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Author Topic: Sideways on freezing rain!  (Read 3892 times)
lostagain
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« on: January 14, 2010, 01:13:00 AM »

Very scary, let me tell you! I just got home from taking the hockey team to a game in Kimberley, normally an hour and a half away. I'm having a Scotch to settle my nerves as I write this. Good drive there on mostly dry roads. Started raining just before the game. Above freezing weather the last 3-4 days, following 2 weeks of 20 below temps. Still raining lightly but steady after the game. The roads were fine, with a fair amount of gravel in town. So I settle into the drive home, put the Jakes on and my ear plugs in (they play their movies so G.D. loud!). Going on a gentle down hill out of town, all of a sudden the rear end lets loose, my blood curdles, it takes me a second or two to find the Jake switch to turn it off as I am counter steering, the front end starts sliding too, I'm thinking Oh F**k, here we go. What saved me was the rear wheels caught the gravel on the paved shoulder and straightened the bus up... Whew. By then I was shaking... I drove the rest of the way very slowly, looking for crumbs of gravel on either side of the lane... When I met the regular Greyhound, we both had our drivers lights on, gesturing at each other to slow down!

This brings into question wether I should continue to volunteer to drive this hockey team's bus. Most of the driving is in the winter, and at night. This kind of close call has happended before, and is likely to happen again. I don't want to be the one that puts the bus off the road. If I quit, a worst driver might drive it off the road sooner than I would, but maybe a better driver than me would anticipate the hazards (not use the Jakes in such conditions) and be safer for the team...

I'll go to bed now and sleep on it.

For everyone else, don't drive in such conditions if you don't have to, and use your Jakes very carefully. Same applies for Cruise Control.


JC
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JC
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Nellie Wilson
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« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2010, 02:24:17 AM »

JC -

Wow!

Did a few of those myself and don't even have Jakes to blame it on. But nobody else was aboard (thank God for no witnesses Smiley) Sure gets the old a heart a thumpin', don't it?

Seriously, though, you sound a very conscientious fellow. And I bet it never happens again. Even that Greyhound driver knew you were both on thin ice  (no pun intended).

If it makes you happy, continue on.  I mean, who's going to better anticipate than you? Especially after that near miss.

Got any of that scotch left? Save me some... we can sit around and swap lies about bus adventures. Smiley

Nellie Wilson

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« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2010, 02:44:01 AM »

Lot of people find God at moments like that, huh !!

Glad you were able to get a handle on it, and protect your passengers. You are so right. I was taught to not use jake, or at best use lowest setting, and never use cruise, when the roads are slippery.

I can tell you that I found out quickly where the 5th wheel 'locking brake' switch was on my articulating as soon as I heard there was ice on the road, like on the Malahat, or Hwy 3 east (no banking).

Well done to control it - the mind sure does race, doesn't it !!

Keith
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« Last Edit: January 14, 2010, 02:45:37 AM by PCC » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2010, 05:04:22 AM »

My first thought was, "Didja learn anything?"  Then as I read on, I realized you did.

There's a reason you're not supposed to have the Jakes on when on slippery roads. And yes, I know there will be a dozen posts to this thread telling you they run with the jakes on in all sorts of weather. Regardless, when you understand the dynamics of the engine braking on the drivetrain, there is a valid reason for this.

It sounds like you didn't know the roads were slippery until the rear end decided to tell you so. BTDT! 

Don't beat yourself up about this. You handled the problem. The thing you need to do, though, is analyze the event and determine if there was anything you should have done differently BEFORE it happened, and then apply that going forward.

Obviously, you were not completely aware of the conditions you were driving in, but I suspect you had more clues than you let on. So, possibly the Jakes should not have been on, and maybe your speed was a tad high for the road conditions. Be honest with yourself. It doesn't do you any good to be stubborn and bullheaded. Only you know if either is correct. And in all fairness, you could just have easily caused the slide by downshifting the transmission, which is not an uncommon thing to do when you want to slow down quickly.

As for your questioning your abilities and whether you are ready to turn over the reins, only you can answer that, but you are correct on both accounts. One person might have dumped the whole load of kids, while another might never have experienced the thrill you did... that time. Nobody can predict the outcome of similar circumstances in the future for either driver, but you know you can influence the outcome, which you are already doing in your mind.

