Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bus power!

Today I had a wander through hardware stores. I was particularly interested in solar power options and alternatives. It was fascinating! I went particularly to Harbor Freight with the intention of buying a suitcase solar panel. The visit didn't start out too well because they had a big sale sign outside yet inside the prices were the same as normal. Fake sales signs

The suitcase solar panel was $80 but to make it work, it needed a charge controllers that was $25 for the cheapest and $80 for the next. The suitcase panel would provide 13w in theory. There was a 3 foot panel that was $70 and claimed 15w. Things were beginning to look costly in Harbor Freight!

In normal electrical theory, watts are the product of volts and amps. Harbor Freight seems to have a different theory as the products never worked out on any of their boxes, leaving me in a quandary as to whether the bits would all work together since either the volts and amps were off or the watts calculation was wrong.

I added the costs... $80 for a cheap panel that's not quite what I want plus the next model up of charge controller which was $80. Then add a decent inverter at $200 then add a 35ah battery at $60 or a 105ah battery from elsewhere at $80. That started at $460. I can see exactly why people use gas for cooking and water heating!

At $460, a simple Harbor Freight generator at $120 that produces 800w looks much more useful. Set that going while cooking or heating water. While solar is cheaper longer term, at $3.50 a gallon and at a reported 7 hours per gallon, that could power my 700w microwave of my kettle or a phone charger quite satisfactorily. If it was run for as much as half a gallon a day ($1.75) then I could use it for 194 days before I'd even equal the cost of installing a 13 - 15 watt solar system. The solar system would produce an optimum 8 watts over 12 hours or 72watt hours while the generator could produce ten times as much in a twelfth of the time! Solar doesn't look so rosy now!

In general, I'm tending to think of running with a generator only initially then adding batteries, inverters and charge controllers later, followed by a gradual introduction of solar panels. All food for thought.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Massive strides, bigger than the small step!

Today was a continuation of yesterday. I completed the cutting, shaping and installation of the metal sheeting on both sides of the bus. I'll have to do another two, smaller sheets on the other side of the partition. I also completed the last piece of the infilling under the seat rail in the bathroom.

Again I wore out a cutting disk on my angle grinder. With luck, I won't have to buy more cutting wheels but knowing me, I probably will. They're not expensive but it costs probably about as much in fuel to drive to the store to get them as they cost.

I filled in the large gap where the bathroom wall doesn't quite meet the support. I partly did that yesterday with the quarter round. Today I filled in from the other side with wood filler. Now it looks far better.

Painting is a task that's coming up. The aisle is filled with lumber so I sat and had a little think. Then I went to the bedroom and studied where I want the end partition and desk. Looking at it, putting a solid partition will be nothing short of awkward. Thus I'm now thinking of installing a fairly lightweight desk. I won't be able to sit on the desk! I'll also install a curtain. This will have the advantage that I'll be able to put my phone down on the desk and pick it up from the desk without getting out of bed! Thinking further, the partition could well be a bead curtain.

Studying the wood problem further, I realised that I need to build the toilet and handbasin mount. Those can both be built using 2x2 and OSB. No need for ultimate strength. I had some surplus 2x4 taking up space so I started work on the front closet. That'll use up most of my surplus OSB and 2x4. That should give me room to paint!

After the closet is done and the bedroom desk, it'll be time to paint and do the bathroom. There is a plan for extra cupboards in the kitchenette/dinette but I think that the focus is now on getting the bus ready to register as a motorhome. Extra cupboards can be added later!

Once the second set of metal sheets are installed, I'll have to inject foam insulation. Believe it or not but I'm out of great stuff again! I'm out of Styrofoam but I have enough bits to make a reduction in the great stuff I'll need to inject.

I had a go at installing the catch on the cockpit door. Massive fail! My 1/2 inch drill was too small! I remeasured the lock with a micrometer and its 16.2mm. That's somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4 inch. I'll have to get a bigger drill bit.

Tomorrow will probably be a lost day because I should be doing my voluntary work. It's a crack of dawn start. I might couple it with a trip to harbor Freight. It's so nice to finally feel I'm getting somewhere!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Getting toward painting

Lots of little jobs today. Nothing that in itself is in any way remarkable but it all goes together toward the ultimate goal. The photo shows the most visual achievement of the day.

In order, I painted one side of both the sheets of metal cut yesterday with a second coat of paint. While that was drying I cut and glued some quarter round in place where there were slight gaps in my woodwork.

Having completed the gluing, I painted the other side of the sheets of metal after removing rust spots with a wire brush in a pistol drill. That took a while. I located my Styrofoam board and moved a few things around inside the bus in order to facilitate work. The Styrofoam was cut and placed in the bathroom, under the seat rail. Then a piece of OSB was cut to go over the foam and screwed to the seat rail.

The remainder of the foam was cut and placed as shown in the picture, in the bay where a window had been replaced. That'll make a huge difference since the back of the metal was scaldingly hot. After that, I tried the left hand sheet of metal and found it needed trimming. Oops I trimmed a bit much off but fastened correctly, it wont notice!

Having cut the metal, I had to paint the cut edge. In order to prevent rust. Only one sheet has been trimmed to size. The other will be trimmed later, based on the learning experience from this sheet.

Another thing I did was to trim some of the overspill of my Great Stuff foam insulation. Tomorrow I'm going to work more though I'm not sure yet what I'll be doing but clearly the end of construction is getting ever closer. I can't wait to be able to get the bus reclassified as a motorhome.

The big stumbling blocks are electricity and water. There's no reason why electricity can't be provided solely via a $100 Harbor Freight generator. There's no reason why water can't be a 7 gallon jug with a faucet or even a 3 gallon jug with a faucet. There's no reason why a cold box cannot be a foam box filled with ice. The toilet will have to be rebuilt but that's not hard. Of course once I'm a bona fide motorhome, I can change things at will.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Who took the fridge door?

Today was another of those blisteringly hot South Carolina days; the kind that saps your strength and has you racing for air conditioning. I had ideas of doing some painting or perhaps some work in the bathroom. As usual, that's not quite what happened.

