School Bus Garage Tour

Garage Tour Notes

It wasn't too long ago that we had our shop totally done over by the painting crew. It doesn't take long for a bunch of greasy mechanics to get it back to the old floor level anyways. All in all the garage we have is very adequate to suit our needs. It has the space to accommodate a half dozen buses at a time.

Shop Hoists - Get The Job Done

We have 4 hoists all together and that's a big bonus for us to get jobs done more efficiently on the chassis. Two of them are main hoists which are full size and can handle anything in the fleet while the remaining hoists are suited for one tons and the rest of the white fleet.

Indoor Wash Bay Required

According to the DOT school buses have to be disinfected on a regular schedule. On our staff we have a tire man / wash man to keep up with this task. It can be tight at times when the fall tire changeover is happening because of the large load of replacing 11R and 10R truck tires. We call on a temporary bus washer to come in for 4 weeks.

White Fleet Requirements

At the time of this tour you saw mostly back up equipment from the grounds department. This happens all the time with a large white fleet to look after. Trailers, cars and trucks up to 550 models need repairs and servicing just as much as the bus fleet so there are times when the garage fills up with work quickly.

Every Fleet Needs Spare Equipment

Prioritizing the work is a regular job for me and the buses take precedent over any other piece of equipment. We have eight spare buses which makes it much easier to get the work done properly and keep the buses safe. Rushing to complete a job is a bad practice especially on a school bus so that is avoided in our shop.

No Need For Speed

I promote road testing and running checks for every job when it's completed. It's ridiculous to think that there is a “need for speed” when it comes to a school bus. I'm not impressed by how fast a job is completed. It's not a race and it doesn't make a difference if a mechanic beats flat rate. We pay straight time in our shop so all I ask for is a steady flow with the job getting done correctly and not coming back on us.

Parts and More Parts

I remember from experience the frustration of not having parts in hand while doing a repair. There were some cases where I started a job and the bus had to be towed out because of no parts available and make room for another job. This situation is hard to avoid and I do what I can to keep essential parts in stock at all times. This comes with experience of course and it isn't a perfect world so predicting what is going to happen to a piece of equipment is impossible.

Bulk Fluids The Only Way To Go

After years of manually mixing concentrated coolant and water by hand, packing around boxes of windshield fluid and moving around 45 gallon drums of engine oil we have gone bulk with everything. The cost is higher but minimal.... considering how much time bulk fluids save with less handling and management. Fleets need all the time they can muster to concentrate on keeping everything up to par and avoiding break downs.

That's it for my bus garage tour notes. There is a lot more to talk about and I could go on with it but I think you get the picture. We have found ways to save time with non-mechanical areas in the shop and continue to look for unique ways to make our job easier.