28 April 2014

lemon, lime or grapefruit, that is the question...

Appliance paint may very well be the best thing I've ever heard of.  I'm seriously tempted to try it out on our house appliances first.  Bright yellow looks so cheerful...

while the pastel pink is deliciously 50s

as is the minty green

but then again, there's something about a lime and fuschia combo...

Thanks to my friend Robin for enlightening me on the endless possibilities of appliance paint...  no more worries about the ugly wood fridge panels here!!!

What would YOU pick?

24 April 2014

airbrakes, insurance and bus porn OH MY!

Bill goes for air brake training this Saturday and I cannot tell a lie - I am INSANELY jealous that he will get to drive our bus to Edmonton.  Nonetheless, it means we are close now.  Although I'm allowed to drive the bus as long as someone Q-endorsed is sitting beside me, considering there are no seats in the bus that's not really an option just yet.  Alberta doesn't have an online Airbrakes guide that I could find Manitoba does as does Saskatchewan, if you want a little light reading. The content is almost identical but the pictures are more fun in the SK version...

I tried an online airbrake test, too.  You must get 25 of 30 questions right to pass the written test at the MVD.  I got 73% which is a fail but before you are impressed by my lack of training and almost-passing mark, I think the test was unfairly rigged in my favour.  Namely, the first 24 questions seemed normal and after that it's like someone completely shit the bed setting the answers up.  For example:

It is my sincere hope that our Alberta provincial exam is better designed than this.  Nevertheless, I should have my own air brake Q-endorsement by mid-May and then we will hopefully both be able to log a few hours of practice driving the bus both in the city and on the highways for a few trips.  We have a completely empty bus shell at this point (though we hope to at least throw some old van seats in her so we can travel as a pack) which means we can't cook or poop in the bus yet.  So if we come to visit you, we might want to eat your food and use your facilities.


We have the kindness of a friend in the city allowing us to park the bus on his extra-long driveway until we have time to move our fence, which is awesome since I'm not really keen on having it parked so far away we have to schedule a visit.  I'm looking forward to getting in and measuring everything up so we can start looking up parts and doing up floor plans.  First parts I started looking at were kitchen parts, since we can make all the cabinets and furniture custom...  and HOLY HELL are mobile appliances expensive!!!  Not only that, but because we are all subject to what the "market demands" and the current trend in RV decor is wood panelling, a lot of what looks like what you used to see on the side of 70s station wagons.


Find a used one, you say?  Let me assure you that even a used fridge (in stainless or panelled wood) is still (by the cubic foot) well above what you pay for a house fridge that's twice (or more) as big!  The one on the top right, according to Kijiji, was pulled from a written-off unit.  They're asking a cool $750.  If I want one with the panel (and door) pre-removed I'm looking at $600.  While I am 100% sure that as I dig deeper I will learn where the magic reclaimed RV parts live, until then I am actively seeing extra employment to pay for a fridge (up to $1600 new) and composting toilet (starting at $1200 new) which will alone cost more than insuring the damned bus for an entire year...


It's almost time to name the bus.  I suppose you can go either way, naming the bus and decorating her to suit the name, or waiting until she's done and then picking a name.  I thought she looked like a Nellie at first, but now I'm leaning towards making Helen Back or Helena Handbasket.  I'm open to suggestions.  Here are some super-fly buses.

This is Black Betty:

This is Clementine:

I actually love the buses from the late 40s through the mid-60s.  If we suddenly won the lotto I would totally buy one of these sexy biatches...

I've also found some really amazing double decker bus conversions.  Since most double deckers aren't really geared for highway driving, it's not really a practical bus for us, but I sure do love the idea...

And, of course, there's still a lot of unanswered questions about what the interior will ultimately look like.  Sleeping space for company is a big issue so far - I don't want to take up precious space with excess bulk from mattresses and I'm wondering if these modified hammock style bunks might not be an option.

Like you didn't know I'm always looking for bus porn.  I haven't seen this reno before and I really love the richness, openness, and simplicity of the design.  Not gonna lie - I also reallllly love the look of the diamond plate steel flooring.  Some vehicles have a lot of on the outside to make them look "tough" but as flooring it just looks really slick.

Look!!!  A bus orgy!!!


