I think one of the first things we may need to deal with is the rust situation. There isn't a lot of rust, but if you've ever had rust on a vehicle you know exactly why they nickname it cancer - it spreads like wildfire and is unstoppable without deep intervention. We'll grind off and Ospho as much as we can but for the parts that need more TLC I figure I watched my Dad and my friends Bondoing enough cars I'd at least like to give it a shot. I started youtubing tutorials to listen to/watch while catching up on my photo processing. Some are really in depth (20+ minutes) while the 3M series (obviously a heavy plug for their own product line) offers short tutorials that cover just the facts, ma'am (which I prefer because a lot of the banter in the other videos just annoys me - stick to the script, boys!) We have a bit of rust on the rear wheel wells of the Mazda which I think I'm going to attempt before taking on any parts of the bus, since I have a feeling taking the car in to have any screw-up I make repaired will be a lot less expensive than the bus. So far, it looks pretty much the same as mudding drywall. I think I can handle that.
Of course after the body work repairs are done we'll need to consider paint. Most bus conversions are not taken in for professional painting. They aren't generally sprayed either - access to a ventilated bay large enough would be difficult for most people and spraying outdoors is messy and a health hazard - so from what I've read, they are generally rollered. This allegedly gives the bus the same kind of slightly bumpy texture walls have (as opposed to the super-smooth polish of a spray job.) Most folks seem to stick to a pretty basic solid colour or solid colour with a white/light roof, while other people get a little more creative with their exteriors...
I'm not entirely convinced we should change the colour of our bus - the paint is actually a lovely deep blue and in sunlight the metallic sparkle is kind of aqua-tinted. With a good wash, wax and polish I bet she's beautiful! It will be damn near impossible to match the paint where we patch up the rust but I'm willing to give it a shot - close will be good enough, at least for now. to prevent the cancer from spreading. I do like the idea of painting the roof white, though - it's probably a really practical thing to do... will be useful during summer when the bus will be hotter than stink since we can't open most of the windows. Ultimately, if the touch-up paint on the repaired rusty spots looks too ghetto due to a really poor colour match, we'll just go in for an all over rollering. She'll still be dark blue, just not sparkly metallic dark blue.
The windows are actually going to be all kinds of challenging, when you think about it. Where most bus conversions involve blacking out or removing a few windows, ours will involve cutting a few bigger ones out. I feel like I'd rather pimp-tint all the side windows so we don't have to cover any of them up where appliances or taller cabinets end up going. There's no window on the rear of the bus, either - it's like they wanted to block off all potential exits or something. However you slice it, we certainly have our work cut out for us. Or maybe our work is to cut out... ~snicker snicker~
I recently stumbled across a thread in a conversion forum addressing the matter of doors. It would be a foolish assumption that Clementine is anything even remotely secure from anyone or anything with the current doors. The rubber flaps that seal the existing door will I doubt keep critters at bay, and the shoddy old locks I certainly wouldn't trust to keep a wily thief at bay. We could look at adjusting the door frame size and putting an RV door in but RV doors are (in my recollection) wicked flimsy and the idea of putting a storm door on isn't appealing aesthetically. One of the conversions in the forum featured the door being removed and backed with plywood so that you could maintain the look and feel of the school bus door while allowing you to put in a sturdier lockset (like a traditional deadbolt).
We're also debating, since we have the luxury of a side door, whether or not to leave both doors intact as man doors or not. The Schaub bus "Bessie" (pictured above) appears to have had the front door closed off, and I assume this would now accommodate a passenger beside the driver. We could even salvage the emergency exit off another bus to install so that we don't have to lose the front egress completely while creating a nifty little extra storage area where the stairs are. The other option would be figuring out how to install something like the folding jump seats you find on planes and boats and behind the seats in little trucks, which with a small floor panel to level off the stairs under the passenger's feet would allow us to still have both man doors while also making it possible for someone to keep the driver proper company while travelling. There are benefits and drawbacks to both closing the door off and installing a jump seat but the one thing I know for certain is that not having a passenger seat right up front is not an option I'd like to consider at this time.
Off to shovel some more dirt and relocate more pieces of the mountain of concrete... driveway ain't gonna clear herself off...