Monday, May 18, 2015

bump bump bump

Today is about getting the bumpers and some the lights working. Not terribly exciting stuff, but important.

Blinkers
With everything else going on, when I pulled off the old front blinkers, they were in dire shape. The lenses were filthy and the housings were really worn looking. I tossed the lenses into a "clean me" pile and looked closer at the housings. There was some rust, but behind the bulbs, the shiny stuff had fallen to bits. There wasn't really any "shiny" anymore. I figured I'd just get some new ones, and they were drop-shipped by BusDepot from somewhere in SoCal. The new housings look really nice.
cleaned up blinker

After about an hour with soapy water and a scrubby sponge, I had the orange and clear lenses almost as clean and clear as new ones. With new housing-to-body seals, they fit into place pretty well. The hardest part was getting the old bulbs into the new housing (it was a little tight).

Cabin Lights
As seems true with any re-install, things tend to go slower than during removal. With the interior lighting and secondary battery, this was just as true. Some of the fuses in the fusebox had shaken free. Two of the wires had come undone. One had a splicing completely separate. All easy to fix. Once the fusebox was ready, the grounding cable and red B+ were simple.

Rear Bumper
splash-guard
The rear bumper on the early bay window bus is held to the frame with 2 frame mounts which are held on with 2 15mm bolts each (at the frame:mount end) and 13mm 2 square-head bolts (at the bumper:mount end). These take the bulk of the weight. These mounts also tie into the engine support bar Hal fabricated for me. So, in order to put on / take off the bumper, I need to support the engine with a floor jack. Once supported, I pull the bolts, support one end of the bumper with my plastic (steel scratches) tool box, and thread in the bolts on the other end. Then, switch to the tool box -supported end, and hand thread those bolts in. This is all well and good... until you remember that the early bay rear bumper has splash-guards on the corners. These are lightweight steel panels that rest between the bus body and the bumper to keep tire-splashes from kicking up into the bumper. Or, at least that's the only purpose I can see other than helping to hold the ends of the bumpers up.

The splash-guards need to be installed before you put the bumper on the body, but after the bumper-mounts have been attached to the bumper. There's a small (less than 10mm) bolt that passes through the top of the splash guard into the top of the bumper mount. On the other end, another 13mm square-head bolt passes through the bumper into the splash-guard. There is also one last bolt that passes from under the battery tray into the splash-guard. This holds the ends of the bumper firm.

Last, though I haven't put mine on yet, these early bay buses have an additional strip of steel along the bottom of the bumper called a modesty skirt. It only hangs down about another inch, but it obstructs from view most of the muffler. It's real purpose is probably to reduce the amount of crap kicked up off the roadway by the bus, but it looks pretty silly. With all the weight of the bumper on the skirt, it will bend, so it is best to put this on last.

Front Bumper

still no window, mirror...
Like the rear bumper, the front bumper has 4 main bolts and some smaller bolts near the ends. While there is slightly less weight to manage if you install the bumper mounts to the body first, the whole unit fits better if you install the mounts to the bumper first. Then, as a unit, the bumper goes into place. Hold one end up with the old plastic tool box while you finger-in the other side. Switch. If you can wiggle the bumper, but it is held in the air by the bolts, they're the right tightness. Now, wiggle the bumper until the space between the bumper and the body is uniform at either end. Set the bolts so it can't wiggle as much and switch focus to the foot-step bolts.
These bolts are smaller (13mm. noting a pattern?), and one of mine broke off inside the frame when I removed the bumper before. This leaves 3 bolts to install. Like before, finger them in one at a time. Then tighten by hand. Verify the bumper-to-body spacing and then torque all of the bolts down.

That's it for today. Lots still in-flight, and Memorial Day is almost here! As always, thanks for following along,

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Calling "glass"

It has been a very busy week or so. I have lots to cover, but today is just about getting the glass back in. My VW camperbus (like many) has 4 solid-pane windows: the windshield, the rear hatch and the 2 rear-most side windows. Some buses have a flip-out window on one side or the other in their rear-most side window spot. I used to too, on the left side, but found that it was the cause of a pretty bad leak. In fact, that leak caused some of the rust-through I was solving earlier. Anyway, on to the installs.

