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Old 02-03-2017, 07:45 PM   #1
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Which body company has the best access to the drivetrain in a RE model?

I see Bluebird, Thomas, IHC, and Amtrans all have RE models for school buses. Of course motor coaches have them too. Regarding school buses which of them offer the most access to work on their engines? I know different engines will pose different issues in the same body.

From observing in pictures on the auction sites it seems the BB have the radiator on the drivers side which means there is no fan and junk behind the engine in the way. However, that does block the left side of the engine for easy access. The Thomas MVP seems to have the radiator behind the engine on one that I saw but I don't know if that is typical. I haven't seen the IHC or Amtrans under the "hood".

Is there a good way to get yourself in there to work on these fairly easily? What are the pro's and con's to each brand as far as access to the drivetrain?

Thanks,
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Old 02-03-2017, 10:01 PM   #2
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My Bluebird has amazing access to the rear and curb side. Most of what you may need to get to can be reached from those two sides.

The radiator & fan are on the street side and still leave decent room for access on that side.

There is also a small access cover inside that will let you get to the top of the forward end of the engine.

The two reasons that I was set on a RE bus were engine access and noise/heat while traveling. I dislike the idea of an 8.3 Cummins (or DT466) two feet from my right leg while driving.

My previous bus was an Eagle 10 and it was similar. It had a Detroit 8v71 (9.3 liter V- that was much wider than the the 8.3 Cummins (inline 6) and used a belt drive fan instead of hydraulic so access was not quite as nice.
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Old 02-03-2017, 10:17 PM   #3
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Which one has the best COOLING is the big question.
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Old 02-03-2017, 10:33 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
Which one has the best COOLING is the big question.
I'm all ears.
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Old 02-03-2017, 10:58 PM   #5
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RE aren't my thing. But from what I understand the IC's have the best cooling arrangement. Others will chime in who know better than me, though.
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Old 02-04-2017, 07:39 AM   #6
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re cool just as well as fe, unless something is broke. I don't think they would design a bus that overheats.
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Old 02-04-2017, 08:46 AM   #7
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"What coach builder has the best..." is a lot like asking what pickup truck is the best; they're all subject to personal interpretation. That being said, IMHO IC/Amtran has the best cooling package. It has a full-size radiator, with two YUUGE fresh air scoops on either side of the of the body at window height. It also has equally amazing access to both sides of the block, without contortions.


Radiator


Road-side air scoop and engine access (curbside identical)
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Old 02-04-2017, 08:51 AM   #8
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No they design them to run at the determined temperature.
but being that they cant have a radiator facing into thr wind like CE and FE, and they're back in the dusty rear, They can have overheating problems if not maintained. Almost all of the RE bus fires are from the engine overheating.
Its just something to watch, and keep maintenance of.
The RE has many advantages, but there are a few things that they have to compromise on ANY design.



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Old 02-04-2017, 09:11 AM   #9
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"What coach builder has the best..." is a lot like asking what pickup truck is the best
I didn't ask a broad nor vague question of what coach builder is the best; I asked what one has the best access to the engine/transmission ie drivetrain. This is nothing like asking which pickup is the best.

It did take a little turn to talk about cooling, which is OK, but the real question is which one let's you work on the engine the easiest, giving you some room to work in there? I know a 5.9 is going to have more room than an 8.3 but if the radiator is blocking the back of the engine you know it's hard to reach in through there. Good to know IC has good access to both sides of the engine as from pictures I wouldn't have guessed that, and that is why I asked the original question. I really do appreciate that kind of information.

I do appreciate the information and photos but please don't re-write my question as vague one as mine was pretty specific.
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Old 02-04-2017, 11:29 AM   #10
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I am getting the idea that you may think that the radiator faces the rear in some RE buses.

As far as I know, none of the RE we see here are configured that way. Generally the radiator is in the side of the bus. All of the ones that I have worked on have had the radiator on the street side except MCI's which have two radiators. One on each side.

They pull the cooling air in through the grille on the side and exhaust it out the rear. Not an ideal situation for cooling. IMHO: Cooling is the RE's "Achilles heal".

If you were looking for the most rugged, ultimately reliable and easy to service I would suggest an IC bus.

Myself, I love my RE.
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Old 02-04-2017, 12:11 PM   #11
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Quote:
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I am getting the idea that you may think that the radiator faces the rear in some RE buses.

As far as I know, none of the RE we see here are configured that way. Generally the radiator is in the side of the bus. All of the ones that I have worked on have had the radiator on the street side except MCI's which have two radiators. One on each side.

They pull the cooling air in through the grille on the side and exhaust it out the rear. Not an ideal situation for cooling. IMHO: Cooling is the RE's "Achilles heal".

If you were looking for the most rugged, ultimately reliable and easy to service I would suggest an IC bus.

Myself, I love my RE.
I've been wanting an 8.3 Cummins RE but I'm kinda looking at the DT466s since they're a little cheaper. How does the DT-466 stack up against the 8.3 Cummins numbers-wise? (Torque, HP, etc).
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Old 02-04-2017, 12:25 PM   #12
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I am getting the idea that you may think that the radiator faces the rear in some RE buses.
Yes, that is the idea I have gotten as I've seen photos of some that way (not sure if it was a skoolie or transit style as I've looked at so many things).

