Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Think, then Do

Quick post. I cleaned the garage and started exposing the interior of the bus. Today goes through some of that.

Think Once
I hadn't realized just how much think time I waste on some projects. Take cleaning the garage as an example. Usually, I'll just start at one end picking things up and putting them away until I'm either done or sick or doing it. Then, I'll sweep whatever I find and call it good. Net-net, its a crappy job of cleaning, but it looks better than before, so I'll call it clean. This takes a long time. I realized this past weekend why, I think. For each item I pick up, I have to think about where it goes or should go. I'll take it over to that spot, and then have to figure out whether there's room, etc. Lots of standing there thinking time. This weekend I tried a different approach: think once.

I went into my garage with no intention of starting anything cleaning-ish. I had my coffee in my hands and wool socks on my feet. I just surveyed. Sports equipment over there. Christmas decorations over there and there. Skateboards and snow equipment in little piles. And, of course, lots of bus parts. I took mental notes of what needed to go where and considered what-would-fit-where all at once.

Then Do
Like anything else, once a plan is set, just execute the plan. All this sounds simple and obvious, I'm sure, but I'd never gone after cleaning a garage that way. I had it organized in half the time. Following a quick sweep, I was able to shift focus onto the bus. First, there was the not-so-small matter of all the exterior parts. Since I'd planned for where all those parts were going to go, it took 15 minutes to empty the bus of stuff. Then, I simply removed the rest of the interior of the bus.

Removing the Interior
interior strip in progress
I started with the wall panel. It popped off with light tugging with my fingers. Choosing to use standard fasteners rather than bolts pays off in the removal step here. Once the MDF is covered with thin foam and vinyl, it will appear as an even better decision.
The Vanagon middle sliding bench that I installed a couple of years ago is held in place with 4 13mm bolts. Remove them and the seat easily slides out. So I don't lose the bolts, I fingered them back into their original holes.
I discovered that the refer cabinet that I converted into a storage cabinet (see: From Fridge to Storage) is not actually held down. Neat. The cabinet pulled out very easily (obviously), but I'll have to consider how to actually mount it to the bus. There is a bolt that should pass between it and the rock'n'roll bed that is missing. That's a start, but it will need something else at one end or the other... or both.
Next is the rock'n'roll bed. It is held to the bus with 4 different fasteners. Two are obvious: they are the 2 Phillips head bolts holding the upper back to the section on top of the fuel tank. One the right side (facing forward), under the seat there are 2 small (8mm) nuts which hold the folding bracket to the right wheel well. Last, there is a 13mm bolt under the front-center of the seat, bolting the floor of the seat to the floor of the bus.
Last, I removed some of the thin sections of the wood floor that is used to keep the floor level. I chose not to remove everything just yet. I left the middle seat rails, the rock'n'roll bed and some of the wood in place at this point. I'm not sure if I need to paint the steel floor, but I'd like to at least inspect it for rust. Frankly, if I'm going that far, I might as well fill any little holes and paint it too.

Rear Window
Great movie, not a good seal. I replaced the rear (as in the window pointing to the rear) window seal a few years ago with a BusDepot seal. Usually their seals are pretty good, but this one separated at the upper right corner a while ago. I should have replaced it when that happened, but there's lots of shoulda's out there. Anyway, I had rust under the old seal, but when I cut this seal off, there was water under it. Since the bus has been in the garage for quite some time, that water was quite alarming. Once I had the seal off and the window out (don't forget to unplug the defroster wires from your window before you start cutting your seal), I could see some new rust. Drat. More to fix. I'll just add that to the list of rust repairs I need to make before I paint anything. That list isn't too bad, but it is growing...

That's it for today. One last thing: I taped a piece of paper to the side of the bus for me to write down any parts that I need to replace. The list is too long for just having a pile of "replace these" parts. When many of the parts are seals that I need to cut off, there's nothing to throw into the pile that I could reference anyway. This week, when there's time, I'll be repairing small holes in the interior and getting the rock'n'roll bed and wood floor out so I can make steel floor decisions.

Thanks for following along...

Monday, March 16, 2015

Inside Out or Outside In?

The bus-painting saga has really bloomed. This all started with getting the paint on the nose near the washer nozzles a little better. Now, the front 1/3 of the interior is removed, the windscreen and half the windows are out and I'm trying to figure out how much farther this goes before it starts looking more done than undone. Today is a rough plan.

