The weather today was perfect and I took full advantage. Four windows are covered and insulated. The hydraulic pump is out now and I welded up the support for the floor where the lift used to be.
I was stressing about how I would hold up the sheet metal for the windows while we drilled and riveted it in place. I finally decided to screw a couple little brackets to the bus to hold it up. It worked like a charm. When I was done I removed the brackets and replaces the self tapping screws to plug the holes (I put a little silicone on there too).
Here are the windows covered over. I’m very happy with how it came out.
On the inside you can see the galvanized sheet metal before we insulated.
I put silicone caulking on all the flat surfaces before putting the sheet metal on. Kerry drilled the holes from the inside while I pushed on the outside with a 2×4. Then we riveted the metal in place. I had some styrofoam from a bathroom vanity we ordered. The thickness was perfect for the window openings.
Next I removed the hydraulic pump. We pried it up with a flat bar and ran a sawzall under it to cut the bolts. Not too hard to remove but VERY messy. Once that was out I used one of the seat frames as a support for the floor. A little creative cutting and welding and voila: a nice solid frame for the floor.
Then we cut a peice of the wheelchair lift to go in top of the frame.
While using a wire wheel to clean the frame for welding, one of the wires let go and flung off at high speed. Right into my knuckle. Glad it wasn’t my eye. This is why I wear safety glasses…
After churning through iteration upon iterations of floorplan ideas I decided the wheelchair lift had to go. It’s big. It’s heavy. It only marginally works and worst of all, it’s in the way.
That lift is built like a tank. In order to remove it, I first lowered the lift to halfway down then detached all the hydraulic lines from the lift. A little advice: have a bucket handy. There’s going to be a lot of fluid. The reason I put the lift halfway down was, I wanted it to drop some distance so I could remove it from the bus. If I had it all the way down it wouldn’t have moved when I unbolted it. All the way up, and it would have fallen the full 3 feet, perhaps violently.
Once the lift was free of the hydraulic lines I simply removed the six bolts that hold it to the bus and crash, down it fell. The lift is actually wider than the door so we had to push the uprights together to get it out of the bus. A little wrestling with it and it came free. Now I have to figure out what to do with it. Anybody interested in a wheelchair lift? Cheap?
The floor plan is constantly in flux. It seems I just can’t find the right setup. Last night I decided I’m removing the wheelchair lift and we’re not going to use the side door. This will allow us to keep the sleeping quarters in the rear of the bus and the living quarters in the front. This means I’ll need to fabricate a section of floor over the lift area.
The floor plan will determine which windows will need to be blocked up. The sheet metal I scored yesterday is too short to cover more than one window I was hoping it would cover two, but no dice. I think I’m going to add a steel upright in the center of one window so I can cover three windows with the two aluminum signs. It’s starting to feel like a lot of extra work to avoid buying a new piece of sheet metal. I’ll call a local sheet metal place and get a quote on a piece of galvanized that will cover all three windows.
Floor plan image:
I just went out at lunch time to the local steel supply place to get some galvanized 20 gauge sheet metal to cover the windows. They didn’t have anything in stock (they deal with much heavier stuff usually).
I was disappointed that I’d have to order something, so on a whim I went over to the sign shop my sister-in-law works at, Sign Effects Billerica, MA (shameless plug). Dave, the owner, is awesome. He sold me a bunch of aluminum signs already cut to the height I needed for 30 bucks!!
I now have about 15 feet by 30 inches of 18 gauge aluminum that’s already painted white and still has the protective plastic on one side!! (The other side is printed with a sign).
This should be enough to so most of the windows I want to cover.
I ground the heads off the screws on some of the window pillars and removed them. There’s a nice flange underneath that I’ll rivet the sheet metal onto. I’m thinking I’ll use the emergency exit windows on other locations since they open completely. I think it’ll be nice to be able to open them all the way. We can even put some screens in and use the open window like shade awnings.
Here’s what the window pillars look like before and after removal:
I, like most, will be removing some windows. The pillars between the windows on the outside have screws holding them on. I tried removing them, they won’t budge with an impact driver. I tried drilling them and they are pretty darn tough. I know I can grind the head off with a grinder.
I’m going to put 20 gauge sheet metal over the removed windows. I’m planning on riveting the metal to the pillars, so I’ll have to remove those screw heads first.
Here’s some progress pics:
I picked up my bus on Monday 2/22/10. It’s all I think about now It’s a 1993 Thomas Safe-T-Liner MVP pusher with a CAT 3116. It’s kind of unique in that it had subway style seat, which I think are much easier to take out. There already out actually, except for the ones I’m keeping.
Here’s some video on youtube of the first day home:
As you can see it had overhead storage racks and stainless steel grab poles. The CAT 3116 engine wasn’t my first choice but it runs strong and there’s only minor surface rust on the bus here and there, no rot. The frame and floor underneath are still black. There’s no significant body damage. All the windows are tinted and the bus came white, so I don’t even need to paint it, although I plan to paint some accents. Plus, no school bus lighting to remove and cover over.
I’ll post some pictures of the bus with the seats removed. I’ve started a gallery too:
I haven’t driven it on the highway yet, but the place I bought it from delivered it for me. They followed me home and kept up at 65 MPH. The driver said it drove great. I’ve driven it around my neighborhood and I was surprised at the acceleration and braking. I expected slower a response in both cases.