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Old 09-01-2016, 11:41 AM   #1
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Short Bus Air Brakes?

Hello everyone. My name is Mel and I really love this community. I'm a complete noob and have been trying to read as much as possible and I have a question. I've read air brakes are preferred over hydraulic. We are looking into converting a short bus with 4-5 windows which as I understand will be between 10-12.5 feet long so looking for 7 liter vs 6 liter engine. I have been researching and it seems to me that all the short buses have hydraulic brakes. Is there a reason for this?
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Old 09-01-2016, 12:15 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by mnvillela View Post
Hello everyone. My name is Mel and I really love this community. I'm a complete noob and have been trying to read as much as possible and I have a question. I've read air brakes are preferred over hydraulic. We are looking into converting a short bus with 4-5 windows which as I understand will be between 10-12.5 feet long so looking for 7 liter vs 6 liter engine. I have been researching and it seems to me that all the short buses have hydraulic brakes. Is there a reason for this?
Hi mnvillela, And welcome. I am new here too and not sure about air vs hydraulic. But I always had hydraulic and seem to work great. There are a lot of smart people on here who I am sure will answer your question , good luck to you.
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Old 09-01-2016, 12:51 PM   #3
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Hi mnvillela, And welcome. I am new here too and not sure about air vs hydraulic. But I always had hydraulic and seem to work great. There are a lot of smart people on here who I am sure will answer your question , good luck to you.
This is my experience with hyd brakes, I drive a commuter van back & forth to work, 140 mile round trip carrying 13 other people with me. About 2 months ago I got on the road with the first 5 people I pickup then i drive to the next town over which is 6 miles away pulled off the freeway into the parking lot which is two stoplights off two stoplight back on.

I pulled into the lot came to normal stop the rest of the people get in I pull away, first stop light normal stop second stoplight which is also right turn on to freeway brake pedal goes to floor with no resistance what so ever, use parking brake to pull over & stop. Right front brake line decided right then to blow on me,no warning nothing, 30 seconds later I would have been up to speed cruising 70 mph with no idea I had a problem until i needed them. Only after pumping brake 3 or 4 time & fluid getting low did warning light come on.

Air brakes will warn you & automatically apply if theres a problem so IMOP get air brakes if possible.
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Old 09-01-2016, 01:06 PM   #4
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Most short buses have a chevy or ford van front clip and drive train. Basically a 1 ton chassis that only came with juice brakes. Larger medium duty and heavy duty chassis usually come with air brakes. Your 5 window van chassis is perfectly fine with hydraulic brakes. Just like every other 1 ton van work truck you see on the road.
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Old 09-01-2016, 01:42 PM   #5
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This is my experience with hyd brakes, I drive a commuter van back & forth to work, 140 mile round trip carrying 13 other people with me. About 2 months ago I got on the road with the first 5 people I pickup then i drive to the next town over which is 6 miles away pulled off the freeway into the parking lot which is two stoplights off two stoplight back on.

I pulled into the lot came to normal stop the rest of the people get in I pull away, first stop light normal stop second stoplight which is also right turn on to freeway brake pedal goes to floor with no resistance what so ever, use parking brake to pull over & stop. Right front brake line decided right then to blow on me,no warning nothing, 30 seconds later I would have been up to speed cruising 70 mph with no idea I had a problem until i needed them. Only after pumping brake 3 or 4 time & fluid getting low did warning light come on.

Air brakes will warn you & automatically apply if theres a problem so IMOP get air brakes if possible.
This is the exact reason that I want to get a bus with air brakes. I've seen some small charter buses that I might look into but the reason I was leaning towards the school bus originally is because of the steel frame being sturdier. I'm still going to keep an eye out maybe a better option will present itself.
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Old 09-01-2016, 04:03 PM   #6
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If you aren't opposed to a bus chassis instead of van there are a few up for sale in houston on www.onlinepros.com

Ive got juice brakes on mine, it stops fine.
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Old 09-01-2016, 07:25 PM   #7
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I have wondered if there is ever a situation that having the air brakes engage, during system failure, could be dangerous...?

