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Old 10-21-2017, 09:07 AM   #1
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Front vs Rear Engine

Iím super new to Skoolies and have been reading a ton. I still have a lot to learn about engine and tranny combos. My estimated use would be State Park camping 2-3 times a year. Possibly a drive anywhere from 2 - 10 hrs each way. (like Texas to Florida, for example). Flat land. Can someone just give me a general pros and cons of each of these buses? My budget would be expected $2-3k purchase. $2k for spray insulation. Then prep and paint myself and build the interior up as needed. Passengers are my wife and I, possibly 2 dogs and occasionally mother in law and 2 teens. Thank you!

1999 Thomas CAT3162B 140HS 84-Passenger Capacity; VIN: 1T7HT4B26X1070125; 225,595 Miles showing - not guaranteed; Diesel; Auto; Bench seats; Rubber floor mats; A/C; PS; Air brakes; Was running when removed from service 02/01/17; NORMAL WEAR AND TEAR; MINOR VANDALISM (one side window has glass damage)


1996 International T444E 3800 71-Passenger Capacity; VIN: 1HVBBABN6TH417821; 188,557 Miles showing - not guaranteed; 7.3L Diesel; Auto; Bench seats; Rubber floor mats; A/C; PS; Air brakes; Was running when removed from service 02/01/17; MINOR VANDALISM; FADED PAINT







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Old 10-21-2017, 09:21 AM   #2
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Year: 1998
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Chassis: amtran
Engine: international dt466e allison md 3060
Rated Cap: 13 ton or so says the tit
I have the international. Its a 1998 tho. I love it. It's a beast. 5 speed. My first bus was a front engine 5.9 carpenter. Great, but i like the international. It rides nicer. We live in it full time.

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Old 10-21-2017, 09:26 AM   #3
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So no red flags on mileage for the pusher, cost to rebuild, etc? I personally prefer the pusher, just not sure when to be wary of ďhigh milesĒ


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Old 10-21-2017, 09:29 AM   #4
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Engine: international dt466e allison md 3060
Rated Cap: 13 ton or so says the tit
That's not that high of mileage. I have about the same. I've heard warnings about cam shaft wear. But there are additives that can help with that. There isn't a need to rebuild it, is there?

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Old 10-21-2017, 09:54 AM   #5
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That's not that high of mileage. I have about the same. I've heard warnings about cam shaft wear. But there are additives that can help with that. There isn't a need to rebuild it, is there?

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I was just reading posts where a guy, who probably drives a lot, mentioned that a 250k engine would likely need a rebuild within 100k miles. Plus a pusher canít be rebuilt without removal. Then I realized I would barely put miles on the thing. So most of that is moot.


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Old 10-21-2017, 10:10 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by jamieb View Post
I was just reading posts where a guy, who probably drives a lot, mentioned that a 250k engine would likely need a rebuild within 100k miles. Plus a pusher canít be rebuilt without removal. Then I realized I would barely put miles on the thing. So most of that is moot.


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It's a bit more involved than that. Whether or not an engine can be in-framed, depends on the engine more than its location. Both those engines have to come out. The CAT can be bored and sleeved, the T444 would be bored and oversize pistons fitted.

For access, the worst is a front-engined transit style. Neither of those two would be hard to get the engine out with the right tools.

The B50 for each is similar (B50 is the estimated time that 50% of the engines would need a rebuild). For both it's around 400000 miles.

Depending on use, maintenance and pure luck, this means that some will fail very early, and some will go 700k. Best bet is around 400k but condition rules ... as do service records if you can get them. The rebuild resets most of the clock, which is why you hear of these engines going anything up to 1 million miles. By the time they need a 2nd rebuild there might not be enough material to work with so they are limited in that minor respect. City transit buses regularly come up for sale at 750k+, but they run in ideal conditions. They run at low speeds, all day on warm oil, are well maintained, and have few cold starts.

At 225k you are getting a well used engine, but if it has been looked after it should be good for another 150k with few hassles (no guarantees).

The "no guarantees" bit is why amateurs like me would prefer an engine that can be in-framed. Without a full shop, it's easier to do. That said, if I found the ideal bus with a CAT 3126 I would buy it. The T444 is nothing to be scared of either, just know it has less power than you might want in the bigger buses.

Hope that helps.
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Old 10-21-2017, 10:12 AM   #7
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Engine: international dt466e allison md 3060
Rated Cap: 13 ton or so says the tit
I'm not going to worry about a rebuild until i have a problem. Tune ups go a long way

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Old 10-21-2017, 10:12 AM   #8
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Some of the rear engine school buses have cooling issues due to not being designed for constant interstate driving, other people have more information on this as mine is a front engine TE444 international
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Old 10-21-2017, 10:13 AM   #9
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This is great info, thank you all!


