The ten months between here and there

Well, Here I am, back again. A lot has changed since my last post here, now currently living in Canberra and ten weeks pregnant with our third (and last – I say, hopefully) child. We’ve never planned our kids. In fact, mostly, we’ve planned not to have kids, but each time they have surprised us and we are thankful.

Becoming pregnant sharply adjusts my worldview. I become more inward focused and I begin to want to do craft and create things. So, apart from the bags of wool surrounding my bed, this has turned my thoughts toward our dear bus. Oh bus, dear bus! Scrolling back through the archives of this blog has been rewarding me with remembrances of the hardest of times pushing through each build challenge and finally getting to the end of it to simply be faced with another. I guess in the end each relentless challenge was too much and we broke down a little there. Of course finance was an obvious hindrance. With Henry having to work more he found little energy for bus building. Gardening and chicken coop building projects also found their way to help us procrastinate, though the results were unsatisfying and should have served as a reprimand for not focusing on the main thing! Chickens were mauled or died from mysterious fits and diseases and veges died in Young’s wilting heat, though we did get some small harvest which was a joy.

So, all this to say, does anyone want to sponsor us to finish this goddam project!? We love our bus and with Henry’s engineering background it is proving a true work of art (see previous post – with the ceiling now painted it is looking better than ever, that is under the six months worth of dust!)

Bus Web (1 of 19)

With all the tiny house hype that is around our bus is a showcase for what can be achieved through the use of Sikaflex (the toughest glue on the market), Alucobond (Aluwell), aluminum framing and bog! No hefty plywood walls for us thank you very much. We have spared no detail: the roof painted with Thermoshield, each window tinted, the walls fully disassembled and insulated, new frame welded where necessary, total reconditioning of the water tanks, the interior design maximising room to move as well as storage space and a sense of openness, ceiling bogged and sanded to be ultra smooth and ‘invisible’, polished wood finishes next to slick Alucobond walls, door made to disappear into wall cavities and made as narrow as possible to maximise space, solar power installed, the back window painfully constructed to open wide up, trims where trims are needed, oh man, there is nothing that has not gone unnoticed or untouched on this bus!

If no sponsors arise we are, like the rest, forced to rely on our own ingenuity and juggling skills to figure out how we can finish the job with the resources available to us, as we will.

Meanwhile we are enjoying Canberra’s milder weather and abundant treescapes, looking forward to Autumn when I can take advantage of Canberra’s top mushrooming spots and now fitting a baby into a plan which was not.

Bus update

Once upon a time we thought this project would take us 3 months, no longer, and we would be on the road. Kind friends guesstimated 9 months, ‘what! Are you kidding!’ I cried in alarm. Time proved us all wrong and two years later we are still here. I can’t imagine this boat of a bus being finished at any stage, but looking back It would be safe to assume that we are over the half-way mark at least and while we have no immediate plans to leave this town which we are quite happily making a home in, it could yet happen…or we could at least be living in the bus while parked on some land, which is also a long term dream.

This building project has taught me a lot. Most importantly to let go of life a little. Ambition is a very temporal thing and the process of becoming is much more fun than the bore of achieving.

Here’s where we are up to so far. Some very kind and supportive and encouraging friends were up on the weekend (for the third time), helping us build. Doctor Carl (his actual title) will be deserving of a keg of the finest whisky when we finally celebrate the end of this bus-build! …that is going to be one hellavu party!!!

Bus Web (1 of 19)We stripped the apricot paint off the outside and the roof, painted the roof with a thermoshield paint for insulation (insulation has been a big consideration all round on this bus!) and matched the rest of the exterior with a similar colour. You can see the edges of our four solar panels on the front half of the roof….here are a couple of before pictures.

bus-web-looking-back002

bus-web-looking-back005

Bus Web (2 of 19)

Bus Web (3 of 19)This front area is still totally unfurnished. Still, there has been a lot done here. We stripped the interior, took off the old wall panels, pulled up the floor which has now been sanded and painted three times. Then we insulated (after removing old, itchy pink batts) and installed power cables under the roof panels. The walls are now clad with ‘Aluwell’ which is aluminium bonded to plastic, making it fairly flexible and also extremely durable. They are matt white walls, it’s hard to see it now in all it’s glory, but the walls are waiting to be unveiled under the plastic. We’ve kept as much window space as possible, but have had to build the walls up part of the way to make room for our kitchen benchtops. The red area at the back will become our pantry cupboard and also space for a water heater and plumbing into the shower. All the walls you see were put in ourselves.

