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JohnInKansas
JohnInKansas SuperDork
1/2/20 9:09 a.m.

New Year, new excuses.

As a preface, this project is almost done; I have a lot of irons in the fire and tend to make desperately slow progress, so rather than start a build thread early and not have regular updates, I decided to get most of the way done before I kicked a thread off. We're close enough now, and the write-up is long enough that, if I post one update every weekday, we should be done with the project about the same time I get done posting the write-up.

For the most part, I'll describe progress chronologically, unless it makes sense to lump some things together due to subject. I didn't take nearly enough pictures during the process, and some may contain progress I haven't described yet. If there's every anything you want me to get a photo of or describe further for clarity, let me know. Also, if anybody sees something I did wrong or could have done better, hit me with it. If I can't change it easily now, I'll at least bear it in mind for repairs and changes down the road.

I like to name my project cars, or really any vehicle I have to spend any real time with (if I have enough time to get to know the eccentricities of a particular vehicle, I'll name it). Generally, I try to use alliteration. Beverly the Chevr'let. Theresa and Tess the Triumphs. Rhonda the Honda. Beatrice the Bradley Fighting Vehicle (this actually applied to all three of "my" Bradleys: B11 and A5 in Kansas, and another A5 in South Korea). This one's another "B". We're leaning toward Betsy, but we hate to commit to a name until we get to spend some time with the finished product. Suggestions welcome. Bertha is right off the table.

Javelin
Javelin MegaDork
1/2/20 9:26 a.m.

Bernice

Stampie
Stampie UltimaDork
1/2/20 9:27 a.m.

Bubba?

wvumtnbkr
wvumtnbkr UberDork
1/2/20 9:39 a.m.

I feel like you are trying to get baby names for a new person coming into the world...

 

Billy badass.

AAZCD
AAZCD HalfDork
1/2/20 10:24 a.m.

Bridget - "Arguably the most successful female name of all time within Celtic communities. The name is related to the Celtic noun “brígh” meaning ‘power, strength, vigor and virtue’."

Brünhild (or Brünhilde) - "Is a powerful female figure from Germanic heroic legend. She may have her origins in the Visigothic princess Brunhilda of Austrasia."

slowbird
slowbird Dork
1/2/20 10:49 a.m.

Bob

Big Boy

Bralph (it's Ralph with a B) (no I don't know how I came up with that either)

Brett_Murphy
Brett_Murphy UltimaDork
1/2/20 11:03 a.m.

What kind of car is it?

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
1/2/20 11:44 a.m.

Gonna have to go with Bashful

 

Javelin
Javelin MegaDork
1/2/20 11:48 a.m.

Bernadette

Stampie
Stampie UltimaDork
1/2/20 12:24 p.m.
AAZCD said:

Bridget - "Arguably the most successful female name of all time within Celtic communities. The name is related to the Celtic noun “brígh” meaning ‘power, strength, vigor and virtue’."

Brünhild (or Brünhilde) - "Is a powerful female figure from Germanic heroic legend. She may have her origins in the Visigothic princess Brunhilda of Austrasia."

I didn't know we had to give the origins of the name. 

Bubba - Southern US for redneck male. Usually overweight with untrimmed beard. 

Brett_Murphy
Brett_Murphy UltimaDork
1/2/20 12:59 p.m.

Boadicea 

JohnInKansas
JohnInKansas SuperDork
1/2/20 6:07 p.m.

In reply to Brett_Murphy :

Big. Beautiful. White.

A BBW, if you will.

84FSP
84FSP SuperDork
1/2/20 6:50 p.m.

 Biznitch?  Would fit with a 90's Limo Bizkit theme...

Brett_Murphy
Brett_Murphy UltimaDork
1/2/20 8:09 p.m.
JohnInKansas said:

In reply to Brett_Murphy :

Big. Beautiful. White.

A BBW, if you will.

