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Winterizing school bus on a major BUDGET?  RSS feed

 
Yulianna Gardener
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Hi all,

I am somewhat new here. My name is Julianna and I am living in the high desert off grid in an old 40's school bus. For spring and summer I used two by fours and shade cloth on the broken windows of the bus (the bus unfortnately only has 3 intact windows). Last winter I stayed in another bus with windows and it waqs still quite cold with the stove and went through alot of wood.

My question is if anyone has any good ideas for winterizing a bus SUPER cheap or salvage. Where I live alot of people live off grid and do the salvage thing so materials sometimes are scarce.

I have thought about boarding up the broken windows for winter and putting in a wood stove or the possibility of seeing if a rocket mass heater and learning to build one would work in the bus. We can get down to -20 here at the coldest months.

Any creative ideas would be appreciated. Also, need to use natural materials as possible. I am really sensitive to chemicals/unnatural insulation etc.

So, anyhow let me know if anyone has any inspiring or helpful ideas.

Thanks!
 
Yulianna Gardener
Posts: 10
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P.S. Or if anyone is looking for a worktrader for the winter months in the western states keep me in mind. hehe
 
John Elliott
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Does this bus move, or is it semi-permanently parked?

In the case of the latter, I can think of lots more options.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3358
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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The big metal shell is a giant heat sink/radiator, so it is a losing battle to start. It may be better to use it as a windblock and build a separate debris hut instead.

Cardboard is remarkably good insulation if you also include a second airspace. Use an outer layer of plastic if you need waterproofness. right over your existing 2x4 frames.

Put a good skirt around to make sure the wind can't blow under it. Pile dirt if nothing else.

You can build strawbale around it.

You can use shredded paper as insulation. It will become a rodent nest without special care, though.

Line the walls with old comforters as insulated curtains.

Foamboard really is good insulation, especially if you eliminate any "thermal bridges" I know it is not the most friendly material, but if you use it wisely and don't waste it I think it is acceptable. Google hexayurt for a hardside tent plan or just build a sleeping cube to stay warm at night--make sure you have enough ventilation as you can burn all the oxygen because of how airtight you can make it. Size it right and your own body temp will keep it comfortably warm.

Insulated flooring will make a huge difference to daytime comfort.

Spend money on warm blankets/sleeping bags. Being able to sleep comfortable longer at night instead of feeding the fire every all the time does a lot for your overall attitude.

ETA: What do you have to work with?
 
Dale Hodgins
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Is the bus basically scrap metal at this point? If so, I'd attach foam to 3 sides and berm soil against it. This would prevent most wind problems and then it could be insulated. If it's stationary but will eventually need to move, straw bales could work.
 
Yulianna Gardener
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In response to a couple of questions. The bus has been partially converted inside to RV living.. It does have storage and a sink that drains outside for water catchment. Also has bedpace etc.
The bus does not run and I bought it for a living dwelling.
I was curious if I could adobe over the boards if I were to board up the space where there is missing windows? Is boarding up the space where there is missing windows completely insane though considering lack of light? (3 will remain)

Would a rocket mass heater be better than a woodstove in a bus? I am new to the rocket mass heater yet find it incredibly facinating. Just was not sure for a bus.

Also thought about wrapping or stapling wool blankets over the inside of the 2 by 4's inside for natural insulation. Anyone's opinion on this?

Also thank all of you for the advice. Im using a computer with a time limit so will have to go over again when I can truly absorb everyones suggestions.

Any warm spots in new mexico one can think of for winter work trades or off grid living? (just in case this bus decides to boot me )
 
John Elliott
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Yulianna Gardener wrote:
The bus does not run and


Well, there's your answer. It's no longer a bus, but a poorly insulated shed. Start packing on the insulation: adobe, cob, papercrete, straw bales, earth berms, tires filled with dirt, plastic bottles filled with water, building materials you can salvage from a dumpster, etc.