Here’s a before pic from the day we bought the beast. We took out everything you see in this pic! The decaying and terribly itchy, yellow acrylic carpet on the roof, every single wall panel, the white ceiling, the lights, the grills, the walls, all the cupboards, the passenger seat, the table. We stripped it right back to an empty shell.

bus-web-looking-back004

The boys moved the stove into the bus on the weekend. Starting to feel more like a home! You can see here how we’ve built the wall up so that the bench is not sitting right up against the window, however, so that we didn’t lose that little bit of window above the bench, Henry custom made a panel which slides up out of that wall and covers the top window section. Like I said…bespoke everything!Bus Web (4 of 19)

This is the cupboard in our bedroom, which they started on this weekend. In another moment of designing genius Henry constructed part of the cupboard under the kids bed which will hold shoes etc. The rail for hanging clothes (currently sitting on the floor) sits just under the aluminum tube about halfway up the cupboard and there will be shelving above.

Bus Web (5 of 19)

This is our bedroom. Another thing which looks minor, but was major, is that back opening window. Initially this window was fixed, but we realised that in such a small space there really needed to be a way for the breeze to come through and so Henry designed and made this window you see here, using the same panel of glass but building the sill so that it was waterproof and also fit the newly clad window. These small things take the longest of time, but will be so necessary for when we are actually living in the thing. Not if…when! Also, you can’t see the ceiling here, but Henry took a very, very long time, panelling, bogging and sanding the ceiling so that it is actually seamless and ultra smooth. Many bus-homes keep the rivets or attach lights to the roof, but we wanted a seamless, vast feeling roof, as in actual fact it is really quite low.

The aluminum frame is the box for the drawers which will hold our clothes, the drawers are push to open, which means no handles to catch yourself on. These have all been made, but not installed yet. Bedhead and bed base are yet to come. The base will sit on the drawers and on top of the step you can see behind the drawers. Henry is making this room modular so that it can be turned into a man-cave once we’ve finished traveling. We will actually have quite a bit of floor space in this bedroom, enough for me to do yoga! All the doors (all three: bedroom, bathroom and the little corridor) all have sliding doors which push to latch and push to open and hide inside the walls which are as thin as we could possibly make them by using aluminum framing and ‘Aluwell’.

Bus Web (6 of 19)

Below is the other corner of our room, opposite to the cupboard corner, and a spare wall! This kind of thing is a miracle to find in a bus-home and it’s only because of Henry’s excellent design that we managed to do it!

Bus Web (7 of 19)

This next picture is from our bedroom looking out to the back of the bus. Between the large living/kitchen area and our bedroom is a bunk for the kids and a bathroom.

Bus Web (8 of 19)

Here’s the top bunk, again, thanks to Dr Carl for helping us with this one! We’d never have been able to do it without you!!! I wish you could see the lights on this thing. Strip lighting hides along the top, internal, wooden edge and glows beautiful along the slope of the ceiling. There are no shadows. It will be the perfect reading environment for Soph.Bus Web (9 of 19)

The bottom bunk here, which will be Gunther’s cave. He too has strip lighting along the top, internal edge of his bunk, but it doesn’t quite glow as beautifully as the top bunk. Below the bunks will be covered with a door and baskets for toys and clothes will be under the bed.

Bus Web (10 of 19)

From our bedroom now, looking in through the bathroom door. The sliding door is not yet attached for this one, but it’s very easily done and all ready to go, so no problems there. You can also see in the top middle section of the picture the corner edge of the hatch which leads up to the roof. We climb up the bunk bed ladder to get up there. The dream is too put a deck up there…but first things first!Bus Web (11 of 19)

A confusing photo, perhaps, but this is me standing in our bathroom, reflected in our mirror wall. The room is white with a mirror wall on one side (the toilet and sink side) and a red wall on the other (shower) side. Planning on a composting toilet which is currently half built, but not installed.Bus Web (12 of 19)

