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Old 01-11-2008, 12:56 PM   #1
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tow bill

Well it finally happened, I had to call a wrecker to come fetch my bus after it broke down. We were on our way back from Salina KS to KC after spending the night at my brothers for xmas and we dropped a valve in the engine. Joan was driving so it was her fault, not really, it just happens expecially with 120,000 hard miles on the engine. Unfortunately there was 16 of us in the bus at the time but luckily the bad weather was saturday, the day before, sunday the 23rd the sun was shining and it was 2 in the afternoon when we broke. My nephew has AAA gold so we called them and they said they don't do RV's. I called a buddy who has a wrecker service and he said he was too busy and to call I-70 towing. I did and they sent someone out right away, now that's from Columbia Mo so he didn't arrive until about 8 that night. We called around and got everyone off the bus and on their way through relatives etc, luckily we wern't that far from home. I stayed around till he got it all hooked up, I told him where to bring it in Fulton and my credit card number and off it went. Joan and I got a ride to her daughters, our next destination, with her son in his rental car because he flew up from Houston for xmas. We had our usual Christmas and bummed a ride back to Columbia Mo on tuesday. We are in the process of rebuilding the engine as I write this and expect it to be back on the road in a couple of months. I am expecting to spend about $3000 on the total rebuild and use my labor to R&R the engine. A diesel would be between 10 and $15,000, that's why I run gas, pay at the pump or pay at the shop, it's expensive either way.
I know some of you run on a pretty tight shoestring so a tow bill of $1486 would kill you so you might look into some tow insurance in case something like this happens to you. I put it on my credit card and will pay it off in a couple of years if not sooner. I think of it as you can pay a little at a time with AAA or just pay for it when it happens (with a credit card or cash) and get on with life, it all comes out in the wash just the same.
Details of tow bill: hook up fee $180 then $4.50 a mile after that. There is no charge to dead head to the pick up destination, that is included in the $4.50 fee. The kicker was the fuel surcharge, yes this is an added fee in your present frieght charges, plane fares and tow bills. They pick some base line per gallon number like $2.00 and whatever the price over that you pay the difference, mine was almost $200. This should give you something to think about because it can happen to any of us at any time. The good thing is at 5000 miles a year I will have a completely rebuilt engine that should last till there is no more gasoline left in the world. sportyrick
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Old 01-11-2008, 02:07 PM   #2
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Re: tow bill

OUCH!! that's a lot of $$

makes the $100/yr i pay for good sam seem well worth it.
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Old 01-11-2008, 03:44 PM   #3
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Re: tow bill

I wonder how for you could flat tow a bus with a pickup truck. I've pulled mine out of the mud next to my garage with my F150 and it did a fairly good job. If I were close to home I'd try that option. Or maybe even rent a truck and pull it.

Good Sam might be worth it, if you brake down on the road and everything falls within their requirements. Although it seems (from my 1 experience with them) they'll try anything to get out of it - even though the bus was technically on a road (though it looked more like a beach)

You are right though, pay now or pay later. It all comes out the same in the end. Good luck with the rebuild.

What engine do you have again?
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Old 01-11-2008, 10:00 PM   #4
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Re: tow bill

oh man that is very very brutal 4.50 a mile plus a fuel surcharge is expensive i had my 30 foot bus towed 18 miles and it was 130 bucks now im thinking that was a good deal in another furum i saw davido towing his bus on a trailer with a 3/4 or a 1 ton p/u i cant believe that was legal! maybe it wasnt good luck with the rebuild!
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Old 01-12-2008, 12:35 AM   #5
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Re: tow bill

WOW! I'll definitely be getting that Good Sam insurance! Most of the time, I'd be SOL if I had a $1,500 tow bill! I wouldn't tow a bus with a pickup either unless you just want to die or destroy your pickup! Towing it out of the yard is fine, but going down the road... wow. My bus weighs 16,000 pounds empty. And there's plenty of bigger buses out there. 16,000 pounds is a little more than a 3/4 ton diesel truck could handle. A one ton would have a pretty hard time with it. There aren't many hitches rated to tow more than 10,000 pounds unless you're talking a 5th wheel hitch.
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Old 01-12-2008, 11:43 AM   #6
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Towing a bus

I have on several occasions towed a bus with a bus. The front bus must supply air for brakes to the rear bus. One bus was towed about 150 miles up and down some really long steep mountains. There was a driver in the rear bus. On one hill named King Hill, we were going about 8MPH in first gear at the top. I thot we were done. The DD 8V71 just kept pulling. On the down side before the uphill haul, I had the front bus at full throttle at almost 80MPH. That was a real ride. The guy in back never said a word. We used walkie talkys to communicate. Another time I used my Ford one ton dually pickup, to pull a Crown about 50 miles. I used an inverter to power a small shop air compressor to make air for the brakes. Top speed was about 40MPH. I also towed a Crown about 75 miles with my Kitty powered 5 ton flatbed. Just connect an air line, connect a tow bar with safety chain, and pull gently. Most times another truck follows with flasher lites on.
Another bus guy had his bus moved with a 3 axle big rig truck and a 5th wheel connected hook. Don't ya love a challenge? Saving a few dollars is good too. Frank in Idaho
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Old 01-12-2008, 11:46 AM   #7
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Big rig tow hardware

http://www.zacklift.com/
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Old 01-12-2008, 12:30 PM   #8
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Re: Towing a bus

Quote:
Originally Posted by frank-id
On the down side before the uphill haul, I had the front bus at full throttle at almost 80MPH. That was a real ride. The guy in back never said a word.
He was probably too busy soiling himself to say anything!
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Old 01-12-2008, 01:49 PM   #9
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Rear bus driver

The total trip, the rear driver, Mikey, was very quiet. When we arrived at our destination, I asked "how was the ride for you?" Mikey said OK, but a little fast.
Ya gotta have momentum when not much power is available.

