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Old 02-19-2016, 11:15 PM   #1
Skoolie
 
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FE, RE or ME

Which is the easiest to manage on snowy/icy or muddy roads? I am not looking to get a 4xd...but would like to do some winter traveling. But actually...it would be really cool to have a 4wd skoolie
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Old 02-20-2016, 08:15 AM   #2
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Although I do NOT have a bus, having driven many many miles in all types of vehicles, I would say that a RE would have the nest traction in the snow. But, tires are a HUGE part of the equation. Highway tires will do next to nothing. You will need deep lug tires. Here is an example. They are still good for dry highway, all the trucks I have driven have this tread pattern since I deliver to construction sites. And a 4x4 would be cool!
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Old 02-20-2016, 07:18 PM   #3
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As someone who has driven buses for 40-years and owned a bus company for some of those years I came to the conclusion that highway rib tires in all positions on a bus is the most economical choice. However, if you are going to be spending a large portion of the time off of pavement a good deep lug tire and a driven front axle would be a great idea.

Of all the buses that are built less than 1% are delivered with a driven front axle. Most schools do not operate when things get nasty so they just don't need that much traction. For the few schools like Rim of the World in CA and some of the schools in the Rockies where some of the district is snowed in and the rest of district just has wet roads the need for a lot of traction is very important. So they do order driven front axles. On new full size buses that option is more than $20K per bus. On Type 'A' buses the option is more like $10K per bus.

No civilian medium or heavy duty truck or bus leaves the factory with a driven front axle. If a customer orders their vehicle with a driven front axle the completed vehicle is driven to Tulsa Truck Manufacturing to have the conversion done. I have never seen or heard of a Type 'D' bus with a driven front axle. I am sure if you willing to spend enough $$$ Tulsa Truck would convert an FE bus to 4x4 but the cost would be well above $20K.

Since I have driven just about every type of bus out there (yellow, transit, commercial, and motorcoach) I can say some buses are better at driving in low traction than others. The absolute worst is the Type 'D' FE--too much weight forward so no traction and very little steering inputs create very large results. Even with steel traction chains installed a Type 'D' FE bus is like a cow on ice when things get slippery. The RE buses have great traction but the steering gets very vague, particularly if you are in a coach and you have taken the air off of the tag axle to get more traction--a lot of steering input creates very little result until all of a sudden you get a lot of results. The absolute best bus in slippery conditions is the Crown Supercoach or Gillig mid-engine buses--weight is well balanced between front and rear so you get great traction and the steering is not that different on slippery roads as it is normal road conditions. The second best bus for slippery conditions is the bread and butter bus of the school bus industry--the Type 'C' conventional bus. With some sort of traction assist, and it can be something as simple as deep lug traction tires, they will go just about anywhere, any time, no matter what the conditions. You also have the advantage of having ten feet of bus in front of you should you slide into someone or something else.

The thing about driving a bus in the winter in the western states is when things get slippery you have to use chains--either automatic, cable, or steel tire chains. Which is why I never used traction tires on the buses I owned. About the time traction tires would be useful the chains required sign would go up. I figured why spend the extra $$$ for extra traction a handful miles on a handful of days per year when I could use the more economical on fuel highway rib tire every day of the year.

Also, for those of you operating Type 'A' or commercial cut-away chassis buses with Ford E-350/450 chassis or GM G-3500/4500 chassis you really do not want to use traction tires. The blocks that make up the traction tread will "wiggle" as you go down the road. It can cause some tail wagging the dog syndrome that can be very annoying.
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Old 02-20-2016, 11:49 PM   #4
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What are type A busses, d? E?
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Old 02-21-2016, 07:30 AM   #5
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FWIW- my 40' FE does pretty well on dirt and sand.
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Old 02-21-2016, 07:47 AM   #6
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Old 02-21-2016, 11:37 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
As someone who has driven buses for 40-years and owned a bus company for some of those years I came to the conclusion that highway rib tires in all positions on a bus is the most economical choice. However, if you are going to be spending a large portion of the time off of pavement a good deep lug tire and a driven front axle would be a great idea.

Of all the buses that are built less than 1% are delivered with a driven front axle. Most schools do not operate when things get nasty so they just don't need that much traction. For the few schools like Rim of the World in CA and some of the schools in the Rockies where some of the district is snowed in and the rest of district just has wet roads the need for a lot of traction is very important. So they do order driven front axles. On new full size buses that option is more than $20K per bus. On Type 'A' buses the option is more like $10K per bus.