Seal to Glass
it's actually better if you put
pressure where the blade and
handle meet
If you troll around the internet, there are many articles explaining how to install a solid-pane window, but they usually miss something. The first thing you need to do is get the seal onto the glass. While this sounds obvious, it's not easy. You will be tempted to try water or glass cleaner to lubricate the edge. Don't do it. Use the glass cleaner to get the glass clean, especially along the edge, but both the seal and the glass should be dry. If it is lubricated to get on, it will be lubricated to slip off.

Next, take note of where the natural corners are in your seal and align them with the corners of your glass. Again, it seems obvious, but if you don't lay it out, you'll probably get partway along and realize the seal needs to rotate 90*. Ask me how I know :) Also note which side of the seal is the inside. The outer edge will have multiple lip/edges and the inner side will have a second slot in it.

I found that if I placed a putty knife blade against the glass, but at an angle towards the seal (which wasn't yet on the glass), I could part the seal enough to get it to sit on the glass. Then, I used various pressures with fingers or my knee to press the seal all the way on. Place pressure near the spot where the knife meets the handle, so the seal has the whole length of the blade to run to get parted and just seated on the glass (not where the picture over there shows). I found I was able to run 8-12" sections in one pop after a few experiments with pressure and angles. It is important to get the seal to seat all the way down. If you don't, it won't fit in the window hole and you'll be clowning with the seal again.

Rope Method
opens paint cans, threads rope
and opens a beer bottle when you're done
This is where most of the internet advice comes in: use a rope to seat the glass. Yep, that's the magic. Find 3/8" rope that is at least 1.5x longer than the circumference of the window. Thinner rope might work too, but not much thinner. Some advise against nylon rope and encourage only cotton. I used nylon and had no ill-effects, but the MS Glass folks (see below) used cotton. I have not seen much good advice for how to get the rope into the slot. I found the best tool was a paint-can opener. I slid it in and rotated it, and the seam opened right up. I set the rope in and slid the tool along while feeding rope in. Once I got a foot or so in, I doubled back and pressed the rope in with the same tool. I watched the MS Glass guys, and they used a plastic jump-rope handle (or a carefully trimmed caulk-tube tip) through which the rope was threaded. They simply slide the jump-rope handle along the seam, pressing the rope in as they went. Very clever! And very fast.

While setting the rope into the seam, make sure you create a loop outside of the seam on every side. This doesn't seem obvious when you're doing it, but on each side, somewhere near the middle, let some rope out of the slot, create a 6" loop and then re-start from the spot where you left, making a small overlap (less than an inch will do). This is very useful for later. Once you've made it all the way around, overlap the starting point by an inch or so. Now, with painters tape, tape the loops to the inside of the glass window. With the rope out of the way, you're ready to set the window in the hole.

Lubricants
note the four loops of rope:
one per side
Simple put: don't use them. If you can get the window to seat without lubricants, you're probably doing it wrong. I tried KY Jelly, water, soap... All they did was make a mess and make it all the easier for one side of the window to pop out of the hole while exerting pressure elsewhere. Like the Band says, "Don't Do It". All four of my solid-pane windows went in without lubricants. I was setting the windows into somewhat freshly painted holes, so they were effectively the most sticky possible, and they still went in.

Seating
This area also gets a light brushing on the interweb. Most advice is somewhat simple: set the window squarely in the hole. Honestly, that's about right. Don't set the top, bottom or any side any deeper than any other side at first. Since the upper half of the bus (where the window is going) is tilting away from you, the window also needs to be tilting away from you. If you set it upright, the bottom will be too deep. Once the window is set evenly around the entire edge, you can start working the sealed glass into the hole.