Thanks for sharing. Not everyone would post this story and risk criticism of their driving. My response is not meant to be criticism, but rather to help you evaluate the situation and come to terms with it. What you learn may save many lives in the future, including your own.
 
craig


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« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2010, 05:34:47 AM »

Swapped end with a 100ton truck crane on black ice years ago...boy hell of a class room...could have done without it....no damage no one hurt......didn't take chance on ???road anymore..good job you didn't scuff paint or people!!!
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« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2010, 05:51:09 AM »

Don't beat yourself up about this. You handled the problem. The thing you need to do, though, is analyze the event and determine if there was anything you should have done differently BEFORE it happened, and then apply that going forward.

Craig said it extremely well.  As long as you do that, you will have learned something that some (if not many) potential replacement drivers might not have.  And I'm sure the experience gave you a renewed diligence for predetermining what risky driving conditions may exist based on weather conditions.

All that said, only you can know if it caused you to lose your nerve to the point driving them again will be too much stress on you and damage your health or create driving dangers of its own.
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« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2010, 06:46:07 AM »

I think what you just did is learn something.  that's what life is all about, isn't it?  I would say that you have every opportunity to look as this as a positive experience - you took the theory of  "Jakes on black ice = bad" and made it reality, and you did it in a way that your experience and skill made it a schooling experience with a positive outcome.  But there are a whole lot of lessons to be remembered.  maybe the noise level was too high, I did google a bit and found this:

"It is illegal for anyone operating a motor vehicle or a bicycle to wear a headset covering or earplugs in both ears. (California v.c. 27400)  People operating emergency vehicles, the hearing impaired, and certain construction and maintenance personnel are exempt."  I have no idea of what the laws are where you operate, but this is what California appears to think of the idea.

So maybe wearing earplugs while you are driving is a bad idea.  They sometimes have a tendency to desensitize other sensory inputs, kind of wrapping in cotton batting effect.  So you may have had less input from vision and feel to let you know the actual road conditions.  Just maybe, I don't know.  But the key thing I took away was a skilled driver, saving a situation before it became an incident, or an accident, and yeah, maybe I am right to keep MY Jakes off all the time, unless I decide I am on a hill that needs them, because I'm not sure I would have handled it that well.

So good job well done, and leave the Jakes off from now on.   Cheesy

Cheers, and btw you have my respect for keeping the "situation" just a situation...

Brian
« Last Edit: January 14, 2010, 06:49:52 AM by bevans6 » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2010, 06:53:27 AM »

  With Black Ice,  you usually have no warning, and it is a whole new ball game that starts and ends in seconds.     Good save JC.  Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2010, 06:55:47 AM »

Sounds like you had a MPF (maximum pucker factor) ride.  Congrats on making it through it.  Those can scare the snot out of you.  I agree that gumpy summed it up best.  You shouldn't beat yourself up.  Everyone walked away and there was no property damage.  I have driven semi trucks for many years out of the Great Lakes Reigon and can tell you that ice is never any fun to drive on.  Freezing drizzle/fog is worse because the " tell tale signs" are not there.  I always look for a glaze on the road or excessive tail light reflection to tell if it is icy.  You can watch your and other's wheels for spray.  But if it is raining this is not always accurate.  Ice accumulating on the leading edge of things like your mirrors, antennas etc.  will let you know that things are deteriorating.  

You learned an important thing about ice driving.  Keep the jake off and slow down.  It doesn't matter how long it takes to get where you are going as long as you get there in one piece.

Learn from this and move on if you desire.  The best thing you can do is to get back on the horse that throwed you, and ride again.  See what you could do differently and do that.  You will be ok.  
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Dennis Watson
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« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2010, 07:09:06 AM »

Thank you all for your kind replies. You are giving me the moral support I was looking for.

Yes I should've suspected freezing rain judging by the rain falling on frozen roadway. However, nothing else was indicative of slippery conditions: +3 to 4 C, no ice in town, I had taken a 10 mn walk to a restaurant before the game and only saw slush on the sidewalk.

I was driving about 60 km/h in a 80 zone (40mph in a 50), mostly because it was misty and foggy in the dark: low visibility.

I didn't downshift, I just took my foot off the accelerator with the Jakes on high when I started going downhill.

My mistake was: I just did the same as always out of habit, failing to recognize the hazardous conditions.

Jakes are OK on snow and ice when it is cold and there is traction. When it warms up, it is much more slippery... I know that. Except last night it looked like another routine drive home... But I got caught napping. Scary to think what if we  had gone off the road...

Yea, I guess I'll keep driving for them. I have acquired a little more experience last night and I'm a better driver. I have been driving a bus on and off for 36 years now, but I have to keep learning.

The Jake switch on the 102D3 is one of many that are all the same. You have to look to find it every time, and lean forward to reach it. I have been meaning to glue some kind of stick or something on it so I can find it without looking... It would've given me a second or so last night.

