Saturday, April 30, 2016

Some people....

By way of a change, milady and her erstwhile junior companion and I went out for a meal. That, of course was followed by ladies favorite sport - shopping. Needless to say, today Lexington town center was blocked off by a children's parade or something. This meant I could not follow my heart and buy bus stuff. That, as it turned out was rather fortuitous.

Returning to the bus following a lengthy session at Walmart I set to work. The first thing I did was to install the U bend I created last time.
Following that, I looked under the bus and ascertained where to drill the hole for the drain. Reckoning on a good spot, I drilled a pilot hole that I could fill readily if it was in the wrong place. Checking underneath it was ideally placed. Thus I whipped out my masonry hole saw and within a few minutes that seemed like centuries due to my having to lie on my toilet with my head under the sink, I had a very nice hole that I quickly sprayed against rust.
Looking at my plumbing plan, it transpired that if I needed to remove the bend at some point in order to remove foreign objects, I would be unable to. That led to some fast replanning and a decision to use flexible pex tubing and screw connectors. That would also allow me to empty the sink into a bucket if required by simply redirecting the hose.

Needless to say, a trip to Lowes (hiss, spit) ensued. That ended up with my sitting on the floor of the plumbing aisle trying to find bits that fitted together. My mission was somewhat complicated by  customers asking whether I - clad in paint-stained pants, a riped and paaint-stained shirt and torn-up tennis shoes - was a plumber. One would have thought that as I wasn't displaying half a yard of arse crack the answer was clearly negative on that count! Another thing that complicated matters was the seemingly complete failure of Lowes (hiss, spit) to keep the right items in the right containers. At least one box had just one of the items I needed but buried under a sea of things that bore no possible resemblance to the description on the shelf marker. It was pretty much a lucky dip!

Leaving Lowes (hiss, spit) after what felt like an eternity but which could not have been more than a couple of hours, I headed to Walmart. There, milady has tasked me to find her some Mountain Dew. That's when the fun really started....

Walking along the aisles I found Walmart's last five bottles of Mountain Dew. I could carry four but the fifth proved too much of a challenge. Needless to say, I'd neglected to obtain a shopping cart. As there was no point in letting a single bottle of milady's favorite drink escape, I returned hurriedly with a shopping cart.

Having loaded all five drinks on the cart, which was not perhaps the finest in the world, I pushed it toward the checkout. The cart had a misshapen wheel that caused it to bounce in rather the manner of the Duracell bunny on crack.

The first checkout had a line as far as the eye could see The next was the same. I raced along the row of checkouts seeing lines that crossed the horizon at every one of the few that were open. Finally I reached he gardening section and their line was wrapped around several displays. I headed back to the first checkout in the desperate hope the line would have shortened.

Sure enough, there was a checkout available. As I pushed the cart to the conveyer I became aware that my cart was dripping. Checking the bottles it transpired one was responsible. There was a trail of drips behind me. Picking up the offending bottle I discovered it was spraying sticky Mountain Dew very strongly from the bottom of the bottle. It was hosing down the checkout pretty thoroughly. Fair do - the cashier leapt into actio! She quickly scooped up the bottle and stuffed it into a plastic bag then moped up the trail swiftly with paper towels.

Needless to say, if I had left with the four I could carry, this whole incident might have been avoided. The funniest thing though - I messaged to friends that the bottle had been spraying and hosed down the checkout. That's not what their minds expected fro Walmart. Their imaginations went off on the lines of the People of Walmart website The imagined somebody standing at the checkout, urinating. The only time I have seen that is women squatting in the car park to pee.

Returning home I returned to work  on the bus. By the time I had knocked off for the night, the ex tubing was ready to install. Other than that it is time to work under the bus. That has to be done in the daylight however.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Last rites.

My first mission of the day was as a gravedigger. During the day at some point, a rather splendid and fairly large bird had flown into the upper rear door window, killing itself and leaving a greasy mark on the window. I have to clean that off later. For the moment I Satisfied myself by fetching a shovel and burying the corpse by some bushes in the front yard.

Inside the bus I put together the U bend for the handbasin. That didn't take too long and included 6 PVC plumbing parts. It all worked pretty well. I'm pretty happy with that.

Again, no photo. I'd just got that done when I was reminded why I need a better job. Working with kids, I get just about every bug and particularly tummy bug possible. I make sure never to eat near children and maintain scrupulous personal hygeine. It doesn't help much though as most of these bugs are airbourne. Yes - I got hit by the need to visit the smallest room.

As I've said before, it doesn't matter how great your resume is in South Carolina, you don't get anything good in terms of work without paying bribes. I refuse to compromise my morals by complying with that low standard of honesty. The aim of the bus is to give me somewhere to live and work from Monday to Friday that I can just take wherever my work will be. Weekends I can spend back at m'lady's ranch.

In terms of closeness to completion, I have to finish plumbing my waste tank in, install a front door unlocked, weld over the rear window. Then there is the fresh water tank and some testing and proving. It's almost there!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

I must be the biggest sucker

No photo again but today's work didn't merit it. Two things were achieved but only two.

Those that can cast themselves back a couple of blog entries will recall that I ran out of rivets putting the steel plates over the sites of the old schoolbus flashers. Well, today despite feeling quite yucky from working, I replaced the four screws used temporarily with rivets then sprayed over with grey paint. Not very exciting but worthwhile.

