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Old 04-04-2021, 10:23 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
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Year: 2005
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Anybody put a hitch on a rear engine international?

I've been looking to put a hitch on my 2005 international RE300 rear engine bus. Could anybody share pictures or advise on how they put a hitch on a similar bus?
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Old 04-04-2021, 10:42 PM   #2
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Yep. Curt 15903.
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Old 04-04-2021, 11:11 PM   #3
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I have one on mine. Just be mindful of tongue weight if your bus has a rear sub frame. I use mine to pull a toad, flat tow or on a dolly depending what toad I take. Not much tongue weight like that. Keep it legal with lights, safety chains breakaway devices and brakes. And don’t go over total length.
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Old 04-05-2021, 01:01 AM   #4
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Talking Tow? TOW, you say? Surely you joust...

It can be done, but on many requires a custom job with fabrication and welding. I see one or two members have mentioned this or been mentioned as success stories, here's a third to add to your list - Mandinee1. I know about this one personally, as I drove their bus to them from Council Bluffs IA with my car in tow. It was a 1998/1999 Blue Bird RE with the 8.3 ISC and MD3060 trans. I believe they had to have a welder do some fabrication so that a shop could custom fit a hitch.

However, as another member mentioned, these often have subframes that are not as sturdy as a typical body-on-frame construction, so be aware it will have its limitations as to what you can and can't tow safely. And be mindful of applicable laws in regards to vehicle length, weight, etc.

And no offense to others who have posted here, but quite a few things have not been mentioned that are glaring omissions, and can lead to simple mistakes with big consequences. Please don't take my advice to mean I think you're an idiot by any means, OP, but by now I've seen everything, and people never cease to amaze me with what they don't know. So here are a few mistakes to avoid, with a vast variety of consequences, some more expensive than others. And a lot of it can be avoided by asking questions, and covering all the bases.

First, the trans will always be the weakest link. Regardless of how much towing power you can get from an engine, the transmission is only rated for so much hp and torque, and more load = more heat = more stress. Find out the transmission's max GVWR, and make sure that your converted bus and any towed load are within those limits.

If you have the AT545 Allison, I will tell you simply -- don't do it. These transmissions are okay for what they were meant to do, but will overheat easily under excessive load or speed, and can only tolerate modest weight loads at best. A bus is already at the outer limits of what they are rated for, especially one with an extra 2-1/2 to 4-1/2 tons in interior modifications. They are also not suited for interstate speeds, big hills or mountains in heavy vehicles. It may do it initially, but it's a bit like playing Russian Roulette.

Which brings me to my third point, be sure to augment / upgrade the cooling system to get rid of the excess heat that will occur when towing, especially a consideration on an RE, as they are prone to cooling issues anyway. They suffer from inhibited airflow, what with the radiators turned sideways and all. I'm talking engine oil coolers, transmission fluid coolers, and it wouldn't hurt to plumb an auxiliary heater core or two in the engine compartment with temp-controlled fans to blow off extra heat (don't laugh, turning on the heater(s) do(es) help when coolant gets too hot).

Also, be sure your cooling fan(s) are working properly and are not in need of service. You might even want to add a couple temperature-controlled electrics for good measure, just be sure they are not fighting the standard fan (meaning they are pushing / pulling against each other ). This will cause a no-cooling situation.

Fourth point. If you plan to tow a vehicle, first, be sure to tow it properly, which is to say, some vehicles are not meant to be towed on all four wheels. It can damage their transmissions and one thread recently mentioned some idiot leaving a manual trans Jeep in gear while towing it, which spun the engine internals at 50,000 rpm or whenever the engine grenaded, whichever came first.

So, obviously, per the previous example, manual transmissions and 4WD transfer cases should be placed in neutral. Parking brakes should be disengaged, and automatic transmissions should be in Neutral. This is, of course, assuming that the vehicle is towable on its drive wheels -- many are not, most automatic transmissions can be damaged by towing on the drive wheels, even in neutral.

Check with the vehicle's manufacturer as to whether it is okay to tow "four-down" as it is referred, meaning on all four wheels. If it is not, use a dolly and either tow with the drive wheels on the dolly. Alternately, you can remove / disconnect axle shafts / driveshafts, but this is a lot of hassle that really isn't necessary with a dolly. Or a trailer, my other recommendation, which puts all four wheels off the ground and removes all worry.

Fifth point -- when using a dolly or trailer, make absolutely sure all its lights work, and be absolutely sure that the dolly cannot break away from the bus and that the towed vehicle is secured properly to prevent it from falling off. It can and will happen if diligence is not done.

Sixth point -- If you plan to tow a vehicle behind a diesel vehicle (especially with a rear-exit exhaust), you may want to invest in some type of aluminum (better heat dissipation) shield for the towed vehicle or re-route the exhaust exit up top or out the side.

Reason being, after 1200 miles behind that Blue Bird, my poor Toyota was covered in soot and reeked of diesel exhaust for several days -- a huge problem, as I have severe asthma. However, I was fortunate, the soot washed off after two runs through a high-pressure car wash, and the smell did clear out after a day or two, though I can't say absolutely no long-term ill effects, as the bus had broken down and it made more sense to drive home to wait for repairs in the interim. Just something to make allowances and adjustments for.

