Bus Thursday: the lowdown

July 12, 2014 9:53 pm

This week’s Bus Thursday(tm) was a big success for our electric microbus. We decided our first priority is to get it inspected so we can register and insure it. To that end, we got the horn, turn signals, and wipers all working. All on a Thursday eve. We’re that good.

Sparkin' Jere

Sparkin’ Jere

We are not violent people, and we expect the same from our windshield wipers. To reduce their violent behavior we had to offer some tough love: we had to grind a bigger slot out of the metal frame between the dash and the windshield so the wiper mechanism wouldn’t slam into the from on each stroke.  Weird that this should be an issue. In any case, Jere pulled out the grinding wheel and made it all right.

Next on the docket is to fix up the taillight LEDs, which are already at MakeICT  and 1/2 done. After we reinstall those and reinstall the dash, we should be “good to go” for inspection. I can’t wait! 🙂

Next week too many of us have conflicts to do Bus Thursday. So maybe we’ll see you on Bus Thursday July 26 for re-assembly of dash and tail lights. Until then, maybe we can fix up the lights at MakeICT, perhaps at the open hack night this Monday?

Happy Trails,


Bus Update: May 22, 2014

May 23, 2014 3:47 pm

And so it happened that Dom, John and Barb showed up to work on said electric vehicle. We have a moving, driving vehicle but there is still lots to do:

  • Tail lights are mid-repair and at MakeICT. Tom is leading that project. He plans to finish them on Saturday.
  • IMG_20140522_220035There is an ever-changing pile of flaky electrical issues with various accessories. After spending a fair amount of time getting nowhere troubleshooting the turn signals, we took the whole dashboard off to see what’s up, dawg.
    • We have labeled every wire and every switch we removed from the dash. We even labeled the antenna wire. Yep we’re that good.
    • In terms of the turn signals, the turn signal lever is tested and good. However, all 3 wires that go to it seem connected to nothing (infinite resistance to both ground and 12V). Tracing the wires, it appeared the connection issue is somewhere toward the back of the bus, which seems odd as the hazards work and must connect to the turn signal wires before then. We are confused.
  • Tracing wiring turned into a more complex task than we would have guessed. Many wires are spliced and taped together with electrical tape. There is some loose wiring, one 5-wire connector that connects to only 2 wires, and lots of other oddities. The idea was floated more than once to rip out all of the wiring and start over.
  • Last week the passenger door was secured to the bus. Actual operation of the passenger door is a 2nd priority. It appears that the screw-thread that is responsible for opening and closing the door is threaded the wrong direction i.e. lifts the door when the door is supposed to open rather than dropping it or vice versa (or vice versa of that).
  • IMG_20140522_220057The driver’s door came back from Jeremiah’s friend (whose name I don’t remember). He painted (some of) it “blue” and worked on getting the cracks out. He didn’t have a lot nice to say about the experience: apparently there isn’t a lot of “fiber” in the fiberglass construction of the bus, so cracks will continue to happen throughout the bus’ lifetime. We might want to consider vinyl more seriously as opposed to a serious paint job.

Next week we will come equipped with twist-on wire connectors and start cleaning up the wiring. The plan is to try connections with the connectors, then secure the wiring.

We are considering an all-out work-on-bus party for Memorial Day. If you would consider participating, let us know so we might follow through.

We’ve come to the realization that it may not happen that the bus will be titled/registered/insured in time to participate in the Riverfest Parade. That’s disappointing in the short-term, but it gives us room to consider the long-term of getting the wiring correct and robust.

Bus Update March 6

March 12, 2014 4:22 pm

We had a party at Jerry’s this week. Jerry, Dom, John, Jim Rice and Barb showed up. Ray & Conner, friends of Jerry’s, were there too. Ray has volunteered to lead the paint and body work on the bus. Hooray. He brought a sandblaster to investigate the large linear cracks. Good news, they appear to be just bondo; bad news, since the bus shell is so flexible, the cracks may reappear. The driver’s door is off & went home with Ray.
All the batteries went in and are connected up to each other, but not to the front. That will happen after we get the controller installed.

The master brake cylinder and the right rear slave cylinder are installed and holding vacuum. The new slave cylinder didn’t fit, so Jerry & Ray took the old and new apart and fixed the old one.

There is now a tub in the garage for MakeICT stuff. John brought a spare laptop and we have nitrile gloves and a few face masks.

We discussed having a body work day some time other than Thursday night when we can put in more time in the daylight. We’ll have to see how things go.

Bus Update Feb 20

February 21, 2014 11:03 pm

Good times on the 20th with the bus:

  • confirmed master brake cylinder is good
  • confirmed inside panels are rotted and need to be removed. Screws holding the panels are rusted and hard to remove. We soaked them with Pb blaster and will try again next week.
  • removed more seats to get at inside panels
  • painted battery wells with rust stopping primer-type spray paint.
  • parts run:
    • primer paint
    • drop cloths
    • brake cleaner
    • waterless hand cleaner
    • Pb Blaster
  • list of stuff to bring for next week:
    • screw extractor – John
    • brake hose
    • gloves – Barb
    • creeper – Barb
    • VOM – John
    • Sunny personality – Dom
  • unresolved/to-do:
    • brake system can now be reassembled.
    • motor controller has 5 connections but we see only 4 wires
    • motor controller multi-pin plug has a wire that has ripped out of the plug. Where does it go?
    • motor controller has 4 pin jack. We don’t see a plug for it.

