Generator mounted and Bus Body ready for Insulation!

It’s been a busy week for us; Sarah’s been working full time at Winn-Dixie (her grocery store) and cheering me on while I grind, drill, cut, caulk, fiddle and generally work on the bus (and cruise Amazon for the next cool part to buy for the bus). I have also gone back to my Captain training aboard The Schooner Freedom after a three week winter break (an awesome tradition started by the owners where the ship shuts down so that everyone that can afford it, can go out west to ski their brains out for a bit). Over the coming weeks I hope to really hone my technique docking the big single propeller boat (no turbo-charged water jets or bow thrusters as I’ve been spoiled with on my previous vessels) and also dial-in my ability to properly trim the schooners two massive gaff-rigged sails and her three headsails for sailing in what is often highly variable wind conditions in a very narrow channel. It’s going to be a fun few weeks trying to add this to my professional repertoire!

A whole lot of Sailboat. The Freedom patiently waiting to start up her 2020 working season.

Since my last post I’ve not only been dreaming of sailing ships of yore and practicing my nautical words but have also been making some nice progress on our bus! As you saw in my last post, I finished fabricating In Transit’s generator mount in our back garden but have since mounted the whole assembly under the belly of the beast. I’m really happy to say that it works great so far. It really dampens the vibration and sound throughout the bus while the generator is running and it is soooooo damn handy. Getting power and running power tools is no longer a huge physical effort, just unlock the door, slide out the gen-set, check fluids, slide her back in, pull the starter cord and poof, power. Not as simple as flipping a switch in your house but way better than crawling around under the bus, unlocking a padlock, dealing with a huge tarp, and getting a face full of exhaust on start up and shut down.

Our new handy-dandy little generator slide out. It doesn’t slide out quite far enough to make checking the oil on the back truly easy but it’s a HUGE improvement from a few weeks ago. And it’s going to save my back!
While the generator mount does restrict our ground clearance somewhat, we still have a solid foot underneath so we’ll just have to be careful about driving over big ditches and humps. I also have an idea to mount a small spring-loaded arm and pressure switch attached under the bus, forward of the gen-set that would be hooked up to the old “open door” alarm and set up to buzz if I’m about to bottom out the gen set while driving over tough terrain.

In addition to the coup getting our generator hooked up under the bus, I also took the dive and finally gutted our inner sidewalls. The lingering suspicions of potentially moldy fiberglass insulation inches from our sleeping faces was too much of a “what if?” so I had to find out and get it out of our new home.

Rather than grinding out roughly 400 rivet heads, I figured I’d go the easy route and just cut the metal away to pull the old insulation. Armed with a cordless drill, a 1/8″ pilot bit, a 1″ step bit and electric shears, I made a series of two holes in each panel to be removed, one in the top left and the other in the bottom right with the pilot bit. I came back around with the step bit to open up each hole so it was large enough to get the shear part of the electric shears and simply made two cuts per hole and four cuts per panel to cut out each panel. No sparks, not much dust and the whole operation was complete in about two hours!

If you’re curious, this is what a step bit looks like. These things are SUPER handy for working with metal and with some cooling fluid (soapy water in a spray bottle), this one from Harbor Freight has held up for years so far.
Big step bit holes prepped for electric shears.
Another fine tool from Harbor Freight, the electric shears (the corded drill-looking tool on the floor) demolishing the sidewalls.

After completely draining two 18v cordless drill batteries, two hours and a few trashbags of insulation later, all the sidewall panels were out and the passenger side insulation removed. Just as I suspected, it was damp and gross. I’m really happy I took the time to get that garbage out of there. While it will cost a bit more to insulate the bus sidewall as well as the floor and roof, I’m sure it’s going to make our quality of life aboard much nicer in the long-term. I still had a little bit of energy left in me at the end of the night so I took some time to tape out our floor plan and suddenly, I could see our new interior taking shape! It’s amazing how incredibly exciting some blue tape on a steel floor can make a guy…

Our clean gutted bus and the rough draft of the floor plan. Clockwise: Bed in the back, night stand/dresser ahead of the bed, shower and toilet over the wheel well, kitchen area in the bottom right of the image, our couch/settee bottom left, wood stove area just above, refrigerator, power cabinet and library just above the other wheel well.
View from where our bed will be. I really like the new LED lights, at night the bus really feels like the inside of a space ship or some big cargo airplane.

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