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6: School Bus Ceiling Demo- DIY SKOOLIE BUILD

Later in the week, we tackled Stage 6 of Operation Chitty Bang, which was Removing the Ceiling Panels and the Fiberglass Insulation. I don’t know which part has been the most strenuous so far, the seats, the floor, the sanding, or this one. Most of the screws came out with a drill gun without a problem, but others needed to be banged/pried out with two hammers and brute strength 🙂 I let my professional Grunt tackle that part if it came to it! The panels were sharp on the edges and heavy. We wore gloves to help handle them when we got them down and to chuck them out of the back of the bus. I definitely recommend wearing shoes/boots here too as it can slide over your foot while pushing/kicking it out the door. We were able to toss the panels later on into our dog kennel cage area where we have been storing the other scrap metal. When you have kids/animals, someone/something will get hurt if you have sharp crap hanging around. That is just the way it is!! 🙂 LOL

I forgot to take a before pic of the roof, but you can find some pics in my previous posts with the roof in it.

Oh the itchiness that is in our future! Pic from rear to front, Crab taking a quick break after we ripped down the metal roofing.
Oh the itchiness that is in our future! Pic from rear to front, Crab taking a quick break after we ripped down the metal roofing.
Pic from front to back. After we tore out the metal roofing (Tip: Wear Gloves, shoes. Heavy pieces of metal and sharp sides!)
Pic from front to back. After we tore out the metal roofing (Tip: Wear Gloves, shoes. Heavy pieces of metal and sharp sides!) We also filmed the work we did removing the panels, which will be in a time lapse video we will upload soon!

After the panels came out, I grabbed two big totes we weren’t using, and brought them aboard the Chitty Bang. We pulled each piece of insulation out and stuffed them into the totes for easier clean up. Holy Cow did I regret not wearing long sleeves! We also wore masks to prevent breathing in the fiber glass particles.

Some of the insulation stayed stuck to the ceiling, so Crab decided to sand it down. We are thinking of painting the ceiling with an radiant barrier paint. I hear Hy-Tech makes a good one, but I need to do more research on that one. Here is a before sanding pic:

After ripping off the fiberglass insulation, some was still stuck to the roof, no matter how much we tried to scrape it off with our gloved hands:)
We removed the door “head bumper guard” and the device the door was attached to so we could remove this ceiling panel.
Starting progress of removing the pieces of fiberglass from the roof. Crab did 99% of this as my arms were smoked from holding the sander after about a minute of doing it lol.
Starting progress of removing the pieces of fiberglass from the roof. Crab did 99% of this as my arms were smoked from holding the sander after about a minute of doing it lol. Starting back to front.
Voila! Front to back pic of the now clean ceiling:)
Voila! Front to back pic of the now clean ceiling:)
Removed the
Removed the “bumpers” from the back of the bus and Crab sanded down the Emergency Exit Letters and where an old sign was above that.

After we finished everything to do with insulation, we used the leaf blower again and blew the bus out really well. We figured we might as well get all the itchy stuff out while we were already covered in it! I definitely wanted to be done with this project ASAP!! It took all afternoon, but it is completed!

Next will be Stage 7…..Not sure what we will be doing next though. There are a couple of things we can do here at our homestead, like paint the exterior of the bus, replace the flashers with clear LED lights (got this idea from the Skoolie Converters Facebook page to use at night at tour camp site!) or paint the ceiling with radiant barrier. We are currently trying to trade for a nice welder right now so we can fill the holes on the floor instead of using bondo (we were told the floor can still rust from underneath where the holes were b/c bondo is not water repellant). But our electrician friend and Jimbo live near each other (about 5 hours from us) and they both know welders who will trade for work (I LOVE BARTERING!) so we are trying to figure out if we should just go ahead and go there with Chitty Bang to get the welding done, and the electrical stubbed out. We want to have the electrical done before we put up the ceiling/flooring insulation and frame it all out. So, I will post once we decide what the next step is!

