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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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The Short Version-Who We Are and How We Came To Be

The Pioneers of the Crab Homestead!
The Pioneers of the Crab Homestead!

We are a family of 4 (and an English Mastiff) who have decided to radically transform our lifestyle. Through our life experiences, we are discovering that living with less brings even bigger rewards. We are working towards “Our American Dream” in an unconventional way.

My husband and I have been married for 12 years. We are High school sweethearts since the end of 11th grade, and found each other when we needed each other the most. We were just drawn to each other 🙂 My hub (boyfriend at the time) said, “I am going to join the Army.” I said, “I will follow you anywhere”. And so I did 🙂 Our Adult life experiences began with our first Army duty station, which required a move to “The Last Frontier” in Fort Wainwright, Alaska from South Mississippi.

Then my husband (an Airborne Infantryman) was deployed to combat in Mosul and Baghdad, Iraq for 17 months. The 172nd Stryker Brigade was legendary that tour. I learned a lot about myself during that time in Alaska with a newborn baby. As did my husband. That was a time we grew up separately, and then had to learn to be a team again. We were totally different people, but with the same passion to be together as the first time we met. Our energy was endless.

After he returned home, we were whisked away to Fort Hood, Texas where he received an unexpected medical retirement. After this, we began to think about what we wanted our new life to look like. We decided to move to a quiet, rural farming town in Central Texas where we could begin to live more self-reliant.

We began raising chickens and rabbits in the first few months of living in our newly built home. We loved every learning experience it brought! But then, Life dealt a new obstacle for us to overcome, which would change our way of thinking forever. Two days after Thanksgiving in 2011, 9 months after moving into our home, our chimney caught fire causing a 100% Total Loss. “An Act of God”, the insurance concluded. This left us with absolutely nothing but the clothes on our backs and each other.  Humbled by a husband who was always gone while he served in the Army, we realized that having each other was honestly enough to get through something like this.

Of course, we did what any family would do. We kept our heads high, and started over. We were determined to get back to “normal”.  We moved into a smaller apartment in the nearby city, rented some furniture, and rebuilt the home of our dreams. During the time in our apartment, we were definitely closer than we ever have been. We were vulnerable and tested. All we wanted to do was move back to the country and continue our homestead lifestyle, we thought.  After we moved back July 2012, it did not matter how much stuff I bought to fill my house, we had this emptiness that I cannot explain.

We continued learning and starting different projects to discover new ways to become better homesteaders. We continued to raise chickens, and added ducks and turkeys to the mix. We added solar panels, and learned how we could create a smaller carbon footprint for our place on Earth. We gardened in soil, hydroponically, and even aquaponically with Tilapia and Catfish! It was amazing. Everything we have worked for, researched, and learned through trial and error was finally coming together! We could really see ourselves doing this forever, but on more land. However, something was still missing.

We were humbled again in life by losing everything. During Crab’s stint in the Army we always had what we needed with some of what we wanted, but most of the time we were without each other. During his civilian job and my corporate job, we had the money to have more than enough, but again, it was without each other. We really and truly learned the difference between what we “need” and what we “want”. We realized what really needed and what is actually important, each other.

One day in 2013, we learned about Tiny House Living. We learned there were many families downsizing and living tiny. As soon as we watched “Tiny: The Story of Living Small”, it clicked. The stuff we had was not who we were. We decided that having a mortgage and all of this stuff is definitely not “The American Dream” we thought we wanted. “Our American Dream” is something completely radical and yet so simple.  The idea of living with less is exactly what the fire and our other experiences have prepared us for. So, we began purging, selling, donating everything we did not “need”.  That empty void we had felt for the last 3 years was finally being filled. It seemed the more stuff I got rid of, the happier we were. It was life changing, again!

In the last 13 years we really have not had a permanent place called “home”. We always assumed (like most people) it had to be in a house, in one place, where you can “set up roots” and raise a family.  Then we decided “home” was something different to us. As long as we were together, “home” can be anywhere. So, we decided to sell our beautiful home that taught us so much and move into our converted Skoolie, Chitty Bang. With the bus, we could travel the U.S. until we find a new place to call home and start our new homestead!

We made a plan to sell our home and our rental property to become debt free and be able to buy a bus and convert it. We asked, the Universe gave. After about 5 months, our rental home sold and we found a bus in Arizona. We had enough money to get the bus and bring it back to Texas. Then after a few more months, our home sold for the amount we needed to make our debt free American Dream come true! We got rid of even MORE CRAP, and moved. With the help of some great friends, we left Central Texas with our Gutted-Frankenstein looking bus and the rest of our crap. In a storage room sits most of the crap I wanted to bring to the next homestead. Honestly, it is mostly outdoor furniture, farm supplies, and tools…lol. We moved in with a great friend who has the space for us to work on the bus, and that is where we are at presenty, in West Texas 🙂 Stay tuned…

You can follow our blog on Chitty Bang’s Progress
or
Read our Editing our Life Series on the more detailed and philosophical series of the who, what, where, when and why
and
all of the other projects we have worked on while living on our small homestead.

Also follow our Facebook Page ChittyBangSkoolie
Pinterest Chitty Bang
Instagram TheCrabsHomestead
Twitter CrabsHomestead 

Thank you for your support!

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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….

or

Head over to “the why” at

Editing Our Life Series

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STAGE 11, Part 2: Remove Windows/Side Panels & Insulation, Re-Seal and Replace Windows

STAGE 11: Remove Windows/Side Panels & Insulation, Re-Seal and Replace Windows

Part 2-Day 2

The next day I was certain we would not get to complete our project because of the rain. The Universe was looking out for us though because by 3 PM it was clearing up. So, we all got to work on other side of ChittyBang!

We removed the windows successfully! The guys started in on the side panels, while I worked on cleaning and scraping the windows.

JB removing fiberglass leftovers with the wire brush on the drill.
JB unscrewing the panels and Crab confidently cutting the panels off at the top.
My littlest Crab hammering stuff.  It was cute for a little while, but then Mommy's ears needed a rest :) She helped me spray the windows off and get some of the screws ready for the windows.
My littlest Crab hammering stuff. It was cute for a little while, but then Mommy’s ears needed a rest 🙂 She helped me spray the windows off and get some of the screws ready for the windows.

The Panels were removed much more smoothly on Day 2 🙂 We got everything smoothed out on the frames, the insulation totally removed, the windows cleaned and scraped…now for the last stretch!

Scraping the old caulk off of the frames before Putting in the windows!
JB taking a break before Scraping the old caulk off of the frames.

Finally done!

Completed Door Side View!
Completed Door Side View!

We also put some caulk on the screws/rivots that were on the walls under the windows to make sure no water was coming in from here. Some insulation was wet, so we needed to be sure there was little chance of any more leaks. We are not professional bus renovators, so we do what makes sense to us as we do it. I want ChittyBang as leak proofed as possible 🙂

We are finally done with demo!!!

Now onto foaming, and re-sealing the roof and side seams!!

STEP 12

or

Check out how we decided to start this whole project:

Editing Our Life Series