Road trip from hell...

All things outside of Burning Man.
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CapSmashy
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Road trip from hell...

Post by CapSmashy » Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:36 am

Traveling in the bus this year has certainly been an experience.

Mechanically, the bus has been awesome. We're averaging up around 12 mpg, but jesus fucking christ it is slow going. We are finally in the home stretch, lumbering across central Texas for the last 200 or so miles.

I'm pretty sure our average speed is around the 52 mph range which makes covering 800 miles a very arduous adventure. The novelty of the road trip wore off sometime during the day on Wednesday and was replaced by "Holy fuck, let's just ditch this fucker at the airport and catch a plane".

4 more hours until I get to crawl into my bed instead of sitting on this dusty couch.

Dr Sinister is behind the wheel with a look of crazed determination behind her 1000 yard stare.

To top it all off, the last bit of the drive will be heading into a wall of rain for the last 120 miles or so.

Sigh...
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Post by goathead » Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:41 am

LMAO

Sorry Cap

Maybe next time drive it out, "much more fun"
Then find some place to store it here.
:D
Come out a little early to restock, repair. and enjoy.
:D

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Post by CapSmashy » Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:57 am

Oops, that 800 above should be 3800 miles for the round trip. :lol:

On the way out, somewhere around the 30 hour mark of driving straight through to Fernley (42 hours total) I contemplated putting it on a 48 hour auction on EBay for $20k as a complete Burner package for 4 including all supplies, tickets and EA passes. :lol:

We did 2 nights in hotel for the drive home but we detoured down to I-10 for a flater drive home and added about 400 miles to the trip.

I'm going to wind up sinking an obscene of money into it to get ready for next year's trip. Beef up the transmission and kick her up to around 375 horsepower with a bigger turbo, tuned exhaust, bigger injectors and a rear end gear swap for better highway cruising. Oh yeah, and some major suspension upgrades so it doesn't ride like a school bus anymore. :lol:

But, we'll still be way ahead in terms of the cost of fixing this beast up as compared to what it would cost for an RV of comparable size and power. We'll also have the added bonus of if we focus on setting it up for Burning Man trips, she'll be grossly over prepared for for any other camping trips we go on in between our Playa treks. :)
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Post by goathead » Sat Sep 12, 2009 3:02 am

Now that is a reason to go for it.

Do you use her much is the off-burn season?
:D

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Post by CapSmashy » Sat Sep 12, 2009 3:32 am

Well, we've only had her 4 months. For the trip out, I slapped on new steer tires, had to replace the injection pump, had the engine tuned up and crossed my fingers.

But yeah, we'll be doing more traveling in the future. :)
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Post by goathead » Sat Sep 12, 2009 3:38 am

Got an old one myself, "needs a motor" wanted to get it going, but haven't had any time at home at all.

Really looking forward to being able to though.
:lol:

fuck I am tired.
eyes are going nuts.

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Post by thinfilmguy » Sat Sep 12, 2009 6:35 am

Sounds like a real pain. I have a bus too - bought it 6 months ago and have put about a 1000 hrs & $10K into it to make it cool. Its called the Jungle bus - did the interior in jungle/safari with lots of zebra, leopard, etc . I had a great trip. My drive was only 4 hours to BRC, but I can see how a long trip would wear on you. I can cruise at 65 but was towing a trailer with my art car so stayed at 55 the whole time. What kind of bus are you driving? Mine is a 58 GMC 4104, an ex-trailways highway cruiser so it loves the highway - really slow on the hills. No turbo, just a solid 671 w/4 speed. There are some screamin deals on busses now and a highway Vs a skoolie is the way to go if you drive long distance - gearing and air ride and all. Goathead has the right idea if you are going to keep it a a burner bus only - lots of cheap storage in Gerlach.
I LOVE my bus!
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Post by Kinetik V » Sat Sep 12, 2009 7:25 am

Dumb question...do any busses come with an automatic transmission? I don't mind manuals and heavy clutches but I've got some people who have knee problems...and working a clutch would make their driving in one miserable.

After years of half ass thinking about it I was given a mandate to find a better solution for hauling stuff to BRC including a possible art car so the bus is now a top priority for 2010.

One thing that has me worried is the 55 mph problem. Excluding my scooters I don't want to own or sink money into any vehicle that can't at least run 60 mph on the interstate. If that means supercharging or turbos, then that's the route we'll have to go...I won't be parked in the slow lane for 1000 miles...

