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 Air Brakes vs Hydraulic Brakes
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3217
New Member

Canada
4 Posts

Posted - 04/02/2010 :  09:03:34 AM  Show Profile  Visit 3217's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Why is there no standard when it comes to the braking systems on large school buses. Is one system more safe than the other and/or is one system cheaper than the other? Since most large trucks have air brakes then why not large school buses. Is it because school bus operators are too cheap to train their drivers? Is it true that air brakes cost less to maintain? Are their school bus drivers that prefer one over the other? Here in Ontario it is all over the map. Some have air brakes but most operators have hydraulic.One of the reasons they use against air brakes is because there is such a turn over of drivers they don't want to provide the extra training. Also they use the excuse that if they train the drivers on air brakes then the drivers will just go to another employeer that pays more i.e. public transit and trucks. Does this happen in the U.S.A. as well?

78fordwayne
Top Member

USA
2868 Posts

Posted - 04/02/2010 :  1:45:34 PM  Show Profile  Visit 78fordwayne's Homepage  Send 78fordwayne an AOL message  Send 78fordwayne a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
Some people will disagree with me. Its like asking people what is better Chevy or Ford.
At my base everyone hates air brakes. The company dosent like them because the parts cost so much more, and in the winter they keep freezing up. They have been trying to get ride of them for years but no one else wants them either.
Many schools in Illinois who use to have air brake have switched back to Hydraulic. Not to many school bus drivers around here have an air brake on the license.
I guess for driving out west in the hills they might be better. but I have always been able to stop a hydraulic brake bus alot faster then an air brake, especialy with the newer ICs.

Robert B.

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bluebirdvision
Top Member

USA
1077 Posts

Posted - 04/02/2010 :  5:10:05 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
If they are freezing up, your air dryer is not working correctly.

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bus724
Top Member

USA
1609 Posts

Posted - 04/02/2010 :  5:23:01 PM  Show Profile  Visit bus724's Homepage  Send bus724 an AOL message  Reply with Quote
I'm much more comfortable with air brakes. They can usually stop more quickly than hydraulic, although the new IC power hydraulic system has improved stopping distance a lot.

There are several things that could fail on a hydraulic brake bus and result in a loss of service brakes. I don't trust the emergency brake to always stop a fully-loaded bus at higher speeds. The only way you won't be able to stop an air brake bus is if the brakes are severely out of adjustment or if there is a major mechanical failure at all 4 wheels simultaneously.

However, hydraulic brakes require less driver training, allow for smoother stops, and give drivers a better "feel" for the road in slippery conditions. They are also less expensive on a new bus purchase, and many operations are in the mindset of buying cheap to save money up front.
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Fastback
Top Member

1500 Posts

Posted - 04/03/2010 :  04:59:49 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
In Iowa anything over 66 passenger has to be air brakes.
When I go shopping for a new bus I look for air brakes.
I used to be a hydraulic brake fan, that changed about the time ABS came into play.

Air brake parts higher priced? I seriously doubt that claim.


Why yes, the ORIGinal CHARGER is a Fastback
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wagonmaster
Top Member

USA
2298 Posts

Posted - 04/05/2010 :  06:00:39 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
In Florida, anything that has an Air Brake option is so equipped. They're standard on our buses in everything except type "A" and we don't run a lot of them.

Joe
Land of the Free, because of the Brave!
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NathanW
Advanced Member

United States
313 Posts

Posted - 04/05/2010 :  06:12:20 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I drive a bus with Hydraulic brakes.

I'd RATHER have Air Brakes.

I *think* the reason my company went to hydraulic on the most recent busses was they are cheaper. However, my personal opinion is that if I lose brake pressure on a bus with air brakes the brakes will then lock up and I won't be able to move. But if my bus with hydraulic brakes loses pressure I won't be able to stop. It's a safety thing for me.

I'd rather not be able to move than not be able to stop.