JC
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JC
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« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2010, 07:17:15 AM »

If your jake switch is a toggle type switch, check out a truck stop for switch extensions.  They slide over the end of the toggle switch and make them longer.  They are great when you are looking for a specific switch at night and you can't see it.
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Dennis Watson
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« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2010, 07:19:03 AM »

Don't they have some that are lit up when they are on?
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« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2010, 07:32:30 AM »

Bevans6, ever since we got this newer bus about 5 years ago with the video system, they watch movies most of the time, and they turn the volume way up, otherwise they can't hear it. So I wear ear plugs. I know it is not good, and probably illegal. It has bothered me the whole time. So what do I do? Tell them they can't watch movies anymore. Or we need a half million $ bus with audio plug-ins like an airplane, which we can't afford. I will put this to the board at the next meeting.

Trucktramp, thanks, I will look for one.

JC
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JC
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« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2010, 07:42:01 AM »

I don't know if it would help, but when I picked up my bus (an RTS transit bus) it had a plexiglass panel behind the driver seat that extended from the wall to the aisle side grab post and up to the ceiling.  I never quite understood its purpose, and took it out for the conversion anyway.  But that might be what it was about - deflect passenger noise from adversely effecting the driver.
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« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2010, 07:44:15 AM »

There are simple to install, aftermarket audio systems that "broadcast" the audio from the TV or sound system throughout the room/bus, and each person can listen on a headset.

We install them in homes and churches. Some are infrared, and some are RF, but they allow silent listening.

Or you can get them all hearing aids, ask them to turn the aids up, and the TV down. LOL

Headsets are great, because then they cannot hear you scream at the other drivers.
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« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2010, 07:46:21 AM »

Don't they have some that are lit up when they are on?

I've never seen any that were lighted.  They just slip over the switch.  I have often thought of putting in a pilot light...maybe a multi colored led to show that it is on and armed.  I don't think it would be all that hard but never tried it.
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Dennis Watson
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« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2010, 08:00:24 AM »

JC,
As said don't beat yerself up on this, it was a learning experience! Glad to hear you learned!
Also I understand the problem with the jake switch too (having driven some D models myself)

Ed; good idea on a lit up switch!

Trucktramp; unfortunately MCI didn't use the toggle switches your thinking of on the D models they are a rocker type (which should be easy to find one that lights up as Ed mentions!)

OK back to JC since you are the only (or main) person who drives this bus. Why not personalize it to fit your needs? I haven't seen the way yours is actually laid out, but of the D's I have driven I have seen the jake switch in 3 different places! #1 to the right of the steering wheel near the light switches, #2 to the left of the steering wheel near the fast idle & A/C switches, and #3 below #2 on the front (lower) part of the left arm rest. So no knowing where your are, it's hard to tell how difficult it would be to relocate the switch to where it's the easiest switch to reach right under the drivers finger tips at the end of the arm rest. (where the switch for the pass blowers usually is!) But with a little wire, some solder and shrink wrap it would not be hard to extend the wires and put the switch where it's easy to reach!
Another idea would be just to put a led right above or below it that comes on either when the jakes are on, or when the master switch is on so you can see it to turn it on or off in a hurry!

Also one more tip is that when the jakes come on when not wanted it is easy to feather the fuel pedal in order to cut them out while reaching for the switch! HTH FWIW
Grin  BK  Grin
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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 #17 on: January 14, 2010, 08:04:44 AM »

OH Keith that is precious "Headsets are great, because then they cannot hear you scream at the other drivers." And so was the hearing aid also! Wink

You posted while I was hunt & peck typing my "book" Wink
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 #18 on: January 14, 2010, 08:15:29 AM »

PCC and BK, good ideas to look into. Thanks.

JC
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JC
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« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2010, 10:41:25 AM »

My other thought was that I think I remember that this is a manual trans bus.  My clutch switch is set up to disengage the jake by feathering the clutch, just taking up the free play.  Only how are you going to think of all this stuff while steering into a skid?

Old Nascar driver talking to a new Nascar driver "No, 'loose' is when you don't  see the wall before you hit it, 'tight' is when you see it coming..."

Brian
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« Reply #20 on: January 14, 2010, 11:16:39 AM »

OH Keith that is precious "Headsets are great, because then they cannot hear you scream at the other drivers." And so was the hearing aid also! Wink

You posted while I was hunt & peck typing my "book" Wink
Grin  BK  Grin

I didn't know you were writing a book.
Bk, I want to be the first one to get a signed copy of your new book. I'll need it to prove to my grand kids that I really knew you. Wow I can see it now, Grandpa did you really know him? But of course I need a signed copy to prove it. I know you'll come through for me BK.

