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It's June 18th, 2004, The Pig has flown!


Looking at the right side with the flying pig on the hood, the awning installed and the wheels detailed.  It's dirty as it has been on a trip or two...

The front end.  The bungie is used to hold the front door open when parked, if needed. Yes, it is the same bungie that's been on there from the beginning! The curtains are in the window in this picture.  It just came home from it's fourth trip and second two or more day runs.

Here is a shot of the Generac genset.  It has almost 100 hours on the hourmeter - IT'S BEEN HOT HERE!   Notice the paintball splatter above the left side.....the genset is very quiet and you have to get close to hear it.  I like that and it helps keep good neighbors.  It runs the AC, refrigerator, battery charger and coffee pot at the same time with no problems so far.  I also have a microwave in the bus, but haven't used it yet.  It should be the same or less draw than the coffee pot as far as power goes, so I don't think it will be a problem.

Here is a shot of the bus doing what it was built to do: a place to relax, work on paintball markers, provide a shade and home base for some players/teams.  This picture was taken at the Bunkerfest II Paintball Tourney in San Antonio, Texas over the Memorial Day Weekend. This is the biggest Paintball Tournament in Texas with almost 200 teams attending.  Those are a few of the factory trailers and display booths behind the bus. Quite a few of the major paintball manufacturers were represented at the Tourney. We arrived Saturday and stayed thru Monday afternoon at the event. Could this be called "Urban Boondocking?" We were also supporting a couple of other teams that were entered and doing gun tech work for anybody and everybody that needed help.  We repaired and tuned over 25 markers on Sunday alone. 

Here is another shot with the awning deployed. This is how all (so far) of the tournaments we attend are setup. If you want electricity, water and a bathroom (there are usually porta potties, but they get pretty nasty after the first day) you better bring it yourself.  The AC was a really nice bonus as the temperatures were very close to 100 degrees on Sunday. The local weather stations listed a 110 degree heat index! The awning from the 5th wheel trailer has a maroon band at the bottom and doesn't match too well! The fabric will make the season, but will probably have to be replaced next season with something that matches the paint. Plenty of evening shade with the sun behind us and nice and cool on the inside with the AC running.  The genset is quieter than we expected and we were able to sit right next to it under the awning.  I do need to make an extension for the generator exhaust to take it up and away from under the awning!  We cooked burgers on the Road Trip grill in the evenings.  All the systems on the bus worked well during this excursion. The field was sand and while I didn't have any problems, a few of the 18 wheelers were!  We did see an auto and a truck get stuck in the ruts in the center of the picture.

Here's a shot of the old girl making her appearance at Fiesta Texas. That tower on the left is the Scream and on the right is the Texas Tornado water ride. This is a Six Flags park and they welcome RVs and busses.  Look at the size of those parking spaces!  They are longer than my bus by a few feet.  They are also wide enough you could  probably use your awning if you had to and make getting in and out of your RV easy with plenty of elbow room.  There was a very nice 35 foot motorhome parked on my left with the jacks down and a nice new VanHool charter bus on the left of that and it's only about 10:00 AM.  There were 50 to 80 of these spaces in the parking lot.  The bus was the rest area and sanctuary for us and some family members who drove down and met us there.  We arrived early, played hard, watched shows, chilled in the bus during the heat of the day, got wet in the water park, went to the bus about 7:00 PM, changed into dry clothes, ate a nice lunch, then went back in and stayed and played until the fireworks and laser light show was over and the park closed.  We spent the night dry camping nearby and went to the San Antonio Zoo the next day. Cruised home that evening and had a real nice two day/father's day vacation.

Look closer....what's that on the back glass?

It's playtime!!  They gave me a sticker!  The customer relations people said the bus in the add was parked in THIS park last weekend and I missed it!


This is a shot of the captain's area.  The old slow laptop runs the DeLorme EarthMate GPS with the 2004 version of the mapping software fairly well, it just updates a little slower. I just pop up the map on the screen and let it follow along via the GPS. This helps make life really easy and a lot less stressful while driving the "Really Big Suburban" in downtown areas. It can also help you find things you are looking for, like a WalMart to buy stuff you forgot, or the easiest way to the Zoo, or how to get to that truck stop to pick up a part at 11:30 at night.... I think this unit was one of the best things I bought for the bus - well the genset to run the AC is pretty high up on the in the Texas heat, anyway. I want to make a small folding  platform near the center of the dash for the laptop while going down the road.  The little fan helps keep me cool when driving around town. The curtains are mounted with spring loaded curtain rods so I can remove them and store in the bedroom when driving.  The floor and firewall near the motor is insulated with some aluminum covered foam, then some regular 1/2" carpet padding, then the indoor/outdoor carpet. The engine noise isn't bad and I hear the motor over the AC just enough to know how it is running OK.  Except for the occasional squeak or bump, it's pretty quiet inside.  I really need to dust the dash and paint the shifter lever, but I have been using this thing!

