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Old 06-09-2017, 11:03 AM   #1
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Year: 1997
Info On Long Journeys

Hello!

I am nearing the end of my conversion (Phase one) and will be traveling from my parents home in Delaware to my "home" in San Diego, CA next weekend.

I have put a LOT of labor and love into my tiny home on wheels and want to make sure that I take care of my Skoolie and keep it safe and sound.

I will for the 3rd time be taking this cross-country travel and understand how taxing it can be on any vehicle and have extra concern for my bus.

I have a '97 Thomas Vista 3600 with a T444E and Allison Transmission (not sure what kind but am going to find out!). I was wondering if there are any tricks, tips, advice, things to avoid or bits of info I should know before the long travel.

Is there any limit to the number of hours I should drive consistently before taking a break to prevent overheating or putting too much strain on the engine/transmission. Is there any adjustments or special things I need to do before hand? (I've heard about adding extra fans to the engine and transmission before should this be done?)

Is the anything wrong with traveling for long hours and many miles with my beast? I had a mechanic check Moon Shine out last week and had the front two tires replaced, new air bags put on my brakes, and a hydraulic hose replaced as well. He changed my coolant, oil, and greased everything. He let me know that my alternator, batteries and electrical dash and a few other things are all brand new too.

I did want to look into getting the governor taken off since currently my bus only runs at 55mph but have heard mixed reviews on that. Some say its better to keep it on to prevent wear and save MPG's others say it's fine. Would this take a lot of effort and is this ok/safe to do?

THANK YOU so much for your help and advice! This has truly been an adventure and challenge and I expect the trip will be the same...I don't want to add any difficulty where none need be .
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Old 06-09-2017, 12:07 PM   #2
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That's amazing that you've gotten your build (or phase one) completed that quickly. It takes a bucket load of labor and possibly a few bleeding knuckles to get one of these things set up.

I like that you're really putting time, effort and money into your preventative maintenance before this long drive. If you're not using a fuel additive at this time I'd suggest getting some especially for use during the trip. It has surprising effects on most of our engines, toward reducing engine noise, running slightly cooler and smoking much less especially during startup.

You've likely got the Allison 545 based on the year. Anything better than that and you should consider it a bonus. My bus came with a tranny temp gage, which could be important. Mostly you'll just need to watch your coolant temp while going through the mountains.

Your bus does not need to rest, unless it has gotten hot and you're letting it cool down. You should be fine on the highway.

Many times in the mountains we don't realize we're climbing a hill, so we all have a tendency to try to keep up to posted speed limits. If there are any signs of coolant overheating while climbing mountains, simply drive slower so there isn't so much strain on the engine. If you've already overheated the engine pull over and give it some time to cool down. Add water if needed after the engine cools down enough so you won't burn yourself. Some people recommend idling for overheated engines while others recommend shutting the engine off and letting it cool down. I believe they cool down faster if they're running as long as the coolant system is still full.

The governor is there to keep bus drivers from operating the bus at engine speeds that could shorten the life of the engine. This is a long range plan to ensure the bus engine isn't over stressed, eventually shortening the life of the engine. Most people do deal with the governor eventually, having it adjusted or removed depending on your specific engine. Driving 55 gets old fast, but it does get you there. You'll have to speak with someone that has the same engine about dealing with your governor.

Have a safe trip.
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Old 06-09-2017, 01:32 PM   #3
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Its probably not the governor but the rear axle ratio that is the limiting factor.
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Old 06-09-2017, 01:43 PM   #4
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what are the RPMs running while you are at 55? if you are up at 2500-2600 then you are maxxed out and the axle ratio is your nemesis like ECCB says..

if you reach 55 and you see your RPM's drop down a few hundred and then oscillate back and forth as you have your foot to the floor then you may be at the mercy of the computer..

1997 was a pivotal year.. if you have the newer computers (the large computer on the right side valve cover).. and you pass through columbus ohio on your journey or nearby I can reprogram your computer.. but if your RPMs stay maxxed at that 2600 or so then theres nothing I can do..

if you have the older computers i can try to connect, but not all were the same..

