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Old 12-17-2006, 01:40 PM   #11
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I spent a few years as an owner/operator (new 1993 Freighliner "condo" truck pulling an air-ride 48' electronics trailer) and saw many things happen on the road and many things that had happened before we got there. Sometimes it's enough to make you ill and I don't like to see anyone hurt. I feel for the McMurphy family and all that this accident has done to completely alter their lives. One of the downsides to having a transit style flat-nose bus is, as the truckers are wont to say of the cabovers, you're the first one to arrive at the scene of an accident. You don't have the massive structure of the frame and lots of engine to absorb some engery from a collision. Unfortunately Mr. McMurphy hit the rear-end of probably the one other type of vehicle on the road the bus won't win against.

Which brings me to...what if it had been an SUV in front of him instead of the semi-truck? He'd have likely killed everyone in the vehicle and maybe walked away from the accident without much injury. That one thought used to run through my mind constantly when I was on the road with my big rig; if I hit anything other than another semi or a fixed object I was probably going to kill someone (or several someones). So in addition to taking care of your self (and your passengers) by making sure your vehicle performs as it should (and you do too) you also need to be aware than you can inflict serious, and deadly, damage on other vehicles. Regardless of the circumstances of Mr. McMurphy's accident (whether mechanical or poor driver judgment) the outcome would have been far different if he had hit an SUV, pickup, van, or car in front of him; and he would (as we all would) have to live with the results of that accident for the rest of his life. I don't know about you but I could live with the fact that I made a mistake (or my bus failed) and had to suffer the results a lot more easily than I could if I killed someone because I made a mistake (or my bus failed). The wheels on my bus never roll without me thinking about what it's going to take keep from hurting other folks.

[Which is why, if I were a cop, there wouldn't be a trucker or other large rig driver passing though my jurisdiction that wouldn't get a citation if they were tailgating. One hiccup, one wrong move, one flat tire, and the folks in the light weight vehicle are dead or seriously injured. It's like the biggest bully in school picking on the smallest person there.] can come out now...I put my soap box away.
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Old 12-17-2006, 02:18 PM   #12
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Hear, hear! You do good on a soap box, Les!

I have done a bit of training of new drivers, and they almost always follow too closely. Same with "guest" drivers in my bus. There is essentially no excuse for rear-ending another vehicle. With a big vehicle, you WILL AND MUST "drop backward in the field" when you are in traffic -- cars will cut in front and take up your safety cushion, and you must back off. If you are not willing to do that, you should not be driving a big vehicle.

And you must keep looking faaaar ahead and ANTICIPATE what can go wrong. All the time. Even when I eat at the wheel, I'm staring forward and mentally prepared to drop the sandwich like a hot potato if need be.

Here's a point I like to make to new drivers: The scariest thing I have ever heard a truck driver say, is that he does not get tired from driving. That means he is not working and concentrating on the task at hand -- driving absolutely safely. After 25 years, I still surprise myself at how tired I can get from driving, but I know why: I WORK at it. ("It ain't braggin' if'n it's the truth." -Will Rogers)

Like a hunter or target shooter, we must take this powerful equipment of ours very seriously.

Now Ken, please understand that this isn't ment as critisism of you. A 12 Volt pump might not be a bad idea for some purposes. It's a good thing that you brought it up. But you would need to be very certain that you do not rely on it for driving.
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Old 12-17-2006, 03:14 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Elliot Naess
Now Ken, please understand that this isn't ment as critisism of you.
I second that, Ken. We sorta highjacked your thread and while the discussion is still about brakes and safety it's not really about your orginal question. I think the consensus is that a 12-volt compressor would air up the system for troubleshooting or in an emergency to move the bus a short distance (like to get it out of traffic if that's where it's stuck) but that the compressor won't produce enough volume of air to provide a reliable air source for the service brakes.
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Old 12-19-2006, 03:53 PM   #14
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I bought a used air compressor off of an old semi truck to use at home once. My 220 volt 5 hp air compressor took a dump. Mounting the thing was complicated, i won't get into all the details here, but it did have pressurized engine oil for lubricant, and antifreeze to keep itself cool.


someone told me before i completed the project that air brake compressors don't produce much volume and it would take forever to fill my 35? gallon tank. He was wrong! The air brake compressor had a huge pulley on it which made the compressor spin far less rpm's than the electric motor, even still, this monster was much faster at filling the tank than the compressor that originally came coupled to the unit.

moral of the story: air brake compressors produce a lot of CFM. To match that output, you would have to draw a crazy amount of amps from a 12 volt electric system. 5hp would require roughly 400 amps of 12 volt current.

edited to read 400 amps instead of 4,000
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Old 12-21-2006, 09:58 PM   #15
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This has been a great discussion and I really appreciate everyone’s input especially Les, Frank, Elliot, and BusNuts’.

I didn’t realize that the engine compressor had such a high CFM rating. Once I get this new 12v compressor installed I think I will mainly use it as a pre-charge unit and a way to test for air leaks.

What got me started on this idea was the fact that better 12v compressors are being made now for the off-roader set and I haven’t seen one before that had a 100% duty cycle.

I fixed one of the leaks since my first posting and just to let everyone know I do take braking very seriously. When I used to fly back seat in an F-4 Phantom as a WSO the scariest thing was to lose your brakes on landing. We would fly final around 160 to 170 knots and touch down at about 150 knots. It wasn’t a boldface for landing with a brake failure but you better be pretty quick if you had one. The pilot had to pull the emergency brake system which fires the brake accumulator (high pressure air at about 1000 psi) which gave you at least one good application of the brakes and at the same time dropped the tail hook hoping you would catch the departure end cable (if they had one). There was nothing worse than going off the departure end or off the runway with a 34,000 lb plus machine that could do severe damage to you or someone else close by.

Les, I really like you comment about tailgating. I think way too many people (non skoolies) trust all these new fangled brake systems that can work great if there are no failures but don’t plan for the time when the system fails or if there is a slick road that the ABS can’t compensate for.

More to follow once my tests are done.

Merry Christmas everyone!!

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