Good luck!
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Old 04-05-2021, 02:44 AM   #5
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Cheese Wagon is right on all points. One thing I might counterpoint though is with regards to a towed vehicle in neutral versus park. From my research it seems as though automatic transmissions require a pump to circulate the lubricant internally and when it's being towed this is not the case. A transfer case on the other hand doesn't have this requirement and simply relies on the gears themselves to splash around the lubricant sufficiently to keep it well lubricated. Therefore putting the transfer case in neutral but keeping the automatic transmission in park protects the transmission because it prevents parasitic momentum to travel up the driveline and spin the unlubricated transmission. I've heard both sides of the argument but this made the most sense to me. The manufacturer is going to know best so always defer to their instructions regarding towing their vehicle.
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Old 04-05-2021, 03:46 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sehnsucht View Post
Cheese Wagon is right on all points. One thing I might counterpoint though is with regards to a towed vehicle in neutral versus park. From my research it seems as though automatic transmissions require a pump to circulate the lubricant internally and when it's being towed this is not the case. A transfer case on the other hand doesn't have this requirement and simply relies on the gears themselves to splash around the lubricant sufficiently to keep it well lubricated. Therefore putting the transfer case in neutral but keeping the automatic transmission in park protects the transmission because it prevents parasitic momentum to travel up the driveline and spin the unlubricated transmission. I've heard both sides of the argument but this made the most sense to me. The manufacturer is going to know best so always defer to their instructions regarding towing their vehicle.
To clarify, this may apply to a 4WD transfer case, but not an AWD, which is full-time and cannot be disengaged. Never tow any AWD with any of its wheels on the ground. It will not end well.
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Old 04-05-2021, 04:45 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHEESE_WAGON View Post
To clarify, this may apply to a 4WD transfer case, but not an AWD, which is full-time and cannot be disengaged. Never tow any AWD with any of its wheels on the ground. It will not end well.
Excellent point! 4WD is not the same as AWD. The reason you see so many Jeep Wranglers towed behind RVs is because it is one of the very few vehicles still manufactured which has a truly neutral transfer case and is manually actuated. Most 4WD/AWD vehicles today are electronic with a simple push of a button but the catch is there is likely not a button that says neutral. Besides my wrangler, I have a Jeep Liberty and a Dodge Dakota, and both are a button or dial to select 2WD, 4WD, and 4Low but there's a tiny little recessed button you have to prick with a pen to actually select the Neutral transfer case position, otherwise the light is flashing that you've selected Neutral but that selection has not been confirmed yet.
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Old 04-05-2021, 05:25 PM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Good points all. In this case, I am within the mechanical limits of the bus, and of the vehicle I plan to tow. The International does have the frame go all the way to the back. My problem is all of the stuff between the frame and the ground. What you see in the picture is not the frame of the bus, but rather brackets that attach the rear bumper to the frame. The frame is actually several inches above these brackets. I was looking at hitches similar to the Curt hitch that ABBus posted, my problem is how to get it attached to the frame. The rear bumper brackets get in the way.This is why I asked for pictures of the install specific to an International bus, to see how others have done it. I've been trying to find someone who will tackle the project, but so far I have turned up empty handed. If anyone knows a place in the Baltimore and Philadelphia area that would do this, please let me know.




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Old 04-05-2021, 06:00 PM   #9
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I don’t think you will find anything that is custom made for your bus. This is a case of making or modifying another hitch to go on there. Due to liability issues a lot of welding shops don’t want to stick their neck out and loose their butts. I’m not a certified welder so I can’t give you any ideas there. But there are some on this forum that are. Lets see what they have to say.
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Old 04-05-2021, 07:04 PM   #10
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Here is the hitch on my RE International. I got a free hitch that was wider than may frame and cut both sides off. Welded on some 3/8 thick 3"x4" angle and bolted it on. I did flip the hitch and recessed it into the rear bumper so that nothing was lower than the exhaust. I used the existing holes but new 5/8" grade 8 bolts. Just got back from our first 2280 mile trip towing a toad most of the time with no issues. 20210405_194745.jpg20210405_194730.jpg20210405_194720.jpg20210405_194705.jpg
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Old 04-05-2021, 07:06 PM   #11
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I used the bumper brackets to secure the hitch. They are just as thick as the hitch side plates. See picture below. The blue "H" corresponds to the hitch, and the red circles the 6 "grade 8" bolts I used on each side. Almost bolt on, easy peasy.
Some here will have something to say, but I know it is strong enough. I towed my 5000+ lbs car, and an overweighted trailer (almost 1500 pounds on the hitch), and was not worried at all.


Using the same hitch, you could turn the side plates 90 degree and "sandwich" them between the frame and the bumper brackets. Would probably be even stronger. I'm sure the side plates are long enough.
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Old 04-11-2021, 01:56 AM   #12
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If you don’t have a toad yet there’s plenty of discussion about them on regular Rv sites. I’ve spent way too many hours looking into vehicles that can and can’t be towed. Some all wheel drive vehicles can be towed with all 4 wheels on the ground like the Honda CRV (most years) and Honda Pilot up to 2005; after 2005 they still had the same transmission for a while but Honda changed their mind about allowing it. I pulled a 2006 Pilot no problem till it was written off from hail damage last summer. Others I read about had no problems with Honda Odyssey’s too. Anyway there’s lots out there and it’s all very vehicle specific. Now I’m towing a 2000 Jeep Cherokee with 4 wheels down and it’s much nicer than the Pilot was because it weighs half as much and it’s easier to set up. Tow dollies are a pain if you’re on the road a lot but can be a good option for almost any car if you’re not pulling it around hooking and unhooking all the time.

I’ve got a custom welded hitch on my Thomas bus so it might not be of help to you. But if you can contact any hitch shops in your area they may be able to recommend a welder that will put on a hitch for you. I had no problem finding the one that did mine but I’m half a world away from where you are.
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