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Brighton and Surroundings



After taking the car ferry from Calais to Dover, we made our way to Brighton pretty quickly.

We’ve already heard a lot about the artists’ city by the sea and picked out some exciting projects to visit. We also tested the best vegan restaurants and checked out stores, as well as markets, where you can buy organic, local and even unpackaged.

The first project we looked at is Stanmer Organics. Stanmer Organics was founded in 1997 as a cooperative consortium. And has since supported projects that promote health, wellness, education and a greener, more sustainable lifestyle.





There are currently 15 projects on site, more than half of which are focused on permaculture. There is also an ecotherapy project, a forest school, arts and crafts projects and an Earthship.

Earthship Brighton is one of only two Earthships in the United Kingdom. The goals with the construction of this sustainable community center, were to bring about a change in values in the construction industry and to inspire individuals to take positive action to bring about environmental change. Throughout the project, the focus was on educating people about climate change and helping them change their behavior to live with a smaller environmental footprint.

U.S. citizen Michael Reynolds developed the “Earthship” building concept 40 years ago, and has since helped build such buildings around the world, including the construction of the Earthship in Brighton. The award-winning “green building” was constructed from locally available, natural, recycled or upcycled building materials, such as car tires and glass bottles.

The clay-plastered building is passively heated by solar heat, and the old car tires are built into the walls. Piled up and filled with clay, they serve as heat storage. Fresh air is fed through pipes in the earth wall and preheated in the process. This complex system replaces a traditional heating system.

Solar panels and wind turbines generate the required electricity, which is stored in batteries. The southern facade of the Earthship is completely glazed and thus serves as a greenhouse. The plants grown there are irrigated with filtered “wastewater”. Thanks to these closed energy and supply cycles, Earthships are very sustainable and forward-looking buildings.



Earthship Brighton



Right next to the Stanmer Organics site, is One Garden, a garden project of the Stanmer Estate. Around the old mansions are ornamental gardens, huge greenhouses and walled orchards. The place not only invites you to walk and explore, you can also buy all kinds of local and organic food in the small farm store. After shopping, you should definitely enjoy a tea and a piece of homemade cake in the middle of all the plants.


One Garden Brighton


If you like to have a bigger choice when shopping and don’t want to pay too much like in the store of One Garden, you should try the Park Farm Shop in Park St, in Falmer, Brighton, here you can find everything you need.


Park Farm Shop


For those who travel by van or tent and like to have some peace and quiet after a busy day in Brighton, we recommend Chalky downs campsite. A large camping meadow with beautiful views, right next to the farm where Sharon lives with her family. The site has hot showers, toilets and fireplaces and costs £15 per person per night. From there it’s a 20 minute bus ride into Brighton’s city center.


Chalky Downs Campsite


Brighton has an incredible number of vegetarian and vegan restaurants and cafes, which of course made us very happy. Two really highly recommended are located in the well-known neighborhood of The Lanes. One is Terre a Terre, at 71 East Street. The food was really incredibly good and definitely worth the money!

For breakfast or lunch, Neighbourhood at 95 Gloucester Rd is perfect. You can sit outside on the terrace and watch the hustle and bustle of the city.



The Farmers Market in Brighton takes place every Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the corner of Florence Road and Southdown Avenue and features numerous small stalls from local producers. If you’d also like to replenish your supplies at one of Brighton’s many unpackaged stores, the best place to do so is at The Source Bulk Foods at 142 Western Road.

We spent a little over a week in Brighton and the surrounding area and were blown away by the variety of sustainable initiatives, gardens and projects. A great many people in Brighton are motivated to live more sustainably and also to inspire others to live a more ecological lifestyle. This is of course noticeable in the cityscape through all the great vegan cafes and local, as well as organic, shopping.

England – In search of solutions

We have been tackling the most pressing environmental problems of our planet for several years now, trying to create a future worth living for everyone as best we can. Again and again we organize beach-clean-ups, actively campaign for marine protection and collect donations. Unfortunately, we often get the feeling that too little is being done about climate change and that can be quite frustrating and when you are frustrated, it is much harder to get involved.

That’s why we decided to tackle the problems differently.

