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Pros and cons jake 12-18-03  
What are the advantges and disadvanages to flat nosed and regular stile buses
Re: pros and cons Dave Davidson 12-20-03  
I drive a 1998 Thomas flat-nose schoolbus daily, and my experience is with this bus (front engine, rear drive). It has a 5.9 liter Cummings turbo diesel and an automatic.

As I see them:

Pros:

School buses are cheap. In Maryland, they must be retired after 12 years regardless of condition. Other states are probably similar. So you can pick up a used schoolie in good condition pretty cheap due to no market.

If you take out the windows and reskin a flatnose, you can end up with a conversion that looks similar to some standard class A motorhomes.

Cons:

You have no bays underneath for storage or placing equipment. However there is plenty of room underneath.

The ride is very rough. It has a truck suspension with leaf springs in the front and rear. On rough roads, it will scramble your innards. After doing a conversion, you would probably want to take it to a shop to have the suspension reworked for a softer ride at your final weight.

The bus is governed at 65 mph at 2600 rpm. You will likely have to change the rear end gearing for better highway speed. Standard gearing is for stop and go driving.

In spite of the governing, the bus will not maintain speed going up much of a hill. Larger engines were an option for this particular bus, and you may be able to find buses with larger engines, but most original buyers opt for the smallest engine offered. On the highway, I generally keep the bus floored and seldom can get over 55 unless going down hill.

The bus I drive, at least, is very noisy. The engine compartment isn't soundproofed as a motorhome would be.

I wouldn't even consider converting a conventional style schoolie as most campgrounds will turn you away. You may be able to sneak a flatnose in if it looks similar to a class A.

In my opinion, converting a schoolie is more trouble than it's worth for most folks. If you want something to take hunting, or to park as a hunting cabin, though, they can be a very cheap way out.

Dave
Re: pros and cons Mark O. 1-7-04  
Type 'C' or conventional type school buses are less expensive to start with so they are much more common than the Type 'D' or transit type school bus.

Generally speaking, you will almost never find a Type 'D' that is powered by a gasoline engine. Or at least not one built in the last 20 years.

Type 'C' buses have still been made available with gas engines until very recently.

Generally speaking, Type 'D' buses have larger HP engines and/or have higher speed rear end ratios.

In a Type 'D' bus, the total length of the bus is inside the bus body. Type 'C' buses have the nose sticking out front which is space lost and not available for living space.

Some Type 'D' buses are available with engines in the rear or under the floor. Moving the engine from the front of the bus will reduce the engine noise heard from the driver's seat considerably.

Type 'C' buses until very recently have been made on a chassis supplied by vendors such as GM, Ford, IHC, and Freightliner. Parts and pieces are available from those manufacturers at their dealers and truck parts houses everywhere. Type 'D' buses sometimes are a little bit more difficult for which to find parts and pieces or someone who will work on them.

Since Type 'C' buses are built on basically a medium duty truck chassis, they can go just about anywhere a road leads. Some Type 'C' buses even came from the factory with a driven front axle.

Front engine Type 'D' buses (aka forward control or FE) tend to have a very heavy front weight bias which makes them very difficult to drive on slippery roads. FE buses also have very significant rear overhangs which can really swing when going around corners. With the engine up front, you need to be very spry to get into and out of the driver's seat. The dog house covering the engine is right next to the driver which makes it very difficult to get to the driver's seat. Also, because the engine is really shoe horned into the engine compartment, working on anything on the engine is difficult at best.

The large rear engine Type 'D' buses (aka RE) can end up having very long wheelbase lengths which can make getting around tight corners extremely difficult, particularly in urban areas. RE buses also generally have a lower ground clearance which makes them poor candidates for going into the rough. RE buses also make the back end of the bus yucky from any drip from the engine. Those drips will also make anything towed behind the bus yucky as well.

To really determine which style of bus is best for you, you will have to decide how and where you are going to be using the bus.

There really is not any one bus that is best for every application. Hence the myriad of choices. Only you can determine what is best for you.

Good luck and happy trails.

Mark O.
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