internal busmod

It’s almost a year since I launched my crowdfunding campaign. I honestly never believed it would be a success and every day since the project has started to take real shape I have thought about the people who helped to make it happen. I wanted the Pozible supporters to know how much I appreciate them, so I made this a sneak preview blog post so they could see how this next stage develops before everyone else. This might not sound like much, but for those who know me and know how loud I can be on social media (especially about things I’m excited about) this is really quite a big gesture! [NB I have since released this post so it’s public].

If you want some history on how homeJames has progressed so far I have a bunch of photos on flickr. There are some before shots (to show you what she looked like the first day I met her) and a whole range of external shots (from the sanding/respray process) in a set called #busmod. There’s even a timelapse video from the respray itself (see, I’m a total social media sharing floozy about this baby!). For a few more sexy shots of her in action (I’ve been living in her since New Year’s Eve) check out the homeJames tag.

To share progress with just you Pozible supporters first, I have made this post password-protected (sure you could give the password away but that’s your call). I’m just going to keep adding new images and notes to the top of this one post, so that the most recent stuff is immediately visible; you should start at the bottom to see how things are progressing.

We have the workshop space from Mon 8th through to Tues 16th April. I’ll do what I can to share updates as immediately as possible – including some more timelapse, hopefully. This post will be kept private until some time after Tues 16th when I’ll open it up to everyone else.

Don’t expect perfection; we won’t get everything done in that time, she’s going to be an ongoing work-in-progress. This phase will be to build a bed frame, a kitchen worktop/sink/storage area and a dining table/work desk so I can register her as a recreational vehicle. If we’re lucky we might get a roof rack, bike rack and awning fitted, but we’ll see how time/money goes. Eventually I want to tear out the roof, install new insulation and then re-surface the roof and add ceiling storage but that’s a huge job and so is out of the picture for a while.

If you’re in SA I’ll be taking the bus to Adelaide Mini Maker Faire on Saturday 6th April where you’re invited to meet her, see the sketches so far and chat about our plans for the next few months.

So… here we go! Thank you all so incredibly much for not just sharing this journey but ENABLING it. You’ve completely changed my life… whatever happens next is ALL YOUR FAULT, ya hear me?! x

……

20th April 2013

Last week involved trying to get as much of the build finished as possible by Tues 16th and then packing her up on Weds 17th so we could start the drive out to Gawler for the start of the Nomadic Fab Lab. It all got a bit frantic so I wasn’t able to share a photo of how she looks inside with stuff in there until yesterday. But here she is – she’s a bit untidy, sorry!

daytime running

daytime running

nighttime running (temporary 'curtains')

nighttime running (temporary ‘curtains’)

We still need to put on cupboard doors and build the dining table/work desk inside, and a box around the solar rig. Next time we will tear out the ceiling, put up new insulation then resurface with tin, put parcel shelves down the sides and build a bookshelf behind the passenger seat. I’ve had some great chats with people about possible alternatives for curtains and am now thinking of trying to make laser-cut shutters (I’ll let you know how that goes!). Then we need an awning/annexe, roof racks to put the solar panels on and that’s about it for now!

The next build period is 6th-10th May. I’ll do a similar pozible preview post and then open up at the end. Putting that build in context – we leave for Nomadic Fab Lab 2 on 12th May. The tour goes until 18th May and then I drive up to Queensland for Floating Land where I will be hosting Nomad in residence Kate Chapman from 24th May – 4th June. Then the two of us will drive down to Sydney for the ISEA Festival from June 7th – 16th. It’s going to be a pretty epic journey :)

16th April 2013

Last day of this first stage and by the end of today I’ll open up this post to make it public. I hope you’ve enjoyed your little sneak preview – the feedback I’ve had has been very positive. It seems having a private view and watching the way things are progressing have both been enjoyed. I’m understandably hearing a great deal of high praise for Rob & Tim’s craftsmanship too – they’re amazing and I couldn’t recommend them highly enough! In fact I’ve already booked them for the next part of the build (May 6-10) when we’ll do this private view thing all over again.

Anyway… here are some of today’s photo updates:

the inside of off-grid energy's solar rig

the inside of off-grid energy’s solar rig

one of the battery blocks

one of the battery blocks

storage bin - i'm calling this one 'the larder' i think

storage bin – i’m calling this one ‘the larder’ i think

positioning the solar rig

positioning the solar rig

and another nice shot of maddog's side panels

and another nice shot of maddog’s side panels

plumbing in the kitchen

plumbing in the kitchen

15th April 2013

Today we were joined by Michelle “Maddog” Delaney who replicated the old side walls to the bus. We were originally thinking of covering them in vinyl but we’re now thinking we’ll wait til we do the ceiling and cover the whole thing in shiny enameled tin.

