Building for the extremes
Reck Lehnert, president of Trans/Air Manufacturing Corp. tries to ensure bus companies are prepared to care for their systems.
“We offer winter kits for skirt-mounted condensers, panels to put over the condenser,” Lehnert said. “Our condensers are designed for the exterior environment, but it helps protect them for the season.
“We also encourage people to visit our website for maintenance suggestions and preventive maintenance.”
Nova Bus manufactures buses that are being used in cooler areas such as Yellowknife, NT, and other buses are used in warmer climates such as Puerto Rico.
“One of the challenges we have in the industry is we have some major temperature variances,” said Jean-Yves Vallée, director of product planning, Nova Bus. “The same product that needs to be used in some markets that go as high as 120 degrees also need to go in areas that get 20 below.In order to make that happen, we need very good insulation because of both climates.” Rugg has found that, more than anything, corrosion is one of his staff’s biggest fights – especially in winter.
“One of our biggest problems from the snow and ice is the fact that all of the streets use a myriad of ice melt,” Rugg said. “It starts having a real horrendous outcome on the metals on our buses and the electrical connections. It’s a constant battle trying to keep the undercarriage clean.
“Things keep changing as ice melts evolve. Probably 60 percent of the problems on our buses is some effect of corrosion, which is mostly from ice melt that comes on our streets. We haven’t found that silver bullet yet to keep it away.”
The biggest help for Rugg and his peers has been the ever-evolving technology bus manufacturers are providing. As technology improves, the maintenance and upkeep on items becomes less and less.
“It’s been huge,” Rugg said. “With multiplex systems on buses, there’s not all copper terminals for everything. Communication wires run through the bus opposed to underneath,” he added.
“We are pretty particular with the manufacturers about where we have some of our ECMs and control units, our subsystems, ABS, engine, transmission. Sometimes they look at me like I have a third eye on my forehead, but there are reasons why we do that.”