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Author Topic: Bus towing  (Read 7142 times)
rdbishop
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« on: February 02, 2011, 08:43:54 PM »

Can a bus tow a bus approximately 350 miles?

Richard
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« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2011, 08:50:28 PM »


  I think that would be a hairy journey.  I would not want
  to chance it. Might lose both busses.
                                Merle
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« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2011, 09:18:39 PM »

Wouldn't that exceed the 65 foot law?

Dave
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« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2011, 02:34:45 AM »

   If you have to have it towed get someone familiar with buses ,they can't be towed like a normal vehicle.  No frame (GM).
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« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2011, 07:54:01 AM »

Richard, I'd wonder if the potential savings would be spent on buying new underwear, particularly for the driver of the towed bus.  (I'm not going to address legality, but it's a good question, as well as liability issues should something happen).   

Both drivers have to be skilled.  I was a pretty new bus driver when I broke down in the middle of a busy intersection on my last trip.  (TDH 4512 transit, turned out to be a broken blower shaft).  The bus behind me pushed me through, one of our wild mechanics came to tow me in with the shop pickup.  Short chain, probably 10-12 miles, with some hills - many lights.  With the blower shaft gone, no engine - no air.  Brought it in on the handbrake.  The short chain added to the adventure.  I was too young and dumb to know any better.

In such a setup, the towed vehicle does the braking, to keep the slack out of the chain.  In part, that's why transit systems generally use a rigid towbar for flat tows.  Even with a short distance, now the towing vehicle also is trying to brake double its weight - or both drivers have to synchronize their movements.  A few years ago, a friend broke down in his car, and I used mine to push him a couple of miles to the shop.  Even though he was skilled, he wasn't used to forecasting lane changes and anticipating stoplights.  It worked, but my blood pressure did go up some.

Not saying it can't be done, but I personally wouldn't risk it.  I listen to the police radio a lot while I'm working.  The motorcycle cops here do a lot of enforcement on trucks.  I can picture them seeing a rig like this go by, and know that it violates some law - common or obscure. 

There is also a saying that "it's the stingy man who spends the most money."  (Per another thread, I'm not saying anyone here is stingy, but I have been known to be pretty frugal). 

Arthur 
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« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2011, 08:01:11 AM »

Tow truck prob 1500 to 2000. Their problem if something happens.   350 miles fuel towing 4mpg 90 gallon X 4  = 360$  to get there to tow 350 miles x 5mpg 70 gal x4$ = 280$  cost for you to tow640$ plus tickets and damage.
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« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2011, 08:46:27 AM »

Can a bus tow a bus approximately 350 miles?

Richard
Why do you need to tow a bus? What is preventing the bus from being driven? We can give better advice if we have more details. . . .   Cool

But, my opinion is:
Short answer = Yep!

Long answer = it's possible, but it's loaded with hidden costs. 
IE: failure of tires, brake lines, or air bags. then there is the damage those failures can lead to.
Then there is the cost of wear & tear on the towing bus.
Let's not forget the chase car that is necessary to keep an eye on things (& block for you so you can make lane changes easier.)
Not to mention the towing bus might not have enough power to maintain a safe speed.

I have had several buses towed & listened to the experience others have had with various towing methods. Based on all that, my preferred method is to have a bus transported on a Landoll trailer. This way, you aren't depending on the bus' suspension surviving the trip & you aren't worried about the effectiveness of the brakes.

Last time I had one moved, it was about $3.50 per loaded mile. It was a dedicated run & trailer was empty for half the trip. If you can get a back haul, then you won't have to pay for as many miles. My truck driver bases his charge on time away from the shop, ~$100 per hour for a landoll haul & ~$125 per hour with a BIG tow truck.

If your bus is over 11 feet tall, a landoll haul may require over height permits.

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« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2011, 08:57:07 AM »

Richard, buses came with tow bars for towing Trailways always towed the Eagle they are set up to do just that, look behind the Eagle on the front it will have a place for the tow bar and for air even a new Setra will have a tow bar that folds out now a chain don't think I would go there 

good luck
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« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2011, 09:03:45 AM »

A friend worked as a mechanic for Greyhound in the 60's & 70's. You should hear the stories of how they used 'back line' buses to tow broken buses back to the shop.  Grin  Roll Eyes  Shocked
But, they didn't tow them very far, less than 50 miles.

