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Old 11-23-2019, 12:00 AM   #1
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How does your bus perform offroad? What have you done to improve its performance?

As the title says. What do you drive and how does it fair offroad? What modifications (to the bus or to your driving style) have you made to improve its performance? What modifications do you hope to do in the future?
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Old 11-23-2019, 09:50 AM   #2
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We've gotten stuck in our 50' driveway twice after heavy rain.


I was mostly dirt with a slight uphill as you approach the street. Laid in 15T of gravel last spring.

Off hwy is poor, off road is no.
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Old 11-23-2019, 10:04 AM   #3
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I am a little bus crazy.

I am making rather slow progress on my Bluebird and already planning my next bus.

I am thinking of a 6-7 window CE 4wd. The one that I am looking at is already raised so I would be swapping tires for something with a more aggressive tread, adding skid plates where needed. I suspect that I will find low hanging odds and ends that will need some attention.

I was poking around looking at tires. What do you think about these? https://www.ebay.com/itm/4-Tires-11R...edirect=mobile


The Thomas cutaway that I sold had all weather LT tires and went pretty well in mud and snow. On the other hand, both of my RE buses have had (11r24.5 & 11r22.5) very mild highway tread. Both did fine on rough, rutted and lumpy roads as long as you stay out of mud and snow.

I got my Eagle stuck in the mud so bad once that two 4wd pickups (in tandem) could not pull it out. All we managed to do was bury it deeper. We gave up when the pumpkin hit the mud. Finally, we borrowed a monster tractor from the John Deere dealer. Fortunately,, my grandfather was a a loyal customer of the dealer for 60+ years. A a kid I would entertain myself climbing all over the tractors in the showroom while Grandad took care of whatever business he had. I was a little surprised that when I walked in the door they recognized me. Not by name but as "Pete Gregg's grandson". I was a little surprised when I told them my troubles, they handed me the keys to a brand new $300k tractor and warned be to be careful that I didn't year the bus in half.

They were not kidding. That 8 wheeled, 450 horsepower tractor didn't seem to notice the 43,000 lbs it had in tow.
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Old 11-23-2019, 10:13 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by 2kool4skool View Post
We've gotten stuck in our 50' driveway twice after heavy rain.


I was mostly dirt with a slight uphill as you approach the street. Laid in 15T of gravel last spring.

Off hwy is poor, off road is no.

Yikes, that doesn't bode well for us. We're headed down toward Sedona/Prescott and we boondock pretty extensively.
Hope we're not coming up on rainy season
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Old 11-23-2019, 10:49 AM   #5
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Yikes, that doesn't bode well for us. We're headed down toward Sedona/Prescott and we boondock pretty extensively.
Hope we're not coming up on rainy season
Beautiful area! I am not much for guided tours but the Pink Jeep tours are the exception. I had a blast hanging out in Sedona, Jerome and Prescott.

I did have a bit of trouble on one of the "scenic drives". I can't remember the nam . I asked the visitor center if I could take my bus ? They said " No problem".. It wasn't a problem until the road dipped into a gully and my back bumper hung up. No way I was going to make it. No problem.... Just back up untill you find a place to turn around. And that's what I did. What sucked was that the turn around was two miles behind me
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Old 11-23-2019, 10:55 AM   #6
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Yikes, that doesn't bode well for us. We're headed down toward Sedona/Prescott and we boondock pretty extensively.
Hope we're not coming up on rainy season

Pick your spot wisely if you anticipate rain coming. Or don't plan on moving for a while. There are some places in that general area where the clay content is high. Adding rain turns it into a muddy slip-n-slide.
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Old 11-23-2019, 10:58 AM   #7
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Beautiful area! I am not much for guided tours but the Pink Jeep tours are the exception. I had a blast hanging out in Sedona, Jerome and Prescott.

I did have a bit of trouble on one of the "scenic drives". I can't remember the nam . I asked the visitor center if I could take my bus ? They said " No problem".. It wasn't a problem until the road dipped into a gully and my back bumper hung up. No way I was going to make it. No problem.... Just back up untill you find a place to turn around. And that's what I did. What sucked was that the turn around was two miles behind me
Yikes. We try to scout out with the truck when in doubt. Knock on wood we've been pretty lucky so far.
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Old 11-23-2019, 11:02 AM   #8
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Pick your spot wisely if you anticipate rain coming. Or don't plan on moving for a while. There are some places in that general area where the clay content is high. Adding rain turns it into a muddy slip-n-slide.
Good advice. We're up by Glen Canyon right now and it's pretty sandy. Not too much red dirt, it's mostly sand which I'm assuming drains pretty well. We had a bit of rain but not a lot, and it didn't wreak havoc with the BLM roads. The red clay is what I'm worried about, seems like it would slick the tires pretty good. As long as we don't need to worry about sinking in while parked, we can wait out any rain...we're not on a schedule. Any thoughts on that (the sinking in)?
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Old 11-23-2019, 11:27 AM   #9
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Good advice. We're up by Glen Canyon right now and it's pretty sandy. Not too much red dirt, it's mostly sand which I'm assuming drains pretty well. We had a bit of rain but not a lot, and it didn't wreak havoc with the BLM roads. The red clay is what I'm worried about, seems like it would slick the tires pretty good. As long as we don't need to worry about sinking in while parked, we can wait out any rain...we're not on a schedule. Any thoughts on that (the sinking in)?

I would think clay would be good to be parked on from that standpoint. But I have no experience whatsoever w/ heavy vehicles in such a situation.


