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Old 04-17-2019, 06:53 PM   #1
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Advice on choosing a bus...

I'm new to the skoolie movement, although I've been aiming to make this change for quite some time...

I wanted to ask all of you pro's on here to offer your opinions when it comes to looking for a potential future home..

Our preferences:
-a 35'-40' bus
-we want to do a lot of USA/Canada travel, especially national parks
-we want to raise the roof to be about 8' tall
-we want the least amount of rust on the body as possible
-we don't mind replacing mechanical parts, especially having the piece of mind of knowing what is in good condition

So what are your thoughts and opinions on things like:

-What years would you aim to look for/stay away from?
-Diesel vs. Gas
-Brands of buses, are there any that have well known issues?
-What issues are worth overlooking in a potential purchase?
-What aren't?

I'm trying to get a feel for what people believe to be the best bus as far as bang for your buck/effort..

All tips appreciated
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Old 04-17-2019, 09:05 PM   #2
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For what you want in a bus :

-35-40 feet will be a full-length bus. Figure out if you want a dognose (with a hood in front), or a flatnose (probably with the engine in the rear.) A lot of the "better" buses are flatnose with a rear engine.





-You're planning on a roof raise, which means you don't need to worry about finding a high-headroom model in the first place.
-Tall, heavy, full-size bus, you're going to want a diesel.
-You don't want an AT545 transmission.


I would keep in mind that a 40' bus with a roof raise to 8 feet might not fit in all of the national parks (Or, at least, it will be more limited in where it will fit.) Others can chime in more about that.


Other then that, you just gotta start reading the threads about various things. Rust is the one thing you really want to avoid, but you know that going in.
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Old 04-18-2019, 12:52 PM   #3
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If we planned on towing say.. A geo tracker behind our bus.. Would you recommend going with a front engine instead of a flat nose rear engine? What are the different benefits in rear engine vs. front engine as far as personal use goes?
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Old 04-18-2019, 01:20 PM   #4
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At several parks there are length restrictions. I would start there....

OP where are you located? Rust rust rust.

Diesel would be the way to go for the size of bus you are looking at.
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Old 04-18-2019, 01:29 PM   #5
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It won't matter to the toad which bus is pulling it - dognose or flatnose.

Here are some of the pros and cons:

The flatnose bus will just have more room and it will use that space more efficiently. It will be highly manueverable because the wheel bases on many of them are quite short. I liked the nimbleness of the flatnose front engined buses because I could drive into any cul-de-sac in the city and do a complete U-turn without stopping. Those buses would turn on a dime and come back out giving you change.

If you get a front engined flatnose, you will get the most manueverable bus you can get in a 40'. You will need to deal with that hump in the floor that covers the engine. You'll learn to walk carefully because sooner or later, everyone trips on that damned hump.

The flatnose bus has fantastic visibility because the driver does not have to look over a hood. This was important when I was driving a school bus hauling kids.

The dognose bus has the advantage of having the engine out front where it is very easily accessible. If you have to work on the engine at all, the dognose is going to be easiest. But like the flatnose front engine bus, the dognose is going to be noisy. It will not be as nimble as the flatnose front engine bus.

One cool feature about both the dognose bus and the flatnose with the front engine, is that they have very large emergency doors in the back. This means that, when you're buying sheets of plywood and other building materials, you can just drive the bus to the big box store and load everything up right there. You won't need another vehicle.

The flatnose rear engine bus has a longer wheel base and is not as nimble as the frong engine flatnose. It also does not have a rear door that can serve as pick-up-truck duty. School systems will many times buy flatnose rear-engine pushers and they will use these buses for field trips. These buses are way more comfortable than any other type of school bus. They are very quiet up front, unlike the front engine buses, and they are very smooth riding on the interstates. Most often, the pushers will also have under floor storage bays. This is a big plus. My Bluebird had two storage bays on each side and I would always lose my bus for a day when there was a field trip to Nashville or someplace.

At the school system where I used to work, all the dognose and flatnose front engined buses had their governors set a 55mph. But the flatnose diesel pushers had the governors set at 65mph. They figured that 55 was too slow for a big yellow box out on the interstate.

