Winter proofing the bus: roof frame and awning

It’s been a while between post. March has been a busy month with visits from family and a trip to Adelaide thrown in. We’ve been plugging away on the block preparing for winter. For those who’ve been following the blog for a while you will know that we had a big issue with condensation last winter. Over the course of spring and summer we’ve been working out ways to alleviate this problem.

After catching up friends one day they mentioned a bendy bus in Launceston. In it we found a photo of a roof that they had added to their bus to protect the roof from the rain. We figured that we could give it a go and got onto designing a similar roof, with a few alterations, for our bus.

The alteration being where the bendy bus roof curved ours would be straight with the water running down to the passenger side of the bus. The other major alteration would be that our roof would have added insulation creating a thermal break between the cold outside air and the steel frame.

What follows over the next few posts will be our attempts to winter proof our bus. Will it work? Theoretically we are confident but until we get those below zero nights in July then we won’t be entirely sure. Until then though the first of the winterproofing posts: awning and roof frame.


When we started the deck last winter we had always intended to complete an awning for it. Creating a dry space for us to enter the bus and somewhere for a fridge to be located. With the days and nights cooler the fridge is being pushed back to spring. The awning though has finally been completed.

As the below drawing shows the plan was for the awning to slightly overhang the deck. Creating a drip line away from the steps and deck so we could still move on that without getting wet. A gutter would be added to run the water down into a rain barrel or two.


Over the course of a few weekends in February and March we tackled the rafters, battens and laserlight roofing. Following the same approach as for the studio (add link) we measured and cut the rafters to size, cutting notches into the rafters so they would sit neatly on the beams. These rafters were placed at 1200 intervals creating a total of 5 rafters. Each rafter was then skewed nailed onto the roofing beams.



Atop of the rafters we attached 3 rows of battens: one at the bus end; one in the middle and one above the posts. Battens on we then added the laserlight. With the awning being only 1.5 metres wide and the sheets being 1.8 metres long this meant some cutting would be required. Having struggled to cut the roofing tine for the studio side with ti snips we searched online and found a video of how to angled grind the sheets creating a straight line with clamps and a piece of timber. Following the instructions we had a go at doing this.


Cutting the laser light. No sparks as the plastic melts rather than flys off.

The plastic cut easily enough. However my handy work was a little bit wonky and the line wasn’t as straight has it could have been. Not to worry though, the roofing tin for the rest of the bus would be overlapping the awning. Making sure the sheets were right way up (for sun and aesthetic purposes) the sheets were then laid out and attached to the battens creating the covered awning we had desired.


Deirdre being artistic as I screw on the laser light.


As mentioned above the roofing tin will overlap the bus awning. This meant that not only did the awning have to be added on before the roof tin but that the roof frame had to be completed before the laser light could be attached. Again I turned the computer to design a plan from which we could order the wood.

After some preliminary work it become apparently that we were designing three roofs: the front section; the middle section (that meet and merged into the awning); and the back of the bus section. To make the design cheaper it was decided that the front and back sectors of the roof need to overhang enough to keep the water off the windows. This  meant that these sectors would extend shorter.

With that decided we set to the more difficult task of working out the uprights. We did this by running a rafter from the awning across to the side of the bus. This rafter was moved up until we had the right height for the rafter to sit on. We marked this on the upright. This was the first step.

As you can see in the photo below on the uprights there is a beam. To get the precise height of the upright we needed to subtract the height of the beam from our preliminary measurement. This gave us the upright height. Next we needed to work out the angle on the upright in order for the rafter to sit neatly. Using a trick that Deirdre Dad had shown her we were able to square off the upright in order to get a flat surface to attach the beam too.


Attaching the uprights.

The uprights completed we then got to attaching the rafters. We started in the centre were the awning and roof would meet. This was the most important section and needed to be completed first in order to finish the awning. Boxing out the area around the awning we then attached the rafters. These were 2.4 metre lengths of pine framing timber. Again these were skewed nailed into place.


Testing out the rafters to work out the lengths.

With the centre of the roof worked out we then moved onto completing the rest of the roof. Again a similar process. Attaching the rafters across the uprights, skew nailing those in place and then adding the battens atop of this. The plan is to complete the roof over Easter (weather permitting of course). Hopefully we can get it down and then settle in for winter and start our plans for the garden and grounds.