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Old 10-28-2016, 12:45 PM   #1
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Pro/con of flatnose, RE, conventional?

I've drive a conventional and like them - interior is unobstructed, all the mechanicals are easy to get to.

I've driven a FE flat nose - noisier, entrance is a bit more obstructed, but seems you get more space and it's what all the commercial RV's are made like.

RE seems maybe to be the best choice, but haven't driven or seen 'inside' one to know if it's better, or what the tradeoffs are (no rear access to the interior being one).
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Old 10-28-2016, 01:09 PM   #2
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RE seems maybe to be the best choice, but haven't driven or seen 'inside' one to know if it's better, or what the tradeoffs are (no rear access to the interior being one).
I've driven both Thomas and IC REs. They're both quieter than FEs with a flat floor fore and aft (until the engine bay) Access depends on the manufacturer and, in the case of ICB, model. I've got twin access doors on my Amtran RE that give me full access to both sides of the engine. There's also significant fresh air cooling from two yuuuuuuge vents just aft of the last row of seats- but these also protrude into the interior on top of the doghouse, taking about foot of potential space away, and a full size radiator. The intake that's about 6' above ground level is also nice, if I ever want to deep water ford with it
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Old 10-28-2016, 01:14 PM   #3
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I've only driven FE and CE. The CE rode horribly, had a huge turning radius and basically felt like a long, under-powered farm truck.
My FE is vastly superior in terms of ride and handling. The view is amazing out the front of an Amtran Genesis.
WIth FE, EVERYTHING behind the drivers seat is usable space and there's that great door on the rear. FE will always have the best maneuverability and turning radius, which for me is pretty important.
RE are great, but I've not owned one yet. Unless you count VW's. Then I've owned several.
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Old 10-28-2016, 01:34 PM   #4
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There is no one bus that is prefect for all applications which is why there are some many different sized buses with so many different options offered.

The Type 'C' conventional (the service door is behind the front axle and beside the driver) with the engine out front under a tilt hood has one good thing going for it. And that is mainly the price. There are more Type 'C' buses built than all other buses combined. They also have the advantage of truck repair shops are not so intimidated when it comes to working on them.

The Type 'D' transit (the service door is in front of the front axle and beside the driver) has the engine in three locations--front (FE), middle (mid-ships), and rear (RE). These are the most expensive school buses made. They cost $10K-$20K more than a Type 'C' bus which means on the used market they usually command a higher price. The number one advantage for a convertor is there is more inside to the bus than a Type 'C'. In all Type 'D' buses the engine is mounted somewhere inside the body of the bus. The unused space above the tilt hood on a Type 'C' is inside a Type 'D'. On an FE bus, all the space behind the driver is usable space. On an RE bus all of the space between the axles is available for the placement of storage compartments, tanks, and other systems. On a mid-ships bus the biggest advantage is they came with the largest engines offered in a school bus. Some Crowns left the factory with Cummins Big Cam engines of over 400 HP.

Only you can determine which bus will work the best for you.

Good luck.
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Old 10-28-2016, 02:26 PM   #5
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I have found the turning radius of RE transit style busses to be pretty impressive (for a 40' long vehicle)

The cab swing over the front is far more pronounced and the rear swing is much less than a conventional front engine bus.

Rear engine is a lot quieter on the road. The engine bay is harder things in and out of. The radiator/charge cooler stack is more difficult to get access to, as well as service items like filters. But it's not that bad - they're designed to be worked on still.

I will always prefer a rear engine transit style bus - the additional space in both the cabin and below decks is a big difference.


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Originally Posted by prof.fate View Post
I've drive a conventional and like them - interior is unobstructed, all the mechanicals are easy to get to.

I've driven a FE flat nose - noisier, entrance is a bit more obstructed, but seems you get more space and it's what all the commercial RV's are made like.

RE seems maybe to be the best choice, but haven't driven or seen 'inside' one to know if it's better, or what the tradeoffs are (no rear access to the interior being one).
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Old 10-28-2016, 03:37 PM   #6
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Here's my rear engine, it's an outside shot but maybe this will help you visualize how it's set up:



The floor is at approximately the level of the bottom rub rail... the frontmost bulkhead between the engine bay and interior approximately follows the line the vent panel makes... the rear seat sits on top of it (you can see the seat backs in the last window)... another vertical bulkhead is behind the seat backs, with the top bulkhead being approximately at the level of the rear window and emergency exit. So it's kind of a stair-step shape.

