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Month In Review | Skoolie Update November 2020

To no one's surprise, this was another busy month. And another rainy one.

Also, happy late Thanksgiving! We had a wonderful time over the holiday weekend and hope you did too! It was nice to get a break from the chaos of working for awhile and enjoy time with family, friends, and good food. Matthew made the turkey this year on our Treager Ranger and it turned out amazing! We are looking forward to bringing this with us on our travels.

We're not sure where we will be this time next year, so we're making the most of this year.

On another note, we tackled a lot of big projects this month! A lot of them don't necessarily make the bus look closer to finished, but they are still major accomplishments.


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Installed Supports For Water Tanks

This was one of those jobs that required us crawling under the bus and getting filthy.

Kaitlynn in the underbody storage of the school bus to add weight supports for water tanks.
That's me!

We have two tanks that add up to 200 gallons of fresh water which weighs over 1,600 pounds. This is a lot of weight to put in our underbody storage, so we needed to add supports to keep the floor from giving out.

We always joke that this bus was built too well. Matthew had to drill through 1/2" of steel which was quite the chore. When the drill method proved too difficult, we turned to a plasma cutter.

Eventually all the holes were made and we could add some 1/2" all thread rods to help support the weight. The all thread attaches to the floor and the large c-channel frame rails that run lengthwise through the bus. This will make sure the frame rails are carrying a good amount of the weight.

Crawling around in the mud and underbody storage to get this job done made my clothes probably the grossest they have every been!

Installed Most of the Kitchen Cabinet Doors

With the front room all painted, we were able to put in the kitchen cabinet doors! These had been painted awhile ago, so we were able to just get right to installing them.

Kitchen cabinets with doors installed for skoolie build
Ta-da! Here is a picture of our upper kitchen cabinets with the doors on.

I will need to do some paint touch-ups on the doors though. We stacked the doors with cardboard to keep them from denting each other up which seemed like a good idea. Unfortunately, some of the colored lettering on the cardboard stuck to the doors.

Having these doors go in really made the room look finished. We ended up finding some cool oil rubbed bronze hinges that look great on our doors, but we have yet to attach the handles.

We did have some other complications with a few of the doors... I accidentally painted the upper cabinet doors green instead of white, which means I added probably three extra coats of paint to the doors to make them white again. This made them much thicker than they should have been. Because of this, they didn't fit in the cabinet frames right.

Wood shavings from kitchen cabinet doors that were too big
I can never seem to keep the floor clean in here!

This is where our hand planer came in handy (no pun intended). We shaved down one side of the door just enough to make it fit without getting stuck. It was a simple enough of a solution, but now I'll have to go back and repaint everywhere that got shaved down.

Added A Vent For Our AC

We are using a window AC unit for our skoolie. However, we're retrofitting it to work without a window so we can keep it concealed inside nicely. One of the things we needed to do to make this system work was adding a vent for the hot air to escape through.

It was simple enough to add the vent. We cut a hole in the sheet metal on the back of the bus, loaded up the vent edge with lots of construction adhesive, and sealed it with caulk from the outside.

Lots of construction adhesive on an air vent for an AC unit in a school bus skoolie conversion
Things got messy real quick!

Added An Outdoor Shower

We know that with our life in the outdoors, we're going to be getting dirty ALL THE TIME. Whether it's sandy feet, a salty wetsuit, or muddy legs, there will be no shortage of things to clean. That's why we definitely need an outdoor shower.

Exterior camper trailer boat shower with metal retractable hose
It comes with a suction cup hook to hold the nozzle, but we opted not to use it.

We found this one on Amazon and are so far really happy with it. It was easy to install and seems easy to use. Of course, we haven't used it yet so we'll do a full review on it later.

We knew we had to install this before we built our shower so that we could connect to the plumbing while the walls were still open. By having the outdoor shower right where our indoor shower is, we save a lot of plumbing work.

Fixed An Air Line

Remember how I said we used a plasma cutter to make the holes under the bus for our water tank supports? Well, in the process of making those holes, we also accidentally melted a couple of our air lines which created a leak.

Melted air line hoses from school bus
We just cut out the melted sections.

We were able to fix the problem thankfully! There is a really cool shop in Tacoma where we were able to find some handy fasteners and new hose to replace the melted section.

