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Old 07-25-2008, 05:08 PM   #1
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Things to learn about my bus when opportunity presents

Gang,

I have my mandatory state inspection this next Wednesday. I'm new to diesels and buses and am compiling a list of questions to ask as we go over everything. We'll be checking fluids, filters and brakes mainly.

I've been reading threads for quite a while now, and want to compile a list of other questions to know so I can contribute and imagine accordingly. For example, talking about mileage and power, I'm going to find out what gear-ratio my bus has. That way I can understand what that is and if I should change it, etc...

* How to check, drain and fill all fluids.
* How to adjust air brakes.
* Exact model of engine and transmission. (Cummins 5.9 ltr, Allison tranny)
* What gear ratio I have.

If you guys can think of anything else that would be useful to know for purposes of education / discussion, let me know and I'll make sure I learn about it when I have the chance.
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Old 07-26-2008, 05:32 PM   #2
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Re: Things to learn about my bus when opportunity presents


Hmmm.... Sounds like you plan to pick the inspector's brain a little. And it sounds like you know him already?

My experience with official inspections of 18-wheelers, is that they mostly check critical items like brake adjustment and wear, steering play, tires and lug nuts, suspension wear and breakage, the air (brake) system, and lights.

Filters and such maintenance items fall to our own shop mechanics to do if they feel like it.

But if you have a friendly local inspector who has agreed to give you a tutorial while he is under there, well wondermuss! If that's the case, just ask for "bus maintenance 101" and let him rip.

Brake adjustment would be at the top of my list -- it's the most common reason 18-wheelers get put out of service.
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Old 07-26-2008, 10:39 PM   #3
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Re: Things to learn about my bus when opportunity presents

If your ride has kingpins.... have a look at them
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Old 07-27-2008, 12:27 AM   #4
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Re: Things to learn about my bus when opportunity presents

Minnesota actually has a checklist that they let you use for your CDL test. If you can figure out everything on that list I think you would be fine given that CDL tests are pretty universal across the country. I'm sure your state has a similar checklist though they might not allow you to use it while actually taking the test.

As was already said...the things on the test are pretty basic...all aspects of the braking system (adjustment, leaks, checking all the hardware), underhood fluid and component checks (levels, belt tension, etc), and lighting.
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Old 07-27-2008, 09:47 AM   #5
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Re: Things to learn about my bus when opportunity presents


Now this makes more sense to me, because now it sounds like we are talking about the PRE-TRIP check. The commercial driver pre-trip inspection is quite extensive. And lots of Commercial Driver License candidates flunk their driving test before moving the vehicle a millimeter because they flunk the pre-trip inspection -- usually on air brake knowledge.

As mentioned above, I bet you will find that list in any state's Commercial Driver Handbook -- which you can pick up at any DMV office.
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Old 07-29-2008, 04:51 AM   #6
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Re: Things to learn about my bus when opportunity presents

The Vermont CDL Manual may be on line, if you don't want to kill trees.

The Empire State CDL manual is here:
http://www.nysdmv.com/broch/cdlmanual.htm

You can open each chapter in a .pdf.
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Old 07-29-2008, 09:25 AM   #7
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Re: Things to learn about my bus when opportunity presents

Thanks for all the advice. I actually wasted the recycled paper and picked one up at the DMV when I was there (Vermont is fairly good about printing on recycled paper.) I've been reading through that. I also had a diesel mechanic friend also show me how to manually prime the engine and set me up with some diesel literature so I can understand better how they work.

I was also looking for out of the book things like rear-end ratio. Seems like you wouldn't normally need to know that in order to operate a vehicle, but knowing that helps you understand what power / mileage ratio you might get.

I'll let you all know how things go on Wednesday.
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Old 07-29-2008, 12:36 PM   #8
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Re: Things to learn about my bus when opportunity presents


Seems to me, the only time you would need to know the rear end ratio, is if you find yourself actively looking for that number to insert in an equation. Absent such a mathematical process working itself to the forefront of your mind, you just stomp on the foot feed and steer.

Of course, you are absolutely right that the more you understand, the better.

And knowing how to prime the fuel IS something you should know.

(foot feed = accelerator pedal -- old diesel slang.)
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Old 08-06-2008, 07:47 AM   #9
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Re: Things to learn about my bus when opportunity presents

Inspection went very well. Stuck around the mechanics all day, bought some lunch for the group, asked a lot of questions. Nice guys, and great service!

Ended up replacing two fuel filters, one oil filter and one coolant filter, flushed the oil. Greased every nook and cranny we could find with a grease gun. (Considering buying a grease gun now for the 3-6 month checkups I have planned.) Standard maintenance I assume.

The Air bags were beginning to show signs of dry-rot so we were looking into replacing them but we couldn't figure out the bus's chassis. I thought it was an international but the VIN didn't check out. It's a Carpenter Crown 1996 with a 5.9 ISB Cummins and an Allison Transmission. I thought it was built in the Ward factory Carpenter bought in the mid-90's.

Been driving the bus a lot more now that I'm completely legal. A bit nervous still but I think with time and experience I'll get more comfortable.
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Old 08-06-2008, 11:10 AM   #10
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Re: Things to learn about my bus when opportunity presents


Wondermuss!

Now, the final test of just how good your team of teachers are: When you greased the king pins on the front axle, did you jack them up so you took the weight off the wheels -- to get grease into the exact spots where it is really needed?
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