School Bus 101, long technical post

Bikes, trikes, personal mobility and mutant vehicles - this is the place to discuss general transportation issues. For ride and RV shares, please go to the year-specific Share Resources board.

Postby CapSmashy » Fri Mar 25, 2011 7:25 pm

I know this has been mentioned somewhere in this thread, but repairs for a large vehicle, like a school bus, are exponentially more expensive than a traditional auto.

We just got Charon home from the shop.

New pressure line to fix transmission leak (we blew out 5.5. gallons of fluid on the trip home last year), new shoes and 2 new drums for the brake system, rebuild the turbo and a complete engine diagnostic ran us $4200 for parts and labor.

The brake job was $2k all by itself.
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Postby Elliot » Fri Mar 25, 2011 8:00 pm

I have never understood why brake jobs are so expensive. The parts are crude and the labor is simple. Definitely look for thick brake linings when you shop for a bus. New linings are 1/2 inch thick or more. They are completely worn out at 1/4 inch.
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Postby Tiahaar » Sat Mar 26, 2011 1:11 am

Wow CapSmashy that IS an expensive brake job! How much of that was labor? Elliot how's your bus doing?

On the plus side busses are (relatively) easily repairable, with components accessible for the most part and meant to be serviced.

Since the thread got bumped my latest bus escapade was getting the engine started for its 6 month checkout. The rear engine control box just emmited a weak zzzzzzttt when the starter button was pressed. Upon opening it was discovered that the main positive terminal lug had dissolved into a green/blue copper(phosphate, sulfate?)-salt mess. The winter rains had seeped in and combined with the playa in there to set up a nice corrosion reaction. Sigh. Disconnecting the batteries between trips would prevent that, as would finding and sealing the leaks. I put in a new lug and terminal and things are fine again, engine started right up and sounded ready to roll the rig to the playa again.
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Postby Elliot » Sat Mar 26, 2011 7:30 am

:D
Nothing new with my "Millicent". She is ready to roll anytime. Still needs paint, and still needs the rest of the interior and two more tanks, and water heating, but the bus itself is tip-top, thanks.
:D
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Postby CapSmashy » Sat Mar 26, 2011 8:14 am

Almost half of the cost on the brakes were the 2 new front drums. We probably killed them when we made the run down into Laughlin in 09.

The difference in the brakes was pretty substantial when I drove it home last night. I felt like I could stop on a dime (although I know I can't) with no fade.
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Postby unjonharley » Sat Mar 26, 2011 8:29 am

Elliot wrote::D
Nothing new with my "Millicent". She is ready to roll anytime. Still needs paint, and still needs the rest of the interior and two more tanks, and water heating, but the bus itself is tip-top, thanks.
:D


I have a Coleman camp gas demand water heater. Would that work in a bus?

The pressure slows when heating.. So I have a (four D cell ) shower pump out of a bucket..

The heater is about the size of a suitcase. Has a rechargable starter, battery..

Damn, going to get the kid to show me how to post pictures..
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Postby Elliot » Sat Mar 26, 2011 9:23 am

We probably killed them when we made the run down into Laughlin in 09.


This is a vital point to learn for anyone who starts driving a bus or any other large vehicle. Downhills are dangerous! Long steep downhills must be respected and treated with extreme caution. (My former employer had an 18-wheeler in the Laughlin run-away vehicle gravel trap a few years ago. Guess who got to repossess the truck from the fired driver!)

Jon, I'd like to hear more about the heater. Hit e-mail for me and you can simply attach pictures.
:D
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Postby unjonharley » Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:34 am

Elliot wrote:
We probably killed them when we made the run down into Laughlin in 09.


This is a vital point to learn for anyone who starts driving a bus or any other large vehicle. Downhills are dangerous! Long steep downhills must be respected and treated with extreme caution. (My former employer had an 18-wheeler in the Laughlin run-away vehicle gravel trap a few years ago. Guess who got to repossess the truck from the fired driver!)

