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Suska 07-16-2010 12:30 PM

Driving (Tips)
I am wanting to gain enough confidence driving my Bird, that I can travel alone. I have a long way to go

I am looking for suggestions beyond just get road time.
For starters:
Should I drive alone?
Should I have an experienced truck/bus driver with me?
Highways or local roads?
Practicing back ups.
I would appreciate any insights from the wealth of experience that is here!
Thanks everyone!

markusfmeyer 07-16-2010 12:41 PM

Being a new Bird owner, I know where you are coming from. For me, just getting in and driving helped a lot. Before my recent 6200 mile excursion, I had put about 400-500 miles on it, most with someone in the coach with me, some without. There is nothing better than practice I found, and just getting your comfort level in your coach. I guess I was fortunate in that I was presented with most conditions I would drive in early on - rain, sun, night, day, back roads, highways, traffic, no traffic. A little ways into my big trip I found that driving while everyone else was still sleeping was no problem. Backing up at night in the dark into tight spots, that's another story!

Suska 07-16-2010 12:49 PM

Thanks Marcus..
Right now I have a sporadic 400-500 (cumulative) miles in...
No where near a comfort level!:eek:
I enjoyed reading about your travels.

markusfmeyer 07-16-2010 12:55 PM

I found there was no substitute for just doing it, ie driving. I certainly got some good tips from this forum, such as pushing the seat all the way to the right, where to keep the bus in the lane, etc. But the more I drove, and the more conditions I encountered, the more comfortable I felt. I was pretty comfortable by the time I left for my big trip, and quite comfortable about a day or two in. I do tend to pick things up quickly though, and love driving, so that all helped quite a bit too.

gcyeaw 07-16-2010 12:58 PM

I have logged quite a few miles alone. I will say, however, it is nice to have someone to help with directions and another set of eyes on the road. Backing up at night, never fun alone or not.

Rick 07-16-2010 01:33 PM

Suska, If you can get someone to ride along, great. If not, dont let being alone stop you. In tight quarters it is always nice to have an extra set of eyes but if alone and you have a question about clerance, just stop and look the situation over until your comfortable.

Friday1 07-16-2010 01:36 PM

I drove over the road for about a year. I have alot of experience driving huge straight trucks but tractor trailers were all forty years before. The guy who taught me to back up a trailer to a dock had one rule-slow! If you are not sure, get out and look. Every truck driver was at that same place when he or she started. Same with driving a coach. Take your time. You can always make an adjustment before hitting something, but once you have made contact, it is too late. Take someone along who is a level headed driver, and can give you useful input. Sometimes a spouse or loved one is NOT that person. I have a rear and side view camera system in my coach hoping when I get on the road they will give me a good idea of what is happening in the blind spots. Hope this helps, Rick in Ohio

The_Money_Pit 07-16-2010 01:51 PM

if you don't already have these on your daily vehicle(car), then you might consider getting some. You can use the spot mirrors on your car to mimic the dual side mirrors on your BB. Don't use your rear view mirror in your car and force yourself to use the spot mirrors in conjunction with regular mirrors for everything.

Force yourself to back into most parking spots while driving your car, while using spot mirrors(don't look over shoulder, or use rear view mirror), some of these tricks will help you feel a little more comfortable when switching to the BB.


Other tips:
Memorize the location of all the important switches on the BB dash.
wiper blades

You need to be able to reach out and touch these out the corner of your eye without having to take your eyes off the road.

Last thing you need is to be hunting for a switch while driving down the expressway.

The far right lane on multi-lane highways I call the "Death Lane". People in cars who merge onto highway do so with absolutely zero concern for those who they are merging with. Stay out of right lane when possible, if not possible make sure and give extra stopping for those nut jobs who jump out in front of you as they try to exit or enter highway.

Remember you are actually sitting in front of your steer wheels. Get to know where your butt sits relative to the front two wheels. The front of your BB can hang out over curbs, this can be necessary on taking tight corners sometimes.

Blindspots on BB. On mine there is a blind spot on the passenger side right where the entrance door is located. I added an extra mirror for this. Know where your blind spot is, it can hide an entire car in your right lane.

bubblerboy64 07-16-2010 02:01 PM

Suska, Tell you what the only way to get comfortable is to drive the thing. Having owned that particular "Bird' it can be intimidating, it was for me until I got a couple thousand miles under my belt. The best thing I can tell you is drive slow until you get comfortable. Lots of the fellows drove her and I think she's in good condition for the vintage that she is but it does take some getting used to. Seems to me that you have to put a lot of correction into the steering to keep it going down the road. Randy has talked about changing some front end alignment specs to reduce that and your bus might benefit from those changes. It really does not like to be on uneven pavement such as you find in cattle shoots and road construction. If you see that kind of thing slow way down. Learn to keep it to the left a little on the road, look far down the road rather then right in front of the bus and most importantly have confidence in yourself that you can do it. When I bought the bus I had never driven a Class A before and the trip home from Michigan was stressful. I think it was about 600 miles, by the time I got it home we were starting to see eye to eye but for the first couple hundred miles I wasn't entirely too certain who was in charge. You of course know about making wide turns and all of that. The best you can do is just get out there and do it. Most important is what I said first go slowly, no more the 55 and let'm pass you. It will P off some people but if you get a few hundred miles on her you will become more comfortable. I found that you have to catch her some times meaning you put some correction into the steering to get her moving left on the road and then you immediately have to bring her back a little. It's like riding a bike you can talk about it but really the only way to learn is to do it. Did I say go slow. When I first got her I didn't get into high gear for the first hour or so. After you drive a while you will find that your brain goes to sleep and you start to be able to drive with out thinking about it. That just takes time. You need to walk the thin line between being afraid (which is a good thing) and being relaxed. It is not easy but with some experience you will catch on. It will take a couple thousand miles at least it did me. And when you get away from it a while it will also take some refreshing. Of course start off on the best roads you can find. You'll be fine.

PS, Do NOT drive at night. As for the types of roads, mix it up. You have to be able to negotiate all of them. But try to avoid the traffic until you get comfortable. Most new BB drivers drive too close the right edge of the road, Keep her over toward the middle more then you would in a car. If you get into tight spots such as the cattle shoots look ONLY at the left side. The eighteen wheel trucks are getting through so you have plenty of room you just think you don't. Put the left front wheel where it needs to be and the rest of it will take care of itself. DO NOT LOOK at the passengers side of the bus to see if you have room, it will make you tend to go right. Look only at your side and trust the right side is fine, it will be. The bus will not all of a sudden get wider you have to trust that is the case. Don't be afraid to get close to stuff, you have too. The difference between being close and hitting it is inches some times but look at the mirrors on the left side and you can see where that front left wheel is tracking. Toll booths can be fun. Come up slowly and watch in the left side mirror and then put that front wheel about 6 inches off of the curb, pull up slowly and then watch your driver side mirror so that it's not going to hit the both. First time I went through an Ohio toll booth I was way over to the right and couldn't reach the ticket. I learned from then on out what to do.

SGallaty 07-16-2010 02:01 PM

Try to drive looking ahead. Rather than looking at the road where you are, look at the road where you'll be in 5 seconds. Steer towards where you want to go, not in reaction to where you are. I constantly look ahead and steer towards that location - that makes me less prone to reacting to going too far off one side or another.

Keep your eyes on everything, don't get tunnel vision. Get used to scanning gauges and listening to what the bus is telling you.

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