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Old 09-19-2015, 10:56 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
I don't think a RE bus is going to be the best choice for pulling that much.
It depends on how the rear frame is built. You'd almost certainly be exceeding the GVWR of most school buses though. My empty shell weighs nearly 18k on the scales and my Gross is 33k. With any kind of conversion and pulling 14k I'd be well beyond maxed out.
A RE bus will pull and handle large towing needs far better than any front engine bus.

Before giving this kind of advice, you need to look into the engine bay of about 25 RE buses.

Not all RE buses use sub frames. Not all that do use sub frames are built the same.

The Thomas RE's are built well. The subframes are more than enough to tow 20,000 pounds.

Understand towing before giving advice. If he is towing 14,000 pounds, his hitch weight is still only going to be what the hitch can handle. Anything up to a 5000 pound hitch weight will be no issue for a Thomas RE.

Over on pirate 4x4, guys extend medium duty truck frames all the time. The same principles they use are the ones used by the bus manufactures. The sub frame runs back along the full frame at minimum 3 feet.

The sub frame on ALL RE's runs past the rear axle. So the subframe and the full frame are both taking the weight.

On my 96 RE Bluebird, the subframe runs 6 feet past the rear axle, looking towards the front. Subframe is sleeved inside the full frame, and is the same height and thickness as the full frame.

Most Thomas's use a drop frame. It is still full size rails, overlapped onto the full size frame.

Also, RE buses have less rear overhang. This equals less leverage on the rear frame when towing, and less swing when turning. Most FE buses have too much rear swing for a standard length tongue trailer. The tongue needs to be the same length as the rear overhang of the bus. Most bumper pull trailers are sized for a pickup truck to pull them.

Remember, I have 400 buses to look at daily. Our bus driving season just started again. Last year I was driving a dog nose. This year I drive a 03 Thomas ISB Cummins 8.3 at 250hp, MD3060 with the 6th gear unlocked.

I love this bus.



Nat
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Old 09-20-2015, 12:14 AM   #32
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My CDL may compensate for that legal aspect, but I just want to be sure it will be possible and safe.
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Old 09-20-2015, 12:20 AM   #33
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Thanks Nat. You reflect my thinking. And the RE Thomas' that I have seen should do the trick. Yet, as of now the motors in most of them seem to be a bit too small for my desires. That 8.3 would be ideal with the right tranny. I have a bit of time before I jump on a used bus. Still many questions to answer and much more research to do.

Thanks for the feedback.
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Old 09-20-2015, 08:12 AM   #34
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I understand towing, Nat.

RE bus-


FE bus-
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Old 09-20-2015, 10:15 PM   #35
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Come on Nat, you're getting a little carried away with the details..

Not all RE setups have their engine cradle/sub-frame extending forward beyond or even to the rear axle. Although my Blue Bird is a rare duck with its transit instead of school body, it's an example of one RE in which the engine frame does not go that far. Instead, the engine frame is mounted lower than the main frame and overlaps only about 3 feet. It stops nearly four feet short of the rear axle, and it doesn't even sleeve inside the main frame. The main frame is C profile turned inward, and the engine frame is C profile turned outward so that the webs of the C's are bolted together. I don't imagine there are many buses like mine out there, and so I dare guess it's the same chassis as one of their other models.. All-American, maybe? (pictures of mine are included in the towing thread EastCoastCB linked to earlier.)

I anticipate towing nearly 10k with mine, but the 1000-ish pounds of tongue weight does concern me a little because it's in addition to an already heavy 8.3 engine and tranny. I don't have any idea at what point all this tail weight unloads the front axle enough to be questionable. Who knows; I may end up finding a way to flat-tow or dolly my full-size van instead of using a full trailer.

Oh.. and your '03 Thomas has an ISC engine, not ISB. The 8.3 liter was always a C series engine. (I know, it was probably just a typo.. but still!)

The point about rear overhang/swing is a good one. I towed a 12k dump trailer with my FE bus just a couple times. I remember it was pretty tricky baking up that rig to unload the trailer at the landfill. It was still national school bus yellow at that point, and the bewildered and perplexed expressions from onlookers were priceless!
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Old 09-20-2015, 10:43 PM   #36
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if you are going to tow 14k pounds, you will need something more robust than either the AT545 or MT643 and you will need to install a tranny cooler on whatever you get
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Old 09-21-2015, 07:32 AM   #37
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I am getting the notion that towing 14k will be pretty cumbersome and costly. There certainly is a possibility to scale back on the weight. What would be reasonable expectations?
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Old 09-21-2015, 07:45 AM   #38
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On a RE bus- flat towing a car or pickup.
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Old 09-21-2015, 09:05 AM   #39
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Thanks. I was hoping for more. Like hauling a small machine/wood shop.
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Old 09-21-2015, 09:49 AM   #40
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Anything is possible, especially if fabricating is an option.
For real towing, I'd be looking for a short full size conventional or FE flatnose with a beefy engine/transmission. A short FE transit style school bus has a very tight turning radius and would likely be my first choice.
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