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Author Topic: Calling all newbies - long timers as well.  (Read 3716 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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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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« 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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« 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
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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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« 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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« 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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« 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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« 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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« 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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« 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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« 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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« 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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luvrbus
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« Reply #15 on: August 29, 2009, 07:12:12 AM »

Doug, if you have doubts about your brakes and need help take it to Kaisers in Eugene he is not that far from you and will give you a accurate assessment about your brakes on what you need without ripping you off.
Dick is the best in the business bar none I drive over a 1000 miles to have the guy check my alignment and brakes    


good luck
« Last Edit: August 29, 2009, 10:46:37 AM by luvrbus » Logged

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paul102a3
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« Reply #16 on: August 29, 2009, 07:28:02 AM »

Luvrbus,

From a logical perspective, I agree with you. The only answer I have at this time is there is not a complete history on the maintenance of the bus so who knows what was done and when.

To your point of something else not working correctly thus causing the rear shoes to wear out sooner than the others, that may well be true. I can state that braking efficiency is dramatically improved, brake peddle movement is cut in half, there is no chatter when backing up which leads me to think/hope that rest of the system is relatively normal.

When faced with so many unknowns, sometimes it is best to set a baseline and monitor from there. I now have a baseline to work from so my new job is to monitor the brake lining thickness, slack adjusters, etc for any abnormal changes.


Paul
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luvrbus
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« Reply #17 on: August 29, 2009, 07:42:19 AM »

Paul, it's just me but I would keep a close eye on your brakes you know how to adjust the brakes now and if you find the larger brakes on the rear requiring more frequent adjustment than the tags or steers something is wrong they are design to wear the same.
If your guy installed bus brake lining you should come to a nice easy stop without sudden impact when applying your brakes.  




good luck and happy travels
« Last Edit: August 29, 2009, 07:59:19 AM by luvrbus » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: August 29, 2009, 09:14:34 AM »

Very good and informative posts here guys!

I'm not going to get in on the shoulda, coulda, woulda stuff!

But on the subject of;
Quote from: paul102a3
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!

As a former commercial garage owner (we closed our shop to the general public, and do not work on cars or anything but buses anymore. Regardless of whether belonging to us, another company, or friends {all bus nuts are friends!} we only work on buses now, and mostly just our own with an occasional stray coming thru!), I can assure you that there are many "shop supplies" that the average customer has no idea about!
Such as
brake & parts cleaner (about $3 a can and probably 4-6 cans used on one 6 hub brake job!)
shop towels
penetrating oil (WD-40, PB Blaster etc.)
shop light bulbs
electricity
air (air compressor)
water
and on and on and on!

In you case $70 sounds very reasonable as i've noticed most places these days are charging around 10% of labor costs for "shop supplies"!

FWIW
Grin  BK  Grin
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« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2009, 10:01:17 AM »

Yup, just pulling the wheels off, the number of rags/shop towels needed is considerable.

BK, do you have the cleaning service for your shop towels?

happy coaching!
buswarrior
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« Reply #20 on: August 29, 2009, 10:22:08 AM »

Driving other well maintained buses helps with knowing what good brakes should feel like. If you drive nothing but one bus all the time you will be less in tune with the slow degradation of the brakes. So regular inspections and adjustments are a good idea.
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« Reply #21 on: August 29, 2009, 10:28:55 AM »

Yup, just pulling the wheels off, the number of rags/shop towels needed is considerable.

