Wednesday, October 21, 2020

First Rolling Joy Bus walk thru

 When I bought the school bus it was a dirty empty shell. Previous owners removed the bench seats and floor rivets. They left bits of wood and supplies.

Then the conversion folks installed insulation, ceiling fans and lots of built-ins.  Access: I added a voiceover description of what is shown in the bus. There are also captions. Hit the 'autocaption' option to see the captions (I edited them). If the video does not run for you, then here's the Youtube link

We're almost done painting. Still to be done: Adapt and weld the pickup truck crane and add the electric hoist to get me out of the tub and off the floor. Figure out what to do with the driver's side rear wheel well where the rust is barely holding the wheel rubber bumper on. Create storage. And oh so much more.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Making the Bed from one side only

 For some of us making the bed, specifically changing the sheets is impossible. I can pull everything off the mattress. But I cannot get it back on.

I decided to solve that problem. With the coronavirus, I want to limit my exposure so I don't want people coming into the bus. I'll gladly visit outside at a 6 foot distance.

After a lot of thought and design revisions here is what I plan to change my sheets.


The design requires eye bolts at regular intervals on 3 sides of the bed (the 4th side is open to me). Since the base of the bed is plywood, I have a solid surface for the long side. On the short sides I don't have access to the base because the mattress is up against the walls so I put the eye bolts just below the height of the mattress. 

The other materials are strong thin rope. I am using paracord with different colors on the long and short sides. I placed carabiner's (like the ones you put on your keys but a bit stronger) along the paracord between the eye bolts. I do not lock them in place because I want to be able to move  them as needed.

The "Long Side Taut" drawing shows the red paracord rope going THROUGH the 4 eyebolts on the long side of the bed. But it goes AROUND the eye bolts on the short sides of the bed.

"Short Side Taut" shows the green paracord rope going through the eye bolts on the short end of the bed.

After the paracord rope was threaded through the eye bolts, I added carabiners between each eye bolt. The carabiners are shown as black rectangles. 


In this drawing I am using the long side and the left short side to hold the blue sheet. This means that my head is going to lay on the right short side. On a skoolie (converted school bus) it's necessary to be able to sleep with my head at either end.

I can make both the long and short sides loose by releasing the tension on them. Then I can pull the sheet all the way across the bed to the open long side.

To prevent ripping the sheets, I bought king size sheets for my queen size bed. Then I folded over the edge on the long side and one short side. I inserted a piece of duck cotton for added strength. Then I sewed button holes where I want the carabiners to be attached. 

I decided not to use grommets for 2 reasons. I don't want anything metal near my body when the air is cold. And even though they are small, I didn't want to roll over and have cold metal waking me up. I also didn't want the noise of metal grommets against the metal carabiner. 

When I want to put the sheet back in place, I just tighten the paracord -- long side first then the short side.

I plan to use the carabiners to attach the mattress pad, bottom sheet, top sheet and duvet cover. I will use all the carabiners for the mattress pad and bottom sheet but only a few carabiners for the top sheet and, when needed, duvet cover.

Fingers are crossed that this will work as well as I planned.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Access Features part 2 - First Peek

Access Features Part 1 documented the decisions for the lift into the bus and also the kitchen area. Part 2 looks at the Work Table, power outlets, and toilet. There will be a separate post on my mobility equipment, seating, as well as changing the sheets without climbing on the bed.

Access note: I belatedly realized I haven't described the images. Starting with this post (and all other posts will follow) I am adding a detailed caption to each image. Apologies to folks for not doing this sooner.

A quick summary - I am a wheelchair user. I need to do (or know how to direct someone else to do) everything on the bus - from hooking up at campsites to changing the bed by myself. Posting the layout again.

Bus layout. Top (driver's side): sliding, rotating driver seat; washing machine; deep soaker bath tub; kitchen counter and sink; toilet; bed across the back of the bus. Passenger side: front door, open space; Superarm lift; wheelchair door; long table.


I plan to do a lot of writing and making art. I want a durable surface with lots of room to spread out a project. I choose a single slab of maple butcher block 8' long and 2' deep as the top of the work table. I find that 2' depth is the right mix for me of work and tabletop storage area. 

Inside the bus I get around in an office chair on wheels. It has a smaller footprint than a wheelchair. I designed a table that is an upside down "U". The side supports are solid plywood so they can be used as attachment points to restrain the under-desk storage.

Under both the kitchen and work tables the space is wide open from side support to side support. This design gives me maximum flexibility in storage and the easiest options for changing systems as my needs change. My current plan is to use the 3 gallon and 10 gallon Rubbermaid totes because they are light to lift, are rubber so no noise when rolling down the road, and stack easily allowing for many different configurations.

Photograph of the desk/table with nothing underneath
Photo of desk/table 
Drawing showing one possible under table storage configuration
Drawings showing front and side views of one possible under table storage configuration with 5 columns of 3 small storage boxes and 1 column of 2 large storage boxes. Side view shows that the boxes are recessed 6" from the front edge of the table.

As you can see on the far right side the yellow metal is the cover for the gas tank. The blue electrical outlets show (from top) ceiling light control (so I can turn the lights on/off from bed), two  3 prong plugs and below that two USB plugs. The black circle at the bottom of the right leg is where the heat comes in from the diesel heater.

Close up photo of right table support showing (from top) light switch rocker, two 3 prong outlets, two USB outlets and at the bottom the heater vent.


I placed power outlets in strategic places throughout the bus. They are under the front edge of the kitchen and desk counters. When they are on walls, they are just below the windows at a height of 24" from the ground.

The under-counter outlets are recessed 4" from the front edge of the counter. This allows the plug to stay tucked inside the profile of the countertop. I didn't want to be hitting a plug because it was sticking out from the edge of the countertop.

A few things have their own power outlets - the washing machine, the Dometic fridge/freezer, the Superarm lift and the driver transfer seat. The electric hoist on the crane will also have a dedicated outlet.

The rest of the outlets have both 3 prong and USB plugs. Having many USB ports means that I don't have to constantly look for USB adapters.


** If you talk to RV folks you will hear about toilets. If you don't want the details, skip this section. **

There's lots to think about in selecting an RV toilet. The biggest one is black tank or not. A black tank is basically a holding tank where the toilet empties. In an RV that means you fill it up and you then have to empty it. 

Photo of the Separett toilet from above. Also visible is the drain pipe for the sink.

So I started exploring composting toilets. I knew I wanted a urine-diversion option. That means the urine is hooked up to the grey tank (waste water) and mixed with the water runoff from the sink and tub. 

The final consideration is what happens to the poop. Some systems incinerate it but that's a huge energy hog and I want to have off-grid, low power options. Other systems require you to crank a handle to mix the poop with another substance (sawdust, coconut coir, etc).

I settled on the Separett toilet because the urine can go into the grey water tank and the poop decomposes slowly into a bag and can be easily emptied.

I had the toilet set 6" away from the wall to give me more space. I also have open space on both sides so that I have multiple options for transfer direction.

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