This red square will have a red back and become our shampoo/conditioner/soap holder. Taps have been installed for the shower.Bus Web (13 of 19)

We have sunk the shower floor down to give us some extra head space and also to allow for a bit of a bathing area for the kids. This is an earlier photo:

bus-web-looking-back001

Looking from the bathroom into the corridor:

Bus Web (14 of 19)

And here we are at the front of the bus again:Bus Web (15 of 19)

You can see here the Aluminum angle which separates the wall and ceiling. This runs on both sides along the length of the front of the bus (and is also in the main bedroom) and will have LED strip lighting as uplights and downlights, these will be dimmable.Bus Web (16 of 19)

Our most recent achievement (and when I say ‘our’ I mean Henry with a little bit of help from me…he is the real brains and brawn behind this. I often just feel like a cheerleader…but apparently I am absolutely crucial in that role! So he says. :)…anyhoo. Solar power. Solar power has long been a dream of ours as environmentally conscious human beings and so installing this on our bus has been a great feeling…now just to get on the thing and use it!

Bus Web (17 of 19)Bus Web (18 of 19)

How to make your own doors

Ooookay. So this post has been a long while coming and I guess the only reason why I am putting it down now is that I am seriously procrastinating on my uni studies!

I think this is pretty important for me to share. In terms of Our Bus this has been the story of every single little thing.

Here’s how it went. Early on in the building process, probably a week after we’d set to building, Henry went out and bought two doors, they were 50mm deep doors, much too high and (it turned out) just a few cms too narrow for our needs on the bus. The idea was that we could saw these down, which we did, only to find that we could actually make the door frames just that fraction wider, meaning these doors were too narrow. In the end Henry was pretty glad about that because it meant he could make his own doors and save 25mm in depth. In a bus every mm counts and if we can squeeze a few of these precious things out of a door or two then that is that.

Building the doors turned out to be pretty straightforward. The first was slightly less than perfect and the design was changed. The second was a pretty good rendition of the second design and the third was a perfect turn out of the perfect second design.

However, the doors have been in the bus for, oh, well over six months now, and they are actually getting a little marked (not too badly mind you, but it grates on the mind of the maker). Perfection never lasts long it seems.

Bus Doors Low Res001 Bus Doors Low Res002

So we  managed to recycle the aluminum which had been used in the walls of the previous bus fit-out. We simply glued these in place onto a sheet of the ubiquitous (in this bus!) Alucobond (or Aluwell, which is the brand we are using – it is basically aluminum bonded to a plastic core). We then filled the space with a foam which we had managed to get from our local tip shop.Bus Doors Low Res004

It was most crucial to glue every join and bend – to add strength to these potential weak spots.Bus Doors Low Res005

We have mostly used Sikaflex 252 or 221 or marine grade glue throughout our bus.Bus Doors Low Res006

After scratching up the aluminum and cleaning it with Methylated spirits (and letting it dry – Metho is basically the only thing which can remove this glue), we sikaflexed the aluminum, ready to fold the door over.Bus Doors Low Res007

You can see above where Henry has routed in the grooves in order to bend the door over. We were a little unsure as to how the door would bend and whether it would bend square, but it did like a charm, it was surprisingly easy actually. Henry also cut grooves into the aluminum for the door runner to sit. This was entirely his department and I just had to look impressed once he’d finished…which I did – and I was!Bus Doors Low Res008

Glued over. We left the back end of the door uncovered. There was really no need to cover here. One door used one sheet of Aluwell perfectly and the tail end would be hidden in the wall anyway. Sometimes it’s not worth getting into a tizz about something that will never been seen or noticed at all.Bus Doors Low Res009

And done! How neat is that fold!

Installing the doors was another effort, particularly as our bus is sitting on a slope and sort of leaning sideways as well. It is all kinds of not square! I left that, again, to Henry’s genius. He has them now sitting inside our walls, entirely hidden as the mechanism to open is a push-to-lock/push-to-open, all of our doors and drawers use this mechanism – makes sense really. No one wants to be walking into handles, something which is made more likely when squeezing through tight spaces.

 

Painting the Bus – midway

So, I can’t quite say ‘phew’ with a brush to the past, as we are as yet only halfway.

These past few weeks we have been, shoulders first, forging into a fog of paint. Finally, though, the largest chunk is behind us, and with imperfections everywhere we have simply pressed on to three coats later.

