Thursday, March 31, 2016

Standards aren't all that standard which is why hanging the waste barrel was so hard.

Today was the day designated to installing the waste barrel under the bus. It was expected to be a fairly swift task given that 6 holes had been drilled yesterday. It was envisaged that another barrel might also be installed on the other side of the bus. This was not, alas, to be.

Drilling the next six holes took an age, after which I decided to raise the barrel into position using my dollar store cargo straps. Problem number one was the cargo straps were so long that they could not be tightened enough without jamming the mechanism. The straps had to have the excess cut off and then the ends heat sealed with a match. This is something I'm used to doing with all kinds of nylon straps and webbing. Following drilling the holes, I sprayed the bare steel liberally with Rustoleum zinc paint. With any luck, should water get up there, this will stop rust from being so prevelant.

Next, I installed the turnbuckles on the far side of the barrel since they are the weakest link. The chain should hold 520lbs but the turnbuckles are good only for 130lbs. Full, the barrel will weigh 125lbs so there's a decent safety margin. In order to install the turnbuckles, I had to uninstall the barrel. That was about as time consuming as putting it there in the first place!

During installation of the turnbuckles, I applied Locktite Thread Locker to the threads of the cabe grips I'm using to secure it all to the sub frame. That should be pretty solid! The Thread Locker does come off but only if it is heated. I'd imagine if I needed to remove them, an angle grinder might be faster.

Let me take this time just to state how much I hate rolling around in the dirt underneath vehicles and how much in general I don't like doing DIY stuff. I am driven to it by necessity and even though I'm good at it - mainly due to being a perfectionist - I'd still prefer not to have to do DIY.

The barrel was reinstalled using the cargo straps and a length of chain held up to the assembley to see how much I needed. It turned out to be 22 links. That means my 20 feet of chain should be good for at least another barrel (on the other side of the bus) and possibly a fresh water barrel too (also on the other side of the bus - whenever I am near a U-Line supplier.

Cutting the chain was no easy task, given that I had to hand-hold the chain with a wrench while cutting it with an angle grinder. Still, I did it and the chain was cut in the right places. Installing it was where things became interesting. If you remember I made a template yesterday to drill holes for my cable grips. It turns out that not all the U bolts in the cable grips are the same distance apart between the ends of the bolt. That made installation a mix and match affair of trying the cable grips in different holes in order to find the ideal arrangement. Not a very standard standard!

Eventually, as thunder was beginning to rumble and the sky darkening, I installed the barrel and tightened the turnbuckles then removed the cargo straps. This seemingly simple task had taken all day. In fact, it took several days. The waste barrel on the other side should be much easier!

Two little footnotes. One is that I'm going to leave the plumbing as it is but will connect the barrel with the outlet and a faucet using flexible PEX piping if I can get it big enough. The second is that I need to get a marginally longer socket. It was only just biting on the nut and my deep sockets were so deep that I couldn't get the socket and the wrench in place to turn the nut. I might loosen the chains and slip the barrel an inch or so to the right but I'm not bothered. I think it'll work just fine.

The flexible clear overflow and breathing tube dangling down has been fastened to the barrel in two places with plastic zip ties. I'll trim the excess that hangs below the skirt. Speaking of hanging below the skirt, you'll doubtless be delighted to hear that a 15 gallon barrel placed thus is an inch above the bottom of the skirt. In other words, Joe Public cannot see it and have no reason to believe that this is not in fact a bus.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Slapped in the face by a wet kipper!

Yes folks, the wet kipper of reality just slapped me in the face. As I worked today, I discovered that the inlet thread on the barrels is the same size as the vent cap. I further discovered that it is the same thread as the average garden hose. What a fool I have been! I could have connected the shower directly to some garden hose, let it dangle to make the U bend (or S bend), put a T adaptor on the vent hole with the hose going into that. A separate piece of hose raised a bit would act as a vent and an overflow. At the bottom of the barrel, rather than having the inlet/outlet going into plastic piping, I could just have an ordinary faucet. I could have saved myself no end of effort, some welding and so on. It would also have meant the whole asembley would have been able to flex if the barrel swings a little. Not only that but it would have allowed me space to put a second barrel underneath the shower - with its own faucet.

Well, today started by my having to clear a space underneath the bus on which I could lie to work. The winters leaves had all collected on that side of the bus. A quick blow job later and the leaves were gone.

I looked underneath the bus and the ribs are just about perfect. It seems to alternate two opposing C sections and two box sections. The C sections I can easily drill into to install the attachments for the chains that hold the drums.

Visualising how to hang the drums, I found my cheap dollar store cargo straps are way too long and will probably need to be trimmed but I can see how the drums will hang. Knowing about the hose connectors lets me think more about adding that second barrel. On the other side of the bus, there's space for a white and a grey and possibly a black too. I'm not sure that I want to put a battery underneath though. It just seems that I won't be using that much power anyway. I thus have my eye on a different solution or different series of solutions.

In order to hang the barrels I need to put pairs of holes perfectly aligned. Three pairs of holes will do. Thus I made a small template to guide me for the second hole. Looking at the C section above, I should have no problem with the sections bowing under 125lbs weight. Indeed, given that I'm using three chains with each chain capable of holding 450lbs and three turnbuckles each capable of holding 130lbs plus other bits that are pretty darned strong (can't recall the specifications), I think I have plenty spare capacity. The most I can reliably say it'll stand is three times 130lbs (the strength of the turnbuckles) so 390lbs. Of course I'm unlikely ever to reach more than 125lbs given barrel capacity.

Underneath the bus, I set to and drilled three holes - one for each chain that will pass around the barrel. The second hole posed more of an issue. I had no 5/16 bolt to bolt my template to the first hole. Oh, I haven't told you about the template. I made a template that matched the two sides of my U bolts as shown in the photo.

So, without using the template my first hole was not quite in the right place. I had to do a lot of filing to make it right! And of course prudence being the better part of valor, I departed to Lowes (hiss, spit) where I picked up not only a pair of 5/16 nuts and bolts but also some Thread Locker. That's useful stuff that is painted on a bolt then the nut is tightened and the nut then does not come undone without a significant fight. Just the thing for under bus usage!

