February 2016: DC Electric, subfloor removal, radiator removal


The first thing I did was buy a bright LED shop lamp so I can work when I get home at night.  This is by far the most important thing I have purchased for the bus, without this I could barely get any work done.  After this, I wasn’t sure what exactly I needed to do but I knew I wanted to tear apart the bus as much as possible.

I knew I needed to take the floors out so that’s where I decided to start.  Tearing the hardwood out was not too hard, tearing the plywood out was pretty challenging.  I remember the first night tearing that plywood out was really where this project began. I was shouting all sorts of crap, my wife says she could hear me yelling angrily, joyfully, and all sorts of other emotions.  It was a weird right of passage sort of deal, it also was really physically unpleasant work.  Every morning on my way to work I would shout to myself “I AM RELENTLESS, I WILL NOT GIVE UP” and that ensured that I would do work upon returning home.  From this point on I made sure to do some sort of work 99 out of 100 days.

In regards to tearing out the plywood I’ve read a lot of different strategies, the smartest was to use a skillsaw with the blade coming out minimally so you could score the plywood without damaging the metal below it and pull it out in pieces.  What I did was use a crobar to get the wood up, and jack it up by wedging pieces of wood underneath it.  Once the crobar is high enough I wedged a car jack beneath it and jacked up the crobar with a car jack.  As the wood gets higher and higher I would wedge various crap to keep it at that height and I combined various methods of crobar, car jack, misc wood place holders and sacrificing my back to get it out.  Anyway I got er done.  Here’s the pictures of “after”.  Things to note:  1.  the drivers seat section is still in.  2.  the rear heater is still in (resting on wheelwell on the port side (right facing backwards))


So now comes a copy pasta from my skoolie post which can be found here.

Monday was a rough day, I learned that getting the front panel of plywood out would not be easy – I had a small suspicion/fear regarding this. To get the front panel of plywood out (as most of you probably know) I have to remove the drivers seat, the electrical console(is that what it’s called?), and the front heaters. Or at least that’s what I assumed I have to do. Luckily Monday I got out early at 6pm and was able to get a head start on this project.

Objective 1: Drivers seat removal: I went at the bolts above like a monkey for about 15 minutes with a socket wrench praying that I wouldn’t have to go underneath the bus. Probably for the best, I soon came to peace that I would need to go underneath the bus.

As I was hitting random flooring with the back of my hammer in frustration from lack of progress, I discovered that my bus has a hole in it covered by a piece of steel (which I will call the manhole cover). This manhole cover was great help for me as reference (due to the light shining through to the bottom) to figure out where my drivers seat is. I wrangled my wife Nana outside and she helped me. The first 3 bolts were easy, I went underneath the bus held the bolts as Nana went at it with a socket wrench from above. We also got to pass tools through the manhole which was novel.

The 4th and last bolt was extremely unpleasant, I had a little under 3/4 of an inch to work with and wasn’t able to get a good grip on it due to a bunch of bus components blocking any arm path. I probably spent a solid 20 minutes sitting under the bus muttering profanities to myself as my lovely Nana patiently cranked the socket wrench from above. We took a brief break to regroup as I went back and forth between my therapy beer and underneath the bus to brainstorm solutions. I finally was prepared to give up when I came up with this brilliant solution to catch the bolt.

Wrench taped to the car jack stick.


Here’s a crappy picture of me using my contraption to secure the bolt from below. karma rewarded my prior efforts favorably, the amount of bus dust that was farted on my face by this point had decreased a bit and I was able to keep a steady eye on my bolt-grip status


Pulling the bus seat out was both satisfying and demoralizing, this bus is now temporarily not drive able(at least safely, I could sit on a bucket I guess) and I felt like I was tearing apart something I loved. There’s a piece of steel that looks like the floormat between the hammer, gloves, and crescent city cardboard (this was used for hitchhiking on the redwoods trip, and was kept for sentimental value): This floormat is the manhole cover.

I still have the left seatbelt bolt in tact, but the right one I went ahead and tore the top off with a cutoff wheel, I hope this wasn’t a mistake.


(image rotated, not technologically competent/don’t care enough to fix it)

Next up my electrical console


As I stared into this rats nest of wires, my heart, soul and body studdered in total fear. I have always been aware that I have no idea what I am doing, but staring at this intimidating pile of wires really demoralized my progress for the night. I finished my beer and invested the rest of my consciousness towards a solution for a clueless guy like me to resolve this electrical insanity.


by the end of monday night I had no interest in cleaning up and locking up my tools. I went ahead and latched up the side emergency door


The rear emergency door is pretty comical. It is locked with two i bolts bolted in from inside, on the outside there are two deadlocks locked to each of these i bolts, these two deadlocks are then connected to a bigger deadlock. Of these 3 deadlocks working together to lock the back emergency door, none of which came with keys when I purchased the bus. I just take the contraption on and off based on the context of our situation.