The day started with a walk around the yard. My eye alighted on a fridge door which had me racing back to the bus for my tape measure. Quickly I measured the windows that I wanted to fill. It transpired that the fridge door would provide the perfect amount of sheet steel and with a very useful angle.

The fridge door was dragged by hand, 200 yards in the intense heat. That was quite enough and a break in the aur conditioning was called for.

Returning, I set to with my angle grinder and began to cut two sections for the windows. Cutting was pretty quick and easy though the cutting disks wore out pretty fast. This must be the downside of small disks.

It took about half an hour to roughly cut two window covers. Shaping them precisely took longer including several fitting sessions. Eventually they were both cut to the right size. This took quite a while due to the necessity for breaks indoors under air conditioning.

Eventually the steel was cut and fitted. The insulation was scraped off with an old chisel. Then it was time to paint the steel. There were rust marks on the fronts but those will be dealt with at a later stage. Right now I painted the backs to keep them rust free. It'll need a second coat, I'll have to treat and paint the fronts as well as smoothing the edges.

For the moment, the metal is stored under the bus while the paint dries. Apparently it's going to rain tonight!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Oh no! Another catastrophy!

After yet another sleepless night, probably due to the extreme heat of late, I stirred myself from the realms of slumber to commence work on the bus. Arriving at the bus (and conveniently not mentioning m'ladys most excellent breakfast), I pulled out my new drill bit to commence putting patches over the last four inch diameter holes the hillbilly owners had considered it to be a jolly spiffing idea to make. Uh oh... I bought the wrong size drill bit.

At a casual glance, a quarter inch bit looks a lot like a 3/16 bit though the 3/16 bit is a shade smaller. My rivets are 3/16 so clearly I couldn't use a 1/4 inch bit and hope for the rivets to be snug. I hunted but could not find another 3/16 anywhere.

In desperation, I pulled out my angle grinder and replaced the cutting disk with a grinding disk and had a go at regrinding the tip of my drill bit. Sadly, after testing it, the drill vibrated badly as I was clearly far enough off center foir my sharpening not to have worked well.

Clearly that meant a visit to Lowes. Another couple of gallons of fuel I could have been very happy not using. Still, wandering around Lowes I looked for lift on, lift off hinges - which they did not have. Then I looked for solutions to my closet rail problem.

Lowe's had two pieces of white chain. One was plastic and clearly decorative. The other was metal and claimed to support 35lbs. I looked at the unsealed ends of the bent wire used to make the chain and chuckled. If that would support 35lbs then I'll be joining Obama on his next flying pig hunting session!

The chain in general was disappointing. My thoughts then turned to rope. Not to use in a glorious entry to the next world but to use as a closet rail. Hung and tied to eyes attached to the ceiling, that could work quite well. Still, its way too early to think about that yet.

I returned home feeling quite yucky. It wasn't nausea at having to spend money though that will do it. It was more either to do with the heat or perhaps needing to see the optician.

After dinner and in the fading light, I drilled holes in aluminum plates that I then riveted over the four remaining inch diameter holes. I did the usual thing - drill, spray with anti rust paint then after that had dried, applied silicone goop and riveted.

All four holes now having been attended to, my attention turned to the unholy mess the hillbillies had made of creating an underbus storage compartment. Their workmanship is absolutely appalling. The door is a solid sheet of aluminum. The hinge doesn't quite work. The door is bowed and where its bowed, leaks rainwater. The compartment is made of plywood which looks to be in poor condition.

The plan for the storage compartment is simply to remove it and rivet the door over the nasty hole they cut in the body. That's a job for another day though.

Just one photo today. I took it then Android stopped recognising the camera and I had to restart my phone, by which time, dripping with sweat and being chased by hoards of mosquitoes, it was time to stumble through the pitch black into the house.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The old Chinese curse

The old Chinese curse was "May you live in interesting times". Around me, things are definitely getting interesting. Thus, the bus project is getting ever more relevant. With recent events in South Carolina, tension could definitely rise.

As far as work on the bus, today, there wasn't much done. I put some great stuff behind my kitchen counter to seal gaps and reduce vibration. Then I had a go at sharpening the broken drill bit. Sadly, as I lack skill in that area, it didn't improve matters much. I cut a couple more pieces of aluminum to go over two holes on the other side of the bus but lacking the drill bit, could not drill rivet holes.

Thus, I headed out to get a drill bit and while I was out I picked up a new shower base. This is black rubber and cost just $19 from Tractor Supply. I suspect it's some kind of feed trough or something but it looks sturdy. Tractor Supply had drill bits and I got a 1/4 inch replacement drill bit but forgot to get a carbide 1/8 inch bit. Oh well, another day.

While I was at Tractor Supply, I looked at their batteries. They had quite some selection, including some deep cycle batteries. Right now I'm somewhat confused about batteries. I hear that I need deep cycle batteries. I can understand that but then I read people writing that some deep cycle batteries aren't. Then I read that some deep cycle batteries with 12 month warranties won't last much more. It's so hard to separate truth from nonsense when you're a beginner.

At $90 for a 108AH battery. It has promise. Given that actual facts available on how deeply a deep cycle battery can be discharged are somewhat rarer than hens teeth, its somewhat hard to know how much promise. Some sites say 80%, some say 45% - its the internet being its usual factually inaccurate self again.

Assuming 80% which seems reasonable, that means a 108ah battery can be used for about 80ah or 1 amp for 80 hours or 80 amps in one hour. My 900 watt microwave that takes an inordinate 10 minutes to cook anything would probably consume about 6ah per hour or about 1ah per use. Based on 3 meals daily, I could use the battery for almost a month between charges. That pretty much makes a mockery of everything I've read on "forums" and "groups". Of course with the wildly contradictory stuff I've read, it all boils down to sucking it and seeing. I have to be my own Guinea pig!

As I said, its all getting quite interesting.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What an awful disaster

Today was pretty much an unmitigated disaster from start to finish. Let's start from the beginning...

Overnight insomnia kept me from having a good nights sleep. Thus at 4am I turned my 6am alarm off. The result was that I missed my Tuesday morning voluntary job. Had I gone in after two to no hours sleep, I'd not have been all that great.

