Rust, Rust, Rust (and first frame!): Days 9,10,11

As the title says Thursday, Friday and Saturday were mostly spent dealing with one nasty, flaky, brown four letter thing: rust.

After the excitement of Wednesday’s new floor purchase Thursday was spent scrubbing the bus with a fine wire brush and steel wool. The beams along the windows, the side walls, and the roof. We both set to scrubbing back as much of the rust as we could in order to prepare the bus for some rust killer and rust guard paint.


Deirdre painstakingly scrapping away the paint and rust.

Halfway through the day, as we were scrubbing the steel paneling that connected the floor to the wall beam, Deirdre suggested that we could remove them as it would make attaching the flooring easier. We initially thought they were part of the frame but on closer inspection realised they weren’t. After a brief discussion the angle grinder was brought out yet again and an hour later we had the whole floorboards exposed. Revealing another job to be completed: removing and fixing up rotten floorboards.


The side steel paneling that was removed.


Some of the rotten floor boards, ready to be cleaned up for replacing.

By 4 we had had enough and so we went to town for a shower, laundry, a run for Oscar and Yoda in the dog park and to pick up some foil board (polystyrene insulation). We put the insulation on the roof and headed home. All was going well until the insulation blew in the wind and split in half on the roof! Yes, polystyrene insulation is very light and needs to be secured on all 4 sides. After a bit of cursing, we collected it from the side of the road and headed home, angry out ourselves for our stupidity. Oh well, lesson learnt.

If Monday and the backseat was a bastard of a day then Friday was boring. Whilst Deirdre began rust guarding the frame I took a hammer and a chisel to the rotten floor boards, chipping them out ready for replacing.


The floorboard holes from above cleaned out and ready for replacement section of wood.

Saturday begun frustratingly. Having purchased some timber to build our first frame I had started the day excited about the prospect of getting out the new mitre saw and cutting myself some wood. It wasn’t to be so easy: the instructions were all pictures with no words. So I spent an hour cursing trying to get the machine put together until Deirdre helped and calmly worked through it with me.

Deirdre then went back to painting the bus frame whilst I cut the first bits of wood for the frames. I then assembled them nailing the rectangle that should precisely fit into the frame. Of course the frame was 10 mm to long. I’d failed to take heed of every carpenters advice: measure twice cut once.


First cuts! Dust flying away!


First frame.

After lunch I fixed up the frames and then tested the new frames out. They fitted!!!! It was then time to help Deirdre with priming and top coating the frame. By 7 (including breaks for the paint to dry) we’d finished rust proofing the bus and were finally ready for the construction phase of the conversion.


The bus this morning, paint dry and ready for the construction phase.


Dismantling: Days 6,7, 8

Dismantling the bus: Days 6, 7 and 8

After a day of washing and minor frustrations on Sunday we got back into the bus on Monday. The front section steering wheel column, front wall paneling and the stubborn back seat were all on the agenda. In list format it sounds an easy day but as it turned out it was far from that. In truth it was our first Bastard of day.

Deirdre began on the front wall paneling grinding the rivets out just like we had done with the rest of the bus. Whilst Deirdre worked away in the front I took to tackling the backseat. My first priority was to remove the last bit of corner wall paneling. Once the panel was out we, theoretically, would be able to remove the back seat.


Sparks a flying! Deirdre hard at work grinding out the last of the floor trimmings and front section bolts.

As luck would have it, it was much more difficult then I had imagined. The three rivets that were rusted on just wouldn’t budge and spent a good half an hour shifting and groaning and cursing. It wasn’t until Deirdre had finished grinding out the rivets that we were able to tackle it properly. 20 minutes of grinding and pulling and we finally had in then.


Deirdre grinding out the last side panel that would just not budge!

To make matter worse in the process of trying to remove the panel I twinged my back putting me out of hard lifting and pulling work for the day. That left Deirdre to carry out most of the grinding work whilst I did some lighter duties around.

Eventually after a few hours of grinding and banging and Deirdre cursing, in the words of her father, “come out you bastard” the backseat was finally dislodged and triumphantly carried through the door by us.