Like Clifford said, use a proper tow bar if you were to attempt this.
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« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2011, 09:09:39 AM »

You guys worry too much - all you need is a Range Rover and a nylon strap:




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« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2011, 10:03:11 AM »

You guys worry too much - all you need is a Range Rover and a nylon strap:

Jeremy

Been there & done that. Only problem is finding someone smart enough to do a good job driving the towed bus yet dumb enough to actually do it!  Grin
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« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2011, 10:05:07 AM »

Hey Clifford, Know where anyone can get one of those tow bars or a drawing of one to make?
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« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2011, 10:35:12 AM »

My Dina came with a tow bar.  I took it out and it is sitting in my shed.  I figured no tow truck operator in his right mind would flat tow a bus.  Maybe this is common practice in Mexico or something.

My tow bar is just over 6 feet long.  It is a steel tube about 2" diameter that is sorta flattened at the ends so a pin can be inserted.
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« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2011, 11:55:19 AM »

If a vehicle with an automatic transmission is flat-towed, don't you have to disconnect the driveshaft (unless the transmission has a secondary pump driven off its output), to prevent damaging the transmission?

John
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« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2011, 12:11:50 PM »

I would hate to try it.

Flat towing a car with a truck is tough if the towed cannot see over the towing vehicle to know traffic conditions ahead. In the bus being towed you would have no idea what is going on in front of the towing bus. If something was to cause the towing bus to panic stop you could not respond fast enough to avoid rear ending the front bus.

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« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2011, 12:32:05 PM »

Check out the cost of a real tow.  I got towed from Syracuse to Vineland for under $1,000 more recently than I care to remember.  That's a lot more than 350 miles.  I've done a lot of stupid tows in my life but I wouldn't want to tackle towing the frenchy-bus myself.
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« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2011, 12:50:05 PM »

350 mile tow is no mountain for Richard he can get her done lol bet a cold one on that


good luck
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« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2011, 12:58:27 PM »

If a vehicle with an automatic transmission is flat-towed, don't you have to disconnect the driveshaft (unless the transmission has a secondary pump driven off its output), to prevent damaging the transmission?

John

I'll bet Richard knows this, however, I will throw this out there for the newbies and guys who don't know.

I was told by MCI tech support that pulling both axles is an approved alternative to disconnecting the driveshaft. That was really good news to us. I will pull the axles anyday, before I want to touch the shaft. He said just make sure that you have a cover to put over the axle, to keep the grease in there, and your bearing greased. I will be making a cover that I have with us, so if we need to catch a hook, I just slap that plate on there, when the axles are out.

FWIW

God bless,

John
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« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2011, 01:00:43 PM »

350 mile tow is no mountain for Richard he can get her done lol bet a cold one on that


good luck

If that is what Clifford says, then Richard, would you please take some pics for us? I would like to see how you have it done.

God bless,

John
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« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2011, 01:10:06 PM »

I read that even with a Spicer 4 speed trans if you are towing very far you should pull the axles.  The driveshaft spins the main shaft in neutral, but no gears spin so no splash lubrication.

Brian
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« Reply #20 on: February 05, 2011, 08:09:48 AM »

I try to only reply to threads where I have good background knowledge (in my mind Grin) or first hand experience.  Unfortunately, I am reply from the latter Angry.

Lots of things to consider. 

1)  While Eagles have a tow bar fixture in the front, that is also an area where they tend to "oxidize" quite a bit.  I am not sure that I would want to rely on that connection for more that just getting off the road.

2)  If you have spring brakes, you will either need to supply air to hold them off or cage them.  Since you will have to have someone in the bus steering, you might as well find a source for air so that you can use the brakes.  Eagles are plumbed with an air line to the same area as the tow bar mount for that purpose.

3)  If the engine is not running, you will not have power steering.  If you have installed one of those fancy small steering wheels, you could be in trouble.