I went out to the bus after breakfast and found I needed to go to the store to buy a few things. Mind, I needed to get out of the house. This was my first trip in a week! My usual job has quit on me for the summer so its a case of not spending anything and minimising travel.

So, I went to the store and got most of the things I need. As usual Lowe's was totally out of 1/8 drill bits. After chasing down a clueless shop assistant who had made haste to bugger off when customers looked likje they were about to approach, it transpired that he'd never heard of carborundum drill bits or diamond tip drill bits. Clearly something too specialised for Lowe's.

By the time I'd finished at Lowe's, I was feeling the heat a bit because it was still over 100F outside. Thus, other things I needed never got picked up.

Returning to the bus, it was just too hot to work inside and thus I decided to work on patching holes. About 12 were just screw holes that I treated for rust and filled with a rivet. Four holes were larger requiring patches. Thus I found a suitable strip of aluminum and cut four patches with my angle grinder. Then I picked up the wrong piece of metal and burned my fingers.

Recovering from signed fingers I drilled a hole in the first piece of aluminum which broke loose from the mount, flipped around and hit my fingernail, breaking it. Cursing, I drilled a hole for the rivet in the bodywork. Then after I slapped silicone glue on the back of the piece of aluminum, I riveted the aluminum on via the first hole. While drilling the second, the drill skipped and the hole didn't end up quite where I wanted so the aluminum when held by the second rivet wasn't straight. The next hole started well enough by then my 1/4 inch drill bit snagged on the edge of a second piece of body panelling, jerked and snapped. Bugger! Now I had a broken drill bit poking out of the hole. It took quite some effort to remove it. Putting the rivet in wasn't easy either as the hole wasn't completely clear. I located another 1/4 inch drill bit that was as blunt as can be. Somehow I managed to make a hole for a rivet then put the rivet in.

At that point I gave up for the day. This was clearly not my day! After going inside I found voicemail on my phone that I should have received days ago but which mysteriously only appeared today though it had been sent days ago. Then a voicemail from my real job saying they'd lost a document and demanding another by two weeks time!

On top of all that, one of my online accounts was questioned by the account provider to the effect they don't believe I am who I say I am. Well, fine. I just don't care. I was threatened with account cancellation if I couldn't produce documentary evidence within 7 days to prove my identity. So... One of my accounts might mysteriously vanish. I just don't care!

Tomorrow I'll have to drive to Lowes for a new 1/4 inch drill bit. It will apparently be well over 100F tomorrow so heaven knows if I'll even be able to work outside the bus. The good news is I have 5 holes ready prepped to rivet patches over. After that I don't have any more bodywork holes to fill.

More good news - I'm just about ready to put primer on the whole of the dinette/kitchenette. There's stuff I'll have to move out of the way but it'll be nice to have it printed. I might prime the bathroom while I'm at it even though I still need to lay down one more board. No photos today - every time I tried my phone, the battery was flat!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Rain stops play

Another scorching hot day loomed. I put off going out to work in the bus as long as possible then braved the heat. The first trip out, I forgot the power drill but I found some of the wood I'd cut yesterday needed finer fitting so that's what I did.

The next trip I remembered the power drill. After a bit of adjusting, drilling and screwing, I'd got most of the center partition for the drawers done when the sky began to darken. I carried on in the mounting gloom until with thunder crashing and rain hammering down, it was too dark.

Returning to the bus I screwed the center partition to the floor (mostly). There were two bolts that just would not go in or rather, the drill wouldn't penetrate after self drilling screws decided to go sideways. There's something amiss under that plywood floor and I'm beginning to regret not ripping up all the plywood. Still, I can always add another bracket in another place - they're not exactly hard to obtain.

Having get as far as I could, somebody suggested a carbide bit. I might get one. While I was there I looked at the drawer slides I'd been given. I seem to have slides for two complete drawers and half the slides needed for two different sized drawers. Interesting! Clearly I need more slides.

The plan is to install three drawers on one side and three or four on the other. Having also today looked at Eric's blog, I noticed he has a nice glass washing basin that stood on top of his countertop. Interesting and I'll have to think about it! It's an idea.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Heat exhaustion strikes!

Working inside the bus in 30 minute sprints was all I could manage today. The amount of work completed was truly pitiful. The temperature inside was 117F in the dinette/kitchenette and 120.5F in the bedroom.

I would have shown a photo of the bedroom thermometer but for some obscure and unknown reason, my flash photos are coming out underexposed. Heaven knows what's going on there. I suspect the latest camera update isn't that great.

Anyway, I plugged on and installed the far partition under the kitchenette. It needs an OSB filler but that can wait til later. The only problem was one of the self drilling screws refused to go through the floor as did my carbide drill bit. That was annoying but not insurmountable. As there's a second bolt screwing that bracket down I wasn't that bothered.

At various times, sweat drilled noisily on the ground and on my work as well as running into and stinging my eyes. By the end of the day I truly stank like a hog's armpit! Despite working only for 30 minutes at a time and drinking copious quantities of fluids, I ended the day exhausted with a raging headache.

The sum total achieved was fitting three pieces of wood in exactly the right places and cutting two more and positioning them roughly, ready for tomorrow.

After fitting the wood tomorrow, the way is clear for sweeping the dinette and kitchenette thoroughly. I'll have to put some foam sealant in behind the kitchenette and trim it but that's nothing much. After that, I have to paint the whole of the kitchenette/dinette with primer. Then topcoat under the units since it won't be easy to get in there again.

Little by little, everything is coming together. The heat makes work terribly slow.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Changes reigned supreme

With the intention of building the sub partition in the bedroom, I cut two pieces of 2x4. When it came time to do a trial fitting, one piece couldn't be fitted because the site upon which it would be mounted was taken up by a bracket fastened to one leg of the bed. That was awkward enough to make me pause the project pending further thought.

Thinking in 108F is not an easy task so instead I concentrated on building the partitions for the drawers underneath the kitchen counter. I built the first partition broadside which means I lose a couple of potential inches of drawer space. Thinking about it though, being broadside does add to structural integrity. That's important if there's a collision as I don't want everything collapsing like a pack of cards.

