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Old 05-27-2020, 09:58 PM   #1
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Blowout - what to do?

Howdy,
We were crusing down the highway heading north to Klamath Falls, CA. Inner rear on the passenger side blew. It didn't shred, the tread is still attached.
First time having tire issues.
We're safe for the night but trying to figure out how to get this fixed. Is this something we need to be towed for? Hope for a ride to the nearest tire shop to get a replacement mounted?
A kind person dropped off an 8 ton Jack and a really old tire with no valve stem. Seems like it's better to go with no mate than a mate with no air?
We're about 40 miles south of town- could be worse, but still a ways out
35' 1988 Thomas international , approx 23,000 lbs at the moment.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 05-27-2020, 10:07 PM   #2
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Having driven tractor-trailers OTR, I can understand the concern. Buses don't quite have the same amount of load per tire as an 18-wheeler, but I can certainly say the potential exists for the blown tire to slap about on the rim, eventually come apart and damage other components such as air lines, brake chambers, etc., as well as potentially sling debris at other vehicles as it deteriorates.

My advice? If you're on the side of the road, ride slowly (15-25 mph on the shoulder to the next exit (or rest area / turn out, etc. if applicable. It's not safe to be parked on the side of a roadway, especially an interstate. Safety first.

Once you're in a safe place away from traffic, yes, a safer alternative would be to remove the tire from the rim and reinstall the bare rim and the one good tire, but traveling at reduced speed is advised. Because you now have one tire bearing the weight of two on one side, which could cause another blowout if you drive normally on it.

You don't mention if your bus is front engine or rear engine, I'd say it's a bit of a gamble on a rear-engine because of the extra weight in the rear. A front engine should be perfectly fine with this. That should get you somewhere more suitable for replacement, though it could be a bit more risky with a rear-engine running that way.
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Old 05-27-2020, 10:11 PM   #3
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Thanks Cheese.
It's front engine. I considered running with the single but I was not sure about weight distribution. All tires look like they're rated about 6000 lbs.
The distance (40 miles) concerns me- think it would be way worse to hope a single would be ok and then have that fail into the ground. Is that reasonable?
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Old 05-27-2020, 10:20 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Achavez View Post
Thanks Cheese.
It's front engine. I considered running with the single but I was not sure about weight distribution. All tires look like they're rated about 6000 lbs.
The distance (40 miles) concerns me- think it would be way worse to hope a single would be ok and then have that fail into the ground. Is that reasonable?
You mention your bus is about 23,000 lbs. I am assuming that is total weight, distributed between your front and rear axles. That means even though your bus has a heavy steel body, it's probably about 50 / 50 front / rear, or 11,500 on the front, 11,500 on the rear.

That means that normally, each tire on the rear only has to bear a little less than 3,000 lbs. With one down, that load increases to about 3800 lbs by distributing the weight across three tires instead of four. Check the load rating on the tire sidewalls - If they're rated for at least 3,500-4,000 lbs, you should be okay at reduced speed. Reduced speed will also reduce the heat generated from the load. DO NOT AIR THEM DOWN - THAT WILL MAKE THEM OVERHEAT AND YOU'LL BLOW ANOTHER ONE.

FWIW, my mother drove school buses when I was a kid, and she popped off a retread on a long trip back from an out-of-town airport and limped it at low speed without removing the tire, but that was an outer tire and there wasn't much danger of destroying the steel body. She just reduced speed to 35 and had everybody within two rows of the wheelwells move to other seats.

But I would carefully inspect the remaining tires for dry rot and such. You may need to replace all six when you get it home. And do NOT use retreads on the steer (front tires) if you have to replace them. That is HIGHLY illegal and dangerous.

Here's a tip as well. If you ever blow a front tire, instinct will be to brake. DO NOT DO THAT. It will cause the rim to dig into the pavement and you will risk a serious crash. Steer against the inertia and pull, keep your foot in the throttle until the bus stabilizes, then slowly lift out of the throttle and start gearing down until you come to a stop. Do NOT brake until you are at a low speed and almost to a stop. Heed my warning -- it could save your life one day.
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Old 05-27-2020, 10:28 PM   #5
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I once drove 200 miles with a dead tire loaded somewhat heavy. Of course I was careful with it. But road service is a thing (actually fairly common in the trucking world) if you wanna take no chances.
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Old 05-27-2020, 10:31 PM   #6
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Thanks for the insight.
Yeah unfortunately I don't have per axle measurements.
If each individual in the dual set was bearing 3000 before, wouldn't it be 6000 due to the actual weight distribution not changing?

The one that's left is rated for 6000 single.

