Gutting The Bus

After parking the bus at my parents’ house and taking a few sad pictures of the busted windshield we started planning how to approach this project. Since this was a week night nothing was going to happen after this long drive. My mom asked if she could work on it if she got bored to which we gave her a resounding yes!

Super mom to the rescue she attacked the bus the next day, with a bit of help from dad later on as well. They managed to remove all the seats except a one and the luggage rack. All the seats in the bus were held in with large screws so removing them was simple enough. Quite a few of the screws were rusted nearly all the way through the center due to having been surrounded by soggy wood for the last couple decades. I wonder if the wood ever actually dried. The remaining seat was the only one to have nuts and bolts. One of them a standard nut and bolt, but the other was meant to be permanent and needed to be cut.

My parents were also able to remove a few of the posts and ceiling hand rails but these were all held in place much better than the seats. So they doused anything still left in the bus with lube spray and let it all sit overnight. By Friday night the bus looked like this.

Saturday morning we started trying to remove anything that was left. Some of the handrails came out without issues, others needed a few good hits with a hammer to break the hold first but in the end they all came out. The handrails looked brand new so maybe we can reuse some of that tubing somewhere on the bus. We also took a sawzall to the remaining seat and cut its bolts down and go rid of that one too. All the seats must be pretty new as well. Not a single one of them has a tear and I refuse to believe original seats lasted 20+ years in such a heavily trafficked bus. We’re not sure what to do with these, but right now they’re on Craigslist and we’re talking to some local shops to see if they want them for some “fancy hipster couches”, which we’ve seen a few of them do before.

The luggage rack was a beast. We took out almost all the screws securing it to the wall and floor, but a few remained stuck. At this point in the day it was 97 outside again and we had plans so we headed off with the tasks unfinished. My parents went in for round two later in the night when things cooled off a bit and finally got that stubborn luggage rack out.

Sunday morning we got to it again with the plan of stripping the floor completely and maybe if we got lucky start on the walls and ceiling. Unlike the seats the floors in this monster have probably never been renewed. The rubber topper mat was already falling apart in sports and it tore easily. We could grab a piece and strip the whole length of the bus. After doing this a few times we could see that the plywood was rotten all the way through. There was no way of getting it out easily besides maybe a shovel, so we decide to leave the rubber mat glue to the wood so it would hold pieces together. This way we could pry up large pieces of ply wood and then toss them out that way. This was mostly uneventful, and we got it done in a couple phases as the temps started getting into the 90s again.

We returned one last time by the end of the day to clean everything out and be ready for rust scrubbing and converting. At the end of Sunday the bus looked like this.

Surface rust everywhere. A few spots were a bit worse, breaking through the metal entirely. This was all on the same metal piece that goes over the rear wheels/axle. There was also a decent hole in the back drive side, but nothing major. There is also a big hole where the diesel tank is, possibly to unplug the pump or fuel level sensor? No idea. The stairs are a mess; the bottom step is rusted all the way through and only exists because of spray foam holding on to some parts and the large square tubing at the outer edge. Speaking of spray foam, the entirety of the under underside of the bus is covered in a few inches of it. I’m not sure yet if this is a blessing or not. If there are gaps water can get in, the floor will melt someday. If it’s done well enough then we get a bit of free insulation I guess? Anyone have any thoughts on that? That’s it for now. Parent’s will be brushing, sanding or busting rust on the floor, and then by the weekend we should be able to lay down some converter and paint.

Thanks again for reading!

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