Instead of pointing fingers or blaming others, we want to look for solutions.

We want to set out on a journey to find those people who have already successfully initiated sustainable projects and thus contribute to a better future.

First of all, our journey shall go to Great Britain. We have read about many exciting initiatives that act, live and manage ecologically. We want to visit these initiatives and report about them on our blog and social media.

In this way, we want to inspire and encourage even more people and also motivate them to take action.

Because every single one of us can make a difference and together it can become a whole movement.

Our vision is to bring together an army of volunteers to help protect the environment. The mission is to defend biodiversity, stop the destruction of ecosystems, do something positive together and have a great time doing it.

Shark catch: from hunter to hunted.

Until recently, I thought that the cruel business with the shark fins, only happens in Asia, but on our trip we were taught better. As we strolled through the Spanish fish market in Pontevedra, I spotted shark fillet at one of the many counters and was irritated. I was not aware that there are people in Europe who voluntarily eat shark meat, since it is known to be contaminated with heavy metals and therefore unhealthy for the human body. Most of all, however, I was concerned with the question of how it can be that shark fillets are offered at an enormously low price on a Spanish fish market, when at the same time the population of sharks is drastically declining and many species are threatened with extinction. So I started researching that very day and was shocked at what I found out.

On the Atlantic coast of northern Spain, in a town called Vigo (not far from where we visited the fish market), is the main hub for shark fishing in Europe. The animals are caught, for example, in their retreat and leaching areas around and off the Azores. The longline fishery used to catch sharks is one of the most brutal forms of destruction of our oceans. The lines are up to 300 kilometers long with 20,000 hooks per 100 kilometers. What is well covered up, but actually obvious, is that this method also catches endangered species, such as the great white shark, hammerhead sharks and turtles. These are thrown death or with serious injuries back into the sea.

Over 90 million sharks are killed every year. That’s over 190 sharks per minute. 30% of them under the Spanish flag!





A billion-dollar business that can hardly be controlled and that has led to the extinction of between 90 and 99 percent of animals in the last 100 years alone, depending on the species.

The largest shark fishing nations in the world are Indunesia, India, Spain, Portugal and Japan. The shark fins are mainly sold to China and Hong Kong, also known as “Shark Fin City” is the trading center. It is a very lucrative business, as the soup cooked from the fins, is a status symbol in China. A single shark fin can cost up to 1,000 euros, and you pay around 100 euros for a plate of shark fin soup. The shark meat, on the other hand, is worthless.

But since July 2013, in Europe all caught sharks must be brought ashore with all fins on the body, of course, a huge mountain of shark meat arises, which you have to get rid of. In the past, fishermen used to pull the animals out of the sea to cut off their fins, while they were usually still alive. Subsequently, the animals were seriously injured and thrown back into the sea, unable to swim. Once at the bottom of the sea, they had to suffer an infinitely agonizing death, slowly suffocating in pain. This very shark finning method continues to be practiced illegally and sometimes legally in many countries. But who in Europe consumes these masses of shark meat landed through the finning ban?

The answer is frightening: we Europeans ourselves are the consumers, sometimes without even knowing it. Germany imports and consumes over 500 tons of shark annually. The consumer then buys them in the form of shark steaks, smoked schiller curls, or canned fish.

Because the shark is at the top of the food chain in the oceans, lives up to 90 years and prefers to hunt old and sick animals, its meat is so contaminated with methylmercury that eating it poses a serious threat to human health. One serving of shark meat of 250 grams, contains 350 milligrams of methylmercury. The established maximum limit is 0.1 milligrams of methylmercury per kilogram of a person’s body weight.This heavy metal can cause irreparable brain damage, kidney failure, nerve damage and increased risk of cancer, plus it has a half-life of 25 to 30 years in the body. Thus, it accumulates with each consumption. The same applies to the consumption, other large predatory fish species such as tuna, swordfish and halibut. If you think tuna isn’t that bad, you’re wrong. Tuna is as highly contaminated with methylmercury as shark.

According to an EU study, every third European child is now said to be born with elevated levels of methylmercury. Since the danger from eating large fish species is hushed up, there is still a large demand and, accordingly, a lucrative market. The solution seems quite simple at first, do not eat shark, swordfish, tuna, because where there is no demand, there is no market.