Pressure
hatch and rear-most left
windows in
The key here is to use little pressure at first, and work the inner edge of the seal by knuckling it towards the center of the glass while lightly pressing inward. Focusing on keeping the window square (no side too much deeper than any other), slowly work the window deeper into the hole. You will need to increase the amount of pressure force, but don't try banging on it. That will just create an opportunity for the sealed glass to pop out at the other end. If it isn't going in with medium pressure (maybe 50 pounds of force or so), pull it out and re-try seating. If you've tried this cycle a couple of times, go back to seal-to-glass and start all over again. Yes, I had to do this with the hatch window. For the left-side rearmost window, I had to seat and re-seat a few times.

Big Finish
windscreen installed
Once the seal is up against the lip, you're ready to pull the inner edge of the seal over the lip with the rope. From the inside, you should see one rope loop along each straight edge, each taped to the inside of the glass. Perfect. There is varying advice on where to start pulling, but, since most folks don't think to advise putting multiple loops (one per side), their further advice is limited. We have multiples, so we have options. For bowed windows, like the windshield, start with the sides. A little on each end, until both verticals have the seal over the lip. Then, do the upper corners and finally the lower corners. Why? We are doing the shortest distances first, and the distance between the upper corners is shorter, allowing the glass to flex and bow while we set the window. Next, work the ropes from the corners towards the center, moving a little at a time from each of the corners. You may need a helper friend to push on the glass from the outside.

MS Glass
Some of the advice above I discovered on my own. Some, I learned after I did my hatch and left-side rearmost window. While trying to get the seal on my windshield, it cracked, so I had to get a new one. Enter MS Glass. Since they do onsite installs, I had them do it, and that was where I got some of the rest of the advice. They do the one-loop-per-side, and did the steps in the "Big Finish" above. We both did the no lubricants, rope trick and seal-to-glass. They didn't use anything to part the seal as they got it onto the glass, but they do this stuff every day so they have Superman hands easily capable of forcing the seal on without tools. They were pretty amazing, and I'd totally use them again.

That's it for today. The bus has all of his window glass back in now, with new seals. Thanks for following along. More posts coming on all the other work that's been done. Onward!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Dash re-install

After getting a fourth, and presumably final, coat of high-gloss white paint on the upper third of the bus, I spent Sunday afternoon wrestling the dashboard back together. It was really just time consuming because it took 3 attempts. I failed to take any pictures, though. Apologies.

Dash Install, First Start
Following the standard practice of lightly threading all the participant bits together first, I started with the 3 screws on each end of the dashboard which are hidden when the doors are closed. In looking at the black cover plates, I considered that I failed to paint them, but kept going. Next, I attached the front vinyl pad complete with threading the nuts in only to realize that the dash top needs to be into place first. Off comes the vinyl pad. I paused at that point to consider none of the plastic pipes were in yet.

Venting
Before the dash can really get put back together, all of the plastic pipes need to be in place first. This isn't that hard, its just a case of matching. If the inner vent cover plates (near your knee, held on with 6 screws each) are in place, it is best to have them removed for freedom of movement. The end pipes slide right onto their circular dash vent counterparts. Picking the right from left is relatively simple: they only fit on their respective end. The center "Y" is actually harder. It looks like it could fit either way, but the upper end of the "Y" has a bend in it that wraps around the wiper arms. While having it in backwards could look right, once you try to put on the dash-top, you'll see that it doesn't actually fit that way. I also found that it was easy to set the base of the "Y" too deep. Once the dash top is in place, you'll have to fiddle with it anyway, so don't get too hung up on it.

