Welcome to The World School Bus Project daily blog! We’re a traveling, world schooling family of five who sold everything we owned to live life outside the box. Currently, we’re converting an old school bus into a tiny house on wheels for an amazing, open-ended road trip around the United States! Follow along by bookmarking this blog and liking us on Facebook and Instagram!
YOU GUYS! WE (ALMOST) HAVE A FLOOR!!
But first, let me fill you in on what we’ve been doing for the past two weeks!
First, let me remind you how terrible our bus was looking two weeks ago. YIKES! We’re supposed to LIVE in this thing?!
Henry finished pulling up what was left of the rubber floor in the driver’s area. Not surprisingly, we found LOTS of rust underneath! There’s also a giant hole, which I assume gives access to the engine somehow. We’ll be patching it up, but keeping it accessible.
We also finished scraping the ceiling down. There was a layer of dried glue from behind the insulation that we pulled out, so at first we thought the ceiling didn’t have any rust. A little bit of scraping exposed several panels full of it, though. See that panel on the left below? After scraping, the right photo is what it looked like! It was like a scratch off lottery ticket … with a really crappy prize.
After doing lots of research, we decided to use a “rust converter” instead of grinding down or sandblasting the rust away. We used a product called Corroseal, which worked great! Here’s a description of the product from Corroseal’s website : “Rust occurs naturally when the iron in steel oxidizes and returns to its original state, iron oxide. Through an innovative chemical conversion process, Corroseal Rust Converter converts rust (iron oxide) into a stable substance, magnetite. It also primes the surface with a high quality latex metal primer at the same time.” Below you can see the process. The top left photo is the rusty panel. Top right is what it looks like after the Corroseal is brushed on. Bottom left is what it looks like once the rust has started to turn black and the Corroseal is drying. Below right is what it looks like the next day. All the non-rusty spots look the same, but all the rusted spots have turned completely black and are hard as a rock! Pretty cool!
Before we could apply the Corroseal to the floor, though, we had to get it as clean as possible. To do this, we bought an industrial strength cleaner and degreaser and put the kids to work! Kai was miserable and only scrubbed for a few minutes, but Roxy was a trooper! She scrubbed and scrubbed the floor until all the gunk was off. It still looked terrible, but it was as clean as it was going to get!
The original rubber flooring was stuck down with brown glue that REFUSED to come up, no matter how hard we scrubbed. Henry busted out the angle grinder and started taking it off that way, but then we realized we were being ridiculous and that the floor didn’t need to be spotless since we were about to cover it up with all new flooring, so he quit. See how shiny it would have been if we had kept on grinding, though? So pretty!
Once the floors were clean(ish) Roxy got to work painting Corroseal onto all the floor rust. Since rust is brown and the old glue is brown, it was sometimes hard to tell which was which. Since we had a lot of Corroseal left, I told Rox to put it anywhere that was brown, just to be safe.
As it dried, the Corroseal started to work and turned black! I realize now I didn’t get a photo of the entire bus and it’s black floor. Oh, well! Just know it worked like a charm!
PATCHING HOLES IN THE FLOOR!
Soooooo, this photo is out of order. I took this a couple of weeks ago before we cleaned and sealed the floors and tried a little patch of it to make sure it would work. It worked GREAT so we went back to Home Depot and bought a bunch more. After the floor was cleaned, we spent about two hours filling every tiny (and not so tiny) hole with this stuff. So what is it, you ask? It’s putty! See that photo on the right where it looks like I stuck gum over the holes? That “gum” is actually squished up SteelStick putty and after just 60 minutes, it was hard as a rock! Once dried, you can sand it, paint it, even drill into it. This stuff is amazing. I highly recommend it! Our floor had a million holes in it from all the seat bolts. Now our floor has ZERO holes in it! Cheers to NO MORE RUST FORMATION!
REMOVED, CLEANED AND RERESEALED THE WINDOWS!
