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Old 05-03-2021, 12:14 AM   #1
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Near Flagstaff AZ
Posts: 795
Flat towing a bus...another thread

Hi all,

A few weeks ago, there was discussion about towing a bus. I've tried to search for that thread, but am only finding old ones from 2015...so I'm being a bit redundant here in starting a new thread.

I mentioned that we have a Brake Buddy Vantage system that I use, when towing, and I wanted to share a bit more about that. This is NOT a tutorial and I'm not making a recommendation that this is okay. But this is what I've done...

Last week, I returned from South Carolina (to Arizona) with a parts bus. I got it for $740, after placing a max bid of $750...darn, we won it! It was far from us, but for the price...even with travel expenses...it's a good deal. This bus has many of the engine and interior/ceiling parts...plus good glass all around...that I need for our old 1949 GM Old Look we're restoring. The interior is gutted, the floor is gone (so all you see are the frame members and the road), and there's even some corrosion through the aluminum skin. But the bits I need are there and in good shape.

I towed this with our camper-converted Freightliner FL60 ambulance. I ran an air line from the Freightliner (from the protected aux tank) to the parts bus, so it had braking and air bag inflation. I also ran a light harness to temporary lights I put on the back of the bus. And, finally, I ran a 12V power line from the Freightliner to the parts bus (with a battery there). The 12V power was for the Vantage braking system, which has a mini compressor which it uses to press the brake pedal with a pneumatic cylinder. You can adjust the braking pressure and the sensitivity...it's a pretty neat system, actually. It also has a breakaway pull switch, so it's legal and safe(er) in the event the units parted ways.

The Vantage has a wireless remote which lets you adjust the sensitivity and braking mode (full on, or proportional). It also alerts you to brake activation, a breakaway, or a system problem. One thing it does not do, though, is let you manually apply the towed vehicle brakes. This is handy if you had sway, for example, or going down some hills. Generally, the Vantage senses deceleration and applies toad brakes...but going down a hill, I sometimes want to apply just a bit of toad brake without actually using the Freightliner to cause deceleration. So I have added a line (two wires...lamp cord, actually) and a momentary switch that runs from the Vantage into the cab. Pressing that switch applies the toad bus brakes for as long as I press it...which is usually just a tap.

I will note, it's important to test the system and adjust the toad bus brakes. At first, the front tires were locking up way before the rear dually tires were even braking at all. This causes an unstable and sphincter puckering condition, so it's good to test this on an empty road at slow speed before actually going anywhere. I adjusted the slack adjusters to apply less front brake and more rear brake, which is what you want in a long towed vehicle like this.

Although this bus looks huge and heavy, it's an empty aluminum shell with the engine in the rear. It doesn't even have a long heavy frame.

Overall, the 2100+ mile trip was uneventful except for some overheating issues with the Freightliner (that's another story...the fan clutch had failed and before the trip I put in two electric fans I had on hand...but without the shroud and with the reduced air flow, I had to watch my temps)

EDIT: I forgot to mention that I did disconnect the drive shaft, since this bus has an automatic transmission...if you can call it that, with all of 2 speeds!

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Old 05-03-2021, 12:20 AM   #2
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Near Flagstaff AZ
Posts: 795
Oh, I guess I did have one "event"...but it was, really, a non-event because I had my tire changing stuff...a torque multiplier (the best damned $70 you can spend!) and some jacks. One tire change and I was back on the road in an hour.

photo_2021-05-02 22.18.09.jpeg
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Old 05-03-2021, 12:22 AM   #3
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Central Florida
Posts: 932
Chassis: GMC or Chevrolet, I hope
Engine: gasser probably
You obviously know that you are doing.
Thank for sharing the picture.
Gl with the project!
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Old 05-03-2021, 08:43 AM   #4
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: Miami, Fl.
Posts: 554
Year: 1999
Chassis: Amtran / International
Engine: DT466E-Md3060
Great pics, good choice of using the ambulance... strong braking and good wheelbase to boot.

How about some pics of the tow bar setup, please!
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