So my old job/one of our vendors for the restaurant occasionally lets me pick through their recycling and take back used label sheets which often have a few labels still on them. Yesterday I printed off a few sheets of labels with everything from “A1, A2, A3” all the way to “T1, T2, T3” I also had “AA” all the way to “ZZ”, “11” all the way to “00”, and another “A1” to “T3” except highlighted pink incase 20 letters wouldn’t be enough.

If this description wasn’t confusing or clear enough, here’s a screenshot of my word document I made. (it’s probably just a waste of space)


Anyway, I went ahead and attached each of these labels to the wires attached to the electrical console in the most systematic order consistent with my instinct I could think of. Meanwhile I had Nana bring in her space heater so she could help me cut apart the labels and record the progress.

Here’s some pics of the labels in action


edit: Here’s an excel spreadsheet I made to help organize the labels, I ultimately hope to replace my “1” “2” “3” with more productive labels such as “positive, negative, ground”, but for now I will leave them as “1,2,3”‘s since I barely know what I’m doing. I also grayed out the stuff I don’t think I need anymore.


Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that the flash kind of ruins a lot of these labels hah!


After 90-120 minutes or so of this I felt pretty relieved to begin separating wire bundles and observing patterns as well and seeing the rats nest lose some density. We even successfuly isolated the “red bundle”! edit: I just gathered that the red Bundle consists of the 1’s and 3’s of my Left side heaters as well as my Left Defrost. This leads me to believe that the Right heater and the right defrost are also probably bundled.

Here’s an after picture. Edit: I forgot to mention, I noticed a lot of my “2” labels stayed latched onto this device, I don’t know what this means but I am going to keep this in mind while I google dc electrical systems.


Now for my questions!

I’m hoping you guys can help me label these following parts so I can google what their relevance/function is. (red, pink, and blue) I’m assuming pink is a ground?


Yes I can answer these questions now.  Blue Circle on right is Flashers, pink circle is the ground, red circle is the solenoid.    The red circle in the right picture is a bus bar.

For anyone who is as ignorant as I was at the time of this posting, I will help enlighten you with my laymens words (which may be incorrect).

I believe the flasher is like a relay which amplifies power so the bright schoolbus lights do work as necessary.

As one of the Skoolie members cowlitzcoach mentioned

The list of wiring that starts with “to master override” is all part of the 8-way crossover warning lights. Most likely at one time it was stuck to the side of the flasher unit (most likely a Wheldon product). Unless you want to power the crossover lights as super turn signals, or really high mounted stop lamps, or clear lights for yard lighting you won’t need any of that wiring in the future.

A solenoid is basically a power switch which activates when conditions are met (ie: turning a switch on), so when the key is in the ignition this condition is met which tells the solenoid to give power to the bus.

A ground in DC wiring systems is the “negative terminal” (your car included), so all of these cables need to have a ground or they will not complete their circuit.  This also means that if you touch the positive terminal on your battery while you are touching the frame of your vehicle you will complete the circuit and electrocute yourself.

A bus bar is an equivalent to a circuit breaker for DC systems.

So now let’s get into 2-26-16 With the seats out, I then had to remove the Heaters, to anyone wondering, this is what radiator shutoff valves look like.

shut-off-valve-maybe-2 shut-off-valve-maybe1

back to copy-pasta

Despite my commitment to drain the radiator, I did not watch a youtube video, like I probably should’ve. I just assumed the radiator drain would be similar to an oil drain. Inconveniently, I found this under the radiator which supported my half-witted logic.



Anyway I monkeyed around with this bolt for way too long, and eventually gave up when I lost my temper. I resorted to plan B which was to shut off the “shut off valves” (I’m eager to hear if those are actually shut off valves), and went to town.

Removing the rear heater was easy enough, I clamped the hoses as Leo advised, and pulled them off. The spillage was modest, and promptly wiped up with rag and mop. The front driver side heater was very unpleasant to remove. I dropped a lot of tasteless profanity while hunched beneath the steering wheel, hoping that someone would hear my cry for help and shower me with sympathy – Nana was supportive and patient. Anyway it took awhile but I got her out(the heater).

