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Old 01-06-2015, 10:22 PM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 64
Rear Engine Ground Clearance

Hey all. I'm buying a bus that I expect to be driven plenty on highways but will also see its fair share of gravel roads as well. Particularly up in Alaska. For a whole host of reasons, I've decided that I want a rear engine bus. I've been eyeing up buses with underbelly storage, but that extra space typically comes at the expense of ground clearance.

So here's my question for all of you (with particular interest in you RE drivers, and AK Skoolies): do you ever have ground clearance issues?

(The inclusion of your bus's wheelbase and ground clearance numbers would be helpful for the discussion.)
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Old 01-07-2015, 08:24 AM   #2
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I had the same concerns, as well. The problem with all the flat-nose buses I've seen is that the front bumper is lower than the main frame rails, unlike a conventional that has both bumpers connected to the ends of 2 straight frame rails. That'll equate to a bumper height difference of around 8", I would guess. That'll hurt your approach angle a bit while school bus "offroading", but departure angle is always terrible on these things. I've scraped several bus asses while driving through ditches to access de-activated logging roads. In my opinion, it's wise to route the exhaust out the side instead of the rear to keep from squashing it flat
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Old 01-08-2015, 06:49 AM   #3
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A 40ft bus is going to be tough to maneuver on tight backroads. RE is going to have the longest wheelbase and lowest ground clearance.
For "offroad" duty a mid-length conventional is king.
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Old 01-08-2015, 12:30 PM   #4
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Winnemucca, NV/Reno NV
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Year: 1980
Coachwork: Gillig 1980, 2003 Thomas E-350 shorty
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RE Clearance

Really depends on the model. Older RE Gilligs have great clearance. Check out "gillig to alaska" here. Pat from wheelchairbusproject took several down to central america. I have a 1980 RE that I take to Burning Man every year with a rail crossing that is a bit scary (high center risk) and then a few hundred feet of twisty, hummocky road to get to the lake bed. I've got a great running '75 RE with a CAT 3280 with even better ground clearance I might let go here in northern Nevada.
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Old 01-08-2015, 06:07 PM   #5
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If you are serious about getting off the beaten track then a Type 'D' RE bus is your worst choice.

Regardless of the length, the engine is hung out back where it will hit if you are not careful.

This bus would be prefect for your purposes.

If you are interested contact me. We can work on the price.

FE buses have a lower front frame rails with a bumper mounted lower.

RE buses normally have the front bumper attached to the end of the front of the frame rails.
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Old 01-09-2015, 11:57 PM   #6
Join Date: Dec 2014
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cowlitzcoach, I'm not sure how I gave the impression that I intend to be off the beaten track. I very much intend to be on the track, however, I recognize that the track in many places I intend to do has yet to be paved. It's maintained - but it's gravel.

The last thing I want is a 4x4 CE, for about 100 reasons.

My question was directed to those who also use their buses on mostly-paved roads, with occasional gravel use. Or to other people in AK who are more familiar with the road conditions up there. I want to know if others feel an RE is still an option in those conditions.
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Old 01-10-2015, 04:18 PM   #7
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We're on gravel a lot. No issues, even in the mud. Tire choice will be important if you are going to spend time on gravel.

By gravel I mean gravel roads. Not paths, trails, non-maintained roads.
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Old 01-11-2015, 06:50 AM   #8
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RE is they way to o go on gravel or wet dirt roads,period

Our FE has no wt on rear tires, if can spin them easy in gravel/mud/grass (that's why I want chains lol)

Oops sorry back on topic, if it has rear airride, I have seen OTR coaches that can be lifted 6 inches from drivers seat with bypass switches to airbag leveling valves etc

Might be something to tuck away in back of brain
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Old 01-17-2015, 12:31 AM   #9
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The front of my RE has better clearance than all the FE's I've driven. So far no problems with the rear. Yes, clearance with underbelly storage can be an issue but they're all like that.
Daddy, can we go on a trip again??
'85 Thomas SafTLiner RE
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Old 02-11-2015, 09:04 PM   #10
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Year: 1975
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We went to Dead Horse (Prudhoe Bay) and just about every where else in Alaska you can drive to in a rear engine Gillig. No Problems.
Remove hence to yonder place....
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