Jon, I'd like to hear more about the heater. Hit e-mail for me and you can simply attach pictures.
:D


Elliot, Search "Coleman water heater on demand" Scroll to Coleman . It's Model #2300B700.. be sure to use the word "demand" in your search.. I have both the water jug and hose conecters.. Also have the shower head but don't care for it.. I liked to make up the water to temp in a bucket and use a (4 D cell) shower pump with head..That's a "Stanport" I picked up at a BiMart.

Was thinking of makeing up the shower water in a tank I could pressureize.. Plastic garden sprayers pumps melt/distort at a very low tempature.. Could plumb one of those portable air tanks..
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Postby Elliot » Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:35 pm

:D
Jon, that's a nice unit, but I wonder if I could plumb it into the bus and use the bus' pump? However, I have also already bought an electric on-demand heater, which I believe my EU3000 will power. And last year, we ran the EU3000 24/7 for the refrigerator. Many options!

Mind you, we have an operational shower in the bus -- but only cool water. Works out sort'a OK on the Playa.
:D
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Postby unjonharley » Tue Mar 29, 2011 9:02 am

Elliot wrote::D
Jon, that's a nice unit, but I wonder if I could plumb it into the bus and use the bus' pump? However, I have also already bought an electric on-demand heater, which I believe my EU3000 will power. And last year, we ran the EU3000 24/7 for the refrigerator. Many options!

Mind you, we have an operational shower in the bus -- but only cool water. Works out sort'a OK on the Playa.
:D


Electric takes a hell of a lot of juice.. I have a (gas) pressure converter for the water heater and a Mr.Heater.. To convert from the small throw away bottles to tank.. DO NOT REFILL THOSE THROW AWAY BOTTLES This the voice of experence speaking to you..

I used a demand heater (gas) in disaster restoration for years.. The damn thing could not keep up pressure.. That's where I went to the holding bucket/tank and pump..

Woke this morning thinking about a hot water job I worked years ago.. We were called out to the new hi priced home built along a roaring river.. When we walked into the living room it look like it had been bombed.. It had been.. The fire place stone were from the river.. I call them goatheads. What most people do not know is the stones have water in then.. When heated , the water turns to "live" steam.. Many have learned the hard way camping along a river..

I use a boxwood stove to heat the shop.. I put a bucket of rocks and water on top.. Stoke the stove enough to heat the water and stones,, Then the bucket keeps the small room warm for a time.. That might work for a Gypy caravan I want to build.. Could have heat and hot water..

Watched a movie that was set in the EU.. The shower had a foot pump in the floor.. Thought that was interesting..
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Postby ygmir » Tue Mar 29, 2011 9:26 am

Looneytune uses the propane camp shower in his bus, too.

I agree with UJH about electrically heating anything...super power draw.
the propane camp shower heaters, with a small 12v pump, or gravity, work dang good.
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Postby Elliot » Tue Mar 29, 2011 10:19 am

:D
Yes, I agree that electric resistance heating draws a lot of Watts. But the heater I picked up some time ago is a tiny one intended to screw in place like a shower head - between the "neck" and the shower head. I calculated the EU3000 could do it. After all, we don't need really hot water, we just need to take the chill off.
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Postby unjonharley » Tue Mar 29, 2011 12:05 pm

Elliot wrote::D
Yes, I agree that electric resistance heating draws a lot of Watts. But the heater I picked up some time ago is a tiny one intended to screw in place like a shower head - between the "neck" and the shower head. I calculated the EU3000 could do it. After all, we don't need really hot water, we just need to take the chill off.


Think I'll dig that heater out, clean it up and sell it for BM money.. The battery must be shot by now. I just know it's in the bottom back of the shed..
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Postby Turnip » Sat Apr 02, 2011 10:38 am

Bought a huge cargo van/short bus combo yesterday!
Very excited. See you with my Burner Mobile in a few months. :twisted:
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Postby Packoderm » Sat Apr 02, 2011 1:09 pm

What is your game plan if your bus breaks down 30 miles from BRC? Is there somebody you can call to help you out without getting raped? My motorhome broke down last year about 30 miles from the gate. The tow truck driver charged me $450.00, but he towed me the 6 hours through the stop and go traffic to our campsite. I replaced the clutch myself at camp and drove home. What would be your game plan if, say, your transmission goes out on your way in?
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Postby Elliot » Sat Apr 02, 2011 3:06 pm