Dash Install, Second Start
I got pretty well to the end of the first paragraph in the next section before realizing that the screw-clips that need to be along the windscreen lip were not in place. So, I did all of that install, and then had to undo it so I could get the clips in. The clips have an up side and a down side. The flat side faces up. The windscreen lip has 8 spots where there is a small indentation on the rear edge and a small hole just in front of it. Each clip needs to sit in the indentation with the clip hole aligned with the hole in the lip. If I'd taken a picture, this would be much more obvious. Anyway, once the clips are in place, you can move on to "Final Start" :-)

Hang the Fusebox
While fiddling with the dash top, I found myself moving the fusebox around, pushing it out of my way. In a flash, I popped the Bentley open and saw where the fusebox was supposed to go. With the dash top out, it was much easier to wrestle it into the right spot. Honestly, I'm not sure I could have gotten it into place with the dash top on. 2 screws later, I won't have the fusebox dangling by the vent cover anymore. It's been hanging there since I bought the bus over 10 years ago. Very satisfying. Simply looking at the driver seat will be all the nicer... and, of course, removing the stress on the wires could only be good. All told, it took me 10 minutes. Sweetness.

Dash Install, Final Start
Anyway... after all the vents are in place, we can re-start the dash install. The front screws are in loosely. Next, wrestle the dash top in. This sounds so easy, but you're managing a thin sheet of steel between the windscreen lip, the rear edge of the dashboard front and the 2 freshly-painted A-pillars. I found that setting the front lip in first worked best. Once in place, the rear edge wants to hang up on the rear edge. By setting a slotted screwdriver or putty knife between them, you can torque on the seam and the dash top falls into place. Wiggle the dash top until the holes in the dashboard front align with the holes in the dash top lip. Now, you can thread the vinyl pad in through the holes. Aren't you glad you did this without the glove box in place? Thread the 10mm nuts onto the vinyl pad bolts and leave them loose, but threaded onto the bolts pretty far. Check your alignment all around, including the front lip. Now, screw the front lip down. Once all of the fasteners are in, you can start torquing things down. I started with the screws on the ends on the dashboard, then the 10MM bolts and finished with the screws along the front lip. Last, pop the little plastic hats onto the screws along the front.

Oh Crap
After all the wrestling with the dash, I was pretty spent. I hit the garage door button and walked into the house. I heard distinct bang-bang-bang noises, but the boys had been running around with lacrosse sticks, so I didn't given it much thought... until the following night. Much earlier, I had set the dash top onto the rear deck of the bus to protect it while I painted the white areas. On Sunday, I popped the rear hatch to get to it for installation. It had been such a nice day, I had left the garage door and hatch open while I worked. So, when I closed the garage door, it bang-bang-banged the rear hatch as it closed, leaving multiple scratches on it. Good thing I used the $50 paint method :) A little sanding, a little painting and the scratches start to melt away. I need another coat of paint, but it will look like it never happened.

That's it for today. Sorry I didn't take pictures of the install along the way. I'd take it apart to take pictures after the fact, but it took me 3 attempts to install. Maybe if I had a little more time before Memorial Day... As always, thanks for following along.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

$50 paint job

Hapy Cinco-de-Mayo!
A few years ago, there was a sensation across the car-centric internet about a claim that you could paint your car for $50 (original web site). This concept generated an amazing backlash of "myth" web sites and postings de-crying the process. In my usual fashion, I decided I'd try it anyway.

Running Some Numbers
Yeah, that's right. I decided to paint part of the bus with the $50 paint job method. I already had gloss white Rustoleum paint from painting the pop top a few years back. I used the same paint on the bumpers, and they look okay (except for where I dropped the rear bumper on the ground, but that's an easy touch-up). I have all the other usual stuff for non-spray painting... sandpaper in various grits, blue tape.. So, in terms of materials and supplies, I'm sorted. Incremental cost for supplies: $10 can of primer.

I live in a typically-rainy-in-spring area and in a rented house. So, other alternative ideas like shooting paint outside or setting up a temporary spray-shed were not options. Hanging plastic all over the garage wasn't cost-effective, and even if it were, the fumes would have either leaked into the main house, caused an explosion from the open-flame furnace and hot water heater or both. Over-spray and other evidence of painting all over the floor or driveway would have voided the lease too. I even considered setting up a paint shed on the lawn, but the paint would have killed the grass... and the rain could have been a factor anyway (thinking muddy undersurface and humidity disallowing paint to dry). Last, I don't have the skills, equipment nor time.

