The Bus Renovation Journal

Day 2 – Rivets Complete!

Day two started earlier than day one and was just as productive. Here’s a quick rundown of all the things we accomplished:

1. Finished grinding rivets on the ceiling panels & removed them

Though we really wanted to find an easier method, grinding continued to be the fastest way that we could get these suckers out. Once the heads were ground all the way down Will pried the panel away with a crowbar while I dangled from the end, using my weight to pull the panel off.

The last panel at the very front of the bus proved the most stubborn – they really didn’t want that thing to come off! A healthy mix of screws and rivets meant that this single panel took much longer than the rest of them.

Most of the ceiling panels removed

Most of the ceiling panels removed

The ridiculous grinding getup we have to wear: ear protection, eye protection, and mask

The ridiculous grinding getup we have to wear: ear protection, eye protection, and mask

We were happy to find clean, dry insulation the entire length of the ceiling, even around the emergency hatches.

2. Started & finished grinding rivets on the side panels

Having two grinders here was really key. Will took the big 7″ grinder that we rented from Home Depot and powered through the bottom row of rivets while I used the smaller one to get the top row and vertical columns. We were able to do all of the side panels in about two and a half hours – much faster than the ceiling! The insulation behind the side paneling was also clean and dry, just like the ceiling, a really good sign.

Will grinding side panel rivets Will grinding side panel rivets

3. Figured out how to remove the paneling below the emergency windows

While most of the side panels were easy to remove, the bits under the emergency exits were a little tricky. The emergency exit window frame drops down lower than the rest of the windows, covering up the folded over corner. We tried everything short of taking the windows completely out (something we really didn’t want to do) but we couldn’t find a way to get those darn things out. So, we grabbed a metal cutting blade for the angle grinders and sheared the panels off below the emergency exits. It doesn’t look great, but it will all be covered by wood paneling so we aren’t too worried about it.

Side panels under the emergency exits

Here you can see how the emergency exits are holding on to the side panels.

Back of the bus view without ceiling and side panels

Back of the bus view without ceiling and side panels.

Alyssa grinding side panel rivets Three stages of rivets, unground, mid-grinding, and totally ground off

4. Removed the driver’s seat and seatbelts

We weren’t planning on removing the driver’s seat so early in the process but we decided to take it out yesterday for a few reasons: 1. It was really in the way for the last set of ceiling rivets that needed to come out. 2. The bolts holding it in are big and rusty, and we only had the big angle grinder rented for one more day. 3. We want to get the floor finished up early this week, so it might as well come out. Will wrestled with it for a while, but it came out pretty quickly with the help of the grinder.

Front of the bus, driver's seat removed

Will working on the final panel

5. Started removing rubber floor

The floor was a bonus. Once we got to the front of the bus and Will started working on the last ceiling panel and the driver’s seat, there wasn’t really enough room (or strength left in my arms) to help, so I started in on the floor. On the bright side, the rubber and screws holding it in came up really easily. Unfortunately, that hints at bigger water / rot / rust issues… that were confirmed when the main rubber pieces came up to reveal wet plywood underneath. We know this moisture didn’t come from above because all of our insulation was moisture and mold free, so we’re expecting some pretty significant issues when we pull up the plywood subfloor. Not fun, but a bridge we will cross when we get there.

Started removing the rubber floor

Started removing the rubber floor to expose the plywood underneath

Hilde guarding the bus

Junkyard dog?

Stay tuned for the next update!

Are you thinking about converting a bus?

If so, make sure to check out our Big Bus Materials List! It has everything we used, from appliances to light switches to flooring, to do our conversion. Check it out »

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