View Full Version : Is a Newell really as safe as a bus?

10-25-2012, 04:07 AM
After touring at Newell, Marathon and Featherlite over the last few years and two of them with my brother-n-law who's a structural engineer at Boeing whom also owns a Featherlite Vantare, I can not agree that a Newell is built on the same level.

I love Newell's and believe 100% that they are above par compared to any factory built RV or motorhome. Just not to the same level people around here like to speak of in comparison to a Prevost, MCI or Eagle bus. Just not the same two creatures. A bus would fare better in a crash. How much? I don't know.

Please don't think I'm against the Newell, I'm not, that is what I own.

Jay Winter

10-25-2012, 02:58 PM
I don't believe a Newell is as safe as all highway passenger buses. Not sure why it matters? Newell is a motorhome designed for leisure and not hualing a bunch of passengers. What would be the reason why we should know this?

10-25-2012, 04:09 PM
I believe that safety is important. Do anyone know if they even put motorhomes/RVs/Coaches through a crash test?

10-25-2012, 04:45 PM
To my knowledge Newell builds their coaches to bus specifications, Now you would be best to check with the factory to verify any information. In my opinion Newell's are very safe when compared to most other rv's on the market.

Raymond N Priscilla Miller
10-25-2012, 04:56 PM
Our coach is built stout! :thumbsup:

10-25-2012, 04:59 PM
From http://www.nasdpts.org/Documents/Paper-ALTOONAtest.pdf

Federal Transit Administration Testing of Buses

In 1987, the United States Congress directed the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) of the
U.S. Department of Transportation to establish a Bus Testing Program for transit buses. Under
the program, testing is required on all new model buses before they can be purchased with Federal
funds. [Note: Since school buses are not purchased using Federal funds, they are not required to
be tested under the Bus Testing Program.] Most of the testing under the Bus Testing Program is
conducted at the Altoona Research and Testing Center in Altoona, Pennsylvania, and is often
referred to as the AAltoona Tests.@ Some of the testing is conducted at the Bus Research and Test
Facility at Penn State University.

There are significant differences between the Federal Transit Administration's Bus Testing
Program and the testing required by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) that
are issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Tests conducted under the Bus Testing Program is done by the Federal
government, while FMVSS testing is the responsibility of the vehicle manufacturer.
NHTSA conducts limited, random compliance testing to verify the manufacturers'
certification that their products meet the FMVSSs.

The results of the tests conducted under the Bus Testing Program are compiled
into a test report that is made available to the manufacturer of the bus, and are
provided to potential purchasers during the bus procurement process.

The results of the FMVSS testing conducted by manufacturers are used by those
manufacturers to certify that a vehicle meets all applicable FMVSSs as of the date
of vehicle production. For example, a manufacturer must have extensive, objective
laboratory test results on the seat structure, seat anchorage, seat foam, and, if
applicable, the restraint system and associated anchorages to certify that the school
bus meets the passenger crash protection requirements of FMVSS No. 222.

The tests required by the Bus Testing Program are significantly different from the
tests required by bus manufacturers to show compliance with the FMVSS.
FMVSS tests provide quantitative Apass@ or Afail@ information, while the Bus
Testing Program provides mostly qualitative comparative information on buses.

While the tests conducted under the Bus Testing Program provide important
operational information about buses, they are not a substitute for the FMVSS
vehicle safety tests.

School buses are governed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA) which developed school bus specific standards FMVSS 220, FMVSS 221, and FMVSS 222, and amended FMVSS 105, FMVSS 111, FMVSS 217 and FMVSS 301 as they apply to school buses. The Blue Birds which were built on the school bus chassis would have typically complied with these requirements.

A good document to review is the "Mini Guide to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and Related Regulations" located at http://www.nasdpts.org/documents/pubsbmtcminiguide04.pdf.

If you want to see a good reason to NOT hit something solid with a bus (or motorhome) look at MCI NHTSA Bus Crash Test. - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFlGHxV5WsY) where NHTSA crashed an MCI into a wall at 32 mpg. Also see Thomas Freightliner FS-65 bus crash test (NHTSA Frontal) - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tycZsapMGUM) where a Thomas Freightliner School Bus is crash tested. As the cabover truck drivers like to say "Da** I hate being the first one to a crash".