Wenn ihr euch aktiv für Haie einsetzen wollt, unterstützt die EU Bürgerinitiative „Stop Finning – Stop the Trade“ unter If you want to actively advocate for sharks, support the EU citizens’ initiative “Stop Finning – Stop the Trade” at For more information about shark fishing and projects to stop it, visit the website of the conservation organization SHARKPROJECT .





Source reference:

Plastic flood

The plastic problem is omnipresent. Social media, advertisements and documentaries point out the devastating consequences of plastic consumption and encourage one to change one’s shopping behavior to help protect the environment.

Plastic has been a problem in our oceans since the 1970s, and since then consumption, and therefore trash, continues to rise without much being done about it.

Last year, more than a million birds and more than half a million sea creatures died from plastic. The causes of death vary. Some Animals starve miserably with full stomachs, because plastic clogs the digestive system, many birds can not even fly because of these “full” stomachs. Marine mammals become entangled in old fishing nets, drown or suffer serious injuries during attempts to free them, from which they eventually die.

Where is all this plastic from? How does it get into the sea? The main cause of the immense amount of plastic waste is commercial fishing. Nearly half of the 79,000 tons of trash, in the world’s largest garbage vortex, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, consists of fishing nets. It is these nets and lines that are particularly dangerous to marine life, as they can become entangled in them and suffer a slow, agonizing death. In addition, trash ends up in the oceans and coasts via rivers that flow to the sea, wind, and illegal dumping. If we keep this up, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean in about 20 years.

Of course, we also witnessed the plastic problem during our trip. Honestly, everywhere and all around the clock. Especially the beaches were frightening, but also the plastic consumption of many people was a disaster after a closer look. In my opinion, any single-use plastic items should have been generally banned long ago, but unfortunately not much can be expected from the government. As consumers, we must become more aware and, above all, more critical. Because where there is no demand, there is no supply.

We’ve been keeping our everyday life low in plastic for a long time, go shopping in unpacked stores, buy dairy products in reusable jars and make sure to use only biodegradable soaps that don’t contain any microplastics.

But on this trip, we realized that it’s not enough to just reduce your own plastic consumption. So we made it a point to collect trash every morning, no matter where we were. On the beaches, however, it was unfortunately so that after two hours of collecting, we had two-three large garbage bags full, but the tenfold amount still lay on the beach and after each tide, new plastic is added.

We were almost always alone and cleaned the beaches as best we could. Attempts to contact locals and motivate them to collect plastic have often failed. Most had the excuse that a city cleanup crew would come in May and clear the beaches of trash before the tourist season. During the other 6 months, when there are no tourists in the area, the beach is suffocating in garbage and countless animals die from it.

On the Atlantic coast of northern Spain, in Cantabria, we have noticed an increase in small plastic pellets used to make plastic items on the beaches. After some research, we came up with two factories in the area that use these pellets and, accordingly, must be responsible for their presence in the sea and on the beaches.

We could hardly believe it and therefore contacted the mayor in charge. We have not received a response from him to this day.

After 6 months of traveling, we were convinced that there was no such thing as a plastic-free beach anymore.

Often one is overwhelmed by all the problems and believes there is nothing we can do about them, but we have to! We cannot rely on our governments, on any greenwashing seals and allegedly sustainable corporations. We must become active ourselves! We have to educate people, because only those who know about these abuses can consciously change something about them. Joint actions such as beach cleanups, lectures or fundraisers strengthen communities and encourage more people to get involved.

Portugal- New year – new luck?

