot to get some more 20" sheet metal for the front. I had seen on their website that they have 10' long rolls as well as the 25' rolls I bought. I thought this would be perfect since I only needed about 7' for the front of the bus and the rest could be 1' sheet metal. Of course the 10' rolls are only sold in select locations and neither of my two closest Home Depots sell it. I really didn't want to buy another $50 roll of sheet metal that I was going to use less than half of, so I decided I would figure out how to fill the front another way.

While I was there I took a peek at paint. My research has told me that most bus people use Rust-oleum oil based enamel. I was hoping to find a different paint that was not oil based because cleanup would be a pain and also because Rust-oleum gallon sized containers of enamel only come in like 5 colors. I looked into the water based enamel paint we use here at the shop and decided it would be great because I could get it mixed to the color I wanted except it only comes in pints and is very expensive. Back to Home Depot- they did have the gallons of Rust-oleum for about $40 a gallon so I picked up two gallons of white and some acetone to thin it for spraying.

I took a peek at their Rust-oleum spray paint and they have so many pretty colors! In the enamel they had the teal color that was my second option of what to paint the bottom half of the bus. In the normal (non enamel) Rust-oleum spray paint they had the salmon color I've been wanting. I asked the guy in the paint department if he thought the normal Rust-oleum spray paint would work and he didn't think so. I stuck with the white figuring I could always paint it all white for now and figure out the color later (maybe after Burning Man). When I got back to the shop I chatted with our Paint Charge who thought the regular spray paint would probably be fine, so I think I'll go back and get it soon.

Later that day I pulled the bus into the shop but I didn't do any work because the silent partner and I had to go off to look into a studio we are going to stay in while we come back to Berkeley in the summer to do one more show. Side story time! - We are going to be building a chicken coop this weekend in exchange for one month of rent. The studio is ridiculously tiny which will be a fun challenge.

Shop bus!

Friday I got to work on the bus all day! It was delightful. I cleaned up the sheet metal I'd put up on Monday. I had to go around and square it up a bit better and put in the rest of the bolts. It took all day to get the two pieces I'd done on Monday to look nice, but they are up there very well now. I also put up one of the small pieces on the sides and put the front panel back on (with some modifications).

Prettier, re attached sheet metal.

Other side.

I used clamps to make sure it didn't come out wiggly. 

I used a metal ruler and a hammer to make a nice clean edge on one of the pieces of sheet metal. I think I will try to do this whenever there are two pieces overlapping so they look clean. I'll try to get a picture of my bending setup next time.

This little piece has my nice clean bend on the left side.

For the front panel I decided to cut in half the original panel and then fill the middle with two overlapping pieces of the 1' sheet metal. By putting two pieces together I will also be able to cover the round holes on the original pieces where the lights were. To cut the original piece I just drew a line across and used a cutting wheel to slice it. The original sheet metal is thicker than the new metal so I couldn't use metal snips for it. I'll be covering up the part I cut on the original sheet metal so I didn't care about it looking messy. I went ahead and reattached the two halves but did not get to putting the new metal up in the center.

And that is about it for this week in bus land! I probably won't be working on it this weekend since we're building a chicken coop, but if I can I'd like to put up a little more sheet metal so I feel more safe about putting it back on the street.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Days 12 and 13 - bondo and razor blades

Surprise surprise, the roof isn't raised yet. But tomorrow! Hopefully!

Friday (day 12) the prop shop decided to quit early and so I got a few hours of bus work in. I went ahead and pulled the bus into the shop since the scene shop wasn't working Friday or on the weekend. 

 I went around with a wire wheel and cleaned off the dirt and paint around some of the holes in the bus's body in preparation to fill them with bondo. I also gave them a wack with a ball peen hammer so the holes would be slightly indented and easier to fill.  

My other task was scraping off all the lettering and reflective sticker stuff that is on the front and back of the bus. I hadn't realized it was all still there because it had been painted over. I switched back and forth between a paint scraper and a grinder to get it off. The grinder is dusty an makes your hands feel numb but the scraper is tedious and breaks a lot (I probably snapped 5 or 6 razor blades.) 