Oh and here are a couple of titles for you to consider; Buses along the Mohawk, Gone with the Bus staring Clark Gable, Titanic The Bus,
The Buses of Navarone and of course my favorite since you are in TN Bus Warming. I'm sure others will have a few suggestions for you BK.

WVaNative
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« Reply #21 on: January 14, 2010, 11:40:16 AM »

JC, for me - I want all my senses when I'm driving.  I even turn the car radio off when I'm in unfamiliar territory - city freeway interchanges, etc.  Hanging on the wall of my office is a porcelain sign, back from when I was driving buses for a living.  "In the interest of safety please eliminate unnecessary conversation with the driver." 

I also remember something else, taught me by the owner of the bus company I drove for.  Listen to the spray coming off your wheels.  If there's spray, the roads are wet.  If not, that shine could be ice, not water.  So, in your situation, I'd ask another question.  Without the headphones, would you have heard the tire noise change, in time to avoid the situation?

As to the cost of modifying the sound system on the coach, making them read subtitles, or whatever -  how does that compare with the cost of a wreck?  That would be a good question for your Board.

I agree with others - you've had a great learning experience.  I've had many, including one that scares me now - 35 or so years later (taking a 4905 over a bridge that wasn't rated for the weight).  They were learning experiences because I haven't done them again. 

Arthur
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« Reply #22 on: January 14, 2010, 12:16:40 PM »

Not meaning to hijack the thread, but I modified the jake wiring on my rig so that the jakes come on when I press the brake pedal, and release when I press the pedal. Wait fore you jump on the ice comment. Of course I kept the original toggle that turns the jakes on and off. Plus, I installed one additional toggle that allows me to choose if the jakes engage as originally wired (when accelerater pedal lifts and engaged until accelerator is pressed) OR activated when brake pedal is pressed and deactivated when brake is released.

I like having the jakes when I want to stop. I hated hearing and feeling them come on when I simply rolled out of the throttle on the interstate.
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« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2010, 12:26:03 PM »

Sure you can disengage the Jakes by pushing on the accelerator or the clutch, but when you are suddenly going sideways in a bus, I at least did not think of that. My learned instinctive reaction is to stay off the gas and off the brakes, and to steer. My immediate logical thought was to go for the switch to turn them off. And I know they should not have been on in the first place.

What happens is driving the same bus regularly, you get so familiar with it and the routine, and become lulled into complacency. An event like this really brings me back to a more acute awareness every moment behind the wheel.

I am looking into a better Jake switch, a better sound system with head sets, a panel behind the driver, and improved driving skills for me...

JC
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« Reply #24 on: January 14, 2010, 01:19:53 PM »

Lighted switches are pretty to look at but in a situation like that you need to be able to feel not see the switch.  The switch extension is the way to go. Mine's about 3" long - most of the time I just wave my hand over the panel to turn it off or on - its easy to find without looking at it.

I've never tried doing donuts on an icy parking lot with the bus but it might not be a bad idea.  I know for sure in a car or truck a few minutes spent jacking around in a parking lot makes it a lot easier to recover out on the road. 
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« Reply #25 on: January 14, 2010, 02:03:50 PM »

Lighted switches are pretty to look at but in a situation like that you need to be able to feel not see the switch.  The switch extension is the way to go. Mine's about 3" long - most of the time I just wave my hand over the panel to turn it off or on - its easy to find without looking at it.

I've never tried doing donuts on an icy parking lot with the bus but it might not be a bad idea.  I know for sure in a car or truck a few minutes spent jacking around in a parking lot makes it a lot easier to recover out on the road. 


I have! 
http://www.busconversions.com/bbs/index.php?topic=7615.0  reply #5 Grin
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 #26 on: January 14, 2010, 02:41:51 PM »

What I like to do when traveling around the freezing mark on the thermometer, is to us my handy dandy hand held infared temp detector.
I point it at bridges and the road windshield etc. to see what the temp. is getting to be outside.

Not my Idea I got the Idea, I got it  from an older (wiser) busnut!


John
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« Reply #27 on: January 14, 2010, 04:48:03 PM »

On my bus, the Jake switch is on the bottom row of switches on the right closest to the driver.  I can turn the Jakes on or off without taking my eyes off the road.  My hand just knows where that switch is.
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« Reply #28 on: January 14, 2010, 07:35:39 PM »

Good job, and good reporting!

On the ear plug front, I wear them on the highway to reduce the fatiguing effects of noise.

Noise makes fatigue, fatigue makes inattention, inattention makes mistakes...

Fans and wind noise, even on the newest coaches, put the background decibels quite high.

