11.10.15 - Paint done, loft built - Day 14.

Today was our big push to finish the exterior of the bus and start focusing solely on the interior habitable space. Knowing that, we decided to tackle two tasks at once. I would tape off and paint the remaining stripes (I still had one full side of navy stripes to paint, in addition to a teal accent panel I was dead set on doing) while Christian continued to frame out the bed loft/garage area.

The bus, as we left it yesterday.

The bus, as we left it yesterday.

We made a morning run to the hardware store for a few select supplies and received a text from my Grandpa Bert asking what we needed help with today. I told him our plan and wouldn't you know, he pulled into the barn area right behind us as we arrived. We couldn't have been more thankful for his willingness to help. With him there to give me a hand taping off all of the stripes to paint, Christian could go about his carpentry without interruption.

I can't emphasize enough what a task it is preparing for the painting. With such clean lines to work with, it was so important to lay out the tape as precisely as possible, which meant going slowly and double checking everything. Not to mention, the bolts every few inches posed a fun obstacle when trying to achieve that straight clean line.

One coat of gloss Navy Blue applied.

One coat of gloss Navy Blue applied.

For the navy stripes, two coats was all it took to get full coverage. With my grandpa there to watch closely as I sprayed and point out spots I missed or went a little light, the work was fast when I finally got around to the painting.

I really have to hand it to Christian…he did a fantastic job of framing out and building the loft. I don't think I walked over once during the course of the day to see what he was cutting or what his plan was. I had so much else I was concentrating on getting done that I was just happy he was a few feet away [supposedly] making progress of his own. When I would take a break while my paint dried, I'd pop my head into the bus if he was working in there. Each time, more of the loft was coming together.

He didn't plan any of it, by the way. He built each portion of it as the plan came together throughout the course of the project. I think the most impressive part of the whole thing is how perfectly every element of the design worked and fit like we'd envisioned. 

Luckily my teal stripe only required a small section to be taped off. Because we'd only been able to find two cans of the glossy teal spray paint, we bought some satin of the same color to layer on as pigment before doing a final coat with glossy.

Grandpa Bert checking in on Christian's progress.

Grandpa Bert checking in on Christian's progress.

My first go-round with the teal paint, I didn't put two strips of paper down at the bottom. As a result, the wind and my negligence caused some accidental teal to land on the lower white and navy sections. I was able to touch up the white already, but the navy I'll have to get to later. I was so many hours into working that noticing this mishap nearly caused a meltdown.

My first go-round with the teal paint, I didn't put two strips of paper down at the bottom. As a result, the wind and my negligence caused some accidental teal to land on the lower white and navy sections. I was able to touch up the white already, but the navy I'll have to get to later. I was so many hours into working that noticing this mishap nearly caused a meltdown.

When we finally pulled all the tape and paper off, we couldn't help but admire how great Stubbs looked. It's far from perfect, but for being well under the cost of getting someone else to do it, we're incredibly pleased.

Christian continued to work on the loft space while I cleaned up and prepped to move the kitchen to its permanent spot.

After the loft was done, Christian secured the kitchen and we moved the filing cabinets into place. Without planning, there was just enough space for a 2x4 between them, so Christian built a frame and secured everything in place. (Don't mind the ugly tan…I haven't had the time to get all "Pinteresty" on the filing cabinets yet…that will come later.)

With the loft/bed frame and kitchen in place, you can kind of really start to see the layout come together. We only have one more day left to work and load up before we leave on Thursday, so we're both pretty happy there's a bed framed out.

After moving Stubbs back to Willie's backyard, we made one last run to Lowes for some cut pieces of 3/4 inch plywood to use as the bed base. We wanted the cuts as exact as possible to prevent movement/falling through the frame, so we had them cut it at the store. Sadly, they were about 1/8 in too wide, so tomorrow's work will start with us cutting them down to fit into the frame. 

I'm including a before/after photo of Stubbs to really show off the difference that the paint job makes because we're just so stinkin' proud of it!

11.09.15 - Stubbs Gets Stripes - Day 13.

Like always, the day started with shopping. We bought a dozen 2x4s to frame out the bed, a project that we may have halfway finished. The majority of the day was spent painting, which is too bad, because we did not expect to be spending another full day on the exterior.

In between waiting for coats of Rustoleum and roof paint to dry, Chels got started covering the windows in Plasti Dip, a spray-on, peel-off rubber paint. We're using it to add privacy to our windows while keeping diffused light. Because of the ability to peel it off, we can always change it later.

I started on framing out the bed, which will be challenging due to its odd shape, and the need to keep the space beneath it as free of vertical supports as possible. Hopefully tomorrow's post will have pictures that make more sense. The bed will be lofted to create a storage area underneath, where the bikes, and hopefully my boat (and wishfully, my skis and kayak) will be kept.