The next day (Saturday) I continued cleaning up the body. I also ventured into removing note rivets and got one side of the bus open so it will be easier to it off the roof tomorrow. I also filled some of the holes in the body with bondo. 

The biggest news came later when id finished for the day. The silent partner came home and told me he'd seen a refridgerator on the side of the road that was just the right size! We hurried out in his truck and snagged it. It was dark out so no pictures yet, but it's pretty much just the size I was looking for! Tomorrow I'll plug it in and clean it up. I hope it works. :p

Sunday, May 17, 2015

day 11 - almost roof raise.

Today was a much more productive bus day, but unfortunately the roof still remains unraised.

The silent partner and I (we lost our companion) arrived at the shop around 1:30. First thing we plugged the batteries into the charger so we could give them a few hours good charging.

Next we jumped into taking off the rest of the ceiling. I'd drilled out most of the rivets last time, but the ladder was bolted through the ceiling and I needed a second set of hands to get it off, hence waiting until today when I had the silent partner. We made quick work of the ladder and the ceiling and then suited up to deal with the insulation- gloves, respirators, long sleeve shirts, goggles. Dealing with the insulation in all these things got horribly warm and we took a few lemonade breaks in the process.

No more ladder.

After the insulation was out we cleaned out the rest of the bus- putting the scrap wood, spare tire and pieces of metal I am saving out in the shop so they wouldn't be in our way. We gave it a good sweep and blow out with air as well.

Getting a good clean.

Look at that empty bus.

The silent partner and I split up between the two big tasks of getting the roof off- cutting the steel framing and drilling out the rivets. I stayed inside the bus with a grinder cutting the framing. The first side I cut was really easy, there was only one side welded on each framing piece so it was just one cut. The other side however made me very grumpy because it was welded on four sides in very hard to reach places. I cut away at them for quite some time and was still unable to cut all the welds. On the outside of the bus the silent partner was able to get all the rivets out and we did some brainstorming on what to do at the front and back of the bus where there isn't a nice clean seam to put the 1' extension at.

Drilling out rivets.

No more rivets!

A mostly cut off framing member.

The silent partner had the good sense to get a fire extinguisher ready.

After getting that all sorted we turned our brainstorming to how to deal with the framing I was not able to cut. The conclusion we came to is we needed to remove the sheet metal that was directly outside the place I was cutting the framing all the way. Luckily there is this smaller panel along the sides that looks like it shouldn't be too hard to remove. Then cutting the framing will be much simpler. When it comes to putting the sheet metal back on I have two options I'm going to consider. First I could stick to the plan and put the original sheet metal back on and then add the 1' sheet metal flashing I bought. Alternatively when I bought the flashing I also saw some rolls that were wider than 1'. I don't remember how big they were, but if it happens they are the same or bigger than the gap I'll have after I remove the old sheet metal and do the raise I may just return my 1' sheet metal and get that instead. It will cost a bit more but look much prettier than the patched together sheet metal.

The panel with the yellow is what I'll remove.

Removing this other piece of sheet metal would mean drilling out rivets for a few more hours and since the bus was still in one piece with no huge holes in it we decided to call it a day. Next weekend is a 3 day weekend for me and a 4 day weekend for the silent partner so we will get the rest done then.

While I'm disappointed we didn't get the raise done we did quite a bit of good work and came up with a new plan on how best to approach it next time, so I'm pretty satisfied.  

day 10 - raise attempt number one.

Today was meant to be roof raise day, but the world had other plans.

Hindrance #1
The night before was the opening night of the last play of the season at the theater where my roof raising assistants and I work, so there was a good bit of staying out late and drinking too much. Saturday morning started well after noon and with a lengthy breakfast. By the time we got to the bus it was quite a bit later in the day than I'd hoped.