I stood and looked at the bus last night, wrapping my head around how I should eat the elephant. I hadn't planned on painting any part of the inside when I started. But now, that seems like the right place to begin. Half of the windows are out, including the windshield, both fronts and one of the big rear ones. If I finish the front 1/3, I can use the partitions as the clean cut-off line with rust repair and paint.

playing around with colors
Option 1 - Inside Out
One option after getting the front 1/3 done is to complete the rest of the interior. I'll have the right paint color, and any over-spray or tape failures would appear on the inside (outside paint second -> unintended over-spray lands on finished interior color) rather than the outside. So this option is do the whole interior then do the whole exterior as 2 major steps.
Upside(s): when the inside is done, it's done. Once I've started on the interior, I can do it all at once, so it might be faster overall.
Downside(s): the rear 2/3 of the bus is currently where I'm storing all of the body bits, so I'd need to find them a new home. That makes for a bigger mess before it gets smaller. In order to really do the rear 2/3, the other big window needs to come out, as does the rear window, so, again, the mess grows.

Option 2 - Outside In
Another option is to just do the front 1/3 and then switch to the exterior that I'd started with in the first place. I'd come back around to the rest of the interior later.
Upside(s): I get the exterior done sooner. The stuff that's stored in the rear 2/3 wouldn't be there after the exterior is done, so getting after the interior later would just require removing the seats and cabinet.
Downside(s): I may not get back to the rear 2/3 of the interior for a while, so it would look crappy in between. If I re-install the removed windows because of delays or wanting to actually drive the bus once, I would have to re-remove them to do the interior or there would be a section of not-freshened paint under the inner side of the seals.

Its funny how just writing things down make a choice all the more obvious. While I will need to clean up the garage a little bit to fit the stuff from the back, it totally makes more sense to just do the whole interior at once. I found a bunch of rust under the front seats, making this decision all the more powerful. The exterior of the bus doesn't have much rust, but the rust that't there needs attention. At least one of the spots is a hole that I'll need to also treat from the inside, so, again, it makes sense to do the inside entirely first. Of course, that makes this a great deal more work. Better get crackin'!

To keep track of things, I'm playing with "a dark shade of cyan-blue" similar to that which appeared on the squareback in 1972 for the lower 2/3 of the exterior and a flat light/medium grey for the interior. Pantone detail for the similar blue follows. The pantone detail for the Enzian or gentian blue that matches the squareback blue is here.

R,G,B=0, 48, 92
CMY=cyan: 100 (1), magenta: 81 (0.8118), yellow: 64 (0.6392)
CMYK= cyan: 100 (1), magenta: 48 (0.4783), yellow: 0 (0), key: 64 (0.6392)

As always, thanks for following along...

Friday, March 13, 2015

Hopping and Skipping through SF

NO BUS CONTENT today. Instead, I'm going to cover a whirlwind trip to the San Francisco Bay area. In some ways, this may feel like a re-tread of HNY from 2013 (link here). That's not just a coincidence; we tried to eek out a little honeymoon flashback out of this trip. This got really long. Sorry. While I recognize this is public, in a way this is how I record things for my own memory, so, details are important. :)

In looking back through my posts from last year, I realized that I never posted about a trip I took last Winter to San Diego. My sister and her family were thinking about moving to SF from SD, so Boo and I thought we ought to go visit and help them decide while soaking up some needed sun. Last Winter was a typical dreary, but less snow on the mountain than usual (but still more than this year), so we were in need of an adventure. Unlike our trip to SF described in the link above, the departure to SD was very smooth. The exodus from Oregon to SF was almost equally smooth this past week. Rather than a crack-of-dawn departure, we flew out around 7, so we both ducked out of work a little early and cut across town catching rush-hour traffic heading east out of Portland. It wasn't nearly as bad as it might have been, though. Even after missing the economy lot on the first try, we still had time to nab a sit-down bite to eat after cruising through security before our plane boarded.

BART It On Down the Line
SFO BART entrance
We picked SFO rather than Oakland because of the direct integration with the BART. Apparently, Oakland now has a $6 one-way people-mover from the airport to the totally-doesn't-feel-safe stadium BART stop. Yeah... even with the people-mover, standing on that platform at 10 o'clock at night sounds awfully, uh... exposed. I'll take the direct step-onto-the-train deal at SFO, though the walk to the station was quite long. Our flight terminal'd about as far away from the main terminal as seemed possible. Maybe it was having full day-packs on our backs that made it feel so long. Maybe it was just the drain from flight. Regardless, SFO has all kinds of interesting things to look at, and I don't mean the people. Newark Airport is best for that. SFO has museum pieces strewn about in display clusters throughout the airport. We looked at a couple which had just concert posters from the 60's and 70's for venues in the Bay Area. Very cool. BART was a key component through our 4-day stay in the Bay Area. We love BART.