A shot of the interior with all the curtains closed. The curtains are thick upholstery cloth that does a good job of light control and also helps insulate the inside a little.

Another shot looking back.  I finally took the ribbons off of the AC.  I have hit my head enough times that I remember it's there now.  Pardon the mess in the bedroom, we just got back from the Zoo!

Here's how we secure the microwave and the coffee pot.  The extra bungie holds the pot in the coffemaker while going down the road.  I don't drive with coffee in the pot.  We make coffee while parked, then transfer into big cups if we are going to move and secure everything down after it cools.

Everybody needs a Pop-A-Plate over the kitchen sink. Just grab one and go.

The part time home of the RoadTrip grill.  We have a griddle, two grills and a cooktop for it in to cover most stuff you can cook.  We cook outside as much as possible during the summer to keep the cool in and the heat out! We will use the regular gas stove inside the bus in the cooler weather. We also have an extra BBQ sized tank in the tank bay to support the grill and it does double duty as a spare for the bus.

Simple door keeper for the bathroom door.  Keeps them from sliding closed while driving on rough roads.  The bedroom door has a similar holder.  They will stay closed by the magnetic catches if you need, but just didn't want to stay open. 

These pictures were taken on June 5th, 6th, 17th and 18th 2004.

I don't think it will ever be "completely finished" but it's certainly to a point I can use it and you can see I have been, after all the work, this is the fun part!!

Still in the plan: (see, I TOLD YOU it's not finished....)

1. Install new Dayton Accuride one piece rims with tubeless radials. Have new rims, just waiting for $$$BIG BUCKS$$ for tires.

2. Build an extension for the genset exhaust.  The genset is actually very quiet compared to most I have heard, but the exhaust needs to be redirected somewhere besides under the end of the awning!  The awning was originally going to go all the way forward and OVER the front door, but when it was ready to install, the rear arm was going to be in the center of the rear tire and wouldn't work where originally planned.  I had to slide the awning back about 4 feet and this put the exhaust pipe UNDER the back edge of the awning.

3. Add an 1 1/2" inlet to top of freshwater tank inside the pantry for adding chemicals, checking level, etc.  I already have the parts and only decided to add this after the first couple off shakeout trips. Live and learn...

4. Finish wiring for trailer plug.  I REALLY WANTED my golf cart at the last tourney as I am lazy, even more so in 100 degree heat and sand.  

5. New fabric with weather shield for awning.  This can wait at least a season or maybe two, but if I stumble across a couple of bucks.......I'll still spend them on new tires!

6. Still looking for a window to replace the one on the door.  I want one bigger to see out the right side better. After spending a few miles driving around pretty much anywhere I needed, it's not as bad as it looks and the co-pilot helps a lot here!

7. Solar panels/charge system/more battery storage - maybe?  Probably just enough to support the batteries I have now as they are heavy and I have genset if needed.

Total Money spent to June 5, 2004. This running total was tracked aggressively in an Excel spreadsheet. Every time we spent any time working on the bus or money, it went into the log.  I can tell you were every dollar went and what I worked on each day.  This figure includes EVERYTHING (including title, insurance, license, first tank of gas, GPS, BBQ grill, well, you get the idea everything in the bus) except a few small things I already had laying around, but that probably wouldn't add up to 500.00 to 800.00 worth of stuff.


Disclaimer: When you look at the figure above and see the total dollars spent, think of the following:  We did ALL of the work ourselves, myself (everything you can imagine and some you can't), my wife (sewing, interior decorating, cleaning, cooking) and two sons (laborers!!).  I didn't have to pay for mechanics, plumbers, electricians, welders, carpenters, painters, etc.  I have "invested" 425 hours on this project so far and the rest of the family contributed another 60 hours, so even at cheap rates, that CAN ADD a substantial amount of money in any conversion.  While this is my first bus conversion, I have pretty extensive experience in the different fields involved with this type of work and the tools required to perform this transformation. I also got lucky getting the 5th wheel with a lot of RV specific - "can you $ay expen$ive" - things that could easily add an additional $3000 to $6000 to the total. I only had to out-of-pocket $243.00 for tools I did not have to do this project, but these tools can be used on other toys, so that is not included in the total. This rig was built to take to tournaments and other out of the way places, be completely self contained and stay there for up to 7 days if required, so the slightly larger holding tanks, extra LP tank storage, slightly bigger battery bank, more robust and somewhat redundant electric system and quiet generator also added slightly to the cost to meet these requirements.   I am not telling you this to discourage you, just urging you to be realistic in your design and budget so YOU CAN MEET YOUR GOALS and to quote one of the more colorful bus converters out there "DO IT YOUR WAY". 


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Copyright 2004 BruinGilda the AeroSwine
Last modified: June 19, 2004