And One is Done

We went up to North KC today to check out the first completed slip cover for the passenger chair. Jessica had emailed us pics of the progress so far and it was looking good. Today we saw the real deal in person. You guys, this is more like an engineering project or a science project than a simple upholstery project. And, I know, who ever said upholstery was simple? Apparently we have happened upon a gem of a slip cover maker, Rebecca, to the extent that when they see her work upholsterers ask, “Is that a slip cover?” I don’t know all the ins and outs of the fabric world but to finesse the seat belt holes, skirts, pockets, piecing, Velcro, and fitting the way she has done so far, I say Hats Off!

It is actually two separate pieces, the back and the seat, with a solid and scientific but simple system of Velcro and elastic to make everything a cohesive unit.

We are looking forward to getting the driver’s seat done soon, since we definitely need to have the driver’s seat to take the bus to a big annual party on the river in way early May. And re-install the seats. Hopefully, for the last time; Jim has taken them out more times than he would have liked for various projects.

Here are some pics.  IMG_6045 IMG_6046 IMG_6049 IMG_6050

First pic looks like a pocket but really is an access that allows you to get to the controls of the chair, recline, etc. Next pic really is a pocket. Stash your iPad here until the next turn. Maps in the old days. Magnifying glass may still apply.


The back with a bigger map/whatever pocket. Rebecca recreated it perfectly. We are excited to see the next one. And to test them out. We are going to have them waterproofed, well, water resistant-ized, after the fabrication. So hopefully the red wine doesn’t soak in before it is sopped off.

Stay tuned.


One More Progress Pic

After I posted the previous photos of the slip covers, Jessica sent me another one with more progress. She says in her email, “She’s done a wonderful job with the seat belt hole!  Her seaming is beautiful!”

Here is the latest.


Slipcover Progress

We got the first look at how the slip covers are going. The girl doing them is really good and has had to innovate a few solutions but our contact, Jessica, tells us they are looking good. Here are some pics she sent.

Crosby slipcover in progress 2 Crosby slipcover in progress 1

They are going to have us come out and check out the first one before they start on the second. This is the passenger side chair. The fabric has been laundered and ironed so no surprises when first washing comes around. Then we can get them treated for water repellant properties after they are all done.

I presume the wrinkle at the top left in the first photo will be smoothed out and pulled tight when all comes together. And we need to make sure the slipcover covers all the chair in the back so little cat claws can’t reach up in between the leather and slipcover and do their catty damage.

Now that the weather is a little better, it is easy to imagine the seats back in the bus and on the road!


It continues to be face freezing cold, with snow and ice on the ground. Today’s high will be like six degrees.

Jim took the driver and passenger chairs out of the bus and they are going to the slipcover place to have at least one set of slipcovers made. We are waiting on a color sample to see about a second set. Still, quite a bit of cash for slipcovers… maybe one set is enough.

At least that can get done in this deep freeze; not much else can. He ordered new fans for the AquaHot but they seem just as noisy as the old ones once he got them inside the register and mounted. Ideas anyone?

Even though I can’t draw, an unfortunate drawback, I have been enjoying my iPad apps for drawing and painting. It is really the perfect art studio, all colors and brushes/pencils/pens on hand at anytime, no waiting, no mixing, just draw. And, ahem, try to get better at it. 

A few recent examples:

 IMG_0977 IMG_0757 IMG_0734 IMG_0733 image (35) image (16) astrid-1 image (36) IMG_0933 IMG_1068



Winter Projects

There’s not much to work on these days with the bus unless it’s an interior project. And those are pretty much off-limits too. With the bone searing cold we have had, the AquaHot won’t even fire on diesel. The outside of the bus still looks like the header photo with snow piled all around, even though Jim did have to shovel more to get his tool bay open. The blinds and clips are done and he is investigating quieter fans for the AquaHot; ours are noisy! When all three are on at once, it’s noticeable, shall we say.

We have been talking to a company since before the holidays about having slip covers made for the driver and passenger chairs. The leather upholstery is nice and soft, but it’s sticky when it’s warm out and Carmella likes to pretend the arms are a scratching post. We have avoided damage so far but wanted to have the utility of slip covers for extended journeys’ comfort plus cat control.

They came out and we got the go ahead from the slip cover person. She had never done captain’s chairs before and wanted to see the chairs in person to make sure it would work and look and wear well.  They took pictures and measurements and then they took off for Las Vegas for a convention. Meanwhile it snowed another foot here. Good timing on their part.

