Monthly Archives: March 2014

Moving In Stereo

I pulled my stereo and speakers out of my old car. It’s a few years old, but there is nothing wrong with it. Both the stereo and the speakers are Pioneer, and I paid good money for them. This stereo is a replacement of a stereo that was stolen out of my car. After getting a stereo stolen, I bought a nicer one that has the removable faceplate. Now the magic bus is moving in stereo.

The very first person who bought this van, back in 1977, didn’t splurge for the radio package. There was never an eight track tape player installed. The spot that would have a radio was the original blank panel. I am the first person to install a stereo in this van. Pretty crazy to think about it. A stereo finally gets installed in this thing only after thirty eight years.

I pulled the panel off. I marked off the dimensions of the stereo. I then took my rotary tool and rough cut it out. To smooth it and get it to the final dimension, I just used a razor knife. A perfect fit. I slid the stereo into the slot and folded down some flaps that are on the stereo. It’s now secure. The plastic on the panel was still in good shape. There shouldn’t be a problem.

As I pulled the panel off the front dashboard, I am treated by the old electrical work inside. There are actually sockets in there that you can put light bulbs in to light up random items. There is actually a light for the old cigarette lighter. It shines through a small hole. The ignition key has a hole that a light can shine through as well. All of these bulbs were out and were probably the original bulbs. By George, the glove box light bulb still works though. I may put bulbs back in them. It would be interesting to see what 1977 high tech looks like again.

Inside I found a dash light socket that was just floating around in there. I couldn’t see where it went and there was no bulb. I decided to use this line as the power to the stereo. There was also a hot wire going to the glove box light that wasn’t connected to the ignition. I spliced into that line for the memory line on the stereo. Then I just grounded it to the body. That took care of the wiring. Now just to run the wires to the speakers.

Finding a spot for the speakers wasn’t easy. I could easily put them on the wooden wall behind the cab. I could do it on either side. If I did it on the driving side, that would mean I have the speakers blaring in my ear while I drive. I would also be subjected to more of one speaker than the other too. It would also not be good while listening to music while in the living quarters. So that was a no go. If I put them on the other side, it works for one, but the other is where the couch is and where I lean up against. So it couldn’t go there either.

The speakers also had to go in a space that wouldn’t be used for anything else. I decided to go on the back of one of the wooden walls, but I put it down low. I decided to put the other on the wall right above the workspace counter top. Nothing will be mounted in these spots. They are separated for stereo effect. It fills the magic bus with sound and can be enjoyed while driving in the cab as well. They are also in good spots to open the doors up and be able to hear it outside as well.

The speakers had to be protected, so it was back to work. I took some white pine, ripped it down, and cut a rabbet in them. Then I cut angles and made a square shape. I wanted to use this wire mesh I had, but it was a little too narrow. So I put a center beam down the covers. I painted the covers with some orange spray paint I had. I like color, but it was still too bright for me, so I added some light brown spray on top of it. It muted the color a little and makes it look used, and used in a cartoonish type of way. Which is what I like. I painted the mesh pieces yellow, and I glued them on the rabbet lip, and then glued some black felt on top. Then I just screwed them over the speakers.

Magic Bus Stereo

Magic Bus Speaker

Magic Bus Speaker

LED lights and no more painting

First off, as you can see in the pictures I got some lights going on. LED lights. I found some inexpensive LED strands on ebay. I wasn’t sure about them, but I am actually impressed. They are super bright and much cheaper than the place I was getting them.

They are waterproof and self sticking. Of course, self sticking never works. Like I said before. When it comes to adhesion, when you stick it down it doesn’t want to stay stuck, that is unless you put it in the wrong place. If you need to pull it up and move it, well then it’s stuck down for life. If you get it stuck where you want it, it starts peeling away like the S.S. Minnow on Gilligan’s Island and his special glue. I will have to figure out a more permanent way to stick them, but for now they will work.

I also don’t have my power supply yet, so I am going off the van battery. Luckily, LEDS don’t use very much volts. So I am not running my battery down. That is, as long as I don’t leave them on all night and never start the engine. That’s not happening.

These LED strands are made to take 12 volts, which is what most car batteries are. The LEDs are in a group of threes. Which means, every third LED you can cut the strand. Then you just cut away the weather proofing and solder leads onto the two copper spots. Very easy to do.

As you can see, I also finished painting the bathroom. It’s no longer raw wood. I painted it lavender. Why that color? Because that is the color you get when you mix all the leftover enamel paint that I had. Since there will be water, I couldn’t use a water based paint. So I gathered all of my Rustoleum paint that I had, and I mixed it all together. Out came lavender, which is better than puke green or baby poop brown. No complaints here.

LED lights 1 LED lights 2 LED lights 3
LED lights 4 LED lights 5 LED lights 6

Video Tour

On a spring day, I sit in the magic bus taking in the first rain since the van became the magic bus. No leaks, that’s a good thing. The sound is fulfilling. It’s peaceful. The only problem, is there is not much I can do. That’s why I pulled out my iphone and decided to shoot a little video tour.

Some things to note. The sleeping quarters are above the cab. The panel that slides out makes into the bed. There is no mattress there just yet, but there will be when it’s time. The shower hasn’t been painted yet. I will need to paint it with enamel paint, and I just haven’t been in the mood to do it yet. The cab still needs to be finished out as well. It needs work.

The video tour starts off in the cab. You can see it needs work. We then turn to face the inside. As we get up, we turn around and see the sleeping area. From there we walk through. Seeing the couch, the work area, the kitchen, and the unfinished shower. You can see the sky light and take special note of the curtains.

Bus Outside raw


Paint can change the look of a room, but that’s understandable. Curtains, or drapes, can also change the look as well. It’s such a little thing, but it makes a huge difference. It really does make it feel more at home.

Just like the paint, I have a bunch of fabric around too. Most of it was dark colors, which I didn’t want. The sun shining in will heat it up too much. Plus, I like the color. So I found some green fabric and yellow fabric with lady bugs on it. PERFECT!! Yellow bathroom stall, purple cabinets, and lady bug drapes.

I also had some black felt. So I made drapes with ¬†one side the green fabric, and the other side the lady bugs. Sandwiched between them is the black felt. Inside will keep the sun off the blackness, but the blackness inside will keep the sun out. It will also keep the lights from inside shining out at night. It’s privacy all around now. It’s starting to get really comfy.

Bus Curtains 2 Bus Curtains 1 Bus Curtains 3 Bus Curtains 4 Bus Curtains 5

Color Is Added


The couch bench has been built. The construction has been finished. Time to add some color. I have lots of paint just going to waste. So I decided to open them up and see what I had. I found a full can of yellow latex indoor paint. I liked the brightness, so I decided to paint the bathroom panels with it. It really adds a punch to it. The inside of the bathroom has not been painted yet. It will get more Rustoleum enamel paint. That’s coming soon.

I found another full can of purple paint. So that’s what I painted everything else with. There is just something about covering raw wood that makes it final. For one, it seals the wood and protects it from moisture. Paint keeps mold and mildew from growing. It also just looks interesting.

The color really brightens the place up. Starting to look like a Magic Bus now!

Bus Painted 6 Bus Painted 5 Bus Painted  14 Bus Painted 13
Bus Painted 12 Bus Painted 11 Bus Painted 10 Bus Painted 9
Bus Painted 8 Bus Painted 7