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Stage 14: Bus Electrical AKA Spaghetti

Let me start by saying, I am not an electrician. My husband is not an electrician. We have some electrical experience, but never on a bus. We just never had the confidence because it was a new skill to learn more about. If we are going to have an even more amazing homestead one day, I need to know how electricity works on my temporary home. Old Chitty Bang lost about 30 pounds in unnecessary electrical wire! Thanks to a new and very knowledgeable friend, he got us squared away with removing things I didn’t have a clue what they were for. Thanks Robbie. You are the best….Around…and no one’s ever gonna keep you down…;)

Front flasher area Exposed
Front flasher area Exposed
Front Wires Exposed
Front Wires Exposed
Lots of wires to figure out
Lots of wires to figure out
All that wire!
All that wire!
Yup, this more organized too :)
Yup, this is more organized too, actually.
This  is more organized too...I know it doesn't look like it though!
This is more organized too…I know it doesn’t look like it though!
Now more clean!
Now more clean!
Even this wiring is cleaned up a lot! Don't look at the dirty floor! lol.
Even this wiring is cleaned up a lot! Don’t look at the dirty floor! lol.

And, of course, Murphy’s Law will always come into play…especially when you have no idea what you are doing. We broke the solenoid in the breaker panel that controls the side yellow lights (clip lights I believe is what they are called), and some other stuff (I told you I don’t know what we did in this process, lol. I just absorbed it). So we found one on ebay for $20 and got a new one. I do want to buy another for our “On the Road Equipment” box we want to make. Two is one and one is none…

Old Solenoid. Notice the little wire exposed at the top...a nut of a sort is supposed to go on that. Crab totally ripped that little B off.
Old Solenoid. Notice the little wire exposed at the top…a nut of a sort is supposed to go on that. Crab totally ripped that little B off.
And here is the brand spanking new one:) Pretty!
And here is the brand spanking new one:) Pretty!
Side by Side
A Solenoid Side by Side

We steadily worked on cleaning up the wiring and re-taping and re-looming everything…

Front Panel above driver cleaned up
Front Panel above driver cleaned up
The before and after of the mass part of the mess
The before and after of the mass part of the mess
A cleaned up breaker panel! I did not take a picture of the before, but if you ever have seen a bus panel...you would agree that this looks way better :)
A cleaned up breaker panel! I did not take a picture of the before, but if you ever have seen a bus panel…you would agree that this looks way better 🙂

I am so happy to say that this part is over. Although, we will be revisiting the electrical for the house part, I am happy to be past this specific part. Why? Because now that we finished that, we were able to move on to running the wires for the speakers, the radio, amp, back up camera and screen, and some LED lights for the exterior! Yay progress!!

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 Last Seal Job *fingers crossed*

I have decided this never ending seal job of leaks will end this day! We went into the bus on a hard rain day and used chalk to mark all the spots that were leaking. We attempted to spray the bus with the hose to find any leaks, to no avail. So we have been waiting for hard rain storms to hit us the last few weeks (thank God we are not in a drought anymore!) so we can get a realistic view of what kind of leaks we are looking at. Almost all of the leaks came from the seal between the glass and the metal and was collecting in the corners of the windows, dripping down to the floor…eventually will cause rust issues and mildew in the walls if we don’t take care of it. And as our Sgt Crab says, Don’t do the easy wrong over the hard right. And I don’t want issues later *grumble* so here we go!

About to start the last of the sealing job!
About to start the last of the sealing job!
Crab getting down to business!
Crab getting down to business!
The grey looking seal on the glass is super old. So re-sealing these is really common sense.
The grey looking seal on the glass is super old. So re-sealing these is really common sense.
After using the 2 in 1 Premium Polyurethane by Loc Tite. Yeah it is messy, but really I don't care. Our counters will actually be a little taller than the bottoms of the windows anyway, so I won't see it. And I can sacrifice some looks for a job well done.
After using the 2 in 1 Premium Polyurethane by Loc Tite. Yeah it is messy, but really I don’t care. Our counters will actually be a little taller than the bottoms of the windows anyway, so I won’t see it. And I can sacrifice some looks for a job well done.
We also sealed in between each window to prevent any other leaks from appearing. We plan on painting this white anyway, or covering with trim to make it look all fancy schmancy. We will see though:)
We also sealed in between each window to prevent any other leaks from appearing. We plan on painting this white anyway, or covering with trim to make it look all fancy schmancy. We will see though:)
Don't forget the last and first windows on the edges! We also ran out of the white polyurethane and finished up with the regular polyurethane by loc tite, the stuff we used on the bolt holes on the floor.
Don’t forget the last and first windows on the edges! We also ran out of the white polyurethane and finished up with the regular polyurethane by loc tite, the stuff we used on the bolt holes on the floor.