They sent us samples based on what we picked from the books they brought out. They came in the meantime and we narrowed them down.

As soon as I put them down on our grey carpet to take a picture, I liked how neutral the grey was. Lots of greys have green or blue in them. We ran into this with the blinds too. An example… I thought the left fabric was too blue, the right too green below.    


The fabrics are rated as to how many “double rubs” they will endure in their lifetime. The least was 30,000 double rubs and the most was 51,000. It just happened to be the neutral grey one we liked. Here are the finalists.

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We liked the turquoise and red but thought it might be so dark to absorb heat in hot weather. We plan to spend a lot of time in hot weather. They and the teal were less substantial fabric and rated Medium Duty. We’re going for Heavy Duty. With the cost of the labor, it would be stupid to scrimp on fabric. HA! I say that not having heard the per yard cost yet.

When I took all the samples out to the bus to compare with the blinds, the denim twill, which I had thought was too blue, turned out to compliment the dash perfectly. It is also a very dense 100% Cotton fabric that little cat claws cannot shred. And it is made in the USA! We have a small couch in the house with denim twill and the only wear you see on it is human wear. Anyway, the denim twill, which has 45,000 double rubs:

This is how close to the dash color it is. And the stairwell is grey. That end of the bus, the cockpit or whatever, could be mostly that color.

Anyway, we are waiting for the fabric cost by the yard quotes now. Each chair will take 10 yards of fabric. We got the labor cost already. We had been thinking about having two sets made in different colors. That is probably not going to happen.

The neutral grey is not as dense as the denim, but it is tough feeling and seems water-resistant, if not waterproof. We like grey/neutral but with the blinds, Jim’s chair and the steps, plus the laminate in the cabinets, and now the slip covers? So much grey? It’s not all right together though and there is lots of color in the bus… Texture makes a difference too.

DSC_5414  DSC_5399

Of course the cost will factor in. My dad always told me I had a champagne appetite on a beer budget.

What do you think?

And can you tell we still are surrounded by snow?

The Big Chill

After the ice storm, the snow moved in and it snowed all day. We got about a foot. Then the temperature dropped below zero, so we knew it would be around for a while.

Jim is a rock star snow shoveler! We have a long driveway, much longer than our 40 foot bus and he shoveled it all! And yes, that is about an inch of ice under the foot of snow we got.

He was a tired puppy.
Winter or Summer? You decide.

I think I know which The Mighty Bus prefers!

The Best Drawn Plans

It’s kind of a little joke around here, but Jim often says, “It’s good to have a plan…” Of course, we both know that the best laid plans can often veer off track.

When we decided to get the new blinds for the bus, we figured we would build a nice light wood valance for them to keep them in line and keep any stray light from coming in around the sides. The stray light wasn’t really a problem, even at night in a Wal Mart with our old blinds, which were basically Home Depot mini blinds. We liked them because they were pretty minimalist, didn’t require a lot of hardware and were light in color. But it was time to go for something more permanent and we do love the Bali top down bottom up pleated blinds that we got. Now if we could just try them out a on an actual trip, instead of in our cold and frozen driveway…

Next step: more drawing for Jim to figure out the valances. We wanted to go with the light wood like on the computer cabinet and cover the window frames as much as possible. Jim did lots of drawings, then got our good friend and neighbor involved to spiff up the drawings even more. He even figured out a grocery list for the lumber we would need.

DSC_5285   DSC_5282
Larry took Jim’s drawing on top and turned it into the refined diagram below.
He drew out the slide and bedroom, which are different from the passenger side and made up the materials list too. What a guy!

The really big favor he did us though, was to also build a small prototype of how the valance would be constructed so we could fit it around the windows and see how it would appear in actual size and space. That was a real eye opener.

IMG_5928a  IMG_5928
On top is the actual piece he built, fitted in the slot between the computer cabinet and the breakfast bar. Upon reflection, we probably should have made the computer cabinet the same height as the breakfast bar but we were trying to maximize space in the cabinet and brought it up to the window frame.  No real big deal, since everything in a bus is offset differently anyway. Below is a photoshopped projection of how the valance would look all around the window. Um, OK so far.

But with the wooden actual size prototype, we were able to get a much better idea of the area the valances would take up and the amount they would stick out from the wall. Almost three inches would stick out to cover and enclose the blind. For the bottom valance to be even between the computer cabinet and the granite top, a three inch crumb catching nook would be created at the back of the breakfast bar under the valance.

