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Old 09-27-2019, 09:09 AM   #1
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Driving home a bus missing 1 front brake chamber

Hi all,

I'm bidding on a 25ft flat nose Blue Bird, and the auction page mentions that it has 1 front brake chamber missing. The trip home is about 3 hours going the speed limit on the highway. I'm not totally familiar with hose air brake systems work. Is this something that I should have fixed before I get on the road?

Thanks.
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Old 09-27-2019, 09:51 AM   #2
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The fact you have to ask this question is worrisome. If not for your own life think of the others on the road. You will be driving at least a 15,000LBS steel box down the road. If there is any question of the brakes have it towed and fixed correctly.

As a side note, unless the air line is plugged, I am pretty sure it won't even build up to release the brakes anyway.
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Old 09-27-2019, 10:01 AM   #3
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I would replace the brake chamber before driving any distance. They are generally pretty cheap. Presumably you have the VIN, you can call BlueBird and ask them for a part number or specification of the required chamber, and find a replacement at NAPA or online. So long as the hoses are all there it's a 10 minute job with basic hand tools. There are videos on Youtube showing the process.

You should familiarize yourself with basic air brake operation. I like this video even if it has that 80s VHS quality.

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Old 09-27-2019, 10:15 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by bigskypc50 View Post
The fact you have to ask this question is worrisome. If not for your own life think of the others on the road. You will be driving at least a 15,000LBS steel box down the road. If there is any question of the brakes have it towed and fixed correctly.

As a side note, unless the air line is plugged, I am pretty sure it won't even build up to release the brakes anyway.
There's no reason for you to be condescending. I'm trying to educate myself about the bus systems so I don't make a mistake. It would be worrisome if I showed up and tried to drive it home knowing nothing about it. I guess I should be an expert on every mechanical system of the bus before I ask about it.
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Old 09-27-2019, 10:18 AM   #5
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Not trying to be condescending, but common sense says if there is any questions to a vehicles braking system, then don't try to drive it three hours, no matter if it runs on air or fluid or fairy dust.
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Old 09-27-2019, 10:27 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by lebusmagique View Post
There's no reason for you to be condescending. I'm trying to educate myself about the bus systems so I don't make a mistake. It would be worrisome if I showed up and tried to drive it home knowing nothing about it. I guess I should be an expert on every mechanical system of the bus before I ask about it.

Relax.... building a skoolie, overcoming all the unkowns, will help develop thick skin, starting with your fingertips.

Firstly, never drive a unit on the public roads when there is a serious question about missing brake parts. There needs no education here just plain common sense. It not worth the risks if something goes wrong and murphy's law says …. you know what it says.

Best way I found to learn on this site, and this site has taught me a lot as I am on my second roof raise, is to just read first, read second, try it out third and if you still don't get it then ask questions. The search function has done me wonders!

There are alot of good people here on this site, sometimes with bad attitudes like me but most times not. while one guy style or method of explaining might not rub well at least they are trying to be helpful and for that I say thanks to all!

I would follow "brokedown" advice. It is rock solid advice!
Watch the video, see how easy it is and go get your hands dirty!

Once you get your hands dirty on fixing/building the bus all good things will come !
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Old 09-27-2019, 06:16 PM   #7
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I understand. I've read a lot. I just don't think it's common sense to know that a missing brake chamber means it has no brakes and is dangerous to drive.

1) knowing very little about air brakes I don't know if a missing chamber necessarily means that the brake doesn't work

2) I assume that there are 3 other working brakes so it might be ok to drive

That said, I do contract work for a lot of freight companies and I know I could get one of their mechanics to give it a once-over for me once I get it home, but is it standard practice to drive it to the nearest mechanic and have them give it the okay? Are most diesel mechanics amenable to checking out a bus/installing a new brake chamber?
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Old 09-27-2019, 06:26 PM   #8
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a missing front chamger is a HUGE issue... lets just say you plug the line and drive it on 3... any hard stop will pull the bus SEVERELY to the side with the good brake.. it could cause you to lose control... like others say dont drive it...



secondly id be concerned about why a missing chamber up front.. did the bracket rust away in some midwest rot-fest? so that it may just not be as easy as imstalling a chamber.. was it removed because theres an issue with the shoes, drum, S-cam. etc?