What if the brakes apply during a situation that having the brakes apply is NOT safe?

For instance; while crossing train tracks? Trying to turn out of the way of on coming traffic?

EDIT; funny i was just thinking about the big rigs i ised to see in Utah, hauling big loads and hauling a$$ down the canyon in the rocky mountains. goodness i would NOT want hydraulic brakes in that situation. They even have "runaway truck" offramps that are made of gravel and incline enough to hopefully stop a runaway big rig.


hmmm...
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Old 09-01-2016, 08:09 PM   #8
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Hi. If you're dealing with a smaller bus, stick with the Hydros, Air brakes are for the big-boy stuff, (same systems as Semi trucks). To convert over would likely cost more than the bus. Big problem with air is that if you break down, and your engine cannot run the air compressor, your wheels are locked up. Therefore nobody can tow you, nor move you without manually disabling the brake system. (big pain). My advice, stick with the Hydro. I have a 32' Bluebird with a Cummins and an Alison, and if I had the choice, id take Hydro. Also, some states require a special certification on your drivers license for air-assist brakes.....
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Old 09-01-2016, 08:37 PM   #9
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Smile

I'll have to check out that website. I live in Houston and we don't really plan on traveling to any mountain areas so I guess I won't need to worry too much about going at a decline too fast and the brakes going out. We want to start with something on the small side before getting in too much over our heads. Thank you everyone for the input
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Old 09-01-2016, 08:47 PM   #10
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I would actually like to find a shorty with air brakes.

If by some chance the brakes lock at a bad place (pretty rare), most of the time you can drop into low gear, floor the throttle and move out of the way.
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Old 09-01-2016, 09:50 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carytowncat View Post
I have wondered if there is ever a situation that having the air brakes engage, during system failure, could be dangerous...?

What if the brakes apply during a situation that having the brakes apply is NOT safe?

For instance; while crossing train tracks? Trying to turn out of the way of on coming traffic?

EDIT; funny i was just thinking about the big rigs i ised to see in Utah, hauling big loads and hauling a$$ down the canyon in the rocky mountains. goodness i would NOT want hydraulic brakes in that situation. They even have "runaway truck" offramps that are made of gravel and incline enough to hopefully stop a runaway big rig.



hmmm...
It's been my expierance and ever since the martineze bus crash back in the 70's air brakes give you a warning when they start to fail. You have like 30 to 40 psi you can loose before the brakes set themselves.
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Old 09-02-2016, 12:38 AM   #12
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Basically the reason people prefer air brakes is that with hydro if the system fails, you lose the ability to stop, whereas with air, if the system fails, the brakes make you stop. If You were driving a vehicle that weighs atleast in excess of 10k down the highway and you had to choose, ruptured air hose or a ruptured brake juice hose which one would you want?
I know that if my bus had juice brakes I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. But a lot of people don't like my bus anyway lol
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Old 09-02-2016, 01:42 AM   #13
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Neither brake system is flawless. Hydraulic brakes wear out, air brakes wear out. Hoses deteriorate and fail. Air systems develop leaks, hydraulic systems can too and can absorb moisture from the atmosphere, causing corrosion in the system. Air brake canister parking brake springs can (and do) fail, diaphragms burst ...

Hydraulic brakes are fine up to a certain weight limit (which we rarely meet or exceed on our buses). Air brakes are designed for slowing and stopping heavily loaded trucks (and many buses use the exact same hardware). Since I've been driving air brake equipped vehicles for a long time, I am accustomed to the way they work, and doing some work on them. My driveway is not level, and the parking brake on the hydraulic system in my current bus is a little weak (and it's a full length bus; it won't fit in the driveway).
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Old 09-02-2016, 04:41 AM   #14
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Basically the reason people prefer air brakes is that with hydro if the system fails, you lose the ability to stop, whereas with air, if the system fails, the brakes make you stop. If You were driving a vehicle that weighs atleast in excess of 10k down the highway and you had to choose, ruptured air hose or a ruptured brake juice hose which one would you want?
I know that if my bus had juice brakes I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. But a lot of people don't like my bus anyway lol
I like your bus, jesus.
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Old 09-02-2016, 10:02 AM   #15
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If you aren't opposed to a bus chassis instead of van there are a few up for sale in houston on www.onlinepros.com

Ive got juice brakes on mine, it stops fine.

