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Old 04-28-2019, 12:23 PM   #1
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Year: 1999
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Engine: 5.9L 24V-L6 Cummins ISB
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FE flatnose or dognose easier to repair?

So I have an FE flatnose bus with a 5.9L Cummins ISB L6, and went to find an oil leak yesterday. I already knew it was coming from the vicinity of the air pump, but didn't know if it was the pump itself or the gasket. It was hiding above the AC compressor, and I hadn't taken the time to look closely yet.


I found it coming from the bottom bolt where the air-pump flange meets the engine front cover. Cleaned it up with citrus engine degreaser, then brake cleaner. Felt confident that it was this spot that was leaking as (1) it was the oiliest, (2) the bolt turned maybe 0.5 turns and oil built up around the edge as it tightened, (3) the only other bolt/seal that had any wet oil was directly behind it, holds the compressor together, and was super-tight; and (4) no oil was above it (hard to tell, because the high-pressure fuel pump is just above the air pump). The oil was dripping down onto the AC pulley and belt, spraying across the lower-front motor-mount and bus-frame crossmember, across the bottom of the oil-pan, and onto the tranny oil-pan, and back from there onto the front-axle.


I pulled off the AC compressor for better access to the air-pump flange bolt, and better line-of-sight to the problem areas. I already tightened all the motor's oil-pan bolts about 0.5 turns last summer and ended an oil seep from that gasket, so I think I just did the same for the air-pump gasket.


In the process I found that the new AC compressor was missing a mounting bolt. I was just saying on someone else's thread a few days ago, don't simply assume a "professional" (machine shop rebuilding a head) will do the job correctly! It was "tricky" to get the bolt to slide into the mounting hole, because the pulley was in the way! Mount the bolt the other direction, and it hits the pulley and you can't get a nut on. So just do it the slack way was what the installer did! I wondered why my AC systems didn't work, when the compressor, condenser, and drier were all new-looking and had maintenence stickers with dates from just before I bought it.



So I found a nice bolt with a long shoulder and skinny threads that I pulled off another vehicle I repaired some time before (good quality steel, not HD zinc bolts!), and a matching lock washer and flange nut that worked perfect for the pivot bracket mount.


But to do all that, laying on my back, I had to rotate my body 360° to reach up into the spaces to clean off the grease with a rag, reach the bolts up in the tight spaces they were in, etc. Sometimes my feet stuck out the front, sometimes they were pointed back under the tranny, sometimes my body was directly under the motor with feet sticking out under the entrance door, but mostly they were sticking out towards the driver's side.


It occurred to me then that if this were a dognose bus, I would be absolutely hating this job, as the front axle and tire (and whatever else the suspension throws at you) would be in the way. And as a mechanic, I can attest to the number of vehicles that are like this! Gotta pull a tire to reach through a hole in the motor compartment sidewall or something.


I can climb under and access any part of my motor or tranny and work on them without hindrance.



But then I think that most dognose busses have an International motor in them, and the access to each part of the motor and its accessories is different, anyway, so I guess we are comparing apples to oranges.


The frame rails are still about the same distance apart, so accessing stuff on the side of the motor (like the air pump and PS pump are on mine) will still be tight. But I can reach to any part of my motor without having to stretch, climb a stool, etc. The only thing I see is that I need to remove the front panels and bumper to access the front; that takes under 10 mins, 5 if you're on the ball: some Phillips screws and nuts for the 2 panels, and 4 bolts for the bumper and you're in.


To change the belt is the only thing I see that might be easier on a dognose bus. I have to remove the front panels, plus drain the coolant and remove the turbo intercooler and radiator to get to it. Looks like I gotta do that to swap the alternator, but maybe if I was careful with the belt to keep it on most pulleys (or use a belt install tool), I could swap out the alternator from just sitting on the floor in the inside of the bus.


Standing on a stool, reaching over the engine compartment wall and down into the motor compartment are very stressful to my back. As a mechanic, I hate it. I never have to do that with my bus. I may spend a bit couple more minutes pulling off the front, but then it is right there in front of me. Changing the water pump was then super easy and quick and stress-free. I could see the mating surfaces and clean them with ease, no stress. At this point, I don't see a need to access the front of my motor for years to come (unless maybe the air pump goes out)


So I say I'm glad I have a FE flatnose to work on. I'm glad I don't have to fight with a dognose, the stools and ladders, front axle and tires in the way, etc. I can even change the oil or the fuel filter in the rain!


But like I said, I have a BlueBird with a Cummins. ECCB noted that other FE flatnoses are harder to work on, and he prefers dognose busses.


For future perspective buyers, can anyone else with a FE flatnose chime in on working on their bus? What are the PITA things about it. How about dognoses? Do you have to pull your radiator for access to change a waterpump? Can you get to the bottom stuff on your motor in a dognose without the axle and tires in the way of your hands and feet, or is there simply no need?


We can all say "dognose is better and faster" or "flatnose is better and less stressful". BUT WHY do you say that?


[[first pic is rotated, showing the AC unit still mounted, missing a bolt. the other two show the AC unit unmounted from the bracket to access the air-pump flange bolt]]
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Old 04-28-2019, 12:35 PM   #2
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Join Date: Mar 2017
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I have a doghouse bus - with the International 7.3L V8 - it seems pretty easy to work on - though I have only done minor repairs (seal on compressor, serpentine belt, oil change...) It was all very accessible with very little crawling or twerking .
I have worked on a few FE flatness buses with, again, minor issues - but it was certainly more challenging. I found changing the oil on the Bluebird FE flatness a lot more difficult - mainly because the clearance to crawl under was less.

