BUSRide Maintenance October 2017 digital

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The 79000 Series Axle by Meritor:


Bus wash systems – making the right choice p8 | A bus shouldn’t ride like a truck p11


Visit the Transit Maintenance Forum at BusCon This year in Indianapolis, September 11 – 13, at BusCon 2017, BUSRide Maintenance is proud to co-sponsor the 2nd Annual Transit Maintenance Forum in cooperation with METRO Magazine. This year’s event will spotlight some very important issues for transit maintenance professionals, including a heavy focus on electrification, innovative technologies, training and staffing, and federal regulations. The steering committee, consisting of leading minds at MV Transportation, VIA Metropolitan, Los Angeles County and IndyGo, as well as the venerable Halsey King, have prepared a loaded slate of topics, including: “Managing Transit Technology vs. It Managing You” “Digital Technology Solutions that Help to Make Proactive Repair and Maintenance Decisions” “Shaping Zero-Emission Bus Procurement and Workforce Development Training Standards” “A Look at Conductive and Inductive Charging of Electric Buses” “How Connected/Automated Vehicle Technology Will Impact Transportation” “Federal Regulation Update: TAM and Bus Testing” “How the Industry Can Tackle Labor and Staffing Needs” Join us in Indianapolis for a deep dive on these fascinating topics. Learn more and register now at http://www.busconexpo.com/Page/Transit-Maintenance-Forum.aspx.

busride.com VOLUME 07, NUMBER 7 Judi Victor CEO, Publisher and Director of Sales jvfly@busride.com

Richard Tackett Editor in Chief rtackett@busride.com

David Hubbard Associate Publisher dhubbard@busride.com

Stephen Gamble Art Director sgamble@busride.com

Joyce Guzowski Assistant Editor jguzowski@busride.com

Mitch Larson Business Manager mlarson@busride.com

Blair McCarty

We can’t wait to meet you there.

Sr. Sales and Marketing Coordinator bmccarty@busride.com

Hollie Broadbent Richard Tackett

Marketing & Sales Associate hbroadbent@busride.com

Editor in Chief




6 > Performance for all transit bus applications Meritor has created what it says is the “next generation” single reduction drive axle, optimized for all length transit buses and all power trains By John Wolf

A publication of:


7 > Think “heavy-duty pit stop” Compare the bus in the garage to a racecar in the speedway pit By Christopher W. Ferrone

8 > BUSRide Maintenance Roundtable Discussion: Bus wash systems: Choosing the best option for your fleet BUSRide Maintenance brought together some of the sharpest minds in the bus industry for a deep dive on bus washing


11 > Focus On: Bus Suspensions By Joel Badskey


4742 North 24th Street, STE 340 Phoenix, Arizona 85016 Phone: (602) 265-7600 Fax: (602) 277-7588 busride.com

BUSRide Maintenance™ Magazine is published eight times annually by Power Trade Media, a division of The Producers, Inc., 4742 N. 24th Street, Ste. 340, Phoenix, AZ 85016. Subscription rates for non-qualified subscribers, single issue prices and pricing for reprints of 100 or more are available from: info@busride. com. All articles in BUSRide Maintenance™ Magazine are copyrighted and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written permission of the publisher. Copyright 2017 by Power Trade Media. No advertisement, sponsorship or description or reference to a product or service will be deemed an endorsement by Power Trade Media, and no warranty is made or implied. Information is obtained from sources the editors believe reliable, accurate and timely, but is not guaranteed, and Power Trade Media is not responsible for errors or omissions. Opinions expressed in BUSRide Maintenance™ Magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher or sponsors or advertisers. Content addressing legal, tax and other technical issues is not intended as professional advice and cannot be relied on as such; readers should consult with their own professional advisors.


Sealed EAO Series 45 Emergency Stop Switches are safe, intuitive and robust The primary function of Series 45 E-Stops is to provide operational safety to the end user while helping to protect machinery, equipment and control systems from damage in the event of malfunctions. Series 45 Emergency Stop Switches meet all necessary global specifications of machinery including DIN EN ISO 13850 and EN 60204-1. These units are designed to be “foolproof� and perform reliably over a wide range of switched currents. They can be customized with plastic or metal actuators in different shapes and sizes (30mm, 40mm or 60mm), feature optional illumination, and can be paired with accessories such as industry recognized legend plates, sealed enclosures, and protective shrouds. Additionally, Series 45 E-Stops are available with key, twist or pull-torelease actions. EAO Shelton, CT

