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* * * Progress * * * 26/6/2006 * * *03:26 PM * * *

Yaaay! I've finally finished another 'section' of my bus. The 'internal roof section' was mainly done several months ago, but was finished off today with the final fitment of all the high level cupboard catches & telescopic stays (It was a lot of p*ss f*rting around just to save a few bucks but done now). All the cupboards close with a solid click when given a firm push. I used door handles on the front 'kitchen' cupboards, but not on the overhead cupboards along each side of the bus. (Preserving 'psychological' space more than 'practical' space). Instead each door overlaps the bottom ofthe cupboards by about 5mm, which allows easy opening.

Next to do are the under bench cupboard doors. (Oh gawd, more doors to make!)At least there's only 5 to make (13 up top).

Just bought a glass top to fit over the top of the stove.

Remaining 'sections':
Underbench cupboard doors
Small amount of plumbing & electrical, incl having gas connected & certified.
Fit rear vision camera
Something across the back of the bus inside. Some sort of Shelving/cupboards including housing speakers (& possibly an LCD Tv if my spirit weakens.   (It's about 14 weeks now, although I am checking out the ABC broadband versions of the news & 7:30 Report most days.)  
Mattress & soft furnishings
Dining table
Sound system
Motorcycle carrier of some sort.
External gas shower/shower enclosure set up.

Then I guess the driving cabin will need a bit of a spruce up.

Other (somewhat expensive - mainly 'cos I'd farm it out rather than do it myself) possibilities are an exterior paint job -maybe-maybe not. And I might need to throw a bit of dosh at the rear suspension if I manage to mount the bike.

An air snorkel would be good too.

Well I'm sure there'll be other things I've forgotten but I think that is basically what's left to do.



* * * The Kitchen * * * 2/4/2006 * * *11:32 AM * * *

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? The kitchen in my view is the heart of the home.
Growing up in the UK, the land of eternal drizzle & grey skies, where houses were small, it was many years before my dream of having a kitchen large enough to house more than the bare necessities became reality. As a child I loved my grandmothers huge farmhouse kitchen. Her kitchen table alone was bigger than some of our kitchens over the years! By Aussie standards we still have a small kitchen, but it does have room for a table to seat half a dozen friends, a comfy chair, a couple of dressers & the built in blackwood kitchen along two walls that I made a couple of years ago. This has two long work benches providing plenty of room to get creative on. It's not a fancy kitchen, but it's a nice space to be in, especially when the refurbished ? Rayburn stove is cranked up on a cold wet wintry night. Being an old handbuilt 1940's house it does suffer one problem common to houses of that era - lack of natural light.

So what is important for the kitchen in a motorhome for 2 people who want to do more than heat up food or exist on take-aways? (As I suspect was the way for Anonybus's previous owner judging by the equipment - a portable 2 burner lpg stove screwed to a bench top with the gas bottle underneath, complete with a 'dodgy' gas compliance plate, plus an 1800w inverter running a microwave with sufficient solar & battery capacity to power it for probably a max of 15 ? minutes per day). A microwave is a machine of convenience. Not very convenient when you are limited to ? zapping things maybe just once or twice a day though. I use the microwave at home frequently, (it's now 20 years old & still giving daily service). The style of travel we intend to take in Anonybus is as others have referred to it 'slow travel'. When I'm camping I enjoy sitting around a fire & cooking for hours, it's part of the experience I look forward to. So ? do I want a microwave in the bus? No, & that's even without bringing the additional power requirements to make it 'worthwhile', ? into the equation. We never used the microwave when it was previously fitted in the bus & decided it's 'space' could be better utilised, so no microwave in this little bus.

My style of cooking is very different to Julie's. She follows recipes to the letter (& is a fantastic cook I might add) whilst to me a recipe is most often just the initial 'inspiration'. I like to take a more free-spirited approach, inspired by having ingredients out on display. I look along the herb & spice racks for example & think, "yeah a bit of this would bring the flavour up a bit, I wonder if that might give a nice after-taste etc. So what I'm saying is I dont want a kitchen where everything is all hidden away in cupboards, out of sight. Cooking like that would not be an enjoyable experience for me. ? I also like the 'homeliness' created by ? the appearance of rows of various jars & containers, far less 'sterile' than the obsessively tidy kitchen, where only cupboard doors ? break the monotony of the walls. The problem with this requirement in a vehicle is that driving forces ? tend to have a nasty habit of throwing anything unsecured dangerously around the bus. A jar of anchovies could do a lot of damage! So how to have common ingredients 'on display' but secure? ?