My other accomplishment or rather the reason I consider myself to be the world's biggest sucker stems from an experiment I carried out today. Those with very long memories will recall I bought a pair of electromagnets from China some months ago. It has already been established that no matter what polarity current was supplied to it (which would normally alter electromagnetic polarity), the electromagnet never would change polarity. In fact, it seemed to be both polarities simultaneously. Two identical electromagnets would not repel each other. They would just attract. Similarly no matter which polarity of permanent magnet was introduced to the electromagnet, the electromagnet could never be persuaded to repel the permanent magnet. Pretty strange and rather useless.

Today I tried the electromagnet for its attractive purposes. Fail again! It would attract but as a 9v magnet, it would attract from around 1/8 inch but very feebly. It would grip something strongly but was utterly useless in all other respects.

My goal is to engineer a way of opening the bus front door. What I'm trying to do is to lift the locking latch on the front door opening mechanism. Carpenter did employ an electric door opener but my bus has only a manual opener. Had I had the electric version, I could have simply tapped into the circuit with a remote opener. Looking around those would set me back $500. That's just too costly!

Clearly I was a fool to believe any Chinese electronic gizmo would actually work. I do buy bits from China but that was my first electronic gizmo. Oh well, lesson learned. Don't buy any electronics from China.

Looking around, there are some linear actuators on sale. That would make the door an electric only affair. That would make exit in an emergency somewhat interesting so I'd have to put some way of bypassing the electrical system. Sounds interesting though!

Sunday, April 24, 2016


No photos today. I did work on the bus but not very much. I started the day by heading to Lowes (hiss, spit).

On the way to Lowes (hiss, spit) I became aware of not feeling too well. I pressed on and got the stuff needed from there. That was entirely plumbing supplies.

Having left, my next stop was Tractor Supply where I got the steel rivets Lowes (hiss, spit) can't be bothered to stock. I also got the hardware needed to hang a fresh water barrel. Still not feeling well, I headed off to Home Depot.

At Home Depot I was feeling pretty rough and forgot the jubilee clips I'd wanted but did get the turnbuckles needed for the water tank. Having done that, I started home.

Feeling like death walking, somehow - with breaks lying down in a cold dark room, I managed to unload the car into the bus. While in the bus I paused to gather a handful of receipts that m'lady is totting up for me. I remember telling her not to let me know how much it has cost until it is complete. I don't want to faint!

In my only construction act today, I drilled two holes and riveted a handle to the outside of the folding door. Now I have something to hold onto when I close the door. This will make life so much easier. Needless to say, putting it on was distinctly challenging. First it was dark and I had to hang a lantern off a nearby tree branch. Second, the riveter didn't cooperate well. Drilling the holes was no problem. It was the riveting that was hard. It seemed as though the riveter was sliding on the rivet pin rather than pulling it. It seemed to take forever, switching between riveters but it was done, by which time I was almost about to indulge in psychedelic yodelling!

A couple more trips into the cold, dark room and I'd locked everything away for the night. M'lady was concerned that I should eat but as what I have seems to be a migraine, it was avoided.

Meanwhile, I heard back from the DMV. It only took them a month to tell me I have to send them $15 and my bus title to get it retitled as a motorhome. I suspect they might want to inspect too but that I'm ready for.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Getting down and dirty

Today was a day of achievement and visible achievement at that! In short, the plumbing under the shower is complete. There is a question as to whether I should perhaps add a jubilee clip on each end of the pex tubing so I probably will, just to be sure.
The nuts on the cable grips were replaced with stop nuts. Getting them off was easy despite the application of Locktite Blue Thread Locker. I had anticipated a struggle given the instructions to heat the screw to 700F to release the Thread Locker. I had to do no such thing. Clearly Thread Locker is a garbage product trading on unsubstantiated claims. It was applied to clean, new bolts and the nuts installed just after the stuff had been poured liberally over the threads. It just didn't stick. This is why I trust stop nuts. They just don't vibrate loose. As it transpired, there was insufficient space on the thread for two nuts so I only had to work on one barrel. The other already has stop nuts.

The next thing was to replace the screws and clean up the excess silicone goop from when I installed the sheet metal over the schoolbus flashers. I ran out of 3/16 steel rivets. I'd been rather overzealous with my fastnings and had clearly put 27 holes in each plate. I'll get more rivets tomorrow.
It looks a little better now. A little less obvious. I didn't feel it was worthwhile to weld though soldering would have been useful had I a functional propane torch. While I was up there I replaced the broken CB aerial. This time, rather than having it vertical, I have angled it slightly in order to lessen the chance of tree branches snapping it off.