Of course, I would still have the issue of removing the blown tire. The tread is seperated halfway around on one side so removing it seems necessary.
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Old 05-27-2020, 10:32 PM   #7
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I blew a tire on one of my class 8 trucks. The best thing to do is to slowly get to a safe parking area and call for roadside tire repair. Since it was on your duals the rim should be OK. Tell the tire shop your size and they can put a new or used tire on your rim. Check the air pressure and age and condition of your other tires. It may be time to replace them all.

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Old 05-27-2020, 10:52 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Achavez View Post
Thanks for the insight.
Yeah unfortunately I don't have per axle measurements.
If each individual in the dual set was bearing 3000 before, wouldn't it be 6000 due to the actual weight distribution not changing?

The one that's left is rated for 6000 single.

Of course, I would still have the issue of removing the blown tire. The tread is seperated halfway around on one side so removing it seems necessary.
By rights...

11,500 / 4 = 2,875
11,500 / 3 = 3,833
11,500 / 2 = 5,750

Now, it is possible that it could be more along the lines of

11,500 / 2 = 5,750 per side / 2 tires = 2,875...
but then
Your one side with one tire would be bearing 5,750, and the other good dual would be distributing that 5,750 evenly with two tires at 2,875. I don't think that's how it works, but if your remaining tires support 6,000 each, you should be okay at reduced speed either way.

But the bus doesn't know from one side to the other, really. Those tires don't know anything other than to give out when they reach their breaking point.

I kinda second the road service, but a road service call could pay for 2-3 tires. It ain't cheap.
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Old 05-27-2020, 11:06 PM   #9
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One other thought here, and it really depends on the depth of the lug stud threads. If the stud threads are long enough, you might be able to simply invert the good tire and wheel you have (install it facing the same way the one that blew out was), tighten up the lugs and just stow the rim with the blown tire inside until you get where you're going.

I don't see any reason why that wouldn't work unless the lug threads don't run deep enough... That's how tag axles on tour buses are set up, single tire.

Truthfully, the only reason to reinstall the bare rim from the blown tire is to 'shim' the good tire if the lug threads won't allow installing the good one by itself, but you would do well to flip it around in the orientation of the original to save stress on your axle bearings.

Again, this greatly depends on whether the lug threads run deep enough to allow the single wheel to be tightened securely. Some axles / lug studs may not be designed to do this.

I wouldn't suggest this to an 18-wheeler driver, nor would I do it with an 18-wheeler. But then, an 18-wheeler has about 17,000 lbs per dual-wheel axle under most normal conditions, which makes 4,250 per tire, or 8,500 per side, quite a bit more than your bus. I'm confident that if you have three good tires back there that are rated at 6,000 lbs each, you should be able to get home at reduced speed.
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Old 05-28-2020, 04:38 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Achavez View Post
Howdy,
We were crusing down the highway heading north to Klamath Falls, CA. Inner rear on the passenger side blew. It didn't shred, the tread is still attached.
First time having tire issues.
We're safe for the night but trying to figure out how to get this fixed. Is this something we need to be towed for? Hope for a ride to the nearest tire shop to get a replacement mounted?
A kind person dropped off an 8 ton Jack and a really old tire with no valve stem. Seems like it's better to go with no mate than a mate with no air?
We're about 40 miles south of town- could be worse, but still a ways out
35' 1988 Thomas international , approx 23,000 lbs at the moment.

Thanks in advance!
Should be able to call a commercial tire shop and have them change it out. Or you can drive it to them. Do you have a means of removing the lugs nuts?
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Old 05-28-2020, 03:22 PM   #11
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Thanks all for the insight. I think the vocabulary I was missing was "roadside service." I couldn't imagine how they'd mount a new tire on the rim on the side of the road. Now I know, big tools and a strong back.
Turns out I did have a heavy duty wrench and socket set that would have fit but no jack. Probably my next purchase.
I ended up calling a shop (Basin Tire in Klamath Falls, OR) to come out. I intended to call around but there weren't many options and the guy was nice. Great guy Ryan came out and made the swap (the pair- they were old) and gave some advice on a couple other things. Went ahead with a couple new ones (thanks fed gov) to not worry about it. I am a bit nervous to find out how much those tires would typically retail for... service fee was like $75/ hour and 1.25/ mile. Not near as bad as I expected.
I am interested in solving this weight distribution question. I hear your advice but I can't quite work out why the loading is ok. I'm going to try to find a scale to give me per alxe weight. That, for me, would determine how comfortable I feel driving on a single- unless anyone's got further insight?
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Old 05-28-2020, 03:56 PM   #12
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a wrench and socket set?
Those are hundreds of ft lbs of torque. You need a BIG impact or a really stout breaker bar with a very stout cheater bar.
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Old 05-28-2020, 04:16 PM   #13
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Here's a theoretical...

