Demolition Part 2: Removing the Ceiling

With room in the bus to perform cartwheels, the next item on our To-Do List was removing the ceiling. The only thing standing between us and our goal was a hoard of hundreds and hundreds of screws. One thing we had going for us: Our bus is a Thomas, which means the ceiling is attached by screws and not rivets. Rivets have to be ground out with an angle grinder (which is not a very light tool), and THAT, my friends, would be a grueling task.

We were so thankful that Robert’s parents were able to come visit and help us work on the bus! A huge shout out goes to Ed and Sheri for helping us get work DONE! They brought a drill, socket wrench set, and a crow bar to aid us in what shall henceforth be named The Battle of the Screws.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Robert and Ed set to work on removing the rusty, bolted-in feet that we left after cutting out the seats. There was a catch: The nut on each bolt was under the bus. While one person had to navigate the underbelly of the beast and hold the nut in place with a socket wrench, the other person was inside with an impact driver, coaxing the rusted mass out of its decade-and-a-half resting place. Once they got a system down (working front to back, lots of communication), it was surprising how quickly those feet came up!


While the guys were working on that, Sheri and I picked up a couple of drills and started removing the screws in the ceiling. As we worked our way up the curve of the ceiling, I was afraid the panels might fall down as soon as we took out the last screw, but they stayed up! The panels were being held in place by metal brackets just above the windows and the pressure from the curvature of the panels kept them snugly in place. Robert and Ed took a swing at removing one of the panels, which helped us figure out the best way to take them down. Now we know to work front-to-back to remove panels in the order they were overlapped.


Prepare for trouble! Make it double…


Pro Tip: Remove panels one end at a time, starting from one window and moving across to the opposite side. As soon as you get one side out, prepare for 40 lbs. of metal to come down fast.

So after a few hours of work and one big shoulder workout, here’s what we got done that day:

  • Removed half of the seat “feet”
  • Removed 840 screws from the ceiling
  • Removed the electrical casings above the windows
  • Removed a ceiling panel

Another huge THANK YOU to Ed and Sheri for helping us and lifting our spirits! They were wonderful and kept us laughing and working quickly all day long.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Robert and I spent the afternoon taking down the rest of the ceiling panels. We had quite a few stripped screws in our way, but our “Grab-It” drill bit did a wonderful job of removing most of them (Otherwise known as The Taming of the Screw… I’m having too much fun with this). The remaining few had to be drilled out, since we didn’t have an angle grinder on hand.

After removing all the ceiling lights, speakers, and face covers for the emergency exits, we ripped out the panels. Using a crow bar, Robert would pry the end of a panel out of its bracket above the window while I held the panel in place. After that, the panel would pop out of its place and stacked them off to the side. To finish the night off, we ripped down the old, slightly moldy bus insulation that was being held in place with masking tape (Yes, really). For an afternoon’s work, we felt SO. VERY. ACCOMPLISHED.



Until next time,

Robert and Catherine


4 thoughts on “Demolition Part 2: Removing the Ceiling

  1. BigJon says:

    I really like the design of the the Thomas buses, and now knowing that the interior roof panels are held up by screws and not rivets…such a game-changer. I think I’m settled on looking for a Thomas when it’s our time to buy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 40footwonder says:

      It was definitely a game-changer for us! We lucked out when we went to buy a bus, this was the only recent Thomas left at the bus yard. We wish you the best of luck going forward with your skoolie!

      Liked by 1 person

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