While in Lowes, my phone rang with an unfamiliar out-of-state number. I didn't answer but let it go to voicemail. Then when I listened to the voicemail, it was a woman I vaguely remembered trying to help in the past. Eventually figuring out her phone number since Google Voice had screwed up pretty badly, I returned her voicemail. A few minutes later, she rang back. During the ensuing conversation I remembered her as being particularly needy and so the daylight escaped as I made multiple attempts to excuse myself, politely. Eventually after 40 minutes I did get away but the daylight had gone.

Undaunted I grabbed my lantern and an S hook and slid under the bus. Blow me down if the lantern trick didn't work. It was phenomenal! I used my bolt and template and made two very successful holes in just the right places. It was I felt too dark to work on the other side though so I packed up and came inside. Tomorrow it is alleged to be going to rain so I might get under the bus in the morning to drill the other six holes (and rust proof them).

The first barrel could be well hung by tomorrow night. Having said that, I'm rethinking my plumbing ideas since the barrels have hosepipe fittings. I did look at some faucets today but did nothing further. I want to let my ideas and thoughts gel overnight. It could well be that while a better solution exists, it would be financially better to stick with existing plans and just modify them a little bit. Being able to use flexible tubing would be a good thing as it allows the barrels a little movement.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Some strange adventures.

Today was a day that was really odd. It started with my aiming to go to Greenville to try to get my Mac fixed at the Apple store. That's not what actually happened though. As soon as I started the engine, a light came on telling me to get my engine serviced. Thus, I went to Autozone where the problem was diagnosed as a faulty fuel sender unit costing $160. Well, that seemed strange since clearly my fuel gauge worked well. Next stop was the dealer who confirmed it was the fuel sender unit and that it would be $610 to get it replaced (including taxes). By then it was getting a bit late to head to Greenville and since the fuel gauge was still working, I decided to leave it until such a point as it actually needs replacing.

Being in Lexington itself then, I headed to Best Buy where I noted the cheapest Macbook (10 years younger than mine) was $800. Still some way to come before they will be as affordable as a $199 Windows laptop! As usual all the staff completely ignored me from the greeter by the door to the individual in the computer section who was too busy picking his nose to be bothered. Plenty staff just stood idly around chatting on their cellphones and watching customers enter then leave the store having never been asked if they needed assistance. I left too even though I knew what I wanted to ask about since Best Buy clearly is not interested in doing any business.

Leaving Best Buy, the next port of call was Home Depot where I actually found the turnbuckles I so desperately needed. Seeing as Home Depot's turnbuckles which apparently will hold 130lbs had loop ends rather than the closable ends I needed, I had to go across the road to Tractor Supply for some connectors. Et voila - now you can see what is going to be on one side of each waste water drum!

The top left screws into one of the body skeleton cross members. It's a clamp designed to anchor a steel cable. It will hold a chain very well. The next bit is a 130lb turnbuckle. The last bit is a link I can use to connect the turnbuckle to a chain. I will use three like this on one side of each barrel. The other side will have a plain clamp to attach the chain to the skeleton.

I returned home in enough time to work toward putting the barrels under the bus. The first thing achieved was to attach the water tubing. After that I installed the breathing tubes. Sounds simple? I most certainly assure you it was not!

The water tube was pretty easy - just a matter of drilling a 3/4 inch hole in the center of the big cap then screwing in an adaptor - the cap is ready threaded. Then the angle was installed. The other side was far more interesting. I spent ages trying to unscrew a metal ringed cap before discovering after 20 minutes that it simply levered off, revealing a cap with a cross in the head. It took a few minutes to make a screwdriver out of steel to open the cap. The goal was to put a hole through that cap in order to install a breathing tube. 

To cut a long story short (chorus of Thankyou Jesus echoes around the room), my original plan had been to drill through the cap and install a threaded tube through it, tightened by a nut on both sides. Well, that didn't end up working but the plastic hose barb that I'd bought screwed very nicely into the hole I'd slowly made with a drill then enlarged with a file and a stanley knife.

By the time darkness fell, I'd put two breathing tubes and two fluid tubes into barrels. The next thing and I left this until tomorrow is to mount the barrels underneath the body. Interestinly the threades on the cable clamps seem to be 7.2mm or 0.29 of an inch. I don't have a drill that size but I can borrow one. My game plan is to drill a template in some flat steel then use that to drill the holes under the bus. 

The second barrel will not be installed tomorrow. Just the one. The second, I need to buy 6 more cable clamps for. Tractor Supply did not have enough to fulfill my needs. I gather they have deliveries on Thursdays so on Friday I can imagine I might be installing the second barrel. Having done that, I might put the sink that I removed, back in the bathroom as it's just the perfect place to use as a urinal! 

Although I am unlikely to get my Mac working before I head back to work on Monday, I should at least (if plans go well) have some improved plumbing. I don't know about the main breaker box but things are looking promising!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

What was I thinking?

That I might actually achieve something today? The first thing I did was to head to the bus to find the tool needed to change the disk on my angle grinder. That was easy enough. I think after hunting through six big, fully loaded cardboard boxes I'd had enough but fortunately it was right in the bottom of the sixth box. Tidying up the other day had the unfortunate effect of concealing the things I need to find!

Having changed the disk - a task of mere seconds as opposed to the hour or so trying to find the tool - I decided to cut some steel for the back door. Just the other end of the property lies a abandoned trailer with an abandoned fridge lying in the yard. That fridge looked to be a very suitable donor!

For some reason, there was an electric cable lying along the length of the yard. Thus, angle grinder in hand I went to the fridge, expectantly. Well, that's where it all went to pot! There was no power to the cable. Undaunted and beginning to swelter from the oppressive spring heat, I traced the cable back and found it wasn't attached to the main cable. I attached it then tried again. Still no power. I unattached the cable and tried the grinder on the main cable. Nothing. I traced the main cable back to its origin which happened to be a pile of leaves. That was odd and there was no visible socket anywhere nearby. I have seen that cable in use though.

