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Old 04-25-2007, 01:28 AM   #1
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rough ride!

i was prepared for something pretty rough, but my blue bird is a little much. it's not bad for me as the driver with an air ride seat, but i can see all the bouncing, jarring, vibrations, etc. being very uncomfortable for passengers.

any suggestions for improving the ride or comfort? would some fresh radials make a difference? it still has tubed bias plys on the rear. anyone tried pulling a few leaves out? i certainly don't expect a cadillac, but there's got to be some room for improvement.
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Old 04-25-2007, 02:35 AM   #2
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When you get some weight in it -- furniture, appliances, a few hundred gallons of water
and so forth -- you will notice improvement.

Also, the noise makes it seem rougher than it really is. Insulation, carpeting,
upholstry and what-not will help.

You may also be suffering from a touch of "this is all new and very different".

I don't think I noticed much change when I took the old tires off and put modern
ones on. (Just the same, you do want safe, reliable tires.)

I've juggled spring leaves on cars, sometimes successfully , and I suppose it
could be done on a bus. But I would consult a specialist first.

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Old 04-25-2007, 02:58 AM   #3
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a bus is new for me, but i'm not new to driving medium duty trucks, which is basically all a bus is. i can't say i've ever been in one so rough!

good point about the noises probably making it worse than it is, i thought about that being a possibility. i've got some carpet and padding to go in, along with some insulation for the dog house.

as i mentioned, the driver seat is fairly comfortable with the air ride. good luck if you want to catch a nap on the couch or something though.

unfortunately, i hadn't planned on much in the way of adding alot of stuff to it that's not already there. that might have to change to get some weight though.
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Old 04-25-2007, 03:04 AM   #4
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I know what you mean about rough ride, well my girlfriend does. She learned that there will be no sleeping on the air mattress in the back of the bus as we go down the road. She was bounced 8-10" in the air while she was trying to sleep. Go figure.

A smoother ride is what we all want, but we have to remember they are school buses and smooth they are not. Although some are not as bad as others.
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Old 04-25-2007, 10:37 AM   #5
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rough ride

mine rides like a cadillac and it's a bluebird too. I do have radials and keep them a little on the underinflated side. See what your air pressures are and adjust them down a little. I run mine @ 90-95. The rating on a tire is for MAX load not max ride. Things will improve with weight additions, mine is now at 23,000 with a MVW of 30,500#. sportyrick
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Old 04-25-2007, 10:40 AM   #6
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Quote:
A smoother ride is what we all want...
Maybe it's time one of us contacts a commercial spring shop for some advice? I sure don't
have time myself. But with only half the max weight on the rear axle, obviously the
springs could be softer for our use.
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Old 04-25-2007, 11:28 AM   #7
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been looking into it

I talked to the mechanics at Gibbs who sold my bus originally and they refered me to a local spring shop in Bakersfield. I talked with the proprieter for a while about my options. He reccomended that I get the springs repacked to a variable rate spring, the other options mentioned were to reduce the carrying capacity of the spring packs and install airbags between the leafs and the frame to add an airride capability the other option is to install an aftermarket air ride kit for medium duty busses. i.e. http://www.ridewellcorp.com/RAD241H.shtml that last option is in the $10, 000 price range. the first option will probably run about $2000. I asked about taking some air ride suspensions from scrapped medium duty trucks and was informed that the ride would get harsher, not smoother, but if you swapped airbags and shocks you might be able to get there. I did lower the air pressure in my tires to that reccomended on the bill of lading inside the engine compartment, (someone had filled them to their max recomended pressure of 120 psi) and I noticed a marked difference in ride quality. Also, if I keep the speed between 60 and 65 mph I seem to hit the sweetspot for the shock spring combination, and the ride is tollerable. keep in mind I am driving a 25 foot dog nose ward/international that's fairly empty, weight wise, so the ride is going to be harsh due to short wheel base and too much spring, but my wife gets somewhat vocal about abusing our kids if she feels the ride is too harsh; so I know, due to spousal feedback, that the ride can be made acceptable with some small adjustments. I really want to hook up the full air ride kit though, just need to take out another second mortgage, yeah that will do it.
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Old 04-25-2007, 01:19 PM   #8
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All right, I am NOT suggesting this. It's just a brain storm. Just a mental excersise, all right?
And this would not be reversible without major expense. But this would cost two dollars
and ninetyfive cents. How about cutting the short leaves with a cutoff blade in an
angle grinder. (Being very careful not to nick the next leaf.) I don't want you to try
that! It would definitely change the stress on the remaining leaves, possibly
leading to catastrophic failure. But I'd like to hear opinions.
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Old 04-25-2007, 02:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elliot Naess

When you get some weight in it -- furniture, appliances, a few hundred gallons of water
and so forth -- you will notice improvement.

Also, the noise makes it seem rougher than it really is. Insulation, carpeting,
upholstry and what-not will help.
That is EXACTLY what I thought. Once I added the small amount of weight from the conversion and all the bulkheads, carpet, etc so stop the noise it seemed to ride much better. I also have a very soft couch for my passengers to sit in and it's approximately half the distance between the front and rear axle putting it at the center of rotation or so. That theoretically makes the ride better. Monster truck driver's are located at the centroid and axis of rotation of their trucks for that exact reason.

