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Author Topic: Towed brake connection, serious safety and legal issue  (Read 3271 times)
buswarrior
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« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2007, 08:53:10 AM »

For the loop hole lurkers...

First, let's remember, in the civil courts, the letter of the law is rather meaningless when there are better solutions available and one chooses not to be responsible and employ them.... So don't be purposely dumb when you can be smarter? anyway, that's not the discussion I'm starting...

CVSA is an organization tasked with ensuring consistancy in inspection procedures and defining out of service criteria between all enforcement officers across all the jurisdictions of the US, Canada and eventually Mexico. They are NOT involved with the statutes that the various enforcement officers use to lay charges in their own jurisdictions. You want to review the actual statutes that may apply to you, where you live, and whether you have concern regarding reciprocity with the jurisdictions you travel through, or whether you must comply with each jurisdiction's rules.

bus conversions aren't commercial vehicles, so legally speaking, they all go out the window.

what were the regulations at the time your chassis was built?  Many bus chassis being used as conversions pre-date much of the regs about these trailer/air system matters.

The base highway traffic act/motor vehicle act/whatever, in your jurisdiction will contain some basic motherhood standards. That's about the only ones that will be legally able to be applied against you.

Unless you give them the chance to define you as a commercial vehicle... best to know intimately the various definitions of that, because there are more than two, if you conduct any business activity out of or by way of the coach, or claim some bus expences as business related on your taxes... good luck!

Remember a motivated liar-for-hire will be coming after you....

Well, if you want to play the game, and bend the rules, you best know the rules intimately, and the book is pretty thick!!!

From a moral standpoint, and peace of mind, I'd suggest that it is reasonable and relatively easy and inexpensive to have your toad perform according to the latest commercial regulation expectations.
What does a tank of fuel/inverter/generator/refrigerator/ice makerair conditioner/Webasto each cost? Toad braking system can be put together for far less than much of what we spend money on.

That would be above and beyond the law, something your lawyer will be able to use in your defence!

happy coaching!
buswarrior
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Jerry Liebler
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« Reply #16 on: September 02, 2007, 09:18:03 AM »

Buswarior,
    The Federal motor vehicle saftey standards, quite specifically CFR 49 571.121 do not exempt RVs or bus conversions, regardless of age, and clearly require, in S5.1.3 protection of the (air brake equiped) towing vehicle's air pressure in the event of any failure in whatever is towed. It simply makes sense to live within this law. How or if it's ever enforced, who knows.
Regards
Jerry 4107 1120
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TomC
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« Reply #17 on: September 02, 2007, 09:49:54 AM »

I'm wrestling with the same thing.  Pulling my 3,750lb car, it still does not put my rig over the 36,000gvw it is rated, so my braking even with the towed is within design specs (with towed I weigh 34,750lb).  What I want to protect is break away.  Installing a truly second air circuit duplicating what semis have is the best, then if you loose trailer braking, the bus braking will be unaffected.  It makes me nervous just to tap into the relay side of the braking system to provide the air pressure for the air cylinder on the towed.  And on mine, it would be a floor mounted air cylinder that is removable since the air cylinder between the master cylinder and the brake booster is not available for Mercedes.  Hopefully someone will do an install with a suitable solution.  Good Luck, TomC
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Jerry Liebler
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« Reply #18 on: September 02, 2007, 11:09:57 AM »

Tomc,
    The roadmaster system adds several things for 'break away' protection.  A check valve, a small reservoir, a solenoid valve, and a breakaway switch are added.  The instructions tell you to begin your trip with several hard applications of the brakes.  This is to pressurise the reservoir through the check valve.  I in the event of a break away the solenoid valve will be actuated by the towed's battery and the breakaway switch, this will pressurise the air cylinder from the reservoir.  The problem is that the same breakaway has left the coach air brakes with a 1/4" tube blading the coach air. 
Regards
Jerry 4107 1120
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Stan
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« Reply #19 on: September 02, 2007, 12:01:04 PM »

