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Old 01-14-2018, 07:04 PM   #1
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Future new schoolie owner needs intel.

Iím looking for a school bus to buy. I know I want a diesel, yet there are so many different models and configurations. Iíve heard that the Cummins 5.9 with a 545 tranny is a bad set up. Is it better to have a diesel pusher? Or diesel in the front? Flat front end or tilt hood for easier access to the motor? Whatís a good engine and trans set up? What model years should I steer clear from? I already have a major hurdle living in Southern California anyways. As regards to registering. I donít think I want more than a 35 ft bus. I own cnc routers and a plasma table. I eventually plan on manufacturing interiors and custom holding tanks for The skoolie movement. Any advice would be appreciated


Thank you ,
Mike
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Old 01-14-2018, 07:25 PM   #2
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What bus you need is entirely dependent on your intended use. I want an 8' motorcycle hauler/shop in the back of mine, so a rear engine is out of the question. My second build will be a rear engine so the rear is better for a fuller "bedroom". We won't hand feed you everything here (yes we will), so do a search through the threads, many of your questions are already being discussed. The 5.9 and 545, I'm learning, is not a "bad" combo depending on what it's in. Weaker on power for a larger bus doing highway speeds. The downside being repair costs. So don't not get a 5.9 based on a "what if". Flat front ends ,I believe, have more interior room to build out than a dog nose. But in the event of a head on collision I think I would prefer to be in a dog nose. Spend some time here reading all the threads and gaining ideas. You'll be surprised you know way more less than you thought you did, at least I do.
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Old 01-14-2018, 07:46 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Socaliwelder View Post
Iím looking for a school bus to buy. I know I want a diesel, yet there are so many different models and configurations. Iíve heard that the Cummins 5.9 with a 545 tranny is a bad set up. Is it better to have a diesel pusher? Or diesel in the front? Flat front end or tilt hood for easier access to the motor? Whatís a good engine and trans set up? What model years should I steer clear from? I already have a major hurdle living in Southern California anyways. As regards to registering. I donít think I want more than a 35 ft bus. I own cnc routers and a plasma table. I eventually plan on manufacturing interiors and custom holding tanks for The skoolie movement. Any advice would be appreciated


Thank you ,
Mike
Welcome Mike

It's good to see new people catching our bus addiction.

I have the dreaded 5.9/545 combo. The 5.9 is adequate but the 545 is lacking in a number of ways. Normally they are quite dependable. I'm going to need another transmission at some point so I'm planning for an upgrade already. Even the 545 isn't a deal breaker if you like the bus.

Front engine, rear engine or dognose basically comes down to personal preference. The dognose and cutaway buses have a familiar driving experience while FE and RE buses take a bit of getting used to. There are differences in floor space versus exits and on and on. Everything is a trade off. Older mechanical engines versus computerized engines represent major model year differences.

Best advice, read threads on buses you like. There's to many decisions to just mention them in one response.

As a general rule of thumb, if you buy a bus with a large engine there is usually a good transmission attached.

Are you making a home away from home or are you making a camper?
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Old 01-14-2018, 08:06 PM   #4
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Robin, Doesn't FE stand for Front Engine? are all the FE's flat front?
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Old 01-14-2018, 08:31 PM   #5
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Well, it’s gonna be a home for me. I work for the movie industry based in Hollywood. We are always traveling to new locations to chase the runaway production. So since I’m never home, I’m selling my house in Southern California and plan on living in a skoolie when I’m home and have it parked at my favorite beach campground(rincon highway in Ventura). If the location is a doable drive I’ll drive the skoolie out. My next location is Oahu in may. So I’ll just be storing the skoolie.
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Old 01-14-2018, 08:32 PM   #6
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Rob..how cool willamina 97396... took me a long time to figure that out
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Old 01-14-2018, 08:35 PM   #7
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FE is Front Engine...but only some are flat in front.
To further confuse the issue...all "dognose" buses are front engine and all RE (Rear Engine) are flat front.
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Old 01-14-2018, 08:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
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FE is Front Engine...but only some are flat in front.
To further confuse the issue...all "dognose" buses are front engine and all RE (Rear Engine) are flat front.
This sentence threw me:
"The dognose and cutaway buses have a familiar driving experience while FE and RE buses take a bit of getting used to."

The dog nose is an FE, so would not take a bit of getting used to.
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Old 01-14-2018, 08:49 PM   #9
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The real bus driving experience difference (at least to me) was the driver position. Most (if not all) flat front units place the driver in front of the front axle which can feel a little weird at first. Most folks are accustomed to being behind the front wheels...even in a VW Bus.
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Old 01-14-2018, 08:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
This sentence threw me:
"The dognose and cutaway buses have a familiar driving experience while FE and RE buses take a bit of getting used to."

The dog nose is an FE, so would not take a bit of getting used to.
They all take some getting used to. Generally they are very large vehicles.

Specifically ...

Conventional (Dog Nose) buses have a more familiar feel because the front wheels are in the regular place and the wheelbases can be shorter. Watch that rear overhang though.

Transit style buses (Flat Front) are different. The front wheels are well behind the driver seat. This can make right turns especially a bit different. You have to emerge what feels like a long way into an intersection before you start to turn, and they make wide turns.

If they have a front engine they can have a reasonable wheelbase, but my rear-engined transit has a wheelbase of 277" ... that is a whopping 23 feet between the axles.
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