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Old 09-06-2019, 09:07 AM   #1
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Front or Rear engine and why?? About to pull the trigger

I am wanting to know which is better... Front or Rear Engine? I already know it will be flat-front, but I want pros/cons for FE/RE please.

I hear that RE is best for interior room and underneath storage/water tanks, etc, but they seem to overheat... Anyone have this problem? Or have you conquered it?
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Old 09-06-2019, 09:27 AM   #2
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Rear engine buses don't overheat unless they have a fault in the cooling system. You don't get the free blast of air while you drive so where a front engine bus may have a failed fan and stay reasonable just by driving, a rear engine bus will just get hotter and hotter.

With that said, front engine buses have back doors, which may be important to you. Rear engine buses put all the noise and heat at the back, which may be important to you. Rear engine buses seem much easier to work on, front engine buses are usually cheaper. Bigger engines are usually only available in rear engine versions, same with better transmissions. Various pros and cons to each.
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Old 09-06-2019, 09:54 AM   #3
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Rear engine buses don't overheat unless they have a fault in the cooling system. You don't get the free blast of air while you drive so where a front engine bus may have a failed fan and stay reasonable just by driving, a rear engine bus will just get hotter and hotter.

With that said, front engine buses have back doors, which may be important to you. Rear engine buses put all the noise and heat at the back, which may be important to you. Rear engine buses seem much easier to work on, front engine buses are usually cheaper. Bigger engines are usually only available in rear engine versions, same with better transmissions. Various pros and cons to each.
REs are more difficult to tow with (so I've heard, just repeating CW).
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Old 09-06-2019, 10:08 AM   #4
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RE buses don't have a (bus length) driveshaft to contend with...more underbelly storage room.
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Old 09-06-2019, 10:45 AM   #5
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REs are more difficult to tow with (so I've heard, just repeating CW).
I think the towing issue may stem from the construction because most RE buses have a sub-frame assembly which carries the engine lower than the main chassis but that sub-frame may not endure the weight, torque, and lateral forces of a trailer if the hitch is affixed directly to it. Instead, an option would be to reinforce the sub-frame or fabricate another assembly which transfers the hitch load back to the main chassis frame - but of course the dang engine is still in the way! Its doable but not 'plug-n-play' like many might think.
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Old 09-06-2019, 11:39 AM   #6
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I have heard this about towing... I will be towing my car, so I will have to look at this.

I do like the idea of a second door for safety reasons.
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Old 09-06-2019, 11:46 AM   #7
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I have heard this about towing... I will be towing my car, so I will have to look at this.

I do like the idea of a second door for safety reasons.
RE buses still have at least a second door but its on the side usually approximately midway between the axles.
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Old 09-06-2019, 12:14 PM   #8
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REs are more difficult to tow with (so I've heard, just repeating CW).
I towed over 200k miles over six years with an RE. The only problem I had was the vehicle I was towing got VERY dirty.
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Old 09-06-2019, 12:17 PM   #9
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Biggest difference is rear access door, engine noise difference, available floor space for build out.
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Old 09-06-2019, 01:07 PM   #10
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There is the 3rd option of a midship Bus which has it's pros over the other two but also it's cons to the other two. Always good to have options
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Old 09-07-2019, 12:36 AM   #11
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I had a large FE class A motorhome several years ago. The noise and heat from the engine made travel unpleasant at best. We used it twice and got rid of it. My RE is quieter than my pickup truck. For us all the other pros and cons were irrelevant. We wanted comfortable travelling.
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:48 AM   #12
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I have some fresh experience with a RE bus and one thing I found immediately that hasn't been mentioned is that rear engine buses tend to have the rear wheels farther back than transit-style front engine buses. I'm hitting curbs like a kid with a permit.
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:24 PM   #13
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Old 09-10-2019, 01:54 PM   #14
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Old 09-10-2019, 05:26 PM   #15
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I have some fresh experience with a RE bus and one thing I found immediately that hasn't been mentioned is that rear engine buses tend to have the rear wheels farther back than transit-style front engine buses. I'm hitting curbs like a kid with a permit.
I have always tried to explain this to people and often they want to argue about it. The assumption is that FE or RE the wheelbase is the same but even just looking at them I can see they're not.

You are correct that an RE has the rear drive axle positioned closer to the rear of the vehicle than an FE or CE and with an equal bumper to bumper length this means that the RE is going to have the largest turning radius of the three configurations.

As a comparison, a typical highway motorcoach like a Greyhound bus has two rear axles but only the forward one is a drive axle. The second one does carry some weight and provide a smooth ride but these coaches also have options like tag axle lift or countersteering which keeps that extra axle from dragging in turns. Without it, the added ~4 feet from the drive axle to the rear mounted engine would create an uncomfortable bobbing as the weight of the engine would bounce the front of the coach like a see-saw. Fortunately this is not a problem in school buses but if you can imagine an RE with the wheelbase of an FE and 8-10 feet of rear overhang would be bobbing the steer tires right off the pavement!
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Old 09-15-2019, 10:27 PM   #16
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I have been rving and living in and driving school busses since the early 80s. Currently living in and driving a 98 international Amtran pusher. For me the attraction with the flat nose pusher is no engine hump / dog house to step over getting into the driver's seat. A lot less engine noise. All the noise is in the back. If I want a really quiet Drive I closed the back bedroom door. There's lots of extra room underneath to put storage, even pass through storage.
Conventional front-engine buses are probably easier to do engine work on then either front engine or rear engine flat nose buses.
Over the years I drove a lot of front engine RVs, before I ever had a pusher. That one pusher ruined me for front engine RVs.
With the rear engine flat nose as long as the cooling system is working properly there is no trouble with overheating. We've already put more than 3,000 miles on our bus mostly in the high desert of New Mexico during July August and the early part of September. Most of those days were averaging 100 + degrees no overheating problems whatsoever.
The side door on the international it's only about two feet wide in about 3 ft tall. I call it the grocery door. I like to pull up next to it with my grocery cart and load everything onto the floor inside the bus. It is a bit difficult to get big things like full-size refrigerators in to the bus.
I think the one thing that I would have shopped for knowing this, is a full-sized, rear engine, flat nose bus, with a handicap lift.
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Old 09-16-2019, 09:32 AM   #17
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This might be off subject but I chose a dognose over the rest for the ground clearance it has. I don't thing many other rigs can match it.. I like to take it down a bit of dirt country roads when I can though.
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Old 09-16-2019, 12:25 PM   #18
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This might be off subject but I chose a dognose over the rest for the ground clearance it has. I don't thing many other rigs can match it.. I like to take it down a bit of dirt country roads when I can though.
I promise I'm not trying to be argumentative but how do you figure a dognose (conventional) has more ground clearance than other configurations? Apples to apples, the axles and differential are probably the lowest point and pretty equal between configs. If it came down to breakovers and approach/departure angles, I think any front engine is at risk of dinging the driveshaft then dragging the tail due to the huge rear overhang. Alternatively, the worst config for dirt roads would be a rear engine sucking in all that dust kicked up. So I think each one has pros and cons to consider.
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Old 09-17-2019, 10:48 AM   #19
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I have to agree with SolomanEagle. My CE drove the logging roads ike a charm. My FE on the other hand, no where near the clearance. I'm not sure on engine removal of an RE but I can have my 5.9 Cummins out of the FE in a couple hours where it would take one hour just to get the front grille off of the CE.
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