Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Weekend Report! Floor Part 1

So, the plywood was exposed and all the interior stuff we wanted gone was gone. Next step was to cut out the warped spot of plywood and patch it with new plywood. Little did we know what was to come and how DIRTY we would get...
Warped plywood
We used the sawzall to cut out the warped area, since the circular saw wouldn't have been able to make such a shallow cut without hitting the sheet metal underneath. The sawzall worked surprisingly well! We marked the cuts out straight, though cutting it straight was another story. We did our best!

We pried up the warped plywood, and found rust. Nothing unexpected, and we swept and cleaned up the exposed metal. It was pretty gross under there....were we ok with that being under our floor and under our housebus, walking on it all the time and knowing it was there? Hmm....maybe not. Well, looks like we're pulling out all the plywood so we can clean the metal! Plus, we'd save almost an inch of headroom!
Prying up the warped area, about to unleash the rust dust!

Rusty floor. Ick. We don't want that under our nice housebus interior
Side story: we worked on cutting out the plywood early in the morning, and it was chilly. Lucky for us we have a propane heater in the bus. Yay! It was blasting away and warming us up nicely.....until a horrible smell reached us. What was that?! Heater off, vents disassembled, and what did Erik find? Oh, just a mouse in two parts, cooked medium rare. Very, very gross!! It made me even more glad we were going to rip out all the plywood just so we could be sure everything got cleaned!

Two hammers and some extra 1x1s will go far in a quest to pry up 26 year old plywood that is copiously screwed and nailed down and all that hardware is rusted to the floor. This day made me very sore afterwards!
Plywood coming up and exposing the sheet metal underneath

Just a small portion of the sea of rusted hardware holding the plywood down!
More sawzalling (I'm just going to assume that is a word) the plywood around the built-ins we left in place, and around the driver's area edges. Then the hammer, to yank out all the nail heads and screws, or hammer them until they broke off. Oh my, sooooo many nails!! That floor was quite the danger zone as it was a swath of rusty, sharp hardware. The angle grinder took care of any big remaining hazards.
We are so glad we got rid of plywood so we could clean!
We decided a course of action to tackle the rust: we would use a wire brush type attachment for the angle grinder to grind off as much of the flaky rust as possible. This endeavor took 3 days and two HEPA dust masks each! And EVRYTHING was covered in a fine red rust dust. This was such a dirty job, we needed Mike Rowe. Mike, come work on the bus with us!
Flaky rust before grinding
 Alright, well all of THAT took a while. We then purchased an air hose since the dust was so fine there was no way we could get rid of it with sweeping. And really, how do you sweep all the window frames and in all the little nooks and crannies? The bus engine has an air compressor, so woohoo! After 3 bus blowouts over 48 hours, we finally had a clean floor and the dust under control!
First set of dust masks. We upgraded to heavier-duty ones.
Except, that floor was full of HOLES. Remember all those nails?! Unless we wanted a sieve for a floor and the lovely draft that would come with it, we had to fill 'em. A combination of Bondo and construction adhesive worked pretty well. I would estimate there were over 200 holes, and that was just the open ones! There were way more nails that we had cut off with the angle grinder and left stuck in place.

Bondo to the rescue!
FINALLY, we could start with some actual construction! Almost a month after buying the bus! And quick tangent: what is with lumber measurements and standards? I know the industry has probably been standardized for a long time, but what is up with calling something a 2x4 that is actually 1.5x3.5"? Or a 1x3 that is 0.75x2.5"? Why do they do that?! Yes, I brought a ruler to the lumberyard....
We debated coating the floor in anti-rust coating or paint or something, but after reading some labels and reviews, realized just how toxic and scary some of that stuff is. It was concerning for such a small space, so we decided to leave the metal as-is, rust spots and all. The metal will continue to rust, but for now it is primarily on the surface and the metal is solid and sturdy, so it could be 15 years or 40 years before the rusting is actually a problem.

Framing the floor! We are using a combination of "furring strips" (what kind of name is that??) that are 0.75x1.5" and ones that are 0.75x2.5". We put the skinny ones all along the perimeter, around the wheel wells, and around the built-ins. The fatter ones are placed across the width of the bus where our subfloor panels will meet, so we have enough space to screw everything down. Then the skinny ones will go in between the fat ones, to make each widthwise board 24" apart. I sure hope that makes sense to someone besides me! Maybe I will draw a diagram for the next post. We use Teks self-tapping screws for attaching the lumber to the metal, and those things are awesome! Also, we only had to unscrew and reposition two boards for the whole floor, and I thought that was pretty great.
Floor, framed!
Everything takes a long time, since we are learning as we go. Framing a subfloor isn't too intimidating to learn how to do, and neither is learning to use the Miter saw or impact driver. Neither is learning to use the angle grinder and which attachments to use. But once I start thinking about all the things that are left for us to tackle without any prior knowledge I get intimidated. I have to calm myself down a bit by looking an everything I have already learned! I just have to take each task one step and a time, and it is totally doable.
Miter sawing
Floor part 2 will be insulation and subfloor. We found really cool stuff for the subfloor that is not just your run of the mill plywood, I am excited about it! But, next time :)


  1. Wow, you look pretty darn handy in that last shot, Cammy! Way to go, framing that floor!

  2. Why thank you, haha! Darn right I framed that floor!