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Old 05-28-2005, 12:45 AM   #1
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How do YOU drive this thing?

Hi all,

I'm seeking tips on how to drive the new rig. I've driven a 24' moving van, but that was pretty much a big long car. The bus is, too, more than I expected, but I'm wary of the air brakes and engine braking, particularly as I head across the mountains.

I've read some posts elsewhere on safe speed, and gearing down and such--I drive a stick car now and gear down religiously for speed control in the mountains. The bus, though, has an Allison automatic and I'm wondering if I can just put it in 3rd to get engine braking downgrade (I don't have a jake brake). I know about not pumping the air brakes, and "stabbing" them for speed control, but are there any tips you have from your experience?

This includes things like "driving with your foot on the line" and putting the aluminum stick on the accelerator

Any other safety/comfort tips?

Thanks!

Gearing up for the first of the summer's test runs...

95 days to Burning Man.

B
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Old 05-29-2005, 04:39 PM   #2
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re: driving this thing

Hello Branden. I just took my bus through BC for the first time. I do not have air brakes or an automatic so I can't speak on those things. However there were a few things I picked up through my experiences and have read elsewhere.

-To stay within the lines consider taking some coloured tape (masking mabye), line up the centre line from where you sit to the hood and place the tape on the corner of the hood. This way you have a dedicated visual line to the centre line.
-Don't rush!!
-Look for places to pull through instead of relying on backing up. Because you feel HUGE driving, but other drivers tend not to gice you as much comfort space as you may need. Especially in parking lots.
-Stay calm
-throw a pair of ear plugs in the bus. It can get a bit noisy somtimes with the engine working and windows down.
-Take your time and enjoy those pretty spots along the way. I found so many spectacular little lakes just to stop and stretch the legs.
-Consider taking a drivers course for RV's or busses. The local automotive association has free courses this time a year. It would be benificial to find an empy parking lot and manouver through some pylons. Hint - go the first time yourself and master a course, then bring your friend along the next time and bet them you can't back through a slalom course just using your mirrors. HAHAHA this way you don't buy the drinks that night.

Good luck.

-Richard
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Old 05-29-2005, 05:13 PM   #3
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Re: re: driving this thing

Hi Brandon -

Not sure what you mean by "stabbing" the brakes, but with air brakes you want to apply them, slow down, then get back off them. You should aim for a 5mph speed reduction when going downhill. In other words as soon as it begins to speed up a little - you slow it back down. Now if you have to do this a lot - you may want to drop down 1 more gear. Even with the auto trans you'll get some engine braking. A rule of thumb is to go down in the same gear or 1 lower than you used going up. Just keep it slow in the mtns when coming down - There's a good reason you see all those semis coming down "too slow". Nothing is more exciting as being halfway down a pass and having no brakes left. Put on your hazards, cruise down and enjoy the scenery!

As to how to stay in your lane I find looking farther down the road helps keep you centered - if you are looking right in front of you to check, you'll be constantly correcting. After a few trips it will come naturally - our brains are remarkable tools (usually )

Something else that might help is when going thru curves try to wait to turn in untill your front tires are almost to the center line - helps keep your rear wheels from tracking too far too the inside.

Practice, practice - go out and explore!

Safe journeys -

Stego
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Old 05-29-2005, 05:28 PM   #4
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You certainly could slow down and put it in third (or even lower gears) if needed. I brought my bus through the Cascades & the Rockies without ever slowing, shifting down or touching the brakes. I think there were a couple of stretches where I could take my foot all the way off the accelerator pedal without even slowing down right away.... :P

It was empty at the time, however, and is geared very low.

A. Moose
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Old 05-31-2005, 04:48 PM   #5
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I find that driving down the expressway is much much easier for new drivers than trying to navigate through city traffic and in parking lots, including the gas station.

When i first got my bus, i went out to an empty church parking lot and set up some cones to simulate pulling up to a gas pump, paralell parking ect and kept driving back and forth until i was very comfortable with the bus and how it handles in tight spaces.
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Old 05-31-2005, 09:01 PM   #6
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They knew I was a new driver...

when I first got stuck in rush hour traffic, in 11-foot lanes with a 10-foot bus, then at the gas station (a piece of cake, really), then at emissions testing, where I had a gaping six inches on either side of the bus to clear the aisle framing.

Thankfully I had been driving on industrial unused streets and parking lots for fun and thought I pretty much had it down (I would, however, like to get a lot more time behind the wheel to get really comfy).

Plus, that bus drives like a Maserati.

It strikes me that since we generally are trying to get our buses to get up to and hold their speed, that the gearing might just allow for what Bullwinkle describes--no significant driving changes.

We'll soon find out.
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Old 05-26-2008, 11:14 PM   #7
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Re: How do YOU drive this thing?

There are some large shiny things on the side of the bus....they're mirrors...and they're pretty much your #1 tool for keeping proper lane position and avoiding hitting things. I'm not sure how many mirrors school buses usually have, but you should have at least 4. Two small mirrors on the bottom should be aimed just outside your rear wheels so you can watch your lane position and keep from(or know when you're about to) hitting a curb. The larger main mirrors should be set about like the mirrors on your car so you can see the traffic in the lanes next to you. Scanning is super important. Check your mirrors every 8 seconds and always keep your eyes moving.

I would give advice on turning but that is very dependant on the overhang in the front of your bus. I've never driven a bus with the wheels in front of me, like most skoolies, only with a lot of overhang (and I'm sitting in front of the front wheels)

Just take it easy and be careful.

If you have a lot of spare time and might need some extra income, consider applying for a part time job with some sort of transit (or school) system. I drive transit buses part time and the training was very good, and you'll probably get paid to be taught how to properly drive your bus! If you decide to go this route, I would also recommend joining the roadeo team if there is one. if you can get through a roadeo course, you can get your way around in any situation that is possible for the bus.
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Old 05-27-2008, 02:33 AM   #8
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Re: How do YOU drive this thing?

wow BigRick you really dig deep. its only 3 years since this thread was startet.
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Old 05-27-2008, 08:03 AM   #9
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Re: How do YOU drive this thing?

But its only on the second page of the tutorials and how-to's...of which I read every title and the thread which interested me lol some people might still appreciate some of that advice...maybe?
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Old 05-31-2008, 12:56 PM   #10
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Re: How do YOU drive this thing?

big rick thanks for pulling this thread back i have not had the pleasure of driving my bus on the road with plates yet and find all the comments in this thread helpfull thanks all for the advice timbuk
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