As you can see, my carpentry is pretty rudimentary. My joints are good though. I've been using big screws rather than brackets. For the drawers, I'll probably be using more glue. Speaking of drawers, my last drawer was pretty heavy. The plan going forward is to make them lighter.

I had to work in 30 minute bursts today. Sweat was dripping on the ground, on my work and running in my eyes. That was quite unpleasant. Of course, later, when it cooled off, I was bring eaten alive by mosquitoes!

Tomorrow's plan is to complete the drawer partitions and possibly build some drawers. I measured my cutlery tray carefully in order to make a drawer that can accommodate it. I feel now that was pointless as the drawer itself should be partitioned rather than relying upon a partition insert. Two drawers will be deeper as they will be for plates inserted edgewise into foam padding.

Before I make any drawers though, the whole kitchen and dining area needs to be painted.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Almost 50%?

Despite the oppressive heat. Inside the bus - it was 110 for a long time - I managed to complete both countertops. This means that aside from painting and screwing the countertops down, one side is almost completed.

The countertop needs a surface. That's going to be easy - vinyl floor tiles. The cabinet doors need hinges, handles and catches. The drawer needs a handle and a catch. Then there's painting.

A separate project for both sides of the bus at the end of the counter where a window has been replaced is to put up some cabinets but that's a project for later. I figure the dinette side can have a bookcase and the other side, the microwave and other kitchen gizmos.

This is the kitchenette side. As yet its all empty underneath. This will change. Because the end walls are not square, the end units will be cupboards. The far cupboard will house a mini fridge. I have a vague idea mini fridges are 17.5 x 20 x 15 but I'll allow 24 inches just in case. I can always put something beside the fridge like a bulk pack of toilet rolls. There will be two drawer units. I might make those separately then just screw them into place later. I'll have to plan the content of the drawers.

Ages ago I saw somebody had a nifty idea for storing crockery - they stored it in foam padded drawers. The plates were edge down. I'll try to emulate that and will have to leave enough room for willow pattern crockery. I like willow pattern and Royal Albert Country Roses. At the moment I just have a cheap Walmart set of crockery. It's as ugly as sin but does the job.

Because the walkway is now jammed with OSB and 2x4, I'll take a break from the kitchen and complete the bedroom sub partition. I also decided that my closet rail will be a chain suspended from the ceiling. Not only is it lighter than a rail but it also puts no stress on the partitions which are nowhere near as strong as my later partitions. Chain is easier to carry and install. Bonuses all way around!

After that, I'll do the front closet then the bathroom counter. The doors for the cabinets might as well all be the same. I used a 1x2 frame with hardboard screwed and glued to it.

I was hoping to have it all done by July but the schedule might slip if I can't get more done. Got to pray for lower temperatures!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The heat broke

Today the horrible heat broke within moments. A thunderstorm rumbled yet there was no rain and a clear sky. The heat dropped from 104 to 90 in minutes.

I didn't do a lot on the bus today. I made two doors for cupboards. One is a bit problematic because of the close proximity of the doorframe. There is a solution however. There is such a thing as a lift on lift off hinge also called a rising hinge. As the door opens, it rises. The door can at any point simply be lifted off its hinges and placed out if the way. Trying to get a pair is hard though. 20 years ago, I bought a pair for my darkroom. Trying to get a pair in America seems impossible though. EBay has them at ludicrous prices though.

Anyway, here's a picture of my doors. I'll do a top for the counter and then paint it. It's almost finished!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Timetable to drawers

As many of you know, I made a drawer base a few days ago. Then I did nothing because it was simply too hot. I've realised the heatwave is continuing so I'm now working in briefer spurts. The temperature in the cockpit of the bus a couple of days ago was astounding. Read the thermometer!

Thus today I set to , to complete my drawer. No plans have ever been drawn up for anything I've done in the bus so far and its all working wonderfully. The first thing was not to start work but to fix a plumbing leak in m'ladys yard. Then it was a case of feeding and watering chickens and doing the myriad of other things one does on a homestead.

Eventually I managed to measure and cut three planks of 19 inches and 15 inches with the circular saw. That was enough and I had to go inside to cool down. It was 104F outside and hotter in the bus. In fact, the bus feels like an oven when I'm inside!

Returning to the bus after cooling down, I worked on cutting two more short planks for the drawer. Sweat was dripping onto the floor with a splashing sound and running into my eyes giving blurry vision and a stinging sensation.

Eventually, after yet another trip into the house to cool off, I assembled the final parts of my drawer. It's definitely heavy. I just hope the runners are up to it!

It could have done with a little sanding and fine fitting but it works. It is my first ever drawer. The next drawer will be lighter and I might just abandon using Lowes $7 runners and just use wooden runners instead. Far cheaper and simpler!

Onward... The next thing to do to the dinette is to put a countertop and two cupboard doors! After that I can paint it and call it mostly completed.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Thinking time, drinking time, planning time

Astonishing temperatures recorded along the length of the bus today of 120.5 in the bedroom, 118 in the dinette and 125 in the cockpit added up to a bus that was just too hot to work in. Outside temperatures of 100F meant even filling holes was a non starter.

It was a day for drinking copious quantities of fluids of the non alcoholic variety and a time for planning and thinking. The end of the woodwork phase approaches and should be completed by the end of June.

The remaining woodwork needed is to complete the kitchenette and dinette. The dinette just needs the drawer I started to be completed, a top put on and paint. The kitchenette needs several sets of drawers though I might put a cupboard at one end and a fridge space at the other. I built the kitchenette to accommodate one of the dorm fridges. I'll also build a small closet at the front of the bus. All of that'll need painting.

For paint, I fancy lavender or purple and white for the dinette/kitchenette and yellow and white for the bathroom. The bathroom needs a comode. I'll probably build one similar to the first one I built but I'll build it better. The shower base will either be a tin bathtub or a black rubber horse trough. I'm not keen on tin because the rust issue on my white PVC floor. The black trough doesn't go so well with the decor but seems more functionally better. Both will need drain holes to be installed. That's a good thing because I can put them where its convenient but could be tricky to seal though the black rubber should be easier.

