Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Double Clunk

During one of our last Transportation Department meetings, our director gave me the responsibility/privilege of overseeing when a school bus should be taken out of service. To aid the decision making process, I was given a ten page document entitled, Ohio School Bus Out of Service Criteria. After reading the document, there is no doubt that nothing older than "brand new" can be driven on a daily basis. Actually it's not quite that bad, but I have had to take several busses out of service due to the stringent criteria. Safety first, right?

Last week, a driver asked me to ride along to listen to a clunking noise. The noise we had been unable to find weeks earlier was getting worse. During the ride, the sound was undeniably coming from the back of the bus near the right rear seat. Over bumps the noise remained constant and even began to double clunk at times. To me, it just sounded like a rubber bushing was missing from the suspension -- something that could wait until the weekend for a mechanic to investigate. After all, the leaf springs, shocks, and mounts looked good. Why take the vehicle out of service for something that wasn't affecting the safety or driveability of the bus?

I suggested that the driver schedule a maintenance trip to the repair shop that weekend, which she did. However, after faxing the form over, the shop called to tell us that the bus had to be taken out of service. Their concern was that things could be more serious than we thought. An hour later, the bus was gone and we awaited the results of their investigation. What was the prognosis? broken springs? missing bushings? No, nothing was wrong with the suspension. It turned out to be something inside the bus. The clunking noise was nothing but a seat belt hanging behind the last seat and banging against the metal interior of the bus. Boy, do I feel dumb!


Steven said...

And I bet the machanic is enjoying the same story again and again, too ;-)

Andy Rupert said...

You're probably right as the last time my bus was in for an oil change, he forgot to put the fill plug back in!