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Old 09-21-2015, 06:17 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: WA
Posts: 31
Year: 1997
Chassis: International 3800 AmTran (wish it was a TransAm)
Engine: DT466E
Receiver/Tow-Hitch Information

I have 1997 front-engine 39' International. I have been scouring for any kind of "tutorial" or how-to thread about adding a receiver hitch to your bus.

Anyone know if one exists? If not, can have this be the start of one? I know nothing about the subject.

Questions that I would like to be answered...
  1. Which style buses is it possible to mount a receiver hitch on? (e.g. long flat nosed front engine/rear engine, long dog nosed front-engine, short front-engine, etc.)
  2. How to mount a receiver hitch to the bus?
  3. Is this something where it is worth to have it done professionally?
  4. What is the towing capacity of the bus (in LBS)?
Concerns I have...
  • Buses with a long body section (10' or so) behind the rear wheels - is having a trailer there going to bend/warp the frame after a lot of towing?
  • How does the bus do on hills (any slower than usual )?
  • Anyone have any overheating problems?

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Old 09-21-2015, 06:49 PM   #2
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I think there will be a number of factors that come into play and will vary from one model to another. I think there are some fairly obvious conclusions we can make right off the bat though...

A. Anything front-engine is probably going to be fairly easy to accommodate a receiver hitch when compared to a rear-engine. Of course anything is possible but may not always be practical.
B. The towing capacity of any bus is going to be a combination of the gross vehicle weight rating, the engine and the transmission. Since towing wasn't necessarily part of the original build scheme from the manufacturer, that function wasn't part of the decisions relating to the engine/transmission combination. Of course the towed weight is offset by the lack of passengers which is why reasonable towing usually isn't an issue.
C. The rear overhang is supported by a twin I-beam frame so bending/warping shouldn't be an issue... assuming your towed load is properly balanced. The ideal goal I've always understood for bumper-hitch loads is that the tongue weight should only be about 10-15% of the total trailered load but please someone feel free to correct of amend that assertion. The bigger concern I would have is the lateral forces because the trailer load has a lot of leverage to yank the tail end side to side as you drive.
D. I think it's safe to say that no matter what kind of bus you have, YES the bus will be slower than usual on hills (at least uphill). Engine temp is also pretty much a given because, well, that's what engines do but the goal is smart power management and if it runs hot when not towing then it's not going to get any better adding the weight of a towable.

The trick to this is to get to know your bus as much as possible. Alternatively, and for those who are still shopping, these are the things to consider in order to know how much bus you need to plan on buying.
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Old 09-22-2015, 01:41 AM   #3
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Year: 1995
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Chassis: 3800
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Rated Cap: 23 500 gvw
Here are some pictures in my album of the hitch I had made/converted for my bus. I purchased a take-off hitch from a F450 or F550. It was pretty much new. I had the sides cut loose with a plasma cutter and slid inwards about 3 inches total. Most commercial truck frames are 33--34 inches wide and a pickup truck is 37 inches wide. It was clamped onto a truck frame to double check measurements, then spot welded to secure it for further welding. I bought 5/8' GRADE 8 BOLTS, NUTS AND WASHERS. Tractor Supply sells them by the pound and the price was very fair. The hitch was clamped to my bus frame and the mounting holes were painted white with a rattle can to mark location to drill.

http://www.skoolie.net/forums/member...ture11327.html

http://www.skoolie.net/forums/member...albums693.html







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Old 09-22-2015, 02:03 AM   #4
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Bigger pics.
Attached Thumbnails
DSCN0996.JPG   DSCN0995.JPG   DSCN1003.JPG   DSCN1009.JPG  
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Old 09-22-2015, 11:14 AM   #5
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I've considered using the Draw-Tite 41990 weld-together hitch for my bus. Probably won't, though, because the rear frame on mine is dropped down to hold the engine and any hitch bolted below that would just be too low to the ground.
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Old 09-22-2015, 11:20 AM   #6
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This is what I'm planning to install on my RE BB.

http://www.amazon.com/Reese-Towpower...5WY2TD8VMF3PAV

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Old 09-22-2015, 12:23 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
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Chassis: International 3800 AmTran (wish it was a TransAm)
Engine: DT466E
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazycal View Post






Crazycal do you ever bottom out with this thing? It seems pretty low.

I like the idea of buying a premade hitch off of amazon as long as I can find something that fits. Seems like it would be a lot quicker than trying to mess around with adopting a hitch from another truck. We'll see though.

Now if I can just find what a reasonable tow capacity for my bus is...
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Old 09-22-2015, 01:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlbatrossCafe View Post
Crazycal do you ever bottom out with this thing? It seems pretty low.

