It has been a month and 8 days since we parked our newly purchased bus in our driveway. Since we put ourselves on a tight deadline as to when the bus needs to be finished, we have had to spend many long cold days (and nights) working in the bus to get it ready for the build. It took over a month just to get the seats out!
We removed all of the seats from the bus in about half of an hour but our seats were unique in the fact that they were track seating. Rather than the seats being directly bolted through the floor like most school bus seats, our seat legs sat into tracks that were flush with the wood floor. The tracks were bolted down using a recessed allen bolt every 4″. (20′ of tracks)(a bolt every 4″)(8 tracks) = 480 bolts. 480 recessed steel bolts within recessed tracks…
“I should be sleeping like a log”
The easiest approach would be to unscrew the bolts and move on to another project. If anyone has ever been on the underside of a bus before, they know there is a lot going on under there. Because of this, access to the majority of the bolts were blocked by framing.
Our first thought was to cut the wood floors out around the tracks so that we could have full access to three of the four sides. A quick trip to the hardware store and a couple hundred dollars later we had what we needed. Right? After removing the wood, it was time to get out the reciprocating saw. It was going to be a breeze to run the saw between the bottom of the tracks and the galvanized bus flooring. A blade instantly broke and went flying at warp speed into the air, and we realized this was going to be a challenge.
Out we go again, this time for drill bits. We saw a video where a guy drilled out all of his track bolts and the tracks lifted right out. We went to 3 hardware stores to get a nice array of cobalt bits. Again, it was made abruptly clear that this wasn’t going to work either. The bits were snagging and were equally as dangerous as the reciprocating saw blades.
Back to the hardware store! This time we came back with an angle grinder. Surely we could cut through the sides of the tracks and cut the bolt heads off. Riiiight? No. After several blades were tried against the sides of the tracks, the angle of the grind was just not right. The blade’s safety nut was sticking out too far and not allowing us to get parallel with the tracks and instead, the grinder was slicing into the bus flooring. Back to the drawing boards.
Fast forward a month and we still had a lot of work to do so we started taking out the wall and ceiling panels.
Dustin’s dad came over for Christmas Eve and brought with him some super heavy duty drill bits. After rounding out a few allen heads, the drilling began. LAAAAA!!! The light shined brightly! The clouds parted! SUCCESS! The new heavy duty machine shop bits were no match for the weak and pathetic allen bolts. This process took nearly 10 minutes per bolt. Only 478 bolts left…
Alas, one final tool is removed from the magical tool box. AN ANGLE GRINDER?! WHAAA?? We’ve been down this road before. It couldn’t possibly work. It WON’T work.
ok, it worked.
This time instead of going at the tracks from the side we went from the top. Slicing the tracks right down the middle, through the bolt heads, and right on down the length of the bus, the tracks finally came out. 45 minutes per track was a heck of a lot less time than 10 minutes per bolt. Once the tracks were removed, the bolt heads were cut off and the floors were out.