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Old 01-16-2020, 09:18 AM   #1
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Can a bus tow a bus?

Can a bus tow a bus?

Obviously, a bus can pull a bus. But how far before it gets questionable?

Has anybody built two skoolies and travelled together with them?

Or what about buying an old beat up skoolie, cutting off the front end, and turning it into a goosekneck?

Edit: I found one photo of a bus pulling a bus. But is this well advised?

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Old 01-16-2020, 09:49 AM   #2
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I See this all the time down south headed for the border... im not sure of the exact legalities but apparently they get away with it.. im sure its a bit hard on the brakes and drivetrain.. but they do these for hundreds of miles.. they are pretty common on I-10 in texas
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Old 01-16-2020, 10:16 AM   #3
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I'm guessing at a bare minimum they pull the driveshaft but that still leaves the question of braking and turn/brake lights.
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Old 01-16-2020, 11:08 AM   #4
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They depart Whitestown Indiana like this all the time and undoubtedly drive straight into Mexico. I've seen three and four pairs in convoy so that's 6 or 8 buses all running 55mph for a 1,000+ mile journey. The lights of the in-tow bus are wired up somehow to the towing bus in order to have marker lamps and brake lights but I'm guessing there's not much in the way of functioning brakes on the in-tow rig so it is all on the towing rig to control both. I don't think its overtaxing the drivetrain or brakes to run this way even for the duration of this length of trip but it would require caution and mindfulness that you're essentially towing a brakeless trailer.

As mentioned, the driveshaft would also need to be dropped for the in-tow bus.

As for building a combination Franken-bus-enstein, I've thought about this a little and there would be some considerations but overall I think it's doable. There would be no skimping on the tow rig's HP or transmission if it's basically pushing two buses all day. Also, there are regulations to consider and two 40-footers won't be legal everywhere so probably better to make the towed bus a shortie under 30 feet. Also, front bus a pusher for the shortest tail and then the rear bus a flat-nose front engine but with the engine removed. I would probably use that space for a generator that powers both rigs when parked or even on-the-go for roof air units or such. The brakes shouldn't be too difficult if both gave air brakes, just mimic a semi truck air system and run airlines from front to back bus along with the lighting power plug of course.

I say the rear bus should be a shorter flat nose front engine because this will result in the smallest air gap between them for aerodynamics, plus it offers the best opportunity to engineer a tow bar mechanism between the two rigs. Something will need to affix to the frame of the rear bus which is strong enough to lug it along yet there also needs to be some turning mechanism which engages the steers to reasonably track behind the towing bus. The turning radius is going to suck no matter what but at least it'll be sure to follow obediently. The alternative of chopping it down to make a bus-shaped trailer in my opinion will simply be too much tongue weight on the tow bus.

See, thought too much about it already!
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Old 01-16-2020, 11:16 AM   #5
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I’ve seen some that use the wireless light bar like tow trucks use, apparently there is a device that clips on the wires up front and transmits to the magnetic bar they strap on the back
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Old 01-16-2020, 11:26 AM   #6
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I just saw a video the other day where they merely turned on the hazard lights of the rear bus, at night.
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Old 01-16-2020, 04:53 PM   #7
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If towing on a regular basis, the transmission is going to likely be the "weak link" in the tow vehicle's drivetrain.

Not sure why you, (OP), is looking to tow a bus with a bus, but make sure your tow bus doesn't have the weakest "545" trans. in it...
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Old 01-16-2020, 05:41 PM   #8
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Since I have an engineless shorty( 6 window, 23ft) it has gone through my mind to make it a trailer to pull behind my bus. Looking at where the rear axle is on the shorty if I build it with the heavy stuff in the rear like water tanks, black tank etc. and keep the front as light as possible I think I could keep the tongue weight reasonable. I would use the frame where the engine was to create to tongue.

Braking would have to be figured out as I have hydraulic on the bus and air on the shorty. It would be nice to use electric trailer brakes. Maybe change to a trailer axle? have not really thought that one out. Right now this is just dreams.

Since I have a manual trans and a large radiator cooling is not a problem, and I do tow quite a bit with our bus already. More power would be nice but on flatland this would work ok
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Old 01-16-2020, 05:48 PM   #9
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This is a very common method used by exporters. I've seen them in action a few times. They rig up hitches, connect the air lines and rear lights, and then it's on to the border.

Export buses (2) by Cincinnati NKY Buses, on Flickr

In this particular case, the rear bus had a nasty-sounding engine that probably wouldn't have survived the trip.
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Old 01-16-2020, 06:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sehnsucht View Post
They depart Whitestown Indiana like this all the time and undoubtedly drive straight into Mexico. I've seen three and four pairs in convoy so that's 6 or 8 buses all running 55mph for a 1,000+ mile journey.
[...]
See, thought too much about it already!
I was wondering about that. I wonder what their profit margin is by the time they make the trip.

