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Old 04-11-2018, 10:30 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Pusher on terrain?

Hi folks!

We’re narrowing in on getting a bus and still trying to figure out whether to get a rear-engine or dog-nose. We would like to get a rear-engine (for more inside length, underneath storage mostly) but we’re a little worried about how it will do when we’re not on nice, paved roads. We’ve been told that because the front (steps) are in front of the front tires one has to be careful with a pusher off-road, whereas dog-nosed buses are better.

We plan to be parking on farms and driving on dirt roads, muddy areas, tractor treads, potholes.

Is a rear-engine bus feasible for this? Other advice?

Thank you!
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Old 04-11-2018, 12:55 PM   #2
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If you are going to be spending a LOT of time off of the pavement the Type 'C' conventional bus is probably going to be your best choice. Type 'C' buses have the service door behind the front axle.

Type 'D' buses have the service door in front of the front axle. Sojourner has moved his entrance door to the middle of the bus and has eliminated the step well in front of the front axle.

If you are looking to purchase a rear engine bus you also need to be aware of the fact that with the rear engine at the back you are going to be sucking a lot of dust, dirt, mud, and other corruption in through your radiator. You also have a lot of very expensive parts hanging down low behind the rear axle. It isn't the sort of stuff you would like to touch the ground if you should happen to put a rear wheel into a hole or while entering or exiting a steep approach angle.
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Old 04-11-2018, 01:04 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
If you are going to be spending a LOT of time off of the pavement the Type 'C' conventional bus is probably going to be your best choice. Type 'C' buses have the service door behind the front axle.

Type 'D' buses have the service door in front of the front axle. Sojourner has moved his entrance door to the middle of the bus and has eliminated the step well in front of the front axle.

If you are looking to purchase a rear engine bus you also need to be aware of the fact that with the rear engine at the back you are going to be sucking a lot of dust, dirt, mud, and other corruption in through your radiator. You also have a lot of very expensive parts hanging down low behind the rear axle. It isn't the sort of stuff you would like to touch the ground if you should happen to put a rear wheel into a hole or while entering or exiting a steep approach angle.
Thank you for this advice!

This may be a silly question, but where does all that dust, dirt, etc. go when the bus sucks it in? Into the engine, or the bus interior, or...? Why doesn't a dog-nose suck that in?

If I don't go off-road all that much, is that still an issue?

Also, could the expensive parts behind the rear axle be covered for protection?

Thank you!
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Old 04-11-2018, 01:09 PM   #4
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Has anyone on here ever done an axle/tranny swap with a deuce to make a 6x6 skoolie?? Would be horrid for long distance travel, but I would think it'd make a pretty good off-road camper...

Probably be easier with a Ford van chassis E-350 to F-350 axle/trans/suspension swap.
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Old 04-11-2018, 01:15 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrailLifeBill View Post
Has anyone on here ever done an axle/tranny swap with a deuce to make a 6x6 skoolie?? Would be horrid for long distance travel, but I would think it'd make a pretty good off-road camper...

Probably be easier with a Ford van chassis E-350 to F-350 axle/trans/suspension swap.
I'm not sure what that is but offhand it seems probably out of scope for this project. We're pretty mechanically elementary and I think we mostly just want to get the right bus. Thanks.
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Old 04-11-2018, 01:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by olives View Post
Thank you for this advice!

This may be a silly question, but where does all that dust, dirt, etc. go when the bus sucks it in? Into the engine, or the bus interior, or...? Why doesn't a dog-nose suck that in?

If I don't go off-road all that much, is that still an issue?

Also, could the expensive parts behind the rear axle be covered for protection?

Thank you!
It goes into the air-filter. Most would be filtered out, but not all.

It's an issue off-road because the intake is behind the front wheels that are kicking up the dust. It's not an issue of front-engined buses for the same reason ... the intake is ahead of the dust.

Yes, you could add a skid-plate.
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Old 04-11-2018, 01:57 PM   #7
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The back of a bus is a long ways away. I was backing, trying to get out of an off pavement situation, and rammed the rear of the bus into a hedge row. No problem I thought, the bus can push through a bush. After I parked, I went back and looked and I saw that branches had poked into the radiator. Luckily the only damage was some bent fins, but I came much too close to putting a hole in the radiator.
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Old 04-11-2018, 10:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by olives View Post
Thank you for this advice!

