Week 1 : Tearing it up


Now the fun starts.

That is, if you consider filthy and exhausting manual labor in freezing temperatures fun.

With the bus parked just outside the school woodshop, it’s time to dig in and get the vehicle prepped for it’s new interior.

The first order of business in any conversion is seat removal. Not because it’s the most urgent, or most important, but because it’s the most motivating. So lets dig in.


The seats had been moved from their original positions to allow the vehicle to function as something known as a “party bus”. I’m sure good times were had.

Sadly, it is time for them to go. The first thing to do is get the cushions off. They’ll have to go eventually, and it’s easier when they’re still being held in place.The seat cushions pulled up with a little brute force (I guess I *could* have used a screwdriver, but it wouldn’t have been as much fun.)

The seat backs put up more of a fight. The easiest way I found to relieve the back of its cushion was to cut the front open with a razor, and then pull the back straight off. It looks a bit like this when it’s opened up:DSC04422

Once the seats were de-cushioned, I unbolted them from the floor, and piled them neatly in the back of the truck…photo(2)

so they could be delivered to the scrap yard…photo(3)

where they were then hauled off to the great bus-seat-heaven in the sky.photo(4)

While purchasing and driving a bus for the first time are adrenaline-pumping experiences (that I would recommend to any thrill-seeker looking for an unreasonably cumbersome material possession to fill that hole in their life), seat removal is an almost spiritual experience.

In just a few short hours your vehicle will go from a crowded child-mover to a surprisingly spacious blank canvas. This transformation gives the space new life, and potential. Your mind races as you realize how much space there actually is, and begin to contemplate its potential. Hesitantly, but surprisingly seriously, you think to yourself: I could actually live in here. Just look at all this room!


Sadly, your demolition adventure is not over. It has in fact just started, for now, you must rip up a floor. Thankfully, it’s surprisingly poorly adhered, and came up rather quickly. On top was a layer of linoleum that pulled up by hand in large chunks. Below the linoleum was a layer of plywood that had been glued directly to the floor steel floor pans that are exposed to the exterior of the bus. photo(7)

The plywood popped right up using only a crowbar, and was manageable as a one-man job. Lifting that first panel was like opening a present on Christmas, you just can’t wait to see whether you received something awesome…photo(8)

…or if you were given rust. I was given rust.


Lots of rust.photo(13)

At least 5 gallons of rust. (I think that might be a new unit of measure for rust.)photo(9)

Oh, and a couple holes. That is in fact daylight coming through my floor. This is what you get from a vehicle that has been driven for 20 years through the winter.

So after a few evenings of bashing at the thick rust with the back end of a claw hammer, I had emptied more than 5 gallons of rust from the interior, and was left with a rusty, but much more manageable floor.

rust cleaned

I used a phosphoric-acid based cleaner to convert the ferrous-oxide (rust) into ferric-phosphate, which nips further oxidation in the bud, as long as it gets covered up. The view of the floor post acid treatment is similar to the previous shot, but you can see all the rust has been converted to the black ferric-phosphate.photo(12)

After this stage, the floor just needs a brush and a rinse, and it’s ready for paint. Unfortunately, when I “rinsed” the floor by mopping it with water, it (obviously) froze to the steel that was exposed to freezing temperatures. My little space heaters are no match for the Minnesotan winter, so I’ll have to get crafty with heating this floor.

Hopefully within this next week I’ll have the floor rinsed, dried, patched, painted, and be ready to drop in a new floor. Stay tuned!

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