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Author Topic: Calling all newbies - long timers as well.  (Read 3754 times)
paul102a3
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« on: August 28, 2009, 05:54:56 PM »

I thought I would share some experiences I have had with the brakes of my bus.

I started a topic a while back about problems I was having with the parking brakes of my bus. I received many replies, suggestions etc about the situation but I decided to take the bus to a shop to have the brakes inspected rather than do the work myself.

If you will allow me, let me set the stage. This is our very first bus and while I have driven all types of vehicles in my time, I had never owned nor driven any vehicle with air brakes (well I did run a crane with air brakes for many years but the top speed was 2-3 mph so I don't count that).

Prior to purchasing the bus, I took it to a "bus" shop for a full day and had the entire running gear inspected. Brakes, power steering, airbags, kingpins, radius rod bushings, sway bars bushings, on and on. I received for my hard earned dollar a three page report stating any items that were in need of immediate attention, items that would need attention sometime in the near future, and a list of all the items that were in good service. 

After the purchase, I returned to the shop and had all the immediate need items replaced. At the same time I replaced all oils and filters.

One item that needed immediate attention was the curb side front brake. It seems one of the nuts that hold the can to its bracket was missing and had been for some time. The nut was replaced and the rest of the brakes were “adjusted”. 

Since my purchase of the bus in April, I have added 2,181 to the odometer. All the while I am thinking the brakes are fine and working the way they should be. The bus seemed to stop just fine considering it is about 47,000 pounds. The only complaint I had with the brakes was that the steers shuddered in reverse. Like all newbies, I searched the archives and found that this is a common complaint. Like others, the shudder/chatter only occurred for a few feet and then went away.

As stated above, I decided to take the bus to a shop to have the brakes inspected. I picked the bus up today and I can not get over the difference in the brakes. 

Yes, the drive axle shoes needed to be replaced as they were worn to 1/16th of an inch. However, the big difference has been in the correct adjustment of the slack adjusters on all six wheels. When leaving the shop, you go a short distance before coming to a traffic light. As I approached the light it turned red so I stepped on the brakes like I used to and thank god my wife and I were both wearing seatbelts because I felt like we going to be launched through the windshield. When we came to the next traffic light, I used a much more gentle application of the brakes and the bus still stopped faster and shorter than it ever has. A nice side benefit is that brake peddle travel has been cut in half.

Once we got home and disconnected the toad, I had to park the bus in my driveway. Like most, this requires a fair amount of backing and filling and much to my surprise and delight, there was not a squeak, shudder or chatter from the brakes when backing up. Not only am I happy about that lack of noise, so are my neighbors.

To end this story, I would strongly suggest that all newbies drive another bus similar to yours that has properly adjusted brakes so there is some comparison.

Had I taken the time to drive a similar bus in good repair myself, I would have known there was a something wrong even though the bus was given a clean bill of health. It is rather annoying that the original shop did not pick up on the brake problems and it is rather scary that I have been driving around with brakes in such a poor state of adjustment.

I can guarantee everyone; I will learn to check the adjustment of the brakes myself and will be very diligent about maintaining their functionality. The bus is so much nicer to drive knowing I can stop on a dime (OK maybe a quarter).

I hope this helps other newbies.

Paul
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2001 Prevost XL II
John316
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« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2009, 07:18:37 PM »

Paul, I know what you mean.

We can stop on a dime, with our Jakes, Retarder, and service brakes (especially helpful in heavy traffic). Having good brakes makes a huge difference.

Thanks for the post.

God bless,

John
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Dreamscape
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« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2009, 07:36:25 PM »

Paul,

Very well written documented post! Isn't it great to have great brakes!

Thanks,

Paul
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Becky and Paul Lawry, On The Road
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fraser8
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« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2009, 08:48:10 PM »

Good article, I agree sometimes you have to get a pro to do the base line. Nothing better than good brakes, second best is a engine that starts.....
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Fraser Field
Deroche, BC, Canada
Where the milk cows out number the people, but they can't vote
1972 Prevost, Detroit 8-71/740 Allison automatic, Jakes
Hobbies: restoring classic cars, www.oldambulance.com, arranging old car tours: www.coasters2010.com, www.canadiancoasters.ca
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SmoothJazz
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« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2009, 08:58:42 PM »

Great post, so many people don't know what to expect in braking power when it comes to a bus. Take all precautions.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2009, 09:00:35 PM by SmoothJazz » Logged
luvrbus
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« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2009, 09:16:27 PM »

This is a great post but I am having trouble with why the rear shoes wore thin and needed replacing and not the tags or steers,bus brakes don't wear that way without a problem in the past or someone replaced the tag and steers without replacing the rear and I doubt that     


good luck
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SmoothJazz
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« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2009, 09:29:34 PM »

Clifford,

You would be surprised at what maintenance is done on brakes. In dealing with many of the bus operators over the years, I have found that many of their mechanics don't have a clue when it comes to brake maintenance let alone the rest of the bus. I have no doubt that someone may have replaced the fronts and tags without replacing the rears. It happens all of the time. The sad thing is that it is always about time and money; however, everybody always has the time and money to go back and do it right the second time around which is usually double the cost.
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Melbo
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« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2009, 09:54:12 PM »

Thanks for this Post

When I got our bus it stopped when I pressed on the brakes pedal and I thought no more about it.

After 10 thousand miles I had them professionally adjusted.

WOW what a difference.

I now adjust them myself on  a regular basis -- every 5 thousand mile or so and check the shoes.

An important item to do the maintenance on.

