Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bus Blog 3: Demolition 1

Jesse loosening bolts with an impact driver.

This is the part we were looking forward to most.  It was summer, and with all the windows and doors open the wind glided through the bus with a calmness that was immediately blown to smithereens by the blaring of the radio and machine gun bursts of impact drivers yanking up stubborn, rusty bolts.  There is a distinct energy to the demolition process, it's the end of the bus's former life and the beginning of the life you have imagined for it, every step is a step toward making your idea reality.  That, and the fact that you can be loud and smash things, use an angle grinder without worrying about the sparks or noise, give the work a unique joy.  In one day, with the help of our friend Jesse, all the seats were loose and cushions had been separated.  We stacked everything to one side of the bus, and left the two big under-seat heaters and 20`coolant hoses laying exposed on the floor.  I needed to make a decision about heating during drives.

The bus I had purchased came equipped with 4 heat exchangers and a dozen connected fans to keep passengers warm during the sometimes brutal Canadian winters.  A dozen loosely sealed windows down each flank, a big door at each end of the bus, and the fact that the front door opens at every stop are all good reasons to design the bus for optimal heat output.  The trouble was that I really wanted to eliminate the 2 rear heat exchangers in favor of a leaner, lighter, less complicated bus.  I was planning on adding a wood burning stove for stationary heat, and how often would we be driving in the winter anyway?

Mind in demo mode, I yanked out the two unnecessary heaters, re-plumbed the keeper heaters to work without them and drained the lines.  I knew I still had to compensate for the loss of potential heat and so decided to do so in design and construction.*  With the heaters out, I piled everything to one side of the bus and got to work on the floors.

After removing the steel trim that lined the center aisle and kept the flooring in place, the long sheets of rubber flooring peeled back easily to reveal the true source of the mildew smell that haunted the bus: saturated plywood.  Whether or not the plywood had at one time been waterproof, it was no longer.  As more of the rubber flooring peeled back with that wet sucking sound of old adhesive, more and more of the now green ply was revealed along with a suffocating stench of rot.  As I worked my way down the bus, lifting floor, then running to a window to gasp fresh air, I thought that it might be prudent to let her air out for a day before attempting to remove the ply.  Or, as was more aptly put by another, "Whoa.  That stinks, want a beer?"
"Yes," I replied.

*I eventually compensated for the loss of 2 heaters by insulating the bus from top to bottom, adding vapor barrier, separating both front and back of the bus from the core with tight fitting doors and backing my wood-stove with double-thick cement board and tile to slowly disperse heat for long periods.  We just drove through Saskatchewan and North Dakota in -20F weather and the coldest the bus got when driving (wood stove off) was 55 degrees Fahrenheit at an average of 65 miles per hour.

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