All those buses are listed as tow-out only and being in Texas the bidding will go up to crazy levels considering the shape they're in (exporters will take them across the border to Mexico or South America)
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Old 09-02-2016, 11:50 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Stu & Filo. T View Post
This is my experience with hyd brakes, I drive a commuter van back & forth to work, 140 mile round trip carrying 13 other people with me. About 2 months ago I got on the road with the first 5 people I pickup then i drive to the next town over which is 6 miles away pulled off the freeway into the parking lot which is two stoplights off two stoplight back on.

I pulled into the lot came to normal stop the rest of the people get in I pull away, first stop light normal stop second stoplight which is also right turn on to freeway brake pedal goes to floor with no resistance what so ever, use parking brake to pull over & stop. Right front brake line decided right then to blow on me,no warning nothing, 30 seconds later I would have been up to speed cruising 70 mph with no idea I had a problem until i needed them. Only after pumping brake 3 or 4 time & fluid getting low did warning light come on.

Air brakes will warn you & automatically apply if theres a problem so IMOP get air brakes if possible.

That's scary stuff. The end of this year will 35 years in the transportation business. 33 years owning my own company. After the limo fire on the bridge that killed 5 women, the van and limo were gone. I only run 2 Town Cars and hopefully not much longer.
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Old 09-02-2016, 01:20 PM   #17
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That's scary stuff. The end of this year will 35 years in the transportation business. 33 years owning my own company. After the limo fire on the bridge that killed 5 women, the van and limo were gone. I only run 2 Town Cars and hopefully not much longer.
I remember that limo fire, What gets me is after I pulled over & saw what was wrong there where a few people looked me straight in the eye & asked in all seriousness "How you gonna get me to work?" I replied " I don't give two shits if you get to work or not"
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Old 09-05-2016, 01:14 PM   #18
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All those buses are listed as tow-out only and being in Texas the bidding will go up to crazy levels considering the shape they're in (exporters will take them across the border to Mexico or South America)


Anything onlinepros says about condition should be taken with a jar of salt, they are VERY generic about everything they auction, always contact the auction contact at the school and ask them, also don't buy blind. I bought mine blind, but it was stated that it ran and the inspection was current. In re: the exporters yes that happens, but not all the time.
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Old 09-06-2016, 09:50 AM   #19
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Modern hydraulic brakes (95 and up?) are nowhere as scary as the fear mongers try to make them sound. For starters they are usually a split system design. Half the system takes care of 2 wheels, the other half takes care of 2 wheels. It'd be a freak coincidence that'd have both rails fail at once. Additionally, modern hydraulic systems usually utilize disc brakes which are better at general stopping and dissipating heat. In all my experience it's also easier to work on disc brakes. The pads are dead simple to install. Not a spring to be seen ☺
Larger vehicles with hydraulic brakes will most likely also come with an electric brake booster so that the brakes are easy to apply even when the engine croaks.

Air brakes are a tried and tested system that do a fantastic job, especially when you need to couple a trailers braking system to a tractor. In a bus you'll be fine with either. My favourite thing about air brakes is the air! You can use the system to pump up tires and run impact wrenches ☺
However, if I found an ideal bus with hydraulic brakes I wouldn't think twice about grabbing it.

You know, there's a reason many school districts buy buses with hydraulic brakes: they are a simple, affordable system that is safe and easy to maintain.
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Old 09-06-2016, 10:06 AM   #20
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The modern hydraulic brakes on my parents rv failed and it was a bit scary.
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