Undaunted and no longer in the mood to mess about, I went to the shed and pulled out m'lady's Harbor Freight 800w generator. It was a struggle but I carried it down to the fridge. Reading the instructions it was a case of putting the power switch into the on position, setting the choke and pulling the cord. I pulled and pulled and pulled and pulled some more. Now I know why the electrical cable has been in use. The generator just would not start!

Frustrated and exhausted, I put the generator back in the shed. Sure - it had fuel and I'd followed the instructions. There definitely was compression. It just wouldn't bloody well start. At that point I decided enough had gone wrong to merit not attempting any further work. It was the kind of day when nothing would work out and in my experience, it's better to miss a day than to make mistakes that cost yet more time and or money to fix.

My mind flitted to conversion discussions I'd read when I was a member of those silly bus conversion forums. One fool wanted to change the dual wheels at the back to single wheels just in order to cut down on tyres. The fact that the vehicle had been designed to use dual wheels did not enter into the silly person's head. Another individual wanted to change over to a different type of tyre. Instead of using the standard 10R22.5 he wanted to use something weird. The point is this is a bus. It will always be a bus no matter how it is retitled. The parts will cost exactly what bus parts cost. Yes the tyres are expensive. This is what you get when you buy a bus and people don't understand that. Honestly though, I suspect the vast majority of forum users that claim to have a bus actually do not. I recall one person swearing blind they lived in an old school bus but looking at their photos, they lived in a bus body that had been dismounted off the chassis. It was immobile and thus not a bus any more.

Having thought about things overnight, I have decided to go with the original plan for the drums in having them mounted crosswise. Instead of having a pair of drums under the shower, I decided to go with a single drum on each side. The steel chain I bought will hold 450lbs and since there will be 3 chains holding each barrel, that's 1,350lbs of holding power. I don't think a 125lb tank is going to go aywhere or that any one chain will break. I will still take precautions though!

By 3pm the sky was still very overcast and grey. The humidity was off the charts and work outside was just unpleasant. It was time to come inside and abandon the day in the hope that tomorrow will be a better day.

I would have put the microwave on the ground since it doesn't now look safe to use and put a few bullets though it, taken a picture and joked about the microwave being "shot" but what with the weather, I just didn't feel like it. My humble appologies - I'll do better next time!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Investigations revealed that it's possible

To put two 15 gallon barrels end on end on one side of the bus but only one on the other side. That's pretty much what I suspected. It's not possible to put them side by side due to there being insufficient space between the chassis and the skirt. Thus, it looks like I can squeeze in a 15 gallon freshwater tank and a 15 gallon dirty water tank on one side. There's no room for a black tank but that's fine. I went with a bucket solution anyway.

Today was one of those grey, miserable days that threatened and delivered on its threat to rain on everything. What with that and the darkness that comes with rain, nothing was actually achieved on the bus other than to put my latest bus purchases onboard for later use. Last night or this morning, I had an epiphany. I'd previously decided to put the barrels sideways because the ribs would act as stabilisers. Without the ribs as stabilisers I have to put stabilisers. I considered things like plastic door wedges etc but ruled them out as too small. Then I realised brackets would probably work. If the brackets are snug to the sides of the barrel then the barrel should not slop about. 

Lying in the yard from demolition of the hillbilly construction was a 14 inch bracket. As it is strengthened with folds, I picked it up and failed totally to bend it. Thus, 14 inch brackets were added to my shopping list. Clearly today was a shopping day - it just wasn't fit to do anything else!

The first port of call was the local Barnyard flea market where there was a CB kiosk. Those with longer memories will recall that on my trip out with the bus a few days ago, the flexible CB aerial was snapped off by a low hanging tree. Incidentally, it was that tree's turn to meet its maker yesterday morning. For days I had been plotting my revenge on that tree but had been too tired after work to be bothered. Yesterday however, m'lady had somebody in to plough the ground for crops. This is a homestead, after all! On its way out, the tractor clearly had encountered the tree and had snapped it off. Problem solved! It would however have been better timed if the tree had not been snapped off before I went to work. I had to go to the immense effort of getting out of my car to move the corpse before I could exit on my way to work.

Thus the first purchase was a longer CB aerial that I will install after I exit the property and remove before I enter the property! After that it was on to Tractor Supply. There, I found 8 more brackets, some chain that would support 450lb (15 gallons of water is about 125lbs) and some steel cable fasteners that looked idea to secure one end of the chain. The other end can be secured with my U bolts. With the length of the U of the U bolt, they can also be used to tighten the chain.

There are several tasks to be completed this week - the first being the electrical breaker box. Then there are the luggage restraints in the back closet and finally the grey water barrels. The fresh water barrel does not currently exist. Though I bought 3 barrels, they were all used and thus unsuitable for potable water. I'll do the fittings for a fresh water barrel but will have to wait until I am near a U-Line supplier that actually has new barrels in stock.

I've been thinking one way and another about the battery system and the ventillation system. Although I looked into installing a smaller 12v battery, I think my original idea was probably best. That idea was just to use tiny dedicated rechargeable lithium battery packs at $8 each. I figure 4 or 5 is all I'll probably need to power my tablet and phone over a few days without power. 

The solar fan is something I have investigated. There are several around but judging from what people seem to be saying, it's pot luck as to whether or not they actually work. Truth be told, the message coming across from all this solar and wind stuff is that it's very expensive. It's an idealistic thing that really isn't financially worthwhile. As an example, I could spend three or four hundred dollars on a set of solar panels plus about the same on batteries to get the same amount of power I'd get out of an 800w generator that I can get for $100. Given that I just don't have any real use for electricity with my butane stove, an 800W generator seems a trifle excessive! A 400W generator seems more realistic but such generators seem very hard to find. 