I'll use a Class 8 semi truck for this example. Typically rated for 80,000 GVWR when loaded. This includes fuel and freight.

The breakdown of this is as follows:

12,000-13,000 on the front axle.

Skoolies will be a good bit less, perhaps 9,000-11,000.

34,000 on tandem drive axles, or 20,000 on a single axle with more than 6' of separation from the next axle.

34,000 on tandem trailer axles, or 20,000 on a single axle with more than 6' separation from the next axle.

So... 34,000 on two axles is 17,000 per axle. You can look at this two ways, but it works out pretty much the same.

17,000 / 2 sides = 8,500 each side, or 4,250 per tire.

or...

17,000 / 4 tires = 4,250 per tire.

What this means is that under a normal 80,000 GVWR for a semi, each drive and trailer tire has to be weight rated for at least 4,250 lbs.

However, the average tractor-trailer weighs only about 35,500 lbs with full tanks of fuel and no freight. If memory serves, this was about 11,000 on the front axle, 12,000 on the drives, and 12,000.

In that scenario, each drive axle would only be bearing about 6,000 lbs. That comes to just 1,500 lbs per tire on each drive axle or tandem axle. So the truck could easily blow a single tire on each side of each drive and tandem axle, and still drive safely, you just couldn't haul freight with it like that.

Now, in the case of your skoolie, we don't have exact numbers, but assuming approximately 50 / 50 weight distribution with your estimated 23,000 lbs, that would be 11,500 per axle. Your bus may not not be exactly 50 / 50 distribution, so this is all estimation at this stage.

If the weight on your rear axle is 11,500 lbs.... it can be looked at one of two ways...

11,500 / 2 sides = 5,750 per side
or...
11,500 / 4 tires = 2,875 per tire

5,750 / 2 tires = 2,875 per tire also

In which case, as long as each tire is rated for at least 3,000 lbs, you can run safely on a single tire on BOTH sides, especially at reduced speed to reduce temperature.

I think something that might confuse some people is they may think the GVWR applies to each axle, or even to each tire. And I understand it is not something most people have to think about, so it is confusing if you're not used to it.

Your bus is going to have a plate or tag somewhere listing the weight ratings of your front and rear axles. That will be their maximum load, not necessarily the load on them in the current configuration as a RV.

For another example, if a rear axle is rated at 33,000 lbs, that would mean each tire would have to be rated for 8,250 lbs to carry its max load, but that wouldn't be necessary if the bus is empty. That is simply the max load that axle is rated for. The vehicle may only have 16,000 lbs on that axle in its current usage. So in that usage, each tire would only have to bear about 4,000 lbs, which means if each tire were rated at 8,250 lbs, you could blow a single tire on either side of the vehicle and it wouldn't mean diddly except for the risk of damage to other vehicles from tire debris as it shredded, or possible damage to components underneath the vehicle if the inner tires had blown.

Quite simply, dual wheel arrangements weren't just created to increase load capacity -- they were also created for stability. More tire surface on the road for the rear axle increases traction and stability. This is why truckers do not like these new Stupid Singles, as they're derisively called.

What this all means is that if you know the weight on your rear axle, and each tire's given capacity is at least 1/2 of the total actual weight on that axle, you don't need all four tires to drive it in a pinch. I just wouldn't drive it cross-country like that, even though you probably could. So it's important to know your actual weight on each axle, and take this into consideration when getting tires.

That would be your bare minimum, but I think it's best to get tires properly rated for an appropriate share of the max weight capacity of the axle on which they are intended to be used. Because as I explained, if each of your drive tires are rated for 25% of your MAX axle weight capacity, in this type of configuration, you can simply remove the wheel and tire, chuck it in the bus somewhere, put the remaining good one back on that side and tool on at reduced speed, (which may not even be necessary). Just know that it will likely handle differently on that side due to reduced tire surface on the pavement.

And not every blowout is going to be catastrophic. It's more important to get off the road in such a situation. It is very dangerous to be parked on the side of the highway with traffic going past. If another vehicle wanders from its lane and hits your skoolie, someone's going to have a very bad day. And if that vehicle happens to be a tractor-trailer, EVERYONE INVOLVED is going to have a very bad day.

I think what was confusing you is the idea of dividing the weight across three tires, ergo, 11,500 / 3 = 3,833. I can see where that might be confusing. But the truth is, most tires under these skoolies were rated for the max axle rating, which in your case is likely around 16,000 lbs.

