In thinking about the usability, security, and safety of the bus, I’ve come to the conclusion that the rear “ramp” installed by a former owner needs to be undone.
It currently latches from the outside, so it’s not usable as an emergency exit without moving the hasps to the inside. It’s very heavy and the handle is high up, so not everyone I know is capable of lowering it. With the hasps inside, in a fire one could unlatch it and push it open to let it fall to the ground; but in other use, it would require two people (inside and out) or a winch to open carefully. It just doesn’t work for me.
First Junkyard Trip
Last Monday on my way home from a holiday trip to Lawrence, I stopped at the junkyard between Newton and Walton to look around. I hadn’t planned the visit and had neither target dimensions nor a tape measure with me; but I quickly found a bus that suggested a return trip was worthwhile.
This Bluebird appears to have been through a fire and then filled with crap. The amount of random garbage inside reflects the amount of random garbage throughout the junkyard, which is why I call it a junkyard instead of a proper salvage yard.
The door handle says “Bluebird” on it. I’d probably replace the Phillips screws with carriage bolts so it wouldn’t be so easy to dismantle from the outside, and I’d intend to add a lock of some sort.
More garbage, yay!
The deadbolt mechanism has a big red safety handle on it. I expect I could rebuild this with something more, shall we say, subtle, while retaining the ease and obviousness for exit in a real emergency.
Second Junkyard Trip
Saturday morning Jonathan and I headed back to the junkyard to bring home a door. After a quick measurement showed that the door I’d already found would fit my bus, we wandered around for an hour looking at all the wondrous crap and searching for other donor buses.
Here’s a little bit of the flavor of the better-kept parts of the junkyard — an actual path with waist-high weeds, random stuff, and a glorious vintage bus that would regrettably require reconstruction more than mere restoration.
Bowling trophy? Hardly. That’s a 40-gallon steam-jacketed tilting kettle. By way of perspective for the size of this thing, that’s a wringer washing machine to the left and a lawnmower-size engine to the right.
This particular kettle is missing the rolling stand and the gauges and hoses are corroded and weathered, but the stainless kettle itself is immaculate. It might be hard to press back into service in a commercial kitchen, but Lawrence’s wife is interested in it for a dye vat for her fiber arts. I’m guessing when I go back, Lawrence will come along to negotiate.
Here’s the junk barn in the junkyard. Anything here look familiar?
We weren’t able to find any more Bluebird buses, so we returned to the yellow, purple, and soot-colored one I’d already found and removed the door. It was so warm out that our hands were too sweaty to get a good grip on our (good) screwdrivers, so we had to use the cordless drill to take out all the Phillips screws holding the hinge. I expect I’ll replace them with (real) rivets or carriage bolts as well.
I paid $100 for the door.
Test-Fitting the Door to the Bus
Whoever reworked the door took the chrome handle that I think one uses while climbing in the emergency exit and welded it above the new doorrampstairs — I’m not quite sure why. At any rate, it interferes with the placement of a proper door, so Jonathan and I took turns cutting it off and grinding down the welds.
Here’s the new door set in place. It’s a good fit!
It sat a little cockeyed because the hinge hangs below the bottom of the door, but it’ll mount straight.
From the inside, it already looks so much nicer than the wooden steps mounted to the current door. I hadn’t thought I cared about having windows out the back and I had planned to leave the (future) bathroom door(s) closed most of the time; but this view makes me think I should plan things so the bathroom door(s) can stand open while not in use. I love this!
That Big Hole
My brother and I looked over the remaining framework and the welding that was done to convert the door. I need to do some further examination, but our direction is that it may be easier and give a better result to go back to the junkyard and remove the entire rear corner from the salvage bus, cutting ribs to replace what was removed from mine and leaving factory-formed sheet metal still riveted to the ribs wherever possible. That’s going to be a chore.
Should have bought a bus that didn’t come pre-stupided.
|~$20||McBreakfast and ArbyLunch for Jonathan and self|
|$120||total for acquiring new rear door|