We Go Together

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One of the first things we did was the tinting, and the difference it’s made to the look and feel of the bus is amazing – as you can see.

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“Got a job for you tomorrow,” Tracey’s Dad, Ken, said to me.

“A job?”

This was unusual. A job sounded serious. It sounded like it might involve a hammer.

Naturally, I enquired.

“No, don’t bring your bloody hammer.”

Just as well. I never know where Tracey’s hidden it.

Maybe we were going to work on the engine? With luck, I thought gleefully, I might even get some manly grease under my nails. I’ve seen Grease – chicks go wild for that sort of thing.

As many of you know, I am not a handy man in any sense of those two words which goes beyond actually having five delicately fingered slabs of boney meat on the ends of my arms. I seriously changed two lightbulbs in our bathroom the other day and not only paraded around here like I’d just rewired the house, I phoned my mother to let her know.

“That’s very good,” she told me without a hint of mockery because she knows how useless I am. “Electricians are expensive these days.”

So the thing is, there’s not a lot I can do to help prepare our bus for this adventure. The job has fallen to Ken. He’s laying cable, making tables and brackets. Then our brother-in-law, Jason, is generously helping with tricky dicky switches and things. All I’ve done is lay a few sticky vinyl squares on the floor, rehung some curtains and been the go-to guy for trips to Bunnings or up the stairs to ask Carmel, Tracey’s Mum, for smoko.

To be honest, I think my father-in-law is running out of jobs he trusts me with. I’ve done a lot of ducking down to his shed to grab a tool (which he usually has to describe in some detail) and three days scrapping paint off a metal bracket with a razor blade (only cut myself twice) which I’m pretty sure he could have done with an attachment on his drilly thing in a couple of minutes.

So when I was leaving yesterday it was pretty exciting to get something other than the usual pained and crestfallen facial expression when I yelled out, “See you tomorrow!”

I’d even go so far as to say he perked up a bit as he explained he had something in mind for me.

“For me? Fantastic,” I said. “What is it?”

“Tell him tomorrow, Ken,” Carmel called from the window. She’s been head seamstress on this job, adjusting the curtains to fit more neatly into our new configuration.

At last, I thought to myself as I drove home, something to get my teeth into!

I felt like I was finally going to run onto the field with the team: the tribe was speaking and they were saying there’s a mud hut here with my name on it: I am a very useful engine.

This morning I raced over the moment Tracey came home from a photo shoot. I found Ken sitting in a camp chair having a cuppa on his front lawn next to our bus, planning his day.

I stood, hands on hips, majestic like, king-of-the-world and lord-of-all-I-survey like, staring at my beautiful white bus and wondering what he was going to get me to do today. Undoing nuts, tightening bolts or maybe just changing bulbs – I do that now.

“Where do you want me?” I asked him.

Ken pointed behind me, to where the bus wasn’t. To under the stairs, in fact. More specifically, at the weeds.

“Since I’m doing this bus for you, you can do my jobs for me,” he grinned.

I don’t think I’ve never weeded without RoundUp before. It wasn’t fun.

But on the bright side, at least I got something dark and yucky under my nails. I think I’ll tell Tracey it’s grease.

Yep, wop baba lumop a wap bam boom, I reckon I’m definitely getting sexy time tonight.

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This is how I fit out a bus. Apparently it’s important to pull them out by the roots. Wish he’d told me that before I started.
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The before photo of the dining area and extra set of bunks we removed. Check out that tiny tiny kitchen table.
My sensational contribution - laying square lino. Most even stayed down.
My sensational contribution.
I scraped that double one down with a razor. A razor! It was pretty street. 
I scraped that double one down with a razor. A razor! It was pretty street.
The office. For us and the kids - five homeschooling is gonna take some bench space. 
The office. For us and the kids – five homeschooling is gonna take some bench space.
One set of bunks out and an office table in. Gotta pay for this trip somehow.
One set of bunks out and an office table in. Gotta pay for this trip somehow.
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Removed a seat of unneeded seats to give us a bigger kitchen area. New lengthened table top of the Bunning’s finest cheapest timber. Oh, and there’s the hardest working father in law in Gympietown. How’s retirement going, Ken?
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Not a plumber – ask me how I can tell.
Brother in law, Jason, smiling like he's enjoying spending his Sunday amongst the ants on the grass with his head in a bus. Or, laughing at how truly useless I am. It'll be one of those.
Ever notice how the best brother in law’s are tradies? Jason, smiling like he’s enjoying spending his Sunday off amongst the ants on the grass with his head in a bus. Or, laughing at how truly useless I am. It’ll be one of those.
Ken. Don't be scared, that's his happy face.
Ken. In case you’re wondering, that’s his happy face. At least when I’m around.
Many hours were spent on the camp chair beside the bus sipping coffee and tea and working out how to incorporate the new fridge and the existing stove into our kitchen. Finally, in no big way thanks to my own creativity, we hit upon turning the pull out stove tray upside down and raising it up 4cm. Fridge fits a treat now and is all wired up and plumbed in.
Many hours were spent on the camp chair beside the bus sipping coffee and tea and working out how to incorporate the new fridge and the existing stove into our kitchen. Finally, in no big way thanks to my own creativity, we hit upon turning the pull out stove tray upside down and raising it up 4cm. Fridge fits a treat now and is all wired up and plumbed in.

What’s next?

Ken has tweaked the bus battery charging system and we now have input plugs for the 240v and even output for when we’re set up camp. Before we started this project I had no idea what 240, 12 and 24 was. I mean, I knew two of them are Lotto numbers. Obviously. It’s been a learning curve. And there’s more to go. I haven’t given the black water tank more than a cursory glance since we bought the thing home.

We have two weeks to finish the remaining inside changes, such as anchor points and a rear camera set up, and possibly another fridge/esky unit, and to look into maximising our under bus storage. Then Ken’s going to change the hoses on the engine and show me how to grease up all the nipples – something I’d rather he used a different turn of phrase to tell me.

We’re ordering our new car trailer at the end of next week, because we just can’t find one to suit our apparently huge Kia Grand Carnival, and then the Kia gets a tow ball, some minor auto electrics work gets done, and in two weeks our beautiful Hino is booked in to get an air con unit in the ceiling, after which I’ll have four weeks to practice driving around missing curbs before we head off.

Oh, and I’ll have to learn which is the clean water input and grey water output – they look the same to me but I think that might be important.

Not long now!

Raising a family on little more than laughs.

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