Serenity is still a work in progress; we are far from being done...I'd guess we are at about 60% completion, because while we can definitely travel and comfortably sleep in it, we still need to get quite a bit done before we can say we are finished remodeling it. Here is a little back story and info on the conversion process...
When we bought the bus from a friend, the seats were already removed by him. He had intended to convert it himself but fell ill and was unable to complete it. We drove it off his property with only 2 benches that we kept to use. Nate got straight to work removing the flooring and the wall and ceiling panels, which took a very long time because they were riveted. He and Zhane (our oldest son) then removed all of the old insulation. From there, the girls and I got to work scrubbing as much of the rust we could remove from the floor, using vinegar and metal scrubbers. After we prepped the floor, we installed laminate flooring. We wanted wall-to-wall floors that covered the entire bus in case we decided to move furniture and plumbing, so the entire floor is covered up to the driver's seat. After that, we installed the walls and insulated the ceiling, put in the benches and installed seat belts (see below for details)*.
We were getting close to our set departure date. Although our schedule is usually pretty flexible, this time we actually had a plan to be in CA to meet up with family, so we tried to hustle as fast as we could to have the bus ready in time. This meant more than a few nights of working at 1am, finishing the ceiling and attaching the small trailer that we meant to carry the generator on.
When we finally left Arkansas, Serenity was in good shape for a road trip, freshly painted and prepared with beds and a hammock, a counter top and sink with food pantry, benches and a table, and our generator. We also brought along our work tools, paint and materials, thinking that we might have time to work on the bus while we were in CA. As it turned out, we did not have much room or time for any remodeling, other than a simple bed frame for the queen-sized RV mattress, and some minor repairs to the back trailer that held the generator (we had some bolts come loose on the road, resulting in having to carry the generator indoors for half of the trip. Thankfully we still had plenty of room for it!).
For this next trip, Nate and I are working on staining the ceiling and finishing up the plumbing. The lack of toilet on last year's trip made traveling a little more challenging, especially with 3 kids with small bladders! There were a lot of truck stops made, but often the kids had to "rough it" in the woods. Thankfully, they are familiar with that, as we go camping often, and know what to do. Still, our 3 year-old needed a lot more assistance, which was often inconvenient. This time we will have an RV toilet installed, with tanks. (We considered a composting toilet but this one was free and those are $1k!)
I will be recording some videos of the process and uploading them to our new YouTube channel, The Turner Traveler. Be patient with me, I haven't uploaded any videos other than a "test" upload, but there will be many more to come as we continue to work on Serenity within the next few weeks before we head out back to California!
Thanks for following and subscribing!
*A note on the benches and seats: We did install our own seat belts. They are bolted to the frame. We read that some states do require passengers to be seated and restrained in RVs and motorhomes, but were unable to confirm that this is a requirement on school buses, since they don't come with seat belts anyway. However, since one of our kids is still in a harnessed car seat, we decided to go ahead just in case. We bought the seat belts online here, and then bolted them into the frame, using the original bench seats that come with the bus. I made custom covers out of a sturdy canvas fabric to make them more comfortable and match our decor. We could find no instructions or guidance on how to safely install seat belts, other than various Facebook groups with skoolie owners who mentioned installing it themselves, so we did the same. We have not had any issues with them coming loose or fraying, etc., and they work great to keep us all in our seats on the bumpy road (the bus has no suspension, so it is always a crazy ride!).