Les Davis Transformed a Bus into His Dream Motorhome!
Les Davis is the blokiest of blokes you will ever get to meet. He works in construction and is the guy you want around if you need help with anything and everything mechanical. Les had a dream of renovating a bus and making it in to a motor home, so he could tour Australia. He’s agreed for me to share his story of success as part of my series: ‘Stories from the pot of gold!’ Everyday people, doing everyday things that are extraordinary for them!
I interviewed Les at Bedouin Brew, a Middle Eastern influenced coffee shop located in Coopers Plains, Brisbane. I started by asked what inspired him on his journey to renovate a bus and he said; “It’s just one of the things on my bucket list! When I was a teenager, I finished my apprenticeship and got offered a job as a spray painter. So, I’ve always had interest in vehicles and doing them up.”
He added; “I grew up in New Zealand and some people would drive these hippy style trucks with old gypsy houses mounted on the back. They were made of timber with windows and they had all sorts of features, like lead light, small pot belly stoves and little decks on the back. It’s the closest you’ll get to a tiny house! Some looked quite good and I always thought I'd love to build something similar, but slightly different using a bus!”
I believe that all great ideas start with a vision! Combine that with something you are passionate about and it’s the place where magic can happen in your life. It’s where you can find the motivation to turn your dreams in to reality. This was true for Les, but while he had grand ideas for the type of motor home he wanted to build, there was the slight issue of budget. Les didn’t have a lot of money!
He said; “I initially looked at motor homes for sale that other people had modified, but they were bloody expensive! At the end of the day I didn’t want to alter someone else’s hand me down. So, I realised early on that I wanted to build something decent from scratch. Based upon what I wanted and yes, it had to be achieved on a limited budget.”
Les scouted around for the right bus to buy and he finally bought one that fitted his requirements. But it’s at this point the enormity of the job in hand hit him. A moment of overwhelm set in! He said; “I parked the bus on my driveway and the initial excitement of buying it disappeared. I stood in front of it and thought: Shit, what have I done! Where do I start! For a brief second, I thought about just selling it. But I knew I wouldn’t get my money back. I imagined what my Dad would have said!” Les laughed and added; “He would have turned around and called me a few names and told me I had taken on too much!”
This overwhelm didn’t last long and Les reconnected with his passion. I asked how he got back on track and he said; “I detailed the steps I needed to complete the bus. It needed a lot of preparation because there was damage to be rectified before the real work could start on the flooring, wiring, roof, windows, floor plan etc.”
The build process taught Les a lot of lessons! He admits to making a few mistakes along the way and certain jobs cost him more money than they should have done. At one stage it looked like his budget was going to blow out significantly. It just meant he had to become savvy at finding good bargains, which he achieved by shopping around for items on ebay. Les said; “I was buying stuff interstate and getting it delivered to my door cheaper than I could buy goods in Brisbane.” This enabled Les to finish the build more or less on budget. He said; “It's like building a house! You've got to have a set budget in mind, but factor in a buffer for those unexpected surprises.”
I asked Les if he ever doubted his ability to build the motor home and without hesitation he replied; “No! I never doubted myself! Yes, it’s had its challenges! I had my fair share of days in the beginning when I thought I’m never going to get this finished. But I always knew I could do it!”
He added; “I look at all the photos that I’ve taken throughout the build and think holy crap! I bought that! It was a piece of shit! But I was able to build it to the standard that I wanted and as the modifications progressed, I thought, wow, the beauty of what I’m creating is so good!
It took Les over 12 months to build his dream motor home. During that time, he had to cope with many challenges. The most significant was a motorbike accident that shattered his left shoulder. It resulted in him needing a shoulder reconstruction using metal rods. Despite that set back, Les was not deterred from achieving his goal. His mental strength and clear focus resulted in Les building a very functional motor home to a high standard. It even boasts stain glass windows as a unique, personal touch and you will smile if you happen to be passing when Les sounds the motor homes horn … it’s an unusual noise that’s difficult to describe! A mix between the muffled sound I imagine a duck would make during mating season and the noise you’d expect to hear if you squeezed a clown’s big red nose!
I then turned to the future and asked Les what his plans were with his new motor home. He said; “I’ve just got a job in Tasmania, so I’m driving it down there and will have lots of weekend trips exploring the island. I wouldn't mind travelling the great ocean road in Victoria as well, and going along the coast through to Sydney.” He added; “At this stage I’m really enjoying the motor home and will keep it.” But with a glint in his eye, he added; “I have thoughts of modifying another bus. Next time I would like it to be a long wheel base because it's a little bit easier to drive and a bit more economical.”
I asked Les if anyone or anything had inspired him during his life and he said; “Yes, that would have to be my Dad! He was a great inspiration to me! He would also turn around and call me a bloody idiot at times, but that was just dad!”
Thank you for sharing your story Les! If you’ve found it inspirational, then please share it. It may just inspire someone else you know and if you have a story of success, you’d like to share with me, then I’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Enjoy your journey until next time!