Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hippie Buses Forever!

About 20 years ago I had an old school bus converted into a motorhome. It was a 1962 Dodge bus that was a little taller than the usual school buses of the day. I had it for a couple of years and lived in it for several months. This evening I was indulging in a little bit of bus nostalgia and browsed the web for hippie bus photos. I found quite a few.

Hippie buses began in the 1960's and the tradition never went away. There are still people out there decorating buses in the '60's hippie style. The most famous bus was Furthur, the bus that Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters drove across the country. This journey was made famous in Tom Wolfe's book, "Electric Kool-aid Acid Test." The original bus is rotting away in a swamp on Ken Kesey's ranch in Oregon. In the late '80's they got their hands on another bus and Further II went on the road.

I knew a couple of people, in the '70's when I lived in Fullerton, California, who were bus nomads. One guy, Silverbear, would come by most years on his annual migration from somewhere in Oregon or Washington down to the desert of Arizona. His bus, "Patchs", got its picture in a 1979 book called Rolling Homes by Jane Lidz.  The book has been out of print for awhile and it has become a collector's item. I understand Patchs might be still on the road. Another friend, Arthur, converted a step van into his home, and I visited another guy who owned a school bus with a couple of VW buses welded on top.

People are still converting buses to motor homes and some of them paint them wildly. I have seen several of them at the Burning Man Festival over the last ten years and they still regularly appear at Rainbow Gatherings. I found a few websites that have collected photos of these. One of them has about 40 photos of colorfully painted Volkswagen buses. Another one has pictures of various hippie buses.

My Gypsy Caravan project is an extension of the love affair I have had with buses and do-it-yourself mobile living for over 30 years.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Caravan Progress Report - 2-15-2010

A couple of new developments to report. I started putting tongue-and-groove wood siding on the ends of the caravan. I stained the wood with a Brazilian Cherry stain and sealed the boards with spar urethane.Then  I cut them and screwed them onto the metal frame. Each piece was custom fit to the cuvces and I had to pre-drill the wood and the metal before inserting the screws.  I have the back wall done and the wood is ready to go on the front end.

I bought four trailer tongue jacks and modified them to create a way to jack the caravan off of the trailer. I made jacking points at the four corners of the caravan and made mounting brackets for the tongue jacks. I had to exted the length of each jack by two feet. I did a test jack-up last weekend and it worked fine. Now I can remove the flatbed trailer out from under the camper.While I had the camper jacked up, I was able to put sheet metal sides on the lower sides.This is all part of the process of making it weather proof.

I drew, with chalk, the positioning of all the interior elements - the bed, bathroom, kitchen, closets, etc. I researched and figured out how I will make the doors and windows, which , I think, is the next major project.