There's only going to be one handbasin in the bus. A little shocking but practical. Everywhere I've ever lived, people have done therir dishes in a plastic tub that they've placed in the handbasin. Why not just do away with the the handbasin? Just have one in the bathroom since I already own that one and port the clean water in a jug and simply empty the used water into the handbasin or the shower.

Tied to water disposal are other ideas. If I have a dry toilet which is going to cost next to nothing go build then I will have to put waste water in a grey tank. The general rule goes that grey and black waste can only be disposed of at authorised sites. My thought is that grey water can be used to flush the toilet if a flush unit is in use. Otherwise, water in the grey tank can be evaporated via forced air ventilation. It follows that the black tank where one is in use could also be force ventilated in order to reduce disposal volume.

For the dry toilet, essentially the comode is a seat over a bucket with a lid into which cat lit or compost is placed, covering the fresh deposits. It's pretty much the same as the old earth closets.

Water and holding tanks can all be of the 15 gallon variety. The 15 gallon tanks won't show under the skirt around the edge of the bus. Multiple 15 gallon tanks for fresh water can be used. Thinking about hot water, I could out a 10 gallon hot tank under the bus. I honestly cannot fathom needing more than a couple of gallons for washing.

Batteries and electrics need not be complex. I'm thinking of a single flexible solar panel glued to the roof to start with. That will charge two deep cycle batteries mounted under the bus. The clever bit is surplus power will be used to heat the water. The only 110v appliances will be the microwave, fridge, kettle and slow cooker or steamer. There will be a charging station for electronics and possibly some internal lighting but the lighting will be 12v or less and LED.

Ventilation is an interesting issue. I could put a minuscule AC unit or I could put the modified swamp cooler I wrote about a few days ago. I might need a dehumidifier too but I'm not sure yet.

There are other things that I have yet to touch upon but this is basic gist of my thoughts. Most of this won't change. It's just going to take a while to do all on my own.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

120°F or 49°C - Holy Hell!

Let's just say that today was well nigh impossibly hot. In short all I achieved was to glue the planks for the bottom of my drawer together and to fill two of the remaining 21 holes in the sides of the bus.

This is an example of the two holes I filled. They were huge. Somebody had bored two inch diameter holes in the side of the bus. Anyway to cut a long story short (hooray) I put Great Stuff foam filler into both holes. Then I cut pieces of aluminum for each hole. I drilled 4 holes in the aluminum and drilled a single hole in the bodywork to correspond to the top right rivet hole. Next I applied silicone goop to the hole and riveted the first hole. After that, I drilled the other holes and riveted the patch down. Some other patches I put more rivets but I'm not strictly sure it is needed.

Looking back at the first image, you'll notice yellow paint. This is because I simply taped over the holes and painted, leaving them to deal with later. Later is now! It's too hot to work inside the bus so I'm working outside.

After wiping away surplus silicone goop and waiting for it to dry, I sprayed the patch. It'll need a second coat but its done for now. Tomorrow I'll probably paint both patches and maybe work on some of the other 19 holes.

The hillbillies really liked their hole saw!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Getting into her drawers!

Drawers came to mind today as did painting. I reasoned that to paint, I'd better clean the dinette. Then I reasoned that it would be better if the drawer was completed and in place ready to paint.

It was pretty hot but with the internal door propped open as well as the front and side doors, it was bearable. I put a fan up to blow hit air out of the bus but it didn't improve matters much.

Putting the drawer together wasn't actually that hard. Oh, I can complain and bitch about it and it took until I ran out of wood to put it together but it was all pretty simple. The key was cut accuracy. Everything had to be pretty accurate.

I started days ago by ensuring that all the supports that would be involved with drawers were perfectly symmetrical. Today it was just a case of installing the runner bars and making sure they were horizontal, both at the same height and that they were parallel. So, 3 dimensions of orientation at each end.

Once that had been achieved it was a case of adding the drawer runners, one of which rather usefully captures the slider so that it can only be removed at the end of its run. That helped with measuring the width needed for the wood. Cutting the wood was easy enough.

I only miscut one piece - a mistake I've made before. I simply misread the tape measure which is not that hard when reading the numbers upside down. I cut the wood too short. Sadly I was unable to finish the drawer because the next piece of wood as supplied by Home Depot had been consumed by termites. Now you know why I try to make sure all my wood is pre-treated. The termite problem must have occurred at Home Depot or before. Wood in this condition should never be sold!

After stopping work for supper, I raced down to Lowes to replace the two drill bits that had broken, to get a catch foir the cockpit door and to get some more OSB and 1x4. The 1x4 is excellent for making drawers. As with the 2x4, its wet and I laid it across a stepladder to dry overnight. Speaking of the 2x4, its definitely drying. One piece of the four is still pretty heavy and might need a lot more drying. The rest is probably now usable.

Of course now its dark so nothing can be achieved until the sun reappears. Its getting quite exciting looking at progress...

Friday, June 12, 2015

Today's accomplishments look impressive

I started out with the idea of converting a space in the bathroom into a wash stand. Well, that was the theory. I got as far as putting insulation under the seat rail and OSB on the face of the seat rail. That was only after I did other things...

The first thing was to look at the wood I left out last night. It was lighter and drier but not right yet. I left it out all day, turning it every few hours. By the end of the day it was definitely feeling drier. Its not there yet though. As its going to be exceptionally hot for the next 3 days, I'll leave it out. If its not dry after 3 days of 110f (43.3c) then it never will be!

Before I knocked off for the night, I test mounted two wooden bars upon which I will mount drawer runners in my dinette. That went well enough so maybe tomorrow I'll be building a drawer.

Most of the day though was spent turning the 2x2 that I sanded clear of mold yesterday into a door. Sadly I had a casualty - my last 1/16 drill bit committed suicide. I'll soldier on with my 1/8 drill for the moment.

The door actually put up very little resistance. It went together beautifully though I ran out of T brackets and had to use L brackets instead. There's a little spring on the door that causes it to open due to the 2x2 being warped. Clearly the ball latch won't do. I'll have to install something stronger.

And there it is - the completed door, of which I am rather proud. I sat on my dinette and admired my handiwork for quite a while. The list of things needing to be done is ever reducing.