I know there's some info here on the eplaya about school bus conversions...I'll have to go searching in a few minutes and see if I can find it.
Kinetic V
~~~~~~
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Post by thinfilmguy » Sat Sep 12, 2009 7:35 am

Kinetic V
There are lots of busses with auto, mostly Alloson 4-speeds. They are great transmissions, rugged, and easy to drive, but your milage will drop to about 7-8 mpg. Thats the price you pay for comfort.
Chesk out the "bus nuts" forum, it's a really great bunch of very knowledgable bus folk and they can give you a ton of info. I have been on there many times and they have answered lots of questions for me. You probably don't need a turbo or more HP, you might just need higher gears. One of the main problems with a skoolie is that they were built to run around city streets and have low gears so they can easily get up and down hills etc. A highway bus on the other hand has much higher gears and many will run 70mph all day long. Mine is an early highway bus and could use a turbo just because the engine is pretty low power.
What kind of bus do you have?
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Post by ygmir » Sat Sep 12, 2009 7:43 am

my buddy, Looneytune, got a bus this year......Bluebird schoolie......

auto trans, but, the Cat 3208 NA seemed underpowered.......ran good on the flats, but, slow on hills.......cool ride though, he really fixed it up nice......
If I can convince him to post here, I'm sure he can add a lot of insight.

In a diesel, cubes, turbo, and cooling are your friend. You can't really get to big and engine, and, they work less......having the h.p. available doesn't mean you have to use it, but, if you need/want it, it's nice to have......
and, they still get good mileage if you stay off the throttle........
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Post by Kinetik V » Sat Sep 12, 2009 7:43 am

I don't have one...yet. But after this year's trip and with the downright massive plans in place already for next year it's making more and more sense to buy one and start in. Added incentive came from a call to Cruise America...OMG...for the cost of the rental for one use we can get something setup that will work as a base camp for our trips to Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri along with Colorado.

I appreciate the other info...I'm heading that way in a few minutes to start reading up.

Edit: The best part...this is a community property project...I get to do the research and give the project direction but since I'm practically disabled these days...I have others with the pocketbooks to pay for it. And I have the time to devote to doing this right. As long as the princess contingent is reasonably comfy going out and back on it...I have a blank slate to work with and a budget that's not bare bones either.
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~~~~~~
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Post by thinfilmguy » Sat Sep 12, 2009 7:49 am

I agree 100% on the power thing, but it might be that there is enough power now, but limited by the gearing in which case top speed will still be low. CI and turbo don't necessarily gain higher RPM, I don't think. A bit more research is in order - adding a turbo and extra cooling is a pretty spendy undertakaking and not for the faint of heart. I am thinking of doing a turbo, but before I do, I am going to have my injectors tuned up and put some miles on the old girl to see how it goes. In my case, living at 5000 ft, the turbo will really help and also reduce the black smoke a bit.

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Post by Kinetik V » Sat Sep 12, 2009 7:57 am

I believe in simplicity...and anything I can do to keep Murphy's Law at bay I do. If the engine bay looks like about 10000 snakes took up residence in there it equals higher costs and more points of potential failure. Clean, classic designs, proven powerplants that can be worked on in BFE without taking 2 weeks to special order parts...that's what I'm after. If it's too old you might even have to get into fabricating your own parts...and while right now I can do some of that...I have to plan for the days when I can't.

I currently live in Denver and have always been interested in how altitude impacts engines and what can be done to adjust for it. And I hate being stuck in the truck lane at 35 mph...or less climbing up to the Eisenhower Tunnel or up Vail Pass. All of these things are being taken into consideration...and it's why I have lots of research to do...and questions to ask. Still it's enjoyable work!
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Post by ygmir » Sat Sep 12, 2009 8:15 am

thinfilmguy wrote:I agree 100% on the power thing, but it might be that there is enough power now, but limited by the gearing in which case top speed will still be low. CI and turbo don't necessarily gain higher RPM, I don't think. A bit more research is in order - adding a turbo and extra cooling is a pretty spendy undertakaking and not for the faint of heart. I am thinking of doing a turbo, but before I do, I am going to have my injectors tuned up and put some miles on the old girl to see how it goes. In my case, living at 5000 ft, the turbo will really help and also reduce the black smoke a bit.

Jungle Jim
you're right, CI and turbo don't make higher rpm.......but, allow for pulling taller gears.........

regarding my friends bus, it's power.......he's down in second gear on a steep hill, but, running 75 on the flats.......