No civilian medium or heavy duty truck or bus leaves the factory with a driven front axle. If a customer orders their vehicle with a driven front axle the completed vehicle is driven to Tulsa Truck Manufacturing to have the conversion done. I have never seen or heard of a Type 'D' bus with a driven front axle. I am sure if you willing to spend enough $$$ Tulsa Truck would convert an FE bus to 4x4 but the cost would be well above $20K.

Since I have driven just about every type of bus out there (yellow, transit, commercial, and motorcoach) I can say some buses are better at driving in low traction than others. The absolute worst is the Type 'D' FE--too much weight forward so no traction and very little steering inputs create very large results. Even with steel traction chains installed a Type 'D' FE bus is like a cow on ice when things get slippery. The RE buses have great traction but the steering gets very vague, particularly if you are in a coach and you have taken the air off of the tag axle to get more traction--a lot of steering input creates very little result until all of a sudden you get a lot of results. The absolute best bus in slippery conditions is the Crown Supercoach or Gillig mid-engine buses--weight is well balanced between front and rear so you get great traction and the steering is not that different on slippery roads as it is normal road conditions. The second best bus for slippery conditions is the bread and butter bus of the school bus industry--the Type 'C' conventional bus. With some sort of traction assist, and it can be something as simple as deep lug traction tires, they will go just about anywhere, any time, no matter what the conditions. You also have the advantage of having ten feet of bus in front of you should you slide into someone or something else.

The thing about driving a bus in the winter in the western states is when things get slippery you have to use chains--either automatic, cable, or steel tire chains. Which is why I never used traction tires on the buses I owned. About the time traction tires would be useful the chains required sign would go up. I figured why spend the extra $$$ for extra traction a handful miles on a handful of days per year when I could use the more economical on fuel highway rib tire every day of the year.

Also, for those of you operating Type 'A' or commercial cut-away chassis buses with Ford E-350/450 chassis or GM G-3500/4500 chassis you really do not want to use traction tires. The blocks that make up the traction tread will "wiggle" as you go down the road. It can cause some tail wagging the dog syndrome that can be very annoying.
I need to replace my steers, what do your recommend that won't break the bank? tires will time x before they wear out.
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Old 02-21-2016, 11:38 AM   #8
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Type 'A' I and Type 'A' II are built on van-cutaway chassis. They have a driver's door, the engine is part of the way inside with a small hood outside, and the service door is behind the front axle across from the driver. 'A' I have single rear wheels and 'A' II have dual rear wheels. GVWR is generally under 14K.

Type 'B' are built on a rail chassis with the engine part of the way inside with a small hood outside with the service door behind the front axle and behind the driver. 'B' can have single or dual rear wheels with GVWR from 9K to under 16K.

Type 'C' are built on a medium duty truck chassis with the engine under a hood outside with the service door behind the front axle across from the driver. 'C' have dual rear wheels and have GVWR from 16K to 36K.

Type 'D' are built on a purpose built chassis with the service door in front of the front axle with the service door across from the driver. The engine can be mounted in front of the front axle, between the front and rear axle(s), or behind the rear axle. 'D' have dual rear wheels, up to three axles, and have GVWR from 16K to 56K depending upon how many axles the bus might have.
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Old 02-21-2016, 09:13 PM   #9
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If I were in the market to purchase some steer tires I would shop around to get the best price possible on the newest tires available.

I would have no problem purchasing Chinese/Korean/Indonesian knockoffs. As you said, the new tires will time out long before the tread wears out. You don't need a tire that will go 100K miles when they will time out with less than 20K miles.

The most important thing to know is what is the date code on the tires. Since you will most likely not be purchasing any more tires from that particular tire shop any time soon they have no real incentive to earn your custom. I have heard of some shops willing to give one shot purchasers a really good deal on some tires only to discover later the tires were more than five years old. They had never been mounted but had been sitting around somewhere for a very long time.
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Old 02-21-2016, 11:35 PM   #10
Skoolie
 
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So is a 40 ft mid engine D likely to be hard to find? The D is the one without the hood? Is a 40 ft fe easier to find? I am stuck on the idea of putting a hot tub in the rear so dont want the engine there.
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