We are now for 6 weeks in Portugal and have the luck in this dicey situation, consisting of lockdown, Corona measures and camping bans, to park our bus on the property of friends. More than three years ago, the two families, consisting of 6 adults and 2 children, decided to give up their old life in Germany and exchange it for 3 hours of forest in the Western Algarve. They also set out at that time to live a life worth living, beyond the 40-hour week. They realized their dream and their visions, designed their land, built their houses themselves and created a self-sufficient and free life for themselves. We have visited them several times in recent years, but unfortunately always with far too little time. This time we want to take more time to get to know the place, the environment and the people better. Unfortunately, the conditions for free and spontaneous travel are extremely bad at the moment. When we arrived in Portugal on December 22, the “Corona situation” was still relatively relaxed, all stores and also bars and restaurants were open. We could still celebrate a sociable Christmas and slipped into the new year with great plans and visions. But in a very short time the situation changed drastically. Translated with (free version)

Due to the British virus mutation, the numbers increased rapidly and meanwhile Portugal has the highest infection rate worldwide. The social life is down to a minimum and we have not moved the bus since our arrival. We decided together with the others to go into quarantine to protect ourselves and others. Our travel plans were actually different. We wanted to go from beach to beach, surf every day and just enjoy life. But we will have to postpone that for now and make the best out of the current situation. Translated with (free version)

It can finally go on…

We have been in Hossegor for over a month now and cannot drive any further because our gearbox has given up the ghost. After some back and forth, we had no other solution than to order a reconditioned gearbox from Germany. This finally arrived four days ago. Unfortunately, no workshop in the area wanted to help us to install the gearbox, so we had to dare again to do something ourselves, of which we actually did not have much knowledge. Fortunately, we had plenty of time to research how best to do it. Unfortunately, we also noticed that you need all kinds of special tools and definitely a transmission jack (never heard of it before) to get the 150 kilo transmission into the right position. Well, we couldn’t help with that, let alone find it anywhere. So we had to improvise.


The gearbox was brought into position with us with a lift truck borrowed from the surf store next door. Unfortunately, this was not quite enough height-wise, which is why we had to shore up the whole thing piece by piece with wood. As soon as the right height was reached, the 150 kilo heavy thing also had to be pushed somehow into the admission of the engine. With a lot of effort and grease, the gearbox slid in the direction of the engine. As always, Julian noticed a few things during installation that urgently needed to be replaced. After three days of nerve-wracking and exhausting work, we managed to get the bus running again. Today is already the 18th of December and our goal is to celebrate Christmas with friends in Portugal.

Actually, we wanted to drive the route there relaxed, make many breaks and shimmy along the Atlantic coast from beach to beach. Unfortunately, this will no longer be the case! We still have to bring 1300 kilometers behind us until Christmas and that with an average speed of 75 kmh. Accordingly, we decided to take the shortest route. This route leads through the Spanish interior and can be very desolate, as it is one of the largest agricultural deserts I have seen so far.

Hossegor – Lockdown, surfing and gearbox damage

Our next destination was Hossegor, a small town in the south of France, right on the Atlantic coast. Hossegor used to be a rather unknown seaside resort, but some time ago it has become the mecca of the surf industry. In summer, the small town is full of tourists, also the beaches are crowded, so that surfing is rather less fun. In autumn, after the ASP Worldtour, on which the surfers determine their world champion, it becomes abruptly quiet. This opportunity, also good waves and empty beaches, we did not want to miss.

Shortly before we reached Hossegor, however, our gearbox broke down! The gears no longer want to go in and with Ach, noise and 20 kmh we still arrived at night in Hossegor.

It was clear to us that we couldn’t drive 2 more kilometers with this transmission, let alone all the way to Portugal.

A kind of mechanic who removed the gearbox with us was quickly found and fortunately for us, one of the two contract workshops in France was in Bordeaux, so not so far away. So Julian drove with a rental car and the removed transmission, to Bordeaux, in the hope that it can be repaired there.


3 days later it turned out that the workshop in Bordeaux could not obtain spare parts for our gearbox. That was a problem!

We knew at that time that there is a reconditioned gearbox in Germany, but it costs 6000€ and that would plunder our travel budget quite a bit.

We thought back and forth. Either we stay the next 6 months in Hossegor and wait for spare parts, or we spend a lot of money for a new gearbox.

We decided to take the transmission from Germany and are now waiting for it to arrive here so we can install it.

We have been in Hossegor for more than two weeks now, but we could use the time to refresh our surfing skills and to do some work on the bus.


At the beginning of November it was finally time, the last things were packed, the dearest people were pressed once again and then it was time to go to the south!

We drove over the Odenwald, into the northern Black Forest and stayed there for three days. We had to come down first, leave the stress of the last months behind and just BE for a while.