Clearly there is less space in the bus kitchen, than at home, so proportionally everything is smaller. ? Smaller containers, less shelf space, less workspace etc.
I still want to at least re-create a 'perception' of a homely creative kitchen that is practical too, one that allows for cooking to be a pleasurable experience.

Whislt this is still a work in progress, I have made a start. The 'spice rack' is large enough to hold a good range of common ingredients. I built it from hardwood & decorated it with a length of stainless steel bar, polished & set into a rebate on the front of the shelf. A separate length of stainless rod across the front will hold correctly sized containers securely. (Containers will be plastic, glass jars are both heavy & breakable)

The 'spice rack'. Air-con duct runs behind it.DSC01625.JPG

Further shelving will be added to the outer wall of the pantry.DSC01629.JPG

Storage in the kitchen is needed for both foodstuffs & cooking equipment. Pots, pans & the like are not the easiest of shapes to make optimum use of available storage space. To make the best out of this situation I believe that limiting the number of items to be a sensible strategy, ensuring that each item has multiple uses. ? I have set aside one storage area for these things. it is within arms length of the stove & large enough to stow pots without needing to be 'too' particular.

Seat.JPG copy

This will have a benchtop across the top. The 'hole' on the left will be the storage space for pots & pans, the benchtop will have a section that hinges up for access. ?

The cutlery drawer is under the draining board of the sink. I've made the drawer (Still needs a 'front face') but am not happy with the way it pulls in & out. It's a bit sticky, something I find irritating. I used the sidewall runners from drawers previously fitted in the bus, but think I'll probably change these, possibly to the type that are positioned underneath the drawer. ? Note also the little oval gadget to the left of the drawer. This is an electronic water gauge that with the press of a button, tells us how much water is left in our tanks,. Experiments have shown it to be accurate providing the bus is parked on reasonably level ground.

The pantry (larder?) is immediately adjacent to the main food prep benchtop & comprises a full height cupboard filled with Elfa sliding baskets of differing sizes. At it's top is a large cupboard & a smaller one to it's right. The small one will be handy for recipe cards & other small dry items.

Central to any cooking area is the stove. After looking at a number different ? stoves at a large caravan & motorhome expo, I chose one made by Smev. I *hope* it will be a good cooking stove, but admit the feature that determined my purchase decision was the way the pot supports fit onto the stove. Smev was the only brand where the pot supports push into rubber grommets, meaning they will be silent whilst driving. Nothing worse than driving along the road accompanied by a cacophony of rattles & squeaks. The gas stove has 3 top gas rings that seem to be well spaced. (Many of the four burner stoves seemed to have the rings too close to each other, making it impractical to use them all at once, ? a bit pointless). The stove also incorporates an oven & a griller. It would have been nice to have a separate griller, but the one *inside* the oven is probably a reasonable compromise given it's space saving. ? Electronic ignition means one less thing to have to find storage space for. I believe the oven capacity is large enough to provide storage for our cast iron camp oven whilst in transit.

? ?

? ?DSC01675.JPG
    DSC01673.JPG       DSC01670.JPG       DSC01669.JPG

? ?

An issue is that the stove is alongside the fridge. I have placed insulation between them, but I'm as yet uncertain how hot the outer walls of the stove are likely to get. I also have a nagging doubt that the styrofoam insulation I've used is unsuitable, I think it may melt if things get too warm, even though there is a layer of 3mm ply between the stove wall & the polystyrene. I would welcome advice on this before the stove is fully plumbed in.

Recommendations for an alternative insulation material are welcome.

Another issue, is the lack of a cover over the top of the gas rings. I don't need one to fold down just to be 'tidy'. Rather to act as a 'safety barrier' when the rings are in use. The problem is that without some sort of top that lifts up, the window, & potentially the curtain, behind the stove will be exposed to cooking heat creating a ? fire hazard. I believe it's possible to buy separate hinged glass tops for this purpose, but need to do further research on this.

Power supplied from the batteries via the 300w inverter should be sufficient to run small kitchen appliances like a hand mixer, coffee grinder etc.

