Stage 20: New Windshield & RV Ladder

We ended up getting a big nasty crack in the windshield. I think it was due to the rubber around the windshield being stuck behind in the glass in some places causing pressure points in the glass. Either way, our friend was friends with a glass guy, Lucky Us! Thanks Jim! So he came out to the house and took the windshield out, and replaced it with a brand new one! And the rubber is seated correctly now:)

Looks great! Thanks John! If you are ever in West TX (BIg Spring near Midland and Odessa area) call John up! I want to say it only cost about $200! Info below:


The transformation is in the making:) Once she is all painted, she will look brand new, or close:)

Next, we had ordered a ladder from Amazon that was a universal RV ladder. It was about $100 free shipping with Prime. I am not sure I am 100% sold on it. We bought better bolts and added lock nuts and washers. It only came with some screws…and we overengineer everything…so we added better hardware. The ladder was made for RVs, remember, so our bus is missing the hump on the top, which meant the support posts on the top were too short. We added some blocks of wood to take up the space.


Watching Crab work from the roof since my only way down was the ladder we were installing🙂 Talk about motivation!

Now that we are about 3 months past this project andknow how to weld, and want a “garage” on the back of the bus about 3 ft. out…we may cut hte ladder in half, or make something on our own. This part will be to be continued…🙂

Here is a bigger shot of the bus windshield! Even got her some new windshield wipers:) The grill is off on this picture to be bondo’ed and re-painted.


What’s Next?!

Stage 19: Floor Prep 2- Laying PLywood

After the insulation job was done, we moved onto laying the plywood down! More construction and building up! Again to save on head room we went with 3/4″ plywood..or possibly a little thinner than that. We used wood screws, finally, to screw the pieces into the wood furring strips. The hardest part was cutting around the wheel wells and in the front of the bus. Also, the bus is not exactly 8′ wide so one side of the bus it was super easy laying down the 4′ wide by 8′ long plywood, but the other side had to be cut a few inches to fit nicely.


Even had a little helper…Homeschool Woodshop 101!


Just how I like my men; Shirtless, Bearded, and wearing a tool belt😀


Construction zone…what what?!


The difficult last bit!


The pic explains itself really🙂


Plywood Doneskies!


Plywood Back to Front

Stage 18: Spray Foam Insulation

The moment had finally arrived! We were about to spray foam the bus. That meant that the electrical for the bus was done, the metal prep work was done, and the furring strips were laid. I can not begin to explain how excited I was that Chitty bang was no longer looking like an old rusty bucket, or an old stripped out school bus. This was her first step into “House-Hood” in my eyes🙂

First, we Prepped!


Windows taped off and floor covered. Foam it green boxes assembled…ready for action!

We decided to go with Foam It Green’s DIY Closed Cell Insulation Kit. We purchased it form their website in October 12015 and it came with 17 free things; goggles, gloves, booties, Tyvek suit, lots of nozzles and fan tips, and ky jelly packets. The kit we ordered was for 1200 sqft and was $1500. It included four boxes (2 part A’s & 2 part B’s), the hoses, and mixing nozzle..and the above listed. If I didn’t have three trash bags of overspray, that would have been enough for the ceiling, walls, and floor. Unfortunately, we were messy so we had to order a 200sqft kit (one small part A tank and one small part B tank)which was $400. So our whole project cost $1900 plus the $20 respirators we bought. You can apply it between 65 & 78 degrees.there is a temperature strip on the tanks that let’s you know if it’s good or not.

It is closed cell foam, which is better for metal buildings according to my research. It actually seals so well that it helps structurally, with noise reduction (hence the reason we sprayed on the wheel wells), water resistant, and mold resistant. It cures in 30 seconds to 2 minutes. At least the door and Windows were open when we worked in it afterwards! Had respirators and all while foaming and didn’t go in again for a few days just because we had to buy supplies and plan the next steps.

Foam it green has lots of videos of how to do it (you have to watch these before you do it per instructions) and it was super easy too. The tanks attach to a dual hose with two different color foam ingredients. They go into a mixing nozzle and is combined while you spray. One hose/tank is white the other blue. It comes out green. They do a good job of showing how to do ceilings and walls. One inch is r value 27 I believe….their website has lots of info.…/spray-foam-stories.html

If you stop for more than 30 seconds you change the nozzle (they give you like 10) and add petroleum jelly to the nozzle (supplied) and trigger so it doesn’t crystallize. I only stopped two or 3 times but we were prepped pretty well. Crab took the front and one side of the bus, and I took the other side and the back. It took us like a couple of hours to prep for this project, and just a few minutes to actually spray. We had to wait for the second shipment to come so we could finish foaming, as well as filled in any gaps we may have missed from the first spray. All in all, I am super impressed with the Foam! It is much cooler in the summer, and stays at least 10 degrees if not more warm in the winter. I will only use Closed Cell Foam in the future, and may save myself lots of money by doing it myself again! Our recently sold 2400 sqft house cost us $8000 for someone to open cell spray foam it…no thanks!