4)  Even with a standard transmission (I have the Eaton 10 speed), a towing company will not tow without disconnecting the drive shaft or pull the axles.

5)  I have been towed by one company that made an axle hub cover out of cardboard.  Worked OK.  No matter what, you will loose some fluid and it will make a mess.

6)  Pulling the axles seems like an easy process.  I don't know about other buses, but on Eagles, the axles are centered with small cones behind the nuts holding the axles on.  My Eagle had split cones and they were almost impossible to remove.  The manual actually says to use a big f'n hammer and to strike the end of the axle to loosen the cones.  Looks good on paper, but twice I have had EXPERIENCED tow truck drivers spend over an hour pounding on the axle trying to get it loose.  They even tried to double nut the studs and remove them.  The split tapered cones locked on the stud and axle and they could only remove one or two studs.

7)  After the last time, I bought all new studs (the old ones got buggered up with the sledge hammer process) and new cones.  I took my old ones in and the parts guy said he had never seen the split cones.  I got solid ones and I suspect that will make pulling the axle much easier.  I made sure to get long enough studs so that I could double nut them so that I could remove them if necessary.

Cool  My recommendation concerning pulling the axle is to do it at your house, when you can do the process in a friendly environment, to see what issues you might face in an emergency.  You do not have to jack up the bus.  Simply pull the nuts off and see if you can remove the axle.  Be prepared to have a mess.  You will need to have new gaskets or some way of making the seal between the axle and hub.

9)  I made a tow bar that had the required hole for the pin on the Eagle and a 2 inch ball trailer connector on the other end.  My thought was that I could pull the bus a short distance (less than a mile or two) to get it to a safe location.  I no longer carry that tow bar, as it just seemed like too bad of a risk to tow the bus.

10)  All tow companies have the proper oversize permit for the long length involved in towing a bus or truck.  I would not like to face a police officer or DOT person and try to convince them that towing a bus was a good idea.

Jim

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« Reply #21 on: February 05, 2011, 08:29:12 AM »

Remember Richard lives in Tex a whole different world permits are not a issue there and most states on the Gulf Coast for towing only some cities require licensing and small tow co's get around that buy using a trailer behind a pickup same in AZ where I live,if you had to buy a over length,over width or over weight permit in the state of OK that would be a 2000.00 tow around the block


good luck
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« Reply #22 on: February 05, 2011, 10:32:02 AM »

  When towing on a towbar, no one should be inside the TOAD, whether its a Bus is beside the point, and in any case, no one should steer it. If a BIG Toad wont track behind on its own like our lil toads, its too dangerous to tow.

  Brakes should be applied only by the tow vehicle and coulde operate the Toad. Someone in the Toad could operate the brakes, but as no one should be in there, well, you need good two way radio communication and well understood common hand signals. But again, they SHOULD NOT TOUCH THE WHEEL IN THE TOAD!!!!!

  Honestly, you need a tow vehicle that is heavy enough on the rear wheels and strong enough at the hitch to tow anything, not just a Bus. Too light of a tow vehicle could allow the Toad to push the tow vehicle into a jack knife situation. A Bus is certainly a heavy enough tow vehicle, but the hitch may not be. If we are seeing structural damage and cracked engine sub frames from yanking around light trailers, I cant imagine towing an 11 ton Toad will be good for it. However, a tow bar shouldnt be putting any heavy vertical loads into the tow vehicle, it is primarily fore and aft thrust (provided the tow bar is 100% horizontal onlevel road).

  I think it could be done safely with common sense and the right tow vehicle, but as to the legalities I dont know. Most states provide allowances for emergency towing by rope/chain etc, as well as tow bars. Again, common sense will look a lot better to a cop too. And if there were ever a time to make sure your air brake system was up to snuff, that would be the time.

  I knew the owner of a Bus charter company who told me how he would buy Buses out east and tow them back to Minnesota with a Tow Bar....behind a 1 ton dodge truck with a 318 stick, a compressor in the truck bed, and a guy working the brakes. IMHO thats way to crazy to ever consider.
 
