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Old 06-21-2022, 10:40 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Eastern (US) mountains

Ok this thread is for anyone who has traveled up and down the eastern United States preferably with an at545. I知 making a trip in 3 weeks from central SC to central CT and back. Does anybody have any experience driving on I-77 and I-81 along this route with an at545. I知 a little nervous about the Fancy gap area and the Shenandoah valley. I do have a cooler but it痴 mostly the downhills I知 worried about. I知 almost tempted to suck up the tolls and take 95 but I really hate 95. Any input would be great. Thank you

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Old 06-21-2022, 12:50 PM   #2
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Transmission temperature. Cook it and that will kill it. Those hills suck. I did a lot of them in third and 35 mph.

William
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Old 06-21-2022, 01:02 PM   #3
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How about 95 to 64 to 81?

That way you avoid the suck-face 77 AND suck-face DC and Baltimore.

Gee, was I too harsh??? NAH!!!
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Old 06-21-2022, 01:44 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by magnakansas View Post
Transmission temperature. Cook it and that will kill it. Those hills suck. I did a lot of them in third and 35 mph.

William
I do have a cooler that will keep the uphill in check. Im more worried about the downhill. The brakes on my bus are pretty close to new but im worried about coming back down those specific hills with a 545.
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Old 06-21-2022, 01:46 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Oldyeller View Post
How about 95 to 64 to 81?

That way you avoid the suck-face 77 AND suck-face DC and Baltimore.

Gee, was I too harsh??? NAH!!!
I have never taken that route, how are the hills? and those cities along with NYC is why i hate taking 95 lol.
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Old 06-21-2022, 02:49 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Kstjarre View Post
I have never taken that route, how are the hills? and those cities along with NYC is why i hate taking 95 lol.
I can't answer that question relative to a bus but I suspect it would be less challenging than the sections of 77 you're talking about. I've done a lot of the route you'd be looking at to get to CT and there's not much north of Staunton (81) that should be that much of an issue. Of course you realize unless you're talking about the plains of Kansas, there will always be hills. In your shoes, if I were worried about hills, I'd consider 81 to 78 east then 33 north to 80, through the Delaware Water Gap to 287 north, then 87, the New York thruway. Not sure where you're going in CT but the route I mentioned would skirt a lot of the traffic near NYC and that's what I do, avoid traffic.

Perhaps one or more of the long haul professional drivers that are on here will provide better information. I'd be interested to hear what they have to say. I know you could also take 81 all the way up to 84 but that's going to put you nearer to the Catskills, plus 87 has a lot of ways to go east just over the NY/NJ border.
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Old 06-21-2022, 02:56 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Oldyeller View Post
I can't answer that question relative to a bus but I suspect it would be less challenging than the sections of 77 you're talking about. I've done a lot of the route you'd be looking at to get to CT and there's not much north of Staunton (81) that should be that much of an issue. Of course you realize unless you're talking about the plains of Kansas, there will always be hills. In your shoes, if I were worried about hills, I'd consider 81 to 78 east then 33 north to 80, through the Delaware Water Gap to 287 north, then 87, the New York thruway. Not sure where you're going in CT but the route I mentioned would skirt a lot of the traffic near NYC and that's what I do, avoid traffic.

Perhaps one or more of the long haul professional drivers that are on here will provide better information. I'd be interested to hear what they have to say. I know you could also take 81 all the way up to 84 but that's going to put you nearer to the Catskills, plus 87 has a lot of ways to go east just over the NY/NJ border.
Thank you for the input. I usually go 77 to 81 to 84 by car and come over the newburg bridge in new york then follow 84 all the way to Waterbury ct. Im mainly looking to avoid the huge mountains and valleys like fancy gap and Shenandoah valley area.
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Old 06-21-2022, 03:19 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Kstjarre View Post
Thank you for the input. I usually go 77 to 81 to 84 by car and come over the newburg bridge in new york then follow 84 all the way to Waterbury ct. Im mainly looking to avoid the huge mountains and valleys like fancy gap and Shenandoah valley area.
Yea, you could certainly do that but I don't like going up through Scranton Wilkes-Barre, more suck-face. Also you end up running across the ridges on 84, more hills, which you might not notice in a car but, if you're concerned about hills in the bus, perhaps a concern.

