MCI bus Conversion Insulation Skinning Bus Sides Bus Floor Insulation

MCI bus Conversion Insulation Skinning Bus Sides Bus Floor Insulation

Bus Conversion Page 3

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With the interior of the bus completely stripped out, our next step was to install the first layer of insulation to the walls and ceilings. There are several options when it comes to insulation. Many bus converters choose spray foam, in which a thick foam is applied to the inside walls and ceiling. The results are very good, with insulation and sound qualities very high. However, foaming can cost well upwards of $1,000, and once applied, the foam must be trimmed off, a very messy and time consuming chore to say the least.

Radiant Technology of Dallas, Texas supplied us with a new space age insulating product they have been introducing to the RV industry. Consisting of a thin layer of aluminum foil sandwiched between two layers of polyfoam, the insulation comes in rolls, is very easy to work with, and has amazing insulating qualities. We cut it into panels to fit the contours of our bus and affixed them to the metal walls and ceiling with a spray glue. The task was easy, and resulted in a dramatic change in inside temperatures. On a chilly Fall day in northern Michigan, with outside temperatures hovering around 45 degrees, by just switching a single 60 watt bulb from a trouble light on inside the bus, our thermometer was quickly reading 62 degrees.

We applied standard issue 3Ѕ inch thick Home Depot Owens Corning rolled fiberglass insulation with an R-13 rating over the Radiant Technology insulation, both to add to the thermal and acoustic qualities of the bus. The result is a warm interior even before we have installed the furnace. While we were traveling from Michigan to Arizona in early November, we dry camped in a Wal-Mart parking lot in central Iowa and were comfortable sleeping under a couple of blankets, with no heating source.

Bus converters argue over which is the better way to handle the bus floor. Some pull out the original wooden floor, while others simply cover it over. We originally intended to pull up the old 3/4 inch plywood floor, but soon learned it was a daunting task requiring tremendous amounts of physical effort, and tools we did not have available. Ben Pearson and Dale DeWitt at Radiant Technology came to our rescue again, providing us with another space age product, 3/4 inch fiberglass composite sheets that are several times stronger than plywood, yet weigh considerably less than a comparably sized 4×8 foot sheet of plywood. Manufactured by a company called Penske Composites in Tennessee, the flooring material is a tremendous advancement over what we have had in our RVs to this point. The material comes in several different thicknesses for different applications. Radiant Technology’s sister company, Engineered Bonded Structures in Elkhart, Indiana uses the same material to create pre-fabricated RV bodies that are then shipped to Australia and assembled on a truck chassis for service in the rugged Outback.

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There are two steel channels that run the length of the interior on our MCI-8 bus that were part of the passenger seating arrangement. The lips of these channels extend approximately 1/4 inch above the original floor. Removing them is a long, backbreaking chore best accomplished with a grinder, steel pry bars, and a couple of husky college kids. Having none of the above available to us, we instead acquired some oak lumber, cut it into Ѕ inch strips and screwed them down on the floor on ten inch centers to provide a framework to support our new flooring material and get it above the steel channels. We cut Ѕ inch Celotex sheet insulation to fit between the oak furring strips to provide additional support for our flooring and to aid in insulation. The finished floor is strong, lightweight, and will further aid in insulating our coach.

I keep telling people that I should call this project the Powder Puff Bus, since my wife is the mechanic in the family and has forgotten more about tools and how to use them than I will ever know. We wanted to remove the original bus windows, cover over the sides, and install new RV style dual pane windows. This seemed like a very intimidating task to me, but since Miss Terry has over twenty years experience in the glass business, it was child’s play for her. We removed the five windows on each side, which were held on by three hinges each.

With the windows out, we cut and fitted 1/4 inch waterproof lauan plywood on the inside of each window opening. On the outside we laminated 1Ѕ inch thick Styrofoam sheets cut to fit, and laid an outer layer of the lauan over that. The wood was affixed with stainless steel screws, and lamination was accomplished with exterior quality construction grade Liquid Nails adhesive. The lauan and Styrofoam were caulked at the completion of every step.

At RV Surplus Salvage in Elkhart, Indiana, we purchased a forty foot long roll of 3/32 inch fiberglass used to sheath the outside of RVs. This roll measured 120 inches wide, which made for quite a bundle to move and work with. We rolled the fiberglass out on the lawn and cut two thirty inch wide by forty foot strips to skin the window area of the bus.

Skinning the sides was quite a job, requiring the help of three volunteers and lots of grunt work. Even cut down to the smaller strips, the fiberglass was still heavy and hard to work with. I made a simple cross out of a couple of 2x4s to hold the fiberglass at the right height, and as Terry applied the adhesive, two of us unrolled it, while two other helpers pressed the fiberglass into place and smoothed it. With the upper and lower drip rails back in place, the result is a smooth side where the windows once were. The bus is already much stronger than any production made RV, and the finished sides will add to its strength and insulation. Our next job will be to cut the proper size openings and install the new RV windows. Again, this is a process that Terry assures me will be relatively simple, and I bow to her experience.

With all of this accomplished, we will soon be ready to begin the interior work, including laying out the electrical and plumbing systems. I am finding that my complete lack of experience in things mechanical is slowly being replaced by at least a rudimentary understanding of what we are doing, and I am gaining a lot of confidence in my abilities. What once was a charter tour bus is slowly being transformed into a motorcoach that will carry us many safe and comfortable miles as we explore the country. By our next update, we hope to have the basic living systems installed and be able to move into the bus while we continue the project.

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