Home Life on the Road Bus Projects

Bus Progress Report #6: The HOME Stretch! (September 10-16)

Waiting in the parking lot.. hitched up and ready to go!

Waiting in the parking lot.. hitched up and ready to go!

First.. the big news!

We have been sprung free from Elkhart, Indiana and are back on the road!

On Tuesday afternoon, after buttoning up the final tweaks and settled up the bill – we fired up the 2-stroke engine and started our journey south and west towards Albuquerque.

In this post we’ll catch you up on what we are calling the ‘home stretch’ – the final preps and finishing touches.

First, the video edition with commentary taken every couple of days ‘in the moment’:

If video isn’t your thing, here’s a quick recap of some of the projects:

  • home stretch - 11The new Dometic 9500 Case Awning snapped right into place, just like it belonged. Master Tech tackled that mounting bracket to afix it to our curved roof like pros. They also squared away all of the window awnings, by tracking down new arms with old style mounting feet so no new holes needed to be drilled into our fresh paint job.
  • home stretch - 8All of the rubber bay door hinges have been replaced with stainless steel versions. Any bus conversion owner who has these style doors can likely appreciate the switch – the rubber ones tend to need changing out every few years, and it’s a pretty labor intensive job. The new stainless ones should last a very long while.
  • Checking the list

    Checking the list

    Bunches of smaller projects were knocked off the list with great efficiency, with much thanks to the shop foreman who helped us come up with a final hit list, and then got everyone in motion towards crossing all the items off.

  • Installing windshield wipers

    Installing windshield wipers

    New windshield wiper assemblies have been installed, solving one of our problems with the old ones we had ‘over throwing’ themselves off the windshield.

  • The MCD shades have been installed – which was more of a challenge than we anticipated. We wanted the shades to overlap the windows by an inch or so for increased privacy and darkness, much like our old blinds used to. Well, they came in exactly the width of the windows – and we were not happy with that. We also were not happy with how far the ‘rolls’ hung down from our valences, something that didn’t live up to expectations from our test fit before ordering. So, Master Tech rush ordered in new blinds, and we decided to go with all black to reduce the visibility of the rolls. They also custom made us a pull down movie projector screen across from the couch. We’re now super happy with shades, and the front day shade we had installed.
  • We had our annual service done before we hit the road as well – oil and filter changes, as well as lubing the chassis.


Whew. It’s been a long time coming. But in the end, I think we’ll appreciate this whole experience and it will soon be but a sentence in our overall story. Sure, there are things we learned, extended delays, frustrations and things we and Master Tech could have done better – but it’s done.

There’s no doubt that despite it being a significant interruption to our lives to move on site for a month, that it was absolutely the right thing to do. Not only did the pace pick up once we were in Elkhart, we got to be involved in all of the decisions and installation – which means we know much more about our systems than we might have otherwise. That will be a huge benefit for years to come.

And our new bus home is AWESOME.

Anyone notice we haven't posted pictures of the rear until now? :) We love our personal graphic on the back!

Anyone notice we haven’t posted pictures of the rear until now? 🙂 Surprise – we love our personal graphic on the back! (In case you’re wondering, it’s our initials C n C back to back in a Burning Man type symbol – a graphic that has evolved as our own relationship has. We even have it cast into our commitment rings.)

So far driving in the bus has been a dream, so much quieter with the dual pane windows and resealed front door. We can actually listen to podcasts, music and have a conversation without shouting at each other.

We’re still getting settled into our new/old home, but so far we are loving each and every one of the upgrades we commissioned.

As we have time over the coming months, we’ll get some more grand tours put together as well as perhaps some guides to some of the specific projects. We know there’s particular interest in things like the Onan 2500w propane generator choice, hydronics (and why we went with Precision Temp) and more.

But for now, we have about 1400 miles to make in the coming weeks – and a LOT of work projects to catch up on after having been onsite for a month and spending 12-16 hours a day on the renovations. Not to mention, some seriously needed sleep and relaxation.

We are very thankful to Master Tech RV for seeing this project through and making it right in the end. And for the friendships made as we worked alongside the crew who made it all happen.

Bus Updates & Info:

Zephyr’s Summer 2015 Renovation Hit List – the original project list, including our decision points for various items (such as why we’re going propane and not diesel on the hydronics & generator).

All about our Bus – A little history on our bus from start to now. (We’ll get this updated soon.)

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40 Comments - Still Plenty of Room for Yours!

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  1. i would like to see a close up picture of your stainless steel hinges on your 4106 !! I have a 4106 and I’m going to install gas struts so my wife can open and close our bay doors more safely !! I have been thinking of going with stainless steel !! Are you having sealing problems or getting water in ?? Just weighing my options and love info over load 🙂

    • Sorry, don’t have any other photos readily available to post.. but the hinges don’t look much different from the photo posted above, except for they’re on the bus 🙂

      They installed a rubber thingie behind them that prevents water getting in. Haven’t had a problem with them at all. By the time they got around to this project, we were over our head trying to wrap everything else up that we didn’t document it fully. But happy with the results.