Make oil draining easier The new EZ Oil Drain Valve is now available to fit Caterpillar C-15 ACERT engine with 1-5/16-inch x 12UNF drain plug. Some C-15 ACERT engines come with a larger drain plug option, and the new drain valve part #EZ-215 fits this over-sized drain plug application. The EZ Oil Drain Valve is available in over 30 different sizes and fits Caterpillar, Cummins, Detroit Diesel, Navistar, Volvo, Ford, Mack, Deutz, Isuzu, Hino, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, John Deere, Perkins, and more. Simply replace the drain plug with the valve and oil can be easily drained with a touch of a finger. Push up and turn the lever 90 degrees to drain oil. Return the lever to the locked and closed position, securing it from any accidental openings. Perfect for routine oil changes, but also ideal for taking a small sample of oil for oil analysis. Global Sales Group Redmond, WA

New dismantling tool for removable plug connectors With the new dismantling tool from PE and HAZET, connectors can be removed easily and quickly. To use, insert the removable connector into the dismantling tool, tighten using one of the hexagonal socket wrenches (13 mm) usually on hand at the workshop, and the connector can be removed from the line with little effort. The tool has been developed and produced in Germany and is suitable for all common pipe diameters between 6 and 12 mm. PE Automotive Wuppertal, Germany

Serpentine design improves belt-wear inspection Gates Corporation, a global, diversified manufacturer of automotive, industrial, and heavyduty products, introduces its new Belt Wear Gauge tool for serpentine belt inspection. Designed with input from professional technicians, the small, lightweight tool provides a simple and reliable way to determine belt wear by gauging material loss between belt grooves and providing instant pass/fail results. The new and improved tool makes it easy for professional technicians to diagnose the proper preventive maintenance for customers. It can be used on any open, straight surface on the belt and can also be used onehanded, on or off the vehicle, and in places that are hard to see. Technicians press the tool into the belt grooves with light pressure and then attempt to rock the gauge in a lateral motion. If the gauge remains tightly seated, the belt has sufficient service life remaining and does not need to be replaced. If the gauge allows lateral rocking movement, it indicates that the belt ribs are worn enough to allow belt slip and that the belt should be replaced. Gates Corporation Denver, CO



Luminator advances onboard displays Luminator announced that it now offers three sizes of INFOtransit Onboard Displays for mass transit vehicle infotainment. These high-resolution display screens are incredibly vivid and are available in 18.5, 21.5, and 29-inch sizes. They are the key visual component of Luminator’s INFOtransit® passenger information system, which provides mass transit operator passengers with route and next stop information as well as customized local advertising of businesses, promotions, and events.

Tracerline reduces costs and downtime

The operator can easily configure passenger route information with customizable fonts, colors, texts, and pictures for stop sequence, transfer information, and line sequence at selectable positions on the screen. Multimedia advertising (videos, pictures and text) can be combined and shown with selected lines, destinations, routes, and stops. The passenger route information and advertising can be displayed on completely separate screens if so desired.

Tracerline’s EZ-Ject™ A/C and Fluid Kit (TP-8657HD) finds all system leaks fast. Other bulky, expensive leak detection systems require a time consuming, drawn-out process. And after their smoke has cleared, they end up relying on UV lights and inferior fluorescent dyes to do what the EZ-Ject Kit does the first time—pinpoint the exact source of even tiny leaks quickly, and at one-eighth the cost. That means those little leaks won’t have the chance to become big, expensive problems. Just add the dye and shine the UV light.

Luminator Technology Group Plano, TX

Tracerline Westbury, NY




The Trusted Brake Meter. Portable. Simple. Reliable.




Professionals across the transit industry trust the Vericom VC4000 Brake Meter to ensure compliance with brake efficiency regulations.


Call Tammy Moyer 512-267-5190





L&L Products elastomeric adhesive improves worker safety

MCC revolutionizes compressor mount systems

L&L Products recently announced its development an elastomeric adhesive, A-J215, that a leading bus OEM, which L&L did not name, is using to help bond and seal FRP, stainless steel and aluminium applications. Prior to A-J215, this manufacturer employed a conventional polyurethane elastic adhesive to bond and seal the side, roof, and front and rear panels of its bus and coach models; which required cleaning and priming each substrate with a specialist pre-treatment systems.

