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Removing the seats from your Skoolie

The first steps to any build, gutting the bus

Looking back I wish we would have enjoyed owning a school bus for a few weeks before we started tearing her apart so if you have the time and your rig is safe and sound mechanically, enjoy it as a bus for a while! Once you start tearing out seats it is full-steam ahead and there is no looking back.

Tools for the job:

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Getting started – the seats

When you’re ready to start gutting your bus, know that there are many methods manufacturers used to fasten seats, heaters, floor rails, etc. What worked for us may not work for you, but I’ve outlined some resources below to look if you’re stuck.

I started with the seats – ours were bolted through the floor and were fairly easy to remove by myself. I used a vice-grip underneath the body to hold the nut in-place. Then, from inside the bus, I used an impact driver to remove the bolt. The vice-grip will spin and then catch on the body, preventing the nut from rotating with the bolt. It is a tedious process, requiring you to climb in and out of the bus repeatedly, but it was cheap, effective, and easy.

I have heard others have to use angle grinders to remove floor rails or drills to drill through stubborn bolts or rivets. We had none of these issues, but I will say that an angle grinder was one of my #1 tools for the build. Be aware that the shower of sparks the angle grinder throws out will burn through your clothes if you’re too close, and can melt or start fire to nearby objects. The metal shards from removing the wall-rails in our bus are still embedded in the tint-film of the passenger door window – OOPS!

the floor, walls, and ceiling

Once the seats are out, take a break! Enjoy your freshly empty bus – isn’t it pretty? Well not for long, so enjoy it while it lasts.
The floor is a bit of a challenge and is definitely a dirty job. Most floors have a top layer of rubber with a plywood subfloor, likely attached to the metal floor of the bus using nails and adhesive. I was able to pull all of the rubber off fairly easy after removing center aisle and trim pieces holding the rubber in place. For the plywood subfloor, I used a three feet crowbar and a two pound hammer to pry up sections and remove all of the nails afterwards.
Note: there were a few bolts holding up our AC blower fans, from underneath the bus through to the top of the rubber. I didn’t want to mess with removing the blower fans so I just cut around the blots and buried them in my sub-floor.

Getting the walls off was fairly easy. Most of the rivets popped right off, and I used an angle grinder for the rest. Leave the “lower” wall section – this is a structural element to the bus and should not be removed. I did cut the lip off of ours, where the seats were bolted down, but left the rest.

For the ceiling, you probably have screws or rivets holding the sheet metal on. In our case, we had rivets. I used a chisel and hammer to manually cut the heads off of every rivet and pull the sheet metal down. It is handy to have a bench grinder around to sharpen the chisel as you go, the rivets will do some damage to the edge. All-in-all it was a tedious, but easy process.

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