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Old 08-05-2012, 09:23 PM   #1
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How to drive down a mountain?

My trip looms near and I had a sudden panic attack thought... how the hell do I deal with driving down long downhill grades in the bus? Going UP is easy. Stay in the right lane, keep the accelerator to the floor, and put your hazard blinkers on if you drop below 35 mph.

But downhill???
  • Do I just keep my foot off the accelerator and hope I don't pick up too much speed?[/*:m:3vzjw391]
  • Do I downshift into "2" or "1"?[/*:m:3vzjw391]
  • Do I feather the brakes and hope they don't get too hot? .... and if they DO become too hot, how do I handle that????[/*:m:3vzjw391]
Any advice from folks who've done this several times would be very appreciated
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Old 08-05-2012, 11:09 PM   #2
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Re: How to drive down a mountain?

Hola TC

This is a topic that gave me the cold sweats, but fortunately I've managed to avoid any white-knuckle moments, even dealing with some big/long mountain passes in Colorado and Arizona. Here' s what I do:

-Get a copy of the Mountain Directory. I have a copy for the Western US that you are welcome to have. It's a big help for route planning and can give you some idea of what length and % grade to expect.

-Downshift at the top of the pass. You want to go down the hill in the same gear you came up the hill. And if you wait until you're carrying too much speed to downshift, your tranny might not be able to.

-Pick a target speed, which can be tricky because it really depends on the posted speed of the curves at the *bottom*of the mountain (this is where the Mountain Directory comes in handy). I'll use 35MPH as an example. I would let the bus get up to 40MPH, then use the brakes to get it down to 30MPH, then let off the brakes and coast (in gear, utilizing engine braking) until it gets to 40MPH, then use the brakes, etc. This gives some time intervals for the brakes to cool. Mind your redline on the tach.

-I use my hazards on downhill grades too, especially if I am crawling along relative to the other traffic.

HTH
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Old 08-06-2012, 08:35 AM   #3
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Re: How to drive down a mountain?

I feel your pain,about any where I go is 6miles of 7 to 8% grade...I have done it with regular trucks pulling car trailers.

I do as Sean said,start slow at top of grade,be in a llow gear before you start down,whatch your rpm's and use the breaks just as he said.
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Old 08-06-2012, 08:52 AM   #4
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Re: How to drive down a mountain?

According to the class A CDL booklet you use the same gear going down that you needed to get up.......

pick your safe speed and once you exceed that by 5 mph you brake until you're 5 mph below you safe speed and repeat as necessary until you reach the bottom or you're sure it's safe to proceed.
be careful out there.....

link for CDL practice test ..... http://www.thetruckersreport.com/cdl-practice-tests/ lots of good info
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Old 08-06-2012, 10:37 AM   #5
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Re: How to drive down a mountain?

Quote:
Originally Posted by richlindquist

Repeat after me: Flashers are our Friends.

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Old 08-06-2012, 11:44 AM   #6
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Re: How to drive down a mountain?

I got the bird from one truck driver coming out of Albuquerque. I was in the slow lane with my flashers and he passed me going about 1 1/2 mph faster than me. I guess I wasn't climbing the hill fast enough for him. Too bad.
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Old 08-06-2012, 12:55 PM   #7
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Re: How to drive down a mountain?

Quote:
Originally Posted by crazycal
I got the bird from one truck driver coming out of Albuquerque. Too bad.
That probably didn't have anything to do with your bus.......
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Old 08-06-2012, 07:17 PM   #8
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Re: How to drive down a mountain?

Quote:
Originally Posted by crazycal
I got the bird from one truck driver coming out of Albuquerque. I was in the slow lane with my flashers and he passed me going about 1 1/2 mph faster than me. I guess I wasn't climbing the hill fast enough for him. Too bad.
It's normally the "kids", not the experienced truck drivers that would do that. A long time trucker would just slow down behind you, unless there was no traffic, given almost identical speeds.
so, aways "consider the source" when other people are being jerks...
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Old 08-06-2012, 07:26 PM   #9
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Re: How to drive down a mountain?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GreyEagle
... pick your safe speed and once you exceed that by 5 mph you brake until you're 5 mph below you safe speed and repeat as necessary until you reach the bottom or you're sure it's safe to proceed...
You gonna practice that on I-24 Monteagle grade?

Quote:
I-24 in TN
One of the more hazardous stretches of Interstate highway in the United States is located approximately 40 miles (64 km) west of Chattanooga on I-24 in Monteagle, where the highway crosses the Cumberland Plateau. Compared to grades elsewhere, Monteagle's 4Ė6% grade does not come close to the steepest (Interstate 40 between Nashville and Knoxville features 5% grades in each direction), but the slope is protracted over a distance of several miles. While all motorists need to exercise caution, truckers are particularly vexed by Monteagle, and many have died going through this area. As runaway trucks had been a regular and deadly occurrence, in part of the failure or inability of truckers to slow down to the 35 mph (56 km/h) truck speed limit once on the slope, the eastbound lanes were rebuilt in the late 1980s. This work reduced the grade, widened the road, added a required stopping area with traffic lights for trucks prior to descending the mountain, and added two runaway truck ramps where a truck whose brakes have failed due to overheating can exit into a long pit full of loose gravel to safely stop. Owing to geography, these two ramps are on the left side of the grade. This stretch of highway inspired Johnny Cash to write a song about Monteagle Mountain.
Now you can stop at the bottom (exit152) in Kimball at the Cracker Barrel in front of Wal-mart and drink a tall iced tea while you wait for your brakes to cool off!
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Old 08-06-2012, 10:47 PM   #10
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Re: How to drive down a mountain?

Thanks guys! Excellent advice all!

So the next question is what are the 2nd and 1st gears good for? Is there a rule of thumb to follow? Is there a particular time to shift.

I never really thought about how FLAT Virginia is before now, and have always traveled long distances on motorcycle, so steep grades and hairpin turns were sought after, not avoided . It's difficult to wrap my head around NOT wanting to hit those kind of roads.
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