So Next, we Sprayed Foam!


Us in our coveralls covered with Tyvek Suits and other gear and the Foam Job COMPLETE…almost! We ran out on the floor towards the front of the bus. Per the website instructions, you first spray foam the ceiling, then the sides, then the floor.


Got the second kit in and finished the foam job. Where the chair rail sits on the side of the bus walls there is a large cavity below it. We filled that to the top with foam and had a lot of overspray from this bc we did not leave enough room for expansion. Regardless..this baby is sealed TIGHT!

Then we Cleaned!

IMG_20151030_102216 (1)

After we were totally done with the spray foam job, we used drywall saws and the reciprocating saw to clean up the overspray. 3 LARGE trash bags later….(although they were super light, we totally could have finished the job with the first kit we bought if we did not have so much overspray!) Cleaning was not that bad though!


All Foamed, Scraped to be Flush, and almost cleaned!

Onto More Flooring Work!

Stage 17: Flooring Prep 1

After moving to West Texas and all of the dirty bus electrical we cleaned out, it was time we cleaned Chitty Bang again. We were also ready to start building!! What…what is that I said? YES! No more Demo! We are constructing things now! Well almost…..first things first:)

First, the girls and I cleaned…again..


A clean Chitty Bang…Again! After the move she got really dirty! I also love this pic bc my little Crab is super cute🙂


ALL CLEAN! Girl pic:)

Next, we decided that since the floor was pretty scratched from all of our moving crap that we would go ahead and repaint the floor to prevent any rust from coming in and spreading like cancer…we also sanded any spots that needed to be…probably only 2 small spots though.


The girls starting to paint


They are so cute and great helpers!


Back to Front Painted


Stairs Painted


Floor re-painted white!

And lastly, we had to install some “furring strips” so we could have space between the metal and the plywood we laid down later so the closed cell foam we were going to spray would have room to insulate the floor as least a half inch to an inch. We also had to save any head room we could since Crab is 6’2″ and the bus height of the ceiling was inches from his head. Which is why we opted to lay them flat instead of on their sides.


Furring Strips laid with some self tapping metal screws. Gotta put some ass into any screws going into this tin can!


Back to front of the furring strips. We also put some polyurethane (that stuff I love and used for all the holes and in previous blogs) on the bottom of the wood for extra can see the zig zag of a moved board closest to camera.



Stage 16: Covering Windows/Lights/Etc.

This part of the project was the first time we ever cut metal this thick and used an air rivet gun to rivet steel to something..more specifically, a bus:) We started off early in the project (same time we were figuring our our bus electrical) with covering 4 windows (2 emergency windows on either side that I had actually moved into specific positions when we took out all of the windows), a hole inside the bus where the indoor heater hoses ran through, the 4 flashing lights outside Chitty Bang, and some small holes where the STOP Sign Arm was.


16 Gauge Cold Rolled Steel: Sanded, Cleaned, Corrosealed, and Rustoleum Painted


Removed “Eyelashes” of the flashing lights


Flashing Lights removed!


Rear Flashers Covered


Where heater hoses ran inside the bus now covered with metal and some metal self tapping screws


Stop Sign Arm Holes Covered


The Front of Chitty Bang with covered flashers and fixed Headlight Holders, and new headlights!


Crab and I Pre-drilling holes for the rivets to go into. These are pretty heavy pieces!


Driver Side Windows Covered


Passenger Side covered


Everything Covered in the original plan, plus the additional window coverage on the bottom of the back door!

We also needed to fix the headlight holders and replace the headlights. Crab learned to weld for the first time using a stick welder on this project. We also bondo’ed the front grill, sanded and painted it. She is lookin’ good!


Repurposed the old beat up grill and she looks like new! Almost:)


All Spiffy!

More recently (about 3 months later) we decided to cover more windows due to the complaints of fellow skoolie builders, and our realization that in the winter, these windows are effing cold. I did not want it to be a cave, but I don’t want it to be an ice box either. Decided to be a wise man and learn from others’ mistakes and we covered a few more windows.


