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Old 07-11-2020, 05:04 PM   #1
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Flattest Route AT545

Hey all,

We just picked up our bus and we’re traveling back from OR It’s a 2000 Bluebird TC1000 27 foot with the Cummins 5.9 and AT 545 combo.

We made it as far as Laramie but it was a *struggle* to get up here on I-80. Now we need to head down to Texas.

We now know we won’t make it up the the Sherman Hill en route to Cheyenne, so we’re faced with taking 287 down to ft Collins. I know that part is unavoidable, but from there we’d like to avoid downhill grades as much as humanly possible, since we’re packing the non-locking AT 545 and no Jake brake or retarder.

Specifically, I want to avoid Raton pass at all costs.

Any suggestions on route?

Thanks so much!
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Old 07-11-2020, 05:36 PM   #2
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US-287 to Fort Collins, I-25 to I-70 east to Limon, resume US-287 through Kit Carson to Lamar. From there take US-385 south and you'll eventually end up in Dalhart. That entire route is east of the mountain region so it's basically one long gradual descent. I would even venture to guess it's comparable in mileage although I haven't done the math to confirm.
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Old 07-11-2020, 07:33 PM   #3
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Yeah. Thats what we were thinking. Im pretty spooked by 287 since well need to take the hills so slow, but no real choice. Ill feel MUCH better after Limon.
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Old 07-11-2020, 09:54 PM   #4
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Love Buses that size. Hope to see some pics or a build thread when you get the bus back home and get situated!


Good luck!
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Old 07-12-2020, 05:37 AM   #5
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I ran a 40 year old AT540 across 80 2 years ago.. downshift to second , turn all your heaters on so your coolant is as cool as possible, drone the Sherman I’m the morning when it’s cold.. the trick is never having it floored and keeping your RPMs up to around 2000 or so and also watching engine temp. I did it in a 35 footer superior that’s built like a tank.. carried a temp gun which I shot at the pan and the body of the tranny often .. stopped a lot . After reaching the 8700 foot peak that was the worst of it. Stopped to cool down at the rest area of the peak for a couple hours.
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Old 07-12-2020, 09:33 AM   #6
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raton pass isn't too bad unless you are already slipping.

like Cadillac says, the 545 will climb best under part throttle. keep the rpms under 2k, slow down, put the 4 ways on and ignore traffic.
you may only go 30- 40mph, but you go and it doesnt overheat.

a leadfoot will kill the 545 on a grade.

i did have to get a new water pump at the bottom of raton one time...... hmmmm
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Old 07-12-2020, 10:11 AM   #7
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How often are you all doing air brake testing and what process do you use. I literally discovered that there was any need for that last night. Im clearly in over my head here. Hehe.
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Old 07-12-2020, 10:15 AM   #8
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chances are,

you have auto slack adjusters.

the brakes check themselves.

you should get familiar with them so you know the parts, but for the most part, you are good to go.

do a pretrip. makes sure everything works. inspect brakes, air test
check

what ever your home state dmv is will have an air brakes endorsement. go get the rule book from them and learn what it says about air brakes and the required checks. the sign that says" check your brakes" refers mostly to pre-auto slack adjusters setups. more info is good info.
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Old 07-12-2020, 10:22 AM   #9
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Yeah, air brakes aren't like hydraulic brakes where you just hop in and drive away but if there's a problem a light tells you right away. Google or YouTube how to perform a four-point air brake test and make that part of your daily pre-trip inspection. And yes, you should be doing an entire pre-trip inspection too! This will save you so much headache down the road because you'll catch things before they totally fail and leave you stranded somewhere.
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Old 07-12-2020, 11:09 AM   #10
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Thanks! I looked it up and just did a test. I feel like a hero.
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Old 07-12-2020, 11:16 AM   #11
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On downhills in that bus I kept 2nd gear. Since that bus was geared low I was running 25-30 max uphill and maybe 35 down. Stab and glide is how I applied my air brakes.. I would stab the pedal and slow the bus somewhat quickly down 5 MPH then release completely. Then stab down when I gained 5 more... never running at anywhere close to a speed that I would call maximum for the road. That gave me some headroom. So if the Mac save speed was 45-50 and I’m running 35-40 I could conceivably have gained 7 and stabbed down 5 at a time if I needed to.. I never even got my brakes hot enough to smell dirt burning off let alone smell the pads or fade at all.. it’s not my choice of drivetrain to do that trip over and over but I wanted to drive my 40 year old classic home rather than pay to have it shipped. I drove it around town in Oregon a bit fixing various things before I hit the real road..

