Wisdom in motion?

Discussions about all things to do with buses, trucks, and the homes made within them.

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Lostranger
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Wisdom in motion?

Post by Lostranger »

I wish I could convince myself that I'm gaining wisdom with age — I've had plenty of opportunity — but, unfortunately, the body of evidence indicates otherwise. Case in point: In the past year-and-a-half I've made three abortive attempts at long-term housing. First, after we lost our house in the middle of 2010, I restarted the process of making our Flxible Metro transit bus livable. I'd given up on that project a few years earlier due to leaks. The roof provided little impediment to rain water and the 6v92 DD was more of a channel than a receptacle for all that expensive Rotella 40w I'd been buying. Fortunately, I did a lot of research on this and other forums and learned about the inherent design problems with the Flex 870/Metro series. I sold the bus instead. That saved me a lot time and expense, but we still had no place to live.

My second housing mistake was allowing a "friend" to "allow us" to live in his old farm house in the mountains. The rent was to be a nominal sum, but we were responsible for making the old shack livable. That proved to be a monumental effort that absorbed most of the capital we could raise and a huge number of hours. We waded through the process because our "friend" assured us we could live there as long as we needed. We stayed with the effort even after the spring was ruined by a neighbor digging in the creek with an excavator. That happened in early October. Our "friend" refused to do anything about us being without water even though state law requires a landlord to provide water. We've hauled water since then without complaining. The thanks we got came in the form of an eviction letter two weeks ago. They've decided to sell the property, and they want us out. Without warning. Thanks, ol' buddy.


My third mistake didn't get far, but it would have had we not run out water at about the same time I wanted to start it. We have an old motorhome with a horrible body but a great chassis and drive train. I intended to convert the frame and appliances to a wagon with a custom body. The main reason I'm glad that one didn't get far is that I've realized that I'm a "bus man" rather than a trailer man. A subtle difference to many, I'm sure, but important to me. I still have the motorhome, and it may get further attention later, but for now it's not eating anything.

Now our housing needs have become urgent, and I've taken a new approach. I bought an old Chevy step van. Used to be a mobile classroom in Harrisburg, PA. 1976 model. 85k original miles. Aluminum body. I'm not sure how step vans are measured, but this one is 20 feet from windshield to back of body. With bumpers and hood, it's about 23 feet long. We have a place to base it and store some stuff on family property, and I'm confident two of us can live in it. We're still on the trip to pick it up, but we'll be deep into the project as soon as we get home. I'm gonna try to post some photos here so folks can see where we're starting.

Wish me luck.

And wisdom.

Jim in North Carolina

P.S. I can't remember (or find) the process for posting photos. Help, please.
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stuartcnz
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Re: Wisdom in motion?

Post by stuartcnz »

For posting photo's: http://www.nomadicista.org/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=1906
For posting video's: http://www.nomadicista.org/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=2404

I hope things work out better for you this time, and I look forward to seeing your progress.
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Re: Wisdom in motion?

Post by rlaggren »

Hey Jim,

Boy that sounds a lot like "real life". But keep swinging. Remember the fly in the saucer of milk (or something like that) - keep swimming it'll eventually turn to butter! Hope the van turns out good - they've always looked like a promising vehicle to me.

Cheers, Rufus
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Lostranger
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Re: Wisdom in motion?

Post by Lostranger »

We have the new truck home, and I love it. We drove it 450 miles. I won't brag about fuel economy, but that's not why we bought it. The old girl runs and drives and rides like a new one. I replaced all six wheels (rotten 16" tires on two piece rims) with four rims from a single-wheel one-ton van to get us home. Worked fine, but the rear looks funny with the wheels so far inboard. I have good rims/tires to put on it from another truck.

The truck has only 85k (miles) and was fleet maintained. Since it was used as a mobile classroom, it has extensive shore power wiring and two roof air units. Also has aluminum sheet riveted to the walls and ceiling but no insulation. Has some cabinetry and shelving but nothing usable in our conversion. All that interior aluminum sheeting will be useful to me or someone who uses Craig's list.

I'm gonna strip it to bare skin and insulate with rigid foam board and an inside layer of bubble wrap. We plan to use T&G pine paneling for the walls and cabinets and clear pine raised panel doors. We want a queen-sized futon bed/couch, and I've made plans for a folding steel frame to mount along the wall behind the driver's seat. I have so much stuff accumulated from the bus project that I can move along without major interruption. Don't have an inverter yet, and the ones that interest me cost about as much as we paid for the truck, but we'll work around that for now. Come to think about it, we don't have solar panels or batteries yet, either, but I have ready shore power for now.

One of the features I liked most about this truck is that is has no door through the rear wall, but it does have a curb-side door with steps near the back. We have an awning on the old motorhome that I think will work on the side of the van. We literally need to be living in this truck by the first of March. We will do so, but I make no claim that it will be "finished." (Whatever that means.)

Thanks to Stuart, I believe I can post a photo or two. Here goes:

Well, the photo thing is not working for me. I'll try again when I have more time.
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Lostranger
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Re: Wisdom in motion?

Post by Lostranger »

I'm gonna try again with photos.

Image

Image

Image
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stuartcnz
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Re: Wisdom in motion?

Post by stuartcnz »

Awesome :thumbup:
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Re: Wisdom in motion?

Post by rlaggren »

Maybe it just the angle but it looks like you got plenty of room in there. Looks like a great start.