Mobile Climate Control (MCC) has developed a unique and proprietary compressor mount system which is a patent pending product in the U.S., Canada and the EU. This compressor mount system allows for simple belt tensioning, compressor alignment, and reduced vibration and can be customized for various engine bay layouts and compressors. The major benefits are drastically reduced installation time, reduced belt wear, ease of belt maintenance, and reduced noise and vibration. This innovative compressor mount system can be used in any bus with any compressor and results in improved performance and reduced life cycle cost for the bus manufacturer as well as for the bus operator.

According L&L Products, these older adhesives, cleaners, and primers all contained hazardous materials, including solvents and isocyanates. The company says its newly formulated material allows this customer to modernize and accelerate its production process for future models. A-J215 primerless and is free from solvents and isocyanates. Panels can be over painted when wet; making it very easy to apply. L&L has secured all technical approvals for it’s a-J215, and will start serial supply later this year.

Mobile Climate Control Stockholm, Sweden

L&L Products Altorf, France

Fowler's Auto Wrecking Inc. Belltown Recycling Center Get all your coach parts on Old Coach Road! MCI & Prevost & Van Hool DETROIT DIESEL SERIES 60 ENGINES Good Running Take Outs Recent Remans Core Units Low Mileage Units Engine Accessories We Offer 1 Year Warranty CALL for price - 860-267-7140

COMPLETE BUSES FOR PARTS Body Panels & Glass Exterior & Interior Lights Wheels & Tires Interior Parts & Seats Tag Axles & Drive Axles Steering & Suspension Parts Cooling, HVAC, and Brake Parts

ALLISON B500 TRANSMISSIONS Good Running Take Outs Recent Remans Core Units Low Mileage Units Modules & Auto Shift Pads We Offer 6 Month Warranty CALL for price - 860-267-7140

CALL 860-267-7140 - 24 Old Coach Rd, East Hampton, CT, 06424 - BelltownRecycling@Yahoo.com BUSRIDE.COM | 5

PERFORMANCE for ALL transit bus applications Meritor has created what it says is the “next generation” single reduction drive axle, optimized for all length transit buses and all power trains Meritor says its 79000 Series axle is the next-generation single reduction drive axle for transit bus vehicles. In an informative interview with BUSRide, John Wolf, senior sales manager – specialty products at Meritor, described this unique product’s inception and what it offers operators and agencies. Please describe the 79000 Series rear-drive axle for transit buses. The 79000 Series single reduction drive axle is Meritor’s latest in our line of industry leading axle products for transit buses. It incorporates a patented and highly innovative gear design that significantly increases the life of the carrier when it is used in 35, 40, and especially 60-foot transit applications. The robustness of the gearing and the carrier itself makes this product ideal for not just the drivetrains of today – diesel, CNG, and hybrid-electric, but the drivetrains of the future, as more emphasis is placed on all-electric vehicles. How did this product come to be? About 20 years ago, the transit bus industry started using hydraulic retarders built into automatic transmissions. As a result, transit authorities were seeing maintenance benefits as the retarders extend the life of the buses’ brake pads and linings – thus reducing their maintenance cost. As this benefit was recognized, transmission manufacturers, increased the retardation capabilities of their retarders to provide the endusers even longer brake life and reduced maintenance costs. Unfortunately, when you use a hydraulic retarder, it puts the axle into a coast load situation. Coast loads are very damaging to the carrier of the axle, as the gear teeth are not typically designed to handle the reversing loads that retarders generate. So although operators were changing brake linings and pads less frequently; it was causing internal damage to the axle. This prompted upgrades to the axles a few times over the last 20 years. While each upgrade added marginal improvement to axle carrier life, the retarders kept getting more powerful thereby generating higher coast condition torques into the axle, to a point that any improvements done to the axles were not sufficient to meet the life expectations of the transit industry. So Meritor did an exhaustive study spanning multiple years, several bus manufacturers and end users and several duty cycles to understand the effects of the entire power train system and their impact to the axle carrier life. This study bought into light the severe magnitude of negative impact the coast torque has on the axle carrier life, so Meritor developed a unique and comprehensive application approval process for transit bus applications that estimates the carrier life based on certain input parameters. While this approach was fairly successful in predicting the carrier life upfront and adding 6 | BUSRIDE.COM | OCTOBER 2017