Now is getting to be the kind of weather when working under the bus is getting unpleasant. Fortunately I don't have much that is truly essental to do underneath. I had to brush off one tick, swat one mosquito, brush off some ants and a couple of spiders. Right beside the bus were a couple of anthills.
Clearly it is going to get really unpleasant soon. The good news is that I have only two things that need doing under the bus. The first is to redo the hillbilly wiring. Now for that I might just get my mechanic friend involved. As for the other, it's a case of doing the plumbing under the sink into the other barrel. For that I need to get a new sink connector and a 1.5 to 1.25 inch piping adaptor plus some 1.25 inch piping. I found my hole saw makes 1.25 inch holes so it seems better to get cheap piping to fit rather than an expensive hole saw the right size. Of course, under the bus, the piping has to reduce to 0.75 inch tubing as I have a lot of 0.75 and my junction is 0.75. I'll further need another 0.75 to 0.5 pex adaptor. The whole plumbing setup is nonstandard because of different ideas that have cropped up as I have been working.
In some places I have overspent. In other I have had bargains. I'm pleased with the hosepipe valves that I picked up for $2 in Walmart. They are way cheaper than anything Lowes (hiss, spit) had. As there will be no real pressure, they don't even have to be very strong!

I am sure my waste water system will leak though I don't know how much. Some leakage is desirable in order to reduce the need to actively dump the waste water. In actual fact, it's just soapy water used for washing. That's not really dirty. The only problem will be non biodegradable deturgents.

I have been giving thought to carrying freshwater and located a 15 gallon barrel at Walmart for $47. That's quite a bargain when U-Line sells them for $41 with $30 shipping. Either that or a 220 mile drive to the nearest U-Line suplier. At 19mpg and $1.85 a gallon, paying shipping would be cheaper than visiting U-Line. Anyway, the Walmart solution sees best. A manual pump also seems in order. Those seem to be between $20 and $60 with electric pumps coming in even cheaper. An alternative to the pump would be just to draw water from under the bus via one of those handy Walmart $2 faucets.

Right now, the goal is to obtain the supplies needed in order to complete current operations. The back door lower window needs to be replaced with something solid. That will involve welding. In fact, quite a lot of welding and some grinding in order to make it smooth. 

Finally, the front door locking mechanism needs addressing. I have encountered linear actuators that sound interesting though pricey. Currently I'm returning to an old idea using the two electromagnets I bought from China that won't repel anything magnetic. Rather than have them pushing the latch upward, pulling it upward - if they're strong enough. Placement will be ultra critical however.

On the whole though progress is painfully slow, I am happy with what has been achieved thus far. I am looking into some kind of fireproof box to keep important documents safe. By that, I mean passports, insurance, registration and citizenship documents. Sadly, thus far, all I am encountering are pretentious pieces of junk. I am seeing fire proof boxes calling themselves safes and sporting ludicrous things such as combination locks and keypads. How utterly insane! All I need is a fireproof box with a latch. I don't want to fuss about with locks or fiddly trash like combination locks. Most of those alleged safes can be picked up and carried away for later opening or can be quickly opened with an angle grinder or a can opener!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Feeling like death warmed up!

Today, in a radical departure from the norm, this blog entry is being entered via my smartphone with the task being made easier by a bluetooth keyboard. Now the reason for this is simple - after my Macbook started playing the fool, I switched to using an RCA tablet. Three months after I bought it, the USB charger decided to give out, leaving me pretty much with an RCA branded frisbee. As it appears RCA will simply toss the tablet and give me a "reconditioned" tablet that might or might not last 3 more months and wants me to pay to ship their $50 trash back to them, I'm questioning the worth of throwing more money at RCA. Thus I can either do my blog entries as emailed entries from m'lady's computer (running the heinous Windows 8) or do the via my phone. I choose the latter.

As you might have guessed from the title, I really am feeling quite unwell. This sad state of affairs has been rumbling on for over a week and all I have to say about that is it had better bloody well stop. Despite feeling unwell, wobbly and nauseaus, I did actually work on the bus today. Well, after taking m'lady grocery shopping during which I saw how Walmart's "cleaners" simply sweep trash under the displays rather than actually cleaning. On the other hand, Walmart never has had a high bar!
I wonder whether I picked up a bug last time I was in Walmart. The hygeine there is sufficiently lacking for me to wonder whether Walmart deserved a Z for food hygeine.

So, the upshot is that I only did some of the things I had intended. I climbed up on the hood of the bus, struggling to stand upright and fighting nausea. Realising that falling off the hood would not be advisable, I did my best to stay perched up there. After drilling about 50 holes I screwed in my replacements for the front flashers, slipping copious quantities of silicone goop behind as a sealant.

The screws used are not intended as final fixtures. The final fixtures will be rivets. This is just a temporary measure until such a time as I can test the lights to make sure I have not buggered up any wiring with my drill.
While I worked on the flasher panel I took a look inside the compartment behind and noticed that the rivets used were standard pop rivets rather than waterproof rivets. I had wondered about that. Clearly the individual that had written online in some forum I used to glance at had been writing nonsense. His claim was roof rivets had to be special waterproof rivets. No they don't and I saw the proof! Interestingly, the rivets used all had very long shanks. Carpenter obviously found a standard rivet was the best option.

So, the front flashers are now dealt with. Next I want to replace the bolts with rivets after checking the electrics all still function. I will probably do the same to the back flashers and possibly install my extractor fan at the same time.  

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Arrgghhh! No photos...

Today was one of those really odd days. Rain was forecast so the plan today was just to go and do some shopping. As it turned out, the rain never materialized so though nothing major was achieved, progress was made. To be honest, what with feeling yucky because of a stomach bug and yucky because of (probably) eyesight issues, I didn't get as much done as I could have.