Three inches may not sound like much. But then we thought, especially in the bedroom, with so little space on either side of the bed anyway, that would eat up a good little portion of the aisle we use to plop into bed. We started envisioning a future of bruised and banged up hips and elbows from creaming into the valances. Plus I wasn’t real sure about all the extra material we would be adding to the bus, kind of taking away some of the minimalist aspect.

So Jim started investigating clips. We had clips on the old Big Lots blinds, but they were pretty worthless, broke off, were difficult to operate, and the blinds came loose from the wall. We weren’t sure how clips would work with the top down bottom up aspect either. He ordered a couple of different types to try them out.


IMG_5930 IMG_5929
These metal clips won out on performance, durability and they have the longest pin, so the blind stays put. You can barely see them and they’re easy to operate. The side light thing will not be a problem, the old blinds were just plastic miniblinds; these are pleated, hug the wall closer and are thicker. And we bought a bunch of extra clips. Of course.


Above:  what the valances would look like.
This doesn’t really show the depth they would stick out from the window.

Below, the final solution. What do you think?

So all the time, drawing and especially the three-dimensional prototype led us to this conclusion. I guess however you work it out, the goal is to come up with the best solution. In this case, the best solution turned out to be the simplest, and least expensive approach. We would have spent several hundred dollars, even “doing it ourselves.” Who woulda thought?

Jim was looking forward to the actual building project and Larry was going to help. It’s always good to have a retired engineer across the street and everybody needs a distraction/project in the winter.  Isn’t that the truth?

Jim also built book holders in the cabinet above the dash so the books don’t fly out while you’re going down the road. Big, heavy books. That can be very distracting. More on those soon.

More Bus Decor


We have been moving some stuff out of our house and into the bus. Needless to say, there is limited space so we have to pick and choose our favorites. One of them is this African wedding mask. I always wanted Jim to put a light behind it so the eyes and openings would glow; maybe now he will.


And we love these Oaxacan carvings and have an entire collection of them, large and small. Wanted to incorporate a few of our favorites into the bus. When we first placed these two as they are in this photo, we broke the pink one while moving in the cat stand, smashing it pretty well. No worries though, Jim fixed it. Have I mentioned that he can fix anything? We also have a new cat stand type arrangement that Bob Sponcil is working on as we speak. The really cool thing will be that it takes up zero floor space! He’s the guy who made our awesome computer cabinet. Plus it/they will look much groovier and function even better than the carpeted cat stand.

And I noticed that the previous photos of the new blinds didn’t show the bottom up option. Here that is:


New Blinds Have Arrived!

The cold weather has put sort of the kibosh on this project, but Jim soldiers forward. The AquaHot wouldn’t even fire on diesel since it is so cold, but he got it going on AC and when the blinds arrived he got it up to 53 degrees in the bus. Wilkerson prevails! Long underwear helps alot…

They are top down bottom up blinds; they will be awesome.

He is going to build the valances this winter but here is the progress so far…

Stay tuned…

IMG_5867 IMG_5868 IMG_5872 IMG_5874 IMG_5873
We spent alot of time examining the samples and are really happy with the Bali Storm Dove pattern  that we chose. We’ll see how they go down the road.

And the News Keeps Coming In

Welcome to The Mighty Bus!

We are still finding that newspapers around the country (and the world) have picked up the story from the Kansas City Star. Thankfully, most of them run all the photos, our paper only used three.

From Malaysia in  The Star.

And Westchester County, New York, just north of Manhattan in The Journal News.

The Killeen, Texas Daily Herald.

And The Stockton, California Record. Not able to find a link yet.  The ones that don’t have links I found out about from comments on the blog. Please leave a link if you see the article! Saves lots of Googling!

The Hilton Head Island Packet. This was in Stats, but couldn’t find the article.

The Knoxville, Tennessee News ran in their digital edition but you have to subscribe to access the story. Knoxville is near where my cousin Gaile and her husband Ken live. Last year we visited them and they got a cool video of the bus as we left New Market, Tennessee. If you check it out, you will understand why the street we are turning off is called Churchview Street.

Somebody even pinned the Koi Dragon art in the post about why we did the paint job. This is not my art.

We probably won’t be taking the bus out again till spring, so bear with us for the winter while we finish up a few projects. We ordered new blinds and they should be delivered this week. Then Jim will build the valances. Follow along!