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bus conversion: phase I

You Live in What? Episode: "Plane; Bus; Gas Station"

see our bus on HGTV

Season 2, Episode 2
Episode Synopsis: A Catholic schoolhouse that was converted into a home is featured, along with a residence that was once a World War II bunker. Other unusual abodes include a gas station, a plane, a bus and a grocery store, as well as a barn, a firehouse, a church and an underground bathroom. Original Air Date: Mar 22, 2013

 

Lynn and Gary's Eagle Bus - Early Stages

Gary's lifelong dream was to do a bus-conversion on a classic Eagle Bus probably because Willy Nelson had one and he thinks Willy is a pretty cool guy. We became RV'ers in the mid 80's. At that time we had a second craft gallery in Coconut Grove, Florida called American Details. We spent the winter months living in Florida but had a tough time finding a decent apartment that would accept dogs. Gary came up with the idea of getting an RV and living in that. At first I was horrified by the idea of living in an RV, but after we started looking at them it seemed like it might be fun. Over the years our RV's grew in size from our first small conversion van to a 45' 5th wheel with three slide-outs. That 5th Wheel that now resides happily with our friends in Melbourne, Florida. >>>>

We did lots of customizing to our last RV (the 5th wheel) and this really inspired Gary to want to due a big scale bus-conversion. He did lots of research on the Internet about where to find the right bus and who to use to do the initial steps that he couldn't do. He eventually decided on I-44Bus Sales, Inc. a company that sells empty bus shells for people who want to do their own bus-conversions. Eagle buses are no longer being made, but are very desirable among "bus nuts" like Gary.

Our bus was built in 1990 and traveled daily from Mexico City to Los Angeles. It was retired in 2000. I-44 Bus refurbished the bus to the point where Gary could take over. They raised the roof, put in a new engine, new exterior skin, 2 slide outs (shown at right), new stainless steel bottom and paint job.

Gary rented a wood shop in Bakersville, NC where we will live while working on the bus-conversion. This is a big project, similar to building a house, and Gary estimated it would take about 2 years since he wouldn't be working on it full time year round. Well we're now into year 3 and its still got quite a ways to go!

Here are some pictures of what the interior of the bus looked like when we picked it up. I love the "WATCH YOUR STEP" sign in both English and Spanish and want to find a way to work this into our finished design.

The first image to the right>>>> shows the empty shell looking toward the front.

The next  image is looking to the rear of the bus. The bed will go on top of the slide-out mechanism and a closet will go across the back end. >>


<<<< The first steps in the bus-conversion were mostly tearing things out and working on things that didn't show like insulation, wiring and plumbing. After tearing out the insulation Gary painted the metal frame work with rust- proof paint.  >>>>>>>>

 

<<<< This image shows some of the wiring and plumbing under the floor.

 

 


Gary replaced the old insulation with new and covered in that with plywood.>>>>>

 

<<<<<<This image shows the bus with its plywood cover. The blue tape marks and foam cut-outs are how we laid out our floor plan and divided off "rooms."

This image shows the closet in the rear, now lined with cedar. >>>>



I had originally done a bus-conversion floor plan in Photo Shop that we used as a guide for marking off the the actual space on the floor of the bus. We have pretty much stuck to this original plan, but some changes are being made as we move along. We needed the plan to work well while the slide-outs are in as well as out. Remember that we will be using the bus with slide-outs in while driving and also if we park in some small spots.

<<<<This image shows the framing for part of the kitchen where the refrigerator will go. Gary built walls that will divide the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.

Kitchen counter with cabinets above.
>>>>>>

 


The image below gives you a good idea of our kitchen layout.

 

 


<<<<<This is our bathroom layout viewed from the rear of the bus toward the front.

Gary took advantage of the good weather in Summer '05 to work on the bays under the floor of the bus. This is were the heater, waste storage tanks and that kind of stuff go. We will also have bays for storage and one will be an outdoor entertainment center.


The ceiling in the bus was a bit of a challenge because of the curves on the sides and the wiring and AC that needs to run down the center. We decided on American walnut for the interior paneling.


As you can see we are making progress and now have the refrigerator installed and lots of the paneling done. There's even a chair for all the visitors who stop in to check on our progress.  Marge and Buddy Ray were very happy to see the chair arrive.




Tiling the bathroom area was where I got to contribute. I first did a design on the computer and then actually laid the tile. This was my first experience tiling and it was fun.

Those little white plastic spacers really helped to keep the tiles straight and grout lines even.



<This is our shower stall with a glass door. Details below.

 


 

 

 

<<Next came tiling the top of the vanity. Here is Gary cutting a hole for the sink and the finished vanity top below. The sink is hammered copper.

 

 

             

 

Washer and dryer in closet.>>>>>>>>

 

 



<<Pull out pantry will go where you see plywood next to stove and microwave.





Here is the finished front console for the TV, DVD player, controls, etc. >>>>>>
Details below

 

 


 

 




<<<The ceiling over the kitchen and bath areas is press tin with a patina finish. The round wood pieces are AC air diffusers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are now at the really fun part of the bus-conversion project; the furniture and finishing details. Sticks™ the furniture and object art line that we carry at Craft Company will be doing the doors for the back closet  headboard for the bed, closet doors in the bathroom and some living room furniture.

Click to go to Phase II - Completed Bus Conversion

Happy Trails, Lynn and Gary

If you have comments or questions about the bus
email us.

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