Crab cutting metal, I sanded, and we both painted. The pee looking bottle is WD-40:) We sprayed it on the metal while the jig saw cut to keep the blade cool…was like cutting butta!


All the windows covered that will be covered…so far🙂 For real, I think this is it!

Now we have 6 open windows on either side of the bus, not including the driver windows or door windows. It is much warmer inside late January and early February in West Texas. It snowed once while I was in the bus and although it was about 32 degrees outside, it stayed 49 inside….we also had foam insulation, walls and flooring in at this point too which totally helped. If you noticed the storage boxes and an rv ladder in this last pic…stay tuned! A blog about those will be coming soon!

Stage 15: Wiring in New Toys

After cleaning the wires up, next step was adding the wires to anything that we wanted to run directly to the bus battery. Why was this our next step? Because we chose to use spray foam insulation and once you spray that in, your wires are there f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Well, unless you feel like cutting them out and risking cutting them…anyway, this seemed right to us, so we did that.


Crab wired that in with no problem!

The New Monitor, Back Up Camera, and the wiring done. The Silver box came with the kit and we mounted it next to the Driver Seat inline with the other wires there.

The New Monitor, Back Up Camera, and the wiring done. The Silver box came with the kit and we mounted it next to the Driver Seat inline with the other wires there.

Backup Camera Installed

Backup Camera Installed

This camera works really well! It also has a built in Mic and very clear picture. There is also room for us to be able to run more cameras and hook right into the hardware that came with this kit. It was bought off of Amazon!



LED Light in the box


Off and On pics of the new LED light bars!


Radio and Speakers

Radio and Speakers

Kicker Amp Wired in

Kicker Amp Wired in

One of the 6 new Rockford Phosgate Speakers.

One of the 6 new Rockford Phosgate Speakers.

The New Radio! Excited about this one becaue it syncs with Pandora on your phone:) And it changes colors!

The New Kenwood Radio! Excited about this one because it syncs with Pandora on your phone:) And it changes colors!

A happy and successful couple!

A happy and successful couple!

Everything Working=We Wired it Correctly! CLICK HERE!

Here is Us Celebrating after we got the speakers and all plugged in!

During these projects, we also did some side projects so we were not burned out on only electrical. Those will be posted soon, as well. The great thing about working on your own home is that you make the rules. There is no manual for converting a school bus to an RV, and this is the closest thing to it I guess🙂 So, with that said, a few pics may look like we skipped ahead, but really I am just grouping them all together if they are alike to help keep the blog from being too scattered. The best thing about this project is that we have the ability to bounce around from project to project. Tired of electrical, go do some mechanical work, go sand something, go do some metal work! Great learning experience!


Stage 14: Bus Electrical AKA Spaghetti

Let me start by saying, I am not an electrician. My husband is not an electrician. We have some electrical experience, but never on a bus. We just never had the confidence because it was a new skill to learn more about. If we are going to have an even more amazing homestead one day, I need to know how electricity works on my temporary home. Old Chitty Bang lost about 30 pounds in unnecessary electrical wire! Thanks to a new and very knowledgeable friend, he got us squared away with removing things I didn’t have a clue what they were for. Thanks Robbie. You are the best….Around…and no one’s ever gonna keep you down…;)

Front flasher area Exposed

Front flasher area Exposed

Front Wires Exposed

Front Wires Exposed

Lots of wires to figure out

Lots of wires to figure out

All that wire!

All that wire!

Yup, this more organized too :)

Yup, this is more organized too, actually.

This  is more organized too...I know it doesn't look like it though!

This is more organized too…I know it doesn’t look like it though!

Now more clean!

Now more clean!

Even this wiring is cleaned up a lot! Don't look at the dirty floor! lol.

Even this wiring is cleaned up a lot! Don’t look at the dirty floor! lol.

And, of course, Murphy’s Law will always come into play…especially when you have no idea what you are doing. We broke the solenoid in the breaker panel that controls the side yellow lights (clip lights I believe is what they are called), and some other stuff (I told you I don’t know what we did in this process, lol. I just absorbed it). So we found one on ebay for $20 and got a new one. I do want to buy another for our “On the Road Equipment” box we want to make. Two is one and one is none…

Old Solenoid. Notice the little wire exposed at the top...a nut of a sort is supposed to go on that. Crab totally ripped that little B off.

Old Solenoid. Notice the little wire exposed at the top…a nut of a sort is supposed to go on that. Crab totally ripped that little B off.