The target for the day is to fit the kitchen bench frame and benchtop/sink, plus fill a few of the walls underneath the bed to form proper storage areas. Oh, and we had a little BBQ for lunchtime too #nom.

kitchen bench area (not quite perfectly placed... yet)

kitchen bench area (not quite perfectly placed… yet)

beautifully shaped kitchen bench top with (resting) sink

beautifully shaped kitchen bench top with (resting) sink

applying orange oil to benchtop... zomg, the smell!

applying orange oil to benchtop… zomg, the smell!

oiled benchtop - beautiful golden sheen

oiled benchtop – beautiful golden sheen

frame with new side panels behind it

frame with new side panels behind it (thanks Maddog!)

oiled kitchen benchtop & splashback in place

oiled kitchen benchtop & splashback in place

some of maddog's panels

some of maddog’s panels

work continues into the night

work continues into the night

panels and boxing

panels and boxing

12th April 2013

It’s the last of this week’s build days and only really a half-day to boot – I have to drive her off to finish the respray this afternoon and the lads have other commitments that need attention (they’re in high demand, yknow!). They are trying to get the kitchen bench frame and some panelling in today – hopefully including the surface board for the bed itself; I might sleep in her tonight…

I’ll be spending this afternoon and the weekend hunter-gathering various bits & pieces so that on Monday (when we are joined by the delectable Michelle “Maddog” Delaney) we can cut & fit new swarf side panels. Rob is cutting and shaping the kitchen benchtop/splashback in his own workshop over the weekend which will be added to all the framed areas that need a surface. Then we’ll fit the fridge (with ventilation) sink, plumb in the waste pipe, secure & build a box around the solar rig (with ventilation). If we get all that done in good time we will start building the work/dining table, and then all the aluminium tig welding will be done.

Oooh, hang on. I just heard a “whoopsidaisy” – best go see what happened! …It’s OK, Tim just left a bit of the filler rod attached to his last weld “we’ll just sand that bit off” he says. Oh wait, Rob just came to tell me that the very next weld was “computer grade” (like the robotic welds made in factories – see below) just to make up for it. OK, enough teasing now…

perfect weld

perfect weld

It’s worth mentioning that we decided on aluminium for the frame even though it is much more expensive both for the metal and the rods/gas required for specialist tig welding. We talked long & hard about this, but the bus must stay under 4.5tonne when full in order for me to drive under my current licence. She’s the biggest bus I can drive without getting a heavy goods licence and has a base weight of just under 3.2tonne. I probably will get a truck licence at some point in the future, but the lightest possible infrastructure will only help both fuel economy and whatever else I decide to include in her fixtures/fittings. We are bearing in mind that this bus is for many uses; we might need to carry extra weight for a particular gig or perhaps to help courier other artists’ work interstate. This project is long term and all this renovation is an investment to enable sustainability. The $27k (less fees) I raised through crowdfunding is being supplemented by every spare bit of income I can add (not to mention so much goodwill from all involved), and should result in a vehicle/home worth considerably more.

kitchen bench frame coming together (with rob trying to sneak out of shot!)

kitchen bench frame coming together (with rob trying to sneak out of shot!)

kitchen bench frame

kitchen bench frame

welded legs

welded legs

rob peaking from underneath bed storage

rob peaking from underneath bed storage

bed base made from sustainable wood

bed base made from sustainable wood

That’s all from the bus reno workshop until Monday. Now to get the final respray done, back with Roundabout Charter & Easy Beater Panel Repairs.

craig masking windows

craig masking windows

tony spraying repaired section

tony spraying repaired section

restored!

restored!

11th April 2013

This morning was full of work meetings for me and more supplies gathering for Tim & Rob. The afternoon consisted of lots more bits of cutting and welding (all the bedframe legs are now in) and chatting through what else we are likely to be able to finish before we have to leave the workshop on Tuesday. We always knew this first stage was going to be a limited build, but now we have a much clearer idea of what the next stage can be. I’ve booked the lads and workshop again early May to get a roof rack, bike rack and the new ceiling/insulation. It’s all coming together really well!

We also had a visit from Tony Piscioneri who is repairing my nasty Wolverine scratch. He was able to repair the damage and prime it but couldn’t respray because we are outside and he was worried about the drift affecting nearby cars/buildings (very thoughtful of him!). Tomorrow we’ll drive the bus up to my friends at Roundabout Charter so we can spray her there.