if it was gearing, IMHO, he'd be in high gear on the hill and just over revving for speed........

Extra cooling can be had fairly reasonably, via oil coolers....and, a diesel engine relies heavily on oil for cooling. This is especially important on hard pulls and, moreso if turbocharged......you also have to watch the exhaust gas temps on a turbo....to much boost and you can melt the tops off the pistons........but, the turbo does add efficiency and really helps at altitude.....once it spins up, that is.....taking off can still be a challenge for the first few MPH........

Adding a turbo to a NA engine is not always simple........depending on the engine, you may have different injectors/settings, piston cooling, and exhaust valves for turbo vs non........you'd have to check the specs in each case.

Turbos are very reliable, and, don't really cause issues as far as maintenance and breakdowns etc........for my money, they are the only way to go with a diesel engine in an over the road vehicle......and, they do help reduce smoking issues.

I have 6 diesel powered vehicles with turbos........
and 3 without.......
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Post by thinfilmguy » Sat Sep 12, 2009 8:52 am

You are right on all accounts! A simple way to get some added cooling is with a mister over the radiator. It's anot a real fix, but if you are right on the edge and see a hill looming, the mist will buy 15 degrees or so and is pretty simple to install, just use distilled water to avoid covering your engine with calcium!

I have an 06 Dodge 1T dually with the Cummins and I LOVE it! There is a Crown bus I am looking at that has been in school service and has less than 50K on an in-frame on a factory 671T and I might just pick it up. If I do an engine swap (lots of work), I will have my highway bus with a turbo, and the crown - no-turbo which would make a great dedicated Burner bus. Lots of things to do, but I am considering it. The crown also has an Allison and highway gears so it will cruise at 65 all day long, but it only gets 7-8 mpg Vs the 13 I get in my bus now.

So many busses, so little time...

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Post by KPS1980 » Sat Sep 12, 2009 9:32 am

You may get lucky and be able to install an overdrive unit on the bus. Check with GEAR VENDERS in I think Santee Ca. It will bolt up to the tranny. I'm not familliar with buses enough to know for sure but this business will be able to give very good advice on the matter.
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Post by TomServo » Sun Sep 13, 2009 12:24 am

Kinetic V wrote:Dumb question...do any busses come with an automatic transmission? I don't mind manuals and heavy clutches but I've got some people who have knee problems...and working a clutch would make their driving in one miserable.

After years of half ass thinking about it I was given a mandate to find a better solution for hauling stuff to BRC including a possible art car so the bus is now a top priority for 2010.

One thing that has me worried is the 55 mph problem. Excluding my scooters I don't want to own or sink money into any vehicle that can't at least run 60 mph on the interstate. If that means supercharging or turbos, then that's the route we'll have to go...I won't be parked in the slow lane for 1000 miles...

I know there's some info here on the eplaya about school bus conversions...I'll have to go searching in a few minutes and see if I can find it.
City and prison busses come up at auction a lot. Most of the busses I drove through were automatic. The push button types. Wanted to bid on a prison bus, but didn't think id get it. Damned thing sold for $100 as I drove it past the auctioneer.
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Post by CapSmashy » Sun Sep 13, 2009 9:45 am

Ahhhhhh.... just slept for 14 hours... I feel better now. :lol:

I'll try to muddle through some answers.

My bus is an 89 Bluebird TC2000 (flat nose). Engine is 5.9L Cummins 12valve with turbo. Transmission is an Allison AT545, 4 speed automatic.

KPS: Good thought on an overdrive unit. I had even thought about that. I will start researching that option as well.

School districts are typically your best resource for buying a bus if you are in the market for one. Since they are carrying our children, they have ironclad maintenance schedules and replacement policies for their fleets and typically will sell buses at auction that have barely even made it to a third of their life expectancy. And also, the larger the district's bus fleet, the faster they typically turn them over for newer buses.

I would recommend a diesel over a gas powered bus. The longevity factor of a diesel powerplant is pretty much indisputable and while it does cost more to work on a diesel when its necessary for service, they have a lot fewer areas by design that can go wrong. Gas mileage is also typically higher in a diesel setup.

One of the other things I've learned on my bus research before buying mine, the stock, factory set up is usually bulletproof regardless of application. In my bus for example, I can simply budget in for the lower speeds on my next long trip and not spend a dime to have hundreds of thousands of miles of reliable vehicle life provided I stick to regular maintenance schedules and keep her tuned up.