We took some, longer hikes, went mushroom picking and enjoyed the autumn in its most beautiful splendor. Since the forest was just so good for us, we decided to explore a few more places in the southern Black Forest before continuing on to France.

The measures, due to the Corona pandemic, are currently very strict in France, so we try to cross the country as quickly as possible.

New Home

This time last year, we had list after list on our kitchen table. Whenever we got something done, sold something, gave something away, or disposed of something, we could cross it off. Today, thankfully, there is only one list of places we want to travel to.

After 14 months of hard work, with some nervous breakdowns and tears of joy, we finally moved into the bus in May. The time of the construction site was quite hard, because Julian was doing his apprenticeship year as an educator at the same time and therefore could only work on the bus on weekends or in the evenings. I was able to prepare and organize some things, but for many things Julian’s “know how” was needed. At that time, everything was far from finished, but we wanted to move as soon as possible to save valuable money that we were spending on renting an apartment where we were really only staying to sleep. When we moved into the bus, we felt much freer and more self-determined. It is our first home that belongs only to us, and which we built with our own hands. We understand all the systems and processes in the bus, so we can always optimize them or repair them in case of damage. This is exactly what we have always dreamed of, having long conversations around the fire with our friends.

However, no one would have expected that we would decide so quickly to leave our old lives behind and fulfill our dreams.

-not even us.

Water supply

A fresh and functioning water supply is arguably one of the most essential things a person needs.

Since we will regularly be far from civilization and running water, we have installed two 150 liter fresh water tanks. The two tanks are connected and are filled directly from the outside. With these 300Liters we get along with a normal consumption 7-8 days.

On our previous trips, in some countries we had to rely on buying bottled or jerry can drinking water because the local tap water was not of drinking water quality.


Water filter

To avoid this scenario and be self-sufficient in drinking water supply, we decided to install a water filter from the brandFamous Water. The Water-Jack fresh assembly 4h consists of two ceramic and two activated carbon filters.

The ceramic filters act similar to a sieve. Components that are too large get caught in it and everything that is small enough flows through.

The mesh size of our ceramic filter is 0.2 microns, so it can hold back pretty much all the solid components that make us sick. However, substances that are dissolved in the water, such as bad taste or chlorine, the ceramic filter can not hold back.

The activated carbon filter is responsible for these substances. It binds the dissolved substances from the water and additionally reduces the content of lead and heavy metals.

“With this water filter, we could fill up from the nearest pond and generate drinking water.”

Enough pressure is needed to move the water through the close-meshed material of the ceramic filter. A normal pumpwith approx. 2 bar is not strong enough for this, so we decided on a stronger pump with 4.8 bar from the Japsco brand. However, since most devices are not compatible with such a strong pressure, you still need a pressure reducer. In our case, this reduces the pressure to 2.5 bar, so that our hot water boiler can be operated gently.


Hot water supply

For hot water we have a 20 liter boiler brand Elgena. This is operated either by 230 V through our solar system or with an integrated heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is connected by a copper spiral with our wood stove, so that we can heat our shower water in winter also with the help of the wood stove.

All the plumbing is built under our bed to make the most of the space.


Furniture construction


With all the motorhome conversions we’ve done so far, it’s always been important to us that they’re practical, look pretty and are built with the most sustainable materials possible.

Accordingly, we try to buy as little as possible new and recycle where we can. Since we have about 15 square meters of living space in the school bus, we were able to use a lot of our furniture. We had to convert some, or misuse. So an old chest of drawers became a washstand, part of a closet became our sofa and dolls’ cupboards serve as wall units in the kitchen.


Kitchen living room

When you enter our coach through the porch, you’re standing right in a cozy eat-in kitchen where you can cook, do dishes, hang out on the sofa, eat, sit in front of the fireplace, work, and do a bunch of other stuff.

We cook on an English enamel gas stove from the 60s, which is the highlight of the kitchen and provides faithful service despite its age.



Actually, our sink is too big and much too heavy for a “standard camper”. But since we have never really adhered to standards, we could also install a 20 kilo ceramic sink with two basins with a clear conscience. This is incredibly practical for collecting dirty dishes and is also suitable for washing laundry.