The B700 I used to own was rated for 16,000 on the rear axle, and 8,000 on the front for a 24,000 GVWR. But it didn't weigh 24,000 empty, nor was the rear axle supporting 16,000 empty. Likely not even close when loaded with children.

So....

16,000 / 4 = 4,000
16,000 / 3 = 5,333

You mentioned that the good tire was rated for 6,000 lbs, and even looking at it the way you were (which might have been realistic given the circumstances), it still would have been okay, because if you look at it this way...

11,500 / 3 = 3,833

The side with the one tire would have still been within 30% of its max AXLE weight rating, per tire. And that is manageable if speed is reduced to reduce heat buildup. 5,333 is within limits of a 6,000 lb rating.

You might not want to drive it cross country, but I should think it would make it home. The more pressing issue in this situation with a skoolie is flying debris from the tire as it shreds apart.

But this all depends on the actual weight on that axle, which is not known. In light of this, I think anybody with a skoolie should get a weight per axle and gross weight (most truck stops will have a scale) and it's only $15.00. Small price to pay for knowing what you can get away with.

I applaud you for taking the safe way out and calling road service, but in the future, consider that it's not really necessary in that situation. Chances are if you have the proper equipment and tools, you can simply remove the rim with the blown tire, remount the one good one, chuck the bad one in the bus and continue at lower speed.

Keep in mind, my experience with axle / tire weight calculations is pretty much confined to trailer trucks, so my predictions with a skoolie could be somewhat off. Bear that in mind.
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Old 05-28-2020, 04:20 PM   #14
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you are on the right track

Achavez, yes a trip to the scales, that will get you axle loading... then read the sidewalls of your tires...

Load range E load range F load range G load range H

the tire can be the same size but built different ways... that gives a tire a different load rating.. a E tire will not support as much weight as G so it also matters what you have on the rims...

let me give you an example using my bus... I can buy E range tires that come in at 3700 lbs each at 90 psi...My rear axle is rated to 14,000 lbs and my springs are rated at 13,500 lbs. so my four rear tires are rated at a higher load than the axle or springs when inflated to 90 psi. There is no point for me to buy any of the other load ranges... not rated for load any ways.... BUT,

I have about 4,000 lbs on the front axle that is rated up to 6,000 lbs so the rear axle of my bus only holds about 8,000 lbs. so I could run two load range F tires in the rear and not even run duals...... I dont think that is a good idea, but i could do it that way.

I figure an engineer probably put some sort of safety factor in there of 10% or more so 3,700 lb tire rating should be close to 4,000 lbs at much reduced speeds I mean like 20mph as a speed........

If you want greater protection then run the higher load rating tires.. common to carry a tire, no rim, as a spare in the big truck world.

Your bus is very unlikey to run a 50/50 weight split usually closer to 60 rear and 40 front...... when you use the brakes, the weight transfers to the front and more weight on the front axle under braking forces.

The higher load rating tires are usually heavier sidewalls and you will have a rougher ride. I spent a lot time looking for tires in the size I wanted in a E load range.... so that I could have a smoother ride, but I had very few choices of tires doing it that way... If I use load range G I have more than a 100 tires to choose from..... If I want a specific brand like Michelin... I have five or six... but When I wanted a size and load range E I had one choice. notice I did not use price as a criteria. or a silly thing like how long they will last. Most of us in a bus will never ever drive the goody out of these tires, they will get old way before we wear them out. Most of us.

I hope this helps when thinking about tires.

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Old 05-28-2020, 04:37 PM   #15
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a wrench and socket set?
Those are hundreds of ft lbs of torque. You need a BIG impact or a really stout breaker bar with a very stout cheater bar.
I agree. You need an impact wrench, likely an air model, I doubt an electric could break these loose. And I'm not sure an air brake system can deliver the volume necessary to operate one. Maybe if you stop occasionally (between lug nuts) to let the pressure and volume build, but even then it's questionable.
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Old 05-28-2020, 04:47 PM   #16
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In light of this, I think anybody with a skoolie should get a weight per axle and gross weight (most truck stops will have a scale) and it's only $15.00. Small price to pay for knowing what you can get away with.
Just an FYI for anyone who wants to get their bus weighed...

These scales are set up with independent concrete pads on heavy springs and pressure plates to measure weight. Pull on them slowly, and brake gently to avoid damaging the scale.

Be sure that your two axles are on different pads, and not on the seam between pads. There will be a call box to request a weigh. When they weigh it, they will tell you to come in and get your ticket. Pull off the scale and find a safe place to park, it is NOT kosher to park on the scale or to block the scale.
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Old 05-29-2020, 01:53 PM   #17
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Removing and re-installing the wheels on the bus actually isn't all that terrible. (Yes, I've done it. Something like 12 times.) It does require preparation but it definitely does not require a high CFM 1" impact wrench. That just makes it faster and easier for people who do this frequently.

