Here's the finished product in Utah- State no. 3
Here she is. A 1986 Chevy Bluebird school bus…was an exciting day picking her up!
Original plans for design options. We ended up going with the layout on the far right
Our first shop for supplies. Plywood, lots of 2×4 and insulation just to name a few things. We also had to buy tools since we had pretty much nothing to build with.
At the refuse tip. We dumped around 500kg of chairs and interior panelling we stripped.
Here's Chris starting the roof. We removed the metal panelling above and below the windows to allow us to install the roof and insulation.
We were pleasantly surprised at the insulation already installed but we still added some to the walls- we have to sleep in this after all
Close up of the side wall with insulation going in
A few panels of the roof in. We used full sheets of ply and fixed them to the existing roof. They just happened to be the perfect size.
Securing the roof. The string you see was just to get a straight line for the screws all the way along.
Positioning the kitchen bench. The bench tops are just a standard size from IKEA and, again, happened to be the perfect size for what we neeeded.
Temporary workshop! It was just way too cold to work outside in the middle of a Banff winter so the bus ended up being the workshop and the worksite.
Positioning the couches. The gaps in between the beams will be sealed and covered with a removable ply lid so we can use the space underneath for storage.
We decided to paint the back wall with chalkboard paint so people could leave messages etc. along the way.
Lindsay's happy that's over. Paint doesn't dry well in negative 20 degrees Celsius…
We lined most of the bus in ply to keep the theme the same. Here's a view of the windows without shutters. Gerard devised a sliding runner system on the inside of the ply to allow plastic shutters that fixed with magnets at the top.
Installed. They don't keep the light out 100% but they're good for privacy.
Empty bus! All the walls, roof and window shutters are in. Time to start the real construction
Installing the floor boards- we used the click-clack system and cut to size.
Gerard and Chris inside the house measuring up the bunk beds.
Testing the size- perfect. They'll sit just either side of the back door.
Shot from the rear of the bus looking forward with two bunks in place and early installation of one of the couches.
Testing out the lights! We fixed a picture rail the length of the bus on both sides and ran an LED light ribbon the whole way down. It comes with an adhesive back so super cheap and super easy to install.
Another lighting test. You can also see the final positioning of the couches and kitchen benches.
Both lights installed! Here we are battling to install the shelving. The lack of room to build in here starts to get to you after a while!
Reverse view of the benches and bunks.
The sun is out! We had to take every opportunity to work outside, even if it meant days off work. There's some things you just can't build inside a bus
We only bought basic tools so we borrowed a few from the shop at work. Most cuts on this bus were done with a hand saw so it was a real treat to use a jigsaw!
Assessing the outer wall. We had to cut holes in the side to install vents for the fridge.
Bit nerve-racking cutting a hole in the bus but here goes nothing!
Matt and Gerard testing out the new mattresses. Ply will later be fitted over the slats to keep the mattress flat but we couldn't resist a test run. The custom foam for the couches and beds were among the most expensive elements of the build.
Road trip to Calgary to pick up the snazzy couch and mattress covers and the water tank.
Not so delightful.
We ended up cutting the middle support to get the tank in and re-fixing it with brackets.
Sorry for the time skip here-
The sink and walls separating the kitchen and bedrooms are in. We had to build an air-tight baffling system to direct any hot air from the back of the fridge to the outside vents.
Installing the fridge. As I said it has to be completely airtight. This is the single most expensive thing on the bus- $1,500. It's a legit RV fridge and can run on electricity, propane or 12v battery.
Electrics box. Sorry we don't have any progress pictures of this one.
The switches are for the water pump, stereo, sub, inverter (converts 12v to 110v so we can run the appliances without hooking up to electricity), lights and the fridge. The other knob is for the sub level so we can crank dat baaaass. As you can see we also made a little bookshelf behind the lid.
Here's where all the fun stuff happens. 2 batteries, trickle charger, inverter, amplifier and speaker wiring. Gerard was 100% in charge of this stuff. He's a robot builder from way back!
Sink and tap installed. Not quite a cat but these are our bus pets- cacti Keith and Warren.
Interior all but completed! This is about 90% done view from the front looking back. Couches (also act as 5th and 6th beds), kitchen benches and the dividing walls. The door opposite the fridge is a cupboard for storage and our emergency toilet.
View from the kitchen looking forward.
We were running extremely low on time so this is the last decent interior photo.
Took this one a couple of days ago to show the completed kitchen cupboards and draws.
The moose's first bath. 5 days before we leave for Coachella and still not painted. Leaving the bus yellow just wasn't an option since it is illegal in most states in the US to have a private school bus that colour. Cause you know….stealing children and stuff
Olivia has arrived from Aus and is straight to work sanding! No power tools here! The whole bus was hand sanded and cleaned with acetone to prep for painting.
After much "discussion" we settled on white and green. We used tremclad, which is a metal paint with a rust-proofing ingredient. We did two coats of white and three coats of green for the stripes.
Four days before leaving and thankfully the sun is out. Still around 0 degrees C but we don't have much of a choice but to go for it and hope for the best!
All hands on deck. We used rollers and paint brushes. Easier than you might think to get an even finish since the paint is so thick.
We're hilarious. Olivia, Chris, me (Charlie) and Lindsay.
Great. Three days before leaving. The bus is supposed to be going to Calgary today for a service but it won't start. Starting to panic now.
Thankfully it was nothing. It snowed pretty heavily overnight and the drastic drop in temperature had frozen the condenser. Guy from the workshop told us to top up the coolant with antifreeze and it started first go!
One day before leaving. Winter is still well and truly here. We had one of the biggest falls of the season that night…in April.
The sun came out around 10am though and after clearing all the snow with our hockey sticks we managed to get the last coat on.
All done. She's a sight for sore eyes
Bus christening! We threw a keg party the night before leaving. Comfortably had around 30 people on board and didn't feel crowded!
And here we all are. Chris ruined it by bitching out and wearing a jacket. You can just see our van in the background we turned into a mobile bar
First family photo- Montana! The unfamiliar face is our friend Joe who decided the morning of our trip that the opportunity to come with us to Coachella was too good to miss so he became a temporary moose member for a week. Honorary mention goes to our good friend Andy who flew over from Aus to join us for around 3 weeks of the trip.
Our journey so far has been incredible. We didn't quite know what to expect before coming here but I think we can all honestly say we've never met so many great people that are willing to selflessly assist in our journey and make the experience special. We've been offered food, places to stay, tools, sent whole itineraries for places and activities to visit and countless locals have come on board for a tour of our humble home.
After around 70 days on the road, we are currently in DC and will be heading up to Philadelphia tomorrow. We've got around 3 weeks of the trip left and would love to hear suggestions for places to visit as we make our way up the East coast!
As you can imagine, it's pretty well impossible to find RV parks close to the CBD in NY, Boston etc. so we will be parking up the bus and staying in AirBnB's once we start heading into major cities. Having said that, we have no idea where to put it! Open to all suggestions if anyone can offer them!
PM us for details of the bus, any comments or if you think you might know of someone that would give the old girl a good home when we're ready to head back to Aus.
Thanks and much love America,
Charlie, Chris, Gerard, Lindsay, Matt and Olivia- The Moose Ryders