Also, last weekend my daughter and I were looking at motorhomes. One 40' Class A diesel pusher was built on a Freightliner chassis which had the radiator at the rear. Opening up the side doors still didn't give anyone much access to the engine. I still don't know how someone could work on that, unless the radiator hinges out of the way somehow. Maybe you crawl up underneath then stand next to the engine but it didn't appear there was any room for that neither. http://www.motorhome.com/wp-content/..._2524-copy.jpg


Another example of a RE truck/bus frame with the radiator at the rear: http://workhorseservice.com/wp-conte...fo-chassis.jpg


Even the photo above from ScooterNJ with the Internation/Amtran looks like the radiator might be at the rear of the engine (big square grill) but maybe that isn't the case. He mentions the big air scoops for cooling air but I don't know where the radiator actually sits. Some photos on one of the auction sites did show a radiator at the rear but I don't recall which make/model and whether it was a school bus or transit bus as I've looked at a lot of them in the last few weeks.

I very well could be wrong that none of the school buses have the radiator at the very rear. My biggest concern is as a mechanic which one is going to give a big guy like me some room to access all that might need accessed? That freightliner based Class A motorhome last weekend would be near impossible to work on from what I could see. I just wouldn't want to be in that situation. If you can afford 1/4 million dollar RV though, you can afford to pay someone to work on it...if you're building a skoolie, you probably can't afford to take it to a bus garage for every little thing (speaking for myself, you may be different).
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Old 02-04-2017, 12:57 PM   #13
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Interesting....

I have looked at a few typical diesel pusher RV's and the ones I have seen first hand have had the radiator on the side as well. But I have seen pictures...

I tracked down a couple of Thomas RE's on GovDeals and it looks like they put the radiator on the curb side.

This one looks like a find for someone:https://www.govdeals.com/index.cfm?f...=2&acctid=7190

California bus with mechanical 8.3 and an MT643 tranny. Nice looking bus.
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Old 02-04-2017, 01:00 PM   #14
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Interesting....

I have looked at a few typical diesel pusher RV's and the ones I have seen first hand have had the radiator on the side as well. But I have seen pictures...

I tracked down a couple of Thomas RE's on GovDeals and it looks like they put the radiator on the curb side.

This one looks like a find for someone:https://www.govdeals.com/index.cfm?f...=2&acctid=7190

California bus with mechanical 8.3 and an MT643 tranny. Nice looking bus.
Description says it has a leaky head gasket. Kinda worn out but it is in better shape than the other buses they posted.
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Old 02-04-2017, 01:13 PM   #15
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Description says it has a leaky head gasket. Kinda worn out but it is in better shape than the other buses they posted.
I missed that.. Good catch.

Not such a find after all....

I have continued looking about and just found pics of a Thomas RE with the radiator on the street side.


Edit: After much searching I did find a pic of an Amtran RE that has the radiator facing aft. It does exist....
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Old 02-04-2017, 01:41 PM   #16
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I have continued looking about and just found pics of a Thomas RE with the radiator on the street side.
Like I said, I saw at least one photo with the radiator at the rear but I don't recall if it was a school bus or a transit bus.

ScooterNJ says the IC/Amtran has plenty of room to work on it. BB RE seem to have plenty of room to work on the engine but then again I've not been in one. How much room is in a Thomas RE engine compartment to get in there to work on stuff?
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Old 02-04-2017, 01:56 PM   #17
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AmTrans made a lot of RE buses with the radiator at the rear with all access to the engine through access doors on the sides of the bus. IC continued making them that way for a few years but recently moved their radiator to the driver's side. The change was requested many times from users who didn't like working through the side for normal service work.

Regardless of where the radiator is mounted in an RE bus the fact remains all of them overheat. Some are more prone to overheating than others. But it is impossible to get enough air flow across the core to cool properly if you are on a steep enough grade on a day that has ambient temperatures in excess of 100*. Any vehicle that has a radiator that is being pushed through the air will cool better than one that has to pull air through it.

Crown engineered a cooling system that will keep even a Detroit Diesel 2-cycle cool on the hottest days on the steepest grades. To be fair, to replace the radiator could cost in excess of $5K at today's prices.

As far as access is concerned, every bus body has limitations. And as to which one is best you will get the same sort of opinions on Thomas vs. Blue Bird vs. IC as you will get with opinions on Ford vs. Chevy vs. Dodge.
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Old 02-04-2017, 02:11 PM   #18
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As far as access is concerned, every bus body has limitations. And as to which one is best you will get the same sort of opinions on Thomas vs. Blue Bird vs. IC as you will get with opinions on Ford vs. Chevy vs. Dodge.

Careful. That comparison seems to make OP angry.

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Old 02-04-2017, 06:25 PM   #19
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I missed that.. Good catch.

Not such a find after all....

I have continued looking about and just found pics of a Thomas RE with the radiator on the street side.


Edit: After much searching I did find a pic of an Amtran RE that has the radiator facing aft. It does exist....
Yeah there are amtrans with the rad facing rear.
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Old 02-04-2017, 07:35 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PNW_Steve View Post
My Bluebird has amazing access to the rear and curb side. Most of what you may need to get to can be reached from those two sides.

The radiator & fan are on the street side and still leave decent room for access on that side.

There is also a small access cover inside that will let you get to the top of the forward end of the engine.

The two reasons that I was set on a RE bus were engine access and noise/heat while traveling. I dislike the idea of an 8.3 Cummins (or DT466) two feet from my right leg while driving.

My previous bus was an Eagle 10 and it was similar. It had a Detroit 8v71 (9.3 liter V- that was much wider than the the 8.3 Cummins (inline 6) and used a belt drive fan instead of hydraulic so access was not quite as nice.
My right knee rests on the doghouse while driving.... And IT SUCKS @&)&&$$$:
!!!!!
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