When it comes to refrigerators, we have remained true to the “Engel” brand. We got to know the refrigerators and boxes five years ago in Australia and have been convinced of their performance and quality ever since. In our VW bus we had installed the Engel MT-45-FS compressor cooler.

The advantage of a cooler is the low power consumption, because the cold does not “fall out” when you open it. However, it always bothered me to have to fish out the things you needed from the very bottom.

Therefore, this time we chose a refrigerator with 80l capacity and freezer compartment.




In our bathroom with a whole 1.2 square meters, we have installed a separation toilet and shower. We decided against tile in the shower stall because of the weight, instead we plastered the walls in a concrete look and sealed them with 3 coats of boat paint.

-Let’s see how long it lasts.

To allow the moisture to drain away better, we have also installed a skylight.



It was very important to us to have a fixed bed so that you can just lie down whenever you want without having to set up, move out or fold anything down.

The bed is supported by an old workshop chest of drawers, which is also our closet, and a beam screwed to the wall. The slatted frame can be folded up together with the mattress to access the water installation in rare cases. Under the bed there are two 150 liter water canisters, a hot water boiler, a pressure pump, a pressure equalization tank, a 4-cartridge water filter and two batteries for the solar system. Translated with (free version)


Separation Toilet

A separation toilet is a very environmentally friendly way of doing one’s business, as neither chemicals nor water are needed. With a separation toilet, as the name suggests, liquid is separated from solid.

Through a special separator insert, the pee is directed through the front part into a canister. Everything solid falls into a container in the rear part, into which you scatter a handful of wood chips or earth after each bowel movement. This removes moisture from the solids, preventing foul odors. To play it safe odor-wise, we also put an air vent to direct odors outside.

We built our separation toilet with a separation insert, from the Kildwick company. It is designed like this, that it works equally well and clean for men and women. Due to the manufacture of high-quality, robust and at the same time recyclable polystyrene, the Kildwick urine separator has extremely smooth surfaces on which germs and bacteria do not find a breeding ground. Above all, this makes cleaning easier.

Warm through the winter

Since we will be living in the bus year round and traveling to different climates, a sophisticated heating system is a good requirement.

We chose a combination of a small storage furnace (cast iron) with fresh air supply and underfloor heating with 2 heating circuits.

A floor heater would have been the easier option, of course, but we want a heater that we can run on renewable resources, in this case wood, rather than gas or gasoline/diesel. With the underfloor heating, we had a clear extra expense during installation. We had to mill joints in the floor insulation, lay the pipes as tightly as possible in the joints, install a heating circuit distributor, attach a 60 liter boiler as heat storage, and and and…. Translated with (free version)

This meant that we not only had more work, but also a significant increase in weight. That’s just how everyone has their priorities.

Besides the sustainability factor, this heating system has the further advantage that it can also heat our shower/domestic water. Through the copper spiral, which winds around the stove pipe, the water flows out of the boiler and is thus heated. Because the boiler is placed higher than the stove, the water flows without a pump. Only by natural convection, the heated water, due to its lower density in the boiler rises upwards, while at the same time the colder water from the boiler sinks down another pipe to the stove pipe.



The heated water is transported from the boiler through the pipes of the underfloor heating system by means of a pump and thus distributes the heat throughout the entire bus via the floor. After passing through the floor, the cooled water returns to the boiler and, due to its greater density, flows directly to the stove pipe to be heated.

There is also the possibility to heat our shower / domestic water. For this purpose, the warm water from the boiler is pumped through the heat exchanger into our electric boiler and heats the 20l of water there.

Our conclusion is: The effort to install a wood stove and underfloor heating in a bus is of course enormous, but for our needs this heating system is ideal. And honestly, what could be nicer than sitting by the stove in the evening and looking into the crackling fire?


Power supply

One of the first and most relevant steps in planning the PV system was to create an annual profile of our supposed electricity consumption. To do this, we noted the nominal power (watts) and the respective duty cycle of our consumers over the course of the day, taking into account the different seasons. If we then multiply the number of consumers by power and operating time, we get the energy consumption in watt-hours.

For example: 4 energy-saving lamps consume 10 watts each and are in operation for 5 hours a day.

