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Old 05-26-2018, 01:00 PM   #1
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What have I done!?

New bus owner here. 93 Ford B700 with Bluebird body. I believed the owners knew what they were talking about when I bought this bus that had "airbrakes." Well, it doesn't. It has the Lucas Gerling ticking-time-bomb brakes.

They seem to be working fine but I'm afraid I just bought, like I said, a ticking-time-bomb of $2-3k. And everything I've read, people spend that much fixing their breaks and then they start leaking a year later. All I've done so far is gut the inside. The underpowered Cummins 5.9l 12v only has 121k miles.

Would you keep this bus? Do I have any other options aside from replacing? Can I replace the hydraulic system if something does go wrong? What preventative maintenance can I do? I'd rather spend $2-3k replacing the system if something goes wrong down the road but I don't even know if that is an option.

I'm so bummed. I thought I did enough homework on the bus before purchasing! Shoot.
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Old 05-26-2018, 01:13 PM   #2
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Just my experience- but if you've fallen out of love get it cleaned up and try to make a few bucks off it on CL.
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Old 05-26-2018, 02:35 PM   #3
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I haven't fallen out of love - but I'm disappointed in myself for not realizing they weren't air brakes. I have even driven airbrake vehicles before. I made the assumption based on the parking switch it has, like airbrakes. I was so overwhelmed by everything else, I guess.

I feel like I'm finally getting to know this bus a little after removing the heaters and playing electrician. I'm really happy about everything else on the bus, it's the brakes (no one's perfect, right?) I want to keep it.

I know the brakes are expensive because they are labor intensive to work on... but do they work well otherwise? Or are they just garbage and I should expect them to fail sooner than later? I'm aware there is no 'for sure' answer here, just looking for a shred of hope.
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Old 05-26-2018, 02:42 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spmccormick85 View Post
I haven't fallen out of love - but I'm disappointed in myself for not realizing they weren't air brakes. I have even driven airbrake vehicles before. I made the assumption based on the parking switch it has, like airbrakes. I was so overwhelmed by everything else, I guess.

I feel like I'm finally getting to know this bus a little after removing the heaters and playing electrician. I'm really happy about everything else on the bus, it's the brakes (no one's perfect, right?) I want to keep it.

I know the brakes are expensive because they are labor intensive to work on... but do they work well otherwise? Or are they just garbage and I should expect them to fail sooner than later? I'm aware there is no 'for sure' answer here, just looking for a shred of hope.
Millions of buses on the roads with hydraulic brakes. When was the first or last time you heard of one failing?
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Old 05-26-2018, 02:59 PM   #5
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I still dont get it ???
So you thought the bus had air-brakes and it has hydraulic brakes.
So what ?
If they get services and maintained, why would anything go wrong ?

There is always a % of something going wrong with anything.
If you like everything else on the bus, I don't see why get rid of it just cuz no air breaks.
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Old 05-26-2018, 03:18 PM   #6
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01marc:

Well, I did what everyone recommends when they have an issue with their bus and read through tons of skoolie forums about Lucas Gerling brakes. It scared the crap out of me.

I'm not so worried about them suddenly 'failing,' poor choice of words on my part. I'm worried they are going to turn into a money pit like I wrote earlier due to leaks and minor malfunctions. It looks like every small problem requires a large amount of labor.

Either way, you guys are kind of giving me some hope, so, thanks!
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Old 05-26-2018, 03:40 PM   #7
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01marc:

Well, I did what everyone recommends when they have an issue with their bus and read through tons of skoolie forums about Lucas Gerling brakes. It scared the crap out of me.

I'm not so worried about them suddenly 'failing,' poor choice of words on my part. I'm worried they are going to turn into a money pit like I wrote earlier due to leaks and minor malfunctions. It looks like every small problem requires a large amount of labor.