:D
Plan should include spare cash and credit card. In 2007, when we were ready to return to Defaultia, Millicent's starter conked out. I removed it, hitched a ride to Reno, bought new starter (about $450, again), rented a car, rented a motel room; next morning bought fresh produce and dairy for campmates, returned to Playa and installed starter. Returned rental car on the way back. :lol:
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Postby Turnip » Sat Apr 02, 2011 7:51 pm

Packoderm wrote:What is your game plan if your bus breaks down 30 miles from BRC? Is there somebody you can call to help you out without getting raped? My motorhome broke down last year about 30 miles from the gate. The tow truck driver charged me $450.00, but he towed me the 6 hours through the stop and go traffic to our campsite. I replaced the clutch myself at camp and drove home. What would be your game plan if, say, your transmission goes out on your way in?


Shouldn't you be asking everyone this?
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Postby CapSmashy » Sun Apr 03, 2011 8:30 am

Packoderm wrote:What is your game plan if your bus breaks down 30 miles from BRC? Is there somebody you can call to help you out without getting raped? My motorhome broke down last year about 30 miles from the gate. The tow truck driver charged me $450.00, but he towed me the 6 hours through the stop and go traffic to our campsite. I replaced the clutch myself at camp and drove home. What would be your game plan if, say, your transmission goes out on your way in?


Good Sam Club Platinum Emergency Road Service Membership.

Bus gets towed to a service facility and we check into a hotel and get reimbursed via trip interruption insurance.
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Postby Super Evil Brian » Sun Apr 03, 2011 8:59 am

Turnip wrote:
Packoderm wrote:What is your game plan if your bus breaks down 30 miles from BRC? Is there somebody you can call to help you out without getting raped? My motorhome broke down last year about 30 miles from the gate. The tow truck driver charged me $450.00, but he towed me the 6 hours through the stop and go traffic to our campsite. I replaced the clutch myself at camp and drove home. What would be your game plan if, say, your transmission goes out on your way in?


Shouldn't you be asking everyone this?


Good question. All sorts of wierd shit can happen and probably does.
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Postby CapSmashy » Sun Apr 03, 2011 9:28 am

Super Evil Brian wrote:Good question. All sorts of wierd shit can happen and probably does.


It is actually pretty shocking how many people you meet that do not have any kind of contingency plan for anything that might come out and throw them a curveball.

From simple backup plans like having a backup coffee maker in the garage for when the one on the counter dies to not having even a rudimentary plan of action for the Zombie Apocalypse.
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Postby Packoderm » Sun Apr 03, 2011 9:41 am

CapSmashy wrote:
Super Evil Brian wrote:Good question. All sorts of wierd shit can happen and probably does.


It is actually pretty shocking how many people you meet that do not have any kind of contingency plan for anything that might come out and throw them a curveball.

From simple backup plans like having a backup coffee maker in the garage for when the one on the counter dies to not having even a rudimentary plan of action for the Zombie Apocalypse.


There have been times in my life when I've indeed had backup plans, and there have been other times in my life when I should just stop living altogether because the financial situation becomes so bad. The Good Sam insurance seems reassuring, and I imagine AAA would be good too.
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Postby Freesponge » Tue Apr 05, 2011 11:12 am

[quote="Super Evil Brian"][quote="Turnip"][quote="Packoderm"]What is your game plan if your bus breaks down 30 miles from BRC? Is there somebody you can call to help you out without getting raped? My motorhome broke down last year about 30 miles from the gate. The tow truck driver charged me $450.00, but he towed me the 6 hours through the stop and go traffic to our campsite. I replaced the clutch myself at camp and drove home. What would be your game plan if, say, your transmission goes out on your way in?[/quote]

Shouldn't you be asking [i]everyone[/i] this?[/quote]

Good question. All sorts of wierd shit can happen and probably does.[/quote]

My contingency relies heavily in my rig being in tip top shape before I leave and the best AAA coverage available. Onsite repairs would be difficult on this bus since everything is so big. We were planning on doing the entire trip in one long haul since the rig is actually designed for that sort of thing and we have 3 drivers and 1 backup. I would probably have to get the bus towed to Reno though because performing repairs on the playa would be extremely difficult.
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Postby MyDearFriend » Sat May 14, 2011 2:09 pm

Bumped, for Foxfur. And, because this is so cool. 8)
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Postby Elliot » Sat May 14, 2011 3:38 pm

:D
Thank you. Yes, I dare say there is a good bit of information in my original post here. :D
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Postby MyDearFriend » Sat May 14, 2011 3:48 pm

Information, yes, and a whole 'nother universe filled with adventures...