My seats are still in but next time I'm over there I'll see if I can get a couple of close-up pictures of the inside.
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Old 10-28-2016, 10:14 PM   #7
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So it has a basement in it?
The clear under floor is definitely got me more interesed in a RE. Makes a lot of sense.

now..can i get my employer to order one with the promise to buy it from him in 10 years...convert it, retire and FT in it? LOL

(i'll be 55 in about 5 weeks).
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Old 10-28-2016, 10:29 PM   #8
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So it has a basement in it?
The clear under floor is definitely got me more interesed in a RE. Makes a lot of sense.

now..can i get my employer to order one with the promise to buy it from him in 10 years...convert it, retire and FT in it? LOL

(i'll be 55 in about 5 weeks).
Not all RE's have underbelly storage.Most do not. You can built it yourself if you're good at fabrication.
My FE has enough storage bays along the underside to accomodate all my needs. I've got plenty of room for tanks, genny, storage, batteries, etc. I have four bays on one side and one on the other


Do you have any fabrication experience?
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Old 10-28-2016, 10:29 PM   #9
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Mine does, yes.... that's that access door in front of the rear wheels. It goes all the way through and has a door on the other side as well. Not all of them come with that though.

Having all that extra free space underneath is a definite advantage to a RE... all the drivetrain is in the back 10 feet or so, so that leaves the rest wide open to hang water tanks, aux fuel tanks, battery bank, generator, pretty much whatever tickles your fancy... just want to take care not to block access to wiring harnesses, air lines, fuel lines, all that stuff. Most of it runs along the frame rails anyway to take advantage of the protection they offer. And some things will need to have enclosures fabricated if you're gonna hang them underneath to keep water, road debris, etc from mucking them up. Generator and battery bank comes to mind.... and water tanks, unless they're very thick plastic or metal, will need to be enclosed to keep them from getting punctured or otherwise ripped open.
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Old 10-28-2016, 11:33 PM   #10
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I've not looked under a Class A MH to see how they do it.

I have TT and have been under it and the tanks are plastic and hang with no protection, i bet all at that way - not a problem. Unless you're off roading or something.

I'm interested in year round, so the tanks need to be heated or heatable. My understanding is if you get a winterization package on a TT they have 'heat blankets' under the tanks to keep them from freezing. My thinking is inside an insulated basement would also be helpful. And protective.

A FE has exhaust and driveshaft to work around..takes up a lot of space and would need a lot of access for maintenance as well.

I spent about 17 years as a mechanic on cars and motorcycles and can weld (stick and mig) so don't feel fabrication would be too difficult.

Have to do some research on how much ground clearance is enough - don't want to high center on a RR track or similar, or drag the rear coming in and out of places. I drag the back of my TT at times (it has skids on it) and have hit the hitch mount on my minivan quite a bit when I had it.

How much different would a gillig or MCI bus be than a RE skoolie?
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Old 10-28-2016, 11:51 PM   #11
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Old 10-29-2016, 12:03 AM   #12
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An MCI motorcoach and a Gillig transit coach have virtually nothing in common with a school bus.

Both have much higher ceilings with the Gillig low floor having almost 8' of interior height between the axles. All of the newer motorcoaches and transit buses are 102" wide.

The transit low floor buses have virtually no space under the floor for anything. Many people that convert them install all of their tanks, plumbing, etc. on the floor and then they build a floor on top of it all. Most transit buses have plenty of HP but most do NOT have highway gearing. The few Suburban spe'c'ed buses will tend to have highway gearing.

Most motorcoaches have a tag axle which increases your maintenance costs--two more tires, two more sets of bearings, two more brakes, etc. They are also a lot taller and weigh a whole lot more. This can limit where you can go. Almost every street, road, and highway has a school bus traveling on it every day. Most motorcoaches should not go very far away from the Interstate. They really are not well suited to narrow country roads, bridges with weight and height limits, and going anywhere off of the pavement. Most motorcoaches have big HP and highway gearing which makes them great out on the highway but can be a real problem if you have to stop on a steep hill. I have known more than a couple of people that have had to drop their toad at the bottom of some hills because the motorcoach didn't have enough low speed gearing.