For the moment, the solar fan seems to be unavailable. The next thing I looked at was wind-powered extraction fans. Those seem to be massively expensive and available only in Britain though. There are some attic fans available but they're too tall. I don't want to raise the operational height of the bus beyond the three inches of the front vent. The alternative is a small computer fan and a battery or perhaps some kind of roof vent. Perhaps some form of anodised aluminum tubing could be used to draw air out by convection. That would seem to be the simplest and most environmentally friendly option with the bonus that it might even work during the night.

Plans to replace the top flashers with metal blanks still exist as does eventually a plan for a tow hook. There are quite a few underbus plans. One is to put a second video camera and another is to rewire the reversing horn but to a switch on the console. That way I can choose to operate it or not. It doesn't become one of those bloody annoying things that screams at people who aren't there at ungodly hours.

On the whole, things are looking promising. The biggest issue I have is with cutting through the environmentally friendly bullshit. As I've said before and it is a very unpopular argument, solar and wind power are the biggest most steaming piles of bullshit I have ever encountered. I have a 5W solar panel that I have played around with and the amount of power generated wouldn't light a fart let alone a light bulb. Years ago I was suckered into buying a solar panel after listening to the environmental bullshit. I wired it up to charge a flip phone and left it hooked up in a sunny place for a week. At the end of the week, the phone had enough power to operate it for a massive 15 minutes. Let's just say I was distinctly unimpressed. Solar and wind power just don't produce any worthwhile power but let's see who the proponents of solar and wind power are shall we? Impressionable students and salesmen actively trying to sell the crap. Now you know why it doesn't work!

Friday, March 25, 2016

The beautiful thing about thinking is

That it's absolutely free. In the intervening days between working on the bus and my last entry and subsequently I have come to several realisations.

But first let's return to the exciting events of the other night. No believable news has been forthcoming about events next door. The loud truck has not returned. Some guys in jeans and black tee shirts were seen climbing all over the cabin. Other than that, there has been a complete lack of news. It's one of those things that will forever have to remain a mystery!

I thought about the plumbing system and realised there are two issues. The first is that if the tanks are installed crosswise then there will be a lot of strain placed on the fastenings on acceleration and braking. The second is that breaking fastenings could be disastrous. This has prompted two new lines of thought.

The first line of thought ties in with something else I have read about. Somebody posted that a composting toilet really stinks if urine is introduced to it. Thus, one thought was to reinstall the small handbasin in the bathroom that I removed and plumb it to a tank installed underneath the toilet side of the bathroom. The handbasin is an ideal height to use as a urinal! Having one tank under each side would mean more distance between the ends of the chains used to fasten the tanks and the tyres or the fuel tank. That's a bonus in that a broken chain is less likely to damage a tyre or the fuel tank.

The second line of thought is to put wedges in place so that the tanks can be aligned longtitudanally. Now I have seen people using plywood wedges but to be honest, having seen the hillbilly plywood, I have no intention of using plywood. Perhaps plastic or steel would be a better bet.

A further thought was a method of emptying the dirty water tanks. As I often park on sandy ground, an electrical valve that allows me to empty the tanks without actually getting out to open a valve is very tempting. There are some systems that allow that but they're mostly 24v. 

The important things to complete are the plumbing, the electrical breaker box, the ventillation, the 12v system and the front door unlocking system.

 Just thoughts.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Breaking news. Shots fired!

8:30PM Wednesday night, a car drove along the road near where my bus is parked, cut the lights, drove down the next door neighbor's driveway. Shots were fired. Police and an ambulance are pictured above. This photo taken from the cockpit of my bus.

Further news might follow if I find any more about this. No news about it at the moment!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

What happened to the Playboy Bunny-girl?

Today was a bit of a mish-mash day that actually ended quite successfully. The day dawned rather too early which was not welcome. In fact, I was probably awake before 5am after having hit the sack about 1am. At 7am the alarm clock kicked me out of bed. That was followed by a rather lengthy trip to Walmart and Lowes (hiss, spit).

The overall aim of the morning's trip was to do the month's grocery shopping. While there, I took advantage of the fact that Walmart's garage was open (on a Sunday) and had them give my car a much needed oil change. While that was going on, m'lady and her mother went to do the grocery shopping and I nipped across the parking lot on foot (shock, horror - somebody in America daring to walk somewhere) into Lowes (hiss, spit) where I managed to get the U bolts I wanted, a replacement drill bit and absolutely no rivets. Lowes (hiss, spit) was totally out of 3/16 rivets!

Returning to Walmart, I picked up my car and then rejoined m'lady and her mother to discover that one of the Walmart minimum wage serfs had been insanely rude to them. Given that both m'lady and her mother are inoffensive people, that was totally inexcusable. No point in complaining though. Walmart's solution would just be to fire the disposable minimum wage serf rather than to fix the demonstrable problem with their staff's attitudes.

While in Walmart, I noted the aisles were full of Easter merchandise. I think this is probably about the closest I'm going to get to a Playboy Bunny though!

Having completed the shopping and returned home, it was time to catch up with my missing kip. So, a couple of hours later I headed to the bus and checked the running lights. Initially one of the tail lights was out but the bulb was OK so after wigglimg the bulb, the light lit. One of the top red markers is out as is one of the right hand amber markers. I'll get to those in due course.

Entering the bus, I looked around and my eye alighted on a small packet in my tool box. Yesterday I had hunted through that tool box several times looking for rivets. Incredibly, there was the packet of 3/16 rivets that I needed. Thus, I set to work.

The last two of my cheap self-adhesive paper blinds were stuck up very well. They took quite some pulling to remove. Given that the other 3 had simply fallen down under their own weight, I don't for one instant believe that they would have withstood the test of time. Thus, the two blinds in the bathroom were replaced. 

The caribinas made moving the shower curtain very easy. It was just a case of unclip, reclip and done.Sadly the caribinas were too small to use with my lantern. That's not a problem though - I can always get a bigger caribina.

Slowly, things are coming together. I need to put the water tanks underneath, themain breaker box in, a method of securing items in the back closet, a method of opening the front door from outside and to secure the lower window of the back door. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

How bloody frustrating is that?