After this, we waited a few days and used the hose to spray all over the bus. No leaks! But, then it rained really really hard one day and I ran out into the bus to make sure (who can recreate mother nature, really?) and *GASP* a few leaks! But they were only around the Emergency Windows (those are total crap anyway and will be covered inside and out with aluminum anyway). SO I just sealed every single crack on them, and problem solved! I did not even have any roof leaks this time! The only leak we have left is coming from the back door, and that is just as easy as replacing the rubber seal around the door. I have been told by my Skoolie thread on Facebook that I can get that stuff anywhere. So that will be next. Then we think we may just go ahead and cover the outside of the emergency windows with the aluminum b/c we have the rivot gun for it, we just need to get the rivots and sheet of metal.

Either way, we are still making slow progress….we did not drop off the edge of the world, I promise! Summer is here in Texas, and so is the heat…and a smaller bus budget so we can do some family stuff…The dream will continue! Thanks to everyone for continuing to follow and support us in this huge adventure of ours! Look for an update on our GoFund Me page I am creating if any of you would like to help us get moving on it too!

Thanks all and have an awesome day and I hope everyone is having a great summer!

Now you can check out:

Previous Sealing Jobs On Bus

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Stage 11-13: Re-Do and Leaks

With all of the rain Central Texas has been getting, it really has allowed us to get some realistic ideas on if we did a good job with our caulking & foam. Leaks, Leaks, Everywhere!! Ok, they are not as bad as they once were. Since re-sealing the windows, roof, and sides; the leaks have been minimal…but still…I am ready to build. But, first things first…Where oh where could they be coming from…

Not what I wanted to see..LEAK 1
Not what I wanted to see..LEAK 1
UGH! LEAK #2
UGH! LEAK #2
Last One..Leak #3
Last One..Leak #3

Time to inspect. They were only on the passenger side of the bus, and it felt wet in the corners of the windows. There were wet spots on the ceiling on the left side only….

Some of the leaks are coming from the corners where the Great Stuff is.
Some of the leaks are coming from the corners where the Great Stuff is.
From the outside, I squished a piece of the Great Stuff and water came out like a sponge! It is definitely not fixing the leak problem..
From the outside, I squished a piece of the Great Stuff and water came out like a sponge! It is definitely not fixing the leak problem..

Lesson #24 in Bus Renovations…Don’t use great stuff on the outside of the windows. Solution? Darn tootin.

Apparently, it was absorbing water amd making its way through our newly sealed windows…I THINK NOT! We scraped the foam off on the outside only, and used the 2 in 1 Premium Polyurethane (used on the windows) to really gob up the corners.

Def learned we are not professional caulkers ;)
Def learned we are not professional caulkers 😉 But, I don’t see any holes!
I do think that this will prevent any more rain or water from entering.
I do think that this will prevent any more rain or water from entering.

Next after fixing the windows, I needed to make sure the roof was leak proof. Completely leak proof. Or at least as close as I could get with my experience 🙂 The only thing I had not sealed yet was every single bolt and screw. I did the seams and a few of the bolts that looked “rough”. So, I headed back up to the roof and finished the job!

Using Premium Polyurethane (same as on floors) to cover each and every bolt/screw on this god forsaken roof!!
Using Premium Polyurethane (same as on floors) to cover each and every bolt/screw on this god forsaken roof!!
Using the last of the 2 In 1 Premium on the side roof bolts after running out of my other polyurethane.
Using the last of the 2 In 1 Premium on the side roof bolts after running out of my other polyurethane.

Ok. Final Drum Roll Please……..

I think this did it. Fingers crossed this did it. I really really hope this did it. LOL. Whatever, live and learn! I will keep everyone posted on if this fixed it! Since we are supposed to have great weather next week I think I will use the hose to find my leaks…ready to tackle and end this beast.

At the end of the month (June 2015) we should be heading to get the electrical stubbed out, and then we will begin building…I hope!!