limitations on coast torque input to the axle, it was not meeting the transit industry expectation for carrier life or brake life. So around 2011, Meritor started our ambitious journey to design, develop and launch our next generation single reduction drive axle for all transit bus applications (35 ft. to 60 ft. and combustion power trains to electric power trains). Engineering parameters included: 1. Whatever was developed had to fit in the same packaging envelope of the current 71000 Series axle. Our current customers needed the ability to use this new axle without making other significant modifications to their vehicles. 2. The axle components had to meet APTA duty-cycle guidelines and life guidelines of five years or 300,000 miles before major repairs / replacement. After about 6 years of persistent hard work and progressive thought process, we are now proud to launch the 79000 Series single reduction axle which meets or exceeds APTA dutycycle guidelines. It can be used across the board from 35 ft. to 60 ft. transit buses and in combustion power trains to electric power trains. What does it mean for end-users? With the launch of 79000 series axle, the end users can now better harness the retardation / regeneration effects to increase brake pad life without having to replace carriers within APTA life guidelines, saving transit authorities significant amount of money / resources not just on the brake pad life but on reduced maintenance / down time. And since we drove the design to fit in the same packaging space and the same suspension interfaces as the current 71000 Series axle, the new 79000 Series axle can easily be retrofitted into buses that have a 71000 Series axle already installed. Another significant advantage for the end user is that the wheel-end equipment (brakes, hubs, rotors or drums, wheel bearings and seals) is all the same so the service parts / maintenance requirements for the axle are all the same as the current 71000 Series. When can operators expect to see the 79000 Series Rear-Drive Axle by Meritor? We intend to start converting current customers to the new axle in the first quarter of 2018. The transition will take some time as current customer contract requirements will drive the need to keep the 71000 Series axle in production for a limited time. We will also need to support the 71000 Series product for another 12plus years due to service life requirements of end-users. Visit Booth #3413 at the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) EXPO to see the 79000 Series axle and discuss its benefits with a Meritor representative.

Bus maintenance crews should complete their work with the same degree of vigilance and focus as an Indy Car pit crew.


“heavy duty pit stop” Compare the bus in the garage to a racecar in the speedway pit By Christopher W. Ferrone This story originally appeared in the January 2006 issue of BUSRide Magazine.

Running an efficient garage operation is not as straightforward as it may seem, where safety, reliability, production and logistics come to play at every step. A simple and concise approach might be to compare the stops the bus makes in the garage each day to a racecar pulling into the pit at a speedway. This does not in any way suggest that your crew should perform maintenance and repairs hastily and with a lack of care. To the contrary, they should do the work with the same degree of vigilance and focus as an Indy Car pit crew. In this case, the term “pit stop” likens garage operations to the totally dialed-in procedures perfected at the racetrack. This more focused approach unites each duty in a well organized, carefully orchestrated set of steps that technicians conduct with care and diligence to covers all fundamental aspects of the vehicle — fuel, lubrication, tires, adjustments and driver needs. There is no reason a motorcoach shouldn’t receive a similar but more heavy-duty pit stop in the same timely manner. The important factor here is a team that performs a well-rehearsed routine. Begin with a list of tasks to accomplish in one session within a preset format. This process ensures every crewmember understands his responsibilities and expectations. He accomplishes his task in a precise manner and double checks for anything missed. Some items to cover when the motorcoach returns to the garage at the end of the duty shift are fueling, lubrication checks, lights, tires, driver requests and of course daily vehicle inspection report items. Obviously, anyone working in the garage will take care of these basic procedures in some fashion. Again, the point here is not necessarily about what is to be done, but how to accomplish everything on the list in an orderly fashion, and at the same time not miss something unique during that pit stop. If you are an Indy Car fan like I am, you watch the master at work any given Sunday during the racing season. I am speaking of course of Roger Penske. Watch his or any other pit team closely and you will see each member of the crew has his own dedicated duty to complete.