Hey Matt, we have nearly the same bus. My ride is a 1990 Int body bus by Blue Bird. Have ya done anything to make more power? My bus will soon have a 3:73 rear axle. My bus came from Kentucky, so there is some rust, and the electrical is not great. Just came back from trip to Wa state. The bus ran great except for lack of power. Ganna add a turbo soon. Frank Send me an email frank-id at crown.myrf.net
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Old 01-12-2008, 06:04 PM   #10
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Re: tow bill

oh man that must of looked like the bullet train from japan can you imagine the looks on peoples faces at the bus stop?
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Old 01-13-2008, 11:11 AM   #11
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Re: tow bill

if you're gonna flat tow an automatic transmission bus, i would imagine you have to disconnect the rear drive shaft just like in a car/truck with an auto trans. anyone know if this is true? just curious.
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Old 01-13-2008, 01:18 PM   #12
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Re: tow bill

i remember along time ago we towed a 66 chevy van with a 2 speed auto and my buddy had the van in neutral with the driveshaft in after about 60 miles the motor in the van began to turn overwehthen pulled the driveshaft out but the damage had been done pull that driveshaft if you have a automagic!
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Old 01-13-2008, 04:07 PM   #13
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Re: tow bill

Without a rear pump your automatic is going to be toasted, even in neutral. The tranny fluid not only does hydraulic wonders in there, but is also serves to lube and cool the various bearings, clutches, etc. Without the pump turning there will be no fluid flow.

How are you tying into the brake system, Frank? I can see how a person could easily fill the tanks just through the drain if nothing else, but how do you actuate the brakes? Do you just always have another driver or what?
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Old 01-13-2008, 05:48 PM   #14
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Re: tow bill

Quote:
Originally Posted by the_experience03
Without a rear pump your automatic is going to be toasted, even in neutral. The tranny fluid not only does hydraulic wonders in there, but is also serves to lube and cool the various bearings, clutches, etc. Without the pump turning there will be no fluid flow.
I think on some transmissions the pump is driven off the output shaft. If that were the case it might be ok to flat tow a bus. Anyone know? Any Allison transmission experts out there? I think the most common trans is the AT545...

Back to the ruining your truck towing the bus... depending on where I was I'd tow my bus a short distance with my truck. If it was a long distance, I'd look into renting a truck, either the biggest pickup I could find or a moving truck. I'd do whatever possible to avoid a $1,500 tow bill.
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Old 01-13-2008, 06:13 PM   #15
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Re: tow bill

Boy...I haven't seen a transmission that had a pump driven by something other than the torque converter hub in a long long time. Actually, the last one I remember was an ancient Torque Flite with an actual rear pump. However, I am now expert, especially on the Allison transmissions.

How about this...someone out there that lives in hill country and has a bus that isn't snowed in should go try and push start their bus on the hill. If it's possible we will know the pump is driven by something other than the torque converter hub.
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Old 01-13-2008, 08:31 PM   #16
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Towing an air brake bus

To tow an air brake bus, air is required, most of the time but not all the time. Mostly I have towed an air brake bus with some vehicle that also has air brakes. Usually the rear bus is aired up thru the tank drains or any easy location. I use a 3/8inch shop hose and leave the in and out quick disconnects. I add a male disconnect where ever it is possible and easy. The hose is tied up and tied to the tow bar. Rarely does the rear bus driver need to operate the brake. Unless he gets surprised or scared. Towing is not a high speed event. Walkie talkies are required. No surprises.
Towing can also be accomplished with locking the parking brakes with a bolt to do that task. This towing must use a vehicle with enough braking weight and power for both buses. A rear bus driver is required for about any type towing that all wheels are down. Towing buses is not an everyday event in my life. I have refused to tow big high dollar bus conversions. I have road service for my Bus/RV, but I have never used my tow service. I have not yet been on a hook. My road service is mostly for any tire work needed. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Frank
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Old 01-14-2008, 04:46 AM   #17
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Re: tow bill

Quote:
Originally Posted by the_experience03
Boy...
How about this...someone out there that lives in hill country and has a bus that isn't snowed in should go try and push start their bus on the hill. If it's possible we will know the pump is driven by something other than the torque converter hub.
completely off topic, but i had a 1977 mercedes diesel automatic that had instructions in the owner's manual on how to pull start the vehicle. Something like pull it for 2 miles @ 10 mph to heat up the fluid, then tow @ 18 mph and throw it into "L" (that's 1 if you have a US car) the problem i had is that being a diesel it mostly didn't want to start during the cold winter months, but the roads tended to be snow covered. Pull starting a several thousand pound car with a jeep wrangler on snow covered roads was a challenge....but i bet the neighbors enjoyed watching us drive around the block.
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