In a number of similar bus conversions I've seen, the kitchen is often located on the passenger side of the bus, alongside the entry door. This struck me as potentially hazardous. Very easy to accidentally knock something hot off the stove whilst climbing in or out of the vehicle. For this reason I located our kitchen on the driver side, with enough room for someone entering or exiting to move behind the chef of the day.

* * * Barry's Bus * * * 1/4/2006 * * *07:17 AM * * *

Here's a few interior pics   of of the impressive work going on in Barry's ( fellow CMCA member) bus.   Barry is currently building his dream machine & is managing to achieve a quality that belies the (ridiculously) low cost   of the conversion. If only I lived closer to 'civilisation', I'd enjoy honing my 'scrounging skills' to Barry's level.
Barry has a website at where he details his power saving LED conversion of lights

* * * TV or not TV * * * 1/4/2006 * * * 06:51 AM * * *

TV or not TV?                                                                                                                  

I really am in two minds about having TV in the bus. If the intended use of the bus was only for short trips of a few weeks or less, then I definately wouldn't bother, but as we intend living in it for 15 months I guess it might be handy to have at times.   I'd like to think that if we didn't have it, we wouldn't miss it, but that may just be wishful thinking on my part, but I'd hate to think that if we do have one we'll remain as 'addicted to the box' whilst travelling as we are at home!  

When I bought the bus it had a 12 month old combo Teac TV/video fitted, along with a bolt together mast & 'traditional' aerial. Initially it worked well enough where there was an available signal, but after very little use, although the TV is called an 'Off Road televideo', it appears to not have coped with the conditions encountered in a mobile situation.   It has become unreliable, with a 'jumpy' picture, & often switching itself off. The motor for the video also seems to have a mind of it's own, frequently whirring away quite loudly even when not being used. Basically it's rubbish.

So should I replace it? Or should we just not bother with an 'idiot box'?

The main problem as I see it would be one of cost. I believe it would be a false economy to replace the existing setup with similar. If I am going to replace it, it makes sense to go with a setup that will take up significantly less space, AND will get good reception anywhere we choose to be. The only option that meets this criterior is a combo of an LCD tv, a satellite dish & a digital set top box. This would require a significant cash outlay, although prices have dropped a bit recently as satellite systems have become more common.

On the Tv side, I explored using my Apple Powerbook laptop as a tv. This is possible utilising a plug-in EyeTv unit from Elgato. They have several models that pick up both terrestrial signals or satellite signals. The terrestrial models I've seen in action, & was very impressed with the quality of both the picture & the software. Very easy to use, BUT, only good in areas where you can pick up the terrestrial signal, which cuts out huge chunks of remote Australia. Their satellite systems use the same software (& don't require a separate set top box) & I'm sure work just as well. However there is one significant problem with this unit. In Australia's remote areas, in order to pick up the free to air tv stations, you need a 'smart card' that is inserted into your set top box to decode the satellite signals. (approx $200 incl. activation fees). Unfortunately the EyeTv unit has no facility to insert the smartcard, meaning that free to air tv would only be available in the more heavily populated areas of the eastern states. I believe it may be possible to obtain some sort of electronic gizmo box that could be fitted inline betwen the satellite dish & laptop, that would allow the insertion of a 'smart card', & this remains a possibility to be explored further.

Alternatively the smaller (7" to 14") LCD tv's can now be bought fairly cheaply on Ebay. Not sure of their durability though. A separate tv would allow greater flexibility/convenience than would using the laptop for this purpose.

Going down this path requires a separate set top box, smart card & dish. Much advice on the web suggests that an 85-90cm dish is required for the remote areas of our country's North West, but that a 65cm dish will be sufficient for the rest of the country. However I believe, from my web research, that this info has recently become outdated.   Apparently due to a change around in the satellites used for for the Free to Air channels, (C1) a 65cm dish is now satisfactory for reception all around our continent. This is good news for anyone with limited space to stow a dish. Dishes are available with a folding LNB (the bit that sticks out in front of the dish) which would make stowage & setting up easier.

There seems to be a huge variation in costs for this equipment, ranging from close to $6000 for a fully automatic 'bells & whistles' system to $3-400 for a collection of parts off ebay. Several Australian companies sell complete DIY kits in the $600 to $2000 price range. It appears to me that once the cost of components is taken out of the equation, most suppliers of these are charging anything from reasonable to outrageous prices for their set up info/backup.   Advice on the web varies from suppliers who infer that their instructions & after sales back up will turn a complex & difficult procedure into a simple task, to many who have 'done it themselves'   who claim it isn't a complex/difficult task in the first place! I can understand that the first couple of times lining up a dish to a satellite might take a bit of fiddling around, but once achieved, should be easy after that. That only leaves plugging a few components together. How hard could that be?