Nathan--Driver Extraordinaire
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hardybusman
Advanced Member

United States
470 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2010 :  7:32:37 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
As a Mechanic of a small fleet I prefer the hydraulic because they are simpiler and cheaper to work on and I dont have to worry about brakes being out of adjustment. i think the disc brakes stop beter than air also. We dont stop at every drive way or each 10th mile either. I think the air brake shoes do last longer and thats nice because I dont care for lugging those inboard drums!! Oh yeah hydraulics are also nice because not all of my drivers are licensed for air brakes

Mr. Courtney Hardy
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Fastback
Top Member

1500 Posts

Posted - 04/14/2010 :  08:15:36 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by hardybusman

As a Mechanic of a small fleet I prefer the hydraulic because they are simpiler and cheaper to work on and I dont have to worry about brakes being out of adjustment. i think the disc brakes stop beter than air also. We dont stop at every drive way or each 10th mile either. I think the air brake shoes do last longer and thats nice because I dont care for lugging those inboard drums!! Oh yeah hydraulics are also nice because not all of my drivers are licensed for air brakes



Whats the newest hydraulic brake bus you have serviced the brakes on? I havn't seen simpiler and cheaper to work on hydraulic brakes since around 2004.

Why yes, the ORIGinal CHARGER is a Fastback
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KFoxnWPB
New Member

United States
4 Posts

Posted - 05/03/2010 :  10:21:21 AM  Show Profile  Visit KFoxnWPB's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I drive in Florida as well...and most definitely prefer air brakes over hydraulic brakes. For whatever reason, I feel more in control.
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BJ Henderson
Advanced Member

USA
280 Posts

Posted - 05/19/2010 :  4:14:46 PM  Show Profile  Send BJ Henderson an AOL message  Reply with Quote
Air brakes are far safer, and more cost effective than hydraulic brakes, hands down.

CMTT,CMAT,CMBT
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HCPSFan
New Member

USA
2 Posts

Posted - 06/02/2010 :  10:17:05 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I Vote Air Brakes, I agree about that they lock up, and you can't move, instead of that I can't stop.
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Bus Boy 39
Top Member

USA
1315 Posts

Posted - 06/18/2010 :  09:16:44 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I am all for air brakes. Better stopping power.

I'll show you my air brakes if you show me yours.
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Tatum
Top Member

United States
606 Posts

Posted - 06/19/2010 :  3:46:51 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Air breaks are pretty fail-safe. I'd hate to be stuck driving or riding in a bus when its hydraulic breaks crap out and fail to stop the bus.
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jwreaume
Active Member

43 Posts

Posted - 07/08/2010 :  10:42:12 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
AIR BRAKES 100%. Not just because I've been in the truck world too long either. They last longer and are much more cost effective. Also, if the air system fails, the default is brakes applied, hydraulic brakes, not so much. Air Disc Brakes are the way to go, as they become more common.

17 years in the truck & bus world, 10 years at an IH Dealer, ASE Certified Master Medium & Heavy Truck Technician and Advanced Level Diesel Engine Diagnostic Specialist, IH Diamond Certified 5 Times, Instructor of Apprentice Techs in Engines, Fuels, Electrical & Electronics.

Ask anything, I likely will have the answer, or at least a believable lie for ya...

120 Units, 5 Bays, 5 Techs, Living the dream baby...
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ernestb
Senior Member

USA
145 Posts

Posted - 07/31/2010 :  12:29:45 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
AIR BRAKES hands down.... They do not fade, no matter how many times they are used....
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Thomas Ford 85-16
Top Member

USA
4177 Posts

Posted - 07/31/2010 :  08:11:52 AM  Show Profile  Visit Thomas Ford 85-16's Homepage  Send Thomas Ford 85-16 an AOL message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ernestb

AIR BRAKES hands down.... They do not fade, no matter how many times they are used....


I will agree with having air brakes, but I will disagree with them not fading. On my PM route last year I had multiple stops in a row on a constant and very steep downhill slope. This meant that you really had to be on the brakes the whole time because there wasn't the space for downshifting to be effective, and releasing the brakes would quickly send you over the speed limit. By the bottom of that hill, I would consistently notice some brake fade.
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ihthomas665spd
Active Member

12 Posts

Posted - 08/14/2010 :  8:11:47 PM  Show Profile  Visit ihthomas665spd's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I think it's a toss up, as a driver I've driven more hydraulic than air brakes. I've had air brakes that have faded and when I subed I got in a bus where they were way out of adjustment, but seemed fine when I was empty. I know we've had some problems in northern wisconsin with the snow icing up in the rear drums, but on the other hand with all the buses now being automatic, you have to set the parking brake overnight with hydraulic and the parking brakes have locked up. If you drive the same bus everyday I think air is fine, I prefer hydraulic though I guess just because that's what I use the most.
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