BK, do you have the cleaning service for your shop towels?

happy coaching!
buswarrior

BW,
When the garage was uptown and we were open to the public (cars, P/Us, campers, etc.) we had a uniform service that did uniforms and towels.
But now we buy our own and make the occasional late night run to the laundry mat every so often.
But since I recently bought mom a new washer & dryer I am going to put the old ones in the shop where we can do a load a week or so and keep them from piling up so much in between trips to the laundry! Since that will be the only use of that washer/dryer we may just store them in it! (clean in the dryer and dirty in the washer!)
Grin  BK  Grin
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Busted Knuckle aka Bryce Gaston
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Grin Keep SMILING it makes people wonder what yer up to! Grin (at least thats what momma always told me! Grin)
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« Reply #22 on: August 29, 2009, 10:44:14 AM »

I like the old washer idea!

happy coaching!
buswarrior
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« Reply #23 on: August 29, 2009, 01:57:30 PM »

In you case $70 sounds very reasonable as i've noticed most places these days are charging around 10% of labor costs for "shop supplies"!

What is the upwards of $100 (or more) an hour I pay the shop going for then?  If the hourly rate isn't enough then raise the rate and be honest about what you charge instead of tacking on up to 10% for shop supplies.

It isn't like Walmart and other retailers are tacking on a "shopping fee" to cover electricity and other overhead.  It is included in the prices on the shelves.

BK, I don't recall you adding on a shop supplies fee when you worked on my bus, but you did charge for the brake cleaner used, and that was very fair.
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« Reply #24 on: August 29, 2009, 01:59:11 PM »

I had all of my brake pads and drums replaced after I bought the bus.  I nearly put myself through the windshield the first time I used the brakes after I left the garage!
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« Reply #25 on: August 29, 2009, 02:27:51 PM »

As long as the "shop supplies" are itemized and based on some real consumption....

Just tacking on a percentage is like a forced gratuity at the restaurant, and I agree is BS.

However, remember how most folks shop, the big number price. So the place that posts an all-in shop rate of $120 an hour is empty while the guy down the street has a $90 shop rate but pads up the bill to the same level with the details.

Unfortunately, running an honest business still means you have to swim in the same shark infested waters, trying to attract the same customers (that's you and me and your dumber than dirt neighbour that hands his wallet over to the worst of them and thinks he's smart)

Where would you go, the $90 shop or the $120 shop?  You know the one you will gravitate towards, all things appearing equal on the outside...

Running a shop is quite a job. There is a labour rate for a job, well documented for automotive purposes by a number of books or computer programs, a little more tricky when it comes to coach work, not as many resources for standard times for jobs, the parts purchased, and then the overhead of what it takes to run an honest shop. Depending on the jurisdiction, insurance of many kinds, liability, the truck, worker safety program deductions, mortgage, re-certifications of equipment -hoists and torque wrenches, accountant fees, electricity, heating/cooling. And of some sort of profit for the owner taking the risk.

Some jobs consume more of those common things like rags, solvents, the parts cleaner, the bead blaster, the grease gun, a handful of fresh nuts and bolts out of the bin, cotter pins, those little things which are hard to list as "parts"

What matters most in the relationship with a customer is some sort of sence of trust. The shops who fail at that do not see a lot of repeat business, nor do they get referrals. The owners of those shops just don't get it.

Reward the good ones who are open and up front with your repeat business and referrals.
Reward the bad ones with your bad press.

happy coaching!
buswarrior
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« Reply #26 on: August 29, 2009, 03:57:00 PM »

As long as the "shop supplies" are itemized and based on some real consumption....

Just tacking on a percentage is like a forced gratuity at the restaurant, and I agree is BS.

I've never been to any garage be it truck, auto, or bus (exception of BK's)n that itemized the shop supplies.  The local Detroit Diesel place charged a flat 10% shop supplies fee.
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« Reply #27 on: August 29, 2009, 04:42:12 PM »

Cliff is straight up correct about Kaisers Brake and Alignment here in Eugene, Orygun.  Very well known locally and folks drive far to have this guy do their work.