I like the idea of buying a premade hitch off of amazon as long as I can find something that fits. Seems like it would be a lot quicker than trying to mess around with adopting a hitch from another truck. We'll see though.

Now if I can just find what a reasonable tow capacity for my bus is...

You have a picture of my bus with a trailer on it. Does it look too low? Has it dragged? No. Could it drag? Yes. I don't have a single vehicle that hasn't hit at one time or another.
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Old 09-22-2015, 09:18 PM   #9
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6000lb. universal.


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Old 09-22-2015, 09:37 PM   #10
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I am doing something similar to crazycal. I bought a hitch off an f250 for $30 and will be making new mounting plates out of 3x4 angle as I thought there was too much drop, almost 10 inches, and it required 13/16 bolts to mount, which I couldn't find.

Before the canadian dollar tanked I was looking at this hitch. It's good for 10k lbs and only costs $160usd with free shipping. It is 34 inches wide and would require no modification to go on a bus.
https://e-hitch.com/Part/14082#info

IMO this is the best $per lb hitch for a bus.
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Old 09-22-2015, 10:54 PM   #11
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i made my tow hitch similar to cal's. i bought a larger one and cut it down to size.

the frame had some recovery hooks bolted in here and it was easy to take them out and put the hitch in place of the hooks.



thats a 10" drop hitch to make my trailer ride level.
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Old 09-23-2015, 12:03 PM   #12
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
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Year: 1997
Chassis: International 3800 AmTran (wish it was a TransAm)
Engine: DT466E
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hank's P-O-S View Post
Before the canadian dollar tanked I was looking at this hitch. It's good for 10k lbs and only costs $160usd with free shipping. It is 34 inches wide and would require no modification to go on a bus.
https://e-hitch.com/Part/14082#info

IMO this is the best $per lb hitch for a bus.
Working link: https://e-hitch.com/Part/14082

This looks great. 10,000lbs rating without welding. May be exactly what I need.

Has anyone had a hitch/electrical mounted for them at a specialty shop? If so, how much did you pay?
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Old 09-23-2015, 12:07 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlbatrossCafe View Post
Has anyone had a hitch/electrical mounted for them at a specialty shop? If so, how much did you pay?
I had a custom hitch made and installed on a front-engine Blue Bird in Salt Lake City about 3 years ago. Cost was US$330 which included removal of the tow hooks. That was just the hitch; no wiring.
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Old 09-23-2015, 12:57 PM   #14
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wiring will cost another $200 in parts (Brake controller, breakers, extra wire) for the diy.... double that for installed by a shop.
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Old 09-23-2015, 08:32 PM   #15
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I don't think it will be $200 for the wiring if you are thrifty.
Princess auto was blowing out discontinued break controllers for $35, and I am reusing the wire from the eight ways for break and 12volt aux line. The taillight converter and 7 pin plug I got from an auto wrecker for $5. My bus was wired entirely with breakers so that works for the break circuit.

So I'm at $40 plus taxes.
Not $40 'murrican bux either but 40 Canadian pesos.
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Old 09-23-2015, 08:52 PM   #16
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There is some good info in this thread.

Nice looking hitches too.

Good job guys.

This will be a good thread to link newbies to.

Nat
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Old 09-24-2015, 02:27 AM   #17
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I also use my hitch as a step to climb into the back door. I need to put some nonstick tape on it.
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Old 09-26-2015, 08:40 PM   #18
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Engine: Chevy 6.2L Diesel
I went down to a PPL RV store near me, and they recommended a local welder that specialized in RV's and heavy/commercial trucks and buses. Cost was $750 + tax for a Class IV welded on. I am willing to pay someone with 30+ years of specialty and experience for the confidence of being able to break the bus or bend the frame before I have something go wrong with my hitch.

I still need to do the wiring, but I am still trying to figure out exactly how to pull my pickup yet. I would prefer to pull flat, but the pick-up is an automatic, so I don't want to have to drop the transaxle every time I hook up and unhook.
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Old 09-26-2015, 09:19 PM   #19
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the wiring would be easy if they had not eliminated the factory IH wiring harness at the back, I still have my tail light plugs from when I delivered new internationals
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Old 09-27-2015, 09:36 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Albatross View Post
I went down to a PPL RV store near me, and they recommended a local welder that specialized in RV's and heavy/commercial trucks and buses. Cost was $750 + tax for a Class IV welded on. I am willing to pay someone with 30+ years of specialty and experience for the confidence of being able to break the bus or bend the frame before I have something go wrong with my hitch.This is where you probably should have started.

I still need to do the wiring, but I am still trying to figure out exactly how to pull my pickup yet. I would prefer to pull flat, but the pick-up is an automatic, so I don't want to have to drop the transaxle every time I hook up and unhook.
What pickup has a transaxle?
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