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Old 11-28-2014, 12:26 PM   #1
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front vs rear engine? (flat nose)

Hi -

Been lurking here for a while but not saying much. I don't have a bus yet, but am hoping/planning to buy one when the weather warms in 2015. My question is about the community's general preference for front vs rear engine in a flat nose. I intend to get a flat nose because it just looks like there is more usable space for the length of the vehicle than there is in a conventional "dog nose" configuration.

My aversion to getting a front engine flat nose dates back a few years to when I had a 73 Dodge Tradesman 300 (my 2nd "hippie van"). That thing was a pain in the a$$ to work on. The doghouse inside was a bear to unlatch and wrestle out, and it only allowed access to certain parts of the engine. The front "hood" was only 16-18" deep, and made working on anything at all a nightmare. I'm thinking that access to a front-engined flat nose would be at least as problematic since there doesn't seem to be any access at all from the outside. I've crawled over a Thomas MVP rear engine model and it appeared that there was enough room to climb in the rr compartment if needed.

So, am I right, or needlessly scared? Is it easy to pop the top from the inside if you need to replace injectors or adjust valve lash? I would be very interested in the opinions of those who've been there. I am hoping that this isn't a "tastes great - less fillling" flame war topic; I'm not trying to stir any hornet's nest. - Dan Fox
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Old 11-28-2014, 03:16 PM   #2
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Re: front vs rear engine? (flat nose)

I can't speak to the ease of removing the engine cover, I haven't ever done it. It is however generally conceded that a FE is harder to work on. I can say that my RE is easy to work on, you don't have to reach over anything to get at the engine. The radiator isn't in the way, nor are tires.
Also a RE is quieter and rides nicer. You don't have to walk around the engine to get to the driver seat.
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Old 11-29-2014, 07:10 AM   #3
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Re: front vs rear engine? (flat nose)

I was set on RE but ended up with a FE. There are positives to the FE though. This thing is very maneuverable by bus standards and I have a nice rear door to use.
Plus the RE seem to cost a bit more and I am on a budget. No regrets.
I think conventional is great too. To me all three have their merits and I could live with any bus as long as it is solid and reliable. That said- A RE Thomas with that extra headroom would make a nice start to a bus project!
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Old 11-29-2014, 11:07 PM   #4
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Re: front vs rear engine? (flat nose)

Yeah, that's what I like about the Thomas MVP, is the headroom. I'm 6'1" and not getting any shorter any time soon. Fortunately, Montgomery County MD schools seems to be a reliable supplier. That's why I'm trying to get everything lined up and taken care of so that I can pick one up at the end of this school year.
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Old 11-30-2014, 09:06 AM   #5
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Re: front vs rear engine? (flat nose)

Yeah, Maryland is home to many Thomas pushers.
I found many at online auctions from Md, but just didn't want to make that long a maiden voyage. Ended up settling on Kentucky.
There is a nice Thomas on Public Surplus right now. Check it out.
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Old 11-30-2014, 02:24 PM   #6
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Re: front vs rear engine? (flat nose)

Yep; I've gone and looked at a couple that were fundamentally identical to that one. 6'6" headroom in center aisle; 35' from rear emergency window to white line aft of driver's seat. Did not mention whether or not it had the Webasto fuel fired engine pre-heater in it, but every one I've seen has. That'd be a nice perk, IMHO.
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Old 12-01-2014, 07:41 PM   #7
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Re: front vs rear engine? (flat nose)

Sounds like most points have been covered. Most mechanics I know say an FE bus isn't too bad to work on. Of the RE buses I like how the Internationals allow you to actually walk into the engine compartment from either side. There's no extra belts either because the radiator is mounted on the back. And as far as headroom all buses are available with high roofs. All of the IH RE300s are high roof as far as I can tell.

The engine in my bus is currently being rebuilt in frame. Cost of parts: $1375 not including filters and fluids. Cost to magnaflux and redo the head at a custom shop was about $400. Labor is more than the parts and if I had the time I think it's something I could do if I put my mind to it. Pretty cheap rebuild if you ask me.

As you can probably tell I'm partial to IH RE buses. Another advantage to the IH is the sides are straight so if you decide to raise the roof even more it seems like it would be easier than a Thomas which has slanted sides.
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Old 12-02-2014, 09:09 AM   #8
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Re: front vs rear engine? (flat nose)

Quote:
Originally Posted by boojiewoojie
Another advantage to the IH is the sides are straight so if you decide to raise the roof even more it seems like it would be easier than a Thomas which has slanted sides.
Do you mean Bluebird? I have a Thomas bus with an International chassis and the sides aren't straight. It hasn't caused much issue, but straight would have been easier when cutting wall partitions and the like out of plywood!
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Old 12-04-2014, 08:52 PM   #9
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Re: front vs rear engine? (flat nose)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jazty
Do you mean Bluebird? I have a Thomas bus with an International chassis and the sides aren't straight. It hasn't caused much issue, but straight would have been easier when cutting wall partitions and the like out of plywood!
Actually I'm speaking of the International on an International chassis (or Amtran pre 2002?) All Thomas' that I've ever seen have the angle in at the window line, irregardless of the chassis brand.

And yeah, it's not that big of a deal unless you're doing a large roof raise. Not speaking from experience here, just from other's posts.
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