Sacked by the "downturn", an unemployed architect touring the country in a bus...

I used to live in New York City. I designed homes for the tycoons of Wall Street; Park Avenue, Scarsdale, Greenwich. It was great fun. And, after years of saving up for a down payment, I was just about to buy my own little place in Fleetwood, half an hour north of the city, when the economy fell apart. Architects are like canaries in a coal mine when the economy slows, and true to form, there were massive layoffs in firms all over the country. Devastation of the profession. So, I decided to try to find something else to do for a while. I bought a 23' school bus and I'm on the road to see if I can figure out what that might be.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Some work on the bus

I am preparing for my next leg on the trip, out west to New Mexico, Arizona, and then north.  I've decided to put some creature comforts into the bus before I go; a big "house" battery for light and laptop, a propane furnace, a refrigerator that runs on AC/DC or propane, and a microwave.  I spent a week engineering a system,...
with thanks going to Mark Burggraaf for checking my heat loss calc, and others for educating me about components.  To keep the costs down, I've ordered the major components myself and am physically installing these and cabinetry as they arrive this week.  I'll have "Happy Camper RV Repair" wire it up and put in propane lines next week. 
My design is very compact; the components are right next to each other for short "runs" of wire and gas, and my selections of components also included consideration of the geometry of available kitchen base cabinets and the locations of the existing bus wall framing elements.  It was quite a lot to coordinate.  Plus, as I am an architect, it was important to me to work out an acceptable aesthetic solution; if I give that up, I've lost everything to the downturn.  So, I will make new fronts for the new cabinet drawers and doors to match the IKEA dresser, and I'll stain the new cabinets Ebony, and so forth.
Here are some pictures of progress today.  The refrigerator will go in the left most kitchen cabinet, electrical system in the adjacent cabinet.  The metal box will go on a platform to elevate the top to match the height of the IKEA dresser, and the furnace will go inside the platform below.  The metal box will be a safe for camera gear.  The microwave will sit on top.  The pictures show me making Swiss cheese of the IKEA cabinet, so that I can draw return air through it from the far end of the bus.  I'll also cut some holes in the base of the cabinets on the left, to draw return from the front of the bus.
Today, I'll drive down to Gulfport to pick up my 135 pound, 200 amp hour, AGM deep cycle battery (ie, it's a beauty :-)


  1. That's great....I'm too lazy to do the work myself, & prob wouldn't be able to figure it out anyway lol...Go you :-)
    Off to New Mexico & AZ next? I loved the traveling when we were doing it & you will to, seeing this wonderful country is something else. So many beautiful sights, people ect....
    Hope to see you before you go.

  2. Hi Dawn,

    I was hoping to get back in to N'awlins this weekend, but I have a ton of building to do. I hope to go see "Happy Camper" Monday or so, and get them to order the parts they need, and maybe I'll come in while we wait for the parts.
    The west... ahhh... I can't wait! I've been dreaming about this for years.
    Yes, I hope we can get that coffee or a beer
    Thanks for posting! (I know tons of people are reading, but most can't figure out how to pick an identity to post.)