this is a bus that I would mae the 3 hour drive to physically inspect before placing any bids...
-Christopher
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Old 09-27-2019, 06:29 PM   #9
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a missing front chamger is a HUGE issue... lets just say you plug the line and drive it on 3... any hard stop will pull the bus SEVERELY to the side with the good brake.. it could cause you to lose control... like others say dont drive it...



secondly id be concerned about why a missing chamber up front.. did the bracket rust away in some midwest rot-fest? so that it may just not be as easy as imstalling a chamber.. was it removed because theres an issue with the shoes, drum, S-cam. etc?



this is a bus that I would mae the 3 hour drive to physically inspect before placing any bids...
-Christopher
Good to know. Thank you for actually explaining what would happen. I'll be going to see it Monday. Bidding ends Wednesday. It's in the southeast and away from the coast so I wouldn't think rust is an issue. I'll ask when I'm there.
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Old 10-02-2019, 11:34 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lebusmagique View Post

I understand. I've read a lot. I just don't think it's common sense to know that a missing brake chamber means it has no brakes and is dangerous to drive.
SNIP...


Good to know. Thank you for actually explaining what would happen. I'll be going to see it Monday. Bidding ends Wednesday. It's in the southeast and away from the coast so I wouldn't think rust is an issue. I'll ask when I'm there.
Call me harsh -- the above two statements kinda frighten me -- I take them as a lack of mechanical knowledge, or mechanical common sense if you will...

Pay to have a mechanic look over the bus you're thinking about buying --
Just as you'd have a "home inspector" look over a house before buying...

(yes, that implies a "good" mechanic or home inspector/ not just someone who knows how to collect money... regrettably their are both in both categories...)
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Old 10-02-2019, 11:55 AM   #11
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Again, I'm not sure what planet you're living on where knowing about airbrakes is common sense, but ok.

In any case, it doesn't matter. The chamber was pulled to use on another bus and the mechanic has a brand new one to put on once it sells. He also said that's it's perfectly fine to drive with 3 chambers so long as there's no passengers. Mind you this guy has been working as a mechanic for this school district for 20+ years but I guess the experts here would rather tell me I'm an idiot for even asking the question.
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Old 10-02-2019, 12:16 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lebusmagique View Post
Again, I'm not sure what planet you're living on where knowing about airbrakes is common sense, but ok.

In any case, it doesn't matter. The chamber was pulled to use on another bus and the mechanic has a brand new one to put on once it sells. He also said that's it's perfectly fine to drive with 3 chambers so long as there's no passengers. Mind you this guy has been working as a mechanic for this school district for 20+ years but I guess the experts here would rather tell me I'm an idiot for even asking the question.
IMHO: The mechanics advice borders on criminal. As Christopher mentioned, having brakes on only one front wheel will cause the bus to pull to that side. Severely if you get on the brakes hard. You will also increase your stopping distance.

Not trying to be mean but I have to go along with Banman. Missing brake parts is an absolute red flag. I don't care if they are air, hydraulic or Flintstone.
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Old 10-02-2019, 12:17 PM   #13
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On the positive side, you did ask before driving it.
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Old 10-02-2019, 12:35 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lebusmagique View Post
SNIP...
He also said that's it's perfectly fine to drive with 3 chambers so long as there's no passengers. Mind you this guy has been working as a mechanic for this school district for 20+ years but I guess the experts here would rather tell me I'm an idiot for even asking the question.
I'm no (bus) expert but it sounds like the strangers here on this forum care about YOUR safety and the safety of all the other strangers around you more than the guy trying to sell you a bus...

It's good the brakes will be fixed before selling the bus --

I still recommend you have an impartial, qualified, mechanic/driver check out the bus before purchase...
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Old 10-02-2019, 12:57 PM   #15
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I'm no (bus) expert but it sounds like the strangers here on this forum care about YOUR safety and the safety of all the other strangers around you then the guy trying to sell you a bus...

It's good the brakes will be fixed before selling the bus --

I still recommend you have an impartial, qualified, mechanic/driver check out the bus before purchase...
Good advice.

Myself, if the sellers representative (mechanic) gave me that kind of advice I would start wondering what else they may have told me that was bogus. If you carry forward on the purchase, definitely have it checked out by an impartial, competent mechanic like Banman suggested.

We are not picking on you. We just take safety very seriously. I don't want to share the road with 20,000 pound vehicles that have questionable brakes.
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Old 10-02-2019, 02:00 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lebusmagique View Post
Again, I'm not sure what planet you're living on where knowing about airbrakes is common sense, but ok.