UPDATE: Stage 7:The Rust Double Tap

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Editing Our Life Series

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Stage 1: Pick up School Bus in AZ and Drive back to TX

Operation Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Stage 1: Purchase and Deliver School Bus

1999 Genesis International DT466/Allison Transmission 250,000 Miles/Great Shape Pick Up in: Phoenix, AZ Deliver to: Central Texas Price: $4,700
1999 Genesis International
DT466/Allison Transmission
250,000 Miles/Great Shape
Pick Up in: Phoenix, AZ
Deliver to: Central Texas
Price: $4,700

We did it! We found an old school bus that fit all of our criteria and were able to purchase it the first week of April in Phoenix, AZ! She is a 1999 Genesis International with a DT466 Engine, Allison Transmission, 250,000 miles (which is nothing for this engine), and in great shape! Crab flew into Phoenix to purchase it, and then drove it all the way back to Central Texas! A few things to think about if you are doing something like this, is to find insurance, check your state laws on types of drivers licenses needed to drive a bus, have enough money in gas (costs about $200 to fill the tank on average), have a friend who is or knows a diesel mechanic, and look for a bus in areas that have less moisture which will keep you from having any major rust issues.He also ordered a gauge reader from Amazon that he could plug into the bus to check to be sure there were no major codes that came up while he drove the bus before he bought it. We were able to find a dealer that had 4 of the same types of buses, 3 were left by the time Crab was able to get there. He checked under the buses, around them, the codes on his gauge, drove them, and then decided. Thank GOD he bought the gauge reader, because codes popped up on 2 of the 3 buses, and when he inspected under the hood and under the buses, he saw hanging lines and leaky hoses. He is not a mechanic, and only knows some things about vehicles, so the gauge reader helped him keep an eye out for things he may have missed. The third bus had the most miles, but no codes and looked the best over all. Then, he bought her for $4,700.

Door Entry of Skoolie
Door Entry of Skoolie

I was able to contact a local Texas insurance Company (not a name I ever heard of, and I can’t remember it) and the agent I was given was super helpful. He was able to get us coverage through Progressive under a Commercial Policy, for now. I am going to try to change this once we can register the bus as an RV as it is more expensive under commercial. The cost is $1400 a year…a little steep for just liability but for peace of mind for Crab to get home, I can handle it.

Back of ChittyBang
Back of ChittyBang

In Texas, you need a Class B license (not a CHL license) to drive a bus. You have to pass a written test and bring your bus to take the drivers test, to get your license….so how do you get your bus with no license? Find a friend, or play the “dance in the gray area game”. Crab has driven several types of military vehicles during his service in the Army as an Airborne Infantryman. They ranged from Susvees (spelling) in Alaska to Stryker Vehicles (tanks on wheels). His confidence in driving the bus was pretty high to begin with, so that helped my nerves! After studying all night, he passed his Written Test with flying colors before he left to check out and buy our bus. The DMV employee told him to remove all of the seats and have “school bus” painted over before he brought it to her to do his drivers test. Since none of our friends who possess CHL licenses could just up and leave their jobs to drive our bus back from Phoenix, we decided to dance in that gray area of the law. I don’t recommend it, as it was definitely stressful! But it worked out. Having insurance for Crab on his way home helped him look somewhat squared away if he was pulled over, and since he would be so close to border checkpoints it made his nerves a bit more shaky! But even after stopping at a checkpoint, he was clear to go and did not have any issues on his way home:) We def had to break the law to become in compliant with the law, but it worked out. And Crab passed his driving test this week so now we are 100% good to go until we need to register the bus as an RV, still doing research on that one though.

The driving and written tests does not include the school bus portion as long as your bus does not have school bus on it or the seats in it. Definitely check your state laws though because they are VERY different state to state.

Inside of the bus from the rear (28 seats)
Inside of the bus from the rear (28 seats)

We surround ourselves with quality friends, as quantity doesn’t matter. This is a lesson we learned a few years ago as we hit some milestones in our ever growing and changing lives. One of those great friends, Jimbo, was an Army buddy of Crab’s and his brother-in-law is a diesel mechanic. His house is a little north, in west Texas and more than half way between Phoenix and our place. This made an excellent stopping spot for Crab to have the bus inspected by a no Bull**** mechanic (I hear there are some that rip you off), especially after driving 1000 miles from Phoenix. That bus probably never went that far for that long. The mechanic confirmed the gauge’s readings and said we got an excellent deal on the bus. He suggested one thing that would need to be replaced in the future, but overall it was in great shape. We plan on going back to him when we need to work on the bus so he can teach us how to do it ourselves.

Our friend Jimbo decorated our bus like Army Infantrymen do:)
Our friend Jimbo decorated our bus like Army Infantrymen do:)

Crab finally sent me a picture of him driving the bus to curb my excitement a little. The girls and I were completely ecstatic and could not wait for him to get home with our future tiny house!

Crab Driving ChittyBang Home!
Crab Driving ChittyBang Home!

Now, the real work begins!

Stage 2: Day 1-Take Out Seats

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Back to why we decided to live small at the Editing our Life Series!