Skoolie Conversion: Days 7-10
For Presidents’ Day weekend, we spent snowboarding at Stratton in Vermont for the first half and working on our bus conversion, Hugo the Skoolie, for the second.
Saturday's are for slopes 🤘🏼🏂🏔 Big is super skilled at snowboarding and is such a patient teacher. Yesterday, I was finally getting the hang of it but let fear and fatigue get the best of me on our last two runs of the day. During one of my falls, Big recommended taking a minute to just enjoy the views! Here we are 💕 #enjoytheride #getbackup #snowboarding #life
Bus Conversion Day 7: Subfloor Installation
We pulled our sore bodies out of bed at 6am, ready for a full’s day of work on our bus conversion.
Big cut the last piece of rectangular plywood subfloor, and we had it fitted and screwed down a little after sunrise. The rest of the day was spent on the irregularly-shaped pieces of plywood to fit around the driver’s area and around the fuel pipe.
TIP 1: Do the easy stuff first. Being able to see progress is encouraging and will power you through the frustration of miscuts later on.
We debated whether to attack the driver’s area in 3 separate rectangles or in 1 large rectangular piece with a 5×9″ notch cut out for the driver’s seat. The latter offered more stability and insulation – the less seams, the better! Fingers were crossed that our two sets of measurements for this area were correct.
TIP 2: For your bus conversion, always do a “dry fitting” before adhering the plywood down permanently. Once we were happy with how the piece fit, we applied Loctite PL and used 1″ wood screws.
We were pretty happy with how the notch fit around the fuel pipe, but….
OOPS moment: At this point, we realized we should have attached the black metal covering for the fuel pipe to the metal floor after we had treated for rust and before covering nail holes with Loctite. That was how it was originally installed, probably to create a better seal against moisture. To make the most of the situation, we filled all the gaps up with Great Stuff expanding spray insulation and re-installed the fuel pipe covering with Loctite on the edges and the screws we had saved from before. Once the weather warms up, we’ll have to crawl under the bus to see what else we can do to repel moisture in this area.
TIP 3: Don’t forget the metal cover for the fuel pipe. Attach it to the metal floor first BEFORE beginning the floor insulation.
On a more positive note, this area is MUCH less of an eye sore now. It won’t be visible once our headboard/storage is built around it.
It took all day to cut and install 3 pieces of plywood, but we’re pumped by the progress regardless. Hugo’s starting to look like a tiny house!
TIP 4: When planning your conversion schedule, account for experience – we are novices, so it took us an entire day to cut and place the plywood subfloors. More experienced builders can knock this out in half the time.
Bus Conversion Day 8: Wall Installation
Big and I are ready to cut and install some wall studs. We had a bunch of MDF cut at Home Depot, so we just cut these 1/2″ x 3″ to length with our jigsaw.
The horizontal stud went on first, on top of the metal lip of the wall. We attached it with the same 1″ screws from earlier (which work on both wood and metal). The vertical studs were attached in the same manner and used wood glue at the joints of vertical and horizontal studs.
TIP 5: Pre-drill holes in the plywood and MDF stud to prevent splintering and to help with countersinking screws.
TIP 6: Be cognizant of bowing of the metal walls and sink your screws accordingly so that vertical studs lay flush with the horizontal stud.
TIP 7: We spaced out vertical studs 16″ apart, but make sure you at least have studs near the rivets – the metal here is much more reinforced that the metal between the rivets.
Afterwards, we cut our insulation board to size and stuck them on the metal with Loctite.
Once the insulation was all up on one of the walls, we cut our 1/2″ plywood sheathing for installation.
TIP 8: With all the cutting you’ll be doing, it would wise to invest in some clamps!
We made sure the plywood fit nicely, then put wood glue on the studs…
..and attached the plywood with 1″ screws. Make sure to countersink your screws for an extra snug fit!
TIP 9: Make a note of where previous screws and rivets are so you can avoid screwing into them.
We’re going to build a box around our wheel wells and fill it with insulation, so we’ll measure the stud and plywood dimensions for the bottom half of the wall once the wheel well box is installed.
Bus Conversion Day 9
Our plan was to extend our insulation and plywood walls up above the windows, but after removing the paneling, we were pleasantly surprised to find fiberglass insulation in PRISTINE condition!
TIP 10: Plan for the worst, hope for the best!
If you don’t need to remove the upper side and ceiling paneling to replace the insulation, don’t do it because other people do it! Assess what you have and go from there – this will save you a ton of time and money. We’ll see how insulated Hugo is on the cooler nights and hotter days once we get him on the road, then address any insulation issues at that point.
To see all of this in time-lapse with fun tunes, check out our latest YouTube video below:
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Would you live on a school bus converted into a tiny home? Let us know in the comments below!
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