Friday, February 18, 2011

Bus Blog 4: Demolition 2

I suppose it's time to mention that I have a bit of an inquisitive nature.  Well, more than a bit really, because while a couple hours searching the web to find info on a topic of interest will satisfy the curiosity of some, I belong to the class of people who absolutely must experience the query in the most tactile sense.  I can't only read about blacksmithing, I have to re-purpose a forge out of an empty propane tank, make my own burner from plumbing parts laying around the shop, buy an anvil, make a series of shop tools, learn to temper, case harden, oxidize, forge, then make any and everything from all the steel I've been accumulating, just in case I decided to take-up blacksmithing.
 While a nature like this is a large part of the reason that I never really seem to take a day off, it certainly comes in handy when I need to rip-up the plywood sub-floor of the bus and need the right tool to do it.  After an hour of work, I fashioned myself a serviceable wrecking bar and headed to the bus to resume demolition.
A potential pitfall of having and 'inquisitive' nature is that your shop tends to look like both a tool catalog and pawnshop exploded and were then organized by a group of dust-covered kindergartners chugging energy drinks.

I had let the bus sit for 2 days with all of the windows down and front door open so the hot summer air could suck the moisture from the sub-floor.  After approaching with a bit of hesitation, I was relieved to find the floors dry and air inside actually breathable.
Since we lacked the space to keep all the ripped-up seats and flooring outside of the bus, we decided it best to pile everything on one side, tear-out the sub and move everything over, then do the other side.  By crisscrossing the exposed floor with cuts from my circular saw, we were able to pull the sub-floor up in smaller, easier to handle pieces.  My homemade wrecking bar made dust of the nails holding down the ply, and as I lifted the sub, I got my first look at the steel panels that everything inside the bus rested upon.
I had been a bit worried about this: the amount of water in the plywood meant that the steel base had been soaking, for who knows how long.  I really didn't want to have to spend a bunch of time cutting out bad panels, welding in new ones, then tarring and spray-foaming the new floor to match the rest of the protected bus bottom.  But, after a few worry-some spots, it turned out that the floor was in great shape.  A little wire brushing, rust converter and a good seal and she'd be ready.

I drove the wrecking bar under the ply and lifted, drove and lifted, the rhythm and tangible progress was enough to make the work quick.  The detritus was shifted to the other side of the bus and it was bare to the steel in no time.  After a few calls to local metal recyclers, the seats were stripped-down to the steel and tin then the various waste was separated into piles.  I re-secured the driver's seat and got ready for the ride to the dump.

Driving a re-purposed school bus takes a bit of getting used to.  It's not as much the driving, as the looks you can get from people, the pointing, the, "Dude's nuts," comments.  That awkward teenager that lives inside of each one of us hoping not to be singled-out or called attention to ducks and hides, infusing us with a desire to conform, why the hell are we doing this anyway?  This will never work.*  So, when I pulled up to the front gate and the guy in the window gave me a look as if his forehead had just been rubbed by a lemon, I did what any awkward teenager who drinks way too much coffee does and began blurting out everything, as incoherently as possible.
"Uh, dumping, uh stuff, floor, uh, turning this into a, seat cushions, plywood, RV, linoleum...  It's insured, no chemicals or anything, and registered, smelled like mildew, mechanic says it'll..."
His forehead relaxed and he smiled, "Oh, I thought you were here for a tour.  I would have let you in free."
"You're driving a school bus."
"Oh.  Ohhhhhh!"  I then proceeded to laugh harder than was appropriate.  He gave me a number, another smaller, look of confusion and I headed into the fury of seagulls and mountains of trash.

There wasn't much to it really, I had already stopped at the metal recyclers and ditched all the tin and steel from the seats earning me $30, twenty minutes of tossing old seat cushions and rotten flooring out the back door and ten minutes of serious sweeping later, the bill at the dump amounted to $20, leaving me $10 for lunch.

I headed back, parked the bus and got ready to do a serious clean-out.

If you're curious about blacksmithing, I recommend this book: The Complete Modern Blacksmith it's a fantastic resource from someone who has made it all.  It teaches not only techniques and tools, but ways to improvise if you lack the basics.

*Everyone is different, but sooner or later that nervous teenager of the psyche evolves at first into a cautious adult, then blooms into a fat nudist who has "Screw 'em if they can't take a joke" tattooed across his/her back-side.  I've found that taking on ridiculous projects and challenging the norm are the quickest ways toward this evolution.  Well, quickest healthy way.