The Bus Renovation Journal

Update 4 – Floor Painted

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Are you sick of looking at photos of a rusty school bus floor? I know I am. Luckily, by the end of today’s post… you won’t have to anymore! The floor has been our main project over the past few days and MAN, am I glad to be done with it!

Since our last update we have:

1. Pulled up the plywood flooring in the driver’s area

We were dreading this step, but it had to be done. We contemplated removing the heaters on both sides as well, but ultimately decided to leave a little bit of plywood in so that we didn’t have to totally dismantle the dashboard.

2. Ground down all of the surface rust

Even with all of the sweeping and pressure washing, there were still a ton of big rust pieces hanging on to certain areas in the floor. So, out came our favorite tool… the angle grinder! We ground and ground away at the floor of the bus until all of the rusty bits had been replaced with shiny metal. I was amazed at how well the grinder worked, but my back is still complaining from all of the crouching down. It took a long time – probably around 8 hours – of grinding, but we finally got it done. After the grinding was finished we swept and pressure washed again, this time paying more attention to the walls and ceiling as well (as they’ll need to be nice and clean for the spray foamers!)

rust vs. ground metal

Rust on the left, freshly ground steel on the right.

Alyssa grinding away Alyssa stretching after grinding

Grinding is tough – requires a lot of stretching!

We also ordered a new latch for the front door from A to Z Bus Sales in Sacramento, CA. Our latch is completely rusted and gross, so a new one will really spiff things up!

Rusty latch Door and step area

3. Painted the Floor

Earlier this week I visited the Auburn Paint Warehouse to pick up something that would neutralize the existing rust problem and hopefully prevent new rust from forming. The guys excitedly pointed me to a two part kit called Pitt-Guard “Direct to Rust” Epoxy-Mastic coating. It was two separate gallons that would be mixed together right before being applied, and they were sure it would work for us. At $130 out the door, we sure hope it works! The paint went on easily and we had the whole bus done in just over an hour. Yesterday was the first time that I’ve looked at the interior of the bus and thought, “yeah, we can live in this!” it’s definitely the start of a new era in bus building.

Bus floor, painted white!

Floor finally painted!

4. Learned a Lesson

At the paint store I asked the guys what we should do about all of the zillions of little holes littering the bottom of the bus. They thought we should paint the Pitt-Guard, cover them with Bondo, and then do another coat of Pitt-Guard. That sounded reasonable to me, so we bought the Bondo and went right ahead with the painting. Unfortunately, we didn’t read the instructions on the Bondo until we had the first coat of paint all finished, and we discovered that if we were going to use Bondo it should have been applied to the bare steel, before the paint went down. D’oh. Lesson learned: we need to do our own research. Even when advice is coming from a good place, it should be double checked!

All in all I think we’ll be OK – after a little more research, Bondo doesn’t seem like the perfect material anyway. (Thank goodness for Home Depot’s generous return policy, I’m getting to know those ladies quite well!) We’re currently trying some industrial waterproof caulking, similar to the stuff they use for showers. I’ll let you know how it pans out.

5. Took a Load to the Dump

We have amassed quite the pile of debris over the last few days! It’s amazing to think that all of this junk was inside of the bus. I am so happy to have it all out… the plywood and linoleum especially had such an awful smell. While the first coat of paint was drying we loaded up all of the trash stuff (aka anything that wasn’t metal) and took it to the Meadow Vista Dump for a grand total of $36. We’re hoping that we can convince someone to haul the metal pieces away for their scrap value.

Pile of junk outside the bus

Phew! When written down it doesn’t look like much but the last few days have felt very productive. Today we’ll be sealing all of those tiny nail holes and getting started on framing the floor for insulation. It feels SO GOOD to be finally putting things into the bus instead of ripping them out!

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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