We've been getting a LOT of flack from concerned family members about how stupid and short-sighted it would be for us to sell our house because it's such a huge asset.  Here's the thing.  As long as the equity is locked up in the house, and as long as we base our future on spending time, money, and energy preserving the house itself, it is in fact an encumbrance.  Rather than remain tied to an investment that prevents us from scaling back in order to create a profit margin in our lives, we are letting it go in order to seek other investment options.  People do this all the time with their investments - flipping houses, trading stocks, buying bonds - and yes, it comes with varying risks, but most people regret the risks they didn't take more than the ones they did.  

Now.  Rest assured.  We are wholly conscious of the fact it would be stupid of us to sell our house and party with the profits.  There are in fact a couple of phases (a 2-3 year plan and a 3-5 year plan) that in fact do not involve us quitting our day jobs, pissing away every penny we've earned on the house on an extravagant road trip, then preying upon the kindness of family, friends and strangers when the cash runs out.  For starters, the second the house sells, we will be buying land to work on Phase 1 of the Big Plan, and once we have enough equity and/or savings built up we can initiate Phase 2 of The Big Plan.  (And no, I'm not defining Part 2 here because it's still being formed and therefore remains above your pay grade unless you're family or an intimate friend.)


In the process of making this work for us, I've been doing a lot of research on the various "lifestyles" that bus dwellers lead.  They range from hip city slickers to your stereotypical dirty hippy but there is obviously some crossover when it comes to the "on the road" portion of Phase 1.  I'm learning a lot about things like boondocking, courtesy vs. stealth camping, and other such "nomadic" accommodations available for "free" (or cheap.)  This video made some really great points that seem like common sense to me (honestly, the "RV" dream described at 3:00 sounds so ridiculously entitled, immature, and poorly thought out I actually rolled my eyes) but since there are people following our journey to see what pitfalls we make encounter so they can avoid them, I'll share:

Until next time...  cheers~

16 April 2014

all the little pieces

After a very long and somewhat painful journey, we now sit here:

Bus is paid in full.
Inspection has been passed with flying colours save for needing a new rear bumper.
Bumper has been found.
Bumper is being delivered to Edmonton by my BFF's Dad so I get a coffee date out of the deal.
Bill does air brake training next weekend.
Spot has been found to park bus in the City for a couple of weeks until we get our fence moved.
Bus porn was viewed.


Of course the second the bus arrives, the first thing that will happen will be a very detailed process of measuring everything so that we can make a floor plan and start devising the reno process - insulation, plumbing and electrical will be first. Thankfully, we have a rather large group of very supportive and slightly crazy friends who are pretty excited about this whole project and are insisting on helping with everything from helping with the electrical to designing and building furniture.

There are lots of plans available for free or cheap online but of course none of them quite has all the things I want, starting with "smart" furniture that maximizes space by having dual functionality.  When I'm not looking at bus porn, I'm looking at convertible furniture porn like this:

Or is at least ridiculously compact, like this:

We are kind of toying with the idea of making the first official journey in her up to North Country Fair in June...  I imagine that will mostly depend on how far we manage to get with renos and whether or not we manage to find some free seats to install for everyone to sit in.  I imagine "camping" in the bus will be slightly less glamourous than camping in a tent, since it's basically going to still be just a big ol' box with air mattresses, a campstove, and a chemical toilet, but everyone seems pretty excited.  Guess I better stop looking at bus porn and start lookin' fer some seats, hey?

11 April 2014

I feel like singin' a little Etta...

But I'd butcher it, so I'll save you the pain... enjoy:

At last a few things are going right, despite the blip of Scammy McScammerpants who stole our money like a bandit (~insert ironic prison bus comment here~) I still don't have a straight answer on who will and will not do a vehicle inspection on the bus.  I get conflicting stories from the insurance agent, the heavy duty mechanics, the commercial inspectors., AMVIC...  According to Transportation Alberta, they don't care about insurance safety inspections and any licensed mechanic can do the job.  Which is why I don't understand why my scummy little buddy "Brad Sando" aka "Leeroy Wilson" aka "new2calgary@live.ca" at 587.700.9062 won't respond, since he insisted he could sign but didn't.  (Feel free to use that info to get in touch with him and ask him, "WTF, over?" He says 24-7 so I see no reason why 4am phonecalls and texting aren't valid.)

His linked in profile says he's a seismic driller but he must not be a very good one if he's turning tricks on the side.  You can view his cornucopia of ads on Kijiji here In case his ads expire and you are looking for any kind of "26+ years exp jack of all trades"or "decks fences retaining walls" or "mobile mechanical services 24/7" or "pre purchase inspection" in Calgary, do NOT use this arseh*le.  He's, well... an arseh*le.