Yup. It's a broken drill bit! Not a wussy little drill bit either. That's 3/16th! I'd been battling to install roller blinds where my existing stick-up blinds had fallen down. The problem was I had to drill through not just inner skin but body skeleton as well. That stuff is hard to drill through!

I'd installed two blinds and was working on the final hole for a third blind when - due to tiredness - I pressed the drill too hard and the bit snapped. Well, that put paid to what I intended to do today. I can probably put the third blind up but the end is secured by a single rivet not by two. Yes, today I was using rivets since I am now totally out of short self-drilling bolts. It makes no odds - the blinds will be pretty secure anyway.

My goal for the weekend had been to install all the blinds, finish installing the main breaker box, install the waste water tanks, fit a method of securing the boxes in the back closet and put a panel over the lower back window. Well, that schedule just got knocked for six! Drilling holes today was such a beastly task that even with a power drill it has taken several hours.

Then, of course, there are all the tools I cannot find since I tidied the bus up and put everything where it is supposed to be. I have to be ready for an inspection at any time to verify that I have a motorhome, not a bus. One of those things was the tool I need in order to change the grinding disk on my angle grinder. Thus the disk could not be changed and I could not use my angle grinder to cut the blinds as I have been doing. Instead I had to use a hacksaw. All stuff that just takes extra time!

Right now it's pollen season so everything outside is covered with pollen. Every footstep kicks up gret clouds of pollen - it's like walking on the moon!

The final window one one side put up the biggest fight imaginable. The drill was skidding all over the place. Talk about rock hard steel! Eventually I had one hole in situ. Then after a long hunt, I found just one solitary rivet. I ran out of rivets!

Still, the three blinds I put up look pretty good. There're two more to replace but oddly enough, those stick up blinds have not fallen down - yet. I expect they will if left up for very much longer.

So, tomorrow I definitely need to pick up more rivets. I don't think there's much danger of my proceeding further than putting up the other two blinds and installing the main breaker box.  I'd like to install the underbody waste water tanks and install something to control the boxes stored in the back closet. I have a vague idea that bungee cords might help there but anchor points will be the challenge.

Another thing I'd like to do is to replace the lower rear window or at the very least to cover it on the inside. I could simply bolt or rivet the cover over the window. Replacing the window would be the best option but also the most time consuming. There's an awful lot of welding involved there!

Tomorrow I could buy the stuff to mount my underbody tanks though I have a feeling it won't be needed or used for a while. I know I need to replace my CB aerial too.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Installing the hookers

Today though tired from work I went and spent half an hour installing my new Carebiner clips. Sadly there just weren't enough of any particular color. There were silver, pink, green and blue. I ran out of pink in the bedroom and had to use silver. I ran out of green in the bathroom and had to use blue. Still, they were installed. Now there should be no problem with anything vibrating off the screw eyes.

Meanwhile, it seems life became even worse for residents of South Carolina who can't find work. It seems the government lifeline of SNAP aka Food Stamps is going to be removed from the most vulnerable citizens. For some strange reason the rule has been introduced that those unable to find any work whatsoever will not receive any Food Stamps whatsoever. This will be the death knell for many of South Carolina's poorest areas. The problem is that Food Stamps come from the state budget and South Carolina is broke. That's why so many were on Food Stamps in the first place - there's  just no work. 

I am lucky in that I have a job. It's not great nor all that lucrative but it keeps the wolf from the door. It offers no benefits, no pension and not enough to afford more than the very basics but it's better than no job. It affords me money to buy gasoline and a little more. My goal is to get the bus operational as a motorhome so that I can work where there is work rather than simply work in no-hope jobs here. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

#Trump will not be pleased with me, even though #China will!

Currently the US election is proceeding through it tortuous progress. Daily over the course of about a year a slowly dwindling number of candidates out slang, out harang and out curse each other in a display of behavious fit only for a junior school playground. Donald Trump is currently leading the rat pack and though it looks to be a neck-and-neck fight between Trump and Clinton, I feal Trump has the edge. Needless to say, Trump hates everything to do with China and the Chinese - possibly about as much as he hates Moslems and Arabs in general.

With that background, I have clearly done something that will greatly upset Candidate Trump. By the time he becomes F├╝hrer Trump I trust he will have forgotten about my sinful transgression. Yes - I have been buying stuff from China on eBay. My latest purchase was 35 caribiner clips. These will replace the failed S hooks. 

Am I now to expect the knock on the door from Trump's secret police? Will I be dragged out into the street, tied backward on a horse, covered in pine tar and feathers then driven out of town? 

Were I not so tired tonight having been working like a dog at my day job, I'd have leapt onto the bus and installed my Chinese caribiners in place of my failed S hooks. Indeed, it might be possible to hang even my lantern using these caribiners.

In theory, 35 Caribiners should be sufficient for the bedroom closet chain, bathroom shower curtain and for my lantern hangers that are situated all around the bus. If not, I can buy more. I did give one a strength test, trying to pull it apart and it seemed to survive with impunity. I feel good about my cheap Chinese caribiners.

Monday, March 14, 2016

In the post

Today I did it - I posted the application to retitle my bus as a motorhome. As far as I know, that should get to the DMV in a few days. I'll doubtless have to reinsure my bus as a bus before they look at it and change the title since the insurance is up in about a week. The insurance company has been reminding me for the past six weeks to renew my insurance. They just don't realise that I don't ever give anybody free use of my money when it can stay in my own account earning interest until I really have to spend it. Thus, I normally get my insurance on the day before it's really due.

The socket cover I painted yesterday looks really good and matches the rest of the bus rather nicely. I meant to try scraping the paint to see if it comes off as I have little confidence in paint thinner making anything stick to my bus. It seems to reject just about every attempt to prepare the surface for fresh paint. Even stripping down to bare metal could be challenging as the steel is zinc plated. I did get brake fluid just for this but had forgotten about it until now.

In other news, the hour advanced on Sunday night leaving me now with over an hour after I return home before sundown. Had I not been so tired today, I would have worked on my bus. 