Hose fastener to splice melted air hose
Good as new!

We'll make sure to keep an eye on our air pressure and make sure no problems arise in the future. Until then, the problem has been solved and we can move on our merry way.

Built and Tiled Our Shower

Yes, we finally did it! And it came out great! It was definitely a long process since we didn't make our shower a standard size, but it works and that's what matters.

We started by making our own shower pan. To do this, we needed to layer a foam slope insert, a waterproof liner, and lots of mortar at a slope. We also had to drill a hole through the floor for the drain, which was much harder than it should have been.

We also covered the walls and ceiling of the shower with cement board then a waterproof sealer called AquaDefense.

aqua defense water proof sealer on shower walls in Skokie conversion
We just rolled this on with a paint roller.

After getting the shower pan and walls ready, we were able to start tiling. We began with the floor, which is all flat river rock. It took a couple days to dry fully, and we didn't want to stand on it while it was still wet, so we postponed tiling the walls.

Once the floor was dry, we were able to continue and got the walls done in one day. It did take a whole day though! We stayed up until 2 in the morning to get it done. We wanted to include the rocks more so we added a horizontal strip across the shower walls.

The walls aren't perfectly straight, which meant cutting each tile a little differently to fit in the spots just right. Thankfully, we had a nice tile saw and while Matthew cut the tiles, I put them on the wall.

We haven't yet done the grout for the shower (or the fireplace). We were waiting for the shower to be ready so we can get all the grout work done at the same time. Another next month project.

Got Our Outdoor Flood Lights Working

We put some outdoor lighting on our bus quite a while ago, but just got them working this month. It took some finagling with the wires and replacing an LED light chip, but we got them to turn on.

This was not at all the fault of the lights. When we installed them, we made a few wiring mistakes that we're discovering now.

exterior flood lights on skoolie conversion
Let there be light!

It's so nice to have these lights shining on our workspace instead of needing flashlights all the time. Especially with it getting dark before 5 o'clock!

Got Another Pocket Door

We got super lucky with the first pocket door we bought from Habitat For Humanity. The stain was even the perfect color and matched everything wonderfully. We accepted the fact that we would never find a matching door. Apparently it wasn't a fact though because we found one! We found the exact same style door! It was only $30 when it would have been $450 brand new. This time it didn't come stained, but that isn't too hard to do ourselves.

Staining a fir door for a skoolie conversion pocket door
It was difficult trying to get the stain in all the little corners of the design!

We got it trimmed down to the size we need, stained, and ready to be installed. This will probably be in a couple days though to ensure the stain is fully dry before we start finagling with it.

Found A Gorgeous Headboard

We have been keeping our eye out for a mahogany headboard that will go with our bedroom design for quite some time now. We found one that we liked and the man who was selling it gave it to us for free! It was such a blessing to get a beautiful piece like this that is well over 100 years old and not have to pay a cent. He even threw in a matching mirror for us.

Old mahogany headboard with pillars
We will remove the pillars so that the headboard fits, but will reuse them elsewhere in the room.

It was great getting to meet him and has made us excited for all the people we will get to meet in the future.

Looking Forward

Heading into December, we have some high hopes. We would love to get this all wrapped up sooner than later, so we'll be working extra hard to make that happen.

The bathroom has a few finishing touches left before we can paint and fully move onto the bedroom. We will be able to install our medicin cabinet soon which is exciting! As odd of a request as it was, we got this as a wedding gift! It is perfect size to fit in our shallow walls and has a mirror which will brighten up the bathroom space even more.

Matthew is definitely looking forward to the mahogany bedroom cabinetry. It is going to take a lot of craftsmanship and careful design to get it just right. I certainly can't wait to see how it works out!

How could I not mention the obvious source of excitement this month? Christmas! Again, Matthew and I are truly soaking in time with friends and family this holiday season because of the uncertainty of next year. Even though we aren't living in the bus yet, we're definitely going to throw up some Christmas lights and get a small tree to decorate.

Living large in a tiny space!
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Meet the Author


Hey! I'm Kaitlynn, a lover of the outdoors and all things travel. I quit my job to travel full-time with my husband, Matthew, in our skoolie. 

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Matt & Kate

Project 63 

Bringing you travel information and inspiration as we travel to all 63 National Parks.

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