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Old 03-14-2008, 05:02 PM   #1
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FE vs. RE Buses

What are the pro's and con's of a flat nose puller bus vs. a pusher?
I'm looking at Amtrans & Thomas' with DTA466's & 5.9's with Allison's.

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Old 03-16-2008, 02:03 AM   #2
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Re: FE vs. RE Buses


Pushers are generally considered better buses. Better weight distribution, less noise up front, less fumes up front, shorter rear overhang (less scraping on the ground), easier to work on the engine. One possible drawback is weak air flow to the radiator, but I believe that any overheating problem is primarily a matter of cooling system maintenance.

The front engine design has one key advantage: You can have a door in the rear. That's the one reason I have mine. But a front engine will give you noise and fumes in the bus, and the engine is difficult to access. And you have to climb over the engine cover to get in and out of the driver's seat. And you have a drive shaft under the middle of the bus, taking up space you might want for water tanks and such. Front engine buses always have long rear overhangs, presumably to make the drive shaft as short as possible.

The engines you mention are both good, with the IH preferable. Allisons are OK, and pretty much the only game in town, unless you stumble across a manual tranny. The Allison AT545 is most common, but the MT643 is preferable. Typically, you will find the big tranny in the biggest buses.

Price and availability will be a factor. Those front engine flat fronts had their glory days a decade or two ago and are readily available. These days, most new school buses are pushers.

Does that help any?
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Old 03-16-2008, 04:21 PM   #3
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Re: FE vs. RE Buses

I believe that the rear engine buses ride better as well. Also with the shorter overhang comes a longer wheelbase which would make city driving a little more difficult. I think the trade off for a better/quieter ride would be worth it though.
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Old 03-16-2008, 04:40 PM   #4
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Re: FE vs. RE Buses


Phillbus makes a couple of good points. Improved ride is actually what I had in mind when I said "better weight distribution", but my brain failed to spell it out properly.

The longer wheelbase of a pusher also helps the ride quality.

I suppose a longer wheelbase is a drawback to a novice bus driver. But so is a long rear overhang. It is remarkable easy to stike something with the rear overhang -- and we are not instinctively watching for that. So I recommend the longer wheelbase of a pusher -- if you don't need a "draw bridge" in the rear like I do. Just make sure you have good mirrors on the right, and practice using them.
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Old 03-19-2008, 09:58 PM   #5
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Re: FE vs. RE Buses

The rear engine Thomas doesn't really have a drawback to cornering, my Safe-T-Liner has an incredibly tight turning radius despite the long wheel base, and can do a complete 90 in about 15' of space.... I have been simply amazed at how well this bus can get into and out of tight spaces!!

The lack of a drive shaft though the middle of the bus has made it possible to add pass-thru storage under the middle of the bus, added grey & black tanks too. Enigine access is a breeze with that big door in the back!
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Old 03-20-2008, 07:12 PM   #6
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Re: FE vs. RE Buses

When bus shopping I tested a RE Thomas that was definitely faster, with a bigger motor, and drove smoother and quieter. The reason I went FE was size. I can barely get my 36ft TC2000 where I need it on my property. The 40ft RE bus was simply too big.
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Old 03-25-2008, 02:59 PM   #7
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Re: FE vs. RE Buses

I think with the engine in the rear the added weight makes them move the rear wheels further back to put more weight on the front. the same way for the pullers, they have to have the overhang in the rear to keep excess weight off the front, to balance better. Rear engine would be the way to go if you didn't need a rear door to load bikes. My bike is over 8' long, too long to load from the side. sportyrick
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