Meanwhile, Chels and grandpa Bert started taping off the racing stripes.

We chose to add racing stripes over all the ridged areas of the bus because rolling on the paint was tedious and time consuming in these areas. We thought it would be faster to paint them a different color, using spray cans. This plan totally backfired, because while the end result looked awesome, the taping took FOREVER.

As the sun set, we peeled off some of Stubbs' tape, and boy-oh-boy, does that paint job look good. She's looking less like a prison bus every day. (The stripes are a dark navy.)

We worked on through the sunset into the darkness adding more Plasti Dip to the interior and more 2x4s to the bed frame. As the temperature dropped, the Plasti Dip started to do some weird clumping things on the cold glass of the windows, so maybe keep that in mind if any of you go that direction with a project. The temp was well above freezing.

All in all, we didn't accomplish as much as we'd hoped, but the bus is really starting to look good, which I think is a key element in the conversion process. Most all of the interior can come together after we leave for Texas. As long as the outside is looking good and the bed is fairly well framed in and ready for sleeping, we're good to go.

11.08.15 - More Painting - Day 12.

Paint. Paint paint paint.

We added seven more cans of Rustoleum rattle-can primer, bringing the total up to fifteen. There was a light breeze and the sun was shining, so we hoped that drying times would be a little better. We had hoped to get all the coats of paint on by the end of the day, but it didn't work out.

This is eight cans into the spray primer. Scroll down a few photos to see what it looked like fifteen cans in.

This is eight cans into the spray primer. Scroll down a few photos to see what it looked like fifteen cans in.

Chels hit the body with primer as I prepped the school bus signs for paint. At first we were thinking about painting these areas black, but I later chose to keep them white and coat them with the paint product I used on the roof.

Fifteen cans of spray primer deep, and looking good.

Fifteen cans of spray primer deep, and looking good.

I rolled on Gaco Roof Paint, which is an expensive part of an expensive system of products. It's the consistency of Fluff marshmallow topping, and rolls on thick. If you treat your roof properly, the product suite comes with a 50 year guarantee. To treat my roof properly, I would have to spend roughly $400, but I'm laying it on light and not using the expensive seam tape to save money.

Chels rolled on a first coat of super thinned out Rustoleum white glossy paint. Because we got to nearly full color on the primer, and because the primer is the same color as the paint, we have been able to go lighter on coats of the time-consuming roll on paint. If we were just rolling on paint, it would take close to ten coats, no problem. We're hoping for two.

Grandpa Bert came by again, and he's the most helpful of all the supervisors. He ended up rolling on a coat of paint with Chels, and gave us a bunch of helpful hints regarding spray painting.

The sun set and Stubbs looked good. We're the kind of painters whose work looks good in sunsets, from a distance, and when squinting. Best with all three, in fact.

Sadly, at one point as we were admiring our work, a swarm of gnats descended on our still-tacky roof and made it their permanent resting place. We were both so tired and so happy to be one step closer to the end that we just shook our heads and laughed. I guess these gnats just wanted to be part of Stubbs forever. And they will. Underneath another coating of roof paint that we roll over the top of them tomorrow…

11.07.16 - Painting - Day 11.

Stubbs started the day with a bath. We planned on starting the paint process today, and she needed to be squeaky clean. The majority of the cleaning took place on her roof, with me on my hands and knees, scrubbing and spraying away years of greasy grime

Roughly $15 in quarters, in case you're wondering.

Roughly $15 in quarters, in case you're wondering.

Two new friends found us at the carwash. Zach and Annie of Natural State Nomads stopped by to help for the day. They are doing their own conversion, and are planning on going full-time as well. Check out their blog HERE.

We couldn't have gotten as much done as we did today without them. They were such a huge help.

We backed Stubbs into her temporary home, a roofed barn that would protect her fragile new paint from the elements until it fully dries. Working at Willy's backyard has been excellent, but for this stage we needed protection.

Ask anyone who has painted anything well, and they'll tell you: prep is 90% of the work in painting. We washed earlier, and then it was time for sanding the glossy black rub rails and taping off the windows and trim. These two jobs took a long time.

Chelsea's Grandpa Bert came by and laid the first few passes of Rustoleum spray primer. Stubbs' main color will be white, and we plan to add racing stripes later. (Dealing with color right now is just far too much work and we don't have the time.) The spray primer allowed us to lay down a heavy white color beneath the finish coat, which will be rolled on.

Some paint being applied as we finished taping windows on the other side.

Some paint being applied as we finished taping windows on the other side.

Zach proved to be a window taping wizard. Without him it would have taken us hours more to prep the bus. He even went as far as to give Stubbs a temporary name badge.

With her front all taped up, we could carefully apply primer. You can see some school bus yellow poking through, but we hope to double the amount of primer we have applied before rolling on the finish coats.

We put her to bed feeling like we might just be able to tackle this project before we leave.