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Old 08-14-2019, 05:45 PM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2018
Location: On the Road
Posts: 34
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: Ford E450 Van
Engine: 7.3L V8 Diesel
Rated Cap: 5 window / 29 person / WC
Why is my bus leaning?

I need help brainstorming/troubleshooting...

My short bus (2001 Ford E450 7.3L) leans to the passenger side. Has for at least 3-4 months now (that's when I noticed the leaning).

A couple mechanics looked at it, both thought the lean was due to a failing leaf spring on that side.

So, I replaced the rear leaf springs on both sides. Sadly, no luck fixing the lean.

I've also tried taking all my stuff out from the interior and rearranging, just in case there was a weight discrepancy side to side. Even though the bus used to carry a 400lb WC lift on the passenger side, so you'd think it could handle a heavy load. But, still no fix to the lean.

Any ideas what else it could be?

The lean is 1-1.5 inches lower on the passenger side. Not terrible, but noticeable at times. And perhaps detrimental to the frame in the long run?

I've also taken measurements from the underside of the school bus floor to the frame, leaf springs, axel, etc. Measurements seem equal side to side.

I'm stumped.
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Old 08-14-2019, 06:17 PM   #2
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Lebanon, Indiana
Posts: 120
Coachwork: In the market
Frame to axle measurement is equal on both sides? Not trying to be stupid, just process of elimination and suspension is the first most likely suspect which is why you started there. Otherwise, just curious about the build, if more heavy stuff was unintentionally installed on one side including holding tanks.
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Old 08-14-2019, 06:58 PM   #3
Almost There
Join Date: May 2015
Location: Miami, Fl.
Posts: 84
Year: 1999
Chassis: Amtran / International
Engine: DT466E-Md3060
This might sound silly but what about the air pressure in the tires?
Are the tires old and maybe the sidewalls are not as strong as they used to be?
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Old 08-14-2019, 07:26 PM   #4
Bus Crazy
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Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: So Cal
Posts: 2,387
Year: 1935
Coachwork: Superior
Chassis: Chevy
Engine: 317 ci/tid / Isuzu
Try this: After parking on a flat surface measure the distance from the frame to the ground behind the rear axle using a mirror image approach on both sides. Next measure the distance between the outer lower rear body panel behind the rear wheels once again using the mirror image approach. Add the left hand measurements together. Add the right hand measurements together. These values should be the same. If they are not, try to determine where the difference is. It is possible that the floor of the bus is damaged and causing the bus to lean to the right and these measurements will help you rule out body damage.
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Old 08-14-2019, 07:59 PM   #5
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Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Waltham MA
Posts: 449
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Lewis
Chassis: Ford E350
Engine: 7.3L Diesel
Rated Cap: 14
I have the exact same problem - leaning to the passenger side! Mine is a 4 window E-350 cutaway. I'm 100% sure the driver's side carries more weight - the back, where the lift would have been had one ever been installed, is empty on the passenger side, while the driver's side has the bed and bookshelf. I have also measured to verify the lean is real. I thought it might be logical that shocks and springs on the passenger side would take more of a beating, because the shoulder of the road (the right side) typically has more wear (at least here in MA), and also from years of kids entering on that side, jumping up and down the stairs. But I have replaced both springs and shocks, and the tires are properly inflated.

I can't see any floor damage, and neither have either of the two body shops I've taken it to. I'm following this thread for sure.
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Old 08-14-2019, 08:34 PM   #6
Bus Nut
Join Date: May 2018
Location: topeka kansas
Posts: 570
Year: 1954
Coachwork: wayne
Chassis: old f500- new 2005 f-450
Engine: cummins 12 valve
Rated Cap: 20? five rows of 4?
why does it lean

step one measure ground to body at four points... pick a point like.... um right above the tire. write down the numbers to the nearest 1/4 inch.

measure frame to ground at four points.... I would pick where the bumper bolts to the frame......... measure the frame! not bumper brackets, not bumper bolts the frame. write it down...

now sit back an look at the numbers... do the numbers indicate what your eyes and brain tell you?

If yes, then when a body corner is low the frame on that corner should also be low.

If no, figure out why.

The next step is to find the amount of weight on each wheel corner left front, right front left rear right rear.

is the saggy side the heavy side? if weights are near equal, and frame body measurements are askew in a manner that agrees with body lean, then something is bent, mismatched parts, or bad springs. To a point, shock absorbers should not be a part of this problem... even high pressure gas charged shock absorbers should not amount to much.

It is possible the whole body is askew and not sitting on the frame evenly. It is possible the body is not "square" It is possible the two corners of the bus are carrying more of the load and causing a twist that is seen more from the rear than the front.

numbers first... evaluate 2nd decide 3rd

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Old 08-14-2019, 09:10 PM   #7
Bus Geek
EastCoastCB's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 18,257
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
Lots of buses list to one side. The Vista is sorta famous for it.
These buses aren't the precision machines some folks think they are.
Roll Your Own Build Thread
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Old 08-14-2019, 10:34 PM   #8
Bus Nut
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Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Waltham MA
Posts: 449
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Lewis
Chassis: Ford E350
Engine: 7.3L Diesel
Rated Cap: 14
Originally Posted by magnakansas View Post

The next step is to find the amount of weight on each wheel corner left front, right front left rear right rear

Any ideas how to get this weight? I've been to 3 scales and have been told by all 3 they only do total weight, not side to side or front to back.
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:03 PM   #9
Bus Crazy
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Georgia
Posts: 1,549
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: IH
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 14
Many truck scales can do front/back weights, they have separate "plates" for each (set of) axles. Otherwise you'd pull one axle on, get the weight, then pull the next axle on, get that weight, etc until you get the whole rig, then subtract to get individual axles weights.

Example, weighing a tractor-trailer. Pull the steer axle on, and get that weight. Pull up to get the tractor on and get that weight. Pull forward and get the whole rig.
Weight 1- Steer axle - 12000
Weight 2- Tractor - 46000
Weight 3- Whole rig - 80000

Trailer axles weight - 80000 - 46000 = 34000 (legal limit in U.S.)
Drive axles weight - 46000 - 12000 = 34000 (Legal U.S. limit)
Steer axle weight - 12000 (no math needed since you got this 1st)

The easiest way to get side/side weights is to find a scale you can pull off center to get the one side, then off center for the other side - if you can find one willing and able to do it.
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Old 08-15-2019, 06:21 AM   #10
Bus Nut
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Virginia
Posts: 941
Year: 1971
Coachwork: Wayne
Chassis: International Loadstar 1700
Engine: 345 international V-8
There are small portable scales the cops use that do each wheel, also race cars are weighed each wheel to check weight balance with small portable scales. Check with local racers and see who has some.
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