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« Reply #23 on: February 05, 2011, 11:19:57 AM »

Replacing drive axle shafts-use Ultra Gray sealant rather than gaskets,  or Ultra Blue if you don't use synthetic lubes. Syn don't like Blue, they like Gray
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« Reply #24 on: February 05, 2011, 01:05:01 PM »

Car towing another car in Czech republic goes horribly wrong
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« Reply #25 on: February 05, 2011, 01:14:34 PM »

WOW a 35000 pound bus hitched to a 6000 pound ball???
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« Reply #26 on: February 05, 2011, 02:42:32 PM »

WOW a 35000 pound bus hitched to a 6000 pound ball???

I would be more concerned about a 35000 pound Bus behind a 7000 pound pickup truck. The ball would be way down the list.
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« Reply #27 on: February 05, 2011, 03:18:13 PM »

Remember Richard lives in Tex a whole different world permits are not a issue there and most states on the Gulf Coast for towing only some cities require licensing and small tow co's get around that buy using a trailer behind a pickup same in AZ where I live,if you had to buy a over length,over width or over weight permit in the state of OK that would be a 2000.00 tow around the block


good luck

A couple of years ago I had to be towed outside of Atlanta, Ga.  $450 to hook up, $3 a mile to the shop (55 miles) not cheap.  The tow operator was concerned about the scales, and we had to "detour out in the country a bit" as he put it, in order to get around them.  They can always find a way around them if they are worth their salt. 

You need a permit to breathe in Oklahoma.

BCO
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Red Rider
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« Reply #28 on: February 05, 2011, 04:03:29 PM »

Has anyone discussed the position of the insurance carrier in all this?
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« Reply #29 on: February 05, 2011, 04:10:01 PM »

If the towing bus has a manual trans then it is definitely a no.
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« Reply #30 on: February 06, 2011, 06:00:47 AM »

Or you could just buy this--

http://asheville.craigslist.org/bfs/2197050825.html

I'd be glad to go look at it for you. Grin Grin
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« Reply #31 on: February 06, 2011, 07:49:11 AM »

I have first hand experience at bus towing all wheels down.  I also refer to this as "My stupid human trick."  My brother in law has a fishbowl that was having cooling issues that he thought he had fixed.  So he enlisted my help for a test drive.  We were only going about 100 miles or so round trip.  The bus ran fine on the way down but started to overheat shortly after we turned around.  My brother in law decides that he doesn't want to pay a tow bill so he calls a buddy that has "something to get us home."  The guy shows with a bobtail Freightliner and some chains.  The bus temp is ok at idle but overheats up under load so I have air.  The guy hooks up the chains and tells me to hang on.  Now this may have been ok on back roads since it was only about 40 miles home but we were on the side of the interstate.  When I started to reason (think argue) with everyone about the safety of this, my BIL tells me that the rubber bumper on the front is one of those 5 mph impact bumper.  We made it back safely but it was a white knuckle experience for me.  Would I do it again?  Not a chance, that's what towing insurance is for.
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« Reply #32 on: February 06, 2011, 10:56:31 AM »

The guy shows with a bobtail Freightliner and some chains.  When I started to reason (think argue) with everyone about the safety of this, my BIL tells me that the rubber bumper on the front is one of those 5 mph impact bumper. 

  I can not even begin to explain how dangerous chains are for towing. And when people start acting like idiots, get out and walk away from them. The life you save could be your own. If I were going to tow a Bus behind a big truck, I would use a BIG rope. The truck pulls the Bus, the Bus stops the truck. I would never do it. I only know one person that I would trust being in any towed vehicle on a rope, and he knows he belongs there and i belong in the tow vehicle. But a Bus on rope? No way. A tow bar, or a wrecker, but not a rope. Maybe for a block or two, but otherwise forget it. Its insane on far too many levels
 
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« Reply #33 on: February 06, 2011, 11:57:39 AM »

1000 miles
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« Reply #34 on: February 06, 2011, 04:46:52 PM »

Way back I read that CA would only allow you to tow with a chain if the chain was threaded through a big pipe and that had to be 8 or 10 foot or some such in length.  I remember making a technical comment something like "Holy Crap, are they serious?". 
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