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Old 01-06-2021, 01:56 AM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2020
Location: Seattle
Posts: 14
Driving for the first time

So I think I found my bus and will have to travel out of state to pick it up and drive it home.

What should I try to plan for or expect with driving it for the first time? I don't know if I will have a space to learn or practice at all or if I will just have to hit the road?? Any advice
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Old 01-06-2021, 02:45 AM   #2
Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: Long Beach, CA
Posts: 124
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: MPV, 40'
Engine: 5.9 Cummins/B300 trans
Rated Cap: U/K
Do what I do... When things get sketchy, close your eyes and blow the horn

Seriously though, just take it slow and, if it's a long bus, watch the rear end swing. It can be dramatic. Air brakes are something else to learn about, leave a good gap in front of you {also stopping distance}. Hopefully people will give you some room but don't count on it.
Good luck, you'll be fine.
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Old 01-06-2021, 07:07 AM   #3
Bus Nut
Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Parks/Flagstaff AZ
Posts: 260
What type of bus did you get? If it's a front engine model, it will drive just like a large rental moving truck...just a bit longer. If it's a rear engine model, that's where things feel much different. In most rear engine versions, the driver sits in front of the steer wheels which creates an odd sensation that you're too far forward in turns...so new drivers tend to turn too early and run the rear wheels over the curb.

General tips and advice for new drivers:

Set up your curved mirrors so you can see the lanes on either side of you and just a smidge of the bus...in other words, out quite a ways. Position the flat mirrors pointed down more than you would in a car, hopefully so that you can see the side of your rear wheel. Watch the mirrors during your turns (both sides...you'll be turning your head and leaning a lot!). In a sharp right turn (like from a driveway or at an intersection), pull forward straight farther than feels normal...especially in a rear-engine bus...look at the right mirror and don't turn until the rear wheel reaches the point you want to turn around (that's your pivot point)...then steer sharply all the way to the right...check the side mirrors...make sure you don't run over the curb or the mailbox or the pedestrian on the right...and (very importantly!) also check the left mirror because the ass end of the bus will swing to the left when you turn and you don't want to take out a car in the left lane. In any turn, the rear wheels will follow a track inside the path of the front wheels - remember this all the time and watch for it. The bus driver instructors like to teach "rocking and rolling", which means the driver should (and will) always be leaning forwards and back and looking side to side to check mirrors and clearances on both sides. Even in a left turn at an intersection, it's better to pull straight forward into the intersection then turn instead of making a long sweeping turn.

As Rwnielsen said, allow extra room and learn about air brakes if you have those. Air brakes are great, but they have some quirks. First, watch some safety videos on how to check the air brake system before you drive. While driving, keep in mind that air brakes respond just a fraction of a second slower than hydraulic brakes. Don't ever pump air brakes...you can lose air pressure faster than the system can recover.

Think ahead and don't get into a situation where you cannot turn around or back out comfortably. Think really big ass bus all the time! And while doing so, you'll be smiling and having a blast...enjoy!
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Old 01-06-2021, 07:16 AM   #4
Bus Crazy
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Virginia
Posts: 1,900
Year: 1971
Coachwork: Wayne
Chassis: International Loadstar 1700
Engine: 345 international V-8
All great advice I would add that if you can find a parking lot nearby once you get the bus, practice there. It might take a little getting used to using mirrors so best to do that where you can stop and check what you think you see, without horns blowing behind you trying to get you moving.
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Old 01-06-2021, 07:49 AM   #5
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Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 4,578
Year: 2003
Coachwork: International
Chassis: CE 300
Engine: DT466e
Rated Cap: 65C-43A
Get a Bluefire gadget and a tablet before you travel to pick up the bus (you get a big discount if you use the code "AMAZON" when you buy direct from Bluefire). If anything starts to overheat, pull over (it seems like many of the stories people have of blowing their engines involve continuing to run them after there was obviously a problem).
Rusty 87 build thread
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Old 01-07-2021, 01:44 AM   #6
Bus Geek
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 3,829
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas Built Bus
Chassis: Freightliner FS65
Engine: Caterpillar 3126E Diesel
Rated Cap: 71 Passenger- 30,000 lbs.
You can learn a lot from reading a few of the threads Cheese_Waggon has posted. Here is one on a safety pre-check.

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Old 01-07-2021, 02:31 AM   #7
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Join Date: Dec 2020
Location: Bay area
Posts: 106
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Collins
Chassis: Bantam
Engine: International T444
Rated Cap: 16?
Go rent a 24 foot U-Haul, get the top insurance option and go drive it, your bus will likely have better visibility.
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Old 01-07-2021, 08:03 PM   #8
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Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: New Orleans
Posts: 240
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas
Engine: 3126b 210hp
Rated Cap: 48
All the advice I got was:

Easy on the brakes and wide turns.

I pulled right out on a hilly twisty state hwy in VA.
No practice. WhooHoo!

Signal for a lane change, start moving over a little bit and watch the cars scatter. You are gonna love it!

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Old 01-07-2021, 08:57 PM   #9
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 176
This comes from a school bus driver (My full time job)
All Good advice so far
First rule put on that seat belt!! .
Air brakes are powerful enough to throw you out of seat if you were turning left at the same time.
Adjust the mirrors correctly. The sides of the bus in that mirror picture should only be less that 10% You want to watch out for the other things in the mirrors.
Trust the picture in the mirror.
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Old 01-13-2021, 12:15 PM   #10
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Idaho
Posts: 19
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000
Engine: Cummins 5.9/Allison MD3060
Really good advice so far. One thing to add; have fun. It's entertaining driving a monster of a vehicle once you're past the fear. I put a bunch of miles on mine last weekend after it had been sitting for a long while, I forgot how fun it is.
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