Go ahead and close up the windows, and what you might want to think about is cutting openings in the roof and installing skylights. If you are handy with tin snips and epoxy, you can even make one out of a food service size vegetable can and a piece of plexiglass.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3358
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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For the windows you want light, use multiple layers of plastic dropcloth or window film with an airspace in-between. Use a heavy layer on the outside if you are worried about damage, but the thinnest clearest layers you can find for the middle (saran wrap will work).

Another good thread for keeping warm in a tin shack: http://www.permies.com/t/27955/frugality/Fall-Frugality-soups-sweaters
 
Zachary Morris
Posts: 28
Location: Southern Oregon, 6a/6b
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I would consider myself to be in a similar budget situation most of the time, for my trailer with some busted windows we boarded the windows, then once it was water tight I partitioned the trailer with cardboard wrapped in blankets, and did the same thing over the windows. If light is an issue consider using sheets and plexiglass in some areas as the light shines through plenty. Once partitioned into 3 sections I found it much more reasonable to heat, my heat source in the bedroom, then the kitchen/dining/living area/ then the mudroom/exit area, each area a little colder. In addition I would use any sort of debris you have to put around the bus, the metal shell is difficult to work with.

Yulianna Gardener wrote:Hi all,

I am somewhat new here. My name is Julianna and I am living in the high desert off grid in an old 40's school bus. For spring and summer I used two by fours and shade cloth on the broken windows of the bus (the bus unfortnately only has 3 intact windows). Last winter I stayed in another bus with windows and it waqs still quite cold with the stove and went through alot of wood.

My question is if anyone has any good ideas for winterizing a bus SUPER cheap or salvage. Where I live alot of people live off grid and do the salvage thing so materials sometimes are scarce.

I have thought about boarding up the broken windows for winter and putting in a wood stove or the possibility of seeing if a rocket mass heater and learning to build one would work in the bus. We can get down to -20 here at the coldest months.

Any creative ideas would be appreciated. Also, need to use natural materials as possible. I am really sensitive to chemicals/unnatural insulation etc.

So, anyhow let me know if anyone has any inspiring or helpful ideas.

Thanks!
 
steven jentsch
Posts: 6
Location: florida
food preservation forest garden woodworking
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i had a similar situation with a cargo container in the mountains in Tenn. I used straw bales and plastic bags to keep them dry, but where you are moisture may not be a problem if you need more detailed info on how to do it let me know. It worked very well for me
 
Daryl Stewart
Posts: 3
Location: Austin,TX
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Yulianna Gardener wrote:In response to a couple of questions. The bus has been partially converted inside to RV living.. It does have storage and a sink that drains outside for water catchment. Also has bedpace etc.
The bus does not run and I bought it for a living dwelling.
I was curious if I could adobe over the boards if I were to board up the space where there is missing windows? Is boarding up the space where there is missing windows completely insane though considering lack of light? (3 will remain)

Would a rocket mass heater be better than a woodstove in a bus? I am new to the rocket mass heater yet find it incredibly facinating. Just was not sure for a bus.

Also thought about wrapping or stapling wool blankets over the inside of the 2 by 4's inside for natural insulation. Anyone's opinion on this?

Also thank all of you for the advice. Im using a computer with a time limit so will have to go over again when I can truly absorb everyones suggestions.

Any warm spots in new mexico one can think of for winter work trades or off grid living? (just in case this bus decides to boot me )


Wow, having lived in a converted school bus here in Austin,TX I can only imagine what you're facing.
They are just an uninsulated metal box. Hot in the summer and cold in the (our mild) winter.

Could do bale of straw around the bottom then do light clay straw on the sides (somehow) and you'll have to plaster too.
Not sure whats around you free resource wise but you could also do bales of cardboard for the lower skirting instead of straw.
Just be careful your not building a funeral pile.

If your looking to bug out during winter feel free to head down to Austin if your up for some work trade.

Best of luck with the bus.
 
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