Demolition Day 1

While we were all excited to start demolition the day after we drove the bus back to Princeton, schoolwork and other things got in the way, and we didn't actually get to start demolition for a good while. Eventually, we were able to rally together, and Parker, Coleman and I went at it.

For the beginning portion of this project, the "messy" portion, we were situated in a far corner of campus, where piles of trash and clouds of dust would not ruin Princeton's beautiful aesthetic. We were relegated to West Windsor fields, an offshoot of campus that had a gravel parking area, no buildings to speak of, and a single electrical outlet. Oh yea, it was fun. We had to bring plenty of water for the day, food for the day, and take shade breaks under the trees bordering our parking area. All told, we were lucky to be working in this area - trash piled up quickly, and had we been in a more accessible part of campus, I'm sure someone would have complained. 

 Before we found the hidden outlet, we used a generator. Sustainable, right?

Before we found the hidden outlet, we used a generator. Sustainable, right?

 We named this one Mickey. 

We named this one Mickey. 

We woke up early, fired up the generator, opened the windows for ventilation, and got to work.

First things first: remove all the seats. They are held in with bolts that go straight through the floor, so someone needs to be above and below to grab both ends with a wrench. We tried to remove all that we could only with a wrench, but some of the bolts were so rusted on that they simply would not give. Others had stripped heads, and others were not accessible because of wheel humps or equipment hung underneath the bus. The ones that wouldn't give nicely met "The Persuaders," a clan of angle grinders that had no problem eating through bolts. Nothing stands up to an abrasive wheel. We eventually got it down to a fairly efficient system - two people would move down the bus, trying to get as many bolts as possible just with wrenches. One person followed those two down with the angle grinder, working on any bolts that they could not get with the wrench. We tried to minimize damage to the seats, so we usually ended up cutting the heads off stubborn bolts and hammering the remainder through the floor. 

 

One note here: be careful! You want to keep track of how many bolts you hammer through the floor, and find them all before pulling away with the bus. Since most of the bolts had washers on one side of them, it would be really easy to drive over them and get a flat. While that probably won't happen, you also don't want to leave things that other people can get flat tires on. 

The seats were heavy! I would guess about 50 pounds each. All told, we probably lightened the bus by half a ton or so. We decided to leave ten seats in the front of the bus because, of course, we still wanted to drive friends around to parties and such. We made sure to have under 15 seats so we wouldn't need a CDL. 

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Prior to this day, we had called around and asked if anyone would like some bus seats in decent condition. Unfortunately, the answer was always no, and for good reason: who has any use for old bus seats? We also discussed ways we could use the seats, but could think of nothing. We ended up tossing all but three; it caused us a lot of anguish. The three that we had kept were installed next to the wheelchair door, and their backs were not only able to fold down, but they were also able to flip up off the floor. We figured these mechanisms may be useful later for some of our dynamic furniture.

Once the seats were freed, we left them in the bus. At the end of the day, we had to get rid of them, so we drove to a nearby dumpster.  I was planning to walk the seats 50 meters down a narrow driveway, and hoist them up to get them in the dumpsters, all on a really hot day. I was promptly shot down. We parked the bus next to a dumpster, and, conveniently, lined up the wheelchair door with the dumpster. Probably one of our best ideas so far. Credit goes to Parker, who also helped me maneuver the bus into the really, really tight parking lot where the dumpster was. 

All told, it took the three of us 6 hours or so to remove the majority of the seats, an hour for a break, and about 45 minutes to dump them. After getting the seats out, the inside of the bus really started to look massive. It really is a huge amount of space. That night we went for burgers and beer, and it was maybe the best thing I've ever tasted after such a hard day of work. We were all sore and tired, so the next day for demolition came the next weekend. Besides, we still had tons of homework to do for that Monday.


Nicolas Viglucci