Hindrance #2
The bus had no fuel in it! As I believe I've mentioned before, the fuel gauge in the bus is broken. I've got a little notebook on the dash where I can calculate my miles and gallons and figure approximately how much fuel I've got. I hadn't done any calculations since we'd gotten the bus to Berkeley, but I have driven it next to nothing since it got here and we filled it up close enough to Berkeley in our drive down that we figured it should have at least a half a tank left when we got there. I still need to check my calculations in case I was just wildly off, but the current theory is that someone siphoned out the fuel. I'd left the bus parked in one place for close to two weeks and someone probably pegged it as an abandoned vehicle. A locking fuel cap has moved higher up on my priority list. Luckily we found a fuel can at work (It may have been a prop fuel can, not one that was at the shop with the intention of being used for fuel...) and the silent partner ran to the gas station for some diesel. There was some fun troubleshooting with getting the fuel into the bus, as the can did not have a spout.

Hindrance #3
The battery died. After all that trouble (and money) of getting the alternator to work, the battery died. Maybe there was a light on somewhere I missed. First we tried to jump it with the silent partner's truck. Not enough power (the bus is fun and has two batteries so its super powerful.) After consulting the manual and the father the conclusion was I needed to buy a battery charger and just let the batteries sit and charge for a few hours. Luckily at that point someone else from the shop wandered through and told us that the shop does indeed have a battery charger. We strung an extension cord out to the curb and started the bus a-charging. It had to sit for around an hour before it would start, so we took a lunch break. Once the bus started we drove it into the shop.

Once the bus was at least in the shop we were pretty tired and didn't want to keep going. We did pull a bunch of scrap metal and trash out of the bus before we left. The shop recycles scrap metal (for beer money!) so we stuck all of my scrap pipe, sheet metal and bracing on dollies so it could be put aside for them.

Oof what a bus day. Now I know a good bit more about making a bus start!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

mason jars.

I've been thinking a lot about what kinds of things I want to keep in my kitchen in the bus. It (obviously) won't be much room so I want to keep things simple and practical while still being pretty. Everything should have the chance to look pretty. :) 

Last time I was back in Oregon I went through my dishes and kept only 4 of each kind (plate, bowl, mug, etc) and all in pastel or floral designs that go together, but that is for another time.

Today I wanted to talk about mason jars! 

When I arrived in Berkeley I found there weren't many (and by many I mean there was 1) drinking glasses in the apartment I'm living in. Around that time I also decided to try out pickling so the conclusion I came to was I needed mason jars. I've also been reminded lately of what awesome lunch packing containers mason jars make, no leaking! So for the bus I've decided to do away with drinking glasses and tupperware and only use mason jars. They will also be my storage containers for dry goods such as flour. 

Here is some bus/tiny house inspiration using jars in their kitchens. 




Saturday, May 9, 2015

days 8 and 9

Today's bus work didn't go quite as I'd planned but was pretty successful none the less. I'd planned for this weekend to be the big roof raise but between having trouble tracking down some materials and schedules not meshing I decided to push it back another week. Hopefully next weekend the roof will be one foot taller.

Day 8 was a short bit of bus work. I ordered the 1" box steel I need for the roof raise a few days ago but unfortunately the steel store is only open 7:30 am to 4:30 pm on weekdays and it was a crazy busy week at work so the silent partner wasn't able to go during his lunch break (he has an hour break, I have a half hour) like we hoped. Instead I got up bright and early and went before work. Luckily the silent partner has a pickup I could borrow so I didn't have to drive the bus.

Today (day 9) I just ran a few errands for bus stuff. First stop was Urban Ore, an awesome salvage store here in Berkeley. I've been going there every few weeks to browse their sinks and there have been two sinks jumping out at me each week, both pretty small, both around 1'-6" square. One was cast iron with a pink enamel on it and the other was a stainless steel. I really like them both but decided they were probably a tad too small. Also at Urban Ore I checked out skylights and sheet metal. Nothing perfect but it was good to check.

Next the silent partner and I went over to a restaurant supply store to look for food grade water tanks. No luck with the water tanks but we did discover some stainless steel pans that I realized I could totally turn into a sink! The pan I got is around 1'-6" x 2' which I think will be a great size for the sink.

Next stop was Home Depot! We got all kinds of goodies there (well, mostly the silent partner. The tool isles are dangerous.) First stop was sheet metal. I'd found some 1' wide steel flashing that came in 25' rolls, sounded perfect but I was worried it may be too thin of a gauge. Turns out it was perfect! I picked up two rolls to cover the 1' gap I'll be making when I raise the roof.