I went looking for someone to do it for me. Craigslist netted one person and my network was fruitless. Everyone is either already busy or the job is too big. The one person would have required me to tow the bus across town ($75/day for a tow dolly from UHaul) and run me around $1500. He would have taken a week or 10 days from drop off to pick-up.

Calendar Pressures
Since my only real options were either to do it all myself or pay $1500 for someone else to do it, I went digging for a third option. Festival season starts in a few weeks, and we already have tickets to the Hootenanny on Memorial Day weekend. I realized that about a week ago, and forced a third option: only paint the section above the belt-line so I can get the windows back in. I want the upper section white, and that's the paint I have, so I can make decisions about the lower 2/3 later. With that decision effectively made by the calendar, I set off.

Final Prep
Like the interior job, there's always more that you find at the last minute. New tiny rust holes. Little dings. After all that's settled, the old paint got a sanding with 150 grit sandpaper and then a re-sanding with 400 grit. I sanded the entire exterior that way. Then I applied Rustoleum primer with a brush. Yes, a brush. After it dried, I wet-sanded the whole thing with 400 grit paper. It was ready for paint.

Paint
Like the guy in the $50 paint job link, I thinned the Rustoleum 50/50 with mineral spirits. Using a few different sized foam brushes, I brushed on the gloss. Like any other painting, it is important to always maintain a wet edge, and to brush from the unpainted area into the wet edge as you lift off the surface. Those little things will make for a much better brush job. Of course, its still a brush job, so it will only look as good as the sanding you do when it dries. With the thinned paint, it dried overnight and it didn't drip, run or sag as some detractors claim. My garage wasn't terribly warm, but I left a fan going all night. Once dried, I wet-sanded with 400 grit and did another coat. Wash-rinse-repeat, and now I have 3 coats of paint on there. I intend to do at least one more, but I will probably keep repeating until my seals arrive from BusDepot.

That's it for today's installment. The pictures along the right side show the bus in various states with the last couple showing the result after 4 coats with wet-sanding between each. As always, thanks for following along-

Friday, May 1, 2015

Wrapped in Gray

Over the last several months, I have been trying to get a ton of body work done. List so many things, it didn't look that big when I started. Now, though, its become an ordeal, and Memorial Day is approaching. Preferring not to cut too many corners, I prepped the interior well, but used cheap paint to get 'er done.

Grind, Mama, Grind
In Learning As We Go, I described the state of the steel floors. I won't put sticky-rubber on top of a horizontal steel surface again. I have spent many hours grinding the resulting rust down. I removed all of the interior bits, pulled out all of the McMaster-Carr rubber stuff and set to eliminating all of the rust I could find. There wasn't that much, but I made some discoveries along the way. For example, it looks like there was a brake fluid leak before I owned the bus, and that caused some steel issues behind the driver seat. There are new panels welded in there. Unfortunately, the welds have started to rust, as have the replacement panels, so they got ground down like the main floor did.
I also looked for and found some rust spots that had evolved into small holes on the outside. I ground them out, banged on them with a rubber mallet to shake bits loose and ground some more. Like the floor, I double-coated with NAPA Rust Converter (forcing it inside the holes as well) to stop the cancer from spreading.

Sand, Patch, Sand
Once the rust was gone, everything needs to be sanded. For the unaffected areas, its so the new paint has something to adhere to. Then, I grabbed this stuff called Lab Metal that GratefulEd turned me on to. Its a silver putty that dries and sands like body filler, but actually has aluminum in it. Anyway, I had lots of tiny holes in the interior from different interior configurations, multiple window treatment attempts, etc. The Lab Metal applies very easily with a putty knife, and dries very quickly. Keep the lid on your can, or it will dry out on you. I have added paint thinner to my can to keep it extra thin. I've gone over all of the holes in the bus with that stuff. The little rust holes? Gone. The tiny dent near the radio antennae? Gone. It dusts down with sandpaper and patience. Like any other filler (be it Bondo on your car or Spackle in your house), don't over sand, or it will be concave, nullifying your effort.

