Bus Exterior, Seating, and Window Screens:



Exterior:

I decided to completely remove the flashing lights on the front of the bus.  Some people have suggested retaining them as white "off road" lights but in Massachusetts I'd have to cover them with opaque covers on the highway and I didn't want the bother.

Holes left by flashing lights

I cut some panels from the side of an old 486 PC tower case.  This particular case used to be a Novell 2.2 file server.  I remember marveling over the 64 meg DIMM memory that went into it when I built it.  32 Meg on each stick! Wow! It had two 2 Gig hard drives too!

PC Light Panels

Driver and Navigator Seating:

The stock bus seat was just not going to cut it.  A couple of years ago a buddy gave me the drivers seat from an Audi 5000 that he was junking.  I put it in my 1990 Olds minivan and since the minivan was donating the rest of its seats to the camper project I decided to mount the leather 8-way power seat in the drivers position.  It's heated too, if I can figure out the wiring.

Audi 5000 Leather Seat

The navigator's seat will mount to the top of the wheel well on a 3/4" plywood platform.  To make the mounts as safe and solid as possible I machined these 1 1/4" aluminum spacers to mount the seat.  They are drilled for 3/8" hardware and one face is cut at the appropriate angle for the top surface of the wheel well.

Navigator seat mounts


Here is the navigators seat in place, there will be a low wall at the stairwell and a folding tray table of some sort.  Storage and map light as well.

The seat is mounted with 3/8" grade 5 hardened bolts with crush nuts and there are two pieces of 1 1/2" angle iron in the wheel well to strengthen the mounting.

Navigators Seat

There was some space in front of the wheel well under the navigator's feet that I couldn't allow to go to waste so I made a face frame and put in this drawer.

Drawer in Navigators Platform

Windows:

Four or five of my windows had the same problem, part of the aluminum track was broken out such that the window would not latch in the fully closed position.  A self-drilling screw into the steel rib, just so, fixed this right up.

repaired windowbroken windows track

Screens:

I came up with several different ideas for quick and easy screens but in the end I found that individual framed screens were going to be my best option.  The construction of my bus is such that each windows is inset into the frame and has a lip at the top, take a look at the above right picture to see what I mean.  A simple square frame slips into this gap and then rests nicely on the sill.
Screen Assembly line
I set up a production line to assemble the 20 screens I'd need to cover all of the operable windows.  Having two cordless drills was really handy.
Frames ready for paint Painted frames
Here are the twenty frames completed.  I glued the corners with polyurethane construction adhesive and then secured them with one 1 5/8" drywall screw in a pre-drilled counter-sunk hole.  I sprayed the frames with flat black spray cans.  If I had known it was going to take 8 cans I would have fired up the Wagner Power painter.
Assembling the screens Screen detail
Next I laid out the frames, three at a time, and covered them with the fiberglass screen material.  I nailed 1/4" strips of pine over the edge after laying down a bead of construction adhesive.  I used my Arrow staple gun which also takes 9/16" brads.
Screens on the bus Magnet mount
Here are the screens on the bus, I think black was the right color for the frames.  Some windows fit better then others.  To keep all of the screens in tight I made 20 of these brackets using magnets from old computers hard drives, they are very strong and I think I could drive on the highway without fear of loosing my screens but the plan is to stow them while underway.
Bus with screens
The bus with all screens in place (but no magnet brackets in this picture).

automatic tire chains

Here's a picture of the automatic tire chains - I can't wait to try these babies out this winter!

I wanted to relocate the heater that was in the bathroom area from the floor to the hallway wall.  However, I could not find 1" heater hose anywhere.  I finally bought a couple of 3/4" hose barb to 3/4" NPT female fittings which I drilled out with a 1" bit and soldered to the heater core.
Soldering on hose barbs
Here's the reassembled heater core.  The fan motors were gummed up and needed some lubrication.  Unfortunately the rear bearings were sealed so I had to drill a tiny hole in the motor end casing to pump some oil in. Cleaned and fixed heater
Here's the heater installed under the bathroom sink. Heater under sink
There was a restrictor plug in one of the hoses to force more hot water up to the driver but I wanted to be able to adjust the distribution so I installed a gate valve instead. heater valves

Towing:

I mounted a 2" receiver to the rear bumper and bumper carrier.

I wanted a receiver so I could mount accessories like a rear porch or a bike rack as well as for towing a car.
Mounted trailer hitch to the school bus bumper This is a "step bumper" receiver designed to be mounted under a step bumper on a pickup truck.  I've seen these advertised for as little as $30-40.
The spacers include with the receiver turned out to be just the right height to mount the receive on my rear bumper and bumper carrier.
 
The bumper is 1/4" steel and the carrier is 5/16" and serves as the rear-most frame cross member.

I think they are so overbuilt because the engine is so close to the back of the vehicle.  That's the crank pulley you see above the back of the receiver.
hitch bolted to school bus bumper and carrier  

drilling into the school bus bumper to maount the hitch

To mount the receiver I just clamped it in the correct place and used my "upside down drill press" method to drill the holes.


More Projects . . .

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