The passenger side front heater was a little bit easier, and we got her out alright. I did my best to keep the mess contained, but predictably I did spill some coolant here and there. A lot of ragging and wiping went down yesterday, really glad I got a few extra buckets laying around.

It’s worth noting, that I ruined a lot of radiator hoses prying them off with a screw driver, I think it’s within my best interest to replace the hoses when I reattach the heaters, including the ones that go to the engine block, I don’t think this will be too hard- but I also hardly have a clue to what I’m doing. After I disconnected everything, I stuffed all the open holes with plastic bags to avoid bugs or something crawling into the hoses (my gold standard of logic in action).

The front drivers side heater out, with stereo related cables in the plastic crate above it.


The front area without heaters, drivers seat, and electrical console


A close up on my wire bucket carrying most of the wires from the electrical console


A selfie with me and the electrical console removed Wednesday night: happiness level 70%


A photo of my makeshift shop table with two sawhorses I got for $5 and a wooden door I found in a dumpster.


I’m expecting to leave this setup as is for about 3 weeks, so I can insulate and re-wood the flooring before reconnecting the heaters (with new hoses). Do you guys think it’s okay or am I risking damaging some part of my bus? I eagerly await your opinions! Thanks everyone for all your help so far.

Heh, little did I know I wouldn’t do any of that stuff mentioned for a long time.

Anyway next copy-Pasta 2-29

Starting yesterday I have begun a new ritual on my way to work, in my car I yell as loudly as I can “I AM RELENTLESS” “I WILL NOT GIVE UP”, I do this to congratulate myself on my continuous progress and remind myself that it will not stop.

Progress updates for the past few days.

Saturday night was a bit rough, our restaurant drains clogged so I had to stay later than usual learning just how slow a rooter does it’s job. Anyway luckily I came home to my enthusiastic Nana ready to clear the bus for the rust mopping. To my amazement, we cleaned the bus and mopped her with vinegar and were done by 2am. Last night, I brushed the mop with my metal brush attachment via angle grinder. This was a first for me, the post scrub metal floors resembled my skin after picking off acne: I decided that this is a sign of successfully removing rust.

Afterward I decided to give my ceiling a brief scrubbing because there are black dots which resemble black mold on the ceiling, I really didn’t want to do this so I took a beer hiatus so I could talk myself into getting back in the bus, once there I proceeded to yell “make it rain” between each panel. I didn’t do a great job at this but I got most of the black spots off the ceiling.









The post scrubbing rust spots, not quite as pretty and shiny as I had imagined it would be.


the rust pile


I get off early on Mondays, my goal today is to prep the bus, and maybe go shopping for some metal primer, and give the bus a good clean. I may brush the walls a bit beforehand.

it’s a bit of a gamble, but I’m hoping I’ll receive my insulating beads on Tuesday. If so I’ll be able to give the floors a coat before work on Wednesday, then maybe another on Wednesday night, and then I can begin insulating on Thursday!

So questions as follows, (mostly paint related)

1. Do you have any paint recommendations to mix the insulating beads into or does it not matter? My default plan is to just get some rustoleum primer of something else for steel and mix it into that.

2. Will I benefit with insulating if I coat all the bus with paint mixed with insulating beads? (walls and ceiling)

I used Rustoleum primer mixed with insulating beads, they were fine (I’ll get into an insulating bead rant later)

3. How many layers would you recommend painting? Is it okay to keep using primer for the next layers?

I painted 3 layers

4. Lastly: This seems like a silly question, but would I benefit from painting a layers any time that seems opportune with the paint? such as the on the plywood flooring over the insulation?

Maybe I’d benefit but that’s a lot of work and paint.  I did not paint the plywood over the insulation.

If all goes perfectly, the Bus will be insulated and re ply-wooded by Friday morning. Realistically though, I will probably reach this objective sometime between Sunday and next Thursday.

I don’t think that went as I planned heh..

Thanks again everyone!

Also local PSA’S:

If anyone in Washington would like my rear heater, you are welcome to have it, it is currently somewhat weatherproof under the awning of my open garage (it’s more of a car shed then a garage).

I am also exchanging sailing lessons, beer, cooked food, and uncooked rice for bus help if anyone is interested. Unfortunately Thursday is the only day I have consistently off.

Both these PSA’s are still open.

So that just about sums up my February progress.  Since that took up way more space than I thought I guess I will seperate my future postings more.  Anyway as you see I put about as much work in February as I did for the 2 years prior combined.  I have continued to put much work into the bus since then, I will hopefully have march progress up before next week.  Anyway I’ve been in my office 53 minutes after I got off work so I am gonna get out of here.  Thanks for following everyone!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *