Sol The Sunchaser

Starting Demo On Our Skoolie! School Bus Conversion Removing The Seats!

Looking around the outside of our bus, her paint is just a little rough and she has a couple of spots with surface rust that we will be taking care of. You can see where the school district blacked out the flashers, and we plan on replacing those with flood lights at some point. This side of the bus is the worst, and even that isn’t really too bad. Let’s move inside, as we have been able to get some work done in there.

Our bus is for the most part mechanically sound. We will have the transmission fixed next month, and for a worst case scenario on the alignment we were quoted $400 which we will probably have done in the next couple of weeks. I forgot to mention it in the last video, but during the drive home from Coos Bay we picked up a pretty nasty chip in the driver’s side windshield. I have no interest in replacing it as they run around $800, so we tracked down a local place to get it fixed up before it developed into a crack. We wound up at Willamette Valley Glass, and they were awesome to work with. The price was great, the customer service was amazing, and most importantly you can’t even tell that the glass was ever chipped.

With the mechanical issues sorted, it is time get started on the inside of our bus. This year we are focused on getting the bus to a point where we aren’t worried about her breaking down on us. We will not have enough left over to really dig into a full remodel, but we do want to use it for camping this year. To do that, we will be leaving in five of the existing school bus seats, one for each of the passengers so that everyone has plenty of space to themselves. In the back, we will be putting sturdy bunks for everyone’s beds. A double bunk on both sides of the bus in the back for the kids, and a bed for us. The rest of the space will be taken up by our existing camp gear. Before I started tearing things out, I wanted to get some basic measurements of the space we have. I work as an architectural drafter, so I have the tools and the ability to model the entire bus in 3D before we ever start on the full rebuild.

The first order of business was to remove the padded panels that are between the front seats and the front of the bus. They really close off the seating area, and we wanted them out. While I was working on that, Lindsay decided to remove some of the stickers that the school district had applied to the front of the bus. It was stinky work with some Goof Off and a scraper, but she made quick work of it as I removed the padded panels. Once those were out, it was time to work on the seats we will be getting rid of. We lucked out, as our bus was already equipped to haul three wheelchairs so many of the seats were already out. I only needed to remove four seats to get to the number we needed. I started out by trying to unbolt them, but of course nothing in life is ever that easy so I wound up taking the angle grinder to most of the bolts to get them removed. It was a bit of work, but they were finally all popped out and the seats were set in the rear of the bus.

Once the seats were out, it was time to remove the seat belts. We are planning to add seat belts to not only whatever seating we build in the bus, but also to the bunks so that if the kids want to hang out back there while we are driving, they will be able to do so legally and safely. In our bus, the belts were pretty easy to remove. There is a metal guard plate that helps to keep them from getting twisted, and you need to pull that to be able to get them out. I also had to loosen the bottom cushion of the seat, and then remove the bolt attaching the seat belt to the seat frame. After that you can just pull them out. If your bus comes with seat belts like ours did, I highly recommend removing them from the seats before you get rid of them, you never know when you will be able to use one in the future, and they aren’t cheap.

After pulling them all, this is the pile I was left with. I will put them away for now, hopefully somewhere I can remember later. Looking around the bus, it is nice to see even these little pieces of progress. It is so easy to get overwhelmed with the enormity of the task ahead of us remodeling the bus, but it is nice to be able to look at any project, however small, and know that it is getting us closer to our goal.

With the seats out of the bus, we moved on to a couple of other projects. As we will not be doing a full remodel yet, we wanted some way to easily block off the windows while we are camping. We had the idea of picking up a couple of $7 painter’s tarps and held them up with some magnetic clips. We need to pick up a few more clips, but even with as few as we had it was being held up just fine. This should give us the privacy we want, without breaking the bank.

Here is a quick look at the temporary stereo setup. I wired it into the existing constant and switched power, but we wanted to use some 4×8 speakers that we had instead of the existing ones. For now we are just letting them attach to the dash with their magnets, and we are using some electrical tape and wire loom to keep the wiring cleaned up.

I love the thoughts that come out of his mouth when he answers questions off of the top of his head like that. Bus wise, that is as far as we have gotten with things. Up next is removing the wheelchair lift and starting to get some bunks put in here to get ready for camping.

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