One man for tires, one for fuel, a man who makes adjustments and, of course, the crew chief. Each man goes about his duty in a way that is somewhat independent of the other crew members — not to suggest your crew members act militantly in performing only their duties and not helping out other members. The pit stop approach focuses on the specific maintenance and repairs to each motorcoach each day to keep it safe, reliable and ready for its next day in service. This technique not only helps accomplish a greater number of tasks in an orderly manner and less time, it also helps the crew members feel they are part of a team, and that no one crew member is doing more than another. Team building is vital for the success of any business regardless of its nature. Transforming your maintenance staff members into your pit crew can enhance daily performance in the garage and improve production as well as foster trust and camaraderie. Depending on the size of the team, a crew member may perform one or several specific tasks on each motorcoach that pulls into the garage. Assign members as washers, interior cleaners, mechanics and even a body man when the need arises. As the motorcoach arrives, each member should attack his assigned task in the prescribed pit stop procedure. As each team member completes his tasks, he should inform the crew chief that the work is complete as expected. If an additional issue has come up, the crew chief can reassign a team member to perform the work. This approach usually results in a well-maintained motorcoach fleet, attended to in a reasonable amount of time. An Indy pit stop takes between eight and 11 seconds, while an efficient pit stop on a motorcoach may be as a long as 30 minutes. But, again, this process is not about speed. It is about organization and routine. Routines lend themselves to easy updates, adjustments and modifications to coincide with your system as it evolves and expands. Above all a routine is about the proper care, safety and accuracy of your work.


Bus wash systems: Choosing the best option for your fleet

BUSRide Maintenance brought together some of the sharpest minds in the bus industry for a deep dive on bus washing – spec’ing systems, the influence of technology, environmental concerns and maintenance considerations. The panelists for this discussion were: Bruno Albanesi – president – Bitimec International Joe Barge – vice president of sales – Johnson Wash Systems Ed Evans – government account manager – N/S Corporation Jack Jackson – president – Awash Systems Steve Wawro – president – Westmatic Corporation

Briefly describe the characteristics of your bus wash product and its best use. Bruno Albanesi: We make totally portable, mobile washers that move around the vehicle. In addition to the standard electric unit, we offer battery-powered, diesel-powered and hybridpowered machines as well. This is the one way we differentiate ourselves from others in the market. Our machines are all stainless steel with a lifetime warranty against any weld failure or rust. Our brush-only incline offers more stability. A full-height side bumper protects the vehicle from contact with the machine as it moves around. We sell our units by telling the operator our product provides the “elbow grease” of a six-person wash crew in terms of friction power for the time he is using the machine, particularly for tall coaches washed fast with an even quality using a 12-foot-tall brush spinning at 120 RPM; much more efficient than several employees handwashing that same vehicle. Jack Jackson: Our system is a portable bus wash machine with a spinning brush and four caster wheels at the base. The brushes spin around on the tower as the operator walks the unit around the bus with the brushes cleaning and rinsing the surface. The electric-powered motor runs on 220V, 20AMP single phase or 15AMP three phase fed from an overhead cable or track system on rollers attached over the top in the ceiling, inside or outside the wash bay. The automated soap system mists the bus for washing the first time around. The second walkaround rinses the vehicle. Our machine only uses 5 gallons of water and less than 1 ounce of soap per minute and takes less than five minutes to wash a bus. We custom build to fit any size van, bus or coach from 7 to 14 feet. We fix the height of the brush for the customer’s tallest 8 | BUSRIDE.COM | OCTOBER 2017

vehicle. Washing the smaller vehicles with the taller Tower wash, our spray bar ball valve shuts off the higher spray nozzles to reduce overspray. Joe Barge: We provide engineering, manufacturing, installation and maintenance for all of our equipment. From outfitting multiple automatic wash lanes to a manual wash bay, e always strive to provide the best possible system to meet our customers’ wants and needs. Using superior off the shelf components, we have the capability to customize each of our systems to fit the customer’s space and infrastructure; while still making it easy to operate and maintain without increasing the overall cost. Ed Evans: N/S Wash Systems are extremely efficient in their use of chemical, water, electricity and the amount of maintenance required to keep these systems operating correctly. NS produces a wide variety of product lines, serving from small transits and up to the largest transit operations, such as New York City MTA. N/S Wash Systems are excellent for high volume transit. Although, we can service any size fleet through a very wide range of equipment options. Steve Wawro: Westmatic manufactures fully automatic drivethrough and gantry systems that are specially designed for large vehicles such as buses. These systems can be retrofitted into an existing wash bay, or designed for use in a new build. Our company has its roots in Sweden which has some of the strictest regulations in the world regarding the use of water and power resources. Our machines meet and exceed those regulations and we retained that high–efficiency design in our American made machines and as a result, they use less water, chemicals and electricity than many machines on the market today. Our equipment requires minimal maintenance costs, do not use air components or hydraulics, and the brushes are electronically controlled using high-efficiency electric motors.