Doug, Texas Border Dude, drove up here after leaving Cliff's place down in Az.  Kaiser had problems finding some parts that proved bad but he let Doyle camp at the shop for a couple days.   Not the absolute best part of town but hospitality none the less.  Doyle had the biggest brake drums on the front wheels of his coach that any had seen.  Turns out he had a bus that hauled freight and was ruggedized when it was built.  It was stock, as I understand it.  Probably should let Doyle tell "his" story but he stays out of range for weeks at a time.  Are your ears up Dude?  Oh yeah, and he thinks Luvrbus is one of the best people he has ever met.

John
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« Reply #28 on: August 29, 2009, 05:56:00 PM »

Quote from: belfert

What is the upwards of $100 (or more) an hour I pay the shop going for then?  If the hourly rate isn't enough then raise the rate and be honest about what you charge instead of tacking on up to 10% for shop supplies.

It isn't like Walmart and other retailers are tacking on a "shopping fee" to cover electricity and other overhead.  It is included in the prices on the shelves.

BK, I don't recall you adding on a shop supplies fee when you worked on my bus, but you did charge for the brake cleaner used, and that was very fair.


Brian,
The hourly shop rate usually covers the wages of mechanics/owners/helpers/parts chasers, tools, ins. (a lot of it too!), rent/mortage, accountants, taxes (income not sales taxes<those are separate), specialized equipment, phones, advertising & etc!

Walmart and other retailers rely solely on retail sales for their profit! Small or large garages and service companies rely on SERVICE more than retailing for their income!

Again just because I said most shops are doing it, and that the rate was reasonable does not mean I agree with nor participate in the practice! As you mentioned I do charge for items I actually do use all of and not just generalize a charge regardless of what or how much is used. If I use just a dab of this or that I don't charge for it, but if I use a half a case of cleaner I'm gonna charge for it.

Again we don't run our shop to make a living out of anymore! Our shop is a necessity for the charter company to maintain our coaches in a safe and efficient manor. And if we can occasionally help a friend or competitor out then that's all good too! We do not however condone the practice of gouging someone ANYONE, just because they are in a pickle and we could! We may never get rich, but we sleep well knowing we do what is right regardless out how it effects our wallets!


FWIW
Grin  BK  Grin
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« Reply #29 on: August 31, 2009, 09:03:41 PM »

Wow...brakes to running a shop...this could be a long one.

My shop specializes in medium and heavy duty, and we have a shop supplies charge of 4% of the labor dollars, capped at $25., so our misc shop supplies don't cost any job more than that or we are going to itemize them. Works for us and our customers...there is a trust factor there too.

BRAKES...okay, since this is one of the core aspects of my business, let me toss a couple of key pieces of information out there for all to know.

BRAKE ADJUSTMENT...what is this? It is the amount of stroke measured in inches that the brake chamber (pod) travels upon brake application of the foot valve, generally measured when the brake pedal is fully depressed/full application. The amount of travel in inches that is allowed is determined by the brake chamber type/size (type 24-24 sq inches of diaphram, type 30-30 sq inches of diaphram, etc). This amount of stroke is adjusted/maintained by the slack adjuster, manual or auto slack.

BRAKE LINING LIFE...so how much is 50%? Well, if the lining that is attached/riveted to the brake
shoe is one piece, then it can be worn down to 3/16", if the lining is two pieces, then it can not be less then 1/4"

So when getting an inspection, just ask the shop to record the lining thickness on the various shoes, and the brake stroke on each chamber.

This is posted in the spirit of educating all the bus nuts out there. If anyone has specific brake questions, ask me and I'll try to help.
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gyrocrasher
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« Reply #30 on: August 31, 2009, 09:55:25 PM »

.

My shop specializes in medium and heavy duty, and we have a shop supplies charge of 4% of the labor dollars, capped at $25., so our misc shop supplies don't cost any job more than that or we are going to itemize them. Works for us and our customers...there is a trust factor there too.



Now That's reasonable. The big boys around here (Wichita, Ks.) get 7-8% of the Total bill; parts and labor. Angry Mitch
« Last Edit: August 31, 2009, 10:02:30 PM by gyrocrasher » Logged
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