And tomorrow? I'm not sure what I'll do. I could work on the bedroom sub partition that I started today, I could work on the bathroom wash stand, I could work on a drawer, I could paint the outside where I missed painting or I could work on filling the 21 remaining holes in the outside of the body that are currently just taped over. You'll just have to wait to read the next exciting installment of the bus blog.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Fighting the good fight but not really seeing much progress!

Today was mildly frustrating in that nothing stunning was achieved but problems abounded. I couldn't do any carpentry because the 2x4 is still wet. In fact I decided to leave one piece outside until tomorrow to see if it improves any, even risking it getting warped.

Overnight I left 2 pieces of 2x2 out due to their mouldy appearance. Well, today I sanded them and they look a load better. They're definitely not treated 2x2 contrary to Home Depots claim. After putting them into the bus, I saw the 3rd piece of 2x2 from Home Depot and sanded that too. That had some nasty looking dark marks and now it doesn't!

I had a go at installing the bathroom handbasin and put in a piece of 2x2 that's the correct length and perfectly level. That's as far as it went. The next piece of wood just didn't cut right then didn't mount right so I decided to skip that for the moment.

I'd have loved to have done the cockpit door but because I have 2x4 lying uncut in the bus, there was no way I could even attempt to build my door. The wood would have stopped it swinging. I thought about making a drawer but that would have been a new learning experience that would probably be better done en masse - do all the drawers at one time.

I did get on with some metalwork. I cut off the surplus metal that had been welded to the seat back tubing. Now all that's left is some blobby welds that I'll have to reduce when I switch out the cutting wheel for a grinding wheel on my angle grinder.

Another thing I did was to install the other part of my door lock. That went pretty much OK though the door needs to be partially opened by the big door lever in order to get the lock to move. The shim I had to put behind the lock is a little too thick. Without it, the lock wouldn't work. In fact, I battled most of the day to install that lock plate. The end result is that yes, it works but I'm not 100% happy with the implementation. I am however relieved that I have two working locks on the bus that can be opened from outside. Now it'd be rather hard to be totally blocked from entry.

No pictures today. I didn't achieve anything of which I am sufficiently proud. I did, while having lunch, look at an interesting YouTube video in which a guy made an instant water heater from a pair of 110v heating elements and some aluminum tubing. There was a 12v water heater too but I didn't watch the video. It did set me thinking though about whether I could get a 3 gallon immersion heater. That should be sufficient for a good shower combined with a shower head that cuts the water off when its not actively being used.

Today the temperature rose to 105f (40.5c) inside the bus. That made working on the door lock for a couple of hours real fun. Sweat was pouring off me. Doing the bathroom sink should be easier as its right beside the door.

While I was in the area, I measured the shower area at 34 by 53. The water trough I saw in Tractor Supply yesterday for $18 looks like it'd make an excellent shower bottom. It just needs a drain to be installed. That should be easy and I'm not restricted about where to put the drain either. There isn't one so I can make it where its convenient for the bus!

Right now, its frustrating because progress is slow due to the heat. Progress is imperceptible. I know I need to buy more OSB but I'm holding off on trips due to my lack of income. As I said before, my job ended for the summer and my applications thus far haven't produced as much as an interview.

I'm hoping to get the bathroom sink base completed tomorrow. That's something I can do without using OSB though to put the sides on, I shall need some.

As far as the $40 shower base I bought. I'll just have to write that off as a bad buy and won't ever return to Bonner's Wholesale. I did look at Habitat for Humanity Restore but their stuff looked no better. I'm better off ignoring secondhand and salvage as its always wasted money. What really pisses me off is that I worked damn hard for that money that got wasted on the garbage shower base. Oh well, tomorrow's another day!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Lock n load

Again, it has been another busy day. Because I moved house a month or so back, I had to change the details on my drivers license and my registration documents. I'd tried to do that before, at the local DMV office but they couldn't do it because I was still recorded as being a non US citizen. I had to go to a special office, 45 minutes away. Well, I got there and they duly changed me over to being a US citizen and changed my license and registration details. I got a swanky new license with a photo that makes me look like a deranged serial killer. Then came the painful bit - the fee was now $25 up from $10 the last time.

I might have been a bit more relaxed had South Carolina's finest been attending to speeding motorists. There I was, puttering along at 45mph (the speed limit) thinking about changing lanes in a mile or so in order to get ready for a left turn when I heard the roar of a straining engine. There was a swoosh and a sports car shot past me with its engine literally screaming. A second later, another sports car screamed past. Both had to have been doing well over 100mph. Needless to say there was no police car anywhere near. Given that the road across the dam has very limited visibility and room for maneuver, had anybody changed lanes or been in that lane, there would have been fatalities. And South Carolina's finest - nowhere to be seen!

Having got the documentation done, I headed to Irmo Lock Company who sold me the two locks for the side and rear doors of the bus and had the one planned for the side rekeyed so that both locks take the same key. It reduces the number of keys I need to carry!

Then I headed home and used the new hole saw I bought the other day to finish cutting the hole for the lock. Well, the old hole saw had messed up because it was blunt and the hole hadn't gone quite right. Still, the inner hole isn't that important. I trimmed it with my angle grinder. Then I cut the outer hole.

Fortunately, the hole went into precisely the right place and the lock fitted perfectly. I had to trim the lock bar - its marked in 1/4 inch lengths ready for trimming. The last one I trimmed with my saw. This time I did it with my angle grinder.

And the final result - a working side door lock. Now I can open both doors from the outside. Of course, the big thing is getting a way of unlocking the front door. That's somewhat harder!

The front door has a sprung latch that locks the door very well. It just can't be opened from outside. My idea is to put a solenoid that will raise the latch, operated by a key. The solenoid is something I'll have to make myself. The key lock might as well be a motorbike key lock since they're weather resistant.

About the only other thing I did was to add a latch and a handle to the bedroom door I hung yesterday. The door has warped which is annoying but not that much of a bother. I still need to put a stop behind the door but here's the door. With a stop, no light will shine through.