Either way, you guys are kind of giving me some hope, so, thanks!
I still say the "tons" of forums you read are posted by only a handful of posters out of MILLIONS of buses. Think about it, if they were bad or too expensive, they would probably not use them in buses anymore. The more of a product is made there will be more stories of issues, almost always a relatively small percentage.
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Old 05-26-2018, 03:46 PM   #8
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Yeah, it’s not the hydraulic brakes so much, it’s the Lucas Gerling brand. They don’t use this kind anymore I believe. And for a reason it sounds like.

I appreciate the input!
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Old 05-26-2018, 10:15 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spmccormick85 View Post
I haven't fallen out of love - but I'm disappointed in myself for not realizing they weren't air brakes. I have even driven airbrake vehicles before. I made the assumption based on the parking switch it has, like airbrakes. I was so overwhelmed by everything else, I guess.

I feel like I'm finally getting to know this bus a little after removing the heaters and playing electrician. I'm really happy about everything else on the bus, it's the brakes (no one's perfect, right?) I want to keep it.

I know the brakes are expensive because they are labor intensive to work on... but do they work well otherwise? Or are they just garbage and I should expect them to fail sooner than later? I'm aware there is no 'for sure' answer here, just looking for a shred of hope.
They'll stop it fine as long as they're working. I had an old F750 fire truck with those brakes and didn't like the feel of them but they stopped the truck.
Parts are hard to find and/or expensive as you know.
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Old 05-26-2018, 10:17 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by oricha1984 View Post
I still dont get it ???
So you thought the bus had air-brakes and it has hydraulic brakes.
So what ?
If they get services and maintained, why would anything go wrong ?

There is always a % of something going wrong with anything.
If you like everything else on the bus, I don't see why get rid of it just cuz no air breaks.
Quote:
Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
I still say the "tons" of forums you read are posted by only a handful of posters out of MILLIONS of buses. Think about it, if they were bad or too expensive, they would probably not use them in buses anymore. The more of a product is made there will be more stories of issues, almost always a relatively small percentage.
Quote:
Originally Posted by spmccormick85 View Post
Yeah, itís not the hydraulic brakes so much, itís the Lucas Gerling brand. They donít use this kind anymore I believe. And for a reason it sounds like.

I appreciate the input!
Yeah they're outdated and nearly forgotten. I understand why you'd not be thrilled about having that brake system.
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Old 05-27-2018, 10:27 AM   #11
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Yeah, I thought I had chosen a real solid bus and this little slip up could cost a lot. Like I said, I still really like it.

Any idea about switching out to a different hydraulic brake system if something were to go wrong? I know anything is possible with time and money, but is it realistic for $2k? I’d rather invest in that if they do ultimately go down hill.
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Old 05-27-2018, 10:33 AM   #12
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if you have never built out a skoolie... welcome to your best lesson.

you will make mistakes. but busses are forgiving, and you can work through this ez. minor setbacks happen all the time.

if i were you i would balance the cost vs the time vs the quality. thats the contractors triangle. you can really only ever pick 2 points.

if the brakes cannot be upgraded or repaired properly, then you might not want to start building. however, if they can, it is just a matter of cost and time. so what costs less and takes less time, selling, or repairing?

good luck.

edit; in my experience, all busses come with quirks. yours is the brakes.

double edit; this just popped into my head. some states require a cdl for air brakes.
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Old 05-27-2018, 11:19 AM   #13
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This is great insight, thank you. I will do my research and figure it out.
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Old 05-27-2018, 11:39 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Nachowarrior View Post
if you have never built out a skoolie... welcome to your best lesson.

you will make mistakes. but busses are forgiving, and you can work through this ez. minor setbacks happen all the time.

if i were you i would balance the cost vs the time vs the quality. thats the contractors triangle. you can really only ever pick 2 points.

if the brakes cannot be upgraded or repaired properly, then you might not want to start building. however, if they can, it is just a matter of cost and time. so what costs less and takes less time, selling, or repairing?

good luck.

edit; in my experience, all busses come with quirks. yours is the brakes.