John will be out of town next Thursday so will leave his list of parts at MakeICT in Delano on Sat. Somebody (Dom?) will pick them up and bring them on Thursday.

The Bus, the Bus -2/14/14

February 14, 2014 2:23 pm

The bus motor controller has arrived!!! Dom posted a picture last night on Facebook. Check it out. Oh, the brake cylinder came too.

Jeremiah, Dom and Barb went out last night to see it all and be amazed. We were beginning to think that the controller was a fictional creature. It was that hard to get.

We decided that we are not ready to install it so the evening was spent cleaning the battery boxes. Dom & Barbara wirebrushed their little hearts out. Jeremiah kept handing us lights and tools when he wasn’t cleaning the attachment bolts. He will try to get the boxes spray painted this weekend. Installing the batteries will be next.

We are going to weekly Bus Thursdays starting February 20th.


Our short term goal is to get the brakes working and then get the motor running.

If you are ready to do heavy lifting (batteries) or want to help Barb with interior removal, come next Thursday, 2-20-2014.

We are moving now!!!

Bus Update 1/16/2014

January 21, 2014 8:51 pm

The next Bus Thursday will be Thursday February 6, 2014; 6 pm at Jeremiah’s.

Jeremiah, Dom and Barbara met to look over the bus.  We took a look at the connector that John asked about.  There is one installed and one extra.  We suspect the extra one is not functioning.  The picture with all the wires shows the installed one on the left with the other just sitting on the floor to the right.  The second picture is the one John found online.


Jeremiah and Dom checked the brakes for leaks.  It appears that the RH rear brake slave cylinder may be bad.  Dom was going to look for a replacement using the P/N out of the bus catalog.  The only catalog we could get from the OEM was for the next model, not ours.  We are using it for guidance.


Barbara did some sanding on one of the long straight cracks on the LH rear panel.  It looked like it might be just a paint crack considering the thickness of the paint.  However, it does appear to go through the body.  I couldn’t feel the crack on the interior of the panel, so maybe it is double skinned.  We can look when we take out lights, etc. for cleaning.  Jeremiah told me it went all the way through, but I didn’t believe him!


The plan for the next meeting is to clean up the battery boxes.  That means wire brushes, sandpaper, Rustoleum and elbow grease.

The controller saga continues.  It is very difficult to get one.  Several companies list them, but no one has our exact model.  Our best bet so far is Global Industrial Products out of Illinois.  Their engineer thinks we can use another model controller;  one that is in stock.  This would be a Curtis 1244-6561, 500 Amp rather than our 1244-6461, 400 Amp.  John is working on getting him more information.  They want to be sure that this replacement will work.

Bus Pics

December 23, 2013 7:43 am

These pictures illustrate the current condition of our bus:

Important Electric Microbus Meeting, tonight at MakeICT 6:30pm

December 19, 2013 10:03 am

What, who what?

  • Bus Meeting
  • Thursday Dec 19, 6:30PM
  • MakeICT (924 W. Douglas)


We have some great ideas for our electric microbus. And, through the cosmic randomness of our mystical, magical universe, some great opportunities for it have come up right now. Let’s get rolling, people! 🙂

In tonight’s meeting, we’ll review  ideas for the bus then discuss the current opportunities. Our intention is to leave with a concrete plan for its future. A good plan might include clear dates and goals, including at least one high-profile kickoff event. This will be a pivotal meeting for the bus.


  1. review history and current status of bus
  2. review past ideas about what the bus could be:
    1. new media art space (John explains?)
    2. learning lab (somebody explains?)
    3. other (open?)
  3. review current donations:
    1. Jeremiah (space and money from scrap metal)
    2. Anonymous (controller)
  4. current opportunity:
    1. anonymous donor interested in helping
    2. project lacks focus, specific plan, clear goal with dates, event
  5. logistics
    1. bus ownership
    2. cost considerations
  6. brainstorm and commit to a plan
    1. choose a specific idea as a first step
    2. what event(s) could we tie into?
    3. what has to happen and by when?
  7. framework for moving forward:
    1. who can commit to accomplishing what by when?
    2. roles? project manager? should people be checking in with each other?
  8. As May Arise

Compiled Bus Info

December 18, 2013 7:53 am

This page moved here!

September 2013 Update

September 15, 2013 10:52 pm

September is a busy month for us.  We are now meeting weekly to work on the microbus project.  Every other Monday we host public hours at Bluebird.  Every other Wednesday James, MakeICT president, hangs out at the makerspace and is available to help with any electronics projects.  We’re hosting another Instructables workshop, this time with Lumi.  At the end of the month is the mini Maker Faire in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  We hope to make with you this month, so come visit us!

September 5: Bus Thursday

September 9: Public hours from 7 to 9 pm at Bluebird

September 11: “Watt is this!?” Wednesday with James from 6 to 8 pm at Bluebird

September 12: Bus Thursday

September 14: Instructables Print It with Lumi Workshop

September 19: Bus Thursday

September 23: Public hours from 7 to 9 pm at Bluebird

September 25: “Watt is this!?” Wednesday with James from 6 to 8 pm at Bluebird

September 26: Bus Thursday

September 28: Tulsa Mini Maker Faire