And here is the brand spanking new one:) Pretty!

And here is the brand spanking new one:) Pretty!

Side by Side

A Solenoid Side by Side

We steadily worked on cleaning up the wiring and re-taping and re-looming everything…

Front Panel above driver cleaned up

Front Panel above driver cleaned up

The before and after of the mass part of the mess

The before and after of the mass part of the mess

A cleaned up breaker panel! I did not take a picture of the before, but if you ever have seen a bus would agree that this looks way better :)

A cleaned up breaker panel! I did not take a picture of the before, but if you ever have seen a bus panel…you would agree that this looks way better🙂

I am so happy to say that this part is over. Although, we will be revisiting the electrical for the house part, I am happy to be past this specific part. Why? Because now that we finished that, we were able to move on to running the wires for the speakers, the radio, amp, back up camera and screen, and some LED lights for the exterior! Yay progress!!

The Short Version-Who We Are and How We Came To Be

The Pioneers of the Crab Homestead!

The Pioneers of the Crab Homestead!

We are a family of 4 (and an English Mastiff) who have decided to radically transform our lifestyle. Through our life experiences, we are discovering that living with less brings even bigger rewards. We are working towards “Our American Dream” in an unconventional way.

My husband and I have been married for 12 years. We are High school sweethearts since the end of 11th grade, and found each other when we needed each other the most. We were just drawn to each other🙂 My hub (boyfriend at the time) said, “I am going to join the Army.” I said, “I will follow you anywhere”. And so I did🙂 Our Adult life experiences began with our first Army duty station, which required a move to “The Last Frontier” in Fort Wainwright, Alaska from South Mississippi.

Then my husband (an Airborne Infantryman) was deployed to combat in Mosul and Baghdad, Iraq for 17 months. The 172nd Stryker Brigade was legendary that tour. I learned a lot about myself during that time in Alaska with a newborn baby. As did my husband. That was a time we grew up separately, and then had to learn to be a team again. We were totally different people, but with the same passion to be together as the first time we met. Our energy was endless.

After he returned home, we were whisked away to Fort Hood, Texas where he received an unexpected medical retirement. After this, we began to think about what we wanted our new life to look like. We decided to move to a quiet, rural farming town in Central Texas where we could begin to live more self-reliant.

We began raising chickens and rabbits in the first few months of living in our newly built home. We loved every learning experience it brought! But then, Life dealt a new obstacle for us to overcome, which would change our way of thinking forever. Two days after Thanksgiving in 2011, 9 months after moving into our home, our chimney caught fire causing a 100% Total Loss. “An Act of God”, the insurance concluded. This left us with absolutely nothing but the clothes on our backs and each other.  Humbled by a husband who was always gone while he served in the Army, we realized that having each other was honestly enough to get through something like this.

Of course, we did what any family would do. We kept our heads high, and started over. We were determined to get back to “normal”.  We moved into a smaller apartment in the nearby city, rented some furniture, and rebuilt the home of our dreams. During the time in our apartment, we were definitely closer than we ever have been. We were vulnerable and tested. All we wanted to do was move back to the country and continue our homestead lifestyle, we thought.  After we moved back July 2012, it did not matter how much stuff I bought to fill my house, we had this emptiness that I cannot explain.

We continued learning and starting different projects to discover new ways to become better homesteaders. We continued to raise chickens, and added ducks and turkeys to the mix. We added solar panels, and learned how we could create a smaller carbon footprint for our place on Earth. We gardened in soil, hydroponically, and even aquaponically with Tilapia and Catfish! It was amazing. Everything we have worked for, researched, and learned through trial and error was finally coming together! We could really see ourselves doing this forever, but on more land. However, something was still missing.

We were humbled again in life by losing everything. During Crab’s stint in the Army we always had what we needed with some of what we wanted, but most of the time we were without each other. During his civilian job and my corporate job, we had the money to have more than enough, but again, it was without each other. We really and truly learned the difference between what we “need” and what we “want”. We realized what really needed and what is actually important, each other.

One day in 2013, we learned about Tiny House Living. We learned there were many families downsizing and living tiny. As soon as we watched “Tiny: The Story of Living Small”, it clicked. The stuff we had was not who we were. We decided that having a mortgage and all of this stuff is definitely not “The American Dream” we thought we wanted. “Our American Dream” is something completely radical and yet so simple.  The idea of living with less is exactly what the fire and our other experiences have prepared us for. So, we began purging, selling, donating everything we did not “need”.  That empty void we had felt for the last 3 years was finally being filled. It seemed the more stuff I got rid of, the happier we were. It was life changing, again!

