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Old 10-23-2018, 10:33 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
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FE vs RE Flat Front Bus

I am sure this has been debated many times before on here, but I am looking for some input from people who have personal experience with either. I am still searching for my perfect bus, have been about a year now. For me that means a RE pusher. Blue Bird, Thomas, International doesn't matter, with either the DT466 or Cummins 8.3 and really any of the larger Allisons (no AT series although I dont believe they would ever have been speced behind these larger engines.) High roof, and belly storage. Plan to travel cross country a few times a year with the family while flat towing a mid-size SUV. It seems that this setup is probably less than 10% of all buses available, so it is extremely difficult to find these units in decent condition with a reasonable price. I was bidding on one late 90's international on publicsurplus that ended up selling for $9500!!!! I maxed out at 5K and even that was more than I wanted to spend. Same on PurpleWave. There seem to be a lot more FE buses for sale, however I have heard from several sources on here and elsewhere that they tend to be very loud and hot for the driver and that gets very fatiguing during long trips. This, coupled with the difficulty surrounding engine access for repair and maintenance are the main reasons I have stayed away from them up to now, despite their availability and reported ability to handle the tow load easier. What do those of you who own and drive FE buses think of this rationale? Is it true? Has some better insulation around the doghouse made the noise/heat a moot point? Is engine access as difficult as it seems? Would you get the RE if you could do it all over? Should I just hold out for that "perfect bus"? Starting to get frustrated with this search looking for some advice. Thanks!!
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Old 10-23-2018, 10:51 AM   #2
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I prefer CE and FE. I like to have a vertical door on the rear of the bus.
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Old 10-23-2018, 11:34 AM   #3
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I have driven. All three. Worked on or helped work on all three.


When I decided to buy my third bus I knew exactly what I wanted. It took me almost a year to find the right bus and successfully bid on it. A3RE, 170k miles, 8.3, MD3060 etc. $3450 from Govdealls and only 300 miles away.

Unless you need that rear emergency exit I would stick with RE if driving comfort is important. If you must have a rear door or require higher ground clearance then I would consider CE buses.

Good luck with your quest.
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Old 10-23-2018, 11:45 AM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Originally Posted by PNW_Steve View Post
I have driven. All three. Worked on or helped work on all three.


When I decided to buy my third bus I knew exactly what I wanted. It took me almost a year to find the right bus and successfully bid on it. A3RE, 170k miles, 8.3, MD3060 etc. $3450 from Govdealls and only 300 miles away.

Unless you need that rear emergency exit I would stick with RE if driving comfort is important. If you must have a rear door or require higher ground clearance then I would consider CE buses.

Good luck with your quest.

It seems like a lot of the good ones are in your neck of the woods. For me to get one home from the west coast adds at least 2k to the purchase price. $500ish for a flight out, $200 for lodging while transaction is completed, and at least $1200 in fuel. Nevermind food, and additional expenses on the ride home. Not to mention the uncertainty of traveling alone nearly 3000 miles in a bus of questionable reliability bought at auction with no support vehicle. I have been looking at some dealers in the PNW, and desert southwest as that would seem to ease the risk of failure on the return voyage but they obviously get a premium over auction sites.
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Old 10-23-2018, 11:59 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Willie_McCoy View Post
It seems like a lot of the good ones are in your neck of the woods. For me to get one home from the west coast adds at least 2k to the purchase price. $500ish for a flight out, $200 for lodging while transaction is completed, and at least $1200 in fuel. Nevermind food, and additional expenses on the ride home. Not to mention the uncertainty of traveling alone nearly 3000 miles in a bus of questionable reliability bought at auction with no support vehicle. I have been looking at some dealers in the PNW, and desert southwest as that would seem to ease the risk of failure on the return voyage but they obviously get a premium over auction sites.
I have seen a handful of good RE in the Mid-West over the Summer but it does seem that they are more common in the NW. Now that I think about it, there have been some nice DT powered RE's come out of AZ lately.

All a long trip for you.

I have heard good things about Harlow bus sales. They have locations in the Dakota's. Perhaps that would be a little more practical?

https://www.goharlows.com
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Old 10-23-2018, 12:40 PM   #6
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kentucky runs a LOT of RE's.. im not sure where they sell their busses.. most likely the standard auction houses.. but every time I travel around kentucky i notice many districts running RE;s.. there are a fair amopunt of hills in various parts of that state, as well as rural routes so the RE's i see are often going at freeway speeds..

im not sure if they allow individual districts to sell direct or not.. but its a thought..

-Christopher
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Old 10-23-2018, 03:41 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Originally Posted by PNW_Steve View Post
I have seen a handful of good RE in the Mid-West over the Summer but it does seem that they are more common in the NW. Now that I think about it, there have been some nice DT powered RE's come out of AZ lately.

All a long trip for you.

I have heard good things about Harlow bus sales. They have locations in the Dakota's. Perhaps that would be a little more practical?

https://www.goharlows.com
There are a few sweet buses in AZ right now, RE Blue Birds so clean you could eat off the engine. Asking 7k for a 99' and its a standard height, thats really the only thing holding me back. Flight to phenix for me can be as cheap as $150 if panned right, but I cant pull the trigger on 7k plus the travel expenses for a standard height bus....
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Old 10-23-2018, 04:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Willie_McCoy View Post
There are a few sweet buses in AZ right now, RE Blue Birds so clean you could eat off the engine. Asking 7k for a 99' and its a standard height, thats really the only thing holding me back. Flight to phenix for me can be as cheap as $150 if panned right, but I cant pull the trigger on 7k plus the travel expenses for a standard height bus....
For that kind of price I'd insist on high headroom, nice tires, and air ride.
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