If I have sufficient room (& decide to have tv of course) rather than have the dish set up on a tripod, I would look at mounting it onto the small roofrack I'm planning to build. It could be permanently mounted to a short hinged mast that could be locked up into position for use or folded down into the roofrack securely when travelling. Access to the dish for alignment via the rear roof hatch should be sufficient when standing on the bed.

Satellite also offers the possibility of mobile broadband internet. I've become very attached to my home broadband service, & the thought of returning to dial-up speeds is not an attractive one. Over the past 18 months I've been keeping a 'weather eye' on the cost of mobile broadband, in the vain hope that as the technology becomes more common it's price will drop to an affordable level. It's a race against time that I don't think I'm going to win though as I can't see satellite broadband being affordable before we 'head off' in mid 2007. Nevertheless if I end up going with satellite Tv, it will be good to know that broadband can be added later if & when the service costs reduce.

* * * Request For Pics * * * 26/3/2006 * * * 03:16 PM * * *

To date 99% of my endeavours in the bus have been on the 'house'   side of things. The Driving cabin has as yet been neglected. Basically it's the original drab brown & beige &   a bit on the shabby side, with some of the instrument light surrounds & dashboard fascia faded & scratched.

So it's going to need a facelift of some sort to match the standards of the rest of the bus.  

I need some inspiration

If you have a picture or link to a picture of a nicely fitted out motorhome driving cabin that you think is worth a look for whatever reason, I'd love to see it. Maybe it's particularly well finished, unique,   or maybe just because it's yours.

Come on folks I need inspiration.

* * * The Bedroom * * * 26/3/2006 * * * 10:170 AM * * *


Apart from the bed-base itself   & the   lights for 'mood' & 'reading',   nothing else is yet in place, and as yet relatively unplanned. Basically I still don't really have a picture in my mind of how it will look when finished.

So what do I want in a bedroom?

From the outset there were two 'absolutely must haves' that we were agreed on.   The previously mentioned fridge that 'just works' & a permanent comfortable double bed.

'Permanent' as in not needing to be folded up out of the way during the day. Years ago I had a Wesfalia converted VW 'Kombi' & recall the routine of 'packing up' the bed being a daily irritant. (
Wesfalia conversions, by the way were the closest thing to a factory-built campervan. VW never actually made campervans, but the Wesfalia factory was close by &   had a good relationship with VW).

'Double' as in queensize, this is what we're used to, & found the previous standard sized double in the bus a bit cramped   on those hot still airless nights that have you tossing & turning.

'Comfortable' as in good mattress, & ability to stretch out. The latter can be a bit difficult in this size bus, depending on your height. I'm 5'10" & find that with my head on the pillow it's about a 1" stretch to the far wall with my feet. Now call me weird & slap me with a wet fish if you like, but I'm a person who likes to slide down the bed a little, & curl my toes over the bottom of the bed. This is very difficult in an east-west bed in a Nissan Civilian (& I believe that Toyota Coasters are fractionally narrower again). The conventional solution would be to build the bed north-south. I've seen this done, but felt the bed took up too much living space. Instead I built the seating next to the east-west bed. This way the seats can, if desired become 'extensions' of the bed, allowing sleeping north-south, as well as east west.   I imagine we could also utilise this setup to sleep a couple of visitors as well as ourselves at a squeeze, provided they were good friends! I may well become 'cured' of my toe habit, but it'll be good to have the options.

Mattresses.   The synthesis of the advice I've taken on board to date is "that you get what you pay for".   Mattresses are either conventional sprung matresses (heavy & difficult to lift to access underbed storage bins). Or foam mattresses. Foam mattresses can be roughly divided in 3 categories. Cheap, expensive & so expensive they should be diamond encrusted but aren't! Advice suggests the expensive option is the way to go, as the foam will remain comfortable for many years, & not 'collapse like the cheaper stuff. Initial enquiries suggest that a premium quality Dunlopillo mattress will be around $1000. The really expensive ones are 'memory foam' types, like Tempur. These are around 3 times the price. of the Dunlopillo.

