Re: Dognose Thomas or Bluebird
I don't think coachwork manufacturer (Bluebird or Thomas, etc) is going to matter in regards to hood length. I do think that the newer (1990+) have a shorter hood, and maybe a little better visibility compared to say a mid-1980s conventional bus. I also think that the Internationals have a nice slope to their hood. The Ford chassis seemed to be pretty much the same from the early 80s until about 95-97, when they were a little more rounded. The Chevy/GMC dognose (hoods) are all about the same for most years past the mid 80s, although the 90s are a bit more rounded.
I think that for what you're wanting to do, Jackie, you should look for a 1992 or newer International of appropriate length. That's just my opinion. I think they would have the least amount of hood, or dognose. Even if it's the same length as any other, they tend to slope a little more than others. I'm thinking something like Diesel Dan's bus. I think Smitty's bus is of that vintage as well. Additionally, those chassis will often have the dt360 or dt466 motors...both solid choices.
As far as coachwork, I'm not familiar with Carpenter, but Bluebird sides go straight up and have a slope in the rear about halfway up. Thomas sides tend to slope and have a straight rear. Ward/Am Tran (I think) is mostly straight sides and rear. I would anticipate a roof raise on a Thomas to be somewhat more difficult, but I don't think you're planning that. I don't know how much tougher it would be to put walls in a Thomas than a Bluebird...if at all. I know that BB has the little "eye brows" over each window where Thomas is just one continuous "uni-brow."
Anyway, those are my opinions and observations. Take 'em for what they cost ya!