A relieved and frustrated Deirdre after finally getting the bastard out!

The bastard of the day didn’t end there though. Whilst cooking dinner we run out of gas for our campers cooker and had to make do with our primus stove. To make matters worse I then emptied half the spaghetti on the ground when emptying it out.

Tuesday started late. After the gas running out the previous night we were determined to get it filled before we put it off again. By the time we got back from town with new gas bottles and food it was 10. With my back still sore I was confined to light duties (boiling water, sweeping, fetching tools, making lunch) whilst Deirdre grinded the last few rivets around the rear hub caps and steps.

By lunch the grinding had been completed and my back was feeling good enough to help out with the next stage: rust proofing. With a new mask, wire brush and steel wool I began slowly going


Scrubbing away the rust millimetre by millimetre.

As I was scrubbing away on the lower railing at the back I noticed that a lot of the tiles were lose and easily removed. After a brief discussion we decided that it would be easier to lay out the floating floor boards straight on the wood. So with trustyred, chisel and hammers we took to removing the back section of tiles.


Deirdre working on removing the flooring at the back section.

By the end of the day we had around 2/3rds of the tiles removed with the rest to be removed tomorrow.


The bus at the end of day 7. The rest of the tiles and mess was left for Wednesday morning.

Wednesday was a mixture of a day. We had things to do in Hobart in the afternoon so I got started before 8 on the last sections of tiles. Naively I thought it would be an hour/ hour and a half at most and it would be done. I was wrong. By 10 we still had two big difficult sections to go and the big mess from two days work to clean up. We busily cleaned up and headed into town.

That afternoon we visited a wood heating place to get a new wood heater, touch based with a solar company for our off grid set up and headed to Bunnings to get our new flooring and some sample paneling. The wood heater and solar company were both helpful but more expensive than I had expected.

In Bunnings we spent a good half an hour or so debating the merits of different types of floating floorboards. Do we go Bamboo or Laminate? Where are the made? What is the cost? Is that too dark or too light?

Eventually we settled on some light coloured laminate flooring made in China. Not very sustainable but it was almost half the price of the bamboo, gave us an extra centimetre of air in the bus and was lighter in colour which would give the bus the illusion of more space (or so a quick online search informed us.)

We also picked up a piece of pine paneling and some dressed timber to build a mock frame for the wall. A tester as such for us to work out our final design. With the back of Brutus stacked with flooring and the panelling on the roof rack we head home through Hobart peak hour traffic excited for our the construction stage to begin. Before that though we had to finish off the removal of the, which we promptly did after diner.


The last of the flooring coming up!


The bus end of day 8. With the floorboards exposed it should make installing the floating floorboards easier.


Dismantling the bus: Days 4 and 5

Dismantling the bus : Days 4 and 5

So after a day of rest, errands and discoveries (hello KingstonAsian Grocery, Wholefood store) on Thursday we got back into dismantling the bus on Friday. The plan for the day being to get the final aluminium panels of the roof and the passengers side wall paneling off.

With a bet to win I took to the wall paneling with the hammer and trusty red (our new favourite screwdriver). Using red as a chisel I was able to leverage behind the rusty bolts that wouldn’t budge and banging on the end with a hammer able to pry the paneling off. Less than an hour later I had the whole passenger side panels (plywood, metal railing, screws) off and felt well on the way to winning the bet.

Whilst I was working on the panels Deirdre had picked up her tool of choice: the angle grinder. Donning her new bus uniform (orange chainsaw helmet and earmuffs, googles, gloves) she’d attacked the rivets on the  wall. Working her way around the driver side she soon had most of the rivets ground out.


Deirdre grinding out the rivets behind the wood heater.

With the wall paneling off I set to helping Deirdre remove the paneling and over the next couple of hours we worked to remove the driver side panelling. By mid morning we had completed the driver side and Deirdre was willing to admit that the bet had been won.