My suggestion would be to look at the hydraulic couplers on the back of a farm tractor. They have been using a simple break away protection system for the last fifty years.
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JackConrad
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« Reply #20 on: September 02, 2007, 02:15:44 PM »

A bonus would be having a way of verifying the performance of the toad brakes while underway,

    When I installed the M&G unit on our Grand Cherokee, I added a 3 PSI N.O. pressure switch at the M&G unit.  Anytime the M&G is activated, the feed from the pressure switch activates a flashing red LED on the dash. Part of our pre-trip is to make a hard brake application and check the flashing LED to make sure the M&G is working. This hard application also fills the emergency air tank on the car for break-away protection.
  In the event the break-away switch should accidentally be activated by the break-away cable catching on something, the flashing LED will warn me (and hopefully prevent a possible brake fire).
   When I installed the M&G, I did a test by putting 40 PSI in the emergency tank and temporarily replacing the break-away switch with a SPST switch. I drove down our road at 45 MPH, transmission in neutral, let loose of the steering wheel and flipped the switch. Nice firm stop in a straight line. The small tank allowed several test stops before running out of air. 
    When I made the break-away cable, I connected the car to the bus, including the safety tow cables. I then unhooked the hitch and pushed the car back to the end of the safety cables. I made the break-away cable about 3" shorter than this length. Hopefully I will never find out how well this works, but in the event of a break-away, the Cherokee brakes should apply just as the safety cables become tight. If this happens as planned, the coiled air hose should have enough slack that it will not break. If the Cherokee leaves the bus, I am not sure how that broken 1/4" air line will affect bus braking.  Since we live out in the country, I may try a test. I can insert a male quick connect fitting in the toad brake connection on the rear of the bus and drive down the road.  When I apply the brakes, with a 100-125 PSI pressure in my air tanks, I can see if I have plenty of air to stop. Mind you, I would consider this a "quick emergency stop".  If I get a chance to do this next week, I will post the results.  Jack
« Last Edit: September 03, 2007, 06:33:36 AM by JackConrad » Logged

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« Reply #21 on: September 02, 2007, 05:01:02 PM »

There was a similar discussion some time ago here:http://www.busconversions.com/bbs/index.php?topic=3413.0
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buswarrior
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« Reply #22 on: September 03, 2007, 12:02:25 AM »

Hello Jerry.

First, I agree with you completely in the moral imperitive to protect our fellow man from harm, and work on my bus conversion accordingly.

But on the legalities,

Wrong body of law,
You don't get charged under the federal motor vehicle safety standards, you are charged under your jurisdiction's motor vehicle code/highway traffic act and those related regulations in relation to operating the vehicle on the road in some inappropriate manner.

FMVSS is for the design and manufacture of the vehicle, which we aren't doing, applicable as of the date of manufacture. For instance, we do not have to retrofit older equipment to meet the newer standards. For instance, lots of us with single circuit brakes, many of us with no spring brakes.

We are maintaining and modifying an operating vehicle of some vintage.

happy coaching!
buswarrior
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donnreeves
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« Reply #23 on: September 03, 2007, 05:34:24 AM »

I'm not going to address the legal issues, just the practical. If a 1/4" line to the toad was ruptured it would have a very minimal impact on the braking of the bus. One of the reasons for using air brakes on heavy vehicles is the fact that a blown line or diaphram won't affect the system to a great degree. I have blown several air lines and diaphrams in my career, even have driven with the trailer valve wide open, and it really made no difference to the stopping ablility of the truck. The only big effect is that it will deplete the air supply if the pedal is depressed for a long time at low RPM. Then it will use up the air supply.All that said, do I think it a good idea to have protection for the bus air supply? By all means Would I install it on my bus? yes. The point is that a ruptured toad air line will only blow when the brake is applied, and even then not enough to cause a major braking problem.   Donn
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