We will cut the mattress into three & fit it into a custom made mattress cover that will allow either end of the mattress to be 'hinged' up, allowing easier access to the underbed storage bins. A separate 'mattress topper, will also help with a good night's sleep.

One problem with foam is sweating & condensation. If the mattress is laying on a solid, waterproof base, it will get wet underneath. The old mattress (cheapie) has rotted underneath. To combat this it is essential to have airflow under the mattress. This can be achieved by having a non-collapsible mesh under the mattress &/or ventilation holes in the bed base. Unfinished timber bases are less of a problem as the timber can absorb moisture, but in my 'raring to go' early stages of the fitout I painted everything! I expect I'll go with the mesh & probably drill a few holes for good measure.

So our bed room will have a bed base & a mattress, but it will also need some sort of padding/soft furnishing around the walls, to finish it visually, & to enhance 'lounging around' comfort. The rear of the bus will have some sort of shallow cupboards/shelving around the 240v air con unit. This is a part I don't really have a mental picture of yet, but if we decide to have a TV, this is where it will be housed.

* * * Favourite Tool. * * * 25/3/2006 * * * 03:09 PM * * *

I guess all of us who like making things also like tools. Over time we build up a fondness for some tools & tolerate others. The good ones not only do what they were made to do, they do it easily, comfortably & without drama for many years. Not only that they also feel good to use because the ergonomics are 'right'.
A good tool fits like a comfy pair of boots, gloves or a hat.

I've never been one to buy 'sets' of tools, generally preferring to collect individual tools as I need them, & buy the best quality I can afford at the time. Consequently I have a collection of tools that   range from parts bin $1 specials to professional quality tools. One of the great things about undertaking new projects is the excuse to obtain new tools! Somehow it's easier to absorb their purchase cost into the overall project than to view it as an individual purchase.   " Well I just spent $xxx on ???, so whats another $79.95 for a Doogiewidget extractor".

It may come as a suprise that my favourite tool falls into the cheapie category. It's a cordless drill made by GMC, bought as a cheapie 'on special' at Bunnings. When the 'quality brand' alternatives were selling for up to $800 this little 18 volt beauty, with two batteries + charger & keyless chuck fell into my hands for a mere $109. Now admittedly this is a GMC 'Platinum' range tool. (Their 'professional' range). I've tried a few of the cheaper 29.95 power tools, (GMC & others). Some do the job & I tolerate their ergonomics. Most have had limited life. It's all very well having a replacement warranty, but still mighty inconvenient when it's a 70km round trip to the hardware store, & it breaks down in the middle of a job. (When else is it going to break down).

Back to the drill, I suspect it may have been mispriced. As a bargain it did stand out like the proverbial dogs bollocks at the time. I was in the shop a week later, & they were priced at $239. Nevertheless worth the dosh at that price too I reckon. Over the past couple of years mine's been used, & used & used. It's been dropped, bashed & covered in mud (whilst fencing). It was even lost in the paddocks for a couple of weeks after it had bounced out of my 'fencing bucket' on the trailer. I have one battery permanently in the charger & have never been caught with a flat battery. Even on very heavy usage days, one battery will see me through most of the day. In a couple of years the length of charge may have reduced a bit, but only negligibly. It's versatility has seen it drill half inch holes through hardwood fenceposts, & fix just about every screw in the bus.

Whilst thinking about what my favourite tools were, two come in close behind the drill.

I have a garden spade I inherited from a house we bought years ago. It's had several handles since then, but the blade endures. It has 'Bulldog brand' stamped into it's metal shaft. I've used a number of other spades over time, & none come close. This one makes any job at least 50% easier than any other spade. I've even been known to spend 30 minutes looking for the Bulldog, to do a 10 minute job, rather than use another spade. I think it's down to the quality of the steel used in the blade. No bouncing & jarring.

The other is a hammer I've had for around 12 years. It's a medium sized claw hammer with an all steel shaft & rubber handle. It was a mid priced buy, & by far the most comfortable, well balanced hammer I've used.
When doing small jobs the comfort factor is less important, but larger repetitive jobs quickly take their toll in fatigue, aches & pains when the tool 'aint got the balance'. This hammer has built, amongst other things, a 60' x 40' shed, 2 verandahs & kilometres of fencing, all good tests of it's virtues. It came a very close second.