I did get the tranny hot going up hill but I stopped and cooled it down. And of course once I got home with it the fluid and filters were changed.
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Old 07-12-2020, 11:27 AM   #12
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Flattest Route AT545

It makes me feel like a total weenie, but were realizing that we may just ship it and minimize our losses.

Not knowing the bus/not having a lot of experience with air brakes and buses, it seems like a safer/cheaper option.

Oregon DMV has ground basically to a halt, so its still titled as a school bus. Paperwork was sent in over three weeks ago so we always assumed itd be done by now.

With the combination of risks from lack of experience and relative illegality, shipping it might be a much safer option that ends up being cheaper than any other scary alternatives.

Anyone with a CDL and insurance want to drive a bus to Austin or know a company with a flatbed out of Laramie?
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Old 07-12-2020, 11:37 AM   #13
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I keep thinking I'll get into bus transporting when I retire, maybe I should retire sooner than later!
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Old 07-12-2020, 11:38 AM   #14
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Yeah I hear that!
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Old 07-12-2020, 01:33 PM   #15
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I drove my TC1000 with a AT545 though WY on I80, from Oregon to Chicago (and then on to Hotlanta though the steep mountains in TN on I65 and I24) with no probs. Don't remember my speed in WY on the continental divide, but I wasn't "holding back". I typically drive as fast as the bus and traffic will let me go safely. I held back my speed in TN going downhill.



However, my tranny seems to be in tip-top shape (it pulls strong at idle - I need to ride my breaks in a parking lot or it picks up too much speed - as opposed to the other buses I looked at where I had to "floor it" to get the bus to move from a standstill), and I had also just drained the tranny pan and changed the filter and added new Valvoline Maxlife full-synthetic tranny fluid.
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Old 07-12-2020, 02:34 PM   #16
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is it toast?

im in north east colorado, so not real far. do you want to sell?

you learn by doing...... if the 545 can, you can too.

if the trans fluid smells burnt, get a pan at wally and some dex3 and change it. tomorrow the bus will be cooler, you will both run better.


clean transmission fluid will run noticeably better than burnt.
cadillac has given good advice. climb hills slow, descend hills slower than you climb.

don't ride air brakes.

i always thought the tc1000 was a little screamer compared to the 2000
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Old 07-12-2020, 03:10 PM   #17
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No not at all. Were just paranoid about it since its still titled as a bus. We worry that if something happened, wed be screwed six ways to Sunday.
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Old 07-12-2020, 03:34 PM   #18
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im near sterling, co if you come this direction. between you and limon

the farm i work at has lowboys and flatbeds, if you want to pay, im think the owners would sure consider hauling. they are shipping out combines for wheat harvest..... timing may be bad, i don't know.

i know a few drivers as well.

let me know if i can help.
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Old 07-12-2020, 03:35 PM   #19
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Oh wow. Thats awesome. Thank you! We just might hit you up.
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Old 07-12-2020, 03:36 PM   #20
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I think you're just losing your nerve. I would encourage you to preserve though because if you bail out now on the maiden voyage you will never ever have confidence in the bus and then you're just throwing away your money on the conversion.

I'm going to look at a rig in the morning. It's not a school bus (I'll start a post in this probably tomorrow if I bring it home) and it has a Ford Triton V-10. My buddy whose opinion I trust and especially relating to Fords warned me not to get that engine because it has a few fatal design flaws. However, when I went online, it's an extremely popular engine in RVs and RV towing pick-up trucks and even those who've experienced the reported flaws still rave about it and the fixes aren't that severe. So I'm going to look at it and plan to drive it home unless there's some severe defect glaring at me. And if it blows a spark plug or two through the head or the exhaust manifold needs new bolts, well I'll deal with those issues when they happen. I never expected to get a flawless, like-new condition rig for pocket change so budgeting for maintenance is just part of the process. Every engine and most transmissions have some sort of potentially fatal flaw or just a general poor public opinion but buying these second hand rigs like we do is just a roll of the dice if it lasts another10k or 300k.

So if you can see it through this maiden voyage, take it easy and nurse it home if that's what you have to do to feel safe and confident, then go over it thoroughly to armor it as best you can, I believe that will help you appreciate how resilient and committed your rig is to see you through as well.
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