Restoration of a rat-infested 1948 school bus


    • Country Boy Gas Garage’s Jason Kellogg has restored an abandoned 1948 Ford F5 bus found in a forest.
    • The bus sat for over 25 years before Jason cleaned and restored it.
    • The old church bus was covered in moss and ferns and was infested with rats.

Jason Kellogg: Today we are going to talk about the 1948 Ford F5 school bus that I found abandoned in the forest that had been there for over 25 years.

It surprised me how scary and decrepit the bus looked. When we found it, it was completely covered in a thick blanket of moss and had ferns, lots of ferns growing on it. And there were even branches and everything had fallen over the years. So you could barely see it deep in the forest. But I knew it was something special when we saw it and had to save it.

My favorite part of the whole restoration would probably be the fact that this was once a church bus. And I was able to find that out with the painting on the outside and I was able to contact the previous church which is 125 year old Christian churches still in operation, one of the oldest Christian churches on the west coast.

Now, when it came to cleaning the bus, the first step was literally to remove the live rats that lived on the bus.

Then I had to clean up all their nests, droppings and everything. It was several inches deep with rat poop and trash.

And then we brought it to where we were ready to pressure wash it and start washing the exterior and interior of the bus.

The bus, I assume from a previous owner, had a cast iron clawfoot tub installed in the back, everything was framed. But over the years the rats had brought it home and spoiled it. So I literally had to rip it all out.

For the deconstruction part of the interior, I had to use hammers and levers and tear part of this construction. I even had to pull out the Sawzall and chop some of that wood to get that thing out of here

In the end I came back with a sanitizing solution and went back and really cleaned the inside and really decontaminated the whole inside sterilizing everything.

Now the outside of the bus when we found it was covered in moss and ferns and small trees even on top. But once we started washing and removing it, it came off quite easily and underneath the paint held up all these years.

So and then once we pressure washed it, me and the family, my daughters and my wife went over there and hand washed everything from top to bottom.

Most of that went away with the rake and the pressure wash, it just got washed and pulled from there. There were stubborn stains on the hood that were really bad. And there’s a product company that helped me out before SuperClean, and then sent me some degreaser and some of this solution and removed the rest of that staining and stuff.

Just a little elbow grease and friction above all and everything is gone.

The engine compartment was actually a giant rat’s nest. It went from the floor through the engine compartment to where you couldn’t even close the hood.

And there were rats actively living there when I found it, so they run out when I start cleaning, and then I just had to remove all their sticks and nest. In the end I pulled out a generator and fired back and went in there and just with the back fire and cleared all the debris in there, just taking it down all the way to the engine to get that whole rat’s nest out of there.

This whole process of getting the bus out of the forest and back on the road, back on the road, probably takes about a year and a half. Now I regularly drive the bus. And it’s great.

Now, when it comes to the interior and its restoration, we still have a long way to go. I mean, for the most part it’s fine, but all the seats and everything had been removed. But down the road, I think we’ll keep working on the interior and keep making improvements.

After finding out it was their bus and they were still running, it was wonderful to reach out and contact the pastor.

He told me they were watching the videos and there was one member, an 87-year-old woman named Mary who rode the bus as a child and her father drove it. So I decided that I was going to take a reunion trip with the bus back to the church. And it took us a 400 mile round trip to the Old Staff Baptist Church. And we had a meeting. It was a beautiful day and I met Mary and she told me the story of her father driving the bus and she was sitting right behind him. So that was my favorite part, was coming full circle from this whole story and learning more about the bus.


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