Rufus
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Headache
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Re: Wisdom in motion?

Post by Headache »

What a fantastic idea! And you already have a/c mounted on the roof. You'll have to insulate like crazy but what rolling home doesn't need it? Good luck on your new venture! I'm excited for you!
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Re: Wisdom in motion?

Post by Lostranger »

I'm making progress, but so far it's all teardown. I've removed several sets of shelves, a large white board, a large cork bulletin board, the cabinet over the passenger side wheel well, lots of aluminum angle and flat bar, a custom built switch and thermostat box, and ALL EIGHT florescent light fixtures. I'm leaving the cabinet over the driver's side wheel well until we finish moving. Tomorrow I should be able to remove the electric baseboard heaters. I'll post more pictures as soon as we have a non-gloomy day.

I have learned that the truck has a layer of fiberglass batting between the outer skin and the aluminum sheeting that was riveted to the body ribs when the truck was originally converted. Looks like R-11 batts that were crammed into the 1-1/2" space between the inner and outer walls. No matter. The inner skin and the fiberglass are coming out to make way for our plans. The truck will have plenty of insulation. I'll fill the rib cavities with rigid foam board and a layer of bubble wrap on the inner surface of that. If I can locate the material, I'll spray the inner surface of the outer skin with aluminum primer that includes those "magic" insulating bubbles before the foam goes up. We want to reduce the heating/cooling load as much as reasonably possible from the the start. I don't want to lose any headroom in the truck, so we won't be insulating on top of the floor, but I am going to look into spray foam on the underside.

This process would be going even faster, but we're under deadline to get out of the shack we spent so much time and money renovating, and the truck is a great moving tool. We're blessed with good storage and docking facilities in the town I grew up in which is less than an hour away. Once we get everything moved, the truck will be top priority. That should be within two weeks. I'm keen to get the truck fully stripped and weigh it. We have a 10k lb. weight limit, but I don't think we'll be anywhere close to that when finished.

Our initial floor plan still looks good with minor refinements. I'll try to post a drawing soon. I have some issues still to sort out. Such as, we can't afford the DC refrigerator and the instant gas-fired water heater that we want, but I'm not willing to cut holes in the walls (and roof) for the two-way refrigerator and the 6 gallon rv water heater that we already own. I'm still thinking those through. Helpful input would be appreciated.

More soon,

Jim in NC

P.S. I think the process of gutting an old bus in preparation for conversion should inspire a new branch of literary criticism. It should be called: "Post Transitional Deconstructionism."
southpier
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Re: Wisdom in motion?

Post by southpier »

any chance you would reconside the T&G paneling and use sheets of some type of plywood instead? i think it would be a tighter job and much less seasonal change (read: shrinkage) than planks.

great start vehicle - you can make this happen!
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Lostranger
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Re: Wisdom in motion?

Post by Lostranger »

Hello southpier,

Thanks for your comments and suggestion. We used plywood in the transit bus we converted, and I never did like it. The only way I could make it look decent was to cover it with something — usually FRP — and then we had plastic walls in those areas. T&G pine with a low-luster polyurethane finish will work fine and look great. It doesn't have to be "tight" because the outer wall is, and we'll have a paper vapor barrier behind the paneling. We're going more for motor cabin than motorhome. I "may" use plywood/FRP on the ceiling, but plastic ceilings bother me less than do plastic walls.

We'll be using the truck to move over the next two days, but on Wednesday I hope to get dual wheels back on her. The temporary single wheels work fine for the local trips/light loads we've been doing, but they look goofy. Here's what I mean:

Image

I won't get much more conversion work done until the first of March. Too much moving to do until then.

Jim in NC
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Headache
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Re: Wisdom in motion?

Post by Headache »

Lostranger wrote:I won't get much more conversion work done until the first of March. Too much moving to do until then.
I hope your move is going well. I just moved my personal belongings from one storage facility to another and I'm sore!
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Lostranger
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Re: Wisdom in motion?

Post by Lostranger »

I hate moving — as in from one fixed location to another — and this one has seemed especially difficult. We're down to the last of the mostly little stuff, but it will still push us to get everything moved before Thursday.

I did get the dual wheels back on the truck last week. That makes a huge difference in stability, and we need all we can get since this move involves serious mountain roads. This van is proving to be wonderful in every way except fuel economy. I'm keen to get on with the conversion. Hope to get the rest of the old interior stripped later this week. I'll post photos.

Best to all,

Jim in NC

P.S. I'm going to love moving once we pare down to what will fit into the truck. Home is where you park your truck.
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Re: Wisdom in motion?

Post by Headache »

Lostranger wrote:P.S. I'm going to love moving once we pare down to what will fit into the truck. Home is where you park your truck.
I am so looking forward to that too! It will be awesome when moving consists of unhooking from utilities, securing the living space, a pre-trip inspection and then turning a key.
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Lostranger
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Re: Wisdom in motion?

Post by Lostranger »

Spent my first night in the new housetruck. Finally. No conversion work done yet. In fact, we're still finishing up the forced move. I carried a bunch of boxes out of the truck to make room to lay my mattress and box spring on the floor. Topped that with a sleeping bag. It was great. This truck is going to be wonderful. Only down side was that Bev was not feeling well and spent the night with relatives. I'll be back on the conversion first of the week. I'm going to set up a temporary kitchen in the open shed where I'll be working on the truck. Photos on Monday.

Jim
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