Floor installation and Paint Preparation

A lot has happened since our last update.  We have become parents, transitioned to a new home and Tommy got his dream job.  We have continued to work on the bus and are on track to finish her by the end of this year (2019).  

We left off last blog entry at the demolition stage.  After we had torn out the original floor we were faced with the realization that the beams needed to be buffed and primed before we could continue.  So after that was done, we got treated three-quarter thick plywood, covered it in weatherproofing and drilled it into the metal beams to create a deck.  In order to seal the inside completely off from the outside, we used silicone caulking and filled all of the cracks. We had expected the wood to successfully drill all the way down into the metal beams (therefore straightening out any warping) but there was still a bit of warping we could not get rid of.  Fortunately, we were able to consult a carpenter friend of ours who advised us to lay 2x4 beams on their sides, 10 inches apart and drill up through the bottom of the bus. In order to do this, Tommy had to crawl underneath the bus and carefully measure out 12 inch increments to reliably penetrate both the 2x4 and the plywood.  We didn’t want to have to patch any holes, so after he measured out his best guess, I would tap on the 2x4 to make sure he would hit the beam. Nine beams and roughly forty-five screws later, we were well on our way to a flat floor. 

I had decided that I wanted to put insulation into the floor because the books will need the extra protection from the elements.  So we put insulation between the beams and then bought two panels of three-quarter thick subfloor. Tommy cut the shapes we needed and the pieces locked in to each other with a satisfying “cthunk”.  We then screwed the subfloor down and had a completely flat floor!

At this point, the summer had grown incredibly hot and Tommy was gone most of the day so I had to wait until he got back and the sun went down a bit, before I could start paint prep.  

Paint preparation is a lot of sanding and washing and sanding again.  There were some spots that I needed to patch with bondo and then sand yet again.  One of the most rewarding things during this whole process has been the incredibly taxing work of paint preparation.  Through all of my research, every person who was painting their school bus had a little something to say about paint preparation: “It sucks”.  I, for one, enjoyed the process of putting on my incredibly cool particle mask, gloves and ear phones (sometimes) and sweating until I was breathing salt.  The first couple of days I got most of the stickers off of the bus, sanded about 70% of the rust off and had patched a spot in the back of the bus. However once I hit the second week of sanding and priming and sanding and patching and priming, I started to feel like it would never end.

Here is a trick I use when my impatience for a big task to be done already starts beating me over the head with the idea that it will never be done: Pick a smaller task and complete something.

So with about 30% left to go on the paint prep for the body, I tackled the roof.  The roof had no rust so all I had to do was rough up the surface and wash it before it could be painted.  In order to reflect sun and reduce heat, we painted the roof with white flex seal. Flex seal will help insulate the roof and ensure a waterproof surface.  It was taking a lot more flex seal than I had expected from reading the can’s prediction of covering “100 square feet” so we got white gloss latex paint for metal and cut and rolled the area directly above the windows.  This was a lot easier and yielded a much better result than painting the whole thing in flex seal. Tommy warned that this latex paint wouldn’t stick to the rubber flex seal so I googled it and it said that it would stick to the flex seal; so I rolled it without fear.  

Two days later, I noticed wrinkling near the curve of the top of the bus.  Upon closer inspection, it became clear that this paint would indeed not stick to the flex seal.  So I checked to see if this particular kind of paint would stick, but read the same thing I had before: any paint will stick to flex seal spray.  Right beneath the bold sentence “any paint will stick to flex seal spray, we recommend waiting for 24 hours for latex and one week for oil” was the sentence “no paint besides flex seal liquid will stick to flex seal liquid”.  

I had used flex seal liquid.  

So with only a small amount of frustration, I sanded down the curve and used the flex seal down to the latex because the latex can’t go over the flex seal but the flex seal can go over the latex.  

The roof is now complete.

With the extra latex paint in the bottom of the can, I painted the bumpers on the sides of the bus and I have to say, it is a satisfying feeling to complete parts of this project.

Next, I will go over how we install the new door, the floor, and the window seats, maybe even the bookshelves!  We will paint the bus soon, we are just waiting for a friend of ours to complete his car detailing setup.

Thank you for reading!