4x10x5= 200 Watt hours

After determining our approximate power needs, we still had to figure out the maximum load for the right choice of batteries and inverter. How many watts do we consume when almost all devices are switched on at the same time?

Due to the fact that we heat our water with the water-bearing wood stove in the winter and only turn on the electric heater in the boiler in the summer when there is enough power available, our power consumption is relatively low. Also the maximum load will not be too high, because we have mainly battery devices.

Nevertheless, our bus will rarely make the acquaintance of a shore power connection, as our destinations tend to be remote locations far from campgrounds. Accordingly, our power supply must function completely self-sufficiently in every situation.

The winter, or bad weather, when the sun refuses to come for a few days, can not really be avoided. To be prepared for this eventuality, we need to store the necessary energy. For this we have installed two Victron Energy 12V 220Ah Deep CycleGel batteries. These batteries are durable, powerful, and do not outgas. A lithium battery would of course have been lighter and could have been discharged deeper, but the ease of flammability, destructive degradation and lack of recycling methods, put us off.

On our roof there are 6 solar modules with 240 watts each. These are divided into two strings in order to still generate energy even if the roof is partially shaded. The generated energy is managed by 2 solar charge controllersand fed into the batteries.

The two 12-volt batteries are connected in series to create a 24-volt electrical system. A voltage of 24 volts results in a thinner cable cross-section in the DC area than with a 12 volt network, which in turn saves space and money.

But since we want to have an electrical system in our bus like in the house, to be able to use normal lamps, sockets and other devices, we need an inverter that converts the direct current into alternating current (or transforms the voltage from 24 to 220 volts).

Now the electrical installation must be appropriately fused. If a short circuit occurs, only the fuse blows and not the cable.

In the case of a 220 volt network, personal protection is also required. The RCD has the task of switching off an electrical consumer within 0.2 s if it has a fault and a touch voltage that is dangerous for persons occurs.

A professional electrical installation and the associated protection, is very important to us, because in case of doubt it can be about our lives. Therefore, we have discussed this project piece by piece with a specialist from the company “Green Akku”and had it approved by an electrician before use.

The underfloor heating

By now it was January and we finally had the insulation done!

But before we could cover the walls and lay the floor, we had to lay some pipes…

First of all, we took care of the pipes for the underfloor heating (sounds decadent but in the end it is a relatively cheap and quite sustainable heating system). In order to lay the aluminum composite pipe stably and effectively in the floor, we milled the track in which the pipe should lie into the Styrodur with the router. Now the pipe was squeezed into the track so that it protruded about a millimeter, so that afterwards it would directly touch the floorboard to achieve maximum foot warmth.

With the remaining aluminum composite pipe we laid the water pipes in the shower and kitchen.

The next step was to lay all the power lines. A topic that I am not particularly comfortable with, but fortunately Julian has enough experience and knowledge and always kept track despite all the cables. We laid 2.5 square, fine wire for 13 sockets and 3 light switches across the bus.

We have placed the cables in protective tubes to protect them from external influences.To make them insensitive to vibration, we have also fixed them at regular intervals, with clamps.

The Insulation

We spent several weeks trying to get the bus sealed properly. It was dripping in so many places that we couldn’t figure out where exactly the water was coming from, so we decided to seal every single joint and rivet with body glue. After passing a test with the Kärcher, the next step was to protect the interior from rust in the long run. Using Ovatrol, Pellox and special rust-proofing paints, we treated the entire interior to remove existing rust and make the body resistant to rust in the future.


