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Author Topic: Driving a bus for the first time this week!!! Tips?  (Read 4056 times)
pickpaul
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« on: February 28, 2011, 06:04:54 PM »

Well, I'm making the road trip to NC to check out that MCI-9 and the guy said I could test drive it! After about three years of obsessing about buying a bus, I can't wait to finally get behind the wheel!

I'm Looking for some tips, specifically...

I read a document a while back, can't remember where, that walked you thru pre-driving checks and airing up etc, can someone reply with the link please?

Also, anything specific to the MCI-9 so I can find the ignition (no key?) and drive it. (It is an automatic) and how to start it from the back too?

I'm a great driver and comfortable with large vehicles but have not driven a vehicle with air bakes before.

Any advice so I look like I know what I'm doing would be great.

Thanks guys, Paul.
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pickpaul
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« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2011, 06:13:13 PM »

P.S. Am I right in thinking the DD's are true Cold Start diesels? They don't have glow plugs right?

I drive a 65hp diesel mercedes so I have lots of experience winding her up/riding her hard and never coming off the gas on a hill :-)
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Chopper Scott
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« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2011, 06:22:19 PM »

There is a switch in the back on the upper left hand corner that has several toggle switches on it. Read the labels. If you go back up front and the start button doesn't work up front you get to walk back to the rear and flip it back to front start! Grin No glow plugs on these ole girls. Probably why you see more women driving Suburbans. Take wide, wide, WIDE turns. Start braking before you even think about braking. Get her on the big slab and matt it! Pass a JB Hunt truck and you get your bus driver's hat! I would say it's all down hill after that but I don't know if you have Jake's or not! Grin Just enjoy getting your fruit popped and report back! Later
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neverlearn
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« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2011, 08:30:14 PM »

If you know someone with a CDL, have them drive it first.
Watch your rear wheels to clear when turning.
Unlike your Mercedes, when taking hills if you can't accelerate then you must downshift (or risk melting the engine). 
If the bus is a manual shift, descend hills in the same gear you climbed.  Downshifting on a down-grade is easy to miss, and difficult to get back into gear.
Pay for an inspection and oil analysis before committing to purchase.
Seriously consider that MC8 in GA : The seller of that MC9 in NC either doesn't know anything about the bus he is selling or didn't care to know. 
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pickpaul
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« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2011, 08:44:25 PM »

neverlearn - I thought that the auto would down shift itself but that I must manually hold it in a lower gear for decending steep hills. I def plan on an inspection before purchase but pre-purchase oil analysis can be cheated on with a new oil change by the seller. I'm good with wide turns and watching the rear wheels in the mirror. If the seller doesn't know anything, how do I know if it has jakes installed and how do I use them? It doesn't take an ignition key right? Where is the button on the dash to start?

Thanks guys, Paul.

P.S. I won't be buying it that day, I just plan to kick the tires and get a handle on what parts of the conversion work so it won't be a very long drive but I plan on some time at highway speeds.
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happycamperbrat
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« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2011, 09:04:54 PM »

Hi Paul! Good for you! It is really fun driving these big beasts but yes be VERY careful in making right hand turns. It is impossible to make a 45 degree turn, you must aim for the 2nd lane (even if it is in opposite traffic). Be very patient and wait however long it takes and even if other dim wits honk at you, but dont take a right hand turn at 45 degrees. Going down hill is dangerous if not done slow. Mine is an automatic but even so I have 3 drive gears. I usually take down hills in 2nd at around 35 mph give or take.
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wildbob24
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« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2011, 11:01:56 PM »

If the seller doesn't know anything, how do I know if it has jakes installed and how do I use them? It doesn't take an ignition key right? Where is the button on the dash to start?


Paul,

If it has Jakes, there should be a switch to turn them on and off, either on the dash or more likely on the switch panel next to the driver's window. Placement will depend on the preference of whoever installed them

As for starting, the 9's originally had a master switch and push button start switch on the dash to the right of the steering column. Might or might not still be set up like this. Hopefully the seller, even with his limited knowledge, will know how to start it.

I'm Looking for some tips, specifically...

I read a document a while back, can't remember where, that walked you thru pre-driving checks and airing up etc, can someone reply with the link please?


Here is one pre-trip checklist:

http://www.busnut.com/bbs/messages/12262/16203.html?1167072614

Good luck with it.