  2. Mom gone… now plugging back into the world… so a SUPER big congratulations on reaching escape velocity! And in time to bring your freshly renovated home to ALB. 🙂 Would never have happened without your perseverance. We’ll miss seeing you down there, but know you’ll have a great time. Being back on board and on the road must seem surreal after all this time. Safe travels, and we’ll look forward to connecting somewhere in the desert this winter.

  3. Having everyone sign their work and recognizing their artistry was a classy move. Art, indeed, comes in many ways. And I agree with everyone, you both define teamwork.

  4. You have verified what I continually tell end users who don’t understand personal interaction is critical to any serious vehicle restoration or remediation project. The owner has to be the eagle and over seer, as they have to live with the result.

  5. Love the rear graphic – very cool!! Your home looks beautiful. I imagine the knowledge about the systems will be invaluable – it is certainly the biggest frustration for us when there are hiccups with ours!

  6. So glad to see you back out on the road. LONG process and obviously very hard at times, but sounds like very worthwhile in the end. Question — are you going to cover budget at some point? I’m pretty sure that almost everyone is very curious as they try to imagine doing similar projects of their own!

      • That’s great! It’s always so hard (it seems) for folks to talk about money, how much things cost, etc. but for so many trying to figure out the viability of projects like this for themselves, the more insights into costs the more helpful! Thanks so much for sharing!

  7. Yes – congratulations. Most Excellent! It’s the whole experience that’s important – with an outstanding finish. This will give you lots to laugh about for years to come. If it all went without a hitch you wouldn’t appreciate it as much! My 2 cents anyways. Zephyr looks amazing and awesome all together. Congratulations to both you and Mastertech for a job well done (in the end).

    Trippin’ Engles

  8. It’s so awesome to see how the two of you pull together as a team, even under theost stressful situations. The bus update videos have been fascinating, but you both were clearly exhausted. In the last segment of the most recent video, at the campground, you both still seemed tired, but so at peace. Must have been a huge relief to have your home back and be mobile again.

  9. Congratulations, Zephyr looks wonderful and I’m sure you are thrilled to have her on the road again. I’m sure this has been a stressful project for the two of you as well as everyone at Master Tech. I’ve been on both sides of large projects so hat’s off to everyone because Zephyr really has been a HUGE and complex project! Thanks for the videos and amazing summaries, with everything else you have going it’s been amazing, I’ve learned a ton and really appreciate it! After seeing all of the custom touches I do believe Tim at Master Tech is definitely one of the few people I would trust to take on something like this. Tim no doubt has his hands full trying to run a business and still do special projects and it’s great you acknowledged that even during some trying times. Thanks!

    • Indeed… Tim and MasterTech accomplished a lot, to great standards. They have a lot to continue learning about expectation setting and project management, but no doubt they are highly skilled.

  10. Yea!!!! On the road!!! Hope everything is working flawlessly. Have not watched a video in a while but the new hair cut looks great. Thanks for the updates

  11. Your home looks mah-velous! What a relief it must be to finally have the job(s) finished. I hope to see you and it this winter. Enjoy your new home!

  12. First, I’d like to second my appreciation for taking the time to give a write-up as well as the video — as I often don’t have the bandwidth for videos.

    Secondly, congratulations on having this project finally buttoned up; it looks wonderful! I’m sure we are all looking forward to seeing how all the upgrades are going to work out for you.

    Last, the bus has a 2-cycle engine? That bit didn’t sound right to me.

    • Thanks Scott… our bus is a 1961 GM 4106, and has a Detroit Diesel 8v71, which is a 2-stroke diesel engine (not 2-cylce, like you might think of in a lawn mower.) Modern diesel engines are 4-stroke.

  13. I appreciate the way you include both video and a written summary. It’s perfect for times when I have limited time (I read faster than I watch) or limited bandwidth. The video is great for having along with a cup of joe.

    • Thank you for that feedback! We personally hardly ever watch video posts ourselves (reading is so much faster) .. so keeping our content accessible in the written form (we ARE bloggers first and foremost), as we increase our video reach, is a priority for us.

  14. What a celebration you must be having! Zephyr has a new lease on life and you two have been very patient and professional during the long repair. Happy travels to you both. Watched the video and the bus is looking beautiful inside and out. Awesome. Like a phoenix from the ashes ;)0

  15. Congrats on a long a tedious project that has finally come to fruition for you. I hope your bus-home has many more years of enjoyable living in store for you, and you for it.
    I have to give a big thumbs up to you and Master Tech for seeing it all thru to a satisfactory finish. Best of all, it looks awesome in all of your photos.
    Again, congratulations!

  16. Congrats on the upgrades and being on the road again! Hope to run into you again on the road one of these days.

    — jc&bev

  17. Congratulations! We’re sure a lot of time,effort, and energy went into this project and that you will enjoy the fruits of your labors for a long time. Happy Trails.

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