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6 Ways To Get Through the First Weeks Of Your School Bus Conversion

Our goal for this week was to finish getting everything out of the bus and complete demo! This included removing the walls and ceiling, along with the insulation behind it. Getting the wheelchair lift out of the bus, and getting rid of a couple small pieces of plywood.

Wall Tracks

First, we started getting the wall tracks out. These tracks were exactly like the floor tracks. The tracks were bolted to the wall. There was not enough room to get a socket around the bolt so we had to angle grind the track. Once the space was larger, we were able to get to the bolt with a socket and pull the track off the wall.

Use an Air Hammer to Get Rivets Out

School Bus Conversion

We did our research when it came to pulling out 500 rivets on the ceiling and on the walls in our school bus. We found using an air hammer to be the easiest way to get the rivets out of the bus. Chris started with a pencil pointed head first to push the rivet into the ceiling, then took a V head to get behind the rivets to let them fall down.
Chris completed the ceiling and one of the walls and he looked exhausted. I offered to do the last wall. I was watching him the whole time, and thought how hard could it be? Pushing a button and holding it in place? Easy! I was doing a great job, went to do the last row, and POP I broke the window! The air hammer came back out of the rivet, and went into the bottom corner of the window, and the window immediately started to spider crack. Pretty sure my exact words were “oh sh**!” The part I was most upset about? The fact that I was recording the entire time and just before that happened, I was out of the cameras angle. *insert devastating emoji here*



When you are done getting the rivets out of one row, the metal from the ceiling just falls down, so be careful! Our insulation fell down with the metal. If your insulation does not fall with the metal, it probably means it is glued to the ceiling.
We would suggest putting the insulation in a garbage bag and dispose of it right away.

Taking Out The Wheelchair Lift

Skoolie Conversion

We could have gotten the lift out real simple and pushed it out of the school bus door. But it was so heavy, if we would have done that, we probably would not have been able to move it later. So we waited and waited to figure out what we were going to do with it. We decided to take a tractor, put a bucket on it, and make it flush with the wheelchair door. Then, we pushed the lift into the bucket and were able to bring it down, versus pushing it out of the door.


Plastic Wrapping The Bus

School Bus Conversion

The next step in our build was to paint the floors with rust converter and rust-oleum. Both of these are required to be applied at 50 degrees F or higher. Again, this is the middle of winter with temps averaging 20-30s. 
We bought this poly – cover thick plastic to wrap the exterior of the bus in plastic.
First we tried to duck tape the plastic wrap to the bus and see if it would stick. It was not working so then, Chris tried turning the heater on and warming the tape up to see if that would help it stick.  The heater was completely melting the tape (bad idea). Then, we opened the windows in the bus and shoved the plastic through the windows and closed them. This was done to every window in the bus, even the wheelchair door and back door to keep the plastic in place. 
Then we could turn the torpedo heater on underneath the bus inside the plastic, and the floors would heat up.

Painting The Floors

Before we could paint the rust converter, there were 2 more steps we had to do:

  1. Wire wheel the rust off the floors
  2. Wash the floors

We wanted to get the majority of the rust off the floors. We used the angle grinder with a wire wheel brush attached and brushed all the big globs of rust off the floors.  After that, rust dust was flying everywhere – we leaf blowed all that out of the bus.  Then, School Bus Conversion before laying down rust converter, I wanted to wash the floors.  Buses have a certain smell and it’s from the floor!  Seeing how nasty the floors were when we peeled up the subfloors locked in my idea that we had to wash the floors.  We took a gallon of water with some soap in it and spread it across the floor, then one with only water in it.  It then took us about five hours to dry the floors, continuously running the propane torpedo heater.  We did not want to leave for the night to come back to the next morning with icy floors and not even be able to paint the rust converter.  So we knew we had to stay and get these floors at least 90% dry to stay on track with painting the rust converter the next day.

The rust converter was already starting to dry as we were laying it down. Chris wanted to do two coats that day, but I suggested we listen to the directions and wait 24 hours before we apply the next coat.

After the second coat of rust converter, we painted two coats of Rustoleum paint.

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