Melbo
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If it won't go FORCE it ---- if it breaks it needed to be replaced anyway
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« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2009, 09:59:54 PM »

What business entity will spend money on an asset it is planning to dispose of?

Add in that the asset is in the hands of the second or third tier business entity that is only in business on price point, and a healthy bit of mojo with no substance behind it....

All bets are off on the condition or maintenance or parts or adjustments or anything to do with the coach when a busnut finally gets their hands on it.

A few years back on one of the boards, there was a coach that had a tractor trailer bobtail proportioning valve installed as the relay valve on the drive axles...needless to say it was providing bobtail pressure to the brakes, not loaded pressure...in other words only a small percentage of the braking force needed was being called for by this completely different looking valve, used in completely the wrong application, and would have had ports in the valve that required hoses attached, not have hoses attached!

Sad part is, it made the brake mechanicals move, so who would know?

Never trust anything about your coach until you have proven it innocent by way of your own research. Hired guns cannot be trusted, this thread being the most recent one to show us that.

happy coaching!
buswarrior
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John316
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« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2009, 05:16:08 AM »

I think that this should be an article in the BCM. What do you think Mike? Paul already has it written up....

God bless,

John
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luvrbus
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« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2009, 05:35:41 AM »

I guess I am naive about the maintenance on some buses.
When I bought my Eagle years ago in 1990 I bought it sight unseen from Vanderhoff and Sons with 300,000 total miles with no outside inspection.
I was told they would run it through the shop and check everything and even replace any rusted parts it has been a great bus with no problems with only the ones I created.
 
They delivered the bus with the option if I didn't like the bus tell his driver to bring it back home and keep my check times have changed I guess  but buying from Vanderhoff was a good experience for me anyway so good a friend bought one from him.
 I bought a H-41 repo Prevost to resale  2 years ago from a bank in Texas and that was a different story nothing on it that was not wore out


good luck
« Last Edit: August 29, 2009, 06:06:42 AM by luvrbus » Logged

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Doug1968
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« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2009, 05:37:17 AM »

Paul,

I have a 102A3 I purchased about a year ago. I too had it inspected by a local Detroit shop and I received a sheet noting items they thought should be fixed. Had two brake hoses replaced, an oil leak at the breather fixed, clutch adjusted, but not much more. They told me the brakes were near 50% and that it looked like the drums had been replaced on the last brake job.

No where on my sheet does it say they adjusted the brakes?

I'm curious what you had done to the brakes and what the cost was? I probably should take this bus and have someone check the adjustment to make sure things are correct. Maybe find a way to get under the bus and complete the adjustment myself?

Curious to know what you had done and the cost?

Thanks, I enjoy reading these stories.

Doug
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bevans6
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« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2009, 06:22:40 AM »

When I bought my bus several months ago, the deal was a fresh brake job at a well respected local trucking company.  They replaced all the shoes, and adjusted the brakes.  I thought it was fine when I drove it  a few times, then as part of my learning about brakes adventure I learned how to adjust manual slack adjusters.  I should have been doing the full inspection all along - my big mistake - the front slack adjusters were "adjusted" beyond the available travel of the brake cans and the front brakes were not being applied at all.  obviously five minutes later they were adjusted properly.

The same thing may have happened to your bus, and I can really see the rear shoes wearing a lot faster than normal if there are no front brakes.

Brian
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luvrbus
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« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2009, 06:43:52 AM »

I still can not see how a rear would wear out faster than the others to get that kind of wear would come from adjusting the rear only and never touching the others or no air getting to the tag or steer circuit and that happens more often than you think when a relay valve goes bad something is wrong with this picture to me.  
Brake pods have a limited amount of throw


good luck
« Last Edit: August 29, 2009, 06:48:54 AM by luvrbus » Logged

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paul102a3
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« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2009, 06:53:07 AM »

Doug,

The shop inspected all the brakes on the bus then called to give me a run down of what they discovered. The inspection revealed front and tag brakes out of adjustment and worn shoes on the drive axle. They also noted that there was a small amount of oil on the drivers side rear shoes. In round numbers, the shop quoted around $1,500 to all the work. They of coarse did the obligatory, it could be higher if you need new drums or additional parts.

After giving the go ahead, they pulled and inspected the drive axle drums and found them to be in good shape. They replaced the oil seals on both sides and then installed new shoes and brake springs. They then adjusted the brakes on all wheels and that was that.

Final tally was $717 for parts, $855 for the labor, and $70 for misc shop supplies. Don't you love that line item "shop supplies"? I always wonder if that includes the gatoraid, cigarettes, or whatever!

It was not cheap but what price do you put on the safety of yourself and others.
  
After watching the shop do the adjustment on the front brakes, it is something I would feel comfortable doing from now on. Also, Dreamscape posted a nice YouTube video of adjusting the slack adjusters.

My original thoughts were to adjust the brakes myself. After thinking about, I elected to take the bus to a shop to make sure everything else was in good shape. No sense in adjusting the brakes if something else was bad. In the end, it was the right thing for me.

The point of my original post was that we newbies would be a lot better off if we had a solid frame of reference as to what is right or normal vs wrong and abnormal. Just because a shop says things are fine does not mean they really are. I find myself thinking as I drive along the roadways, is that clunk normal, is the free play in the steering normal for the age and milage of my bus, etc.

As I write this, I am thinking this might be a good topic for HTRs ideas on workshops?

OK, time to get off the soapbox.
  
BTW, thanks to all for the positive feedback. If one person benefits from this post then my day has been made.

Paul
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2001 Prevost XL II
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