This may be a silly question, but where does all that dust, dirt, etc. go when the bus sucks it in? Into the engine, or the bus interior, or...? Why doesn't a dog-nose suck that in?

If I don't go off-road all that much, is that still an issue?

Also, could the expensive parts behind the rear axle be covered for protection?

Thank you!
Most rear engine buses have engine air intakes that get air from up on the roof. In other words an area that is usually that will not have dust that has been kicked up from driving off pavement.

But the radiator is down low with fans that will be sucking air through them. Since the radiators are located behind the rear axle any dust will be sucked right in through the radiator core.

Even if you have a good radiator that doesn't have any leaks to which dust will stick you will still have thousands of fins surrounding the tubes. Even a little deflection will cause dust to slow down or stop. Add a little rain to the mix and you will have mud that sticks to everything. Before you know it you will have a radiator that is more blocked up than clear.

One bus I purchased came from a district that was more than 60% non-paved roads. The maintenance records that came with the bus told me the radiator had been completely rebuilt, including a new core, less than three years before we purchased the bus from them. Even still, less than half of the core was being used as the other half was full of mud. By the time I had finished washing the mud out of the core I bet I had more than one five-gallon buckets worth of mud on the ground.

A Type 'D' front engine or a Type 'C' bus will not have the issues of dust and/or mud being sucked into the radiator as the radiator is up in front. When you are going down the road the radiator is traveling almost all the time in a dust/mud free zone. That is unless you are following someone rather closely.

If you don't go off pavement that often it shouldn't be an issue.

As far as covering stuff up with skid plates and the like, it probably wouldn't work very well. The engine and transmission oil pans are already pretty close to the ground. Adding a skid plate would reduce your ground clearance even more making it an almost foregone conclusion that you would be scraping bottom. You would also run the risk of restricting air flow and causing overheating issues.
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Old 04-12-2018, 12:17 AM   #9
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Today while I was taking some folk to Tijuana airport (it's now San Diego's second airport), I saw several of San Diego USD's rear-engine International buses on the 805 freeway. What makes them unusual for pusher school buses is that some of them have rear radiators, not the usual side-mounted radiators that most pushers have: because there is a low-pressure area behind any bus, these rear radiators blow the air out instead of the usual sucking air in. This may make them more suitable for use on dirt roads, maybe - their air intakes are high up on the sides, just under the roofline. Another thing that may make them slightly better on rough dirt roads is their bodysides don't extend as far down as most pusher buses, giving them better mid-wheelbase ground clearance. However, there would still be the issue of grounding the engine or transmission.

I was told that these rear-radiator Internationals had cooling problems, especially in hot Southern California summers. International later went back to using normal side radiators on their pusher buses. Maybe rear radiators would be OK in eastern Massachusetts?

John
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Old 04-15-2018, 09:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iceni John View Post
Today while I was taking some folk to Tijuana airport (it's now San Diego's second airport), I saw several of San Diego USD's rear-engine International buses on the 805 freeway. What makes them unusual for pusher school buses is that some of them have rear radiators, not the usual side-mounted radiators that most pushers have: because there is a low-pressure area behind any bus, these rear radiators blow the air out instead of the usual sucking air in. This may make them more suitable for use on dirt roads, maybe - their air intakes are high up on the sides, just under the roofline. Another thing that may make them slightly better on rough dirt roads is their bodysides don't extend as far down as most pusher buses, giving them better mid-wheelbase ground clearance. However, there would still be the issue of grounding the engine or transmission.

I was told that these rear-radiator Internationals had cooling problems, especially in hot Southern California summers. International later went back to using normal side radiators on their pusher buses. Maybe rear radiators would be OK in eastern Massachusetts?

John
Oh, I think I have one of these. I had no idea it was different. I don't plan on going off road much but it's dusty where I live anyway, plus I drove around a sand and gravel yard for an hour learning to drive the bus. So should I clean the fan? I want to clean the engine and under carriage anyway because I want to see if anything needs rust treatment or more undercoating, etc. I haven't seen any info on how to go about doing this so far.
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