In the last 13 years we really have not had a permanent place called “home”. We always assumed (like most people) it had to be in a house, in one place, where you can “set up roots” and raise a family.  Then we decided “home” was something different to us. As long as we were together, “home” can be anywhere. So, we decided to sell our beautiful home that taught us so much and move into our converted Skoolie, Chitty Bang. With the bus, we could travel the U.S. until we find a new place to call home and start our new homestead!

We made a plan to sell our home and our rental property to become debt free and be able to buy a bus and convert it. We asked, the Universe gave. After about 5 months, our rental home sold and we found a bus in Arizona. We had enough money to get the bus and bring it back to Texas. Then after a few more months, our home sold for the amount we needed to make our debt free American Dream come true! We got rid of even MORE CRAP, and moved. With the help of some great friends, we left Central Texas with our Gutted-Frankenstein looking bus and the rest of our crap. In a storage room sits most of the crap I wanted to bring to the next homestead. Honestly, it is mostly outdoor furniture, farm supplies, and tools…lol. We moved in with a great friend who has the space for us to work on the bus, and that is where we are at presenty, in West Texas🙂 Stay tuned…

You can follow our blog on Chitty Bang’s Progress
Read our Editing our Life Series on the more detailed and philosophical series of the who, what, where, when and why
all of the other projects we have worked on while living on our small homestead.

Also follow our Facebook Page ChittyBangSkoolie
Pinterest Chitty Bang
Instagram TheCrabsHomestead
Twitter CrabsHomestead 

Thank you for your support!

Editing Our Life Part 4: Selling the House & Moving

We finally did it! We finally sold our home for what we needed and were able to become debt free and pursue our renovation of Chitty Bang. We hustled. We got rid of even more crap, and began the next step of our lives. We packed what was rest of our stuff, loaded up the u-haul, and with the help from some amazing friends (Thanks Amber, Brent, Barbara, Mike, and, Anne & Drew:)) were out of our home and on our way to West Texas to finish the bus!

Loading the UHaul. Only the furniture and tools left:)

Loading the UHaul. Only the furniture and tools left:)

The night before we moved...still had a lot of work ahead of us!

The night before we moved…still had a lot of work ahead of us! Notice the sleepy kids lol


Loading Chitty Bang

Loading Chitty Bang

A Quick Moving Selfie :) Can you tell I am excited?

A Quick Moving Selfie🙂 Can you tell I am excited?

Getting on the road! Convoy: Friend in car with kids, Friend in UHaul with Uhaul trailer, Me in the truck with Mila, and Crab in Chitty Bang.

Getting on the road! Convoy: Friend in car with kids, Friend in UHaul with Uhaul trailer, Me in the truck with Mila, and Crab in Chitty Bang.

I led the convoy, and everytime I looked in my side and rear view mirrors I was reminded of the life I was leaving and the Life I was heading towards. It was an amazing feeling, and I will never forget it.

I led the convoy, and everytime I looked in my side and rear view mirrors I was reminded of the life I was leaving and the Life I was heading towards. It was an amazing feeling, and I will never forget it.

In West Texas and chitty Bang is full. All I could think was "How the hell am I going to fit all my crap in a bus?" lol

In West Texas and chitty Bang is full. All I could think was “How the hell am I going to fit all my crap in a bus?” lol

Thanks to another fantastic friend, Jim, we have a place to stay while we work on Chitty Bang at his house. Now, we are focusing on that:) So far, living without a majority of our stuff has not been that bad🙂 We have clothes, our necessities, the girls have a few toys (About a large shoebox full and their electronics), and our tools. And what we order for the bus of course. It feels like it did after the fire, but more at home and with the knowledge of this all being my choice…instead of a choice made for me. Since we have left over 3 months ago and began working on Chitty Bang, I have not regretted our decision once. We have been surrounded by some pretty awesome people that each know a lot about something specific that we want to learn more about. We also have a place to stay where we all feel so welcome. Although it will be just another small moment in our lives, we have already learned more about ourselves and each other🙂

Social Media-We are Going Viral!

In the true spirit of using social networking to attract followers, Twitterers, Youtubers, Googlers, Facebookers, Instagrammers, Pinners, etc. The Crabs Homestead is going viral. I mean, we are going balls to the wall viral! Spread the word and help us gain support by just “Liking” or “Following” any/all of our social networking pages so you don’t miss a thing going on here at the Homestead!!


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