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Old 09-21-2013, 10:11 PM   #1
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Question about School Bus Suspension

Greetings everyone, I'm new here, so I am hoping that I am asking this in the right place. I have a southern gospel quartet. I am looking at getting a school bus to convert into an entertainer's coach. My question is about the suspension on a school bus. I remember when I was ins school, riding a bus was miserable and rough. Have the suspensions improved? Do they offer a better ride now? If not what can be done to fix it so that it does ride better without costing a small fortune?

Thanks for any input!

Jeff
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Old 09-22-2013, 04:30 PM   #2
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Re: Question about School Bus Suspension

No and yes. Some school buses have air ride rear suspension. Try to find one of those.
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Old 09-22-2013, 09:50 PM   #3
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Re: Question about School Bus Suspension

Not really. I've heard air bags ride rough. You get what you pay for is what it comes to. If you get a front engine bus, it will be a rough ride no matter what suspension.
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Old 06-05-2014, 12:46 AM   #4
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Re: Question about School Bus Suspension

My bus came with leaf springs. I bought Kellerman air-ride kit for it. It now rides on a magic carpet.

A bus is a truck chassis. For all it knows, you are an empty dump truck on your way to load 8 tons of rip-rap. A lot of your noise comes from the road noise being sent through those big steel leafs into the truck body. The air bags take that hard signal and dampen it. It cuts a lot of the noise and also cuts a lot of the harshness.

There are a couple other issues that make a school bus less than desirable for interstate travel, but air ride solves a good 70% of them. The other 2 biggies are that 1) the steel headliner bounces road noise from those huge rear tires singing along the roadway under you (I covered my ceiling in something like Brownbread--you look it up) and that the bus is generally geared to run along at 45mph, not 70mph. It will do 65mph, but you are getting a lot more engine revs and that makes a lot more noise and uses a little more fuel. I regeared my drive axle, but I did make 2,000mile round trips on my original axle without trouble. It's just more peaceful to have the engine running 2,000rpm instead of 2,600rpm. Plus, I can run 75mph instead of 65mph when I don't care about fuel economy.
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Old 06-05-2014, 06:58 AM   #5
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Re: Question about School Bus Suspension

Quote:
Originally Posted by opus
If you get a front engine bus, it will be a rough ride no matter what suspension.
I gotta agree on Opus with this. A rear engined bus is going to be a lot more enjoyable than an FE. I got stuck driving government buses, both FE transits, up to Fort Drum from South NJ for my last unit's annual training exercises there. I was pretty beat up after those runs. When I picked up my bus, a 75 pax Amtran/International 3000RE up in Maine and drove it home, it was a pleasure to drive even after dealing with the pothole-laden Cross Bronx Expressway. Although a suspension driver's seat (air or mechanical) would have been a hell of a lot better than the solid pedestal.
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Old 08-10-2014, 03:01 PM   #6
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Re: Question about School Bus Suspension

My plan on my bus is to remove a couple leaves in the rear suspension to soften up the ride as a nearly free method to actually make the ride semi acceptable. Long term will be air bags, probably.
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Old 08-10-2014, 08:19 PM   #7
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Re: Question about School Bus Suspension

Air Suspension will ALWAYS win against leaf-springs, no matter the weight.

If you have a rough air suspension you have too heavy shocks and/or the wrong air pressure - start to figure out your air-spring system in DETAIL and EXACTLY and then start to play with air pressure regulation.....

Check your shocks and if they are too stiff or damaged, get new ones (select them correctly for your max anticipated axle load.....)

Cheers,

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Old 08-20-2014, 08:18 PM   #8
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Re: Question about School Bus Suspension

The air pressure is pretty easy to figure out with the Kelderman kit. The idea is to keep the part that the bags sit on, level. It takes about 40psi at our weight. The big thing is the isolation the bags give you from the springs. A bit of rubber and a 40psi lump of air is not very good at sending jolts and bumps through. Solid steel springs are very good at that. This should be your first chassis mod if you are going to be doing real travel in a bus. It will keep you from breaking things--we broke 2 fridges and a microwave before this. Now--no chance. The front hits hard and the back smooshes over. I never knew the front hit hard before--the bump under my feet was the warning that in a second, there would be a big KER-KRASH and kids and objects would be flying off in all directions.
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