Boys The Destroyers

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Hey Everyone, I just wanted to update you on some of the latest destruction happening at the Thames place.  A few months ago we found out that our remodeled travel trailer had a leak again and this time there was no “fixing” it.  So Greg decided that he had a chance to fulfill a lifetime goal of building a “Tiny House.”  He decided to reuse the trailer.  That, of course, means that he somehow needed to hook up the truck to the trailer body via a chain and pulled the cabin off the trailer.





He did it so fast that I didn’t get a chance to take pictures until the damage was done.
But not to be undone, I gave Zeke and Oliver the ok to “dissect” my keyboard.  It was my mom’s old keyboard, and I have been hauling this around for years knowing it probably didn’t work anymore.  We finally pulled it out and tested it, but it was a no go.  I know my mom would be happy to know it had one more educational gift to give as they joyfully ripped it apart.

Camping Mt. St. Helens

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Or should I say “Glamping?”  Our first trip of the year was also our maiden voyage in the bus.  We had a few hiccups on the way down but all in all it did great.  The ride down was fun.  Kids were able to play in the back or hang out in front with us.


Oliver was able to nap in his bunk.



Apparently these are the only pictures I took on the drive down.  I did get some book reading in though.  This is not usually an option for me on road trips as motion sickness takes over.  Greg did a great job driving down and avoided smooshing the people who jump in front and slam on their brakes.  I mean really?  We are big.  Hard to miss.

So, I know I’ve skipped a lot of bus remodel posts.  But how about some pictures of the finished product.  They are the most fun anyway.  The finishing touches (you know like doors, paint, curtains, a few extra shelved) were finished the day before we left.  And no, this time, it was not procrastination.  But, working well under pressure we pulled it off.


Here we have the front just as you come up the steps.  My co captian’s chair on the left.


Kitchen with full-sized fridge and extra-large sink.  Both were very handy and well used this weekend.  Two cabinet doors will be added to the pantry (above and below the microwave).


The hallway just past the kitchen.  The bathroom on the left and clothes closets on the right.


Our soon to be tiled shower.  This is on the left side of the bathroom.  The only thing not functional in the bus this trip.  Not bad.


The other side of the bathroom.


The bunks.  We had Oliver and Abigail on the bottom bunks with Zoe and Ezekiel on the middle bunks this trip.  Until we get a bar or ledge on the top one we’ll hold off on that.  Both Zeke and Zoe fell out of their bunks the first night due to slippery sleeping bags.


The back bench/bedroom.  We wanted extra bench seating and play area in the back.  We have boxes under the seats that fill in the middle section and cushions to go on top that turns this into a bed.  It worked out pretty well.  A little tweaking is needed to keep a crack from developing between one cushion.  I was not effected but poor Greg kept falling in the hole.  It will be an easy fix.


And a final view from the back bench forward.  There are still a number of things that need to get done but this project has come a long way in a short time.  We call this our mobile Monticello.  I hope you enjoyed the tour.  I’ll post the rest of our trip soon.

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!

Oh yeah we bought a bus!!!

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Yes sir-eeeee, we bought a bus. Not just any bus. It is a 1982 Motor Coach International (MCI) M-9 New Jersey Transport Bus. 40 foot triple axle, diesel powered beast. It is big and it is beautiful.


So you might be wondering “Has Greg lost his mind?” Well the answer would be yes, but that is a subject for another posting. Anyway, our hope is to transform this transport into our family’s motorhome. The prior owners of this Silver Bullet started the process by taking most of the seats out of the bus except the front 4 rows. They added a couch, table and bed for mom and dad. The kids slept in sleeping beds on the floor. They used it as part gospel ministry and part family RV.



The “B” family would travel the country singing the praises of Jesus in local churches as a way to share the Gospel of Jesus. They would also vacation with this bus……and oh the stories….you know the ones that you can laugh about now but cause you to pray hard and asked God for help when they happen. Like the time they ran out of gas…..oh I didn’t mention the bus doesn’t have a gas gauge. You have to keep track of mpg and the miles you have traveled. Let’s just say they decided 500 miles traveled was the magical number before refueling to ensure that they didn’t run out of gas again. I think we will do that too.


Or the story of them driving through a bad snow storm in the mid west. And the windshield wipers stopped working. Oh, I didn’t tell you that everything in the bus is powered by compressed air. From the brakes to the windshield wipers to the drivers seat (height controls). They had a leak in the air line to the wipers. Everything else worked but the wipers. They had the drive with no wipers until they could get to a truck stop to figure out how to fix them. But that is now fixed, and they were so nice they gave us the extra parts in case it happens again? I truly beleive they told us these story to make sure we could/would handle the downside that comes with owning a bus.


But you know as we were driving down their driveway (As they were directing us, so as not to hit anything on their property like fences, water lines, trees, etc) I could tell that Mr. B and his family were a little sad that their bus adventure days were over. And just think ours are just beginning.

