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Old 08-14-2017, 10:29 AM   #1
Bus Nut
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Maryland / Boulder
Posts: 345
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas Built
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner MVP ER
Engine: CAT 3126b Rotella-Chugger
Rated Cap: 72
Trailer Hitch on Rear-Engined Bus

Hi all,

I was wondering if anyone has added a hitch to a rear-engined bus before. Specifically, a Thomas MVP-ER with a CAT 3126. There is a whole hell of a lot going on in the area where you'd mount a hitch, like the oil pan, motor mounts, and the frame is a bit complex around there too.

I found this hitch:

I need to get up under it and do some measuring to make sure there is a clear space for this to bolt to, and to make sure it wouldn't sit too low. We are planning on pulling an open flat trailer with a SPEC E30 (BMW racecar) on it. Probably 4,500 lbs total. The hitch I linked is not rated for this weight, and I was wondering if anyone knew of a hitch that might fit that would be rated for this weight (Class IV?) or if I should look into getting a custom one welded up.

I found this nifty little device for making a trailer harness work:

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Old 08-14-2017, 10:47 AM   #2
Bus Crazy
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Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 1,497
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: Bluebird
Engine: 5.9 Cummins 24v
Rated Cap: 72 pax
It has been asked before, and I am thinking of doing it on a bluebird re. Some busses have and "engine cradle" that bolts to the main frame. If that's the case you may have to make some extension pieces from the frame. But someone with more knowledge of the Thomas bus may be able to steer you right.
As long as the hitch is attached to the frame you should be ok. Now engine size and gearing... That's a whole other discussion.

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Old 08-14-2017, 11:40 AM   #3
Bus Crazy
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Salt Lake City Utah
Posts: 1,529
Year: 2000
Chassis: Blue Bird
Engine: ISC 8.3
The Draw-Tite 41990 looks to me like a nice kit for building a custom width receiver.

Can't comment on the attachment to the frame. Blue Birds, at least my year 1999 and 2000, have a dropped sub-frame for the engine. No idea whether Thomas is similar. I haven't made up my mind yet as to how much weight I might be comfortable towing on that sub-frame assembly on mine.
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Old 08-14-2017, 07:18 PM   #4
Join Date: Sep 2016
Posts: 13
I am looking to pull a trailer also. I saw this hitch (link below) at Wal Mart today. I don't know if it will fit your bus (or mine) but it looks adjustable. I have had good luck with Reese hitches in the past. I have seen this one sold many places (from Amazon and eBay to Home Depot and Wal Mart). I have seen prices from $99 - $175. My plan is to purchase from my local Wal Mart so if it doesn't bolt on easily or I cannot make it work I can simply return it. I know Wal Mart has issues but I have never had an issue returning anything (with or without a receipt).

Class IV-Multi Fit Hitch-37042-Reese Towpower
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Old 08-15-2017, 05:39 AM   #5
Bus Nut
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Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: On the Road
Posts: 542
Year: 2000
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: 7.3L 210HP Turbo Diesel T444E
Rated Cap: 28 + 3 wheel chairs.
I went to a welder and had a hitch installed - they can do a lot to get a solid connection with the hitch I figured it was worth it - to avoid losing a large load, or even a small load, while driving.

It only cost me $325 - parts and labor.

I just need to figure out the wiring now.
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Old 08-15-2017, 06:34 AM   #6
Bus Nut
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Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: The West
Posts: 943
Year: 1998
Coachwork: MCI
Chassis: 102 EL3
Engine: DD 60
Originally Posted by porkchopsandwiches View Post
I was wondering if anyone has added a hitch to a rear-engined bus before.
Porkchop sandwiches! Wow - does that bring back memories!! The ones at Pork Chop John's in Butte, MT were really awesome!! My Dad and I would make a trip down from Helena at every opportunity.

I installed a bolt-on 'universal' hitch from eTrailer on my MCI. eTrailer is super helpful with detail questions (measurements). Regardless, it is a project - at least it was on my coach. I would have MUCH preferred to pay someone to do it but time did not allow that.

The wiring thing MAY be required depending on your bus and trailer/toad lights. I think nearly all (??) modern vehicles require one as they have separate brake and turn signal lights. I needed one (for a 7 pin connector) and it did save the day.
JD - Full timer out west
Missy - 1998 MCI 102-EL3 - 1.7kW Solar - 10kWh Lithium
My Adventures & Build
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Old 08-15-2017, 07:30 AM   #7
Bus Crazy
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Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Andrews,Indiana
Posts: 1,980
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: AARE
Engine: 3116 Cat 250hp
Rated Cap: Just the two of us.
I didn't want anything under the bumper to eliminate any more cause to drag so I incorporated mine into the bumper. Note this is ONLY for pulling a towed. Don't have any idea about load carrying capacity.

The two large bolts tie it into the rear engine cross member.

View of the backside. I welded the stiffener on because the bumpers flex quite a bit.

View of how it's tied to cross member

Note that this is a Bluebird RE and has the dropped engine frame.
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Old 08-15-2017, 10:46 AM   #8
Bus Crazy
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Salt Lake City Utah
Posts: 1,529
Year: 2000
Chassis: Blue Bird
Engine: ISC 8.3
That's nicely done, somewhereinusa. My RE came to me with a similar setup.. but not nearly so well-executed. Somebody put a big piece of C channel behind the bumper, forming a box... with the hole for the hitch pin hidden inside. Some day I'll cut it all apart and make it more like yours.
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Old 08-25-2017, 11:30 AM   #9
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Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 155
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Ford
Chassis: E350 #Vanlife
Engine: 6.8 V10
Rated Cap: 15
I have the same bus OP...I was searching around (for the same reasons...towing a speed machine to the track for proper road course slutting) and found someone that had, also the same bus, and they said this particular Ford off the shelf hitch worked. I have to find the thread.

Edit: Here is that thread
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Old 08-25-2017, 12:17 PM   #10
Bus Crazy
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Oregon/Philippines
Posts: 1,660
I put hitch on my thomas re... got one from the scrap yard out of the pile with correct width to attach to frame.. attachment to stamped bumper is not good idea unless another bar welded across it is there. twenty yrs ago, the first one i did, i only attached to the bumper... which was too light and bent while towing a cadillac... I generally tow large trailer or car on trlr now, so the weight is high.
Jesus Christ... Conversion in progress.
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