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Old 10-07-2020, 12:47 AM   #1
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Join Date: May 2017
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Lightbulb FE vs. RE Pro/Con List- does this sound right?

Front Engine vs. Rear Engine- the age old debate!

I understand they both have pros & cons and that it comes to personal preference. I've read through numerous threads and tried to compile a pro/con list to make a decision easier and hopefully to help out anyone who is also trying to decide.

I'd love to have feedback on:
A) Does the list below look accurate? Anything you'd add/change?

B) Which is harder/more expensive to work on? (it seems to be a 50/50 split on the threads I read... is this the case, or is there a more accepted answer?)

C) Which is better in the mountains? (I only found a couple comments for this, and they were opposing 🙃)

D) Is a RE the best fit for our needs?

We are planning to convert a 40' flat nose w/ roof raise into a mobile hostel that will hold 8 people. One bedroom in the back + two triple bunks, shower, toilet, kitchen, eating area. With the amount of people, space & storage is most important.

Though I love the idea of a blank canvas to build, it seems that even with building over the engine a RE actually gives the most real estate. Plus the great under storage. Any arguments for a FE actually being a better fit for those needs?

Front Engine (FE/ Puller) vs. Rear Engine (RE/ Pusher) Type D Buses


FE- PRO
  • Full length of the bus to build
  • Emergency back door instead of emergency exit
  • Easy to create a garage or rear deck
  • Almost impossible to overload the rear axle with heavy weight placement internally
  • Often cheaper
  • Slightly safer in a head on collision
  • Engine has easier access/ easier to work on (??)

FE- CON
  • Hotter & noisier when driving
  • Driveline can be very long
  • Drive shaft and exhaust run length of bus, limiting under-storage/tank options
  • Engine puts a lot of weight on the front axle and itís easy to overload it- heavy stuff needs to be behind the rear axle or as close to the front of the rear axle as possible.
  • Engine harder to work on (??)


RE- PRO
  • Most floorspace of any model of the same length (incl. building above the engine)
  • Best storage/tank installation options (no driveshaft/exhaust running under bus)
  • Most freedom for designing the layout (no driveshaft/exhaust)
  • Quieter while driving/ can be made quieter
  • Much longer wheelbase with often much smoother ride
  • Many recent RE buses have rear air suspension standard making it smooth
  • Often bigger HP and higher speed rear ends
  • Often have more miles with fewer hours due to use as trip buses vs. hours idling
  • Typically has better departure angle than same length FE bus
  • Best traction, with weight of engine over the drive wheels
  • Often bigger engines and better transmissions available
  • Easy engine access for routine maintenance (??)



RE- CON
  • No rear door- not possible/easy to have a garage or rear deck (can try w/ side rear door)
  • Longer wheelbase means less turning radius/ harder to get around corners
  • Tend to have the rear wheels farther back
  • Tendency to run hot (cooling system is trying to suck cool air from a low pressure area into a high pressure area)
  • Often have lower ground clearance due to storage bays
  • Engine hump in the rear limits rear floor options
  • Can be more difficult to work on (??), but with rear and side engine door access, it's usually not an issue
  • Repairs can cost more (??)

Thanks in advance for any feedback and I hope this list helps someone else!
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Old 10-07-2020, 02:11 AM   #2
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Engine: Caterpillar 3126E Diesel
Rated Cap: 71 Passenger- 30,000 lbs.
We have a CE and have not owned either an FE nor an RE.


Based on the many threads I have read through, your list appears to be a good start and a fair representation. I'll leave it up to those that have worked with the other styles (FE & RE) to help you refine your list.
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Old 10-07-2020, 07:04 AM   #3
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Join Date: Jan 2020
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Engine: 8.3 Cummins MD3060
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I have only worked on my RE, never a FE. I have worked on many a dog house covered van engine which shares some similarities on a smaller scale. I have looked into some FE engine compartments. I can easily say, I would rather work on a RE 99 out of 100 times. I can't see very many situations where doing anything would be easier on FE vs a RE. A great example is; I can change the belt on my RE in about the same amount of time it takes to remove the engine cover in a FE, especially if you build a console over the dog house to mitigate the heat and noise factor.

As you say, in the end it really comes down to personal preference. For me, the only way I would get a front engine is if I were buying a cut-away bus, otherwise, RE every time.
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Old 10-07-2020, 08:03 AM   #4
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Engine: 3126b 210hp
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I have an RE but I feel I could have designed my build on any platform. Ppl. work around the differences all the time. Storage vs. this. Smooth ride vs. that.

The one thing that jumps out at me is the 8 person hostel. I think that a rear door would be a priority. You could build fold down steps and use the E-door as your main entrance. Bunk beds kinda lend themselves to a rear E-door design. And a big door at the end of the hall would be great for 8 ppl to get away from an engine fire.
If I had 8 ppl. in my bus, moving or not, I would want a real door back there, not just a window.

My $.02

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Old 10-09-2020, 12:31 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Native View Post
We have a CE and have not owned either an FE nor an RE.


Based on the many threads I have read through, your list appears to be a good start and a fair representation. I'll leave it up to those that have worked with the other styles (FE & RE) to help you refine your list.
Thanks for the feedback!
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Old 10-09-2020, 12:35 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackE View Post
I can easily say, I would rather work on a RE 99 out of 100 times. I can't see very many situations where doing anything would be easier on FE vs a RE. A great example is; I can change the belt on my RE in about the same amount of time it takes to remove the engine cover in a FE, especially if you build a console over the dog house to mitigate the heat and noise factor.

As you say, in the end it really comes down to personal preference. For me, the only way I would get a front engine is if I were buying a cut-away bus, otherwise, RE every time.
Thank you for this! Appreciate it
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Old 10-09-2020, 12:40 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meathead View Post
The one thing that jumps out at me is the 8 person hostel. I think that a rear door would be a priority. You could build fold down steps and use the E-door as your main entrance. Bunk beds kinda lend themselves to a rear E-door design. And a big door at the end of the hall would be great for 8 ppl to get away from an engine fire.
If I had 8 ppl. in my bus, moving or not, I would want a real door back there, not just a window.
Hey thanks for the feedback. Though I do like the door idea for fire escape, I don't think what you're envisioning would work for our overall design.

The main bedroom will be at the back w/ a full sized bed. Mostly for my wife & I, but occasionally for 2 hostel guests if we are not staying in the bus. But either way it will be a private room, so having a main door there doesn't make sense as we wouldn't want anyone else going in/out of it. Basically the hallway will end at the bedroom door.

Thanks for the response!
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Old 10-09-2020, 08:01 AM   #8
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Engine: Ford Triton V-10
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Just to clarify, just because a rear engine bus doesn't have a rear exit door doesn't mean it's a deathtrap. All configurations of school bus have to meet at minimum the federal safety standard for emergency evacuation and in many states an even more stringent standard than the federal. As far as I can recall, every RE I've seen has at minimum one driver side emergency exit door about two thirds to the rear and often TWO emergency doors, one on each side, staggered the length of the bus. This is in addition to roof hatches and exit windows - so even if you delete most of the windows and hatches you're more likely to work around side exit doors with your floorplan than attempt to delete them. I just hate to see anyone dissuaded from an RE thinking somehow it's less safe than an FE/CE because of the rear door
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