The first order of the day was shopping. That started with my heading to Harbor Freight, Walmart and a Lowes (hiss, spit). I had intended to pop into Hancock Fabrics since the entire chain is closing but didn't get to it, which was rather unfortunate as I was right by the store when I went to pick up my eyeglasses. I didn't because I wanted to get m'lady's bank deposit completed before I got side-tracked. There's also the little matter that I really hate being responsible for other people's property just in case something untoward happens. I'd be really upset if something happened to my property but if it happened to somebody else's when it's in my possession, I would be incredibly shamed.

So, after picking up the glasses, I made the bank deposit then headed to Harbor Freight. There, for the first time ever, I managed to exit the store with only the things that were on the list. Those were grinding disks for my angle grinder (I had to hunt the entire store to find them), a replacement paint-removing brush for the pistol drill, some 6013E 1/8th inch welding rods and the free flashlight m'lady desired. Harbor Freight has some nice freebies!

After Harbor Freight I headed to Lowes (hiss, spit) where I had to hunt and got the two hose barbs I needed plus some connectors. I didn't find the handy all-in one thing I found last time but Lowes (hiss, spit) is a bit like that! Needless to say I did forget to get the blanks I needed for the hand-basin - to cover the holes normally occupied by faucets since there will be no faucets in the bus.

While in Harbor Freight I perused the solar section and found a solar charge controller for $30 and the connectors that connected it to things for $10. Solar panels were strange prices. I'd say that because today was one of their fake sales days, they had raised the prices in order to have a fake sale - a bit like Kohls but Kohls always has a fake sale going. Harbor Freight had a pricey deep cycle battery that claimed 35 amp hours. That might actually be useful if my solar panel can produce enough surplus power. I doubt that my panel will produce the 5w promised. Having said that, even if it produces 1w then over 8 hours that'd be 8 watt hours a day. Heaven knows how much the fan uses. It'll be interesting to work that one out. I'm not a great believer in solar power having seen the specifications on solar panels etc and how much complete nonsense is claimed by the manufacturers.

Speaking of solar, in the middle of the day I connected my solar panel to the little fan that I bought. This time, it actually worked. The fan buzzed away madly. Playing with it, it transpired the fan has a higher startup current than the running current. It seems the best position for the panel is actually horizontal. I'll put the fan into the back of the bus to suck out heat. Buzzing away like it did, it might actually work as planned!

Having got home, albeit without the hand-basin blanks, I set to work and installed hose barbs on the two existing waste tanks. Tomorrow, if it's still fine, I'll slip under the bus, put the extra nuts on the barrel supporting bolts and finalize the plumbing under the shower.

The next thing did was to clamp the two blanks that will be attached in place of the school-bus flashers together, back to back. Then the top right corners were trimmed simultaneously to the same curve. Then holes were drilled all around the edges. Now the original plan has been to rivet the panels in place. That might yet happen. For the moment I shall use self-drilling screws on the basis that I might want to employ the wiring behind the panels for something though I have no definite plans at the moment.

No sooner had I done that than m'lady's sister's dog made a break for freedom as did her mothers dog. That led to a mad dash down the dirt track to recapture them lest a trigger happy neighbor decided dogs were in season. Having successfully recaptured the aforesaid four-legged miscreants, m'lady rang the dinner gong. By the time dinner was completed the daylight had all but gone. It was so dark that it was hard even to see whether m'lady's chickens had left any eggs. Definitely too dark to work!

Tomorrow is a shopping day and if the rain holds off then after returning with the month's food supplies I intend to complete some if not all of the following tasks. First - the blanks over the school-bus flashers. Second the nuts on the waste tank supports. Third I want to complete the plumbing under the shower.

And finally, the exciting news. Just as I was completing this blog entry, there was a very loud explosion that shook the house. It was by the sound of it, several hundred yards away. In this neighborhood that means either a meth lab explosion or somebody had a gas leak and blew up their trailer. Alternatively it could have been a still that blew up. Like the shooting next door, there will probably be no news about it. The news media rarely ventures out of the safety of cafes and places where the journalists are spoon-fed.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Scammed again!

You've heard me say before about what rubbish these solar cells and wind turbines are on many occasions. I do try every now and then to get this green nonsense to work. Today I pulled out my solar panel and connected a 12v CPU fan to it. I aimed the panel squarely at the sun at the perfect angle and waited. Nothing happened. Unsurprised I connected my 12v CPU fan to a 6v battery and it whirred away nicely, shifting a good quantity of air.

Just to be sure - the panel was sold as 12V 5W and the CPU fan was sold as 12v. It probably only consumes 500MA at most or 10% of the panel's rated output. It is therefore rather strange that the fan does not spin, given the figures. Now a cynic would probably say that the panel manufacturer was grossly exagerating the output of the panel. Yeah... I'll go with that. Having seen it at midday failing to make a 12v indicator panel light bulb glow more than very faintly I'm going to go with the solar panel is a load of rubbish.