Trusty red and the hammer working their magic

We then took to removing the flue and chimney off the wood heater. A job we had been putting off for a few days as it seemed to difficult. With a couple of screws removed we were able to lift up the chimney and outer flue through the roof. The copper flue around the wood heater proved more difficult as it had rusted to the fire box and so we had to grind out some of the rivets in order to remove it in parts.


The flue and chimney being removed.

After lunch we took to working systematically on the passenger side. One of us holding the paneling as the other leveraged off the ground out rivets. Shortly after 3 we were taking the last wall panel down and able to relax.


Bet won! Final back wall paneling coming down.

The bet won we packed up and headed down to Willie Smiths for a cider and pizza.


The bus end of day 4. Ahead of schedule and ready for the front.

Saturday we treated ourselves to a little bit of a sleep in and begun later than usual. The plan for the day: start attacking the front section of the bus and try and remove the back seat. Ever since we’d begun dreaming off converting the bus we’d also envisaged that the front bus would be the hardest part of the bus to dismantle. (In fact when devising the timetable for the build we’d allocated the best part of a week for dismantling the front of the bus.)


The front section as it originally looked before dismantling.

Whilst Deirdre took the grinder to the back seat I got working on the front section of the bus. Using a socket wrench and screwdriver I was able to remove a few of the nuts and bolts holding the seats in place but not enough for the seats to budge. Deirdre was going to have to grind some out. I did however discover that the front seat cushions were screwed on and could easily be removed once the seat belts had been cut away.


Lifting up the passenger side cushions to reveal some screws. Easy work now!


The front. Cushions and seats removed.

With the cushions removed there was now better access for the grinder and so Deirdre took to grinding out the bolts whilst I photographed.


Deirdre grinding the bolts for the passenger seats off.

After half an hour or so most of the bolts were ground down enough that we could bang them out with a hammer and remove the drivers box and the passenger seat.


A satisfied Deirdre and curious Oscar on our new lounge chair.

This brought us up to lunch. Again progress was being made quicker than what we had envisaged. Our planning was overly cautious perhaps but it was better it’s better to overestimate and be surprised at your progress then be frustrated at unrealistic ambitions.

After lunch we got back into finishing off the front section. The door mechanism was first to go (wire cutters through the air pipes, grinder to bolts) then the tiles were removed bit by bit.


Back breaking work, trusty red chipping away out the lino floor on the front.

Exposing, unfortunately, a series of rust holes, patch work fixes and some all right steel flooring. Most of the rust seems to be centred around the passenger side (behind me to the left in the photo above). We are going to have to work whether to replace or just patch up. One thing in our favour is that the bus will be going nowhere so we don’t have to worry about roadworthy’s or the likes.

By the end of the day all that was left to do in the front was the wall paneling and steering wheel. The back we hadn’t touched much either so both of them would be jobs to finish come Monday. (Sunday being wash day here when we get to use a proper shower after a week of military washes!)


The front section. Everything but the steering wheel removed. 


Dismantling the Bus: Days 1,2,3

It’s been a busy week at our Lucaston Block.

On Monday, feeling a little disheartened by our attempts at building a kennel over the weekend, we decided to tackle work proper and begin dismantle the bus. As we were still sleeping in the bus this meant packing everything away and moving it all out: furniture, bags, couch, table; the lot.

The bus before dismantling begun.

The bus before dismantling begun.

Thankfully the bags and the cupboards didn’t take too long and by mid morning we were able to tackle the more difficult furniture such as the couch. The couch itself was the problem- the glue that was holding it together had started to wear- it was more it’s location.

Right next to the door it was protected by a metal railing. For the couch to be removed the railing had to be removed. And this was proving more difficult then we thought. Riveted into the door we had to drill out each of the rivets. Some were easy. Others a struggle- snapping the rivet drill piece a number of times. Eventually with some drilling and brut force we were able to remove the door railing and thus the couch.

Deirdre hard at work beginning to remove some of the railing.

Deirdre hard at work beginning to remove some of the railing.

The railing finally being removed.

The railing finally being removed.

After lunch we set to removing the overhead railings and drivers side storage. The railings were fairly easy. Held on by screws we were able to get all of the drivers railing down and if not for four stubborn screws we would have had the drivers side railing down.