When I was driving for the school system, my bus was a Bluebird All American - a flatnose diesel pusher. I totally fell in love with my bus even though there was one cul-de-sac on my route where I could not do a complete U-turn. But to me, the quiet and comfort more than made up for that minor problem. I could scream at the kids and they could actually hear me.
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Old 04-18-2019, 01:52 PM   #6
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We are located in the Bay Area right now, but will be renovating the bus on the Western Slope of Colorado! We have under a year to find a bus that's right for us
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Old 04-18-2019, 01:53 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WoodenYouKnowIt View Post
It won't matter to the toad which bus is pulling it - dognose or flatnose.

Here are some of the pros and cons:

The flatnose bus will just have more room and it will use that space more efficiently. It will be highly manueverable because the wheel bases on many of them are quite short. I liked the nimbleness of the flatnose front engined buses because I could drive into any cul-de-sac in the city and do a complete U-turn without stopping. Those buses would turn on a dime and come back out giving you change.

If you get a front engined flatnose, you will get the most manueverable bus you can get in a 40'. You will need to deal with that hump in the floor that covers the engine. You'll learn to walk carefully because sooner or later, everyone trips on that damned hump.

The flatnose bus has fantastic visibility because the driver does not have to look over a hood. This was important when I was driving a school bus hauling kids.

The dognose bus has the advantage of having the engine out front where it is very easily accessible. If you have to work on the engine at all, the dognose is going to be easiest. But like the flatnose front engine bus, the dognose is going to be noisy. It will not be as nimble as the flatnose front engine bus.

One cool feature about both the dognose bus and the flatnose with the front engine, is that they have very large emergency doors in the back. This means that, when you're buying sheets of plywood and other building materials, you can just drive the bus to the big box store and load everything up right there. You won't need another vehicle.

The flatnose rear engine bus has a longer wheel base and is not as nimble as the frong engine flatnose. It also does not have a rear door that can serve as pick-up-truck duty. School systems will many times buy flatnose rear-engine pushers and they will use these buses for field trips. These buses are way more comfortable than any other type of school bus. They are very quiet up front, unlike the front engine buses, and they are very smooth riding on the interstates. Most often, the pushers will also have under floor storage bays. This is a big plus. My Bluebird had two storage bays on each side and I would always lose my bus for a day when there was a field trip to Nashville or someplace.

At the school system where I used to work, all the dognose and flatnose front engined buses had their governors set a 55mph. But the flatnose diesel pushers had the governors set at 65mph. They figured that 55 was too slow for a big yellow box out on the interstate.

When I was driving for the school system, my bus was a Bluebird All American - a flatnose diesel pusher. I totally fell in love with my bus even though there was one cul-de-sac on my route where I could not do a complete U-turn. But to me, the quiet and comfort more than made up for that minor problem. I could scream at the kids and they could actually hear me.
I would imagine that making sure your front/rear load is carefully balanced with that long rear overhang on a FE bus?
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Old 04-18-2019, 03:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d_e_steckel2017 View Post
We are located in the Bay Area right now, but will be renovating the bus on the Western Slope of Colorado! We have under a year to find a bus that's right for us
You might want to focus your search in CO. They've got rust-free buses that have drivetrains chosen for mountain driving, and will very frequently have retarders for the same reason.
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Old 04-18-2019, 11:41 PM   #9
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Also the re pusher is going to have more space underneath because there is no long drive shaft from the engine in the front to the wheel in the rear, maybe 20+ feet. There are some people that like the FE pusher or the dognose because the whole rear of the bus is open for whatever you might want to do - make a small garage and even carry a vehicle, install a jucuzzi, make a workshop, etc. If you have a RE pusher, you have the doghouse in the rear.
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Old 04-18-2019, 11:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rovobay View Post
At several parks there are length restrictions. I would start there....

OP where are you located? Rust rust rust.

Diesel would be the way to go for the size of bus you are looking at.
Has anyone compiled a list of these parks that have length restrictions? Can we start a poll/sticky to collect that information? Edit: https://www.us-parks.com/tips/rv-and-trailer-length.html I guess if you've got a long one, you will have to park it outside and drive your tow vehicle in
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