8) 8) 8)
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Postby FIGJAM » Sat May 14, 2011 3:56 pm

Elliot has a 2 ton trike!!!

I did'nt even know he drove truck.
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Postby Elliot » Sat May 14, 2011 4:23 pm

:D
Alas, The Two Ton Tricycle does not currently exist. Only the front wheel and some random parts are left. I have the fake seat in my house, serving as a room divider. But I do hope to rebuild it one day. A bit lighter. :lol:

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Postby aknod » Wed May 18, 2011 2:03 pm

I gotta bump this post too. Elliot, you inspired me to buy a bus and take it to the burn last year. It's a 1984 Thomas pusher we call Philip, or the Stickerbus, or Her Majesty's Johnson. I put three bunks and a wall in the back third, and 4 captain's chairs out of a couple of old Plymouth voyagers in for seating. We're still looking for more stickers to cover the outside of it, the address is on the website in my sig if anyone is interested in sending some.

I need to get an oil change. Generally, I don't have a problem doing these at home for my other vehicles, but I don't want to mess with 5 gallons of used oil, and I also need to have a mechanic that knows what they are doing give it a once-over. How have others handled this? I'm in the Seattle area, but haven't found somewhere to get the oil changed. I thought about showing up at Jiffy Lube, but somehow I doubt that's going to work.
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Postby Elliot » Wed May 18, 2011 3:10 pm

:D
Glad to hear it is working out for you! A Thomas pusher is a good bus. For servicing that you cannot do yourself, you go to a truck shop -- where the 18-wheelers go. Just look in the Yellow Pages. You will find truck brand dealers, like Peterbilt and Freightliner. And you will find engine brand dealers like Cummins and Caterpillar. And you will find unaffiliated shops, including truck stops like Petro, Pilot, TA (Truckstops of America) and independents.

It might be worth the drive out to exit 34 on I-90, where there is a TA. I have good experience with them.

As with cars, the name brand dealers tend to cost most and have the best skilled mechanics. For oil change and routine inspection, the independents are fine. Have them check your brake adjustments while they are under there.
:D
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Postby knowmad » Thu May 19, 2011 10:15 am

aknod wrote:I gotta bump this post too. Elliot, you inspired me to buy a bus and take it to the burn last year. It's a 1984 Thomas pusher we call Philip, or the Stickerbus, or Her Majesty's Johnson. I put three bunks and a wall in the back third, and 4 captain's chairs out of a couple of old Plymouth voyagers in for seating. We're still looking for more stickers to cover the outside of it, the address is on the website in my sig if anyone is interested in sending some.

I need to get an oil change. Generally, I don't have a problem doing these at home for my other vehicles, but I don't want to mess with 5 gallons of used oil, and I also need to have a mechanic that knows what they are doing give it a once-over. How have others handled this? I'm in the Seattle area, but haven't found somewhere to get the oil changed. I thought about showing up at Jiffy Lube, but somehow I doubt that's going to work.


Edited to acknowledged Eliots reply and add that That TA on I90 is good but their quote for oil, breaks and Power steering overhaul was way to much, I outsourced the oil, and Steering talked myself into doing the breaks myself, not tough. and it made me feel a bit more confident in my own wrench turning.

Ak! I also am from the soviet of Washington. greetings,
I took Betsy Duck ('82 Chevy, Thomas upfront) to Jiffy lube and like you It was to safely deal with mess and because they detergent flushed her block, lubed, and lucas oil treatment (<- stuff is awesome) The key factor is to find a Jiffy that has a pit, and a tall entrance.
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