Next to come ‘Deep Ocean’ strips across the top and bottom and our lovely, shiny chrome back on.

Bedford Bus old paint Bedford Bus Grey Masking Paint Bedford Bus Etch Primed

Above are all ‘before’ (or more accurately, prepping as this has been etch primed).

Following are ‘midway’ three coats of ‘Spanish Quarter Cream’ topcoat. White Bedford Bus White Bedford Without the plastic (shame) it is sharper, but still naked. I can’t wait to dress it up!

Henry Painting

This poor man has been absolutely hard at it and is pretty tuckered out and therefore he deserves his very own corner of our house to dedicate to his music. His ‘man corner’ in lieu of a ‘man cave’.

Man Corner

Scenes from around here

Bus etc001 Bus etc002 bus March 14003 bus March 14004 bus March 14005 bus March 14006 bus March 14007 bus March 14008 bus March 14009 bus March 14010 bus March 14012 bus March 14013 bus March 14014 bus March 14015 bus March 14016 bus March 14017 bus March 14018 bus March 14019 bus March 14020We have been working on getting the bus painted and sealed before Winter sets in, but it seems every time we go to do something we end up completely detoured and working on something else. We knew this side would be a problem and it has been. Henry has had to cut out a lot of the steel frame, which has been bent up and bashed a bit, he will have to weld in some new steel. Meanwhile, while we had the frame ripped out, he decided to refurb the fuel tank and retro fit the grey water tank and so we have been doing that all week. The fuel tank is red for speed…or danger.

The grey water tank is not finished yet. It was fitted out beautifully, but then we realised there was no drop between the inlet hole and the shower drain hole…and water doesn’t really flow uphill – according to the laws of physics…or so Henry tells me (not really, I’m not that dumb, promise!). So we will have to redo that.

Meanwhile, instead of getting depressed about it all, we installed the drain holes in the shower and basically one-third of all our plumbing. (When I say ‘we’ I mean Henry does about 85% of the work and I just pass him the drill.)

On the homefront (mostly only mornings and nights are spent at ‘home’) it’s funny learning more about your children as they change and grow over the days/months/years. Gunther has learnt that he really likes snuggling and so a few times Soph helps him bring his bed into the living area and he snuggles on the floor. Yes, I know, cute.

And Sophia is picking up photography, as no doubt all of her generation will, this was only the second attempt and, sure thing, I am in focus! However she asked me to do it one more time as my hand was ‘in the way’ (she’s already considering composition), but that third attempt – definitely not in focus.

Odd Bod Phone Photos

I rescued some photos from my phone today. Here they are, all sorts of odd bods.

Phone Pics001

Walking near the oval in Curtin, it is good to see clouds, it’s been so dry here lately.Phone Pics002 Phone Pics003 Phone Pics004 Phone Pics005

Covered in Paint Flakes.Phone Pics006

Our messy room (crammed with all our living things and bus things).Phone Pics007

Soph up a tree. Nothing unusual there.

Phone Pics008 Phone Pics009

At my mums. Enjoying a cuppa.Phone Pics010 Phone Pics011

My dads guitars. He makes them.Phone Pics012

Swimming lessons in October.Phone Pics013

The Floriade Ferris Wheel. With mum & Nonna & the kids.Phone Pics014 Phone Pics015

A Burley Griffin Gig at the Phoenix Bar. Apparently they rocked out the other night and I missed it.Phone Pics016 Phone Pics017

In mums garden.Phone Pics018

A terrarium.Phone Pics019

A date on my own.Phone Pics020

Our 6th Anniversary date at Ellacure. Amazing food.Phone Pics021A bathing Sophia.Phone Pics022

A sitting Gun.Phone Pics023

Fireworks at the Young Cherry Festival.Phone Pics024 Phone Pics025

Dodgem cars at the Young Cherry Festival.Phone Pics026

Henry on our car on the way to the Coast in December last year.Phone Pics027 Phone Pics028 Phone Pics029

Waiting, waiting for Henry to finish work. I do spend a good deal of time waiting for him.Phone Pics030 Phone Pics031

Mine and Sophs local skate joint – the PCYC courts.Phone Pics032

A sleeping Gun.