Taking down the overhead rail.

Taking down the overhead rail.

Deirdre taking down the overhead storage.

Deirdre taking down the drivers side railing.

The overhead storage was a little trickier with it being held on by a combination of brackets, screws and rivets. We made as much progress as we could by screwing and drilling out the rivets (with not too much success it might be added) and called it a night.

Tuesday began where we left off. Finish dismantling the furniture and the overhead storage. If we worked hard enough we might even be able to take out the carpet.

We started with the bed base. Lift up the top and wiggling out the mdf boards so we could tackle the bed frame. As we were beginning to discover the previous tenants loved their big screws and so with a lot of elbow grease we unscrewed and unscrewed until we had the frame out.

Deirdre (and Oscar) working on removing the last screws in the bed base.

Deirdre (and Oscar) working on removing the last screws in the bed base.

In the process of which we found a water tank and a big hole in the floor. Assuming the floor to be made of metal we feared that it was a big rust hole. Distracted I banged my head on the metal railing we’d failed to take down yesterday.

Pissed off and fearing the worst as I rested from the gash to the head I decided to take a look under the bus to see just what we were in for. To my pleasant (and Deirdre’s) surprise the whole bus floor was plywood over a metal frame. The rusty hole was not rust but the waterlogged plywood flaking away. I may have been bleeding but we’d had a victory of sorts.


The rust hole which wasn’t!

We then set to rolling up the carpet before continuing on with removing the overhead storage area. Having limited success with the rivet drill piece the day before we decided this time we would bring out the big guns. And so with the generator surging along Deirdre became acquainted with her new favourite tool: the angle grinder.


Deirdre and her new favourite tool!

And what a difference it had made. Whereas the previous day we struggled today we were flying along and able to pull out most of the overhead storage. Cocky I made a bet with Deirdre that by Friday we would have the whole skin of the back out. The winner would shout the other a cider.

The bus end of day two. Well on truly on the way to winning a bet!

The bus end of day two. Well on truly on the way to winning a bet!

Distracted at the end of the day I again hit my head against the passenger side pole. For all the work we had done the bus was taking it’s vegenance out on me


Wounded but not defeated. To new gashes adorning the head.

Wednesday began early. Grace Removals were delivering our stuff at 8 so we had to tidy a space for them.


Our daily to do list: mid morning Wednesday!

Barely had the truck driven down the road and I was already rummaging through our stuff. I had a date with the overhanging pole and a little trick up my sleeve: an old fashioned hacksaw! In hand 5 minutes later I was posing out the door with pole in arm.

Bus 2: Scott 1.

Bus 2: Scott 1.

After that we set about clearing a spot for Brutus so we could set up the dining area under the carport. A quick and easy job that meant by mid-morning we were back in the bus ready to start taking down the roof.

Beginning to take down the roof.

Beginning to take down the roof.

Held on again by screws we were able this time to use a screwdriver and slowly but surely unscrew the roof bit by bit. Taking down each piece as we went. Eager to get it done I attempted to take down one of the roof boards myself. As the photos below show it wasn’t the safest approach to take.


Roof completed we then set about taking out the drivers side panelling. With a little bit brut force using the hammer and my trusty red screwdriver we were able to wedge in between the rusty screws and leverage them off. The plywood was then fairly easy to remove and pretty quickly we had the side panelling off.

Unscrewing the wall panelling.

Unscrewing the wall panelling.

Which was relief as it little did we know it was a 35 degree day hence the bus feeling like a sauna. We then settled down for a cold beer and to relax. Pleased with our achievements in 3 days.


Last of the drivers side panelling being removed.





The first week: in pictures

So it’s been a week. Here’s something of a pictorial summary of our time thus far. As you can see we are now in the midst of dismantling. I’ll write a longer post later in the week going through the bus in all it’s disassembled stages. In the meantime enjoy the pictures!


Deirdre preparing our first dinner: channa masala.


One of the walking tracks on the property.


The area behind the bus to be cleared and turned into a kitchen garden. The ground is steeper and rocky then thought so will have to do some earth moving.