Next I checked out the insulation. Before hand I looked online at what Home Depot has in the ways of 1" ridged insulation. I want to use 1" because the framing of the bus is made of 1" steel so the insulation will be sitting in between the framing. The 1" ridged insulation at Home Depot comes in two flavors, a cheaper bead foam that has around a 4 insulation rating and the nicer foam has insulation rating of 6. The cheaper foam costs $10.50 a sheet and the nice foam is $20 a sheet. I need to do a little more research about what those ratings mean. Since the space is so small I'm hoping maybe I can get away with the thinner insulation. 

After that we wandered over to sink hardware and picked up a drain for the new sink pan. We took a peek at faucets as well but decided that would be better purchased at a salvage store. 

My last stop was pop rivets. My dad pointed out that it would probably be best to use steel rivets. No flimsy aluminum. At Home Depot they only had steel rivets available in a variety pack that had various lengths of both steel and aluminium rivets. Rather than buy a bunch of stuff I don't want I'm going to wait and order some steel rivets from a hardware supply company that we order from at work. 

Tomorrow the silent partner and I are going to pop over and do a little more bus work and drop off the materials I've collected in the past few days. 


Saturday, May 2, 2015

day 7 - ceiling removal.

At long last a bus update. I'm even posting the update on the day I did the work- amazing. Work has been a bit busy the past few weeks and so I've been less than motivated to go in on the weekend or stay late and work on the bus.

The objective right now is to get the bus ready for the roof raise. To accomplish this I need to remove the interior roof sheet metal, roof insulation, buy steel and then I'm ready to go! I'm planning on roping a friend or two and the silent partner in to help with the process so we can knock it out in one afternoon of work.

Today I got some of that pre roof raising process done! I started off by drilling out a bunch of rivits holding the interior roof sheet metal on. I was able to remove one half (its got a seem down the center) pretty easily and pulled all the nasty insulation out.

Off comes the metal. 

Half the insulation scraped off. 

The latest in insulation removal fashion.

Perfect for nasty fiberglass. Also my double gloves, latex and framing gloves. 

One half removed! 

I went to move onto the second half but discovered some bolts that were reluctant to be removed blocking my way. They are from the ladder on the side and I either needed a second person to hold one end of the bolt outside while I took off the inside or I could have just cut them off. Last time I encountered this problem I ended up cutting them off but since I was hot and tired (fleece lined shop coat is not good for sunny days, good at keeping the fiberglass out though) I decided to call it a day and wait until I could convince the silent partner to come help me, hopefully next weekend.

While I didn't accomplish my goal of getting all of the ceiling out I was able to get a good look at the framing of the roof which was necessary for moving on in my planning for the roof raise!

Check out that framing. 

This is the joint I'll be cutting at, see the break that is already there below the joint? I'll re-cut there.

For some perspective, I'll be cutting where that big shadow is running across.

The cut will get a bit funky when I get to the back. 

With the ceiling removed I saw exactly where I wanted to do my cutting. I did a few measurements to see how much steel I will need to buy. I'll be cutting a 1' piece for each of the vertical supports (16 total) and then I will add a horizontal piece between each vertical piece so for my steel buying purposes I measured the perimeter of the bus for that length. The sides are about 14'-8" and the front/back is about 6'3 at the top. I may not need to add a horizontal piece at the front/back because there isn't one currently, but it would certainly add strength. Including the front/back that makes my steel total 57'-10". The steel I will buy comes in 20' sticks so I will buy 60'. I believe the price for a stick is around $25 so I'm looking at around $75 for my framing steel.

The other thing I will need to find is some sheet metal to fill the raise. When I was pulling off the roof interior I was tempted to re purpose it as the exterior sheet metal for the raise, but it has a kind of ribbed texture to it so I think not. I had originally wanted to salvage the ceiling sheet metal and put it back up when I was done with the raise however it was pretty full of holes and also re installing a big floppy piece of insulation covered sheet metal above my head didn't sound fun. Instead I may rip down plywood into strips and make a paneled ceiling. More research into how other skoolie folks did their ceilings is needed.

Lets hope next weekend will be the roof raise!