To your point, I think you'll hit more hills running across 84 than running across 64 - but I'm not certain about that. When I ran 64 I was pulling a 3000 trailer behind my Expedition and nothing set off alarms. On the other hand, I decided, on the same trip (stupid decision) to take 68 (east to west) across the north of West Virginia . . . yea . . . not a good decision, a suck-face decision.
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Old 06-21-2022, 06:34 PM   #9
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I ran 2 busses all over those mountains with AT545's... neither bus has an AT545 anymore... you can go downhill in a 545... drop it to 3rd and keep the speed down and you will be fine... stab and go.... when the speed gets up a bit stab the brakes a bit firmly and drop your speed 5 MPH then let off.. dont ride the pedal lightly.. the hard and off methods allow the heat to distribute and dissipate from the drums (or discs if you have hydraulic).
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Old 06-21-2022, 09:02 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
I ran 2 busses all over those mountains with AT545's... neither bus has an AT545 anymore... you can go downhill in a 545... drop it to 3rd and keep the speed down and you will be fine... stab and go.... when the speed gets up a bit stab the brakes a bit firmly and drop your speed 5 MPH then let off.. dont ride the pedal lightly.. the hard and off methods allow the heat to distribute and dissipate from the drums (or discs if you have hydraulic).
I have air brakes, I plan on the stab method if I take that route but there are some decent hills that way, especially coming south from va back into nc. Still a little nerve wracking.
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Old 06-22-2022, 06:45 AM   #11
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stay slow.. if you are concerned about overheating the trans or the brakes then keep the speeds down.. the drop off I77 in virginia / NC ive run quite a few times.. also done the similar route when i was coming down I think 24? maybe i was on 40.. its been a ltitle while..



hang out in the right lane, flashers on, 3rd or even 2nd gear going up.. the lower the gear ratio the easier it is on the transmission as you likely wont be florred on the engine throttle going up so the Torque converter doesnt make as much heat..



going over if you start out slow and keep it slow or slowly allow yourself to gain speed as you descend.. again 2nd or 3rd gear.. if your bus is geared exteremely low maybe youll get decent engine braking in 4th but I doubt it..



warm brakes dissipate more energy than cold brakes that are never used.. thus why you stab and go.. you make a but of heat on the drums fast then give it a chance to disperse.. if you can get to the bottom and never touch your brakes oir did very little then you know that your transmission and engine did all the work..



this is a nice descent like others along that route but its not a crazy one.. I ran my 40 year old superior from oregon to ohio over the cascades with an original AT540, gasoline engine(no engine braking).. i got the trans hot on the way up but never once felt like I was losing control or overheating the brakes going down those grades..


where people get in trouble is when they get in a hurry.. trying to run with the traffic or make time and then they realize there are some tight curves so they are on the brakes and have to slow their rig down a huge amount to negotiate the curve.. so then the brakes are way hot for the next one...



keeping it under control you are never in a "panic-slowdown" situation.. so if you do need to drop a few MPH you can do it because you arent needing to drop down 20 in a short period of time..



the other way people get in trouble is riding the brake.. this takes away a lot of the air current around the drum and keeps the pad / drum hot.. when you stab and go.. you make a concentrated amount of heat then when you let off there is an air current around the drum which cools that and the shoe..



you got this...
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Old 06-22-2022, 07:25 AM   #12
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
stay slow.. if you are concerned about overheating the trans or the brakes then keep the speeds down.. the drop off I77 in virginia / NC ive run quite a few times.. also done the similar route when i was coming down I think 24? maybe i was on 40.. its been a ltitle while..



hang out in the right lane, flashers on, 3rd or even 2nd gear going up.. the lower the gear ratio the easier it is on the transmission as you likely wont be florred on the engine throttle going up so the Torque converter doesnt make as much heat..