About  Smokes often with A Few Extra Pounds
Calgary, Alberta
44 year old Man, 5' 10" (178cm), Christian - other
Caucasian Gemini with Mixed color hair
High School
Gas and oil industry

According to his Plenty of Fish profile he's a rotund heavy smoking Christian "other" who is into extreme sports but has no personality.  I'm assuming "other" is a euphemism for "non-practising" since good Christians don't rip people off.  Or maybe that's just the two-sided nature of his "Gemini" spirit coming out like some kinda yin-yang, evil-good, asshole-wholeass thing...  (Note: This profile picture is out of date - he is much older looking and has long straight hair now).  As far as the internet reveals, he moved here from Ontario and he is not a nice man because he will steal your money.  And you don't have to just take my word for it either:

Anywho.  I don't know if this is his info either but whatever the case may be, Brad's a shifty guy.


I am on the hunt for a rear bumper so the Sheriff passes inspection with flying colours.  You have no idea how difficult it is finding the rear bumper for a 1993 Bluebird school bus until you go looking for one, and can't find it.  We have an insurance company willing to cover the bus, and I am *close* to having it signed up for an inspection but the bumper will be a fail.  Fingers crossed that I won't have to pay someone to tow the damned bus - AMVIC does not license mobile inspectors for their purposes, but there are lots of mobile mechanics who can and do work in the field doing insurance safeties.  Just gotta find me one with a legit shop and current license.  (Of course, you google for a "mobile heavy motorhome inspection" and you get Kijiji ads for arseh*les like Brad Sando the thief and con artist ~le sigh~ and it's kind of heartbreaking and frustrating.)

The BEST news is though that I found someone willing and able to take over the lease on the Studio!!!  As you can well imagine, this is a HUGE relief and weight off my mind.  They move in immediately, so part of my Saturday night will be spent cleaning out the back bedroom and a spot in the garage for all the personal items I need to remove ASAP, then going whole hog selling off the rest of the stuff I need gone.  This is the complete inventory.  I'm also placing ads all over Kijiji in the next few days.  (Actually, Bill is, but he doesn't know it yet...)  Please feel free to shop 'til you drop - just zip me a quick note via the contact form on here and I will put your thingers on hold for you.


Now that the bus is coming closer to coming home, we need to start considering names for her.  Initially, Nellie came to mind but I feel now like she should be called Helen Back.  What do you think?

09 April 2014

"S" for "SUCKER"

Today was a day filled with an intense roller coaster of emotions including exhaustion, frustration, elation, relief, self-loathing, and anger.
  • pulled an all-niter to finish my term paper
  • worked all day
  • wrote my final exam
  • found a potential tenant to take over the studio
  • got screwed over by a guy I found on Kijiji who took our $$$ to do a useless bus inspection
Now I'm just having a nice little pity party until I get sleepy enough to pass out.


Lessons learned the hard way, right?  I got swindled today by some arsehole on Kijiji.  Luckily it's not the guy selling the bus - he's a swell fella and I'd even take him out for coffee.  While the bus "passed" inspection with flying colours, the guy who did it is not certified to sign the actual inspection form I need to insure the bus.  Bastard won't return my texts or reply to the email I have sent, and I imagine my money is now gone gone gone.


It's impossible to not feel incredibly stupid.  I figured since he was going to have to show up in person to inspect the bus, and since the guy selling the bus is a mechanic himself, if there was going to be any funny business it would have been caught.  I emailed the funds to the guy we're buying the bus from to pay the inspection guy cash, thinking this would safeguard me against him not doing the actual work, make him feel confident that there would be payment, etc. etc.  Of course it's all fishy in hindsight - he said I couldn't email him money because his bank account was frozen after a bum cheque, so he wanted a Western Union transfer... I offered to have cash available to him when he showed up... ba da bing... BAM.  Wicked scam.  I doubt I will ever track him down.

~insert a whole lot of f-bombs here~

I'm trying to be all long hair, don't care about it but I'm really ~insert more f-bombs~ pissed.

My only consolation is that buslife is happening, and if everything goes as planned we will have her in Edmonton by the first week of May.  This video of the Sheriff in action makes it easier to come off the pity party.  Ain't she sweet!!?? 8 seconds in reverse, baby - yeah!  Check it out!  (I have seriously watched this stupid video at least 5 times a day...)