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Old 10-21-2017, 10:14 AM   #10
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It's a bit more involved than that. Whether or not an engine can be in-framed, depends on the engine more than its location. Both those engines have to come out. The CAT can be bored and sleeved, the T444 would be bored and oversize pistons fitted.



For access, the worst is a front-engined transit style. Neither of those two would be hard to get the engine out with the right tools.



The B50 for each is similar (B50 is the estimated time that 50% of the engines would need a rebuild). For both it's around 400000 miles.



Depending on use, maintenance and pure luck, this means that some will fail very early, and some will go 700k. Best bet is around 400k but condition rules ... as do service records if you can get them. The rebuild resets most of the clock, which is why you hear of these engines going anything up to 1 million miles. By the time they need a 2nd rebuild there might not be enough material to work with so they are limited in that minor respect. City transit buses regularly come up for sale at 750k+, but they run in ideal conditions. They run at low speeds, all day on warm oil, are well maintained, and have few cold starts.



At 225k you are getting a well used engine, but if it has been looked after it should be good for another 150k with few hassles (no guarantees).



The "no guarantees" bit is why amateurs like me would prefer an engine that can be in-framed. Without a full shop, it's easier to do. That said, if I found the ideal bus with a CAT 3126 I would buy it. The T444 is nothing to be scared of either, just know it has less power than you might want in the bigger buses.



Hope that helps.


This helps a lot, thank you!



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Old 10-21-2017, 10:16 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by jamieb View Post
This helps a lot, thank you!



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Others will chime in if I got any of that wrong
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Old 10-24-2017, 08:24 PM   #12
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I really don't want to be controversial, but in my early research, I'm kind of stuck at an impasse. I'm really preferring the aesthetics of the Thomas style, snub-nose, rear pusher bus. I understand it's quieter, rides better, and for me, looks more like an RV (personal preference).

My skoolie would not be lived in. It would get used mostly within 1-2 hours drive from home most often, and perhaps travel out of Texas to another state 1-2 times a year. In other words, not putting on the miles.

My dilemma: I read that pushers have harder engine access, so repair costs on some things go up. On the flip side, if I am not putting major miles, do I minimize repair risks?

Is there some formula to help decide if a pusher is right for me? Are repair or maintenance costs significantly higher than a front engine? Thank you!
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Old 10-24-2017, 09:04 PM   #13
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Chassis: HDX
Engine: Cat C7
Rated Cap: 84 passenger
Advantages of a RE Thomas:
  1. Quiet
  2. More floor space
  3. Shorter Drive Train
  4. Basement storage

Disadvantages of FE International:
  1. Intrusion of Engine
  2. Long drive train
  3. Noisy
  4. No basement
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Old 10-24-2017, 09:19 PM   #14
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I actually made a post on my website specifically for people with your dilemma Might help you decide. Check it out here Choosing a bus ‚ÄĒ Buslandia
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Old 10-24-2017, 09:20 PM   #15
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Year: 1999
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Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
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Technically the FE has more USABLE floor space. And a rear door. Some have basements, just not pass through. My Ward has a storage bays that are quite large, and LONG.
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Old 10-24-2017, 09:59 PM   #16
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Engine: Cat 3208t/10 speed transmission
Drive both of them then decide which YOU like.
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Old 10-24-2017, 10:11 PM   #17
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theres NO intrusion of engine in that conventional T-444E.. its a V-8 diesel so there's no dog house..

the 444E is what ford buiolt their power-stroke 7.3 from.. many parts are interchangeable so there is good support for it..

you have A/C and if you are road tripping id recommend you keep it (many here yank them out).. but if you do decide to yankl the A/C.. a rear engine bus makes for a cooler driver area up front..

if your bus is mainly a weekend RV warrior.. then I think the minimal foot or two you may save or gain is not super important.. at least less importabnt than if you are gpoing to full time in it.. so I wopuld choose the bus you like the aesthetics of the best and feel you are most comfortable working on..

no you likely womnt blow up the engine or the transmission.. but there will be maintenance items or things that can and will break over miles and years.. belts, idler pulleys, fan clutches??? no one knows if or what may go wromng but defimnitely put into consideration what you are most comfortable getting under the bonnet in..

a lot of it is preference.. im a fan boy of coventionals with the tilt front.. ive turned alot of wrenches on both my busses and its the configuration i like.. although it is MUCH hotter in thje saddle of a fromnt engine bus in the summer.. but ive got road A/C in both..
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