What determining factors should operators consider in spec’ing a bus wash system for their operations? Albanesi: The specific location of the system or if it needs to be portable is certainly a consideration. Do you bring the bus to the wash or the wash to the bus? In most situations, a company can’t have an outside installation. For instance, with an outside electric system the hoses freeze in the winter. We have customers who want to wash outside, but cannot have a permanent outside installation. With a battery powered machine, the customers typically store their unit indoors and roll it out during the day to do their bus washing. Jackson: Washing frequency should be the biggest consideration. The operator needs to know how often they would like to wash the buses — per day, per week, per month. This will help determine the type of system to purchase. Our customers range from one operator with one bus up to fleets washing over 60 vehicles a night. An operator looking at wash systems must decide between desire and what he really can afford to pay per wash, and then work out the budget, which is typically what the company allots. The environment and location of the wash bay are other considerations. A large automated system or even washing by hand must meet the environmental specs of the local municipality. Companies can save a massive amount of time and money knowing this prior to permitting.

Our equipment carries the same classification as a pressure washer and does not require permits for a fixed system. Barge: First, the number of vehicles in the fleet, and then how and how often they want them washed. Transit agencies need to determine the infrastructure available for the wash equipment, whether at new or existing facilities. The purchase purchase of the best and most suitable equipment for the long term typically depends on the capability of the procuring agency to choose wisely among the participating bidders. We recommend points-based RFPs so that all companies can quote their respective solutions. Operators should never assume that they don’t have a choice in these matters, because they do. Wawro: Here’s what they should think about: - What types of vehicles make up your current fleet and how do you see your fleet growing in the future? - How many buses do you need to wash each day? Do you need to increase your volume? Are your routes expanding and are you adding more buses to your fleet? - Who is responsible for washing the bus? The actual driver or maintenance staff? We have a system that guides the driver through the wash system via a series of traffic signals. We want to make the wash experience as safe, consistent and thorough as possible. - Have you considered life cycle costs and operating costs? Consumables, maintenance and repairs can put a strain on your budget. Our goal is to help you manage costs and prolong the life of your buses. Evans: Obviously, the size of the fleet, as well as the amount of space the owner has allowed for a wash system. An oftenoverlooked factor to consider is the features the buses have, such as bike racks and unique mirror configurations, etc. As the budget is always an issue; operators must consider the operating costs, including the day to day operating costs of the system; and then the frequency and desired quality of the wash itself. Another important thing to consider is setting the minimum standard of quality through a detailed specification and one tool they can use is to require the manufacturer to be ISO certified when they submit their proposal.

How is technology influencing the evolution of bus wash systems? Albanesi: The most significant advance we’ve seen over the past 20 years is how the brush fibers have improved. It began with the rock star entertainer buses with their deep paint colors and fancy graphics. They needed washing every day. To protect those surfaces, in 1998 Bitimec introduce the higher quality foam used in the car wash systems at the time. Fibers and detergents have really come a long way in the past 20 years. Most highend brushes are all foam. The soaps and quality materials have become greener and people are just operating more effectively; plus, water filtration systems are much more common. Jackson: The evolution of our bus wash system, and all bus wash systems for that matter, lies primarily in brush technology. Today’s brushes are far beyond the issues that were implied scratching of a bad reputation from years ago. Today foam brushes dominate as they are non-penetrable foam; not a sponge that absorbs water or dirt and grit. They clean and polish at the same time with a life expectancy twice that polyethylene brushes.

Secondly, the electronic push-button technology makes our machine simple to use. Entering the codes that run the optimum VFD variable drive, the variances make these manual tasks easier and allows a consistent, efficient and optimum wash every time. Wawro: Years ago, you had to call someone to tell them a machine isn’t working. Now you can remote in using a modem to see a system error. Thanks to our state of the art automation platform and custom programming, our machines can automatically self-diagnose and send alerts to a maintenance manager that a repair is needed. As RFID systems are integrated into the process, the equipment can track, assign, monitor, and increase accountability for anyone using the wash system. The RFID system recognizes which type of vehicle it is and adjusts itself to wash that vehicle. Barge: Where technology advances are influencing nearly every area of our lives, so it is with bus wash equipment which monitors chemical, water and vehicle usage rates. Wireless communication with instantaneous sensing and realtime reporting allow our equipment to respond to conditions in the wash bay and water treatment systems that may have gone uncorrected in the past. It’s all about more control of the process. Evans: Technology is enabling much more efficient wash systems in terms of the use of chemicals, water and electricity; using only half as much as traditional or older style systems while delivering an equal or better wash. Technology that monitors and troubleshoots remotely is rapidly making its way into our industry. As well as technology that conforms to the speed of the buses through the wash and adjusts accordingly.

