Updated: Dec 25, 2020
So we got our bus safely back to the workshop (our office) and then it was time to rip out everything. The first task on the long list to quaint tiny school bus home was to take out all of the seats. At this point the bus was still somewhat of a stranger, we hadn't seen her completely stripped out. We knew close to nothing about renovating a bus (still working on that) so it took some investigation to even figure out how to remove the seats. The seats were bolted straight through the floor with the nut on the bottom of the bus. We got under the bus, which isn't so bad because the bus is so high you can sit up under there and we clamped the nut with some vise grips. Then we went into the bus and whaled on the bolt. Everything was thoroughly rusted together and it took about 30 minutes to get one bolt free. It’s a 48 passenger bus with 3 seats per bench so that makes 16 benches x 8 bolts per bench makes 128 bolts- we needed to find a better way. We splurged a little bit and got a brand new angle grinder with a value pack of cut-off wheels. We also got a big container of ear plugs and for anyone else doing something like this- GET THE EAR PLUGS. We already had a few pairs of safety glasses and gloves and we got to work cutting the heads off the bolts and ripping the seats out. After cutting the bolts off, the seats came out easily and we took them to the scrap yard. A few bits and pieces needed a bit more persuasion to come out but overall it wasn’t too bad.
Next, came the floors. For the uninitiated, school bus floors are made with marine plywood bolted to the body with thick rubber glued on top- altogether a rather nasty sandwich. We started by trying to pull up the rubber to get access to the screw heads but again it was awful and slow and we needed to find a better way. And again brute force was the answer.
A crowbar and hammer and a few scrap pieces of metal were enough to pop the screw heads right through the plywood. Much of the plywood was rotted out from water and the metal floor was rusty as all hell. We absolutely love rust but not so much when it's in our school bus. More on this later.
Lastly was the ceiling panels. After some debate we decided to take out the ceiling panels of our bus so we could add insulation. This was an especially hard decision because on our International bus body, the ceiling panels are riveted to the ribs- and not like a few rivets, hundreds of rivets. But ever tenacious we began breaking the rivets. First, we tried cutting them with a chisel but the crappy home depot chisel broke immediately. Next we tried cutting the heads off with the grinder. This worked but was a pain in the butt because it's difficult to cut the head without wasting time grinding everything around it. Finally, we used a drill to drill out the center then grind a slot across the head. We did that about a thousand times (literally) then used a flat bar and hammer to pop the panels off the rest of the way. After we scrapped all the metal and disposed of the plywood the bus was just about empty aside from the driver's seat and dashboard- a blank canvas...