I am giving thought to alternatives to power and to attaching my barrels. It strikes me that U bolts could be used to tighten chains and coincidentally would be a load cheaper than using turnbuckles. If I'm right, it could be possible to attach the barrels without needing to do any welding whatsoever underneath the bus.

As far as the house battery is concerned, I suspect plugging into the cigarette lighter socket when I'm driving could well work best unless I can tap into the alternator circuit. Combining that with a charge controller would be an interesting approach. Indeed, looking at the LIon batteries I have been looking at online, I could probably fit them into a small ammunition box. I'm a big fan of small ammunition boxes as I can pack charge controlers, battery meters, cables and USB sockets etc into them as well as the batteries. In other words, a complete and portable power source that can be carried inside the bus. Truth be told though, I'd really prefer to use a supercapacitor

One of the things I'm a fan of is simplicity. Why go to the trouble of slinging things under the bus if it's not essential? The extraction fan for the bedroom can be solar powered on the basis that it's there to remove heat, not ventillate as the bus has plenty ventillation anyway.

With the LIon house battery in a portable case, it could be charged on 120v just about anywhere. The beauty of a standard solution is it can be put together like Lego blocks. Supercaps aren't mainstream which means it'd be a build-it-myself solution and even following published plans, those things don't always work. I really like the idea of building my own electronics but 75% of the time they don't work even when made from a kit and checked scrupulously. Mind, that's petty much my experience of ready-made electronics anyway.

So, the upshot is, tasks remaining to complete:
1. Replacing self-adhesive blinds with roller blinds.
2. Installing waste water tanks.
3. Developing a house-battery solution.
4. Installing a set of bungie cord anchors for the back closet.
5. Replacing or blocking the back door lower window.
6. Replacing or blocking the two back windows.
7. Developing and installing a front door unlocking system.
8. Blanking the school bus flashers.
9. Replacing the arrow indicator lenses with amber flasher lenses.
After all that, I'd say the bus is probably about as ready as it'll ever be. I would kinda like to put some kind of handbasin in the bathroom but a bowl will do quite well.

One of the interesting things that has come to my attention is urine disposal. I hear that peeing in a composting toilet makes the whole thing stink. I'm not quite sure how it will be affected by the fact my toilet is modelled after a cat litter tray. The deposits are simply covered with cat lit. The other day, there was an article in which one bus conversion owner complained she and her girlfriend discovered they had to go and pee in the forest rather than their composting toilet. The upshot was that in the end they replaced their composting toilet with a flush toilet though the domestic toilet they used would use about 10 gallons in a single flush. That's fine for campsites but otherwise, not so great. I would not be too surprised if in the end I decide to install a black tank and a camper toilet. Now the water from that could be pumped from the shower grey tank or if the handbasin empties into a 5 gallon bucket then that could be a source of flush water.

Well, in a few days I should hear more about reclassifiying my bus as a motorhome. I think there's enough there for it to work.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Depressingly little achieved

Today was pretty much of a washout in terms of achievement on the bus. The blinds didn't get put up. The main breaker didn't get installed. Nothing really was achieved. I have no real excuse for that. I guess I really wasn't feeling too great what with the sudden hot day, the time change and general depression.

Despite all that, I did wipe down the power socket cover with paint thinner. Then it was sprayed with grey paint. If the paint sticks then the thinner trick works. As a control sample, another area where the paint was peeling was wiped down with thinner and sprayed. It'll be interesting to see if the thinner trick actually works. I have my doubts.

The old main breaker box, I cleaned up and removed the cables, rescuing the TT30 plug that was attached to it. The next stage was to bore a hole in one side that would accommodate my 3/4" cable sleeves. That was a challenge that took literally hours. The main cause of the slowness was that the tool was entirely inappropriate. Now the reason I used an inappropriate tool is that I make so few holes of that diameter that rather than spend $25 on the proper hole saw, I spent $7 on a cheap hole saw designed for wood. I simply use it for metal and regard it as disposable. So, the hole was bored upon which the rainspots that had been hitting me off and on for the past few minutes turned into a torrential downpour.

Retreating inside the bus, I pulled out a file and filed the hole to make it really work with the inlet. After the rain had drenched the outside world, I worked on the hole a little more with the hole saw. Then the inlet was inserted followed by the end of the 3 foot section of 8-3 cable that raised so many eyebrows in Lowes (hiss, spit). The other end will go into my sub panel. 

I never got as far as installing the panel. It was rather warm in the bus, hence my thoughts about a solar-powered extraction fan. I did have a go at installng a roller blind to replace the fallen stick-up blinds. Thus, I pulled out the battery drill and started drilling and drilled and drilled and drilled and made a small hole but not deep enough to achieve anything. At that point the light went so for possibly the very first time I put power through the inlet socket I installed and had light inside the bus powered by 120v mains power. That worked quite well.

I had a look for the vehicle registration documents but didn't find them in the obvious place. Clearly they much be somewhere less obvious. I need them to be able to send off to apply to have the bus retitled as a motorhome. To be absolutely honest, I think the insurance companies are being ridiculous on insisting on retitling as a motorhome just to insure everything. 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Decisions, decisions... And the story of the idea shot down in flames!

Attaching the 15 gallon drums underneath the bus was intended to be accomplished tomorrow. That won't be happening tomorrow though. Today I took m'lady to meet some friends of mine and during an exchange of information, I found why one of my previous positions ended. It transpired that I had not done the rotten job that I had been told I had done. It turned out that the manager in charge of the department quietly disliked me. That explains why some of the training I'd been give was rather obtuse. Afterwards, she'd admitted she'd got rid of me because she didn't like me. Now that I find is rather unusual because most people (not all) do seem to like me (or if they don't, they hide it pretty well).

