Week one of our school bus conversion is done. We ripped the seats out, ripped the floors up, and got the track flooring out of the floors. Our toughest challenge by far was figuring out the “easiest” way to get the seat rails out, which we’ll talk more about later on. Another thing we had to face this first week was that our bus would not start. Good thing we got back from Michigan just fine! We also figured out you can never have too many angle grinding cutting wheels!
Ever since we have talked about doing a school bus conversion, my head went to design and how to make a school bus “homey,” while Chris was immediately thinking of how to take apart the bus and put it all everything back together. I love eye catchy accents in a home. It makes the home feel warm and inviting so I wanted to do a pallet ceiling as accent.
I have been looking non stop for a Craigslist posting to know where I could get a few. Ultimately, Chris found some pallets on Craigslist. When picking your pallets, be patient. You do not want to receive your pallets and not be able to use them because they were used in transporting toxic items, like oil and other substances. Make sure you know where your pallets are coming from.
Where are you getting your pallets from? Who are you getting your pallets from? A private person? A company? Which company? What do they do? Ask questions!
If they don’t know the answer, you can find a lot of information on the pallets if they have stamps on them. If they have stamps on them, they may have been used internationally. If they were used internationally, they might have been treated with chemicals which are not safe to use. If they do not have stamps on them, these pallets were used domestically and most likely have not been treated with chemicals.
The pallets we picked up came from a domestic roofing and shingle company so we knew these weren’t used to transport toxic items and have not been treated with chemicals, and that we were in the clear.
My parents were generous to let us leave the pallets at their house to store them and let us work on them there. My Dad said he wanted to help us take the pallets apart since he knew how hard the pallets are to get apart since the use super glue on the nails, then nail them into the boards, making it extremely difficult to take apart.
Onto trying to figure out how to take these apart…
We first started with a crow bar and a hammer. We got the crow bar underneath the top board of the pallet and hammered it in to try and get the board loose, but all we were doing was splitting the top board of the pallet, one by one.
Then, we had the idea of drilling three holes around the nails, and do this same crow bar / hammer process again to see if this would give it some air to breath and solve the problem of the wood splitting.
We then went onto a sawzall – it worked but tore up the blade badly.
After the sawzall, we were going to try a hole saw to get the nails out and release the board. But then there was going to be a 2″ hole every spot where there was a nail, which in my eyes, would make my cute accent piece look like sh**.
Finally, we went to the hardware store and got more sawzall blades and used a sawzall to get underneath the boards, so we left the nails in the boards. The top boards popped right off!
It took us about two days to figure this all out and many trips to the hardware store, but it definitely pays off to just start with a sawzall to get the boards apart.
Getting Rid of Flooring In Your Bus
The first step in a school bus conversion is to get out the seats and flooring.
Our seats were bolted down to seat rails, so fortunately for us it was very easy to get the seats out and unfortunately, it was very hard to get the seat rails on the floors out. To get the seats out, we had to take out the bolt with a drill and socket. There are four – six bolts per seat. After you get all the bolts out, just take out the seat! If you do not have seat rails, then you probably have to angle grind to get the seats out.
Rubber is the first thing to get off of the floor. Break a piece of the rubber using a crow bar, then get under it with that crow bar and rip out all the rubber. You must do this otherwise it will be too heavy & hard to rip out the plywood.
Seat Rails / Tracks
Seat rails are the second thing on the floor to tackle after the rubber is ripped up. This took us a couple of days to figure out. If your school bus doesn’t have seat rails, then you can move onto the plywood! Your hard part is over from the seats!
Chris started angle grinding the bolts in the tracks (there were bolts about every three inches from each other) and there were about six to eight tracks wide. Needless to say, this was taking way too long!
Chris then went underneath the bus with a drill and socket to rip the nut and washer off, while I was in the inside of the bus with an allen wrench and socket to try and keep the bolt in place without spinning so we could separate the two, making it easier to get the bolts out of the tracks. This was going much faster and we were able to get around 80% of the bolts off this way, while we angle grinded the few that couldn’t get lose later.
After every bolt is lose, wether it be taken out with a drill or angle grinded off, take a crow bar to the middle of the tracks to get the track out of the plywood.
After all the rubber and the seat rails are ripped up, now is the time to get the who-knows-how-old plywood out of your school bus. Using the same technique as the rubber, take a crow bar and pry the plywood up.
*Before prying the plywood up, go around and take out any screws you see in the plywood. This will make it easier to pry the plywood! Some of the screws may be stripped, so just leave those. You will be able to pry those up with the crow bar.*
Batteries that are 5 years old or older may be getting to their last couple of months. Check the batteries when you inspect the school bus.
Checking the batteries in our skoolie did not even cross our mind when we were inspecting the bus until a couple days later when we got the bus home, we couldn’t get the bus to start. We were grateful to get back to where we were completing our school bus conversion before our batteries died. We grabbed a battery charger and were finally able to start the bus back up. But on the downside, the bus has not been started for a little over a month.. so we have a lot to look forward to 😉
Week one of our school bus conversion is complete! We picked up our bus, tore apart pallets, ripped out the seats, floor tracks, and flooring. As well as having our battery die on us which has already, in week one, added another big expense to the budget.
Here are some key takeaways from our first week –
– Pallet boards are tough to get apart! Save yourself time and use a sawzall from the start.
– Make sure you know where your pallets came from and if they are safe to use in your home.
– Seat rails – first get underneath the bus to save you time, then angle grind the rest of the bolts out.
– Put new batteries in your budget – $400
Drop your questions below in the comments section and we will be sure to answer ASAP!