No Renoir and that's no Monet
The place we had honeymooned (Renoir Hotel) has been shut down for a while. Maybe that issue with not having heat during the cold snap did it. Maybe it was just time to renovate. Boo and I walked by it on our first full day in SF, and it has been gutted. It looks like they removed every bit of reusable material, from the marble to the chandeliers and the wood trim on the windows, it has been picked clean. The first floor has been stripped to studs. We wondered if the building was going to get razed, and replaced with some fancy new tower like the Twitter headquarters down the street. That would be very sad. Based on internet news, it looks like it there was a plan to go boutique and then there was a fire. Not sure what the plan is now.

5th floor hallway mirror selfie
Since they weren't open for business, we got a one-night room at the Hotel Whitcomb just down the street. With out late arrival time, we ducked into the bar before last call for a quick taste before checking in. The bar-tender was really annoying, acting the braggart buffoon to maximize tips from better dressed patrons, leaving we travel worn to fend for ourselves. At least he didn't hassle us like the others, so maybe we got off with the better experience. One short pour and an unsatisfying bottled beer later, Boo and I left unimpressed. The front clerk was efficient, and we were checked-in and in our 5th floor room quickly. The room was small, but effective. No coffee maker nor mini-fridge, but we were just looking for a safe bed. The fact that we were the room at the end of the hall next to the fire escape (the homicide room) wasn't lost on me, but I kept the "homicide" part to myself.

Thai Re-try
We didn't stay in the room very long. We were both more interested in getting some food and a better drink, so we hit the streets of Tenderloin. After a little walking about, we found Lers Ros again. Like the first time, it was sooo tasty. The management had added more tables, and the place was much busier than the last time, but the food and service was just as memorable. We'll go there every time we visit SF, so long as they're open.

5 Mile
The following day, we re-traced some other steps we had taken 2 years earlier after checking out. We visited some old Grateful Dead haunts (the Bill Graham, Warfield Theater, Great American Music Hall and the Fillmore), hit JapanTown for some incense and then BART'd to Berkeley to meet up with my brothers, sisters, their families and my folks at a rented house to celebrate my parents 50th wedding anniversary. All told, we clocked over 6 miles with 20 pounds of day-pack on our backs. Bed, when it came, was welcomed. In a stark difference from the last time we walked through Tenderloin 2 years ago, the city smelled different. Two years ago, it was during a cold snap, and the homeless were in shelters, leaving just the skunky smell of cannabis. This time, it was sunny, warm and smelled of old urine. It was so bad that it clung to our clothes and we had to throw everything we were wearing into an immediate wash cycle at the rental house. Yuck.

50 Years
Friday was anniversary day. 50 years. We celebrated with a renewing of vows, led by my brother-in-law. There's a ton of back story on him, but for now, let's just say he's an Episcopal minister working with the SF youth through his Braid Mission. Through his contacts, we were granted access to Grace Cathedral on top of Nob Hill for the vow renewal.

Now, old couples are cute. They just are. When you put them in a big cathedral, surrounded by family while they repeat wedding vows, its all the cuter. The ceremony was little-kid-friendly short, creating time for the little kids to play on the playground in the park across the street (see picture). We picnic'd and then hit China Town. I had expected more culture and less kitsch, but it was nice to walk the street with my brother and sister. We joined the mass quitting-time exodus from downtown SF across the Bay via BART. The underground station and packed train were very different from the trips we'd had thus far, but everyone was polite, and went about their business.

Ca me plaƮt
My brother-in-law and sister hired a French chef to cater a celebration dinner at their house in Berkeley. Having never really had French food, I didn't really know what to expect. Wow. I've been ruined for red meat now. I don't know what it was called or how it was prepared, but we were cutting through rare steak with butter knives, the flavor popping and the meat melting in our mouths. Absolutely incredible. It was paired with simple vegetables and tiny potatoes, seeming almost like a simple country dish. Fantastique!

