MCI Bus Conversion

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How about we take a break from the trip and see a bit of real life around the Thames house.  A while back we shared the news about our bus conversion.  We (Greg) have been working hard to get things designed and built.  Each step comes with its own unique challenges.  All I can say is thank goodness for internet!  We have spent countless hours looking up designs and options and reading (and trying to learn from) the experiences of others.


So, here she is.  Our bus.


This is what it looked like when we got it.  The front…


The Back.  12 bus seats, one couch, a table, a desk/cooking table, a bookshelf and a full size bed.


The first thing for us to do was to remove the overhead luggage racks.  Greg and I both hit our heads a number of times just in the short time we had the bus till this day.  They had to go immediately.  These things are seriously sturdy.  They did not come out without a fight.  But, stubborn as we are, we won.


Some of the screws would not come out and needed grinding.


One down, one to go.


Finally, clear sailing for our heads.  I was amazed at how large it was in there once the bins were removed.  Greg also removed the covering for the air system.  It stuck out from the wall about 6 inches on each side and we needed all the width we could get.  He will be building a cover for the system in the front so we can use it while we are driving but the back will remain wide.


I am so thankful Greg took on the job of cleaning out the vents.  30 years of…well…I dont even want to think about it.  Thank you honey for taking (another) one for the team!


Next the walls started to get some framing and the back bench/bed is started.  I was playing with some different settings on the camera.  The bench was great at holding still but, not so much with Greg.


Now the walls are almost in.  We are so very thankful for the J family for giving us their extra insulation from their house remodel.  We had a propane space heater in the bus as we were in the middle of winter and with each panel of insulation we could feel the bus getting warmer and warmer.  There will be no problem keeping the heat inside this baby!

We blocked out three windows on each side.  This area will be bunks, bathroom and closet.


Our first set of bunks.  We decided to have three bunks on each side.  The kitchen counter has been moved in to help us get a better visual of spacing but not in its final home.  The bathroom sink and tub you see here we were not able to use so those have been moved out for better fitting items.


Bunks coming along and the bathroom is framed out.  Building inside a bus has many challenges.  Nothing is level nor could you every hope to actually make it level.  “Eyeballing” it is really the only way.  Each and every board is measured separately, cut and checked immediately to be sure its right before you can move to the next board.  The floor is on a slight incline from front to back.  So the hight you had for your 2×4 at one end of the bunk is not the same at the other end of the bunk.  The most fun was the curved ceiling walls.  We made a template for each wall then transferred that to the plywood and cut.  I think only once did that actually work the first time.  Our record for number of cuts on one board was 6.  In and out, in and out.  6 times.  Each cut taking just a fraction of an inch off.


Back to front.


The kids are very excited about the bunks.  Oliver talks about them constantly.


The fridge is moved into position.  And how, might you ask, did you get that in there?  If you’ve ever been in a bus you might remember the doors are not all that big.  But…those windows are.  Yep, pop out a couple pins, remove a window and be sure to invite some strong men over to help.  I am very thankful to Jeff D and my brother Michael for helping load some of these heavier items.

So, that’s all for updates on the bus for now.  I will try to get up to date soon.  There are many more changes to share!

5 thoughts on “MCI Bus Conversion

  1. Hi there. I have been looking for a few ideas here and there and stumbled upon your site! We are also just beginning our bus reno as well (1984 MCI 9). Would be very interested in any tips or tricks you have used 🙂

    • Sorry! We didn’t see your message until now. Biggest suggestion would be to take your time and do your research. The remodel is so custom you have a lot of freedom but also need to be sure basics are covered. Make sure to have plenty of power and it is sound before finishing everything off. Hope it goes well and have fun with it!

    • Update: Sad to say we only got one “real” trip out of her. We broke down in Las Vegas after driving her to Texas on our return journey home. The repair price was too high and cost to get her brought back from Vegas to Bellingham was crazy. So as the saying go, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!

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