Vacuum, Wipe Down
Once the holes were filled, and the Lab Metal sanded down, The entire vehicle has to be vacuumed. This took me back to when I used to paint houses. The basic rule was: if you're going to put paint on it, the end of the shop-vac must go across it. Extending that to also include vacuuming anything that was up against where you were going to paint, I ran the duster end of a shop-vac on every inch of the painted bodywork, inside and out. The only thing I didn't vacuum was the ceiling.
Once vacuumed, every inch needs to be wet-wiped with mineral spirits, In cases where there is more than just dust, the surface must be rubbed clean. Like the vacuum, every inch that will receive paint must be wiped down.

Paint
Finally, after all that, you're ready to paint. There are lots of options, and few of them are very good. There's the internet-rumored $50 paint job using hyper-thinned Rustoleum. I tried it on my pop-top and bumpers. It doesn't take getting bumped very well. You can get rattle-can Rustoleum, but that has the same problem plus you have airborne paint so you have to protect everything you don't want painted. You can get one-stage enamel. While it is probably possible to apply it without a spray rig, it won't be easy, and probably won't look very good. Once you get to this stage, you're looking at someone with some skill shooting it. You may as well go for the 2-stage, multi-coat job and spend a few grand on it. For my interior, I went the completely other way. I cringe as I write it (as you will as you read it), but I got basic Home Depot Behr interior enamel and color matched it to the foam headliner I'm planning to put in.
...pausing for effect...
Then, T and I got into painting overalls and brushed in the interior. It looks fantastic. Today. I know very well that it will not stand up to getting bumped, and I'll scrape something when I put the interior back in. I don't care. It takes me less than 30 minutes to empty it by myself, and I don't mind doing touch-up whenever things get scratched. Total paint cost: <$30. After driving around in a seemingly Dalmation themed interior (white with black rust-treatment spots all over it), gray with scratches is a major improvement.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

No Trip is Complete without a Snag

First: NO BUS CONTENT. Today is a trip report instead.
I haven't been to Bend in years. The last time, I went, my trip report (Hot Tub, Hot Thai and High Desert Snow) was one of the most viewed blog postings I've ever had. I don't expect this one to meet that level of reader interest, but the trip was equally adventurous. Back then, the boys were 11 and 8. This time, they're 17 and 13. Amazing how time flies. Similar to the last trip, this one was over Spring Break as well. I took the week off so I could hang out with the boys. C had already planned the first weekend with one of his friends, so we set up a trip for the last 3 weekdays of Spring Break. While we initially were looking for snow, we gave up and decided to try something completely different. Turned out, those were the warmest, sunniest weather days we'd had in the calendar year, so bully for us.

Getting Outta Detroit
Detroit Sleeps
Our exit from home was actually quite pedestrian. Unlike trips I'd taken with the boys years ago, we simply grabbed up some stuff, pulled a bag of groceries and set off. I look at the departure with such trepidation from early years of trouble, but without the ex-, and without a tight timeline, even the trip is part of the vacation. Late morning traffic in the middle of the week was no trouble, and before we knew it, we were north of Salem, turning onto OR22 and towards the Cascade Mountains. Past small farms and warehouses, the flat valley floor eventually turns upwards, and the roads start to wind. We passed the low-water Detroit Lake and stopped in the town of Detroit to stretch our legs. Frozen in time, Detroit waits for Summer. When Fall arrives, the businesses shutter, paused for the cold wet break between annual summer crowds. Being Spring, there was no movement. None. We slipped out quickly before the freeze took us.