Sadly, this is not my first foolish forray into the fantasy world of renewable energy. Years ago I had a small panel and I plugged it into my cellphone to charge my cellphone. As I didn't actually need to use that particular phone, I left the whole lot plugged up on a windowsill for an entire week. After that week, during which the sun shone firercly on the panel, the phone had enough charge in it to run it for 15 minutes. Bear in mind this was an old style flip phone. If I remember correctly it was an Eriksson T15 or something similar. Those were the days when a phone could be charged and left on standby for 10 days before having to recharge it.

It's very tempting to follow the hoohaa about renewable energy but the truth is that electricity generated from the sun and from wind is just nonsense. Looking at the wind turbines available for motorhomes and the solar panels, the electricity generated is truly pitiful and the cost is truly outrageous. In order to run a microwave the theory is that a standard microwave such as the one I tossed out a few weeks ago because it was shot, would need 1100watts to power it. In terms of my pitiful little $15 5W solar panel that can't run a fan or light a bulb, in order to produce 1100W, I'd need 220 panels. Given that the panel is about 12 inches by 8 inches, that's going to cover 146 square feet. That, by the way is probably more space than the entire roof of my bus. It would cost $3,300 too. Even if bigger more economical panels were used then the power produced would still be unlikely to power my microwave.

Looking at things another way, if my panel cannot actually produce its stated capacity but can produce about 10% of it then things look pretty bleak for solar panels. Assuming a whole roof covered with panels producing a fanciful 1100W but an actual 110W then that 110W would have to be produced for 10 hours in order to produce enough power to run the microwave for just 1 hour. Now I bet you're saying that nobody runs a microwave for an hour. Think again! That's a cheap-ass Rival microwave that costs $50 in Walmart. That thing takes 15 minutes to cook a plate of food. There's three meals and maybe a couple of drinks and the entire day's supply of power is gone. No mention of heating water to shower, running lighting or anything else.

So, what is the solution? Well, initially I just won't be wasting my time with electricity unless it's of the battery powered or plugin variety. Speaking of battery powered, I did buy some AA powered phone chargers. There is a possibility of another couple of solutions too. One is to put a 12v battery under the bus, connected to the main batteries when driving so they will charge and disconnected when camping but connected to the house circuits instead. That could be achieved with a simple, ordinary switch on the console. Actually that is probably by far the best solution!

Thinking about the battery under the bus, it would need a massively powerful switch to control the amperage produced by the alternator. Thus a switching relay is likely to be needed. There sure is a lot of electrical work I need to do under the bus besides this!

There are starting batteries available that also have air compressors and USB power connectors. They don't have batteries that are all that worthwile inside. Usually 20AH at most. Those are pretty similar to the uninterruptable power supplies used in most offices. Again, the problem is a miserly battery.

At the moment, electricity is a way off in the future. However I have tried a few things that just haven't worked out. Mostly it has been the solar garbage that has been the hold up. Solar power like wind power really is cloud cuckoo land.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Is this the end?

It certainly looks like the end of the road for my cheap Walmart microwave. I count 5 bullet holes in its carcass. Seriously, how can Walmart sell junk like this? After a little over 2 years use the bottom of the microwave inside was very rusty. It lay idle in a dry location for a further 2 years then when I set to cleaning it up, the pan had holes in it under the paint. No wonder every time I cooked, the countertop was covered in nasty looking water.

Today was one of those days when little was accomplished. Mostly that was because I am not really all that well. I didn't go to Lowes (hurrah). I did trim a little of the excess steel from the fridge to make some blanks to cover the apertures under the top front flashers. I started that a little late in the day and despite a spectacular mishap that went to show why only fools would take the guard off an angle grinder, I managed to cut two rectangles of steel.

Once I'd cut the steel, I ground the rusty bits back to clean steel then sprayed both sides with zinc paint. The zinc spray can started dripping and dribbling paint which was annoying but on the other hand this is exctly why I do prefer a brush and pot of paint. There's just no point in wasting a 65c brush for a little bit of painting though. Spray cans are handy for quick, small touch ups and that's about it. I decided on rectangles on the basis that they're easier and faster to cut. As long as they're mounted in the right places, they should have a balanced look. I'll have to trim the top outer corners to match the curve of the roof and I'll have to trim and indentation for the CB aerial. Other than that, the steel should be fine as it is.

As the paint was drying I turned my mind to the rear turn signals and switched one of the lenses over so that unlike the right turn signal, the left now has no arrow. It didn't improve matters. I suspect the bulb could be the problem in the left turn signal. It just seems dimmer than the right turn signal.

By the way, the right turn signal is a completely new unit that I installed last year as is the right hand reversing light. I'll have to replace the bulb to see if it improves matters. Really and truly it doesn't matter to me whether the lens has an arrow on it or not. I just hoped I could make it brighter. So, it looks like a new bulb but I won't stop there. I'll see if I can get some of that silver reflective Christmas wrapping plastic foil and fit it inside each of the light assemblies to improve the amount of light coming from them. These things just aren't visible enough for my liking in daylight.

By the time the light began to go, the paint on my steel plates was not fully dry so I put them inside the bus. I would have liked to have installed them today rather than leaving tape over one of the apertures. Having said that, there's always next weekend and the tape should keep rain out.