Our Travel Trailer remodel…Part 5 The Grand Finale

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OK, here is the rest of the story….  A few months ago, we remodeled our travel trailer due to a crack in the fiberglass shell and our family was growing and we needed more space.  These are the pictures of the completed job.  There were a few things we did to upgrade that I didn’t have pictures for and I wanted to share.  The biggest of those was we added a solar array to our RV.  It was a surprisingly easy upgrade thanks again to the Great Library of our day: the Internet and YouTube.  Here is the link I used: Solar Panel Tutorial.  Also we added an Olympian Wave Gas Catalytic Heater, and LED lights: the reason that we added these things to the upgrade was because we do a fair amount of “Dry” camping (aka Free), where power is not available.  The setup of the trailer before often caused us to bring the power generator and we still would still run out of power.  Meaning on cold nights it was as cold inside as it was outside because the heater fan would suck all the power and die.  Sorry for not including pictures of these upgrades.  But with out further ado here is a completed project.

This is a picture of the front of our trailer. It’s all about storage in these picture. Under each bench there is tons and tons of storage. The couch in front is where the table is kept, along with the extra chairs if needed. We love this because most of the time we never bring it out. If we come in for a quick snack, the kids grab a sit and eat (and that is only if it is not nice outside.) Without the table there is enough room to put Abby’s play and pack and have enough room for the rest of us. With all the storage there is a place for everything and everything in its place

The before picture

Here is the kitchenette, one fun thing we found when we when breaking everything down was the frig’s door cover with black on one side
(which what it was before) and silver on the other. So we where able to flip the door cover around for a updated look. We also added some clearance glass beads to the back splash. That was the only things was changed in the kitchen but I think it looks better than the old one. What do you think?

The Before picture….

This area had some major changes.  The sink and medicine cabinate were removed and a floor to ceiling closet added.  This was a number one requirement for Merriann.  Pre-Remodel the trailer had NO place for clothing/towels ect. Now we have ample storage for the whole family.  A full size bunk was also added above the main bed.

Another before picture, Please notice the door.

This is a picture of the New LED lights we got. They use 1/10 of the power the old light used. Meaning more light per battery charge. We got them from the local boat supply store which was cheaper that the RV store. And there was more of a selection to choose from.

The interior light we had before.

 Here are a few pictures with our family models.

Overall this was a great project.  Like all projects, it was time consuming, a lot of hard work but fun and there is nothing like having a fully custom travel trailer.  It looks like we are ready for camping!!

Our Travel Trailer remodel…Part 4….and sew on and sew on…

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The next major upgrade to our trailer was updating or I should say sewing our new upholstery.  What we looked for here was something that was easy the clean and again something that says Maui.  We decided on this:

And since we now had a fabric picked out it was time for us to get to sewing.  Here are some of the “sausage making” we went through in this process.

Real Men……. Sew!?!?! Yes, real men sew.

After all the hard work….  One person with skills (Merriann) and One person with not a clue (Greg) completed our task.  Because we have everything to hide I took all our pictures from a distance.  So those of you that can really sew couldn’t be able to pick out my work but as we tell the kids as long as you try your best its good enough for us. We are not sure if our hems are done right, but none have come out as of yet.  Yep, we are happy with it so far.

One sewing trick that we found online was to use shower curtains.  They are already sewn and they are usually are made of a heavy duty fabric.  So all we had to do is hem the bottom.

Next time I will share with you guys the finished pictures of the the travel trailer remodel project.

Our Travel Trailer remodel…Part 3

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OK after the wall repair was completed we went and picked out colors to paint the  travel trailer.  We wanted it to be fun, easy to clean and say something Hawaiian.  Maui, Hawaii is where Merriann and I proclaimed to the world that we made a covenant to God and each other that we would be husband and wife for a lifetime.  No surprise to anyone that our time in Maui is one of our favorite married memories.  So the colors which I can’t remember  say “Aloha” to us.

By far and away this is the most time intensive thing we did.  From priming and painting, it took about two weeks to paint everything from the walls the cabinets.  It actually took longer because we had to paint all of the new surfaces that we were installing as we went.

But after we completed painting the inside shell. We installed the benches.  The idea of the bench was that we could use benches as benches most of the time.  But when it was dinner time we could easily bring out the table.  We decided to use a small folding table in order to save on weight.  The table that came with the trailer was one of those great unstable ones that rocks (or rockets) back and forth whenever touched.  We could always count on someone hitting the table and the person on the other side either got the drink thrown in their face ( Merriann or I) OR their plate of food thrown baSck on the person who hit the table (the kids).  Which always add unplanned “fun” to our camping trip.  So it is safe to say that Merriann and I DID NOT like the table.  We used a small Costco folding table.  It seems to do the trick.  It is lite enough to just fold away when it’s not need.  And big enough to use when we sit down to eat we all can sit at the table at the same time.  But most importantly there is no more flying drink or food.  Another nice thing about the large bench is that it is large enough for the kids to sleep on.

Another plus to using the Airstream design is that it gave us more kid’s play space.  By moving the table to a different location it opened up the the floor but gave us a place to watch the “entertainment” (our kids). Because there are extra benches around most of the cabin space.

Next up Merriann takes on sewing????  Oh I mean Merriann takes on SEWING!!!!