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.


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