And Tim – who is also a photographer – gave me the URL for his Flickr site. It’s got some stunning work on there, check it out: http://www.flickr.com/photos/notreallytim

tim the contortionist and the adventure playground

tim the contortionist and the adventure playground

trying to sneakily catch the tig welder light again

trying to sneakily catch the tig welder light again

scratch repair

scratch repair

poor baby, she looks like she's wearing a bandage :(

poor baby, she looks like she’s wearing a bandage :(

10th April 2013

While I’m being interviewed for the Morning Show about the upcoming Nomadic Fab Lab tour to Clare, the boys will be prepping tools for the big build. And we’ll also have a visit from Tony Piscioneri who provided the advice/paint for the original respray and will soon be fixing the damage from my first (but probably not last) incident.

the aluminium that will become the bed/storage frame

the aluminium that will become the bed/storage frame

the sexy bum of homeJames reversed into the workshop - check out the safety jackets!

the sexy bum of homeJames reversed into the workshop – check out the safety jackets!

holding first frame in place

holding first frame in place

"look mom - no hands!"

“look mom – no hands!”

framed sides!

framed sides!

tim positioning cross bars

tim positioning cross bars

boot storage view

boot storage view

shiny aluminium fragments

shiny aluminium fragments

dead bus remnants

dead bus remnants

practice tig welding

practice tig welding

tig welding the frame in place

tig welding the frame in place

first corner

first corner

rob drilling a hole for the rivets

rob drilling a hole for the rivets

the tig welding stormtroopers

the tig welding stormtroopers

keeping an eye on rust in the floor

keeping an eye on rust in the floor

the dangerous but intoxicating glow of the tig welder

the dangerous but intoxicating glow of the tig welder

first bed frame leg in place (not that it needs much extra support!)

first bed frame leg in place (not that it needs much extra support!)

a nice arty shot

a nice arty shot

view from underneath, via the boot

view from underneath, via the boot

view from inside. huge bed! so much storage!

view from inside. huge bed! so much storage!

Words just fail me. I just cannot begin to describe how fundamentally amazing this is; homeJames is becoming a real home! And it’s happening with such lovely people who really understand what a bus needs. Rob has at least one caravan on his plot and is a fountain of useful info on diesel engines and Tim used to build boats (in fact we just had a major boat-pr0n moment when he showed me photos of the “14′ Gaff Sloop” strip plank cedar David Payne Yellowtail boat he’s currently building; it’s uber-sexy!).

In fact this is beginning to influence design. We were thinking of replacing the side panels with new woodwork and some classy vinyl covering but we’re now contemplating bare wooden panelling (think sheds or beach huts) as side walls with a shiny enamel tin roof… possibly even that gorgeous pressed tin that’s so typical to South Australia (I probably can’t afford an entire roof, but a strip down the centre or a few feature panels might be possible). She’s going to look CLASSY!

I’m not much use here at this stage but I’m doing what I can to be helpful – making tea/coffee, sweeping out the bus to get as much dust out of the bodywork as possible, providing regular supplies of Tim Tams at opportune moments and constantly buzzing around with the camera trying to document it all. This is awesome.

8th April 2013

Rob, Tim and I meet up to discuss the plans that Kathryn had drawn up and see what else we should be considering before materials are bought. Tomorrow is a shopping (and other demands) day… but Wednesday is when it all begins for really realz…

Rob & Tim tearing out panels to find out what structure lies beneath

Rob & Tim tearing out panels to find out what structure lies beneath

revealing the framework

revealing the framework

what homeJames looks like behind the panelling

what homeJames looks like behind the panelling

for those really paying attention: the inside to the 'wolverine' scrape :(

for those really paying attention: the inside to the ‘wolverine’ scrape :(

almost one whole side revealed. i think we're gonna need new panelling...

almost one whole side revealed. i think we’re gonna need new panelling…

6th April 2013

I should explain… Originally the busmod was to be done by Geoff Cobham and Tim Willet but due to our equally insane scheduling demands, this has just not managed to work out. Instead, thanks to the effervescent Tsubi Du, I reconnected with Kathryn Sproul whom I first met last year while volunteering in the Adelaide Fringe workshop.

Kathryn has not only invited me to use her spare room while we do the mod but she’s also painstakingly listened to all my needs and wants, streamlined me down to the absolute basics, drawn them up into plans (to SCALE no less!) and brought in her fabulous network of makers to help bring it all together.

So… here are the plans! They’re in PDF format and pretty detailed so I’ve shown a screen grab but you can also download them directly by clicking on each image.

groundplan of bus drawn by Kathryn Sproul

groundplan of bus drawn by Kathryn Sproul

 

midway slice of bus drawn by Kathryn Sproul

midway slice of bus drawn by Kathryn Sproul

 

sideway slice of bus drawn by Kathryn Sproul

sideway slice of bus drawn by Kathryn Sproul

3rd April 2013

measurements sketched out

measurements sketched out

30th March 2013

kathryn tapes out measured areas

kathryn tapes out measured areas

26th March 2013

almost empty bus, ready for the conversion

almost empty bus, ready for the conversion