going over if you start out slow and keep it slow or slowly allow yourself to gain speed as you descend.. again 2nd or 3rd gear.. if your bus is geared exteremely low maybe youll get decent engine braking in 4th but I doubt it..



warm brakes dissipate more energy than cold brakes that are never used.. thus why you stab and go.. you make a but of heat on the drums fast then give it a chance to disperse.. if you can get to the bottom and never touch your brakes oir did very little then you know that your transmission and engine did all the work..



this is a nice descent like others along that route but its not a crazy one.. I ran my 40 year old superior from oregon to ohio over the cascades with an original AT540, gasoline engine(no engine braking).. i got the trans hot on the way up but never once felt like I was losing control or overheating the brakes going down those grades..


where people get in trouble is when they get in a hurry.. trying to run with the traffic or make time and then they realize there are some tight curves so they are on the brakes and have to slow their rig down a huge amount to negotiate the curve.. so then the brakes are way hot for the next one...



keeping it under control you are never in a "panic-slowdown" situation.. so if you do need to drop a few MPH you can do it because you arent needing to drop down 20 in a short period of time..



the other way people get in trouble is riding the brake.. this takes away a lot of the air current around the drum and keeps the pad / drum hot.. when you stab and go.. you make a concentrated amount of heat then when you let off there is an air current around the drum which cools that and the shoe..



you got this...
This put me at ease a little more. I do have a cooler with a fan and a trans temp gauge along with a second coolant temp gauge I installed to keep an eye on things (never trust Navistar gauges). The pads have a lot of meat in them and the school district I got it from definatly kept up on things, all of the brake linkages have been freshly greased and hardware is in great shape.
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Old 06-22-2022, 09:10 AM   #13
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cadillackid, perhaps you would mention a little about air pressure management, seems like it might be appropriate given the discussion. I can't because I have no experience with air brakes but Kstjarre might benefit from it.
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Old 06-22-2022, 09:20 AM   #14
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The steepest grade I recall on I-77 was when you're hitting the very southern edge of VA heading into NC. I-77 has lots of lanes and typically you see all the semis in the far right lane going about 30 MPH or so on those grades, going up or down. There's a few grades in WVA too but nothing quite like this one in VA. In any case, when in doubt, follow a semi, gear down, and take it slow. My bus has a modern transmission and decent gearing so I didn't really have any issues on any of those grades, but I was very careful to be mindful of the grades and gear down as needed.

Long story short: drive slow, even if it seems slower than necessary, and hang with the truckers, and you'll be fine.
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Old 06-22-2022, 09:34 PM   #15
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great info in this thread thanks everyone!
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Old 06-23-2022, 09:09 AM   #16
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great info in this thread thanks everyone!
x2, I might go with the 77 to 81 route since it has the least amount of traffic.
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Old 06-23-2022, 09:15 AM   #17
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Another I-77 tip, if you get to Charlotte NC and hit some traffic, you can take your bus into the express lanes. The lanes are only restricted by axle count, and buses only have two axles. It's not super cheap, I went 7 miles to bypass traffic around Lake Norman and the bill I just received was $10.46.
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Old 06-23-2022, 11:27 AM   #18
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Another I-77 tip, if you get to Charlotte NC and hit some traffic, you can take your bus into the express lanes. The lanes are only restricted by axle count, and buses only have two axles. It's not super cheap, I went 7 miles to bypass traffic around Lake Norman and the bill I just received was $10.46.
Thanks for the tip, i didnt know busses could use that lane, i often use that lane in my pickup because that area is a constant mess especially in the summer.
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Old 06-23-2022, 12:18 PM   #19
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I try and hit charlotte at off-times.. the worst is northbound where you go from like 7 lanes down to 2 in a matter of 3 miles or so..
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Old 06-23-2022, 09:18 PM   #20
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If you need a place to over night, I'm about 10 miles east of 77
I offer 1/2 price to users of this web site. 30amp electric and water
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