I had originally hoped to build my heating system in the bus during the fall of 2004. However, I ended up changing jobs and moving. I changed my job in November to reduce my stress level and number of working hours per week. We also moved from Isanti down to Maple Grove so I didn’t have to drive over 2 hours per day.
So after moving and changing jobs I finally got to get started back on the bus in late February. I insulated the ceiling with one layer of 3/4″ board insulation so I could heat up the interior on the weekends enough to work in the bus. Once the insulation was up I was able to move on to the wiring. In the 2nd row on the right you will be able to see how I built a wiring chase on the sides of the bus. Since I didn’t raise the roof I needed some place to put the wiring. The chase ended up “squaring” off the rounded sides of the roof so that I had some place to run the conduit and the MC A/C cable (12/2). I then ran almost 1 mile worth of electrical wiring to bring power to fans, lights, outlets, entertainment center, bedroom, etc.
I also built some light boxes to hold 18″ fluorescent bulbs. I built 6 boxes even though I only need 5. This way if I messed one up I still had enough. Guess what, I broke the oak frame of one of the lights! I’m glad I created an extra one. These lights will be used to provide electrically “cheaper” lighting when boon-docking. The other lights will be halogen puck lights. I am going to use 12v puck lights wired in series so I can use my 24v electrical system. I’ll have a few halogen lights that I’ll need to buy the more expensive 24v bulbs for due to the fact that I won’t have a second light in the area to wire together to.
Here is my router jig I used to create the oak frames for my light boxes.
The boxes are getting painted white before having their frames glued on.
The finished product! I’m really happy with the way this turned out.
Wires, wires, wires! On the left in the foreground you can see my three runs of 3/4″ conduit coming up from beneath the floor. This conduit comes from the right side of the bus where the electrical distribution center will be in the closet in the bathroom. This allows me to get power from the electrical center to the driver’s side of the bus. When I was done wiring I still had one complete empty conduit run from the left to the right for any future wiring needs I might have.
Driver’s side view of the conduit runs coming out of the floor.
Passenger’s side view of the conduit coming into the electrical distribution center. The kerosene heater on the left is only rated at 9000 BTUs. However, it combined with a 1200w electrical heater could heat the bus up about 30-40 degrees over ambient temperatures. Made for a much more pleasant working environment!
This is the view under the floor on the driver side of the bus in the center bay.
This is the view under the floor on the passenger side of the bus in the rear most baggage bay.
Here you can see my conduit runs in the wiring chases that were run to the back of the bus. I ran one run from the electrical center to the back so I can bring power to the future backup camera and one run from the front of the bus all the way back to back so I could run the signal wires from the front to camera. I also ran a 1/2″ conduit run from the left to the right sides of the bus where the wires come out of the wiring chase for future wiring needs.
Here you can see the rats nest of wiring develop in the electrical center. All circuits are home run to provide the most reliable wiring possible. All wires are identified by a number on the wire that corresponds back to my master wiring schedule. The wiring schedule is maintained in a spread sheet for easy modification and printing. The fan shown above is made by MaxxFan and is located in the bathroom area. I also ran wiring to the old escape hatch locations. When I closed up the escape hatches I welded in extra supports to easily accommodate a future fan in each location.
Ahhhhh, Finally I am finishing in the roof. It looks SO much better in early American plywood style rather than in the raw insulation/framing stage! Starting to look like something now. Also, adding the second layer of 3/4″ insulation and then the plywood REALLY increased the energy efficiency of the bus. It is so much easier to keep warm (or cold) than it was before.
The wires hanging down from the ceiling are for the future halogen puck lights.
The front two light boxes are wired into the same circuit as the two light boxes on the driver side of the bus. These are the “living” room lights. The fluorescent light in the foreground is in the “dining” area and will be on a separate circuit.
In this view you can see the start of the framing for the bathroom partitions. I decided on a pass through design principally because I did not raise the roof. If I had raised the roof I might have chosen a side isle design.
The Wineguard TV antenna is mounted right behind the old escape hatch. This allowed me to run very short runs of cable to the antenna from the front entertainment center.
Here is the duct opening from my basement air that will feed the rear bedroom. I reused the bus return duct system for the return air to the basement air conditioner system and ran a 5″ duct from the front baggage bay back to the rear baggage bay and up through the floor to get it to the bedroom. I know this really is not enough air flow for those 100 degree days. However, living in the north we just don’t have that many really hot days to worry about this problem. We have ended up using the heat pump circuit of the basement unit about 80% of the time we’ve been out and had power. So, air conditioning efficiency is not as important for us.
