• Season 1 Episode 1
  • Where: New Zealand
  • What: 1984 Isuzu JCR500
  • When: May 2020

We finally picked up the bus that stole our hearts almost a month ago!

As travel restrictions lifted we flew up to Rotorua on the north island and begun the 900 km drive back down to Christchurch with our new bus. There are always a few quirks with a near 40-year-old vehicle, but once Scott made friends with the massive gearbox she ran like a dream. Double-clutch into fourth gear, drop out of fifth at high revs, and go fish for sixth at the bottom of fourth type scenario…

We wanted to get back home as soon as possible. So aside from stopping in for lunch with family along the way, we just went for it. Two grueling days of solid driving and a 3-hour ferry ride heading south. We just parked up at the ferry terminal in Wellington and slept on the floor of the bus that first night in our new home.

Demolition time…

Since we had bought the bus during the COVID-19 lockdown, we had bought her sight unseen. The seller had promised that she was very tidy without any rust issues, but of course, once we started the demolition we found a few problem areas in the usual places. Thankfully nothing too serious or structural. We will take care of that next week when we lower the floor and have a welder on site.

We are super excited to finally have the bus in our hands and are diving straight into the demolition. The first step in turning this 40-seat passenger coach into a house bus. The original plan was to keep as much of the original as possible, but once we got a closer look we deemed a more thorough restoration job was in order to do her justice.  We hope to get many years out of this bus on the road, on and between adventures, and then eventually park her up on some beautiful piece of land to live out her days as our forever home. So no short cuts!

OMG she needs a really good cleaning!

She is incredibly dusty after running mountain bikers up the hill all day for 14 years! Imagine a 3-5 cm thick layer of dust (dry mud) all over the undercarriage and the fabric lining the walls inside held an impressive amount of dust too. There was just no saving it! We started by taking out all the seats, stripping the fabric off the walls, then ripping out the ceiling and floors, leaving us with an empty shell, or a clean canvas, to work with.

Next time we will dive straight into the demolition and reconstruction of the bus.

All the seats and old surface materials need to go, and we also have a center aisle to contend with. We plan to lower the floor to create a level surface to build on and some welcome extra headroom to boot. A big job, but well worth it in the end. She is pretty tidy, but she is almost 40-years-old, so we found a bit of rust in the usual places too that need some attention.

We are super excited to share this journey with you—so stay tuned for next time!