So, the upshot of today is that I was in Lowes (hiss, spit) on the way back. My idea had been to use a chain with a turnbuckle to tighten it to perfection. That, it seems, is not possible. Looking at Lowes (hiss, spit) turnbuckles, they were all adorned with labels along the lines of "will not support a human" and "do not use to support weight" and seemed to be made of zinc. How useless is that? I have seen people using chains to secure tanks under their vehicles and I'm pretty sure they use turnbuckles to tighten their chains. Now it could be that Lowes (hiss, spit) specialises in supplying an inferior and inherently dangerous product and that many people just don't read the labels, ripping them off and relying upon them.

I had been criticised for considering using nylon cargo straps to secure my drums. It seems that cargo straps are probably the best idea. They can be tightened easily and while not being allegedly very durable, are probably as durable as a plastic tank! So, the answer is to put nylon cargo straps. While I don't possess cargo straps right now, they're easily obtainable. They're better doubled up for strength. I know 15 gallons of water weighs just over 125lbs. Thus if the cargo straps individually hold 120lbs then I can put 3 or 4 straps giving either one or two redundancies for safety. 

While I Lowes (hiss, spit) I obtained some small wire nuts. I came to the conclusion that I'm better off replacing the top flashers with plain metal sheeting. The idea of turning them into extra turn and brake lights at the back is very worthy but in terms of practicality, means adding more complications. Thinking about the existing wiring, it seems to me that since it goes straight to the control panel, it could be linked to my small solar panel to use to keep the bus battery topped up. Indeed, it might even be possible to use the wires to connect a solar panel to charge the house battery. The house battery, by the way, only needs to hold enough power to charge my tablet and my phone. That's next to nothing! Certainly keeping the bus battery charged is a good idea. With a little care, the power could be redirected to power a small electric extraction fan at the back of the bus. That would give the option of using the power for the fan.

Another interesting idea would be to couple a small 12v battery into the charging circuit for the bus so the battery charges when the bus is driving or when solar power is going in but doesn't deplete the main batteries when it's being used to power the house circuits. Realistically, the simplest way of achieving this is with a simple switch on the driving console. Power goes into the house battery when the switch is on. When it's off, the circuits are separate though remembering to activate the switch might be an issue!

Tomorrow, I'm not sure which tasks I will undertake. I'll probably replace the worthless paper blinds though. I might then look at the front flashers or even take the bull by the horns and install the main breaker box.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The shakedown!

A first run or a shakedown run is so called because you watch for things that fall off as the vehicle shakes. Today, what with fuel prices beginning to rise, I took the bus out to put some more fuel in the tank. I put about 20 gallons of diesel in and that almost filled the tank. Today was the first run the bus has had since probably January of last year. It showed - accelleration and gear changing was sluggish but improved as time went by. It clearly needs a 1000 mile run to get it back into running order.

The gaugues all looked healthy even though the hillbillies buggered around with the rev counter wiring so they could fit a reversing horn (badly). Often the rev counter and occasionally the speedometer don't work because of their bad wiring work. That's all on the list of things to get my mechanic to fix.

A few things fell down when I was driving - mostly things that had been poorly situated such as boxes placed on top of the bed and big boxes piled on top of small boxes in the closet area. My lamp standard toppled too. I'm not in the slightest worried about any of those things. Of more concern were by S hooks. A lot of my S hooks vibrated loose and fell off the screw eyes. Some have fallen into crevices and will be hard to locate. My closet chain was one such casualty of the S hooks. Clearly I need to replace all my S hooks with carabiner clips instead. That's well worth knowing.

On a more serious note, the allegedly flexible CB aerial snagged a low-hanging twig as I was driving off the property and snapped off just above the base. Clearly it wasn't as flexible as claimed. Obviously I need some kind of whip aerial.

Today I put up the shower curtains and found I need to get a 3rd curtain in order to surround the shower fully.  As with the S hooks elsewhere, the S hooks in the bathroom were problematic. I think I'm going to have to buy a lot of small caribiner clips. Evil Bay is probably my best bet there. Failing that, for the closet chain and the shower curtains I suppose I could get stainless steel split rings. That would definitely work but might not be strong enough for clothing.

Otherwise, I spent my time cleaning the inside of the bus and putting things in boxes ready for a series of photos to send to the DMV in the retitling process. The electrics work and aren't a problem unless the power supply has a higher amperage than my cable in which case it's remotely possible to burn out the cable.

These are exterior images.

Thinking about the top flashers, I might just remove them and replace them with aluminum plate riveted in place with silicone sealant. I don't strictly need extra lighting. Rewiring them would represent an interesting issue too. As I go along with this project I become more enamored of simplicity. It might be worth replacing the arrow indicators with the amber covers that have been used on the upper flashers.

The cockpit of the bus looks pretty nice. I do need to revive the original drivers fan though.

Moving back, the first compartment is the galley. As my microwave committed suicide, I have no microwave to display so I put a simple set up of a kettle with my $18 gas cooker and some tea bags.
Going further back, there is the bathroom with no handbasin but a jug and bowl. It's very reminiscent of the 18th century but works pretty well.
I couldn't step back far enough without falling out of the bus to photograph the shower. My jacket is indeed hnging from one of my S hooks but was heavy enough that the S hook didn't bounce out of place. Moving back is the bedroom with the bedroom table shown in the image. Look very carefully and you can see my camera that - it's a 3 megapixel Canon S1 IS from 2001. Oddly enough my phone takes far better photos so that camera is never used.

As can be seen, the bedroom is a bit of a dumping ground for clothes and general junk. I'll have to sift through and get rid of the stuff I don't actually need. For some strange reason I have a box filled with several years of rent receipts and another couple of boxes full of receipts and tax records for a business that I had many years ago that proved tp be a financial nightmare.

Beyond the white door is a simple closet area in which I have a pile of empty plastic totes.

Driving the bus was quite interesting. As I said, it hasn't been driven since January so it's not yet in its prime. The 10 miles or so I put on it today was nothing. I almost took it to a further filling station because the local one was advertised at $1.95 though was actually $1.89. The further filling station was $1.69. I'd probably have used a gallon to get there and a gallon back. 25 gallons would havebeen $5 cheaper but I'd have used half of it on the run so though I was $2 poorer for using the local filling station, I felt safer using the bus on a shorter run given the amount of time it has been standing idle.

