We first met Ryan at a wedding on Saltspring Island in 2006 when we had the old saunatruck by Saint Mary lake so the guests could take a dip after a good sweat. Years later we crossed paths again when we brought the sauna up to Evan’s Lake near Squamish. Ryan was more excited about mobile saunas than ever, and the next year he picked out a small bus and we got to work on a conversion.
The vehicle is a camperized 1992 Nissan Civilian, a Japanese domestic import bus with a small diesel engine and right hand drive. The Civilians are rare over here but have been used as 26-seat passenger buses since the 1960s. This one has side entrance, a raised roof and additional gear for use as a fire department command vehicle.
Ryan liked our usual 2-tier, L-shaped bench layout and wanted a open feel to the bus interior. With limited space we decided to try a sliding door rather than the usual hinge-out entrance, with a gravity-pull door closure mechanism. Big glass windows on the interior wall to keep the space feeling open. The sauna interior has a 3 more windows at head height, 2 of which slide open for post-sauna ventilation. We used a slightly smaller variation on our standard has stove design, shrinking the stove by 2″ in height and width, and on George’s recommendation decided to try a mesh rock shield to create an all-rock face on the stove reminiscent of traditional savusauna rock stoves.
We set up shop in the garage, and after gutting the rear section we started the build in September 2014. The unique design presented a few new challenges and we had some delays waiting for the right parts for the project. We had our first test sweat in the end of November. We went on to create a home base spa zone including showers and changerooms beside the bus parking spot. The bussauna has been a big hit. Ryan has more plans for the bussauna including a new layout for the bus interior, and roof storage for ski trips to Whistler. We’re looking forward to hearing about all the upcoming bussauna adventures.