Fleming College’s School of Trades and Technology teamed up with the James Barker Band to transform a GO Transit bus into a tour bus. With the help of Trades faculty, Carpentry, Electrical, Plumbing, and Welding students renovated the bus to include bunk beds, a lounge, washroom, two dinette tables, and kitchen area.
“This was such an amazing opportunity for our Trades students, as it provided a real life industry scenario. It took the student completely out of their normal setting and required them to be creative at times and to think outside-the-box,” said Paul Jordan, lead faculty on this project. “It showed a student that you had to figure things out on the fly and be able to adapt or change as needed to make a concept work.”
The opportunity came from a discussion Paul had with James Barker, who is a friend of his, when James asked Paul for ideas on how to refurbish a bus into their tour bus. After brainstorming, Paul realized this would be an amazing project for Fleming College students.
With only a seven week time-frame and no blueprint (other than the layout wanted by the band), the team at Fleming’s School of Trades and Technology got to work:
- Carpentry and Renovation (Techniques/Technician) students completed the framing of the lounge, bunk, washroom and kitchen areas. They also did the fitting and finishing of these areas, and installed the kitchen cabinets, counter-tops, and dinette tables.
- Electrical (Techniques/Engineering Technician/Advanced Electrician Apprentice) students designed the electrical layout for the bus, completed all rough in wiring; installed receptacles, light fixtures and switches; and configured the battery bank and inverter into the separate on-board electrical system.
- Mechanical Techniques – Plumbing students completed the rough in of supply and drain lines; installed the freshwater, grey water and black water tanks with level sensors; and installed the shower, sink, toilet, and hot water tank.
- Welding (Techniques/Fabrication Technician) students completed two table legs for the dinette tables, made fasteners for anchoring framing, and built a steel frame to hold a battery bank and inverter. They also fabricated brackets to help anchor holding tanks.
Businesses that supported this project include: Bardon Supplies, Buckeye Marine (Bobcaygeon), Fleming College Mechanical Techniques – Plumbing, Great Canadian RV, Guillevin International Co., HB Cycle, Home Depot, Jackson Water Conditioning, Kawartha Battery Sales and Service, and Merrett Home Hardware Building Centre.
The completed James Barker Band tour bus features a lounge, eight bunks, a kitchen area with a sink, fridge and microwave, a washroom with a shower and toilet, and a dining area with two dinette tables.
“Without the tremendous support of the administration, faculty and students in their respective trades that were required to complete this project, this would never have been so successful,” said Paul. “This was such a positive project as faculty had students knocking at their doors asking if they could help out on the bus on their own time.”
Patti Gilchrist is one of the Carpentry Technician students who helped renovate the bus.
“I enjoy the work and I thought it would be interesting, I’d get to learn some new things, and be able to work with the instructors here with us,” said Patti. “Plus, I’ve motorhomed all my life, my dad’s taken us all over in a 40-foot motorhome.”
Patti said the experience has been amazing. “Seeing it drive away knowing we all did this for a band and we all work so well together, I think it’s nice. And we got to know our teachers more,” she added.
Rod McLeod, Chair of the School of Trades and Technology, is proud of the work Fleming faculty and students did on this project.
“Paul Jordan was the lead faculty on the initiative and did a tremendous amount with the project,” said Rod. “Faculty members Susan Brown, Gord Knox, Jason Jackson, Rick Murdock, Aaron Lishman, and Darren Cavanaugh helped bring this to fruition and did amazing work with their students. It was a great project that the students truly enjoyed.”
The James Barker Band picked up the bus on Sunday, April 23 and has been using it on their Canadian tour.
“It’s been perfect. I know if we did it on our own it wouldn’t be close, it is unbelievable how great it is and how good of a job they did,” said James Barker. “It’s been super comfortable, it’s been great, I’ve gotten some good sleeps on there. We have an Xbox One set up in the back so we have that going, too.”
The band plans to return to Fleming College in the future for upgrades, and to continue this project and collaboration with the School of Trades and Technology. One idea for phase two is for Electrical students to incorporate solar panels for charging the battery bank.