On an earlier trip today (in my car), I picked up some supplies to complete the shower curtain (which was achieved) and some supplies to help me finish the plumbing. The most important thing, the heavy chain, I completely omitted to buy! Having said that, I can always use nylon cargo strap either initially or permanently.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Bang - ouch - grunt - bang - ouch!

That was pretty much how my day went. I spent most of the day underneath the bus, fitting the back on the power inlet. Now I'm using a Nema 5-30 when the recommended connector is the Nema 6-30. Neither has any particular advantage. Both will carry 30A at 120v. It just so happens that I managed to get 6-30 and 5-30 inlets by mistake. The 5-30 connectors were available but the 6-30 were not so I ended up with the solution I have. It's non-standard because the connectors are designed for two live wires as opposed to live and neutral but it works when one is wired live and the other, neutral.

Fighting with 50A cable in the confined space under the bus is not to be recommended. I bumped my head countless times. In the end and after a lot of time, some of which was wasted by having to fetch tools I had not envisaged needing, I managed to put everything together. The cable was too thick to allow me to install a rubber gromet around it. Well, that's not quite true - the cable was so thick and difficult to manover, I didn't manage to install the rubber gromet. I might return to that tomorrow or I might just squirt some silicone sealant in the gaps.
I would like to have some sort of guard around the wire but I'm not sure it's going to be that easy to install. Having said that, I can`t imagine anything is going to hit it, where it is.

Today I made use of the old battery compartment I built. I simply tack welded a brace on one side to make it less flexible then tack welded a top on. Now it's a handy support for my redundant 15 gallon barrel. That's going to be used to collect kitchen grease at m'lady's home.
At least it's going to have some use. I'm finding that nothing that came with the bus that was attached by the hillbillies was worth keeping. I spent two months working with various attempts at building compartments before I finally decided it wasn't worth the bother.

After welding the compartment remnants together to form something useful, I turned to the gas cylinder. Cutting it open surprised me. The steel was thicker than I'd thought at about 16 gauge and it was rusty inside. Looking at the thickness of the steel, I wasn't surprised that the bullet didn't penetrate both skins. It did prove that the people that hide behind car doors during a gunfight have a point. 9mm will go through the first leaf then the second will stop the bullet. I was quite surprised about that!

As can be seen, the bottom of the cylinder has indentations. This makes the bottom unsuitable for use as a handbasin. The top is similarly unsuitable as it has not just a valve but a pressure release plate. That's all fixable but it's just too much messing about. Better to look elsewhere for my handbasin.

The bullet was surprising. During its entry, it remained complete but seems to have lost its copper jacket at some point. The copper and lead are two entirely separate entities which probably accounts for the double dent on the non-penetrated side. At a guess, I'd say it shed the jacket as it came in through the entry hole.

As you can see, the jacket and the lead core are now separate! I didn't think this would happen.

In terms of what was done today - I put the power inlet into the bus. The main breaker is not yet installed but might be tomorrow. My 20A cables are 30 feet and 20 feet long. The 30 foot long length is just a shade too short to reach the bus. I could move the power socket and really should but I'll leave it where it is. I'll probably get a 40 foot 30A cable and make that up, maybe tomorrow. Tonight it's just too late to go and buy any cabling. 

After dinner, I took my LED lantern and went back to the bus. I didn't leave it plugged in as I have as yet not installed the main breaker box. I'll get to that tomorrow. Instead, I hung my LED lantern up in the bathroom and put up 10 rivnuts with screw eyes. Those will take S hooks and I will hang my shower curtains from them. 

It might be worthwhile to put a further rivnut and screw eye from which to hang the LED lantern. Very handy for showering in the dark! 

Not mentioned so far today, two more of my self-stick blinds have fallen down. Clearly the glue isn't up to much. I need to get some roller blinds to replace them. I might actually put off getting the 30A cable a while. It's not strictly necessary just yet. The main breaker box is far more important!

If I speed on with a trip to the store tomorrow, there's no reason why I can't clean the bus, install the blinds, install the shower curtain and take photos for the retitling process. The shower curtain will take mere minutes to install. The blinds won't take that much longer. Cleaning isn't going to take a huge amount of time either! There's only 210 square feet of bus!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Let there be a place to stick it!

There is a photo of progess so far. The power inlet cover is in place. The grey doesn't match the grey of the bus but there is something I have in my possession that will resolve this - a paintbrush and a pot of paint. "A paintbrush" I hear you exclaim! Well, yes - a paintbrush - because spray cans contain so little actual paint and I have at least 3 or 4 lying around that represent about $20 - $30 of money wasted because the nozzzles won't allow paint out. Even switching nozzles has no perceivable effect. Spray cans are handy for quick touch-ups but only as long as you can use the entire can in one session. A paintbrush and a pot of paint is far less sexy but works far better and costs far less.

As you can see,the breaker box is lying on the ground, still attached to the cable coming through the floor of the bus. If you remember, I buggered up the inlet box that I was going to use on the back of the inlet - behind the skirt - the other day by snapping off two screws in the threaded holes. That was me just not thinking and using an electric screwdriver. Had I used the manual screwdriver I was too tired to find, this would not have happened.

Looking at the point where the cable enters the bus, I rivetted a steel plate around the area. As I installed that with a hand riveter and aluminium rivets while being unable to see what I was doing because of the hillbilly compartment that is now not in existence, that went a bit cockeyed. I'll see about drilling out those aluminum rivets and redoing that entry point. I rather think that replacing the rivets with screws might be a better solution. Instead of using rivets, to use rivnuts and screws. Of couse I'll have to use 10-24 rather than my preferred M5 screws on the basis that America is not all that good at metric stuff. I'll also have to use thread lock or silicone goop to ensure the bolts don't vibrate loose when I'm driving. I'd wondered why the area above felt cold and drafty. Now I know - there's airflow though my badly fitted plate. I can fix that though!