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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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Old 06-01-2008, 09:35 PM   #11
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Re: How do YOU drive this thing?

yay! lol I'm glad it wasn't a worthless thread revival!
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Old 06-05-2008, 08:43 PM   #12
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Re: How do YOU drive this thing?

I too have not been on the road in a while; even then it was only a small trip. It included a gas station Grocery store then the Sam Boyd Stadium.
I had never though about cones, but I live close to Lake Mead. I am thinking of test driving around there.
The difficult part is mastering the spilt rear end/ shifting from high gears to low gears.

I have the mid 60's model Wayne full size C60 with an inline 292, and it does have a large front end with a 4 ft porch. Last time I drove this bus it was a rough ride. Could this be due to it sitting for a year? The engine ran great but the ride was bouncy. The lady I bought the bus from said that the tires can become squared after sitting
and need to be warmed up to round back out. Anyone have this issue? Also some dude at a show said the porch can cause that effect.
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Old 06-08-2008, 12:14 AM   #13
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Re: How do YOU drive this thing?

yea thats what those bias ply tires doo after sittin....the longer they sit the longer it takes to round them a 65 wayne eh? i have seen one here somewhere
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Old 12-04-2008, 01:48 AM   #14
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Re: How do YOU drive this thing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Rick
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.
Before I drove my bus home I looked at the silly concave mirrors sticking out the front of my bus and pretty much decided they'd be gone soon. After all, I thought their main purpose was to see children in front of the bus. A few miles down the road I realized something..... I can see the lines on both side of me through those mirrors, and can do so while looking forward at the road. When I came to a narrow bridge with a semi coming the other way, instead of white knuckling it I had complete confidence of where I was in the road.

Not only will those mirrors be staying but they'll be put on any future bus I might own that doesn't come with them!

-Ray
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Old 12-04-2008, 04:26 AM   #15
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Re: How do YOU drive this thing?

Take a tape measure and measure the width of your bus. Then measure the width of the road from centerline to the edge. If you get run over in the process you shouldn't be driving a bus. You should find that there is plenty of room. Relax. Then respect those men and women that haul our kids to school and give them the right of way and utmost courtesy. And remember they are doing it with the added responsibility of other peoples children on board.
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Old 12-05-2008, 02:43 PM   #16
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Re: How do YOU drive this thing?

another thing.....

when driving down the mountains i like to follow a big truck from a safe distance. If the truck goes around a curve at 70 mph, then you probably can too. If a truck slows down to 35, you better do the same.
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Old 12-05-2008, 03:53 PM   #17
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Re: How do YOU drive this thing?

Never thought about it like that...but it makes perfect sense!
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Old 12-05-2008, 06:41 PM   #18
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Re: How do YOU drive this thing?

Has anyone ever crossed that crazy bridge over tha columbia river gorge that is a toll? Talk about pure white knuckles. Like 8 inces on each side with a road made of steel grates that make you swerve constantly left and right. Twas terrifying to say the least at 40mph. That was until I passed a box truck with the same steering problems. Then I almost had to change. Not recommended.
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Old 01-27-2009, 02:19 AM   #19
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Re: How do YOU drive this thing?

Hi Rick and all,

It's been awhile since I've posted... there are good tips here. I'd like to get a set of the concave mirrors, but I need to salvage some--they're like 300 bucks from my dealer! Driving has been great, I'm a big fan of the big diesel: she's a trooper and has taken us up (slowly) and down (also slowly) some major grades on both interstates and little state highways. I've had one exciting moment with a blowout, and Good Sam is worth the investment... I still have one question with the features of my bus and how to use them. How do you use the sanders? I know how they turn on and what they do, but what's the technique? Do you turn them on when approaching a stop to enable an easier slip-free start in the snow? Or do you use them somewhat continuously if only for a short time on icy patches?

My one annoying accident (repeated with a traffic cone, which caused no damage) was when I was eyeing up my clearance in a campground with a tiny road with a hairpin turn. I had several inches of clearance by my mirrors, at least at window height. Here's the big news for all of you city slickers: trees, well, they get WIDER at the bottom. So the two inches I had to spare was enough to hang up the bottom of the bus but good. I think some under-chassis lighting would be good to enhance night vision near the rear and bottom of the bus. Now I have a 10-ton porta-puller to try to fix the 8-foot dent in the skirting. Dang.
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Old 01-29-2009, 02:26 AM   #20
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Re: How do YOU drive this thing?

ok i havent posted much here but this post has brought up some things. I AM A SEMI DRIVER. that said, ive got a few things to say.

1: to get a drivers license you have to take a class to teach you how to drive a car. anything bigger than a car YOU SHOULD GET TRAINING. i see too many people that dont know the first thing about driving a "big rig" (any thing bigger than a full size truck) down the road jumping behind the wheel. if you never hauled a trailer, ask some one that has, to teach you how to do it safely. not that you are stupid but knowledge is power, and when lives are on the line dont skimp. JUST ASK AND YOU WILL RECIEVE.

2: even getting a class A CDL (highest class you can get) even for semi drivers, requires you to get an endorsement for air brakes. the term "stab brakeing" refers to:

Apply your brakes all the way.

Release brakes when wheels lock up.

As soon as the wheels start rolling, apply the brakes fully again.

this is only used in emergence. the best way to handle mountains is once you reach the posted speed limit (for semi's) is to apply the brakes till your 10mph below that speed, then release the brakes till you reach the posted speed limit and repeat. (dont be afraid to go below the posted speed.)

3:
Quote:
This includes things like "driving with your foot on the line" and putting the aluminum stick on the accelerator
Things like this i will not explain. they are not safe.

3: concave mirrors are usefull only when learning to center yourself in your lane. DO NOT USE TAPE OR OTHER AIDS TO CENTER YOURSELF. you need to be able to center yourself without the aid of mirrors or other aids. if you get used to looking at a piece of tape on the hood to tell you if your in your lane you will be looking more at the tape then the road (do you look for a reference point with your car) this will not help you.

4: if you bought your bus from a school THEY WILL TEACH YOU HOW TO DRIVE IT SAFELY. i dont care what you hear from your neighbor for 20 years. the school will let you ride with the driver for as long as you like ( within reason). they cant let you drive a bus but they will let you ride with a driver durning there shift and ask questions. THIS WILL HELP YOU

5: if you bought a large class A motorhome all of the rules above apply. it may cost you a few extra dollars to get the trainging you need (any dealer will do this for free even if you buy a popup camper if there a good dealer)
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