10-25-2012, 05:28 PM
Jay, thanks for the post and Michael thanks for your provided information.

I receive this question by email from Jay and asked him to just post it here for hopefully better opinions than I could give. Since Newell is licensed as a motorhome or

mobile home type of a manufacturer and I didn't think they would have to go through the same testing, so how would one really know?

Jay has gone the round d round with his brother over the quality and safety difference. Which, I would rather let him share that info, if he so chooses to. I am going

to do a bunch more research on this, as I would like to know for future reference since this subject has came up in the pass and I too am a little biased and for good


10-25-2012, 08:37 PM
The greatest argument will probably be that a Newell is heavier on the bottom half which makes it less prone to roll-over versus a lot of buses. It's weakness compared to a bus is in the upper portion in a roll-over versus probably most buses. This is what I hear from the bus guys.

A question I might ask; has any owners ever seen a Newell that has rolled over? I wouldn't mind knowing what would happen in that scenario. Like I already stated I think they are safe having not heard really anything otherwise.

10-25-2012, 09:47 PM
I don't think I have seen a Newell in a complete roll-over but here are a couple shots of a Newell that rolled onto its side.

10-25-2012, 10:00 PM
Michael, is this the one that Tejas or someone had for sale 2 or 3 years back that had been laid on its side? I wonder if this one here was repaired or scrapped. It would be nice to see the inside damage to see how the structure and held together. I've seen many trailers that have laid on the their sides, that got repaired. Then I've seen RV that rolled busting into a bunch of pieces.

10-25-2012, 10:26 PM
It was offered for sale for with bids starting at $335,000, as is, back in July of 2008 on EBay. I think it was coach 792. The TV and electronics on the passenger side were in bad shape as was some of the cabinetwork but it had not come apart inside.

10-26-2012, 02:46 AM
Michael, did the seller have interior pics on ebay that you're referring to or have you seen it in person? $335k was a joke, don't you think. For some reason, I think this

coach ended up being lowered to less than half of that. The seller was probably trying to make a quarter million on it as/is. lol

I recently spoke to the guy again parting out the burnt '96 and he said that the bottom half of the Newell is like Brady's engineer brother had mentioned, that a Newell

is over-built on the bottom portion making it too heavy to allow for a heavier structure on the top side. Wayne just mentioned to me that I need to come down to his

place right away before he is finished scrapping this '96 Newell out and he wants to show me how the aluminum struts are attached to the frame and says I'm going to

be shocked. I am really curious about this, but at the same time I'm not sure I want to? So, I am curious as to how well this later Newell in your pics above has held

together from its side roll. I'm only guessing, that Newell has engineered the strength into their coaches from the combination of the aluminum struts riveted to the

steel frame, then glued to the aluminum skin, filled with urethane foam, with a final sandwich layer of 5/8" plywood (still marine grade I'm assuming). Of course

anywhere you glue laminate you pick up some additional strength. I would also assume cabinetry being screwed and glued creates even more strength. I would have

to figure that is why Newell really refers to their structure as more of a semi-monoquocco chassis vs. a full monoquocco chassis. As the bottom structure appears to

fit more of the distinction of a full monoquocco.

I do see the advantages and disadvantages to their design or pros and cons I suppose.

10-26-2012, 03:22 AM
Ken, I did not see this one in person. The only photo of the interior that I can find is this one:

Thomas Lago
10-26-2012, 03:49 AM
That is one ugly critter!:ohmy:

10-26-2012, 04:26 AM
I was thinking more like one ugly cricket! I still can't get used to this newer style. I prefer the classic or 2000 series Newells.

10-26-2012, 01:18 PM
Newells are referred to as semi monocoque because they use frame rails front and rear with monocoque construction in between. Most of the motor homes being produced today are using a frame rail chassis, with the exception of Newell and a few other manufactures that have their own proprietary chassis.

Randy J
10-26-2012, 04:21 PM
It's not about the looks in this thread boys. It's about the safety! But if someone wanted to trade my 1991 Newell straight across for the newest body style then I would happily oblige. :thumbsup: And you guys can stick with your classics. ;) rollinglol