In any case, it doesn't matter. The chamber was pulled to use on another bus and the mechanic has a brand new one to put on once it sells. He also said that's it's perfectly fine to drive with 3 chambers so long as there's no passengers. Mind you this guy has been working as a mechanic for this school district for 20+ years but I guess the experts here would rather tell me I'm an idiot for even asking the question.
Hey, it's fine that you asked, I'd prefer it, actually, seeing what the "mechanic" said. But you have to realize what you asked is a huge no-no. Under no circumstance do you run a bus, or any vehicle for that matter, knowing that only 3/4 brakes are working.

That's a red flag, done where your parked, out of service until fixed or towed issue. And if you'd get in an accident with it jerry rigged to work, you'd be so hung out to dry it's not funny. As someone prior said, what your contemplating would be considered criminal in an accident.

I'm not sure who the mechanic is, but I'm offended that he presents him self as such. I'm appalled that he would advise you that it's okay to run like that, because it definitely isn't whether you carry passengers or not. I mean if you wanted to drive it around the lot or across the farm like that, sure, but to take it out on the road for 3 hours and even pretend that doing so is fine isn't accpetable.
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Old 10-02-2019, 02:19 PM   #17
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I stopped to fuel my old bus and noticed that one of my brake chambers was leaking. No big deal. I went ahead and drove it..... About 75 feet to get out of the way at the fuel island. Then I called a mobile mechanic to come and replace it.
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Old 10-02-2019, 02:21 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lebusmagique View Post
Again, I'm not sure what planet you're living on where knowing about airbrakes is common sense, but ok.

In any case, it doesn't matter. The chamber was pulled to use on another bus and the mechanic has a brand new one to put on once it sells. He also said that's it's perfectly fine to drive with 3 chambers so long as there's no passengers. Mind you this guy has been working as a mechanic for this school district for 20+ years but I guess the experts here would rather tell me I'm an idiot for even asking the question.
You misquote, and mis-understood me -- I said "mechanical common sense"
And while I would call the a$$hat, who told you it was okay to drive 3hrs with compromised brakes an idiot -- I most definitely did not call you one.

Your common sense brought you here to ask mechanical questions -- that's great.

As PNW implied -- you're looking at a bus that has already been cannibalized for parts. Unless you have a lot of mechanical aptitude -- have someone who does, fully inspect the bus before purchase, BUT certainly at least before driving on the hwy.
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Old 10-02-2019, 02:27 PM   #19
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I think everyone here is on the same page - SAFEY FIRST!

Would I drive it with only 3 working brakes on an air brake system, yes, if it was absolutely necessary and the immediate need to move the vehicle was required but slowly at 10-15 MPH and only to get out of the way or to a safe place.

High speeds - your asking for Murphy's law to jump in and take action.... No, No, No!

Sometimes you won't get a second chance to do things right the first time.

I am a CDL licensed driver and I can tell you this, no matter how much driving experience you have, knowledge and constantly refreshing that knowledge will help you stay safe and keep others safe too.

That being said, I offer this you tube video link on air brake operations.
I urge everyone who drives an air brake vehicle, any air brake vehicle, to watch this video. It is 50 minutes long but quite informative.



Also I highly recommend all air brake skoolie drivers to go ahead and take a practice air brakes test. Many found online. That way you can not only watch the video and learn but also use the test as a benchmark of your understanding of an air brake system.

Also never mentioned, Pre-trip inspections on air brakes.
This is crucial and very easy to do, you don't even break a sweat doing an air brake pre trip so please guys, learn to be and stay safe! If you do not know how to do a pre-trip on your air brakes then PLEASE, do not even drive the bus!


Oh yeah, here's a video on how to do a pre-trip on air brakes.



Thanks,

ed..
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Old 10-02-2019, 02:42 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lebusmagique View Post
Again, I'm not sure what planet you're living on where knowing about airbrakes is common sense, but ok.

In any case, it doesn't matter. The chamber was pulled to use on another bus and the mechanic has a brand new one to put on once it sells. He also said that's it's perfectly fine to drive with 3 chambers so long as there's no passengers. Mind you this guy has been working as a mechanic for this school district for 20+ years but I guess the experts here would rather tell me I'm an idiot for even asking the question.
I'm trying to understand how it would be safe to drive it yourself, but no longer safe with a passenger?
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