-Christopher
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Old 06-09-2017, 03:29 PM   #5
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I would do a thorough pre-trip inspection each day before you start, and stop every hour or two to rest yourself and to check the bus. I do this even with my car - I check the temperature of tires, wheels, hubs, and look under for drips and leaks, every time I stop on a long trip. Something I also tell people to do is to turn off the radio every now and then so you can hear what's happening while you drive - most problems give early warning with strange sounds or vibration before they become critical failures. You'll have some serious mountains to climb over along the way, so take it easy climbing and descending; the typical basin-and-range topography of the western US is tough on vehicles in the heat of the summer. And if you have accurate reliable gauges (you do, yes?) you need to get into the habit of always scanning them every minute or so while driving.

Are you taking I-8 or I-40 or some other route? If you take the southern route on I-8, don't underestimate the westbound climb after Ocatillo CA as you leave the desert and go over the mountains before San Diego. Many a vehicle has come to grief making that climb in the summer, so you may want to do it at night when it's cooler / less stinking hot.

Have fun and be safe, John
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Old 06-09-2017, 03:56 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Iceni John View Post
I would do a thorough pre-trip inspection each day before you start, and stop every hour or two to rest yourself and to check the bus. I do this even with my car - I check the temperature of tires, wheels, hubs, and look under for drips and leaks, every time I stop on a long trip. Something I also tell people to do is to turn off the radio every now and then so you can hear what's happening while you drive - most problems give early warning with strange sounds or vibration before they become critical failures. You'll have some serious mountains to climb over along the way, so take it easy climbing and descending; the typical basin-and-range topography of the western US is tough on vehicles in the heat of the summer. And if you have accurate reliable gauges (you do, yes?) you need to get into the habit of always scanning them every minute or so while driving.

Are you taking I-8 or I-40 or some other route? If you take the southern route on I-8, don't underestimate the westbound climb after Ocatillo CA as you leave the desert and go over the mountains before San Diego. Many a vehicle has come to grief making that climb in the summer, so you may want to do it at night when it's cooler / less stinking hot.

Have fun and be safe, John
Awesome advice.

However, regarding the summer temps in the Mohave Desert I think you may have understated the HEAT.
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Old 06-09-2017, 06:55 PM   #7
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The Mojave desert is very hot in the summer, and the Sonoran desert is even hotter! I would try to drive through them in the night as much as possible. I recently made a short trip up to the high desert from here, and I left at 4.00 AM - OMG, so much better. Cooler, less traffic, and what traffic there was seemed to be driven by folk with brains in their heads instead of the usual moronic idiots driving during the day, especially on I-15 that gets all the mulletheads going to Las Vegas and the Colorado River each weekend.

John
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Old 06-10-2017, 08:48 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iceni John View Post
The Mojave desert is very hot in the summer, and the Sonoran desert is even hotter! I would try to drive through them in the night as much as possible. I recently made a short trip up to the high desert from here, and I left at 4.00 AM - OMG, so much better. Cooler, less traffic, and what traffic there was seemed to be driven by folk with brains in their heads instead of the usual moronic idiots driving during the day, especially on I-15 that gets all the mulletheads going to Las Vegas and the Colorado River each weekend.

John
I wouldnt want to drive through there in a bus with no Air conditioning..
-Christopher
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Old 06-10-2017, 09:18 AM   #9
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"But...it's a DRY heat".
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Old 06-10-2017, 09:33 AM   #10
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just take your time and enjoy the ride, 55-60 is the sweet spot for me better mpg, less stress driving, you just have to get used to the cars behind and passing you. Drive as long as you feel you can, then pull in for a rest or overnight, your bus can run 24 hours a day, you have a done all you can for maintaince I have the same motor\tranny and have gone 12 hours with just fuel stops. but I like to do around 5 hours driving and stop for the night
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