More Coming Soon….

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Head over to “the why” at

Editing Our Life Series

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Stage 12: Spray Foam on Windows

Stage 12: Spray Foam on Windows

To really be sure we blocked any rain from getting in through the windows, we used some spray foam to really seal them.

We used Great Stuff PEST foam insulator in all the bottom holes on each side of the windows.
We used Great Stuff PEST foam insulator in all the bottom holes on each side of the windows.
We foamed the outside of the windows on the bottom corners.
We foamed the outside of the windows on the bottom corners.
From the inside you can see the foam made its way through the gap (with a slight over flow) sealing it completely.
From the inside you can see the foam made its way through the gap (with a slight over flow) sealing it completely.

We decided to seal all around the Emergency Exit Windows because these are so loosey goose and we saw a few areas of daylight shining through. We positioned these windows when we were re-sealing where the floor plans have a closet or something covering the entire window. We will eventually rivot a sheet of aluminum over the outside of it (before we paint) and insulate it on the inside with polyboard, then cover it with our interior siding we will use. This definitely made Chitty Bang an Ugly Duckling, but I know its temporary:)

We decided to seal all around the Emergency Exit Windows because these are so loosey goose. We positioned these windows when we were re-sealing where the floor plans have a closet or something covering the entire window. We will eventually rivot a sheet of aluminum over the outside of it (before we paint) and insulate it on the inside with polyboard, then cover it with our interior siding we will use.
Emergency Windows from the Outside on Drivers Side.
What it looks like on the inside of the Emergency Exit Window after foaming it with Great Stuff from the outside. Check for sunlight shining through for a safe measure!
What it looks like on the inside of the Emergency Exit Window after foaming it with Great Stuff from the outside. Check for sunlight shining through for a safe measure!
No Side Panels, No Insulation, Re-sealed and foamed windows, and sealed screws on walls.
No Side Panels, No Insulation, Re-sealed and foamed windows, and sealed screws on walls.

This was the easiest job ever. I’m going to miss this 🙂

Next Up,

Stage 13: Sealing the Exterior Sides and Roof

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Editing Our Life Series

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Editing Our Life: Part 3-Tiny House/Skoolie Idea

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When we originally came up with the idea to live minimally, we loved the idea of building our own tiny house. It is definitely an up and coming idea, and people will choose to live tiny for so many reasons; environmental, downsize their debt, live with less “crap”, and many others. Everyone has his or her reasons, but ultimately it encompasses that overall freedom every human being on the planet yearns for. The freedom we long for is to be debt free. We are not like some people who have thousands of dollars in credit card debt, or filed bankruptcy, or live beyond our means in a “normal” American society. We have always lived within our means, and kept our credit score in excellent condition. We never made decisions that would effect our family negatively, and thought we were doing the right thing. We paid off our vehicles, made every note on the homes we had purchased since we were 21 years old, paid every bill, and this year we are 30 years old. “Living the American Dream” with our mortgage and never ending cycle of interest rates. When we started talking about how much money we would save every month by getting rid of our mortgages, it boggled my mind. But where do you live if you want to raise a family and save money? What about, if you want to travel around the US? What if you don’t really know where you want to “put your roots” like your mom and dad or grandma and grandpa always talked about?

Crab and I have been married since we were 18 years old in 2003, and had gotten used to the Army life of moving every 3 years or so, and always knew we did not want to go back to our hometown. How do you make the decision to just settle down somewhere if you haven’t seen all the possibilities? We each have lived in California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alaska, and Texas. We have traveled to many other places, but would we want to MOVE there? We felt there were so many options now compared to when our parents were our age. The world is so accessible and it is only getting more so as time passes. Ultimately our question was, How do we make sure we are happy with where we decide to put roots?

A Tiny House on Wheels http://tinyhouseblog.com/stick-built/fencl-finale/
A Tiny House on Wheels
http://tinyhouseblog.com/stick-built/fencl-finale/

A tiny home seemed completely logical for us…and totally exciting. However, it was going to cost us between $30-$40,000 after doing some research and we don’t have that stashed away anywhere. Also, since we wanted our tiny home on wheels, the codes for traveling with a tiny house and heights and all kind of scared me. Many people have done it, check out “Tiny: The Story of Living Small” on Netflix, because it is totally awesome and is what inspired us to start living small. Buying an RV just wasn’t going to happen either because we heard of how expensive they are, how crappy the insulation is, if something breaks a dealer has to fix it (and we are total DIYers!), and that they do break eventually. So, we came up with some options and tabled the discussion for later until we got rid of more crap we were selling. We knew we couldn’t really do anything until our home sold, as then we would have the money to do something with. The plan was to move to my parent’s lakehouse temporarily, maybe even “Squat” at friends houses while visiting different areas, and go from there.