Downtown Bend
near Black Butte Ranch
We hit Bend by mid-afternoon after noting the location of the big lacrosse tournament in Sisters. We checked into the Holiday Inn long enough to drop our bags and then headed for downtown Bend. T was anxious to show us OSU Cascade, but that would have to wait until after we ate. Intending to hear some live music, we hit the McMenamin's Old Francis School, but the singer-songwriter venue was standing-room-only. We ate, but with the time delays, and typical sluggish McMenamin's service, there wasn't enough light left to visit OSU Cascade. Instead, we cruised downtown Bend marveling at the number of pedestrians, and skateboarders. For the size of the city, there were a ton of skaters, and everyone seemed groovy with that. We wheeled back to the hotel, and tucked in early so we could hit Smith Rock with some energy the next day.

Smith Rockin
starting our descent
Smith Rock, if you've never been, claims to be the birthplace of "bouldering". After spending a day climbing around, I'm not about to argue. We didn't just want to walk a trail, but we didn't want to take a run at the wall either, so we headed down a horse trail (Homestead Trail) towards the river. As it neared a cliff drop-off, T & C decided that was as good a spot as any to go off-trail. Down the face they started climbing; I had little option but to follow. After about 50 nearly-vertical feet of descending, it leveled off on a lip where we could stand and rest. The rest of the descent was at least 60* to the river's edge which was littered with a healthy mixture of boulders and large-dog sized rocks. We chose to work our way upriver, looking for a spot where we could cross without getting our phones wet. After about an hour of clambering in a steadily warming sun, C was able to bounce back and forth from shore to shore, but T and I couldn't. We were able to find a spot where we all made it across after another 30 minutes, though.

climbing back up
We rested long enough for our sweat to dry and to splash some river water on our skin.. and have that dry. C then pointed his nose back across the river towards where we were parked and set off to find the most direct route back to the car. After a couple backtracks, he made it in under 30 minutes. T and I followed. Most of the ascent was straightforward rock-hopping. The final 20 vertical feet, however, were almost straight up with minimal hand/foot holds. While we climbed, a 4-some of bicyclist-styled climbers approached from below. They had found a trail marking that took them to "the ladder". We all arrived at the cliff lip at the same time, though, so I'm not sure their route was actually any better.

By the time we got to the car, Smith Rock was packed. There were people and cars everywhere, and more cars circling for a parking spot. We pulled out and visited the small shop (Rockhard) just past the state park line for drinks and ice cream. Dr. Pepper never tasted so good. After a few hours of clambering around on the rocks, we were hungry, so we hit a new local place in Bend.

Pop's Place
I learned of Pop's from restaurants-dot-com. I didn't link to them because Pop's proprietor, Sean, was not very enthusiastic about them. We were enthusiastic about Pop's, though. Tasty burrito's with flavor separation so you could taste every ingredient. Very fresh. Salsa bar. Sold. Sean & Co made us feel like regulars from the moment we walked in.

down and back again
OSU Cascade
From Pop's, we drove through town (10 minutes) to the OSU Cascade / COCC campus. As a high school junior, T is looking at colleges and OSU Cascade is at the top of his list. I can see why. Bend is flat-out awesome, and OSU Cascade is a small school within it. Smith Rock is 40 minutes away; so is Mt Bachelor, so for an active outdoor kid, Bend makes sense. OSU Cascade was not holding classes when we were there, but there is considerable active construction of multiple new buildings. The existing buildings are well maintained, and don't look terribly old either. With the alpine climate setting, sunny skies and dry air, I can see the attraction. I've since asked around about it, and indirectly I know a few folks who are there. They love it. The classes are smaller than a typical state school and the costs are in-line with typical state costs. Compelling.