Disgruntled Oscar (day 1) and his new spot in the bus.


Oscar and Yoda playing with their new toy they discovered under the bus.



The sun setting at the end of the first week.


Deirdre appriasing the old couch ready to be converted into a work table come tomorrow.


Coffee anyone. With the penny working we can grind to our hearts content.


Halfway through day 1 pulling the bus apart.


Our new terraced room with a view.


Success! Generator working; mod cons charging.


Our outdoor dining area complete with


Deirdre, Oscar and Yoda enjoying some relaxation at the end of the day.


The fun begins dismantling the bus with added stretch.


Using my new found favourite garden tool: the mattock. This is the back of what will become Oscar and Yoda’s kennel.


Bracken creep…


Yoda watching on as Deirdre removes our first panel.


First panel removed to reveal more work and the signs of what look to be a fire.

Tassie: the first few days

So we finally made it to our bush block. After 17 days driving across 4 states (and 1 territory), 3 Christmas’s and 2 extended visits with family we finally pulled up to our gate around lunchtime on Monday. Keys ready we set to opening the gate and driving up our new driveway.

Well that was the plan. As luck would have it after 5 months of Tasmanian weather the locks, that the previous owners had put on the gate, were rusted shut. After a few minutes we realized no amount of twisting or turning was going to get them undone, so we headed back down the road to the hardware shop in Huonville.

An hour later with trusty bolt cutters and brut strength from Deirdre we were finally driving up our driveway.

Our immediate thoughts? To be honest, what the fuck are we getting ourselves into?

The property was steeper then either of us recalled. Bracken was engulfing the landscape like some spindly alien across the ground. It was colder and cloudy and darker and quieter then we’d remembered. The silver wattles seemed taller. Everywhere you looked there were spider webs. Wasps had turned the bathroom sink into a home. Dust and dirt was everywhere.

It looked like it hadn’t been lived in or looked after for years, which it was. The thought of turning back and driving out did cross our minds but we’d come so far that pulling out before we even started would have been too easy.

Tuesday morning was meltdown morning. The clouds had not lifted, Oscar and Yoda had stolen the blankets in the night, so we woke cold. To make matters worse before we were about to head out Oscar came back with a sheep hoof he had found down in the dry creek.

After pulling the bone out of Oscar’s mouth we hightailed it to Cygnet to escape and spent most of the morning playing sightseer. We picked up a few things and then spent the afternoon trying to get our heads around the solar system and generator.

The generator works great and barely seems to use as much fuel as we imagined. The solar system well… the panels are old, the batteries older and the location of the panels doesn’t seem to catch much sun because of those silver wattles. After a few days we’ve decided that it’s best to leave it for now. It was never going to be enough charge for the power tools and it seems to hold enough charge for the batteries and the water pump, toilet fan and lights.

Wednesday was better. The sun was peaking through and we could see the potential of the site more. We spent the day in Hobart buying some winter clothes (I have thermals now!), getting some dog fencing supplies at Bunnings and checking out the tip shops.

Thursday morning we had our first lesson in composting toilets. The overfill tray had leaked some of it’s contents on the floor. We spent the morning trying to solve the plumbing issue around the overfill pipe. The problem being it is uneven, tilting away from the overflow pipe. The solution was Deirdre holding the toilet up whilst I looked under the toilet to see if it was dripping. We then emptied it of solids and put a couple of pavers under the front of the toilet to even it out a little. The overfill is emptied and solved for now. We will need to fix up some of the plumbing issues but the bathroom is something still being discussed and might no longer stay where it is at current.

The other good news for Thursday was that we had a quote for some trees to be removed and will have them chopped down in mid February. It’s a guy I knew years ago so nice to reconnect with familiar faces and give business to him.

Today we are going to work out a possible design for the dog kennel. There’s an old generator box that’s concreted into the ground that screams kennel all over. We just need to clear the land around it of bracken and trees. (I might even get t o get the axe out!) And then we’re going to be civillised and go out for a drink and music at the local cidery. First time in years we’ve been out on a Friday night!