I LOVE WINDOWS. So many Skoolie (school bus) converters take the windows out or cover them with walls. I’ve been trying really hard to figure out ways to keep the majority of our windows unobstructed so that we’ll have plenty of sunshine coming in during the day, but the more I research, the more I realize why people are taking them out. School bus windows LEAK LIKE CRAZY. I wish I had a good picture to show you the stupid design of these windows. The problem really lies in the space between the windows (and not so much the windows themselves.) There’s a big gap on the bottom corner of every single window that has to be filled with caulk or water will seep in and drop down the metal ribs, onto the floor or into the side panel insulation. Not good! Luckily we had a rain day recently, which gave us the chance to find the windows that weren’t sealed up completely and mark them. We still plan to keep as many windows as possible, so to make sure they won’t leak, we pulled them all out, scraped all the old caulk off and re-sealed them with brand new, clear caulk! Fingers crossed for NO MORE LEAKS!
While the windows were out, we gave the kids sponges and soap and put them to work scrubbing them down. Marley (with her GIANT gloves) had a blast!
We borrowed a scraper tool to get the old caulk out of the windows, so I went ahead and walked around the bus and removed the old decals. I had read that removing the decals was sometime really difficult, but our decals came right off with minimal effort! Yay for easy!
INSULATING THE FLOOR!
School buses are made of metal. Metal gets COLD. Metal also gets HOTTTTT. Because of these two things, all the Skoolies you see will be full of as much insulation as possible! Since our home base is in Texas, our main concern is keeping heat out and we hope to do that by coating our roof with elastomeric paint and a cushy and thick roof insulation. We don’t plan to live or travel to anywhere snowy in our bus, though, so our floor insulation doesn’t need to be super thick. It does need to be sturdy, though, so we decided to use half inch thick 4x8ft rigid foam insulation panels. These panels are basically just styrofoam, so they’re safe to handle and easy to cut. Before we started cutting, though, we had to do some math! Marley and Rox were off playing, so I grabbed Kai and gave him a little lesson on how to convert feet to inches. He picked it up super quick and was so proud of himself! Once we finished all our measurements, we filled the floor with perfectly cut pieces of insulation!
WORLD SCHOOL RECESS
After making all our cuts, we had lots of scrap pieces of styrofoam. The kids were thrilled when we told them they could cut them up and make whatever they wanted. Henry helped Kai make an awesome airplane. After “flying” their plane to death, they decided to make weapons to fight with and spent the rest of the day having very dramatic “battles.” World School recess is the BEST!
PLAN A : Put down a layer of insulation. Put down big plywood sheets. Paint plywood sheets. DONE!
What went wrong with PLAN A : Plywood sheets don’t just lay down. They bow. A LOT. We really don’t want to put any more holes in the floor since we just spent hours filling the old holes and getting rid of the floor rust those holes caused, so screwing them into the floor is not an option. Another problem with this plan is that I’ve been spending way too much time on Pinterest and found something I like better … WOOD SLATS!
PLAN B : Put down a layer of insulation. Put down big plywood sheets. On top of those big plywood sheets, lay down long plywood slats. Nail the top and bottom layers together so they lay flat. Paint the slats white. Have an amazing, vintage-y, rustic-chic floor!
Waiting for a list of what went wrong with PLAN B? TOO BAD! PLAN B is THE BOMB DOT COM and it’s going great so far (yes, I realize I probably just jinxed myself.) We got all the plywood underlayment cut and placed and all the top plywood cut into 6″ wide slats. All that’s left now is to glue the top and bottom layers together (with Liquid Nails) and then nail them together with small finishing nails. Henry is a little bit worried that the finishing nails will work themselves out when the bus is jiggling around on the road, and he’s probably right, but there’s no turning back now. I’m LOVING how it’s coming together and am so excited to see it finished!
The underlayment boards placed …
How it’s looking so far, with the slats placed randomly throughout the bus. We should finish placing the boards and gluing them down tomorrow! I’ll be sure to post an update as soon as it’s finished!
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See you soon, friends!