Treating rust and painting the subfloor frame

Treating rust and painting the subfloor frame

Yesterday I treated all the rust patches in the floor frame. There was actually quite a lot and the more of the white paint I ground off, the more rust I discovered underneath it! At least it was all still pretty minor and I didn’t stress too much about getting it all off. Just did the worst of it.

Some of the rust before:

seats removed
grinding back rust in subfloor

After grinding back most of the rust:

After that, I painted the whole frame with Penetrol, which soaks down into every little crevice and seals up the rusty metal. Once that was dry, I then painted the floor frame with two coats of Rust Guard primer mixed with more Penetrol, and then finished with a top coat of Rust Guard enamel. 

toyota coaster floor heaters and hoses

It was a lot of work to do this, but I am so pleased with the finished result. It looks AMAZING!

I can now be confident that I won’t have to worry about rust in my subfloor for a very long time!


finished subfloor
Cleaning the floor frame

Cleaning the floor frame

This week I gave the floor a thorough clean and washed off all the dirt that was caked onto the floor frame.

Before cleaning
after cleaning

I also pulled the driver seat out temporarily so I could remove the old, very worn vinyl that was covering the floor in the cab area, and clean underneath.

Not only did I find a mountain of dirt and dust underneath the seat, but I also uncovered some pencils, a plastic square, $7.80 worth of change and a Michael Jackson CD!

treasures under the driver seat

Driver’s area floor with original vinyl still in place:

driver area before vinyl removed

After vinyl was removed:

driver area after vinyl removed

After cleaning:

driver area after cleaning

It was all so filthy and took many hours but I’m pleased with the result. Now with all the dirt gone, I can clearly see the rust that needs to be treated in the frame. There is actually quite a bit of it, but thankfully, it is all just minor surface rust.

The next job will be to treat the rust and paint the frame. Then I can lay the new floor!

Removing the floor heaters and the old floor

Removing the floor heaters and the old floor

This week I tackled one of the biggest jobs so far on my Toyota Coaster bus conversion – removing the floor heaters and pulling up the old plywood floor.

seats removed

The two black things in the photo above are the floor heaters. They are connected by hoses to the main coolant system. Coolant flows from the engine, up through these heaters and then back to the engine. In order to remove the heaters, I first needed to disconnect the hoses underneath the bus. Although not technically difficult, it was an awkward job because there isn’t a lot of space to move under the bus, and it was a tricky business trying to catch the coolant in a bucket as the hoses were cut. But I took my time, and managed to clamp off the hoses close to where they met the engine at the front of the bus, and then set about removing the hoses that were running the length of the bus between the heaters. Once the hoses were removed and the wires unplugged, it was a fairly simple matter to unbolt the heaters and lift them off the floor.

toyota coaster floor heaters and hoses

The next task was to pull up the old plywood floor.

Although most of the floor seemed pretty solid, there were some areas that had obvious water damage, and when I examined the floor from underneath the bus, I could tell there were some areas where the layers of ply were beginning to separate. So I wanted to get rid of it all in order to replace it with a new, solid floor. Removing the floor also gave me the opportunity to find any rust and treat it. Thankfully, there wasn’t too much rust – just a few patches of mild surface rust which will be easy to fix.

In contrast to my first bus, the vinyl covering the floor in the coaster was quite easy to take up – it all came off in one piece! I will be able to use this piece as a template when I come to lay new vinyl on the floor later.

The plywood underneath was screwed and glued down, but again, unlike the big bus, this lot was much easier to lift up. It helped that the wood was laid in several sections, rather than one very long piece. Even so, it was still quite hard physical work and I struggled a bit with my elbow tendonitis, which I’m frustrated to say is taking a very long time to heal.

pulling up the old floor
after floor removed

Once I’d removed the floor, I was able to finish sealing off the coolant system by replacing the two remaining clamped hoses with a single loop of hose connecting both pipes. I managed to do the whole job of removing the floor heaters with only 2L of coolant loss (and the vast majority of this was the coolant sitting in the heater hoses in the rear. Once I reconnected the system, the coolant level was still reading as almost full).

Stripping the ceiling and removing the old insulation

Stripping the ceiling and removing the old insulation

The next task in stripping the interior of the bus was to remove the ceiling panels and airconditioning ducts.

This certainly opened up the space a bit more and once again, I was pleased to find that the underlying frame was in excellent condition.

Removing the old insulation was a time-consuming job but I managed to get most of it off. I’ll be replacing it with good quality insulation that is more flame-resistant and won’t hold moisture if there is ever a leak in the roof.

Starting my Toyota Coaster bus conversion – removing the seats

Starting my Toyota Coaster bus conversion – removing the seats

I’m excited to be starting the conversion of my new bus this week. The first job is to remove all of the passenger seats.

Thankfully, this was a relatively easy task since they were all just bolted in and the bolts were easy to remove.

removing the seats

I was hoping the space might look a little bigger after the seats were removed but it still looks tiny LOL! It sure is going to be a design challenge to fit everything I need in this bus.

seats removed

After removing the seats, I started work on stripping the rest of the inside.

removing interior wall linings

The panels lining the walls were also pretty easy to remove and I was pleased to discover that there was virtually no rust under any of the windows. This was a huge relief because after my previous experience, I was a bit nervous as to what I might find.

But all I found in the end was 15 years worth of dirt and dust, as well as quite a few lolly wrappers shoved into the walls. Onya kids!

Introducing Mia – my Toyota Coaster Bus

Introducing Mia – my Toyota Coaster Bus

oh what a feeling Toyota

I’m so excited to introduce you to my new bus and (hopefully) future home!

I started calling her Mia (pronounced mee-yah) because up until the day I purchased her, she was the Mt Mee school bus. And it kinda stuck. Mia is also the Spanish word for “mine” so I like it.

Mia is a 2005 Toyota Coaster.

Almost 7m long, 1.9m wide and 2.6m high. GVM is 4990kg.

She has a 4cyl turbo diesel engine (15bFTE model for folks who are interested in such things) and has only done 386,000kms which is nothing for a diesel coaster, especially one which has been regularly serviced. She was the Mt Mee school bus for her entire life, and because here in Queensland, school buses must pass inspection every 6 months, I know she has been well maintained and mechanically, she is in excellent condition.

my 2005 toyota coaster
my 2005 toyota coaster school bus
inside driver cabin toyota coaster
seats in toyota coaster

There is a bit of rust around the windscreen but I looked very hard to find evidence of significant rust elsewhere and couldn’t see a thing, so fingers crossed, this bus will be in much better condition than my first one.

It is such a joy to drive this bus. Gear changes are super easy and it just feels like driving an extra big car really. I know I am going to feel a lot more comfortable travelling in this bus than I did with the big one. In fact, I am so inspired by the fact that the coaster can go almost anywhere, that I am really starting to have second thoughts about towing a trailer for my studio. It would be much cheaper, and much less hassle if I didn’t have to tow anything, and after this past year I am ready for life to just be easy and enjoyable! I don’t want to give up my business but I am definitely going to try to change the way I do things and do my very best to see if I can’t find some way to continue making a living from my art with what I am able to fit in this little bus.

It’s certainly going to be a challenge, but I am so excited and eager to get started. This little bus makes me smile every time I see her and I know this was the right decision for me going forward.

Mia and me