For me, I am just interested in expanding the space as much as possible. I imagine having a “home base” at a central location, and then perhaps building out several tow buses that could fit the more modular needs of different environments like snow or the beach. It is really more of a pipe dream than a real intention. But google didn’t help to expand much.
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Old 01-16-2020, 06:53 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Ronnie View Post
Since I have an engineless shorty( 6 window, 23ft) it has gone through my mind to make it a trailer to pull behind my bus. Looking at where the rear axle is on the shorty if I build it with the heavy stuff in the rear like water tanks, black tank etc. and keep the front as light as possible I think I could keep the tongue weight reasonable. I would use the frame where the engine was to create to tongue.
[...]
More power would be nice but on flatland this would work ok
Yea, for most trailers I have hauled, the tongue weight is only supposed to be about 10% of the trailer weight. So pulling a 30,000lbs “trailer” would only have a tongue weight of 3,000lbs, properly loaded. Assuming you can get 60% of the weight to the front of the axels and 40% after
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Old 01-16-2020, 07:25 PM   #12
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Tongue weight is certainly an important consideration but also overall weight and then in the case of intentionally shifting weighty mass aft you can encounter a lot of bobbing up and down as the aft weight teeter-totters the trailing rig against the hitch. You could end up with too little weight on the tongue at intervals!
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Old 01-16-2020, 07:34 PM   #13
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The shorty I have is less then 10,000lbs as it is now. I think I could get it down to 8000lbs. Would make a great bunk house/childrens play room. Then our bus would be living , kitchen and bathroom.

Two 40 footers, well that would be over most states length laws. 65ft max for motor home pulling a trailer here in Virginia
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Old 01-16-2020, 07:43 PM   #14
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Tongue weight is certainly an important consideration but also overall weight and then in the case of intentionally shifting weighty mass aft you can encounter a lot of bobbing up and down as the aft weight teeter-totters the trailing rig against the hitch. You could end up with too little weight on the tongue at intervals!
Balance is going to be important for sure. Just more thinking about it, for me no need for water in the trailer part, that saves some weight and because water is consumable keeping it out of the trailer minimizes changing weight and balance. Maybe go to the dark side and have composting toilet in there for midnight potty needs. After all it was a greenhouse when we got it....Ok maybe just a bucket with seat for emergency use only.
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Old 01-18-2020, 08:28 PM   #15
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I saw two buses pulling buses when i was in central texas.
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Old 01-18-2020, 09:17 PM   #16
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You know, I wondered if you could turn a really short RE into a 5th wheel (remove front wheels) keep both engines and transmissions in operation by running controls for the rear all the way to the front rig.


Probably barking up the wrong tree.
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Old 01-19-2020, 05:10 AM   #17
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You know, I wondered if you could turn a really short RE into a 5th wheel (remove front wheels) keep both engines and transmissions in operation by running controls for the rear all the way to the front rig.


Probably barking up the wrong tree.
Well locomotives have multiple unit control so one engineer can run three or four engines coupled together. With automatic transmissions I do not see any reason why this could not be done with buses. Big project though for sure.

As far as the 5th wheel, really do not see how that is going to work well. Do you have some ideas on how you would build that without taking room from one bus or the other and also not creating a really long overhang on the bus pulling the other?

It seems a shorty front engine dognose and remove the engine and trans might be better. This would be set up as a "bumper" pull. My air ride hitch is rated for 12,000lbs and a 16,000lb capacity one is available, that should handle a shorty.

I see you have the 444, so I can see why you would want the rear bus to have it's own engine. Just from a simplicity view having one bus powered with a good sized engine and a trans well suited to heavy pulling then the rear bus would not need an engine.
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Old 01-19-2020, 07:50 AM   #18
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I think there are some engineering hurdles to overcome. Ronnie mentioned locomotives have remote control but there is no equivalent in road vehicles that I'm aware. Also, trains can't deviate from their tracks but the same is not true for road vehicles. Introducing drive power to the trailing unit in a combination vehicle seems like a formula for an eventual powered jackknife if the towing rig loses power or traction but the trailing unit presses forward. And that's just one consideration.
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Old 01-19-2020, 08:05 AM   #19
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I would like to see the towbar setup for something that heavy.


We are planning to tow our small E350 ( about 12000 gvwr) bus behind our city bus Dory. For braking I want to use an air chamber from a truck / bus rear axle to push on the brake pedal in the small bus and extend the two pneumatic brake lines,.. similar to tractor trailer set up.


Anybody experience with something like that.



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Old 01-19-2020, 08:37 AM   #20
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IDK, kingpin/fifth wheel assemblies seem pretty stout so adapting it to this application seems pretty straightforward. I'd be more suspect of the assembly welds than the hitch itself.

As for adapting a surrogate brake pedal pushing mechanism, how would you regulate the brake application so as not to over- or under-apply brakes on the towed rig? I'm sure there's others on here who know more about the physics of combination brake systems but that seems to me like it'd be the primary obstacle to overcome. If the towed rig engine isn't running, it has no power brake boost so the mechanical assembly is only getting brute force brake pressure to the vehicle. Also, will it even tolerate being towed? That's not a vehicle I see towed often so not sure how it can be adapted to freewheel.
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