However, like most gearheads, I want more power. :lol: This will equate to spending a lot more money for upgrading the power train over say hot rodding a car since every component of the drivetrain on the factory bus set up has to be taken into consideration. Based on initial research, I can take the engine from its stock 200 horsepower and easily get it up into the 350 range for around $2k. Bigger turbo, better exhaust, bigger injectors, etc. Easy bolt ons. However, the transmission can not handle that kind of beefed up power from the engine, so I have to get the transmission either built up for the additional power or replace the transmission with one that will handle the additional power.

So now I have more power and a transmission that can take it, what about the drive shaft and linkages? It would suck to go to all that trouble on the motor and transmission and grenade the driveshaft on the first hill when the 1000 ft/lbs of torque (as opposed to the stock 450ft/lbs or so) gets transferred to it. What do I need to do to the rear end to handle the increase in power. Do I nee to upgrade my wheel bearings for higher speeds. What modifications need to be done to the brakes for handling higher speeds. Etc.
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Post by CapSmashy » Sun Sep 13, 2009 9:54 am

thinfilmguy wrote:Sounds like a real pain. I have a bus too - bought it 6 months ago and have put about a 1000 hrs & $10K into it to make it cool. Its called the Jungle bus - did the interior in jungle/safari with lots of zebra, leopard, etc . I had a great trip. My drive was only 4 hours to BRC, but I can see how a long trip would wear on you. I can cruise at 65 but was towing a trailer with my art car so stayed at 55 the whole time. What kind of bus are you driving? Mine is a 58 GMC 4104, an ex-trailways highway cruiser so it loves the highway - really slow on the hills. No turbo, just a solid 671 w/4 speed. There are some screamin deals on busses now and a highway Vs a skoolie is the way to go if you drive long distance - gearing and air ride and all. Goathead has the right idea if you are going to keep it a a burner bus only - lots of cheap storage in Gerlach.
I LOVE my bus!
Jungle Jim
Our trip wasn't that bad, just much slower than anticipated. I was merely adding some drama to the storyline. :lol:

I was looking at the highway cruiser buses (Greyhound type) and while the costs have come down on them, there is no comparison cost wise between them and a skoolie. We bought our bus for $4k, but it had already had some conversion work done. The only highway buses we could find in that price range had hundreds of thousands of miles on them and questionable maintenance histories and listed issues.

Although we are planning for a dedicated Burning Man bus design in our upgrades, we will be using it for other trips so Gerlach storage is not really a consideration. Plus, I specifically found a mid sized skoolie to get under the driveway restriction in my city. Maximum vehicle length parked in the driveway allowed under city code is 35 feet. Our bus is 33' 4" from bumper to bumper. :)
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Post by CapSmashy » Sun Sep 13, 2009 9:55 am

Kinetic V wrote:I know there's some info here on the eplaya about school bus conversions...I'll have to go searching in a few minutes and see if I can find it.
Search for posts by Elliot. He has potentially the definitive skoolie post on the site and covers a number of issues.
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Post by ygmir » Sun Sep 13, 2009 9:56 am

CapSmashy wrote:Ahhhhhh.... just slept for 14 hours... I feel better now. :lol:

I'll try to muddle through some answers.

My bus is an 89 Bluebird TC2000 (flat nose). Engine is 5.9L Cummins 12valve with turbo. Transmission is an Allison AT545, 4 speed automatic.

KPS: Good thought on an overdrive unit. I had even thought about that. I will start researching that option as well.

School districts are typically your best resource for buying a bus if you are in the market for one. Since they are carrying our children, they have ironclad maintenance schedules and replacement policies for their fleets and typically will sell buses at auction that have barely even made it to a third of their life expectancy. And also, the larger the district's bus fleet, the faster they typically turn them over for newer buses.

I would recommend a diesel over a gas powered bus. The longevity factor of a diesel powerplant is pretty much indisputable and while it does cost more to work on a diesel when its necessary for service, they have a lot fewer areas by design that can go wrong. Gas mileage is also typically higher in a diesel setup.

One of the other things I've learned on my bus research before buying mine, the stock, factory set up is usually bulletproof regardless of application. In my bus for example, I can simply budget in for the lower speeds on my next long trip and not spend a dime to have hundreds of thousands of miles of reliable vehicle life provided I stick to regular maintenance schedules and keep her tuned up.

However, like most gearheads, I want more power. :lol: This will equate to spending a lot more money for upgrading the power train over say hot rodding a car since every component of the drivetrain on the factory bus set up has to be taken into consideration. Based on initial research, I can take the engine from its stock 200 horsepower and easily get it up into the 350 range for around $2k. Bigger turbo, better exhaust, bigger injectors, etc. Easy bolt ons. However, the transmission can not handle that kind of beefed up power from the engine, so I have to get the transmission either built up for the additional power or replace the transmission with one that will handle the additional power.