Add in the video... There is no lower volume setting that will work for the passengers to hear. For some strange reason, there are speakers right up front in all coach models...

I use fairly modest sound reduction plugs, hearing the tour guide or the conversation in the second row behind me is easier than no plugs.

I use the ribbed soft plastic type ones, the foam type cut too much noise for my liking.

I would be very careful about how you approach justifying any coach modifications. The common citizen might interpret your crusade and associated driving error as reason enough to find another driver.

Best to leave the coach figure skating out of it?

happy coaching!
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« Reply #29 on: January 14, 2010, 08:40:46 PM »

JC & all contributing to this thread - THANK YOU!!  I'm learning a great deal from what I'm reading here.  Thanks for your willingness to share this with the rest of us.  It may prevent an accident or mistake elsewhere. 

Kind Regards, Phil
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« Reply #30 on: January 14, 2010, 09:01:31 PM »

One of the important things that has been overlooked is the need to always carry a change of clothes...Cable
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Sofar Sogood
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« Reply #31 on: January 14, 2010, 09:38:50 PM »

One of the important things that has been overlooked is the need to always carry a change of clothes...Cable

no need for new ones just turn them inside out! Grin
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Busted Knuckle aka Bryce Gaston
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« Reply #32 on: January 15, 2010, 12:23:40 AM »

no need for new ones just turn them inside out! Grin
Wink  BK  ; Shocked


That is how I travel so light - half as much weight - and color coordinated too.

Bose makes a headphone for pilots (150 miles past the destination?) that selectively filters out ambient noises and allows other sounds through without change.

I know that this system works; some would like to be able to choose what is filtered.

Not inexpensive, but another thought.

We have digressed from the freezing rain subject, which reminds me of a device on a car I once owned, and on a few coaches also - a sensor that is made by VDO, and I imagine a few other gauge manufacturers, that attaches behind the front bumper and measures the temperature of the road, giving a dash mounted visual warning of freezing conditions under the vehicle. I have added one to each vehicle I drive to prevent the well controlled, free-style performance that initiated this thread.

My uncle, who drove for London Transport, told me that part of his training was to drive a double decker onto a section of wet pavement across which was diagonally strung a tight rope that caused the bus to go into a slide, and the trainees had to learn to handle the bus through the skid. I watched the video, and spinning one of those buses must be a wild ride. There are some pictures of the Chiswick facility at http://overground.doeth.net/chiswick/
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« Reply #33 on: January 15, 2010, 06:15:14 AM »

I have hit black ice 4-5 times before in a car and had no warning at all that conditions had changed. And as i said before it was all over in a matter of a couple of seconds with either no or very little time to react.  About the only way to have advance warning is to see a car ahead of you hit it. In my case there were no other cars at the time. 3 of the times occurred as i came around a corner. Solution?  avoid going around corners!!!! Grin   3 of the times i made it thru ok but was suprised/shaken up.  One other time i was spun around, crossed the other lane and ended up with the back of the car in the ditch and the front halfway out into the other lane. Did not know what had happened until i got out of the car and fell on my @$#. Road looked like it was barely damp but really had 1/2 inch of very clear ice on it.  Only about a 50-60 ft. long patch of it there, the rest of the road was fine.  Temp at the time was a little above freezing, sunny morning, but this corner was in a shady spot.  Now anytime it is cold out i am a little more aware and drive slower.  Wait a second!!!!! When it starts getting cold out i am on my way to Yuma!  If i see frost anywhere it means i am late in leaving. Grin
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« Reply #34 on: January 15, 2010, 06:29:00 AM »

Hey Keith that Setra yer looking at has that very same warning! (might help ya sell the idea easier! Wink)
Grin  BK  Grin
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Busted Knuckle aka Bryce Gaston
KY Lakeside Travel's Busted Knuckle Garage
Huntingdon, TN 12 minutes N of I-40 @ exit 108
www.kylakesidetravel.net

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 #35 on: January 15, 2010, 06:36:55 AM »

Driving on snow and ice is one thing. There is some measure of traction, allowing some control, as long as you approach it slowly and with practiced skills. Years of experience has a lot to do with it. But freezing rain, water on top of ice, is the worst, and totally uncontrollable, without any traction at all. That's when you step out of the vehicle and wipe out immediately. If my rear wheels hadn't caught gravel a couple nights ago, I would've gone off the road. The biggest thing about driving a bus is SLOW, because once a skid gets going, the weight and momentum of the 10 to 20 ton mass makes it very difficult to control, unless you have a lot of space around you, which is rare. So everybody take  easy out there.

JC
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JC
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