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Old 10-08-2018, 10:30 PM   #1
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Dirt Roads and the like

Hello! I'm looking to be the soon-proud owner of a 1996 31' RE and after doing a lot of research, it seems that RE busses are terrible for dirt and such, though this is what I mostly wanted a bus/rv for, to take it up and down mountains and such. Is there anything I can do to combat the dust getting stuck in the engine and the various other things or is it a lost cause?
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Old 10-08-2018, 10:49 PM   #2
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Most likely anything you can do to keep the dust out will cause ventilation issues - unless you put a snorkel with a blower and aux filter up top. Even then cooling will be a chore. Access will also be an issue as well.

Many overlanders put snorkels on to help with the engine breathing clean air. But with an RE, it will be tough.
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Old 10-08-2018, 10:58 PM   #3
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I ran a fair amount of dirt roads in my last RE bus.

I ran big Donaldson air filters and had to clean & replace more frequently. No issues except spending a bit more on air filters.

I will be doing some dirt backroads with my new RE but if I wanted a serious overland right I would go with a CE for the ground clearance, ease of maintenance and keeping the intake ahead of the dust.
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Old 10-09-2018, 12:57 AM   #4
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On my '84 rear-engined Bluebird there is kind of a snorkel. The air intake is on the passenger side rear cap, about 8 plus feet above ground level. I suppose a lot of RE buses are like that.

I wouldn't be afraid of taking it on a gravel road, other than it being a 35 foot long, 8 foot wide ex-school bus. Engine air intake would probably be the least of my worries.
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Old 10-12-2018, 09:56 PM   #5
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We have taken our rear engine bus on a few gravel roads.
Never a problem.
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Old 10-14-2018, 10:54 PM   #6
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I plan on getting a conventional front end bus for the same thing - going where RVs don't usually go. The main reasons I'm looking at a skoolie instead of a production RV include the ruggedness and ground clearance of skoolies; they're built for dirt roads. I'm even looking into changing out the solid axles with independent suspension.
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Old 10-14-2018, 11:29 PM   #7
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Roger the back roads...and off road areas. I am about to start on skid plates for my engine & trans.
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Old 10-15-2018, 09:18 AM   #8
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Probably not a better place to test a skoolie than a trip to Prudhoe Bay. Love it!
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Old 10-15-2018, 09:33 AM   #9
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Probably not a better place to test a skoolie than a trip to Prudhoe Bay. Love it!
Holy crap! Prudhoe Bay, AK - 500 miles NORTH of Fairbanks. On the shore of the Arctic Ocean. What an adventure! That wouldn't just test the skoolie, it would test the driver...and passengers. I'm thinking it isn't the destination, but the journey. (?)

I see that your wheelbase is very short (lots of tail swing and even nose swing). Do you have any issues with grounding out the front or back on bumps or abrupt changes in grade?
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Old 10-15-2018, 02:48 PM   #10
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Hi G Dub-
I was commenting on Alan N's photos. I've spent lots of time in Deadhorse/Prudhoe...but never driven a bus there. As for our bus, we purchased it not long ago & are just getting started with our conversion. I'm brand new to this hobby & too inexperienced of a bus driver answer your question. However, I'm sure I'll test it's limits soon enough. Seems to me most motorhomes & travel trailers have worse clearance than our bus though.
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Old 10-15-2018, 03:35 PM   #11
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Hi G Dub-
I was commenting on Alan N's photos. I've spent lots of time in Deadhorse/Prudhoe...but never driven a bus there. As for our bus, we purchased it not long ago & are just getting started with our conversion. I'm brand new to this hobby & too inexperienced of a bus driver answer your question. However, I'm sure I'll test it's limits soon enough. Seems to me most motorhomes & travel trailers have worse clearance than our bus though.
Well, keep those things in mind. Looks like a good bus.
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Old 10-16-2018, 07:59 PM   #12
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Probably not a better place to test a skoolie than a trip to Prudhoe Bay. Love it!
It looks like you have done a bit of traveling with your family as well.
The drive to prudhoe bay was awesome!
If you ever wanted to go, Go!
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Old 10-20-2018, 04:07 PM   #13
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40ft Thomas RE... OFFROAD

I have taken my 96 Thomas RE off-road several times now for a total of about 900 miles on gravel dusty roads...

Take a spare air filter....

Run GOOD TIRES

Think before you over commit a overly tight situation....

I have done nothing special to my ride.. All stock... Just service it regular. And check things over at each service... If you become one with your ride... You will know if and when something rattles loose due to rough roads....

I have put just over 45k on mine now...

It servesour needs well..
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Old 10-21-2018, 07:36 AM   #14
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I have a Amtran RE and Im pretty sure itd be fine in dusty conditions, pretty sure the top part of my air intake is a dust separator. And its high up.
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Old 10-21-2018, 07:39 AM   #15
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Having having a weird error that displays a battery diagram instead of the photo I took....
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Old 10-21-2018, 08:09 AM   #16
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Quote:
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I plan on getting a conventional front end bus for the same thing - going where RVs don't usually go. The main reasons I'm looking at a skoolie instead of a production RV include the ruggedness and ground clearance of skoolies; they're built for dirt roads. I'm even looking into changing out the solid axles with independent suspension.
I really cant see the big advantage of the RE buses. Id think you would regret that choice every time a little engine maintenance or repair was needed.

To G dub id Maybe switch to air ride front and rear but NEVER give up my straight axles.
(I did swap my Ford to a freightliner air ride on the rear.). Best time/money investment there is on large truck.
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Old 10-21-2018, 03:48 PM   #17
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I really cant see the big advantage of the RE buses. Id think you would regret that choice every time a little engine maintenance or repair was needed.



To G dub id Maybe switch to air ride front and rear but NEVER give up my straight axles.

(I did swap my Ford to a freightliner air ride on the rear.). Best time/money investment there is on large truck.


RE is a trade off, better traction on snow/ice/mud etc, mine has a shorter wheel base than a similar sized dog nose bus, the bus is not noisy while driving, and I love being able to see so well from the huge front windows. But some things are a PITA to get to in the engine compartment and the inside of the base has more odd shaped things that have to be built around.
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Old 10-21-2018, 06:35 PM   #18
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And...don't forget that "cooling" thing. Most RE's will benefit greatly from an airflow upgrade.
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Old 10-21-2018, 08:20 PM   #19
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I thought I wanted a conventional front engine bus. Until I drove a bus with the engine in the back.
I have found maintenance to be easy, most regular maintenance items can be accessed easily with both feet on the ground.
As for over heating never a problem.
Ground clearance is not as good as a conventional bus however.
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Old 10-22-2018, 10:25 AM   #20
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I thought I wanted a conventional front engine bus. Until I drove a bus with the engine in the back.
I have found maintenance to be easy, most regular maintenance items can be accessed easily with both feet on the ground.
As for over heating never a problem.
Ground clearance is not as good as a conventional bus however.
If I were going to be driving places that demand the ground clearance that a CE provides then I would consider one. Otherwise I'll stick with my RE's.

I find an RE to be FAR more comfortable to drive. More maneuverable, quieter, better visibility and ride.

Access to the engine is very good. Not quite as good as a CE though.

The great thing about building a skoolie is that we each get to pick we suits each of us individually.
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