Updated: Dec 25, 2020
Our sweet baby school bus came to us covered in yellow paint (and rust). After taking out all the insides we were left with a rusty shell (behold, a naked bus). Much of the floor had significant rust and a few spots around the wheel wells had rusted right through the floor. We thought about trying to position the shower or sink above the hole to make use of it, but it just didn’t work out. So we once again got our trusty grinder out and went to work. And once again good earplugs and a respirator were essential. It was dirty business and absolutely everything was covered in rust dust- (dusty the rusty bus is a current front runner for bus names). After we had ground as much rust off as we could stand, we sprayed it with a rust converter and patched the holes with pieces of sheet metal we found kicking around. Next we painted the floor with a rusty metal primer.
Now onto the exterior. We started by taking off the two stop signs which are electric (for the lights) and pneumatic for the sick swing out action. We really wanted to figure out something else to do with them but in the interest of time, we stowed them away in the shop’s loft. Then we began peeling off the reflective strips and decals. This proved to be a very long and arduous task. We had to scrape/pry the reflective part off with a putty knife then spray the thick strip of remaining adhesive with goo gone and go back and scrape that off then one more pass with a razor blade to get any last residue off- there is a lot more reflective pieces on a bus than you realize.
Next we got some 220 grit sandpaper and the hose and sanded THE ENTIRE BUS. We started with the roof and worked our way down and around ooohhh yeaaaahhhh. Pepper and Violet were troopers and helped for almost an hour but eventually got bored and went to hang out with their grandma (thanks, mom!) It’s always surprising how much dirt there is and how much better it looked just from a thorough cleaning. After we sanded everything we washed it with a stiff bucket of simple green to get any remaining dirt and oil off. (Pro Tip: simple green and vodka gives you diarrhea).
It was about 90 degrees out that day so we had to wait a little while for the bus roof to cool down before we painted it. When I had lost patience we got the rollers out and painted the roof white. Like all painting jobs, the painting only took about 2 hours and the prep work took 12. The next day we got to work early taping the sides of the bus. We went around the bus and hit any rusty spots with a rust converter, bare metal with primer, and patched holes with sheet metal. We painted the bus hunter green because that's what color rustoleum we could find in both gallons and spray cans. We just rolled it right on and went back around with a spray can for touch ups. So far that's the extent of our painting adventure. We are planning to get some vinyl decals- maybe even sell some sponsorship space...any takers?