After eating far too well the night before, Boo and I chose to double-down and hit a local brunch place for breakfast the following morning. Unlike all of the storefronts along Market Street, none the handful of cafe's along Solano Avenue in Albany CA claimed to have the city's best breakfast. Yelp led to Bistro 1491 and Sunny Side Up. The Bistro didn't seem casual enough, so we slid into a window-side table at Sunny Side Up. We could have split a single breakfast, the portions were so big, but they were good. It felt very Portland; very chill and real with a mix of folks ranging in age and demographic. We routed my out-of-town sister and brother to go the following morning and they loved it too. Boo and I spent the rest of our final full day in the Bay walking the shops along Solano Ave, enjoying the sunshine and the sense of real free time.

Our final day started with a flurry of get-out-of-the-house activity. With so many folks sharing one house, it was actually less chaotic than it could have been. Still, we had time for 3 pots of coffee, and conversation before we checked out. We ended our stay back at my sister's house on her sunny back deck listening to the birds before grabbing a final ice cream at iScream. Yummy.

The drive to SFO was longer and more heavily traffic'd than expected, including the "departure" curb at the airport. So, we arrived at the terminal a little more stressed than we'd like. Unlike the flight down, Boo and I were helping my folks get home too, so that added some pressure too. Once their bags were checked and my mom in an airport-approved wheelchair, they whistled through security. Boo and I made it through okay, but not nearly as easily as our last few flights. We dashed for the gate and bought some plastic-sealed sandwiches for dinner on the flight home.

PDX airport was its typical smooth go. We left the folks at baggage claim while we shuttled to the economy lot. By the time we got back, they had their bags and were ready at the curb. Home bound within 30 minutes after the plane touched down and walking in our front door 60 minutes later (after routing through the close-in East side) was way better than I could have expected. Overall, it was a great trip. Boo and I are already planning our next one, but it may happen before the Hootenanny.

That's it for today. Thanks for following along. More sanding and paint-related tales next time-

Friday, March 6, 2015

Pop the Dash... and more Sanding

After I pulled the windshield, I started rooting around for evidence of rust. Like I indicated in my last post, there wasn't much difference since the last time I pulled the windshield, but I hadn't pulled the dashboard top panel either. Today covers that fun adventure.

Plastic Hats
the screw under the plastic hat
I'd always wondered why the top panel / steel sheet on my bus had been such a bright white. The rest of the bus was that slight off-white, but that panel had been bright bright white. It is so bright, in fact, that I cut carpet to set on top of it so the glare on the windshield wouldn't impair my ability to drive on sunny days. At the front-most point of that panel, close to where it meets the windshield, there are 8 little black plastic "hats". Once the windshield was off, and I looked at the rust, it occurred to me that those must by covers. After popping one off, I found Phillips head screws. Neat. I pulled the hats and the screws, and popped them into a "dashboard" ziplock baggie.

10mm Nuts
Once the Phillips head screws at the front are removed, there are 6 nuts/washer combinations at the rear of the top sheet which holds it to the pad. It is easier to get at these nuts if the glove box and dashpod are out of the way, but that's not entirely necessary. The glove box is freed by simply loosening the steel retainer (Phillips head bolt along the bottom facing rear-ward). Once removed, the nuts and washers pop into the same ziplock baggie, and the dashpad comes right off.

Panel Off
what's German for spaghetti?
With the dashpad out of the way and the front-edge screws out, the panel is no longer a-fixed. It may, however, be difficult to extract without some wrangling. I'll have to protect the painted areas on re-install, or I'll scratch up the new paint. I found that the panel was very light, once it was out, and it had been repaired before. There are small rust holes and rough sections under the white paint that leads me to believe that there was a half-assed rust abatement effort conducted once before. Why someone would go so far as remove the sheet and then not fill the rust holes, I don't know. I will.... and I'll paint it a more mellow color and sheen so it doesn't blind me on a sunny day.

I thought about buying a replacement panel, but I have had a hard time finding a new one. Since this is the panel with the VIN plate, it is possible that new panels aren't generally sold. I set the panel in the clean-up pile and decided I'll keep looking for a new one. The rust isn't too bad, but since it'll take me over an hour to rust treat it, much less paint it, it's probably worth looking for a rust-free new one.

That's it for today. Like I said before, I'm running out of things to remove before the next phase starts. That next phase should be rust repair. Then hole repairs, final rough sanding, priming, more sanding, painting, more sanding...
Thanks for following along-