Many years back I had an interesting time moto-camping in that area. Picture a CBR600 with DOT race tires, red clay, farm roads, and a heavy downpour. Took me hours to make it a 1/2 mile to the freeway. Dropped the bike more times than I can count. Had to clean up (myself and the bike) at a car wash in Camp Verde.
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Old 11-23-2019, 11:29 AM   #10
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No problem.... Just back up untill you find a place to turn around. And that's what I did. What sucked was that the turn around was two miles behind me

That would suck
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Old 11-23-2019, 11:46 AM   #11
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As the title says. What do you drive and how does it fair offroad? What modifications (to the bus or to your driving style) have you made to improve its performance? What modifications do you hope to do in the future?
I've driven down dirt roads, up creek beds, and all kinds of bad roads and offroad. And, my 36 foot Amtran RE has been great.

A couple caveats... I won't go offroad if the ground is soft. Also, maneuvering a big enough truck to unstick you could be both time consuming and extremely expensive.

Also, traction in ice was nonexistent. The bus might as well have skis installed. Light snow was almost as bad.
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Old 11-23-2019, 12:16 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by 2kool4skool View Post
We've gotten stuck in our 50' driveway twice after heavy rain.


I was mostly dirt with a slight uphill as you approach the street. Laid in 15T of gravel last spring.

Off hwy is poor, off road is no.
Damn, what are your drive tires like? A pic of the tread would be most helpful.
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Old 11-23-2019, 12:48 PM   #13
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Seems like most people don't understand how quickly a bus goes from moving to stuck.


Don't stop or go super slow forward momentum is your friend.

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Old 11-23-2019, 12:50 PM   #14
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Yikes. We try to scout out with the truck when in doubt. Knock on wood we've been pretty lucky so far.
Yes. I learned that lesson well. Along with that I learned not to take advice regarding suitability of a particular road or destination from anyone in a rig smaller than mine
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Old 11-23-2019, 01:26 PM   #15
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Seems like most people don't understand how quickly a bus goes from moving to stuck.

Don't stop or go super slow forward momentum is your friend.
Yeah, we had trouble when we were parked on wet grass...sunk into the mud just a little and we needed to be pulled out by tractor. This was at the storage yard, luckily, where they had equipment to tow us out. I think I remember Dreadman had a post about getting stuck up the the hubs in mud. We'd like to avoid things like this!
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Old 11-23-2019, 02:42 PM   #16
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My TC2000 got stuck on flat ground after a particular rainy month in northern Florida. Fortunately I had my Vista at the time. Which was also stuck on the same flat ground after sitting for a month, but was easier to dig out with the tools on hand. I picked up a 20 ton tow strap and a set of "recovery tracks" designed for 4x4s but rated to 10 tons after that, and I always have 2 shovels and a jack big enough to lift a wheel. The Vista was able to help the TC2000 out of its hole.

My new BBAA has worse ground clearance and the first thing i did after getting it back to Florida was try to park it in the back yard. It immediately sand into the ground and ended up sitting on the axles and the undercarriage storage. Took me 2 days to get it out even with all that great stuff, ultimately what did the job was a 4x4 Dodge diesel pickup and that 20 ton strap I mentioned before.
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Old 11-23-2019, 04:57 PM   #17
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Seems like most people don't understand how quickly a bus goes from moving to stuck.

That was an entertaining wakeup call...

The 'virtual racing slicks' that most of us have for drive tires just aren't gonna work in any amt of slop...

The dilemma between quiet ride and mpg VS. traction...

A 20k winch on the front of my bus will look really badass but will there always be an anchor to grab onto... I'd hate to pull a tree outa the ground and onto my bus...

And that's why Unimog's are built fundamentally different than school buses...
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Old 11-24-2019, 04:15 PM   #18
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Some of the modifications (short of a full 4x4 conversion which I'm not inclined to do unless I get a cutaway) that I would consider to improve offroad capability are:


- More aggressive tires. Not full mud terrains but some AT's would probably be a big improvement
- An ARB selectable locker or Detroit TrueTrac limited slip if there were one available for my axle
- MT653 Transmission (the granny gear would be useful as a sort of "2-low" offroad)
- Distributing weight evenly and making sure sufficient weight is over the rear wheels.
- Possibly switching the duallies for single rear wheels (there are definitely pros and cons to this)
- Tucking low hanging parts, lines, etc up above the frame rails, (and if I were ambitious removing the bottom step and replacing the door)
- Consider a winch, or at least some good manual recovery gear (recovery strap, shovel, traction aid)
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Old 11-24-2019, 05:31 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by dzl_ View Post
Some of the modifications (short of a full 4x4 conversion which I'm not inclined to do unless I get a cutaway) that I would consider to improve offroad capability are:


- More aggressive tires. Not full mud terrains but some AT's would probably be a big improvement
- An ARB selectable locker or Detroit TrueTrac limited slip if there were one available for my axle
- MT653 Transmission (the granny gear would be useful as a sort of "2-low" offroad)
- Distributing weight evenly and making sure sufficient weight is over the rear wheels.
- Possibly switching the duallies for single rear wheels (there are definitely pros and cons to this)
- Tucking low hanging parts, lines, etc up above the frame rails, (and if I were ambitious removing the bottom step and replacing the door)
- Consider a winch, or at least some good manual recovery gear (recovery strap, shovel, traction aid)
I do have a detroit locker in mine. Makes boat launch ramps nice and easy, including gravel/dirt ones.
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Old 11-24-2019, 07:02 PM   #20
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I do have a detroit locker in mine. Makes boat launch ramps nice and easy, including gravel/dirt ones.

Really? Is this something that came with the bus when you bought it? Or did you install it later?


Do you know what model axle you have?


I'm guessing you have the 'auto' locker. How does it handle on road, was there a steep learning curve when it comes to cornering or in town driving?
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