I looked at the ground beside the bus. That'll need a good clean up when I finish working on the bus. I have a feeling I'll spend an afternoon picking up trash from the yard! The plan for the big piece of fridge is to cover the lower door window aperture at the back of the bus. I'll have one piece that I'll trim to weld into the aperture. Once that's welded, I'll fill the space behind it with closed cell insulating foam then either use rivnuts and screw a sheet of steel over the inside of the door or rivet a sheet of steel there. On the whole, I think rivnuts make more sense as it allows me to perform maintainance if needed. I just hope I can make my welds waterproof.

I am very disappointed with the amount done today. I know I have overdone it today. I know I overdid it yesterday too. I wanted to go to Lowes to get my final plumbing part. I wanted to put two stop nuts on each bolt for each barrel. I wanted to plumb the shower barrel in fully. I'm still looking at plumbing the handbasin. I just hope I can get everything completed by the end of the month. My dad was griping that I hadn't completed it by April of last year, which was my original completion goal! I think my original target was a little ambitious given that I had so much to learn and that I'm such a perfectionist.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

What the Hell is that and where does it go?

Despite the fact I feel more like the Walking Dead than any semblance of being human, today I took the bits I bought at Lowes (hiss, spit) that I neglected to blog about the other day and put them together. As I currently work with small children I get just about every ailment they so generously give me. It's all airbourne stuff that's hard to defend against so this weekend I have a tummy bug. How nice!

So, the other day somebody gave me some spare 1/2 inch Pex tubing. Thus I got myself a T adaptor for the downpipe from my shower and some other connectors in order to connect the waste barrel via flexible hose. That makes life much easier for times when I might have to take the barrel down to get silt and crud out of it. I'm sure it'll need cleaning at some point!

All that fitted together very nicely though I had a problem at the other end of the Pex tubing because I'd bought the wrong size connector. I'll fix that tomorrow if I'm feeling any better or maybe later this evening. It all depends on how my virus goes.

That's a bigger view of my construction. From left to right we have...
1. A Walmart ball valve for a hosepipe that cost $1.95. That's way cheaper than the cheapest faucet Lowes has!
2. A 3/4 inch angle with a thread on the end pointing down. The other end just happened to fit into my 1.15 inch tubing nicely so I said "what the heck" and glued it in there.
3. A 1.25" T adaptor that will fit onto my 1.25" downpipe. 
4. A piece of 1.25" tubing connecting the T adaptor to a 1.25" to 0.75" hosepipe adaptor.
5. A 1.25" hosepipe adaptor.
6. A Hosepipe swivel. That will make removing the barrel so much easier as I can just unscrew the tubing.
7. A 0.75" to 0.5" threaded Pex adaptor.
8. Some 0.5" Pex tubing.

Not shown because I bought a 0.5" to 0.25" threaded Pex adaptor in error is the adaptor on the other end of the tubing that will be connected to the barrel. 

I'm pretty sure I could have got a plastic swivel but Lowes (hiss, spit) didn't have one. The dollar store might and I might look into that for the other side of the bus for the handbasin waste pipe. Actually, the handbasin waste piping will be handled totally differently anyway. I will learn from the shower outlet and do the other side differently!

After building (but not installing) the new plumbing bit, I climbed up onto the hood of the bus to use my new Grabbit tool to remove a crosspoint screw that had the cross worn out by a previous attempt to remove it. As I suspected, the Grabbit was little more than a nice-sounding gimmick. It did nothing other than cost me about $8 (or about an hour's wages). That screw will have to be removed the traditional way - with a drill bit! Then I felt wobbly and sick after my not too strenuous exertions and had to lie down in the cool for a couple of hours.

Returning to the fray, I attacked an old fridge that was dumped on m'lady's land. That yielded a nice piece of steel even though it went through 3 cutting disks on my angle grinder. There's plenty steel left too! It's a little thinner than I would like but on the other hand, it is free and welded to the back door, will make the door much more secure than a solitary pane of glass.

I did take a photo of the fridge lying amidst the foliage but for some unknown reason my phone told me it had taken the picture but had not in fact done so. I could say Bah Humbug but that being a little Dickensian should be more replaced by the modern equivalent of "bloody technology". I mean, seriously, what's the point of these wonderful electronic gizmos if they don't work ALL the time?

As an aside, I did mention that I am living way out in the backwoods of South Carolina. Remember the TV series The Dukes of Hazard? Remember the rebel flag I showed you a few days ago? Today I show you the mailbox. It doesn't get much use and hence is more of a bird's nest. That's how far into the backwoods I live!

After another trip inside to rest, I found the old U bend or S bend - whichever you want to call it - that I had put under the handbasin. It seems to be 1.5 inches. My task will be to find something that'll bring that down to 1 inch to fit my standard plumbing. Moving swiftly on, I took two photos of the old fridge - one to show where it's located.

Then I took another photo - of the side I had removed. The inside is steel also which means it could be useful. The left hand side of the fridge which is up against a tree, I didn't start to cut but looking at it, there wouldn't have been much point as that side has a rather large calibre bullet hole through it at a strange angle!

Having done that, my attention turned to the school bus flashers. The screw that wouldn't come out eventually did after I used an angle grinder at a shallow angle so as not to damage the bus. It transpired that this screw could have been ignored. It held only the lens in place. Four other screws held the flasher lens in place.