How important is an operator’s choice of chemicals and wash products? Albanesi: Closed pore foam is the default product now. Some people call it closed cell foam. It just means the foam is smooth. It doesn’t have those depressions where sand particles can lodge in with the soap and become an abrasive. Jackson: Water hardness or softness is the most difficult matter to gauge regarding wash products. The water quality should determine the chemicals and products to use. Many people overlook this point and become frustrated when they suddenly get streaking or water spots, or are using too much soap. Less is better not only cost wise, but environmentally and economically. Brushes clean much more than soap alone — which acts as a lubricator and brush cleaner. Barge: Quality chemical products are very important to the wash process. The best soap and wash chemicals are more compliant and environmentally friendly — and more expensive. This can be difficult for procuring agencies adhering to the cheapest price wins–style of bidding. Some cheaper compounds in washing chemicals can adversely affect wash quality, equipment maintenance and overall cost; making it difficult for public agencies. Where purchasing criteria must consider the overall costs per wash for each vehicle over an extended timeframe, procuring the cheapest soaps no longer equates to the cheapest purchase. Evans: Special consideration should always be given on water recycling, depending on the volume and the size of the fleet. All systems require at least an oil-water separator prior to discharging to the sanitary sewer. BUSRIDE.COM | 9

Chemical selection is very important on getting the best result when washing the vehicle; not using the proper chemicals makes removing certain contaminants harder to remove and the water difficult to reuse. Wawro: While the cost of consumables is always a factor, operators should be aware of the effect that highly acidic (low PH) chemicals can have on bus paint and graphics. In addition, these chemicals can wear away at the wash system components, accelerating the need for repair or replacement.

In short, what kind of maintenance requirements apply to your bus wash system? Albanesi: Our wash machines require little more than 15 minutes of maintenance every three months. That’s what we tell our customers. Basically, it adds up to an hour a year. The unit has seven grease points — four wheels plus the traction wheel down, and two grease trunk points on top of the machine. It literally takes a technician 15 minutes to do everything. Jackson: Typically, with our system, the caster wheels and brushes are the only wearable products. Foam brushes last over 40,000 washes and after 26 years in business, we have customers with machines over 20-years-old that are still running every day. We service program packages based on our DIY videos for their yearly maintenance. Barge: Our predictive maintenance technology acurate alerts technicians of which systems are likely to fail, allowing them to make replacements in advance. It’s called mean-time between failure, or MTBF. We incorporate stainless steel and corrosion-resistant materials, and choose components designed for the harshest environments. With preventive and predictive maintenance our equipment can easily last 20 to 30 years. Evans: N/S Wash Systems are designed with maintenance in mind, with fewer moving parts and grease points. It is our owner/ designer’s theory of bus washing that, because maintenance of the system is so often overlooked, wash systems should be extremely low maintenance – which in turn makes them more reliable. N/S truly has minimal maintenance systems. Most brush movement is gravity-based, not an air cylinder, pulley or wagon being pushed into the bay. Also, by comparison, a chain with a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years with routine maintenance is preferred. Maintenance on a machine, with a belt, with a maintenance recommendation of changing once a year; can becomes a safety issue should it break, due to not being changed at the proper intervals. Wawro: Every manufacturer tries to make their equipment as maintenance free as possible. Our use of electronics (and not pneumatics) helps us achieve that goal. However, all equipment, much like your automobile, requires basic monthly maintenance to keep the machine performing at top efficiency. Most maintenance is done by a visual inspection and is hands free. We provide our customers with a maintenance checklist which keeps them on track.

When purchasing and operating bus wash systems, what pitfalls should an operator work to avoid? Albanesi: One crucial point: some companies think that if they buy a very expensive bus wash system, they’ve eliminated the need for additional detailing. That is just not so. Even with 10 | BUSRIDE.COM | OCTOBER 2017