It's true, the lug nuts should be torqued in the neighborhood of 475 lb-ft. It may take more than that to break them loose.

I use a 3/4 inch breaker bar with a 24 inch handle. I've made a piece of tube that fits the end of the breaker bar and has a 1/2 inch square drive socket; I use this to attach a 24 inch 250 lb-ft torque wrench at the end of the breaker bar. This combination gives me about 4 feet of leverage on the lug nut. A person weighing 150 pounds could place his/her weight on the end of that assembly and make about 600 lb-ft of torque.

It's a normal (common) thing to use various torque arm extenders with a torque wrench -- a crow foot adapter, for instance. The math for computing the actual torque on the fastener for a given torque measured on the wrench is well understood and easy to calculate. See for example Engineers Edge.
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Old 05-29-2020, 03:25 PM   #18
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Be sure that your two axles are on different pads, and not on the seam between pads. There will be a call box to request a weigh. When they weigh it, they will tell you to come in and get your ticket. Pull off the scale and find a safe place to park, it is NOT kosher to park on the scale or to block the scale.
CAT scales even has an app. No need to talk to the attendant at all, you can use the app to pay for the weigh and get your ticket sent to your phone.
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Old 05-29-2020, 09:33 PM   #19
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Or be like me - I have emergency roadside assistance, now with AAA but previously with Good Sam, and a spare tire, and all the tools to change it myself if needed. My spare is one of my old Michelin XZE front tires which is older than I want on my bus (I bought six new Yokohama 104ZR tires last year because the Michelins were too old), but it has no surface cracking unlike most older Michelins so it should still be OK for an emergency tire. I made my own spare tire mount under the front, using a Harbor Fright worm-drive winch to lower the wheel/tire to the ground, and I made a wheeled dolly for the tire so when it's on the ground I can easily push it to where it's needed (trying to drag a 250+ lb wheel/tire on the ground by hand is almost impossible!). Because my tires are 12R22.5" loadrange H I probably won't be able to buy a replacement on the road for less than A LOT of money - trucks don't use my tire size, and nor do modern buses either.

I keep four bottle jacks in the bus: two 20-ton, one 12-ton, and one 12-ton low-profile in case a front tire is flat and there's insufficient space to get a regular 12-ton under the front axle. I bought two 12" squares of 1/4" and 3/8" steel plate to put under the jacks, and I have several 2-foot lengths of 6" x 8" pine as well. The brawny bit of it is a 40"-long 1"-drive breaker bar that's rated for 1800 ft/lb, a 1"-drive Budd nut for the outer and inner nuts, and a 12" extension for the rear wheels. My body weight on the end of a 40" lever is near as dammit 500 ft/lbs, just right for the lug nuts, and yes I did once try removing nuts that had been air-wrenched on - it took some work, but they did come off (eventually!).

To me, having all this equipment with me is like having an umbrella - if you've got one it doesn't rain, but if you don't have one, guess what? Realistically the roadside service should take care of things, but if they couldn't/didn't/won't then I've got everything I need to do it myself. Oh yes, one more thing - I have three air outlets around the bus to easily inflate tires or run air tools, and a small electric auxiliary air compressor that runs off my inverter, so the engine doesn't even need to be running for me to have air. And If I need a tow, I put an air inlet near the front of the bus for a tow truck to connect to my bus's wet tank.

And I wonder why some of my friends think I'm a pessimist!

John
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Old 05-29-2020, 10:18 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Iceni John View Post
Or be like me - I have emergency roadside assistance, now with AAA but previously with Good Sam, and a spare tire, and all the tools to change it myself if needed. Because my tires are 12R22.5" loadrange H I probably won't be able to buy a replacement on the road for less than A LOT of money - trucks don't use my tire size, and nor do modern buses either.

To me, having all this equipment with me is like having an umbrella - if you've got one it doesn't rain, but if you don't have one, guess what? Realistically the roadside service should take care of things, but if they couldn't/didn't/won't then I've got everything I need to do it myself. And If I need a tow, I put an air inlet near the front of the bus for a tow truck to connect to my bus's wet tank.

And I wonder why some of my friends think I'm a pessimist!

John
Guess I am too. Murphy's law, if it can happen... It will happen. They say an optimist sees the glass half full, the pessimist sees it half empty. But only the realist thinks to really look at it, maybe take a whiff before drinking and realize it doesn't matter if it's half-full or half-empty... because it's urine.
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