If I am careful, I can probably replace the amber lenses with arrows with the amber lenses of the flashers. That makes my indicators much more visible. Anyway, having removed the light assembley - which wasn't that hard, I cut the push fit connectors off and screwed on some wire nuts. It turned out that there were two wires and two elements inside the light. It was a most peculiar affair. Having removed it, I've taped over the aperture for now but this is what it looks like without tape.

What surprised me was not just the huge size of the aperture but the cobweb behind it! Using the lens as a template, I marked out some disks on a sheet of aluminum, ready to cut them out to cover the holes.

Having marked the circles I realise that cutting 4 circles is going to be challenging. Rather than delegate that, instead I might use steel and make two sheets of steel with vaguely rounded ends cut to as close as possible, the same dimensions. Then after painting them, simply put silicone seal behind them and rivet them into place. If I pre-drill both sheets and put the holes in the same places, it should look quite tidy.

Meanwhile, tomorrow's task - assuming I feel better which I suspect I will - is to get the plumbing completed for the shower side of the bus, including removing the nuts that I put Thread Locker on and replacing them with two sets of stop nuts. That means a trip to Lowes (hiss, spit) for a 3/4 inch to 1/2 inch Pex fitting that I can glue into place. While I'm there I might as well get the stuff for the other side of the bus too. Having done that, if there's time left, I'll add a second set of stop nuts to the handbasin side of the bus. Ideally I'd like to get the blanks put up to replace the top flashers but that might be a pipe dream for this weekend.

Meanwhile, I totally forgot to say but the AA powered phone chargers arrived yesterday. These are really nifty because it means I can charge a phone using rechargeable AA batteries or via disposeable AA batteries. Basically, that pretty much takes care of all of my electrical requirements. I just don't need electricity for anything other than lighting and my phone, tablet or mifi pad.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Where am I building my bus?

Just in case anybody is wondering, I'm building my bus conversion in the real Deep South. This is the South so deep that the nearby town is run by one family!

This is the South where Confederate flags fly in preference to the US flag which is seen as being a symbol of oppression and where the Civil War is regarded as the War of Northern Aggression.

The photo below was taken a few footsteps away from my bus. You can clearly see the Confederate battle flag and some other Confederate flag. Look away and you'll see similar flags up and down the dirt track where I'm living.

Aside from the neighbors getting wild at times, this is a pretty peaceful area. It has to be, judging from the amount of people that shoot in their back yards. Most of the villains should know that everybody is armed and their chance of carrying out villainy unscathed is nil.

So, while not being an actual bus entry, I thought you might like to see the area where I'm building my bus

Sunday, April 3, 2016

How dangerous is it working under a bus?

Well, today I went under my bus and worked on installing my second waste barrel. This one is for the handbasin. I've installed it rather further forward than one would immediately think it should be for a very good reason. I want the clean water barrel directly underneath the handbasin so that I can pump water straight up. Underneath the toilet is where I might eventually put a black tank so the grey tank has to go forward.

Today I went to Lowes (hiss, spit), to buy some stop nuts for my cable clamps. Oddly, I bought sufficient for one barrel but not for the other (which needs stop nuts badly). I guess my counting was off. 

Looking around, I thought about the plumbing and wondered whether I could simply go with flexible pex tubing. I could put a 3/4 to pex connector on both barrels. Having got this far though I'm not about to start re-plumbing the system though. I could definitely use pex from the bottom connection though. 

So, basically, that's all I did today. I did find Tractor Supply's chain connectors didn't have a standard opening. One connector was too narrow and couldn't be used. The other problem was one I had encountered last time. The chain connector U bolts are not at a standard distance. I made a new template and it worked for 3 of the U bolts but not for all of them. There was a variance of about 1/8 inch between the bolts which made standardisation somewaht hard.

In terms of the U bolts on the other side of the bus, rather than putting stop nuts, I wonder whether perhaps welding the nuts to the bolts might not be more secure. The same could be done to the bolts just done with stop nuts. It would add that extra security. I certainly don't want barrels coming loose and falling under the wheels when I'm driving. In terms of removing them if necessary, I can always use an angle grinder. That's easy enough!

So, the upshot of my week off is two barrels installed under the bus and the handbasing not only reinstalled but clamped down. I lost a lot of time due to rain. In fact there was a trashcan standing beside the bus and in the two wet days, it accumulated at least 3 inches of rain.

I still have to do the plumbing, ventillation and to replace the lower back window with steel. It'd be nice to have the front door unlocking system set up too. At least there's progress! While I was under the bus, I looked at the hillbilly wiring. I'm wondering whether soldering the connections rather than leaving the crimp connections might solve many of the problems. Indeed, I might even try to rewire the reversing horn.

Thinking about the top flashers, having got the barrels in place, I might attend to those too. For the moment I want to get all the stuff under the bus completed because I really hate working under it. That includes the wiring and possibly installing a second reversing camera cable, just in case I want to install a new camera.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Is it a urinal or is it a sink?

After helping m'lady to tidy the front yard a little, I looked at the bus. It seems the front top flashers unscrew fairly readily though each is 7 inches in diameter and much larger than the sheet of aluminum I have. Either I'm going to have to fill the screw holes with rivets or something or I'm going to have to make some big plates to cover the whole lot. On the whole, filling the screw holes with rivets and putting small plates over the cable holes seems more logical. This time though I might use the correct sealant. Silicone sealant isn't really up to much. I've used a lot of it too!