No Trip is Complete without a Snag
satisfied faces post-lunch
We hit the hotel pool after visiting OSU Cascade, and then ate the pizza we bought as we were leaving Pop's. Even cold, that was some good pie. At some point, one of the boys went down to the car for something during the evening of watching a movie and accidentally locked us out. Unknowing, we scarfed our complimentary breakfast, packed out of the room and checked out. Arriving at the car, we discovered that we were unable to get into the cabin, but we could open the trunk. I have AAA because I drive a 40+ year old bus, but I think I've used it more on Flash, the Jetta. I used it again to get the door unlocked and the boys threw the lacrosse ball while we waited for the wrecker. The tow truck driver was fast. When the guy arrived, I sent the boys to the c-store for drinks. The car was unlocked before they got back, and the c-store was only just across the small parking lot.
snow-less Hoo Doo

HooDoo
Once back inside the car, we pointed towards the US20 and Sisters. Before we left the Central Oregon desert, we had one more stop to make: Sno-Cap. Sno-Cap isn't like most of the rest of the main strip through Sisters. It is more of the throw-back to yesteryear. The rest of the main drag has evolved into a new age gentrified scene attracting tourist-types and brunch fans. Being Spring Break, the US tourist was out in force, complete with cargo shorts, tall white socks with sandals and the occasional fanny-pack. Seriously people. Look at yourself. Anyway, Sno-Cap is a drive-in looking burger joint near the west end of town. Look for the line of in-the-know folks queuing out the door. The old guy behind the counter has been there forever, collecting orders and managing the flow. Behind him, there are 3 or 4 younger folks moving with great speed and purpose. So, while the line seems to move slowly when you're hungry, your order appears in front of you rather quickly once you've placed it. As T says, "we'll stop here every time".
Once fed, we sped westward, stopping at HooDoo Ski Area just to see what it looks like up close. The picture tells the story: virtually no snow. From the base, it was hard to imagine the trails, and the lodge looked small. I've heard the vibe is very similar to Ski Bowl on Mt Hood, so we'll want to come back when there's snow to give it a go.

The drive from HooDoo was uneventful and fast. Traffic was thin for a Friday afternoon heading into the Portland area from the south. We were home, unpacked and laundry rolling by mid-afternoon. Other than the one hang-up from the door locks, Flash behaved very well. Even his A/C was cold.

That's it for today. I've been making lots of progress on the battle against the rust I described in my last post. I'll update more fully next time. As always, thanks for following along...

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Learning as We Go

Before you ask, I've been sanding. That's where I've been. Well, sanding and grinding. It all started shortly after that last post....

Interior Pull Really Complete
what lies beneath
I posted about removing the interior about a month ago. The last photo was taken right before I pulled the rock-n-roll bed out. Once that was out, I removed the rails the middle row seat slides into, and then pulled up the wood flooring. I had forgotten that I had put McMaster-Carr vibration deadener onto the steel floor way back when. I took a seat on the black rubber and was taking a rest when I noticed a light rusty-brown colored dust sitting at the seam between the two rubber swathes. Curious, I started pulling a little bit and prodding at it. The mats didn't feel firmly affixed at the seam. So, I grabbed a box-cutter and started cutting away at the rubber to see why, hoping I could cut back to where the mats were really well attached. Before long, I had removed all of the rubberized vibration deadener and was looking at some serious rust. There was even some standing water, and the bus hasn't been on the road for months! Bah!

Rust Habitat
post-grinding, mid-rust converting
First thing we learn from this is: Don't apply sound deadener directly to a steel floor. Water will find its way underneath and once its there it will become trapped. Trapped water = rust habitat. I was inspired to find all of the rest of the rust in the interior. I pulled the carpet off the front seat pedestals. More rust. As best I could, I pulled the vibration absorbtion mats from the front cab floor too. Now, these were much better than the McMaster-Carr ones, so in some sections, they were completely sealed in, effectively protecting the floor. I hacked at the mats with a paint scraper to loosen any bits which were sitting on loose rust.

I spent the next 3 weeks of free time grinding the rust with a sanding wheel on my Dremel. Just last night, I finished clearing the floor of the grinder-reachable rust. After multiple passes with the shop vac, and then a wash-down with mineral spirits, I painted 2 coats of NAPA's Rust Converter on. The floor is now nearly completely black and ready for primer.

It hasn't been all grinding, though. I'll post a trip report next time.
Thanks for following along-