* * * The Fridge * * * 25/3/2006 * * * 06:55 AM * * *

Without a fridge in the bus we would end up surviving on a diet of dried & packaged foods. Not good for the body or wallet. Once away from larger towns, fresh produce can often be difficult to come by. I recall examining the contents of the vegie display at a supermarket in Coober Pedy, in outback South Australia. I'm uncertain how long it had been since their last truck delivery of fresh produce, but the extremely limp offerings were in a worse state than those I retrieve during occasional forays to the local greengrocer's rubbish bin, in search of a treat for our two pet pigs. Besides it's almost essential to have a means of keeping drinks cool & to prevent the ice-cream melting.

The Old fridge is a 2-way type, (240v & LPG) probably close to 20 years old. It serves us well now as an additional house fridge, sitting out on our verandah. We used it in the bus for several trips, including a 10 day stretch where ambient temperatures were reaching a minimum of 38 deg.C every day. It coped remarkably well, & even kept frozen goods solid. However these 'absorbtion type' fridges have some significant drawbacks.

Firstly they need to be turned off whilst driving for safety reasons. Many people consider the risks worth taking, but in the event of a gas leak, the fridge's pilot light is a great source for igniting the gas. Consider too the potential for explosion when stopped at a petrol station.   Generally the fridge stayed cool enough when switched off/driving, but it limits how long you can drive for before the tell tale leaks start dribbling out over the floor.

3-way fridges (240v/12v/LPG) are more popular because they can run on 12v from the vehicle alternator whilst driving. However their power draw is quite high, meaning 12v is really only an option whilst driving, unless you want to flatten batteries quickly. Any time during a day's driving you want to stop, it is essential that the fridge gets turned over to LPG operation & back again before driving off.   Absorbtion fridge afficionados recommend that only 'T' (tropical) rated fridges be installed, although these aren't always easy to obtain. Strangely fridge manufacturers don't push 'T' rating as a selling point. In fact I've even been told on one occasion, by a sales rep for a fridge company that 'T' rated fridges are a myth & don't exist. Bizarre as his company produced them!

The worst aspect of absorbtion fridges, in my experience is their need to be operated in a level position. Older ones need to be within 3 degrees of horizontal, newer ones are apparently a little better, tolerating slopes of up to 5 or 6 degrees. Many of these type of fridges are supplied complete with a little spirit level!   I suppose that one could get used to the 'levelling the vehicle ritual' every time you stop for the night, but honestly after a days driving & tired, I found the requisite ritual to be one of the best ways to ensure a cranky mood.   There are also occasions where levelling the vehicle is just not possible. After the 10 day trip referred to above, we stopped at a friends place in Melbourne on the way home. The only place to park was in the street outside their home. Needless to say, the street was on a bit of a slope, & eveything that had remained frozen throughout the heatwave, thawed overnight, creating a small lake to greet us when we returned in the morning.

This was the point when Julie & I decided that we needed a fridge that 'just worked'. Without the need for special ritual, without the need to remember to turn it on & of. Just works.

This led us to the 'dedicated' 12 volt fridges. These units are made by a variety of manufacturers & utilise power efficient Danfoss compressors. The power draw of these fridges is way less than the 3-way types on 12v, making them suitable for use with solar power. Not a cheap option though. I think the actual fridges themselves are comparable in cost, but the 12v units will need a significant outlay for a solar system. I believe that I 'sized' my solar set up to provide sufficient power for the fridge in all seasons, in all parts of Australia. Time will tell!

The fridge we ended up getting is a 133 litre unit made by 'Vitrifrigo'. We chose this one as it has a 'remote' compressor unit. The fridge cabinet has the same dimensions as a 110 litre fridge, but because the compressor is not fixed to the back of the fridge, it allows an extra 23 litre capacity. The remote compressor also allows extra insulation to be packed around the back of the fridge, further increasing it's efficiency,   as well as making it easier to ensure that the compressor unit is mounted in a manner that has plenty of ventilation.

Because a fridge had been previously fitted there were already ventilation holes cut into the side of the bus, restricting where I could put the new one. The remote compressor added a little flexibility here too.

Since fitting & running the new fridge, at it's minimum thermostat setting, I've found the fridge temperature to have settled at a stable 1.9 deg. C, & minus 7.5 deg.C in the freezer compartment. ( With the bus sitting in the sun, on 30+ degree days, AND on a slope that had previously prevented the old 2 way unit from working).   The thermostat may need tweaking a little to keep my favourite gelati solid though. (-18 deg.C)

* * * The Dining Table * * * 25/3/2006 * * * 05:24 AM * * *

Someone has asked 'Have not figured where you intend to sit to dine inside.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Imagine a table near the bed?'

