09 June 2014

brass tacks

The Mazda is still out of commission, but the bus is allegedly ready for pick up.  They are going to hang onto her until Friday for us, which means we have a lot of dirt to barrow around this week.  I mean, A LOT.  Our finances took a serious hit this month which means I will now be opting for whatever the cheapest method of completion is.  A couple of weeks ago, for efficacy and kindness to ourselves, I might have otherwise said about the concrete, "Let's just hire the guys who come and haul it all away to come and haul it all away," and about the dirt, "Let's just hire the guys who move dirt to come and move the dirt."

However, those being not the cheapest options, it looks like we are in for a back-breaking week of re-grading the side of the house one wheelbarrow load of dirt at a time and manually breaking the sidewalk into small enough hunks to throw in the bed of the pick-up we're renting next weekend.  Thankfully there's no charge for recycling the concrete, but we better cross our fingers my replacement credit card shows up by the time we need it on Saturday morning or plans will be bumped back yet another week or two.  At this point, attending NCF is looking sketchy at best.  ~sigh~  If anyone is bored and feeling helpful feel free to stop by any night this week after 5pm to shovel and/or hammer along side us like you love us.

I managed to have one of those amazing HOLY CRAP I LOVE BEING A PHOTOGRAPHER weekends, which has done a lot to lift my spirits in light of the perpetual stream of BS we've had to deal with over the past few weeks.  I'm tired of reminding myself about speedbumps v. roadblocks.  I can only say it to myself so many times before I stop believing it, you know?  But with the NCF programme off to print, my notice handed in to the Relay for Life, and school being out for summer in a couple of weeks, I'm feeling both motivated and relieved that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Being un-stuck is just about the best thing that could happen right now.  Bill and I are setting out a kind of priority/critical path for ourselves so that we are both clear on our intent.  Setting some attainable goals and posting the specific tasks associated with achieving them on some sort of physical binder or something in the house where it's visible to everyone will be (I think... I hope...) an asset.  I've tried looking for some generic goal/task sheets but what I want doesn't seem to exist.  I need something like a cross between this:

And this:

Which means I'll likely be spending some quality time making spreadsheets in the near future...


With the bus so close to (finally) being in the yard where we can start working on her, I've stopped looking for aesthetic inspiration in favour of mechanical and technical inspiration.  Getting down to brass tacks, one might say.  Before we make her look pretty we will need to look after electrical, plumbing, internet, wires, tubing, hoses, seat belts, air conditioning, propane, and other such exciting stuff that will eventually be hidden by walls and furniture like any other house, as well as bodywork/rust management.

I found a couple of websites that have chronicled bus conversions and I'd like to buy the so-called "Bus Converter Bible" but the Bus Nuts Online peeps don't seem to have a working storefront.  Dave's Bus Conversion seems to have some fairly similar goals identified in terms of the off-grid capabilities but his site is organized in a weird sort of way and I am finding it difficult to navigate.  My favourite thing about his bus is the desk, but holy hannah - the visible wiring/plug situation in his "open floor" concept is and not very pretty to look at... we are hoping to avoid visible rat's nests on our bus!

The Schaub family from Quebec has a teched out bus (I love the solar panel layout!) with hi-speed satellite internet/IP phone which would make couch commuting substantially easier, but they have very little information about the conversion process as they assumed ownership of "Bessie" in her current state.  Their travel path is remarkable - they live in their bus on an island off Honduras now but (I presume) still couch commute for work.  Sounds good to me...

So far, one of my favourite conversion blogs (and by far the most helpful in terms of big picture) has been the VonSlatt site, which has a bangin' pictorial spread of his process along with some really handy tips and tricks.  The Mazda is still in the shop so we've been using a loaner car from the shop. The loaner car has push-button start and a back-up camera installed, which Serejane this is the cat's meow.  I started thinking about it and a back-up camera makes a LOT of sense.  Since future plans include pimping the place out with all kinds of tech-y goodness and there's going to be a foreseeable wastage of space on the dashboard once we remove all the police-y type stuff, I went shopping on eBay and found one for under $100.  If we love it we can always upgrade later.  And Serejane will be so happy.  The VonSlatt site even had pictures of them laying out the grid to get the bus camera aligned properly.

Von Slatt used the original bus seat frames with the seat belt attachments to create the dinette seating which is brilliant.  Sign me up.  I think our first official "shopping for the bus" trip will be to Merv's, as it is obvious that in addition to some seat frames, we will need to reclaim many bus parts to retrofit our bus, including front flashers.  Von Slatt chose to remove the light hoods and covered up the front upper flashers but left the rear ones on. 

I hafta say, I prefer the look of a schoolbus with the front flashers intact.  Our front and rear blue flasher covers were smashed out before the bus was sold to a private individual (for obvious reasons) but I kind of like the idea of repurposing the sockets.

While I'm sure the bird whose nest is currently in there would likely argue it's a perfect spot for raising a family, I'm thinking if we reroute the wiring properly we can install some kind of useful exterior lights.  Like custom gobos that will turn them into bat signals.  Or disco lights.  I might have to run the idea past Bill first.

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