Inside the bus was 105F (40.5C) so sweat was pouring off my brow, working. It was while I was working that I received a dinner invitation. Of course that had to be rescheduled as there was no way I could be ready in such short order. My lady couldn't have managed it either. The bus ius getting loaded with locks now!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Thoughts on alternative cooling

Yesterday, as I worked, hanging the bedroom door, sweat was dripping off me. That had me thinking more about cooling systems. Now, as you probably know, there are two main types of cooling system in use in the USA. The first is the ubiquitous air conditioning unit. These have been around since the 1930s.

An air conditioning unit works exactly the same way as a fridge or freezer works. Essentially there's a huge loop of aluminum tubing with a pump that pumps a refrigerant gas around the loop. On the far side of the loop from the pump, the tube has a constriction that allows only a small amount of gas through. This has the effect of creating high pressure on one side and low pressure on the other. A compressed gas emits heat while an expanded gas absorbs heat. You can see where this is going! The tube section with expanded gas runs into the fridge\freezer and the tube section with compressed gas is behind the unit. All this pumping to pressure uses a lot of electricity.

The second type of cooling system is known as a swamp cooler. Effectively, its hanging a wet towel in front of as fan that's blowing on you. That works because as water evaporates, it takes heat away, leaving the remaining water cool.

In a humid climate such as South Carolina, a swamp cooler is less effective however I have come up with a work around to that issue and to the fact that swamp coolers add water to the air.

My solution is to pass aluminum tubes through a water container. Water is allowed to evaporate as normal, keeping the body of the water cool. Air is passed through the tubes and of course the water absorbs the heat of the air. The air coming out is cooler.

This won't be as cool as a compression air conditioner and does need several things. It needs to be filled regularly with water, it needs to be kept out of sunlight and it needs electricity though not as much as a compression unit.

This is what I intend to build for the bus, when I get into the electrics. The other thing is an extraction fan to remove hot air from the bus.

Other than thinking about cooling, all I've done is to visit Lowes and Home Depot for more supplies and to use the new hole saw to cut through the first skin of the side door in preparation to install my second lock.

Another thing I did was to start investigating a new shower base. The base I bought for $40 from the dodgy guy advertising on Facebook looked OK when I bought it but has since developed lots of cracks. Clearly it was cheap because it was trash that I'm now going to have to find some way of disposing of. This happens every time I buy used stuff. It either needs far more work to bring it up to an acceptable standard than anticipated of its absolute trash that I end up having to take to the dump.

Thus far, it looks like Tractor Supply might have something good. Feeding troughs and concrete mixing baths look likely candidates. At 2 feet by 3 feet, they'll fit the available space nicely.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Frustrations at every turn

Today was more notable for what couldn't be achieved than for what could. Let's take a look at things that didn't happen first and why it didn't happen.

First, building new interior doors didn't happen because of the lack of 2x2.
Second, drilling the hole for the side door lock didn't happen because the hole saw is worn out.
Third, more internal carpentry didn't happen because it was 90F inside and 55% humidity.
Fourth I couldn't find a drill to insert the latch for the back door of the bedroom.

Now we've got that lot out of the way, what was achieved? And in fact, I achieved quite a few things.
First I filled a lot of holes with Great Stuff foam sealant. In fact I used up a complete tin of the stuff. After finishing that and finding I had two more empty cans, I took them into the back yard (don't panic - its the countryside) and used them for target practice and had a load of fun.
Second, I repositioned the door lock and started to drill the lock hole before finding the drill was blunt but hey, the lock plate is positioned in a far better place now.
Third, I hung the back bedroom door.
Fourth, with the aid of my girlfriend's sister's boyfriend, I managed to remove the ball from the tow hook some idiot welded to the front bumper.

My big problem is the heat. Working on the bedroom door, sweat was literally dripping off me. I'm very close to having to install ventilation. The other day I had to stop work because the heat was making me feel disorientated.

The big circle is what the hole saw failed to cut through. Looking at the saw, I see exactly why - it's totally blunt. It's designed for wood and so far has cut through 4 layers of 15 gauge steel and an inch of aluminum. Time for a new hole saw! In theory I should be using a hole saw made for cutting metal but since they're ten times the cost of one designed for cutting wood, I can afford to treat those designed for wood as disposable since I really don't have many holes to cut.

And there you can see how the teeth are all flat and have the edges turned over.

You're probably wondering why I don't just rush off to the store to buy the stuff I need. Well, the truth is that my day job has stopped for the moment so I don't have any income other than advertising clicks. After my job as a retail manager ended (the store closed), the only job I could find was after school child minding. That is part time and was the impetus that made me start building my motorhome. I realized there was no way that I was going to get a real job in South Carolina. I realized that I had to be able to job hunt outside South Carolina. The bus means I'm not tied to a rented hovel and means I could work as far away as Virginia and still get back to South Carolina at weekends to be with my girlfriend.

In view of the lack of income until school restarts in August, I'm eliminating all nonessential mileage. As I have a few things to do tomorrow, I shall combine everything in a single trip. So, now you know!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Incremental change

Today I looked at the 8x4 hardboard I bought yesterday and how it was pretty much blocking the entire dining area and decided it would be better dissected into appropriately sized portions. When I bought it, yesterday, I wanted to buy some 2x2 to go with it to make my doors. Sadly Lowes had but 5 pieces of 2x2 in stock. One was broken in two, one was bent like a banana and the others were in even worse condition. Basically, firewood.

I took the hardboard outside and marked it out whereupon thunder rolled. Spots of rain began to fall. Hurriedly I cut the hardboard and whisked it into the bus. My trusty thermometer read 64% humidity and 90F. It was very hard to work today.

My next task would have been to place extra supports under the kitchenette counter but seeing how the 2x4 I bought yesterday from Lowes was still very wet, I stuck with doing other things. I'll use the 2x4 when it has dried out a bit more. That might take a few days!

Looking at the old countertop, I decided to remove the sink. I have a single sink unit and it is quite small. Its destination will probably be the bathroom, in front of the toilet. For drinking water and washing up water, I see no problem with taking a jug of water from the bathroom to the kitchen since the kitchen is just 5 paces away from the bathroom!

Once I'd trimmed the old kitchenette countertop to fit half of the new kitchenette, I turned to the dinette. By now you'll be wondering why half a countertop. The answer is simple! Because neither of the partitions is truly 90° from the walls, its simpler to cut a counter that has a join in the middle than to cut a counter that has different angles at each end.