Then, something amazing happened. Ok, it wasn’t really amazing. It was a simple late night conversation we had about how to travel around the US with our dog and kids, and everyone comfortable, but also be a project we can DIY and it be affordable. The solution was so simple, but unbelievable. I thought, how weird is this? What will people say? Then I thought, Wait a second. I really don’t give a ****. HA! Not caring what others think has to be one of the greatest mental freedoms I have ever felt. We have always been “weird” and rubbed against society norms. We played the “Keep Up With the Jones’” game and it is exhausting and financially straining. Who really needs all those clothes, shoes, toys, and other crap we buy to entertain us. Why can’t LIFE be entertaining enough? Why can’t Time with your family be entertaining enough? When did buying crap and getting into debt become fun? Hence, our homestead was born. Self reliant living. Our newest idea was definitely the next non-normal thing, and the most realistic one for us. It was our next step to the freedom we have been talking about for a couple of years, and to get us to a place where we can finally build up a bigger and better homestead much sooner than we thought was ever possible!!!

A SKOOLIE. AKA CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG

Inside of a Skoolie Conversion
Inside of a Skoolie Conversion
A Skoolie Conversion http://www.goodnewsbus.com/
A Skoolie Conversion
http://www.goodnewsbus.com/

That is right. A school bus converted into an RV. What??!!! Yes this is totally real and yes, they are totally cool. Some people are completely not into it. They say, “How can you be with your family that long in that small of a space?” “What about your space?” “How will you guys build that? It sounds hard.” Then the other negative nancy’s we told, and well, we don’t talk to people like that anymore. And anyway, The answer to those questions really lie in each person. If you asked me those questions 3 years ago, I would have told you that I could not imagine us all cramped up in a small space together because we had not tried it. After I lost my job, the four of us were together all the time. Saving money, stay-cations, lots and lots of family time. Whether we wanted it or not, lol. Now, we love being around each other. We started homeschool October 2014, so we are used to our kids being home. They help out tremendously with house work, are respectful, do what they are told, they do not wait for us to entertain them because they know they will have to clean something if the words “I’m bored” exits their mouth, and we have all learned to respect each other’s privacy/private times, which is a must in a tiny house/skoolie. Also, after all of the failed attempts and successful ones of building Aquaponics systems, grow beds, chicken coops, poultry tractors, dog houses, repairing lawn mowers, and a plethora of other things, we have the confidence to jump in and just do it. YouTube is amazing, because you can find how to do anything on there as well as the internet itself. I really don’t know why there are so many schools anymore. You can literally learn anything you want to on the internet. And did I mention the cost to do one is literally half of what it would cost us to do a Tiny House? I believe the major factor in the cost is that the “frame” is already there, and it is steel! Did I also mention that we could live in it while driving? And it is big enough for all of us and our 130lb English Mastiff? 🙂 And please remember folks, we do not want to just sit around in our awesome skoolie all day. This tiny house is meant to take us all over the United States! National Parks and Monuments are begging to be seen, life learning will be happening, and adventures are within our grasp! We plan on using our tiny home as a way to make the world our front porch (gosh I love that old country song!) Momma is happy 🙂

So a dream was born. Buy a school bus (lots of research on types and engines and lengths), renovate it to an RV, sell our home in the process, travel, maybe even learn to sail, figure out where we want to set roots, and live in the bus until we finish building our new home/homestead. We have sold off everything we needed to, and will sell the rest of the furniture when the house sells….but if I can’t get the price I want, into storage it will go with the rest of our crap. Hey, I can’t get rid of everything. We need all of our equipment and stuff for the new homestead, and a place to store out of season clothes and such. But it is definitely not a house payment. 🙂

Now, Let the dream of Operation Chitty Chitty Bang Bang commence…….

Go Back to Part 1

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Part 2

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Tiny House Skoolie Project