In the meantime, it was already November and began to freeze at night, so that icicles hung from the ceiling even in the bus. If you turned on the oven in the morning to have a reasonably comfortable temperature to work, of course the ice thawed and the entire bus was soaking wet. There was no way it could go on like this! We had to insulate… As we know, when cold air meets warm air, condensation occurs, which of course we definitely don’t want, otherwise our bus will become a dripstone cave. So we have to move the dew point to the outside with the help of insulation. Sounds quite simple at first… I would have loved to insulate with natural materials such as wood or sheep’s wool, but unfortunately these are not very suitable for steel walls because they absorb water, causing the coach to rust and our wooden interior to rot. Accordingly, we unfortunately had to use insulation made of synthetic material. Fortunately, we were able to buy polyethylene foam insulation mats, also known as trocellen, as a waste product from a company. These were mats that were dirty and partially damaged. However, we didn’t care about that at all. We spent the next three weeks applying the Trocellen to the walls and ceiling with Pattex kraft glue (smelly devil stuff). We insulated a total of three layers, which is about 4 inches. After the walls came the floor! We wanted to insulate the floor with Styrodur and searched for used Styrodur for a long time, but never found enough. Until we noticed that the cold store on our property, which is to be demolished anyway, is insulated with 8cm Styrodur panels. These we have directly reused and insulated our floor….


The roof needs to be higher!

Even before we bought the school bus, we knew we had no other option but to raise the roof. Julian could not stand upright at a height of 185 cm in the interior and that is probably one of the most important things for a comfortable life in the bus. It was a little harder for me to come to terms with the idea of cutting the bus open all around, lifting the roof 30 cm with jacks and props, and then welding the cut beams back together and covering the now vacant areas with sheet metal. Even though many people advised us against our project, we didn’t let it influence us. Most of the time we put into the preparation, precisely because this is the first time we raised a roof. There are several ways to proceed, but which is the best for us? Should we cut under, or above the windows, borrow or buy welding equipment, use galvanized steel or paint, do we need additional building supports, what profile should the new beams have and so on…. Our heads were really smoking and our time was running out. It was time to choose a variant and it is explained in the following video….

Obwohl es an dem Tag relativ windig war  ist alles reibungslos abgelaufen. Wir haben es zu fünft in einer Stunde geschafft das Dach sicher und gerade 30 cm zu erhöhen und die Hauptträger wieder zu verschweißen. 
Die nächsten Wochen bestanden darin, die nun freien Stellen wieder mit Blechen zu verkleiden. Wir haben uns dazu entschieden die Bleche mit einer Luftdruck Nietzange zu nieten und zusätzlich mit Karosseriekleber abzudichten und zu fixieren. 
Nach vier  Wochen harter Arbeit haben wir es geschafft und die Karosserie nach unseren Vorstellungen verändert.

Everything must go out!

Since we didn’t want to spend the next few years carting 40 kids from A to B, the first step was to completely gut the bus.

2 days and about 50 flex discs later, all the benches were out. This immediately created a completely new feeling of space, we now had 20 square meters at our disposal and of course immediately began to think about how best to expand the bus….

But the seats were only the beginning…

The floor was covered with rubber mats, which had to be scraped off with the spatula in painstaking work, shred by shred. As a reward, we got to see more and more of the rusty floor.

The hardest work, in the truest sense of the word, was tearing out the interior trim, which was made of a ton of steel. Puuuuhh, we probably knew that the Americans in terms of cars on a massive construction value, but that it is so hard we would not have thought. After a few trips to the scrap yard, everything was disposed of and the tons of steel even earned us some money.

Now the bus was completely empty and you could see any rust and weak spots. One beam was rusted, the floor got some and here and there some rust, but honestly, we had expected it worse.



Why did we choose an American school bus?


To be honest, we didn’t necessarily decide on a 30-year-old school bus, it just turned out that way. It was clear to us from the beginning that we wanted a somewhat larger vehicle than our previous VW T3 bus. There were several models to choose from, but an American school bus had always been our dream. Unfortunately, we could not afford the taxes, as well as costs for shipping, so we did not even think about it. But as it often happens, the solution is closer than you think. For about 20 years the school bus of our dreams was used for rentals and advertising purposes of a beach sports hall, in our area. We had been eyeing the bus for a while, but didn’t really expect them to want to sell it, but it was worth a try. After a few nice conversations with the owner and some thinking time on his part, he was really willing to sell and thus support our project. We could hardly believe it, we actually got the vehicle we always dreamed of and at a price we could afford.

The bus was not exactly in a good condition: The TÜV had expired three years ago, there were some leaks and accordingly a lot of rust, the right side including the window was sprayed with graffiti’s and what was wrong with the engine, we did not even want to know. 30 years have just left their mark….

But we didn’t care, we were full of energy and started right away.