Working on Edna – Healdburg, CA

Pulling out old insulation

Throughout the Spring and Summer, I have been taking time amongst all the travel and tea serving to make some major improvements to Edna. One of the major things was taking out all of the interior sheet metal panels, tearing out the old insulation and replacing it with recycled cotton insulation from Organic Grace. Part of the reason I did this is because I had noticed when I took off some interior panels that there were huge gaps in the old insulation, especially below and above the windows. I also really liked the idea of getting that nasty old fiberglass insulation replaced with non-irritating recycled cotton. It pleases me to make a warm, cozy, and non-toxic atmosphere on the tea bus! Thanks to Seve for help with this process…

Old insulation

The plan was to replace the sheet metal on the ceiling with plywood reclaimed from my brother’s house that he is remodeling. On one side the plywood is faux wood paneling, but the other side is great plain and beautiful plywood. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to put the wood up (although I did build a steam bender for it using a teapot to produce the steam – *UPDATE: steam-bending plywood doesn’t work. I ended up scoring the back every 1/2 inch). The next time I had the time to do the wood ceiling I decided to focus on installing the skylight, which took more time than I thought to install. This means that I didn’t have time to put the wood ceiling up again! Ahhh. So frustrating that everything takes so long, especially since it is mostly just me working on it. The skylight, however, ended up great. I cut the hole in the ceiling smaller than needed and bent up the edges and had them welded together to literally make the roof the flashing. It is awesome, and lets in so much more light!

New recycled cotton insulation

In the past months other things that have been accomplished are: clear biodiesel compatible fuel lines were installed in order to figure out air leaks in the fuel system, leading to the discovery of a leaky fuel pump and replacing it; Edna got a name tag inside made of carved wood; a propane heater is being installed right now; rewired new lights for the ceiling made from brass and glass with LEDs.

I just spent over a week prepping the bus for being painted. Washing, sanding, welding, bondo-ing, grinding, scraping, resealing, scrubbing, screwing, unscrewing, etc. I even picked out colors, bought paint, took off trim… Unfortunately it ended up not working out with the help that was offered to me to paint the bus, so I am going to have to wait to do it.

This is one thing that frustrates me. There are a lot of people who offer to help, but don’t follow through. It seems to be a growing trend. It always seems to be the same kind of people. They are excited about the bus and FTP. They have something they’d like to offer in terms of helping with the bus. But they wont commit to accepting anything I offer (money, work-trade, etc). It seems like some of the creative and skilled people who want to help either tell me that we can accomplish a lot more than we can (which leaves me with less-than-complete projects), or flake out completely leaving my hopes and dreams in shambles. Ahh, frustrating. Please, I will help you if I say so, if you only do the same.

Skylight frame that I had the corners welded on

My dad always taught me that the only person you can rely upon is yourself. However much I don’t want to believe that, I think it is very true in many circumstances. I mean, I like that saying as it emphasizes self-reliance, but I also like to believe that communities can come together to make things happen. That’s why I like to do projects and help people in every community that I visit.

This frustration has led me to tentative plans to get a shop for this winter where I can focus energy on bus building without worrying about relying on other people to help (but obviously not closed to it either).

New skylight and insulation


2 responses to “Working on Edna – Healdburg, CA”

  1. Beth Wallace Avatar
    Beth Wallace

    Hello Guisepi,
    I just came upon your blog as I was searching for short bus conversion information. We just bought a 4 window shortbus, ’96 Chevy van with a Bluebird body, naming it Birdie (as we’re still feelin’ the Bern). I was wondering if you have written about your roof rack with shade structure. I saw it listed under your upgrades. I am very interested in how you did this.
    Blessings to your peaceful journey.


    1. Hello Beth,

      I have not written much up about the roof rack. I am in the process of writing the Tea Bus Factory Service Manual right now, which will cover pretty much all the bus building things for people like you (interested in small-scale, of-grid, DIY, sustainable and/or nomadic living systems).

      For you now: The roof rack was my learning-to-weld project. It is made from 2″ steel square tubing. The feet are secured with bolts through the roof. There are end caps that come of from the side and you can slide out 1-3/4″ aluminum square tubing about 6 feet, then from there two different pieces of PVC pipe telescope out and are secured to the ground with rebar. Check out the photo here for a good view of it:

      Best of luck! Guisepi

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