Try all of the suggested names followed by "beautiful big white bodacious booty" until a winner manifests.

I'm still fond of Boudicca using that metric.

RandolphCarter
RandolphCarter New Reader
1/3/20 7:15 a.m.
Brett_Murphy said:

Boadicea 

 

(shakes fist)

Well, since my choice of Celtic warrior-queen was taken, how about Bernadette?

 

Buick or BMW?  Or surprise, it's a Bentley?

JohnInKansas
JohnInKansas SuperDork
1/3/20 8:16 a.m.

Apologies, I have a picture that sums up how over it I was, but its on the laptop and my wife left it at the office yesterday. I'll put it up this evening. In the meantime, this'll do.

I'd pretty much decided I was going to leave the Army by early 2018. I hadn't been selected for a rebranch to Aviation because I was too far along in my career, and was getting pretty disenchanted with both the quality of leadership I was dealing with on a regular basis and my prospects for anything other than near-perpetual staff work until my eventual descent into madness/retirement. I put my paperwork in, and knew I was going to be out for good by early November. I had several months of leave saved up, so we'd be moving out of our (really and truly fantastic) on-post house by mid-August. We needed to start looking for a place to live.

We talked about buying, but didn't have the kind of substatial nest egg we'd have liked to put on a down payment. Discussed renting, but we've had mixed luck with renting in the past, and her job (and my lack of one) left us with enough geographic flexibility that we didn't have a narrow enough market to search efficiently.

And then, in late May or early June, Mrs. InKansas made a mistake.

She told me she kinda wanted to live in a tiny home. Specifically, in a bus.

Recon1342
Recon1342 HalfDork
1/3/20 11:17 a.m.

Following now...

10001110101
10001110101 New Reader
1/3/20 11:33 a.m.

In reply to JohnInKansas :

I saw one of these over by Baldwin last weekend. 

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
1/3/20 11:49 a.m.

In reply to JohnInKansas :

What could possibly go wrong!?

JohnInKansas
JohnInKansas SuperDork
1/6/20 7:55 a.m.

I, being the Craigslist hound I am, pretty quickly tracked down a 20-ish year old BlueBird that, until recently, had served the Maize, Kansas school district. Following its service, it was auctioned off by a local surplus auction house to a group of local fellows who were in the market for a bachelor party limo. After its brief sojourn into the realm of cheap cigars, open container law violations, and reservation casinos, it sat in the best man's barn for about 6 months before he decided it was time to clean house. We went and looked it over, and aside from a slow leak from a transmission fitting and some minor body cancer, we couldn't find much to argue with. We brought it home on 8 June for the princely sum of $1200

This was pretty liberal use of the word "homeowner" from my wife. It's pretty hard to feel at home in a 40 foot school bus.

The problem we immediately faced was stealth. Living in rented government housing on a military installation means you (essentially) have to conform to the rules of the HOA. If Betty Ann from two doors down decides she doesn't like the way your rusty car looks in the driveway, she can raise a stink with her husband (who outranks you), he calls your boss, and you get a lecture on how officers should behave. ("I'm sorry I can't afford a Mercedes, sir.")

Fortunately, we managed to score what might be the only house on post with NO NEIGHBORS. Maintenance shop to the east of us, hundreds of acres of wooded hills to our north and west. The trade off was, we lived along a high-traffic route between main post and the hospital, a gym, and a dining facility. We had a nice long driveway, but the house and the parking area was in full view of the road roughly 200 yards to the south. I once had the Division Command Sergeant Major (for those of you unfamiliar with the military, this is the right hand man of my boss's boss's boss's boss) stop by and talk to me about Charlie, my old Ford flatbed, after he noticed it from the road; thankfully, he just wanted to express his interest in a cool project, not to bust my chops about the eyesore on the community.

No way a 40 foot school bus was going unnoticed. We needed a way to hide this behemoth in plain sight.

