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Old 01-06-2015, 11:28 PM   #1
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Mountain driving without supplemental brakes

I plan on driving a 40' RE bus through mountains. I'm curious what sort of experience you all have in doing so with or without transmission retarders or exhaust brakes.

It seems exhaust brakes are easy enough to add after the fact. Retarders, not so much (and woof, expensive). When navigating a skoolie though the mountains, is some sort of supplemental braking a requirement or a nice to have? Will dropping down a gear and braking intelligently suffice?
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Old 01-07-2015, 08:46 AM   #2
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is some sort of supplemental braking a requirement or a nice to have?
Nice to have.

Generally, pick your desired downhill speed. Hit the brakes hard to 5mph under that speed (about 3 seconds) and get off the brakes. Repeat. This method gives the brakes longer to cool off. Be very conservative on picking that downhill speed. No one ever got killed by going down a hill too slow. Don't pay any attention to how fast everyone is passing you. If you see smoke, pull over and let them cool off, it takes a while. (fix a sandwich, walk the dog, take a nap)
It used to be said to not go down any faster than you can go up but, with todays engines, that is no longer true. My last truck would go up pretty much any hill as fast as I wanted.
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Old 01-07-2015, 12:53 PM   #3
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Exhaust brakes are a nice way to lighten the load off your regular brakes for long descents, well worth the money. If you can stay off your main brakes as much as possible through gearing you'll have them with no fade should you ever really need them in an emergency.
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Old 01-07-2015, 05:26 PM   #4
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I think you'll be fine without a Jake or retarder. They are nice, but not necessary at all.
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Old 01-08-2015, 12:06 AM   #5
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Pre-trip checking the brake adjustment on air brakes is critical.

If the air canisters are using all their travel just to make the shoes reach the drums, you might be in trouble. Stopping might be fine in the parking lot and at red lights. But as the drums heat up on a long descent, they can expand away from the shoes, and if you don't have some shoe travel left over, you may have no brakes.

Learn how to inspect the linkage before you head for the hills.
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Old 01-09-2015, 07:27 AM   #6
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Red bear nailed it also THIS where are these mountains you speak of?

We have 8% plus here in TN, NC and VA they are normally 6 to 8 miles long, I have a lot of respect for them (airbrakes/A545 and NO add-on goodies)

My safe speed is 30 mph, as I crest said hill I already have hazards and strobe/hazards on, right lane and 1st gear doing 10 mph

Ignore everyone else and maintain your speed, do not drag/ride brakes

I can "drive" down the hill (a little throttle actually increases my line pressure in my tranny and it helps to hold it make,

On steep short hills (421 out of Boone,NC towards Villas NC it is 24%+ for a mile or so, I use both feet
1st gear and throttle at 2100 rpm when speed creeps up, I apply brake with left foot to slow down about 500 rpm drop this done 4 or5 times and then it flattens out and I start to shift up

Seems weird to throttle and brake! If I let up off throttle it will take off and **** gets scary fast, with no resistance from tranny

Damn that's long

If its mountains over 4000 ft and more than 8 mile of grade.....I'm not doing it in my bus without a brake vehicle and probably a push vehicle to get to 10000 ft

Stay safe and go slow
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Old 01-09-2015, 07:53 AM   #7
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Bansil- I did 40+ up and down Monteagle in the Ward with dt466 and the 643 trans. Was pretty worried but we took it nice and easy. Got a little warm towards the end of the climb, so we gladly pulled in to that rest stop on top. Some of the semi's were going FAST!
What's that one, 6%?
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Old 01-09-2015, 09:31 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
Bansil- I did 40+ up and down Monteagle in the Ward with dt466 and the 643 trans. Was pretty worried but we took it nice and easy. Got a little warm towards the end of the climb, so we gladly pulled in to that rest stop on top. Some of the semi's were going FAST!
What's that one, 6%?
I don't know, what is monteagle? VA?
Your tranny is a lot better than 545, that is for sure.
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Old 01-09-2015, 09:32 AM   #9
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OP has a RE which thank fully does not included one off the non lockup slip-a-matics from Allison, that's a good thing
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Old 01-09-2015, 09:58 AM   #10
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I don't know, what is monteagle? VA?
Your tranny is a lot better than 545, that is for sure.
Monteagle is in TN. In infamous stretch of I24 between Nashville and Chattanooga. I can't believe you've never heard of it. Johnny Cash even wrote a song about it, and its mentioned in Jerry Reed's "The Legend" from Smokey and The Bandit.
http://youtu.be/aNgeu7i6eOk
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