I’ve started to wire up the 24v and 12v portions of the electrical center. I’ve moved my latching relay circuit board up from the baggage bay into its permanent location. On the other side of the board I mounted the ballasts for the fluorescent lights. On the wall behind the board I will mount my two A/C breaker boxes. It will make for a VERY tight and compact electrical center.
The fuse box on the top is the distribution of the 12v power from my 24v -> 12v power converter mounted in the front baggage bay. The converter can be turned off when not needed to save on power when boon-docking.
Here you can see the back of the sliding board where the ballasts are mounted. These too used to be in the front baggage bay. I moved them up to the electrical center primarily so they will work better in the winter.
This view is taken from in the back bedroom.
Here is the fresh water tank being leak tested in my workshop. This tank is about 105 gallons and fits under the bed. I have a “fill” line at both ends of the tank so no matter what way the bus is leaning we will be able to use most of the water out of the tank. The vent line on top is connected to the outside by 3/4″ PVC. I ended up running the PVC down and out the floor of the rear baggage bay. After our first trip with this configuration I discovered when breaking hard I lost a sizable amount of water out the vent line! So, to solve the problem I put a restriction in the line right by the vent. This way we loose only a small amount of water if I have to slow down quickly. This tank took 3 sheets of plastic to make since the tank is about 5’x4’x9″.
The fresh water manifold still showing full pressure after being connected to my city water supply for leak testing. During our first trip with plumbing out west this summer I developed a small drop by drop leak in one of my joints. By the time I got back home from the trip the leak had stopped. I think it was the altitude that somehow influenced shrinkage in the joint causing it to start to leak. I did re-solder the joint to make sure it would not leak ever again.
This is the hot water manifold. I originally used plumbers Teflon paste to seal the PEX fittings to the copper. Boy was that a BAD idea. I had to undo all the connections and go back to Teflon tape. That stuff works and doesn’t leak once it is in place correctly. Avoid the paste at all costs even though you may hear some people say it works better. It doesn’t!
Here is the waste tank completely full of water for leak testing. I ended up with a small leak on the “lower” top piece at the back corner. The fresh water tank had no leaks in it. After using the tanks during our summer vacation and weekend trips I’ve developed a large degree of confidence in my welding and joints. Nary an additional leak has been found! This tank holds about 115 gallons and was sized to use the baggage bay area as efficiently as possible.
This is the view of the tank in the front left of the rear most baggage bay. You can also see my central air duct and multiple conduit runs. The two white PVC pipes are for the tank vent and the bathroom drain lines. I’m also using the tank vent line through the roof to vent the battery box in the front baggage bay.
I’m using rubber connectors to connect all pipes to the tank. This way the tank can move around a little bit on the floor from bus flexing without causing any damage to the PVC pipes or connections to the tank.
The two holes in the bay wall behind the tank are for the 1 1/2″ PVC lines that will be the drain and vent lines for the kitchen sink. The tank fitting that is not used in the foreground of this picture is for the drain to the shower.
Here I have the tank completely in its place. I insulated it with 1″ of insulation and then covered that with 1/2″ plywood. This way the tank looks professionally finished and is insulated to help prevent freezing during our planned winter outages. I will be heating the bay, but did this just to be doubly safe as the warm shower water will add a lot of energy to the tank when camping in the winter.
Finally got the shower installed! Shower use a prefab 36″x36″ shower stall pan and shower wall board from Home Depot.
Shower track comes from BoatersWorld.com. Excellent product and reasonably priced!
Hot water tank is the green box hung from the ceiling of the baggage bay. Webasto 2010 is mounted on lower right. White box on the left holds the stinky hose with room for gloves.
View of the 100,000 BTU heat exchanger to the back of the diesel furnace. Heat exchanger still needs to be connected into the bus coolant loop.
I’m using a March Magnetic Brass High speed 24v water pump. Nice pump and only draws 0.7 amps.
View of the exhaust pipe for the Webasto.
Heating water supply distribution manifold. Three of the circuits are still capped off waiting for their eventual usage.
Relays on the controller board are triggered by the thermostats to turn on the furnace, water pump and heat register fans.