double edit; this just popped into my head. some states require a cdl for air brakes.
Some require a non-commerical class B air brake endorsement on the license for vehicles a certain weight or GVWR. Also, if the air brakes fail (or the air pressure drops too low) while you are driving, it starts beeping and then you have only a few seconds to GET OFF THE ROAD before your spring breaks engage. Someone told me THATS what causes those truck tire marks on the interstate that you see sometimes. Hydrolic breaks won't do that, so that's sort of an upside. There are pros and cons to everything.
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Old 05-27-2018, 02:13 PM   #15
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Some require a non-commerical class B air brake endorsement on the license for vehicles a certain weight or GVWR. Also, if the air brakes fail (or the air pressure drops too low) while you are driving, it starts beeping and then you have only a few seconds to GET OFF THE ROAD before your spring breaks engage. Someone told me THATS what causes those truck tire marks on the interstate that you see sometimes. Hydrolic breaks won't do that, so that's sort of an upside. There are pros and cons to everything.
When Lucas brakes go out the vehicle just keeps rolling.
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Old 05-27-2018, 03:30 PM   #16
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"Someone told me THATS what causes those truck tire marks on the interstate that you see sometimes"

What those skidmarks you see are is a driver trying to slow down with the trailer brakes which the "Company" pays for as opposed to using up the brakes on their own rig which the owner operator pays for.
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Old 05-27-2018, 11:57 PM   #17
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"Someone told me THATS what causes those truck tire marks on the interstate that you see sometimes"

What those skidmarks you see are is a driver trying to slow down with the trailer brakes which the "Company" pays for as opposed to using up the brakes on their own rig which the owner operator pays for.
Yep. THIS^^
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Old 05-30-2018, 06:12 PM   #18
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Some require a non-commerical class B air brake endorsement on the license for vehicles a certain weight or GVWR. Also, if the air brakes fail (or the air pressure drops too low) while you are driving, it starts beeping and then you have only a few seconds to GET OFF THE ROAD before your spring breaks engage. Someone told me THATS what causes those truck tire marks on the interstate that you see sometimes. Hydrolic breaks won't do that, so that's sort of an upside. There are pros and cons to everything.

ya. what you said.
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Old 06-02-2018, 11:29 PM   #19
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Yeah, I thought I had chosen a real solid bus and this little slip up could cost a lot. Like I said, I still really like it.

Any idea about switching out to a different hydraulic brake system if something were to go wrong? I know anything is possible with time and money, but is it realistic for $2k? Iíd rather invest in that if they do ultimately go down hill.
This type of hyd brakes work quite well. The only reasonable way to convert to another type of brake system is to buy another donor vehicle

Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
When Lucas brakes go out the vehicle just keeps rolling.
This is completely false. a much more likely scenario is for the pump to die or belt break and you will see a red light on the dash before the rear parking brake engages.
OR you start the engine and park brake pump will not make the required pressure to release the park brakes and you stay parked.

There is much more info on these brakes at https://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/forum232/ (ford Truck enthusist )
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Old 06-02-2018, 11:55 PM   #20
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Yeah, itís not the hydraulic brakes so much, itís the Lucas Gerling brand. They donít use this kind anymore I believe. And for a reason it sounds like.

I appreciate the input!
I happen to have a car from the 60's that has lucas girling brakes and clutch hydraulics. For me, they don't happen to make the rear brake drums anymore, and some of the other parts are hard to get, especially since my car doesn't show up in most of the retail parts computer because its too obscure. So it becomes a major project to make sure that you know the distributors that do have the parts you need.

So I would recommend that you learn as much about the system as you can. How it works, what are the components in the system, what are their part numbers? Which ones are tough to get, and how tough is tough? Does it simply mean that you have to order them from somewhere at twice the normal price and wait for delivery? Or do you have to find used parts to make it work?

How are you going to use the bus? Are you going to be driving constantly, or do you drive it and then it sits for a few months? If you are going to only be putting a few thousand miles on per year, I doubt you are going to wear out a commercial set of brake pads anytime soon, but seals could dry out and fail.

I think the question of trying to replace the brake system with something else, unless you have a ton of time and money invested, you are probably better off financially to sell the bus and get a different bus with the features you want.
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