As for spring modifications....without really digging into the SAE Spring Manual I can tell you a few things I know. Short leaves will make the ride more rigid than full length leaves. Thins leaves also work better, even in great numbers. If you want proof you need only to look at a set of Deaver (or other name brand) springs for offroad applications. It's not uncommon to see 7 or more very thin, long leaves. Heck, the front springs in my truck have 6 leafs, 5 full length and one short.

If you wanted to improve the ride quality without sacrificing ride height (free arch really I guess) and without introducing a ton of axle wrap there is an easy solution. Cut the bottom leaf or two off a couple inches behind the axle, but leaf it intact in front. This will allow it to resist the torque of acceleration, but it will not affect the ride quality because the majority of spring flex actually comes from behind as the suspension cycles. Again, this all depends on the suspension set up.

You could also probably take out any of the overloads that contact those pads way up on the frame if you have them. Those will make themselves known on any serious bump.

I know the owner of a couple of Husky Spring shops as well as several of his employees so I will take some initiative and see what I can find out for the people on this board. There might be something we're all missing. It might be extremely expensive. It might be very easy to solve the problem.

To help me out can people who have scaled their buses give me a run down of their rear axle weights (not the ratings, but the actual weights)?
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Old 04-25-2007, 03:37 PM   #10
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Millicent weighed 9.500 on the steering and 9.700 on the drive when I drove her home from
the bus barn. (40 foot flat nose with engine in front.) The drive axle is rated for 19.000
(probably really 20.000), so obviously, with only half of what it is designed to
live with, it will ride hard empty.

Great if you can get us some professinal opinions about lopping off a leaf or two without
having to touch the U bolts or anything!
But I must repeat: this is not something to fool around with "just to see what happens".
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Old 04-25-2007, 10:06 PM   #11
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I also read on this board a while back where someone used a high quality lubricant on the leaves which allowed them to move again and they seemed to think it made a noticable difference.

Once you get your conversion done it will settle out a bit. I have a 98 gal water tank in the back of the bus and that makes a difference when it's full.

Good luck with the family. You could always try a bit of Gravol before the trip, because a sleeping wife and kids might not be so bad either . And much cheaper than an air ride system .

-Richard
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Old 04-25-2007, 10:24 PM   #12
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Lubrication would no doubt help, but you also don't want oil all over the U bolts -- which has been
known to make them come loose. (This is one reason the Highway Patrol writes tickets for oil and
grease on the chassis.) Oil also attracts dirt. The best lubrication is strips of nylon
between the leaves, made for the purpose, but you have to take the springs
apart to install that.

An old truckers trick for sliding fifth wheels is to lubricate with liquid soap. Self cleaning! So if
you want to experiment, try a bottle of Palmolive.

But some weight will make a difference. When we took Old #35 to Burning Man last year, the
water and other gear made a big difference.
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Old 04-25-2007, 10:34 PM   #13
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The nylon pucks work well although they really are just a bandaid for the real problem which is mass produced leaves that don't quite fit together right. Well made handcrafted leaf springs will have tapers ground into the ends of every leaf and are then painted with a graphite type solution. The end result are springs that move great and don't spit out pucks. Of course that is a high dollar solution.

I will see what I can find out tomorrow.
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Old 05-03-2007, 09:22 AM   #14
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If I were you I would take the existing springs (if they are good, not broken) and remove some leafs. There is some guesswork involved on how many to remove. I actually replaced my springs and went with lighter ones, not a cheap option. I think I spent around $700 and a considerable amount of labor! I added helper air springs (5000 lbs) for when I'm hauling but I could probably still loose a leaf or two so the air springs haul more of the weight. My main reason for new springs was to fix a leaning bus, figured bad spring pack. I was wrong, looks like a bent frame. Expensive way to figure out...and the wife is still reminding me of that The side I thought was 'good' actually had a broken main leaf. Air springs can soften the ride if your leaf springs are soft enough and the air springs are carrying some of the weight. I think my new setup gives me a little better ride, but it's always been pretty good with a 5000 vehicle in back.

More info on the spring replacement and photos:
http://trx.punknet.org/gallery2/main.ph ... emId=10496

Helper Air Springs install:
http://trx.punknet.org/gallery2/main.ph ... emId=10529
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Old 05-03-2007, 12:31 PM   #15
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This is going to sound stupid, but that's not new for me. A few years back, I bought a van cut-away (van cab and frame) that was an ambulance. The body had been removed for a remount to a new chassis. I told the company that I bought it from that I wanted to mount a 275 gallon tote filled with water on the frame because I would be ready for the nut house after a 2300 mile trip bouncing up and down. They told me not to worry, they would weld up an aluminum box and fill it with concrete, no charge. That thing rode like a Cadillac. Its amazing what 2000 pounds of concrete will do. So... I think if you add some extra weight in the right spot, it would help out a whole bunch. Maybe 55 gallon drums filled with water in the very back of the bus. When you don't need them any more, empty them or use them for grey water. That is the cheap fix. It you want to spend $$$, try one of the options listed above.
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