Brett_Murphy
Brett_Murphy UltimaDork
1/6/20 8:47 a.m.

Paint a big "GO ARMY!" on the side?

JohnInKansas
JohnInKansas SuperDork
1/7/20 7:42 a.m.

Solution? White paint.

Three days after we brought her home, we gave her a thorough wash before taping the windows and trim and shooting brown Rustoleum primer (I called this the Giant Tootsie Roll phase and regrettably, no photos exist) and finishing with white Rustoleum, sprayed on with a Home Depot electric spray gun. A 20 footer for sure, but the white made it disappear on base. All the government busses are white Bluebirds (albeit much newer models), so as long as we moved it every couple of days, we could park it in any lot on post without attracting unwanted attention.

(In the end, we wound up parking it tucked behind some trees in our yard, mostly out of sight of the road. Easier to have it on the property than in somebody’s parking lot who might discover it and flip a E36M3.)

We contracted some child labor to help with stripping the interior. The seats came out, followed by the rubber floor mats, plywood subfloor, metal interior wall and ceiling paneling, and insulation. All of this was hauled off to the scrapyard or the dumpster.

By this point, I’d remembered that busses are miserable for tall people. Even with the ceiling panels out, there was no place in the bus I could stand up straight except the front stairs, or the emergency hatches, if I poked my head through.

So we cut the roof off.

AngryCorvair
AngryCorvair MegaDork
1/7/20 8:13 a.m.
JohnInKansas said:

 

So we cut the roof off.

berkeley yeah you did!

JohnInKansas
JohnInKansas SuperDork
1/7/20 9:01 a.m.

In reply to AngryCorvair :

There are few things as exhilarating as irreversibly altering a vehicle with a sawzall.

JohnInKansas
JohnInKansas SuperDork
1/8/20 10:49 a.m.

... in the driveway (sloped in two directions), in Kansas in early July (real potential for strong sustained winds), with just the two of us. One of the most questionable things I've ever done. Looking back, I'm not sure how we could have done it much safer, aside from "indoors on flat, level ground". Nobody I know has a big enough shop with a big enough gantry to support and lift something that large and heavy (and that delicate, when it comes down to it).

Accounting for subfloor, insulation, and ceiling material, we decided that for me to not have to duck, we'd need to raise the roofline by 10 inches. Where to make the incision, though? The center section of the bus would be comparatively easy; the addition would just be flat panels. We wanted to bring the windows up with the roof, as they were on the low side even for my 5'3" wife. So we'd cut below the windows. But the ends presented a problem. We could make the "forehead" a "fivehead" by slicing horizontally above the windshield, and could do the same at the rear. Or we could take the back glass and door up with the roof, and while that would get the back door closer to a usable height, it would mean pretty extensive reconstruction of the door and door frame and probably custom glass.

Originally we had toyed with the idea of purchasing an old Crown Skyview bus (still kicking myself for not talking her into it, that was SUCH a cool bus) but discarded that option due to pricing, ergonomics and serious insulation concerns.

We loved the styling, and I pitched the idea that we could cut the roof in such a way as to mimic the curved roof profile of mid-century busses. She wasn't sure she knew how it would come together, but agreed to let me have a go at it.

So we decided we'd cut along the sides under the windows before cutting vertically up the side and over the roof of the bus just aft of the front door and just aft of the rearmost windows. The roof skin was riveted to and supported by a structure of u-shaped ribs. We'd be cutting all of the ribs to lift the roof, and would patch them back together with 18 sections of 1/8 inch wall square tubing. We built two scaffolds inside the bus using recycled lumber to act as a jackstand of sorts and to provide a little bit of structural rigidity to what would be a slightly structurally-compromised roof. The scaffolds were screwed liberally together and to the roof ribs. All the windows were removed and stored carefully, as was the front door (seriously heavy and awkward, so glad we didn't get hurt or damage the door in the process).

And then we waited for a calm day with as little wind as possible.

 

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