Spot On. Give that man a cup of tea! ?   ? However I am as yet to determine a design.

The table from the bus's previous incarnation is one of those types that has a tubular central leg with a taper at either end. These tapered ends fit into a socket on the floor & in the underside of the table. With the socket on the underside of the table top offset from centre, it gives a limited amount of adjustability to the table top.
The sockets are like this ?& once the leg is pushed into them, gives a very stable & solid table.
The problem is that with one of these sockets on the floor, it will always be in the way for wheeling the potti down the aisle (for emptying). The straight leg also means that the table is always in the aisle, (ie. in the way), & we've previously found we were forever having to put it up or take it down. Something I would prefer to avoid in the future.

So I'm not going to use this table, but have mentioned it as I have a devious plan to build another table, utilising part of the leg & one of the sockets.

I thought that maybe I could make an offset leg, something like the one pictured here, but instead with a short section of the old 'tapered leg' welded to the top, & a 'socket' on the underside of the table-top. At the bottom, the leg could slide into a fixed tube.   With a fixed tube on each side of the central aisle, the offset leg & the offset table-top it would give plenty of adjustability & flexibility, & could always be swung 'out of the way' if desired. (Over the bed, over a seat or in the central aisle). I think it should work, provided I can get the balance between leg tube size & offset right. Strong enough to not flex too much each time the table is leaned on, but not too 'visually' ? bulky. ? Some 'artistic' bracing may be required.

If anyone else has 'been there & done that', please share.

* * * Bus Dreaming * * * 24/3/2006 * * * 01:57 AM * * *

How to determine the right interior layout for your Motorhome
After you've spent long enough looking at other motorhomes, magazines, web pictures etc, go & pester your local purveyors of things that come in large cardboard boxes, for their empty packaging and build a complete internal mock up. (In my case a local motorcycle shop, who in response to my request took me out the back & uncrated 6 new bikes whilst I waited! Good guys).

Building the mock up is a fair amount of work in itself, & it's tempting to skimp & imagine rather than change it again when that little voice is demanding that you get stuck in to the 'real thing'. Be prepared to change things around, maybe many times, experiment, that's the point of the cardboard. Remember?

In the mock-up incorporate a seat that you can actually sit on comfortably for long periods of time & then do just that.  

To others this misunderstood & apparently unproductive activity   (the sitting part) is simply a means of avoiding life's responsibilities. Often the pesky little empty bottle/cup/ash-tray filling fairy can work very hard to compound this mistaken view.

But don't worry because in reality you will be initiating yourself into the brotherhood of Bus Dreamers! Your activity, known simply as 'Bus dreaming' is an absolutely essential part of the process & many hours should be devoted to this activity before any tools are ever unpacked. (And even then practiced regularly throughout the entire project)  
This is where seeds of inspiration are sown, where wild plans mix with adventurous dreams, frustration & disappointment when you finally realise it ain't gonna work, where impossibles become possible, where compromises are made, & where things really start to take   shape......... a shape that suits you, a shape that is yours. There are no mistakes now. Only experiments.

Mistakes come later & are proportional to the time spent in Bus Dreaming.

The whole point of building your own is to get what you want isn't it? If not, you'd have probably bought that second hand bargain you saw but didn't get because it only had two single beds, & the cooker in the wrong spot.

Those who look accusingly at you when you choose to go Bus Dreaming, again, (rather than attend to other 'more mundane activities'), will one day pay you compliments about the magnificent finished   motorhome they see before them.

A solution to potential acrimony is the joint working party approach, particularly appropriate if the other party is likely to be sharing the motorhome with you. It works like this. For every 3 hours+ of Bus Dreaming time spent , allot a minimum of 30 minutes of enthusiastic, (to the point of gibbering),   presentation of 'the options' of whichever aspect you have been wrestling with, in situ, to said other party.   Having a second seat or being prepared to allow said other party to experience a little of the magic by sitting on your seat can be particularly useful. Sometimes the 'Whaddayathink? at the end can bring insight, but mostly it's enough to simply show that you have actually been doing something! This is an excellent means of gaining extra Bus Dreaming time.

Cardboard is good!

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