If we have to insure her for 2 full months, there's a pretty good chance she will be taking us to North Country Fair in June.  We best be getting airbrake certification soon, hey?

03 April 2014


My enthusiasm at finding what looks like an almost perfect bus for our conversion has substantially dampened since the initial euphoria hit a couple of days ago.  I have no delusions about what we are embarking upon and most days, the excitement far outweighs the apprehension over how much there is to learn about owning and converting a bus.  We're giving ourselves over 2 years to complete the project for several reasons, the extremely sharp learning curve being one of them.  However, we've already hit the first of what I feel should be speed bumps but instead feel like road blocks.

Number One Question right now?  How to legally and affordably move the bus back to Edmonton.  Since it runs (and since towing starts at $150/hr plus per km fees) you would think driving it is the most obvious and logical option, but nothing ever comes easy...

How does one go about insuring a partially converted school bus, you wonder?  Apparently, one doesn't.  At least not without a whole lot of grief.  So far, the insurance brokers I've spoken with have come up empty handed, save for one quote of $550 to insure it for 3 days with an "in transit" sticker.  Bloody !%$#%@$ hell??????  I almost choked when she said that, and so far I haven't really gotten any clear answers from anyone else on exactly what is required to reclassify the vehicle from a bus to an RV.  According to Registries, I just come in and register an RV- simple as that - and it's the insurance company we have to convince; so then the insurance lady said, well, no - it's a bus and we can't insure it as a motorhome until it's reclassified.  RECLASSIFIED BY WHO, lady?!?!!?

And, because it is over 15 years old, we need to get a safety inspection report completed.  It's a different safety inspection (supposedly?) than one for commercial/passenger use.  We can't insure the bus without an inspection, but we can't move the bus to get it inspected without having it insured.  WTF, people?  So now we are in the process of trying to find someone who can do the inspection on-site.  For a reasonable price.

Our finances took a pretty big hit when our windshield got swhacked out by some two-bit thug last week, which means that there is very little room to budge within the budget right now.  The current bus owner also forgot to mention that he practically took off the entire rear bumper with a track hoe at some point, so we are hoping that it a) doesn't fail inspection because of it and b) will give us lots of room to negotiate the price of the bus.  That rear windshield done cost us $670 freakin' bucks of, "Why no, that's not insured because it's not a side window and therefore isn't classified as a break in under the theft portion of your policy..."  I swear we cannot make that shit up.  Verbatim, from Bill's mouth to my ears, courtesy of the same agent who quoted us $550 for 3 days worth of insurance!!!  (FWIW, that works out to $66,916/year.  Bullshit!)

At this point, we have put a deposit down in good faith, to hold the bus while we get it safety inspected (by whom and how I have no clue) and find someone who will insure it as an RV without raping us on the price so we can get the bugger up to Edmonton.  Providing there aren't any holes rusted through the bus frame, as a vehicle previously owned and maintained by the government I'm feeling fairly confident that it will pass inspection with relatively little difficulty despite its age, but the naysayers love to plant that seed of doubt.  "Oh, no - it'll never pass..." they say.  Thanks but no thanks for your negativity, jackasses.

Anyway.  After an exhaustive search for someone in a forum somewhere with more wisdom than I on the matter, all I managed to do was find provincial policy.  Here is all the fun stuff you could ever want to know about Alberta Transportation vehicle standards and here is all the fun stuff you could ever want to know about what (supposedly) has to be inspected on the bus if it's an RV for private use and not commercial.

I reiterate, I realize there will be stuff that needs fixing up on the bus, but we need the bus in Edmonton to do that, don't we?  Without a safety inspection we cannot get insurance, without insurance we cannot register, without registration we cannot hit the road... Hence, while I'm finding it difficult to get straight answers, I'm finding it even more difficult to not feel frustrated and discouraged.  Wish us luck in the insurance quote and on-site inspection dept tomorrow.  I'm crestfallen.  And this before we have even figured out how to move the fence in our backyard so we can work on her without having to drive to someone's acreage.  ~le sigh~

So, if anyone knows a guy who knows a guy who knows how to get things done and can get us an insurance quote on a "Class A 43ft Bluebird RV with an approximate value of $5000" or will do an on-site safety inspection less than 10kms outside of Calgary proper, please get in touch with me ASAP.  @%^%@$#!!!!

On a more cheerful note, we stopped in at Peter's for a quick bite and PAID WITH DEBIT.  Yay for debit a Peter's and a pineapple chocolate milkshake!!!