The handbasin came to mind. It struck me the other day that the toilet might get smelly if I pee in it as well as poo. It might be a better idea to dispose of urine separately. Thus the handbasin made a return. That thing has been a real yo-yo. I toss it out then reinstall it then toss it out then reinstall it. Today I reinstalled it for probably the final time. Tomorrow I will put a waste tank under the bus dedicated to that handbasin. The plumbing can be done at a later stage.

In order to install it properly, it needed something called sink clamps and of course I had none. I did have some 10-24 bolts, some washers and an angle grinder though. Looking at the tracks on the edges of the handasin, it was obvious that a ground down bolt head would slide nicely into the grooves and the neck on the grooves would retain the bolt head. Thus I set to work turning some overlong 10-24 bolts (remember these are the bolts supposed to hold 1200lbs but which broke under light pressure) into sink clamps.

Eventually it was done and I bolted the sink to the woodwork that I'd cut for it in January of 2015. It fitted very nicely. The handbasin needs a darned good scrub having been lying in a chicken coop for the past 8 months. I did hose it off though and the back looked clean but the usable bit needs work.

This is what it looks like, installed. I need to put a U bend or S bend or whatever you like to call it plus a downpipe that goes through the floor and into the waste barrel. That could be interesting as I need to go from a big tube to a much smaller tube. Plumbing is not hard. The hard part is that there are so many parts that don't quite fit.

I was going to pick up some blanks to fill the 1.5 inch diameter holes where the faucets fit yesterday but the silly fellow in Lowes (hiss, spit) that wouldn't stop talking ensured I didn't. I am rarely bugged out of a store by an annoying customer but that was one such occasion. Somewhere I have a strainer for that sink. I'll have to find it. I couldn't find my 3/8 deep socket either. That'll be there somewhere.

Meanwhile, I had a look on the roof of the bus and noticed that the paint I put on has definitely faded. The Rustoleum seems not to be that great of a paint to be honest. There was a patch I had covered for a few months and I had removed the patch. That area is definitely darker.

Tomorrow's goal is to put the waste barrel under the bus. I precut the cable based on the fittings for the other tank so with luck this should go on a lot faster and a lot easier. I know how it all works and what the problems were and what the solutions are now. Indeed, it might be worth returning to the other barrel at some point to check that the nuts are tight or at least add some secondary non-slip nuts.

Remaining to be done (notice how the list is getting shorter)...
1. Finish the plumbing.
2. Remove the flashers.
3. Install the cargo tie downs.
4. Install some kind of fan for the kitchen and one for the bedroom - to extract the hot, steamy air (yes, really).
5. Figure out some way of unlocking the front door from the outside.
6. Consider some kind of electrical system.

That's it - just six items after the next drum has been installed. I did think about an underbody water tank but to be honest, I think jerry cans are just fine.

And of course... No news from the DMV about retitling! No contant - nothing. It's as though my letter vanished into thin air. It's all well and good though as I can get it ever nearer completion prior to their inspection.

Friday, April 1, 2016

When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping!

Today I have to report that my $55 RCA tablet purchased from Walmart at Christmas has ceased to charge properly. The likely culpret seems to be the flimsy little USB charging connection. Needless to say, this should not have failed with just 3 months usage. On the occasion I get it to start charging, I quietly walk away while it is charging and return to find it has not charged but rather discharged. I seem to have to hold it in order for it to charge. This is very irksome as I use this for updating my blog in the absence of a real computer.

I fully intended to buy all the plumbing parts needed in order to plumb in my shower waste water tank. I had to abandon the trip to Lowes (hiss, spit) because a whole series of really rather tiresome people kept approaching to talk to me. It seems that I am attracting timewasting people whose only pride is in their verbal diarrhea quite a bit at the moment. After the third or fourth person that broke my concentration, I gave up and headed to Tractor Supply for the bits that I needed. 

At Tractor supply I grabbed a cart intending to leave with potting soil and 4 baby chicks for m'lady but the potting soil was outside and it was raining hard. Believe it or not but Tractor Supply didn't know whether their chicks were male or female. It seems ludicrous that a company should not know what they are selling! The metal links and cable grips I needed were available but had to be hand carried despite the cart as they kept falling through the mesh of the cart. Having paid for the bits I headed across the road to Walmart but there, my card didn't seem to work. Paying for the two faucets and the cooler I'd spotted via alternate methods, I found my bank card had expired yet I had not had a replacement. All that entailed a long phonecall to the bank and a mad dash across town to an open branch. By then it was getting pretty late and m'lady was calling.

The upshot is that on the next dry day I will be able to install the barrel for the handbasin. I will not be able to do any of the plumbing but I will be a lot closer to having working plumbing. The next stage will be to reinstall the bathroom handbasin. This time I will have to fabricate mounts in order to fasten it down properly. That might involve some welding but I doubt it. It's handy to be able to weld.

Lowes wanted $8.95 for faucets yet what I got from Walmart for $1.95 will do for my waste tanks. All I need to do is to put garden hose connectors on my plumbing and it'll work just fine since there's absolutely no pressure involved. Things are looking up!