Here is my attempt to catch up to the stage where we are now in this bus conversion. This post will mainly just summarise our roof raise, and quickly go over what we have been doing since. The roof raise was something we thought was going to be a mammoth task…Which proved to be a fairly accurate thought! It has tested everyone involved, leading to some grumbles from everyone. However, with determination, it has led to an extra 30 centimeters of space for us (especially Geoff).
Yet, before we get to the raise, I just want to quickly recap the few weeks before we arrived at our new home. Dad and Geoff removed that stupid metal bar on a quick trip home a week before we packed up in Sydney. This task bringing us to a grand total of an estimated 71 hours spent on this bus conversion. Not that much right? Hardihar… Next was finishing up at work, packing up house, cleaning our rental place and taking the long drive to the farm.
Arriving at our New Home
As you can imagine, we took a few days to wind down and rejuvenate all that expended energy and stress involved. Suddenly we are without a steady income, and with a big blank page waiting for the next chapter to be opened. The first week was quite tumultuous. We were relieved that we had achieved what we needed to get to the farm with our stuff. There was some trepidation waiting for our bond to be returned to say whether our cleaning skills were good enough, which thankfully it eventually was in the end.
All of a sudden we felt quite rudderless. Without purpose or a feeling of belonging that you naturally get with holding a steady job. My nursing shifts took up much of my days in Sydney, and the emotions that came with each and every shift would filter through the rest of my days a lot of the time.
It’s hard to say this without sounding like a twat, but it was something I was feeling quite strongly when first landing in the country. I identify as a nurse, back then as an oncology nurse, so to not know when my next nursing opportunity would be, I almost felt like I didn’t have an identity. I had a family at work with some of my colleagues and was proud to be part of the team. So saying goodbye was heartbreaking… I am determined to continue my career however, so this settled down by the end of that week.
For Geoff, who was under such enormous pressure and intense working shifts for the last few months, this change also had an unexpected crash a day after quitting and a few more days after that. For someone that has worked excessive hours per week for the last 13 years, this sudden change of pace left him feeling unanchored. He had been working extremely hard the last, woah, well, he never didn’t work hard! Yet, when we had made the decision to make this move, our priorities moved from the social and more carefree days to heads down and focus.
By the end of that first week, mom mentioned that our wrinkles had noticeably decreased around our eyes: Hooray!!
Starting our Construction Work
The following week, we managed to start pottering around the bus and planning what our next steps in the conversion were going to be. We had our first big Bunnings trip in Wagga on the 11th, and even tired mom and dad out with all the equipment we ran around getting. Including our Chrissy present to each other: a fancy coffee machine! Now instead of 400 coffees a shift, Geoff wonderfully makes just two.
The Roof Raise
We realised, the next step was going to have to be the roof raise. In order to begin anything else, we had to know how much more space to accommodate for the walls, the floor, the electricity, the insulation etcetera. So raise the roof we did!
On the Sunday, once we had hashed out where to cut and how we were going to actually remove the roof, Geoff climbed on top and started the extensive process. As he was more confident and able with the angle grinder, I happily continued with sanding and being the lackey when tools were needed. I can say I have since had a bit more practice and cut a few of the bars needed for our bins that we will be making…
Cutting the Roof
Geoff worked quick and had the roof pretty much cut in the first day. Everyday we have the heat in mind as a constant motivator, chasing our backsides. On the second day, a makeshift scaffolding was setup to support the roof. Geoff was able to cut the remaining bars after this. This also meant there was a huge risk of a gust of wind picking up our newly separated roof. Making the bus into an unwanted convertible if we didn’t secure it! So Dad worked like a machine and managed to weld the new support bars in to place. This was finished in around two days.
Leading up to Christmas, we continued cutting side bars to add to our roof. We also had to cut the bars for the bins we are making at the bottom of the bus. In between doing that, I continued to sand the pieces of red box wood that we picked up near Wagga. We took a trip to Wagga and grabbed the aluminium sheets for our newly raised roof, and proudly brought them home.
By the 24th December, we had doubled those hours to around 134.5. It is difficult to explain where all that time was put into. Yet, there is a lot of middle steps that need to be done before progressing to the comprehensible achievements. Things like giving the welding a bit of clean so it looks like a professional job. Painting over the newly placed metal in a clean white rust paint. This still had a bit of rust leak through anyway…rust convert first people!. Oh yes! Also the multiple times we had to put tarps over our bus when it rained as we had a few more leakage spots.
We took a break for Christmas, and relished the time we could spend with family and dogs. We thoroughly enjoyed the sun and were thankful for big changes, as scary as they had been.
However, by the 28th, we were back at it! My dad works at the mine and spends long hours when he is on shift. While we wait for his knowledgeable and much needed expertise, we continued on with the countless amount of things that still need to be done. So we continued with sanding all ten of our floorboards. That night we could still feel the reverberations and numb hands.
We celebrated the new year, in wonderful country style, with the extraordinarily, open star-filled skies as our fireworks. We have very funny images of when the clock struck midnight. However, unfortunately country reception is not so great at the moment. #bloodytelstrainthecountry
Securing the Metal Sheets
Then back to the bus. We managed to get the metal sheets bent to the correct angle with guidance from dad and our template, and a big thanks to Pilon’s in West Wyalong.
According to dad, the next thing to do was, “Whack em on, and there we go!”. This translated to:
– Taking the sheet and placing it on the roof. We had to see if the roof needed to be cut straighter.
– Remove the sheet and cut the roof.
– Put the sheet back on and draw an outline.
– Remove the sheet, and clean in the outline with a flapper disk.
– Put Sikaflex around the edges.
– Put sheet back on.
– Drill +48 evenly spaced and measured holes.
– Put rivets in each of the holes.
– Clean up the messy Sikaflex before it dries.
And hope that the drill bits would survive, seeing as we have a mini graveyard of them now. This process of putting the eight sheets on spanned over three days. There was admittedly a tonne of frustration, and maybe a tired tear or two. Now, they are up and looking stunning!
I think on that note, it is time to sign this post off. We have done a bit of work since then. It shouldn’t be too long until I have that summarised and pictured. It has been quite an adventure so far, with a lot of ups and downs. Now, how wonderful it is to finally have our complete frame and to start the build officially.
Thank you for making it this far down if you did. I hope you are a little impressed too 🙂