the biggest, most expensive wash systems, the bus will still require some hand detailing in areas no amount of brushes can reach. There’s not a wash system on the market that’s going to replace the person doing that job. Jackson: Most individuals only purchase a bus wash system every 10-plus years or even once a lifetime, making the choice a wash system more overwhelming. Operators often choose a system without first gathering all the information on what best suits their needs. Today’s websites and videos should help operators to educate themselves easier than in the past. With any system, keeping up with the yearly maintenance will make operators happier with the overall performance as opposes to that dreaded expensive breakdown from all the years of neglect. Barge: Never underestimate the power specific requests in RFPs. Do everything possible to help purchasing agents avoid buying items based solely on price. Instead, create your specifications based on procedures as opposed to a manufacturers specific equipment selection. Capital expenditures will be held more accountable when there is good competition. Evans: Owners often overlook the day to day operating and frequently underbudget for service and repairs that are caused by drivers overspeeding through the wash. They sometimes don’t have enough information and understanding on the type of equipment they are purchasing, lack of maintenance after the equipment is installed with the expectation the equipment will last forever without proper care. Our wash systems are very similar in maintenance aspects, to the busses that they are washing; if maintenance is overlooked or ignored- there will be a need for service and repairs. To be honest, an operator should not have to be “married to a manufacturer” after the purchase. It is of great benefit to be able to source parts locally from multiple suppliers, as I don’t believe any manufacturer can be 100 percent in responding to all service requests. It is better to be selfreliant with other sources for parts — even though it can be a bit of a risk. Again, a minimal maintenance system should have parts easier to source locally. Systems that require many proprietary parts, often have a very high cost of operation due to the expense of replacement parts that can only be obtained through that manufacturer. Wawro: Don’t buy the cheapest. While budgets might be tight, cost and initial savings should not be the primary factor. Think long-term and be mindful of lifecycle costs. You want to make sure the machine can accommodate an array of vehicles. What is in your current fleet (revenue and non-revenue) and what do you predict will be in your fleet in the future? Research the manufacturer. Don’t be shy. Call references, visit facilities, make sure you see various pieces of equipment in action. Ask questions about how the machine meets that operator’s expectations. See www.busride.com for an extended version of this story in the Bus Wash Systems digital supplement!



Your bus doesn’t have to ride like a truck By Joel Badskey

Rubber suspensions mean a smoother ride for cutaway buses.

Passengers commonly complain that cutaway buses “ride like trucks.” They are not wrong; in fact; buses and trucks oftentimes share the same model of chassis. Bus manufacturers use the same engines, transmissions, frames, cabs, axles, and suspension systems that box truck companies use to build delivery trucks and moving vans. Unfortunately for the transit world, this results in buses with stiff, uncomfortable rides for passengers, no matter which brand of chassis you choose. These manufacturers produce thousands of chassis to serve multiple markets and leave the job of transforming the units into usable products to the chassis upfitters and end users. For most applications, the standard factory suspension system performs adequately, but for those in the transit industry who must consider the comfort and safety of their passengers, the standard suspension creates a harsh and unforgiving ride. The chassis manufacturer equips each standard suspension system with metal leaf springs rated to a given capacity. As the weight of the vehicle reaches the load rating of the metal leaf springs, the ride becomes smoother. This type of suspension system works well for delivery vans and work trucks because their operators load these vehicles to capacity. In the transit world, however, cutaway buses usually operate well below their carrying capacity. As a matter of fact, many buses routinely transport just one or two passengers. In these cases, the weight of the vehicle does not come close to engaging the standard metal leaf springs, providing little to no suspension benefit to the passengers. The resulting rough ride quality

especially affects the occupants of paratransit vehicles. While these passengers tend to be some of the most fragile, they find themselves positioned over the rear axle of the unit where the bus rides the worst. Thus, they spend the majority of their journey being jostled around uncomfortably. To combat the fact that the bus rides like a truck, the suspension system must be altered so that the springs engage even with one or two passengers, yet the system maintains the weight carrying capacity for times when the operator fills every seat. For example, MORryde’s rubber suspension systems do exactly that; for decades, MORryde has used their rubber suspension in conjunction with the standard factory system to deliver an improved ride quality regardless of the number of occupants. The rubber shear springs are mounted in such a way to allow the standard leaf springs to achieve up to two inches of additional suspension travel in a full jounce or rebound. This technology translates to a softer ride for all of your passengers, and your bus will no longer ride like a truck. These rubber suspension systems are engineered to provide improved ride quality for each vehicle make and model. The systems can be ordered and installed with your next new unit from the bus manufacturer, or installed as an aftermarket upgrade on most models already in operation. To learn more about how the MORryde rubber suspension system can soften the ride of your bus, contact MORryde customer service at 574-293-1581 or visit www.morryde.com.


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