I don't know if that helped - but thanks for letting me share my thoughts.
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Old 04-29-2019, 02:31 PM   #3
Skoolie
 
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In my time in the Army I’ve worked on front, rear, and mid engine equipment and vehicles. Of all types of equipment the ones with the most available access had to be the conventional-FE variety. The FE “flatnose” or cab over jobbies were second in access but only because you had the ability to lift the entire cab up and out of the way. On my IH 3800 dog nose I can tilt the hood and do almost any job without complaining about access room or removing a bunch of crap.

That being said, if the comparison is based on how much the vehicle shell and components themselves hinder access the Dognose wins for ease. Tilt a hood and it’s all right there. On a flat nose FE you already mentioned you have to crawl under to see anything. That for me anyway is a pain in the ass that I’m getting too old for haha
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Old 04-29-2019, 03:32 PM   #4
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I don't know.....

IMHO: the FE is overall the most difficult to access for service. There are a few threads on skoolie detailing fan clutch replacement. For me, that would be a job that I would have to pay a shop to do. On my RE I would tackle it myself.

The dognose does have some tight spots but has the overall best access.

Just my $ 0.02
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Old 05-02-2019, 09:29 AM   #5
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On a dog nose, there is a slim chance that the compressor would be mounted where yours is. Odds are it would be mounted on the side above the frame rail or on top of the engine.

I do this for a living, and on my bus, I can't think of one thing that would be more difficult to do vs an fe.

From oil and filter changes, to belts, to water pumps, to alternators and compressors, to full blown overhauls.

I simply crank the wheels one way or the other, and I'm essentially standing right next to the part I need to work on. If it comes to it, I can remove the wheel with 4 bolts and 1 spindle nut, and have even more access.

Maybe if I had to change the oil pan? But how often does one do that compared to all the aforementioned.
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Old 05-02-2019, 10:21 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Booyah45828 View Post
On a dog nose, there is a slim chance that the compressor would be mounted where yours is. Odds are it would be mounted on the side above the frame rail or on top of the engine.

I do this for a living, and on my bus, I can't think of one thing that would be more difficult to do vs an fe.

From oil and filter changes, to belts, to water pumps, to alternators and compressors, to full blown overhauls.

I simply crank the wheels one way or the other, and I'm essentially standing right next to the part I need to work on. If it comes to it, I can remove the wheel with 4 bolts and 1 spindle nut, and have even more access.

Maybe if I had to change the oil pan? But how often does one do that compared to all the aforementioned.

Wish I had more time now to respond. More later. Lets keep this thread rolling right now. Seems to me the "little stuff" would be easier on a dog-nose. I don't sweat the little stuff. Changing the air-compressor on mine will be a real PITA, I can tell...heavy parts over your head...but most of the rest is just an extra step or two...



I will need a new oil pan gasket soon. Already leaking and needed tightening. Not the first vehicle I've owned that needed this. I could imagine having disconnect and lift the motor in a dognose to clear the axle for space to drop the pan and clear the pickup tube.



Great reply. Any others want to chime in with real details on this thread? Thanks from all future perspective buyers. I got my bus, like it, and don't mind the shoehorn fit to gain the extra space. Once I change that air-compressor, I will be done with it for the life of the bus (I hope!) and enjoying my added space, clear view of what's in front of me, etc.
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Old 05-02-2019, 01:49 PM   #7
Skoolie
 
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Rated Cap: 72 pax 29500 GVWR
From a maintenance perspective I will always prefer the dognose. I can live with sacrificing interior space because I’m not going to be full-timing like some do. Major repairs are always going to be easier on the dognose, from a head job to water pump to a liner rebuild to an injector replacement. Unless it’s a Vista haha worst of both worlds they say!
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Old 05-02-2019, 02:25 PM   #8
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I would keep in mind the room you sacrifice by going with a dognose. Seriously consider which would be more beneficial over the life of the vehicles. I think having 4' of extra room inside is something that is utilized everytime you're in the bus. To sacrifice that for ease of working on something that may not need working on or not in the near future. I would not do a bus build if I thought I was going to have to be doing major repairs all the time.
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Old 05-02-2019, 03:15 PM   #9
Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
I would keep in mind the room you sacrifice by going with a dognose. Seriously consider which would be more beneficial over the life of the vehicles. I think having 4' of extra room inside is something that is utilized everytime you're in the bus. To sacrifice that for ease of working on something that may not need working on or not in the near future. I would not do a bus build if I thought I was going to have to be doing major repairs all the time.
I mentioned that because it’s what I personally can sacrifice. Like I said people who are going to full time or have families will need as much room as they can get. They benefit from FE or RE busses. Every bus will need “working on” at some point. That could be next year or next month. Mechanical things wear out. It’s the nature of the beast. I like to plan ahead.
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Old 05-03-2019, 04:17 PM   #10
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Rated Cap: 28 + 3 wheel chairs.
I haven’t sacrificed any space. I have 20’ of house space, which is what I was looking to get. The ease of working on the bus - and less engine noise while cruising is a bonus.
I also like having the buffer zone between me and the car who cuts me off. Any choice of engine placement seems to be a preference - but I don’t think there is losing anything going with dog nose / FE / RE - just different things.
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