|Sparr Bought a Bus: Months 2-7
||[Oct. 2nd, 2016|11:43 pm]
It's been a while since I posted about the bus. I was working on it a lot for the first month or so, then I slowed down a lot. I didn't stop, and things picked up before Burning Man, and they have taken a turn for the worse recently. Here's what's been going on.
I built a deck for the roof. The deck itself is expanded steel on a steel frame, with some wooden supports between the deck and the roof. This was my first big welding project and it turned out OK. The whole thing is about 33*7ft, in eight pieces. It's plenty strong enough to span across the roof, and overkill if I add supports down the midline. There's a hole for the roof emergency/access hatch, with a walkable cover for the hole. The interface between the deck and the roof needs to be improved, probably replaced with steel or aluminum truss, eventually.
I used plywood to make an adapter so a small window A/C will fit in one of the open bus windows. This probably isn't a permanent solution, but it worked at Burning Man, so it will probably be fine for wherever the bus is next summer.
I took the bus to Burning Man. 12-14 people rode in it each way. It was very cramped when everyone wanted to sleep, but it worked. This bodes well for a future in which all the originally planned sleeping surfaces are in place. It handled the mountains less well than last time; more on that later in this post. After the event, with the interior covered in dust, it was very cathartic to clean it out with a pressure washer, leaving it cleaner than it's been since I got it, probably much longer than that.
I got a 14ft aluminum ladder for climbing to the roof outside. It's unwieldy but very comfortable to climb. I should replace it with a ~10ft ladder that hangs off the side of the bus.
I installed carpet on the largest portion of the interior, between the front wheel wells and the rear stairs. With padding under most of it, it is very comfortable to walk on. The interior of the bus, beyond the entrance and driver's seat, is now a no-shoes zone. I need to put a small shoe rack somewhere near the front door, but for now the floor and wheel well will do.
I did some repair to the roof hatch mechanism. It started to break shortly after I bought the bus, and got worse over time. I was left with half a dozen pieces of a shattered plastic cylinder that needed to bear significant load. I machined down a PVC pipe fitting that fit over the cylinder, then reassembled the pieces and slid the PVC over it, with epoxy for everything. This has proven more than strong enough.
And now for the bad/emergent news. The bus had a coolant leak, which was causing overheating and other problems. It turns out that it had ~4 of them. A couple were fixed (one by me), one was insignificant, and one was the head gasket which seemed to not be a big problem once the others were fixed. Then yesterday the engine lost 90% power while driving and started exhausting thick white smoke, and developed a new high-speed low-intensity rattling in/near the engine. It is likely that the head gasket has blown internally. It's parked in SF right now, and I'll be talking to a mechanic tomorrow.
It might be fixable. I might tow it to a mechanic, or even risk driving it another few miles at low speed. I might tow or drive it to the house of a friend who wants to rent it out on AirBnB, or offer that same idea to some other friends. I might sell it, or even gift it. Coincidentally, there are a dozen buses similar to mine in running-3-months-ago condition, a couple of hours away by transit, with auctions ending tomorrow afternoon. First thing tomorrow morning I'll be out there inspecting some of them. Worst case, I buy a second bus and end up with two buses, and then I can still pursue any of my disposal plans above for either bus, or more seriously consider my idea to rent property for people to live in buses and share common non-residential building space.
That's all for now. More to come in the next few days!