The dinette had all my supplies piled up on it. These were transferred to the kitchenette. Then I cut the two dividers to go under the dinette and put a sheet of OSB up as a top. That will be trimmed to fit at a later stage.

As of now, I have half a sheet of OSB remaining. Clearly a trip to Lowes is in the near future. I need more 2x2 and possibly two more sheets of OSB.

For now, here's a look at my dinette countertop. As ever, I make less progress than I'd like but the interior construction is getting closer to completion. I can't wait!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The bus shook!

Today I added 3 cross members to the kitchenette while deciding whether there should be a sink, whether the bathroom sink would be sufficient and whether the bathroom really needed a sink. Then I mused over where to put things.

The upshot was that input my 3 cross members. They will support the countertop more but crucially, they counteract the bowing of the 2x4. The sink from the old installation will be reused though I'm not sure I'll have much use for the faucet. My water plans involve water being pumped on demand via a pushbutton.

I looked into recycling the old kitchenette countertop and still have not reached a decision on that. I did think that I should build a set of drawers that's free standing that I can just slip under the counter and screw into place. That makes construction and painting that much easier.

Speaking of painting, today I put a first coat on both the bedroom doors. They look pretty good now, even without a top coat.

For the first time in a couple of weeks, I went to Lowes. I had ideas of building a front door for the cockpit - dining area doorway. To this end I got another sheet of hardboard. Its an interior door - it doesn't have to be super strong! Then I went to look for some 2x2. Oh boy! My local Lowes had half a dozen pieces left that looked more fit for firewood. Huge knots mussing from the edges and highly warped. Clearly they'd sold out!

I have some 2x4 recycled from my old kitchenette - the one that wobbled. Sadly, its not long enough for a door. It is long enough to use toward the sub partition in the bedroom which might be the next step.

Speaking of wobbly, I grabbed my kitchenette and tried to shake it vigorously. The only thing that shook was the bus. I'm happy with my construction!

Aside from putting in my countertops and under counter partitions, the kitchen\dinette is nearing completion. That will be a time for great celebration! I can't wait.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Massive but insignificant

Today was a day that started with no real plan. I had a look at the side door lock but decided to do some woodwork instead after realizing it would be easier to start again with the lock installation. For that, buying some longer self drilling screws would help and that means a trip to the store.

Looking at the place where the kitchenette will go, I had to do a lot of picking up, sweeping and general debris removal. By the time I'd taken this photo, I'd installed the two visible cross members. Getting them horizontal and level with each other wasn't easy and involved both my tape measure and my set square (as it has a spirit level) and took an age.

Having installed those members, I installed one on the other (non visible) end. Then I started with the first of the two long members. Getting that trimmed to length with the circular saw and wedging it into place so that it was horizontal, at the right level and correctly oriented took a long time. When it was mounted, it was possible to see how warped it was. Still, that will either be fixed when I wedge in some cross members or won't matter because it'll be hidden by the countertop.

The next order of the day was to fill in under the seat rail. I've been filing in under the seat rails with Styrofoam then screwing OSB into place in front of it. It just means there's one less place for critters to hide. After that, I installed the final cross member, propping one end up in the right place as below.

Having got that end in roughly the right place, I propped the other end in exactly the right place and drilled through the cross members and into the beam then inserted two very big lagging screws.

Having secured that end, I repeated the process at the other end. The end result wasn't as perfect as I'd have liked but is perfectly acceptable. The next thing I did was to lift my weight on the beam. Yes... It will support 200lbs without the central supports that it will soon acquire.

The final result is a massive change from the old kitchenette but was an insignificant amount of work. It took me all day and I got more achieved today than for positively ages but then, the bus was a little cooler. The thermometer read just 99F (38C)! It was the usual work an hour, rest indoors for half an hour, rinse and repeat.

I'm now totally out of 2x4 and probably need to get more. I'm definitely nearing the end of internal construction, even though there's stuff left to finish all along the bus. The countertops will probably be OSB on the basis that I'm going to put vinyl on top anyway.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Dismemberment and recovery!

Over the past few days I've not been able to do anything to the bus due to work commitments that have now reduced. Thus, today I set to and recommenced work.

The first order of the day was to install the final supporting member of the dinette. That went through pretty easily. Then I decided to make a temporary countertop so that I could work on the kitchen countertop. That's where things went pear shaped. Having measured and remeasured the countertop and the wood, it still came out an inch short. Not to worry - I can reuse the wood for other projects on the bus.

Having got a temporary countertop in place, the arduous task of sorting the stuff on the old kitchen countertop began. As a result, I find I have far more M5 bolts than I thought and far more brackets too.

After that, I turned to the kitchen counter. That was built solidly but the wood had dried and had began to wobble as a result. While it was screwed to the wall, it didn't notice but when it was detached, it was very noticeable.

At the time I built the kitchen counter, I knew I really wanted something solidly built in but had to throw something together to pacify the insurance agent. I'm still not sure who wasn't being straight there. The end result was I transferred all my policies out of State Farm and will never again consider being a State Farm customer.

Within a few minutes, the counter that took a week to build was totally dismantled. All of the brackets were recovered save for a couple that got bent. The next thing will be to sand the floor and complete the cross members on the two partitions. From there, I can build the two long beams for the kitchen counter. Before all that though, there's yet more garbage to sweep out. One thing is sure though - construction is nearing an end.

I looked to the sub partition in the bedroom and found a light fixture in an awkward place. This has prompted a rethink on the design. Rather than reaching the ceiling, the partition will now be shorter and possibly curved.

Good news on color matching the front partition to Carpenters body colors. Valspar has a pretty close match. I'll get more color swatches and try other colors but I'm pretty happy with what I found.

The front of the bus by the stairwell still needs something and I'm 50\50 over whether it will be a box or a closet. The rear closet needs more work too. That needs shelves, doors and plates over the windows. The bedroom needs a closet rail.

I'm getting more of a feeling of progress now, despite the heat and mosquitoes. Today I think I killed 6 as they landed on me and have been bitten a few times too - including through my jeans. These damn mosquitoes are vicious!