So now I have more power and a transmission that can take it, what about the drive shaft and linkages? It would suck to go to all that trouble on the motor and transmission and grenade the driveshaft on the first hill when the 1000 ft/lbs of torque (as opposed to the stock 450ft/lbs or so) gets transferred to it. What do I need to do to the rear end to handle the increase in power. Do I nee to upgrade my wheel bearings for higher speeds. What modifications need to be done to the brakes for handling higher speeds. Etc.
I would think the only issue with the driveshaft, rear end, bearings would relate to "jackrabbit" starts.....that's when maximum torque load and shock are applied there, or, maybe super heavy pulls on hills with a very large load......if you take off slowly, or normally, then, once you're rolling, I'd not think there'd be much difference......probably mostly the same for the tranny, although, long steep hills will generate more heat for faster speeds/power. Perhaps increased trans cooling?

the brakes should be fine. they need to be engineered to work at totally max speed, and, with saftey margins as well (especailly if it's a school bus, it'd probably have the best brakes available).......I would think the only brake issue would relate to, if, you're carrying or pulling larger than designed for loads.

that's just my 2 cents......
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Post by Simon of the Playa » Sun Sep 13, 2009 9:59 am

do it the easy way next time.



try strapping yourself to a motor and two wheels for 4500 miles...






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Post by ygmir » Sun Sep 13, 2009 10:06 am

Simon:
have you cleaned the windshield yet?

now, that's gotta be impressive........


(the baby screaming/duck call was a hit, thanks again)
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Post by CapSmashy » Sun Sep 13, 2009 10:32 am

ygmir wrote:I would think the only issue with the driveshaft, rear end, bearings would relate to "jackrabbit" starts.....that's when maximum torque load and shock are applied there, or, maybe super heavy pulls on hills with a very large load......if you take off slowly, or normally, then, once you're rolling, I'd not think there'd be much difference......probably mostly the same for the tranny, although, long steep hills will generate more heat for faster speeds/power. Perhaps increased trans cooling?

the brakes should be fine. they need to be engineered to work at totally max speed, and, with saftey margins as well (especailly if it's a school bus, it'd probably have the best brakes available).......I would think the only brake issue would relate to, if, you're carrying or pulling larger than designed for loads.

that's just my 2 cents......
I actually not worried about the drive shaft or the rearend, but I will talk to a heavy mechanic and replace the ujoints and such as a precaution.

And oh yeah, I am going to upgrade the brake pads to the heavy equipment equivalent of racing brakes.
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Post by CapSmashy » Sun Sep 13, 2009 10:33 am

Simon of the Playa wrote:do it the easy way next time.



try strapping yourself to a motor and two wheels for 4500 miles...

:lol: I am so bummed I missed your visit at Terminal City Tuesday night.
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Post by Elliot » Sun Sep 13, 2009 11:10 am

:D
Ahhh, my 15 minutes of fame are back!

http://eplaya.burningman.org/viewtopic. ... 83&start=0

:D

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Post by pinemom » Mon Sep 14, 2009 10:38 am

I was going to askk about that Diesel thing...
Isnt the diesels the easiest ones to change over to vegie oil? for Bio?

But I guess if you going BENFORD 100,000 arg arg arg you wont be able to succesfully do that now will you...hehehee


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Post by ygmir » Mon Sep 14, 2009 10:41 am

pinemom wrote:I was going to askk about that Diesel thing...
Isnt the diesels the easiest ones to change over to vegie oil? for Bio?

But I guess if you going BENFORD 100,000 arg arg arg you wont be able to succesfully do that now will you...hehehee


Good times!
diesels are the only one you can change to veggie oil or biodiesel...........

gas goes to ethanol or a mix thereof with gasoline.......
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Kinetik V
Posts: 1653
Joined: Fri Sep 07, 2007 10:43 am
Burning Since: 2002
Camp Name: Sanctuary West

Post by Kinetik V » Mon Sep 14, 2009 12:01 pm

Question: Can anyone help me identify what kind of bus this is? It was parked along the 3:30 spoke....and I love the looks of it. But I haven't got a clue as to what kind it is, much less if they can still be found, etc.

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Kinetic V
~~~~~~
I bring order to chaos. And I bring chaos to those who deserve it, wherever that may be.

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CapSmashy
Posts: 1917
Joined: Thu Sep 28, 2006 12:29 pm
Burning Since: 2007
Camp Name: Terminal City://404 Village Not Found
Location: Awesome Camp 2.0

Post by CapSmashy » Mon Sep 14, 2009 8:13 pm

Aw shit... i talked with them too. He was one of the builders for The Gypsy Queen, the fantastic fishing trawler art car. Great bunch of folks out of North Carolina.

I want to say its a 1948 GMC...

YES!!! I ran back through my pictures and found it.

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Playawaste Raiders cordially invites you to suck it.

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