The thrill of tearing into a project for the first time is special. The dreams and plans start to take shape the second that the first seat is removed. The plan was very straight forward and is outlined below. This seems like it will be one of the most labor intensive parts of the build.
1. Remove bus seats
This proved to be interesting to say the least. Our first attempt involved a wrench inside the bus and an impact gun used under the bus. This worked marginally well if you don't count the dirt and debris landing on my face. Safety goggles are a must when working under any vehicle. We resorted to using the angle grinder on some of the tougher chairs. The bus seats are for sale if anyone is interested in NE Oklahoma/NW Arkansas; I've been known to deliver in exchange for splitting a six pack. Inquire for more details. We ended up scrapping the bus seats for a measly $17.
2. Remove rubber flooring
This proved to be a lot easier than I thought it would be. Simply remove the metal trim down the middle aisle and begin working the rubber up. A heat gun and some strong hands help to rip up the rubber, especially around the wheel wells. Recommended tools for this part include a heat gun, any kind of scraper your can try and gloves. Our subfloor was a little moist, so it made the rubber a little moist as well.
3. Remove plywood subfloor
Now things are getting fun. First, remove ALL screws/nails from the subfloor that you can find that aren't rusted. Many of our screws were rusted in place and were later removed with a cut-off wheel. The plywood was in a few different conditions depending on which quadrant of the bus you are in. One corner had firm, solid plywood that would not budge one inch without extreme persuasion. Other areas were a little damp and came up easily. Tools recommended for this step include gloves, power drill, angle grinder with a cut-off wheel, shovel, pry bars of varying sizes, chisels, hammer, a little bit of luck and a little bit of almond liquor in your coffee.
Non-Pro tip: If you are working in a shortie skoolie, be very gentle with the floor. Pry bars will puncture the floor and cause more problems for you in the long run. Take your time and try to enjoy yourself. It is some of the hardest labor you will do on your skoolie conversion.
4. Prep for paint
In order to protect our soon to be installed plywood and tongue and groove PERGO we wanted to seal up the floor as well as possible. We (mostly I) did a good amount of damage to the paper thin metal of the floor while removing the plywood so there were several holes to repair before paint could be applied. We used sheet metal from Lowes along with Liquid Nails construction adhesive and self tapping screws. The screws are only being used to hold down the patch panels and are very small. The sheet metal cut very well with tin snips.
The entire floor surface was hit with the drill and a wire brush. The same was used to scuff up the rest of the interior of the bus. Once all areas of flaking paint and residual glue are removed, vacuum/sweep the bus out several times before applying paint. Because our bus had no rust we opted to simply apply Rust-oleum directly to the floor. Our bus spent most of it's life in rural Central Oklahoma, so rust was not expected. Most of the holes in the floor were caused by me and the big pry bar!
Don't forget to tape off any areas that you don't want paint on. At this step we removed a lot of the decals and stickers that were present. Rachael is seriously talented with the heat gun and putty knife. According to her there is a sweet spot between not enough and too much heat. I believe her, because those stickers are gone! She also went back over the stickers with Acetone to try and remove any of the residue from the glue. You can barely tell there was a sticker there before paint even goes on.
Finally, clean the floor with soap and water to remove any more dirt or grime before paint. Rinse and allow to dry before applying paint.
5. Wall Paint
Our plan was to paint the floor up to the chair rail (approx. 12") with the Rust-oleum and paint the rest of the interior with normal interior paint. The interior wall paint was first to go on in case of any drips or spills, we can just paint over it with the floor paint, which is darker.
While Rachael was putting on the first coat of interior paint, I worked on the roof. This process will be documented in another blog post at a later time.
The first coat of interior paint went on really well considering that it was around 40° outside and around 65° in the bus with the help of our buddy heater. Rachael used a roller on the flat surfaces and a cheap 2" brush on the rest of the detail spots. After a few minutes of drying, it looked like this.
The second coat went on much better and I was done working on the roof, so I joined her to help. The painting goes much faster with two people hacking away at it.
All of this will be documented in an upcoming VLOG which you should definitely be on the lookout for. Check out our Instagram page @okienomads and YouTube channel under the same name. Thanks for reading!