Another couple of thoughts about transits and motorcoaches. First, most have 5x to 10x miles on them compared to a school bus. Second, because they have gone so many miles they tend to be pretty well used up if you look at buses under $10K.
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Old 10-29-2016, 12:54 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by prof.fate View Post
I've not looked under a Class A MH to see how they do it.

I have TT and have been under it and the tanks are plastic and hang with no protection, i bet all at that way - not a problem. Unless you're off roading or something.

I'm interested in year round, so the tanks need to be heated or heatable. My understanding is if you get a winterization package on a TT they have 'heat blankets' under the tanks to keep them from freezing. My thinking is inside an insulated basement would also be helpful. And protective.

A FE has exhaust and driveshaft to work around..takes up a lot of space and would need a lot of access for maintenance as well.

I spent about 17 years as a mechanic on cars and motorcycles and can weld (stick and mig) so don't feel fabrication would be too difficult.

Have to do some research on how much ground clearance is enough - don't want to high center on a RR track or similar, or drag the rear coming in and out of places. I drag the back of my TT at times (it has skids on it) and have hit the hitch mount on my minivan quite a bit when I had it.

How much different would a gillig or MCI bus be than a RE skoolie?
You wouldn't have to worry about RR track clearance as long as you don't have any of your hanging stuff below the level of the side skirts.... if the bus body will clear the tracks your accessories will too.

They do make tank heaters, you install them on the bottom side of the tanks and they will keep the water above freezing... larger tanks need more than one though, so keep that in mind.

The differences between road coaches and skoolies has already been covered so won't get into that, I can't add anything that hasn't already been said.
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Old 10-29-2016, 01:02 AM   #14
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Some differences that haven't been pointed out yet: A conventional the engine is more accessible. An RE is almost as accessible but there is a difference. The driver's position in a conventional doesn't get very good ventilation and it feels like you're sitting in the middle of the bus (left to right). The only reason to get a conventional is to get the sense that you're well protected when you run into something.

An FE's engine does get better ventilation than an RE. The ride on an FE isn't as nice as an RE. An RE has better traction than an FE or conventional.

It's common to find air ride suspension in the rear of an RE. They generally ride the smoothest of all three types, other than motor coaches of course.

Having driven all three types for many years, the only reason to go FE or conventional IMO is if you need the rear door access. Otherwise RE is much nicer.

Of course if you can find an old Crown....
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Old 10-29-2016, 01:51 AM   #15
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Of course if you can find an old Crown....
Sure woulda loved to get my hands on the one I saw in LA back in 2013..... man she was sweet.

I'd guess she was one of the mid-engine models, correct me if I'm wrong....

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Old 10-29-2016, 09:03 AM   #16
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that's nice.

I love the look of vintage vehicles, cars trucks and buses, but modern vehicles are SOOO much better in every way.
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Old 10-29-2016, 10:47 AM   #17
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that's nice.

I love the look of vintage vehicles, cars trucks and buses, but modern vehicles are SOOO much better in every way.
How so?

That model of bus was made until 1991.

One of those with a mid-engine 855 Cummins NHH in it, and some tall gears...

Great ride quality, built to last forever, tremendous amount of power, and extremely reliable.

Correct me if I'm missing something, but I'd take that over anything made since then if it weren't for the price that they usually command.
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Old 10-29-2016, 05:38 PM   #18
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Sure woulda loved to get my hands on the one I saw in LA back in 2013..... man she was sweet.

I'd guess she was one of the mid-engine models, correct me if I'm wrong....

I may be wrong but wern't all Crowns mid engine until they started offering RE's in mid 88? Mines the only RE Crown I've ever come across.
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Old 10-29-2016, 06:36 PM   #19
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And I'm talking the tweenkie style Crown
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Old 10-29-2016, 06:36 PM   #20
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Crown made quite a few RE buses. Granted most were not school buses but they did make them.

The Crown Highway Coach had a raised floor with under floor luggage bays with usually 8V-71 power.

There were a few RE's built in the early to mid-'60s with 6V-53 power.

So no, the first classic Schoolcoaches with RE's was much earlier than 1988.
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