Bob
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RJ
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« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2011, 01:18:10 AM »

Paul -

In addition to the link Bob posted, here's another one for you:

http://www.busnut.com/bbs/messages/12262/16204.html?1167073154

Near the end are some comments about driving an automatic, which is what you'll need.  Pay attention.

When behind the wheel, remember you're sitting three feet in front of the steering axle, way different than a car.

When making turns, the coach pivots around the drive axle, not the steering axle.  You must control where the REAR axle goes.  Trying to do anything else is asking for trouble.

Teresa was right - if you cannot make the turn, sit and wait for traffic to figure out a way to get around you.  Don't rush, that causes rub rail rash.

If you have a transit system in town using full-sized equipment, watch how those guys jockey these things around a corner - will give you a good visual about how it's done.

Your exterior mirrors are your friend, use them wisely and constantly.  Make sure they're adjusted properly before setting off on the big adventure.

If the bus doesn't start from the push button on the dash, get out and take a look at the middle or rear baggage bin doors.  Stand at an angle and see if you can see the faint outline of Greyhound Corp in the stainless.  If so, get back in the driver's seat and turn on the "step" switch on the LH panel, then try to start it.  If it starts - great!  If it doesn't, go back to the engine compartment and try starting it from the rear.  Remember to leave the master switch on up front, too.

Speaking of the LH switch panel, if the bus has a Jake brake, the activation switch will be on this panel near the rear (closest to your elbow when seated) of the cluster.  To use the Jakes, simply turn the switch on.  They work automatically whenever you close the throttle.

When actually driving - STOP LOOKING AT THE CAR RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU!  Biggest mistake newbie bus drivers make.  Get your eyes UP - look 10 -15 seconds down the road ahead of you, that gives you the additional safety margin of being able to spot things earlier and thus react to them.  Keep your eyes moving - be VERY aware at all times what's going on around you.

Above all, have fun!

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink
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RJ Long
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« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2011, 03:31:06 AM »

If starting from the back, be carefull of moving belts etc. Ones clothing could easily get tangled up, causing injury or even death. We wouldn't want to hear that. Good luck testing it.
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Steve Canzellarini
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« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2011, 05:50:16 AM »

First do what I did.  Download this and read it cover to cover TWICE.
http://www.buses101.com/mci-9_manuals.htm#MCI_9_Operators_Manual_in_PDF
Know the bus and systems be for you ever see it. I printed it and took it with me on the road just in case.
This is the tip of the iceburg you have a long way to go from here.  I am still struggling to get in to all the systems to understand placement and locations of components.

Brice
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1980 MCI-9 "The Last Resort" Located just south of Atlanta GA.
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« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2011, 06:32:16 AM »

My best advice for airbrake driving is don't use them.  If you don't need them don't use them.  Meaning look way down the road and let the bus stop itself.  Low and slow if you know what I mean.

The next advice is don't use only the brakes to stop.  I made the mistake of driving a bus like a car.  I tried stopping the bus with the brakes all the time.  I learned to down shift and things worked a whole lot better for me.
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« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2011, 07:46:01 AM »

Pickpaul  - I'd suggest a pre-start feel of the engine, to see just how cold of an engine you're starting.

You'll want to know if the coach has parking brakes of the DD-3 or spring-type, each has a different release procedure.

Also, if you need to maneuver the coach around, try not to pump or "ride" the brakes while doing so. Repeated brake cycling at crawl speed may exhaust the air reservoir.

Best luck with your venture
« Last Edit: March 01, 2011, 07:50:13 AM by TedsBUSted » Logged

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paulrobie
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« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2011, 01:29:07 PM »

No tips here but... I too am going to pick up my (first) bus this on Thursday May 3) and am looking forward to it. Good luck on the bus purchase!
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pickpaul
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« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2011, 01:35:39 PM »

Interesting. So how do I find which type of parking brake it is and how to disengage it? I'm not getting far without working out that :-)
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bevans6
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« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2011, 01:44:58 PM »

It has DD3 parking brakes.  after the air pressure is all the way up to 120 psi and the purge valve has purged (loud whooshing noise under the bus), push the parking brake button beside the seat down all the way and then put the foot brake pedal on full for 5 seconds.  If they're gonna disengage, that will do it.

Brian
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