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Author Topic: Ward Traveler  (Read 1907 times)
PADoug
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« on: June 23, 2009, 06:53:21 AM »

Does anyone know anything about this series of bus? I cannot find anything on the web (Ward conversions or Ward OTR transit models) about it. It appears to be a 40 foot GMC New Look Suburban (Manual Transmission)that was factory converted into an executive coach. But it distinctly has a "Ward Traveler" emblem on the front. That's all I can tell. I haven't talked to the owner (yet), but my GF operates a specialty machine (tool and die cutting) shop, so fabricating out of production parts like kingpins wouldn't be a problem. She likes the idea of saving the bus, has the resources to do it, and the labor (me) if it truly is a classic.

Thanks,

Doug
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« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2009, 07:13:13 AM »

Doug, there was a schoolbus manufacturer named Ward, typical body on chassis.  If you can, please post a couple of pictures -- we may be able to identify the vehicle.

Arthur
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Arthur Gaudet    Carrollton (Dallas area) Texas 
1968 PD-4107

Working in the bus industry provides us a great opportunity - to be of service to others
PADoug
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« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2009, 05:57:41 PM »

Thanks Arthur. Spoke with the owner this afternoon. It is for sale. All the plates inside indicate it is a 1972 Ward. Nothing says GMC, even in the engine compartment. 8v71 4-speed stick with backward shift pattern, but no reverse solenoid, thank goodness! Very nice roomy 2 BR type layout. Sorry no pics. Just needs a little updating and cleaning from sitting a couple years.  I don't think he'll mind the exterior pics, they are just free advertising for him. Besides, I told him I'd have someone check on it for me if I decide to buy. The only thing he knows is that the mechanical parts he bought for it were easily available ( 1-3  day order times max) from either of two local truck parts suppliers.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2009, 05:59:13 PM by PADoug » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2009, 07:17:52 AM »

Doug, the photos have me leaning toward Ward Body Company, formerly of Austin TX, a schoolbus manufacturer.  When I started driving transits & coaches, we also had a bunch of schoolbuses - about every manufacturer.  The photo of the front end, with the profile of the piece above the windshield, looks vaguely familiar. 

Some schoolbus manufacturers tried to get into the transit & coach markets, with "upscale" vehicles.  Notably, Bluebird, Thomas.  Superior tried to get into the transit bus market.  I ran a small fleet of them when I was GM of an Ohio system, and Superiors were inferior. 

I really don't know much about Ward, so I can't be sure.  There is an additional hint when the owner says he can run down to the local auto parts store for many of the parts - that also hints on body on chassis - as does a reverse shift pattern. 

I'm scratching my head about the 8V71, that sure seems like too much power & weight for what I suspect the vehicle really is.  See if it's really a 6-71, or 6V-71.  If it's a 53-series engine, you may really want to think hard - the 53 series weren't known for durability.

Arthur 
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Arthur Gaudet    Carrollton (Dallas area) Texas 
1968 PD-4107

Working in the bus industry provides us a great opportunity - to be of service to others
poppi
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mci 8 L10 ZF tranmission; helena




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« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2009, 07:30:24 AM »


 For fun I did some research so take it with a grain of salt.

 Product models used:

  Ford B700 chassis
  International 3800 chassis
  International 1700/1800 chassis
  GMC B series chassis

 So could be a reworked GMC for school bus purposes Smiley then an RV oh boy howdy what a path Smiley

   Was taken over by Navistar and became IC Corperation in 2002.

 Skip
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PADoug
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Squirrels store food in bus. Are they bus nuts?




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« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2009, 09:22:21 AM »

Thanks Arthur. As far as weight is concerned, there are two massive frame rails running down the lower middle of it, easily viewable with the baggage doors up. They look to be similar in size to many older semi-trailer frames, so you get an idea of the weight. As a result, the baggage compartments are smaller than what you would expect. to me, it indicates a heavier coach, but I will go look at the engine again. It's a "v", but I may have overcounted the cylinders. He says it will do 70mph no problem.

>>So could be a reworked GMC for school bus purposes  then an RV oh boy howdy what a path<<

Skip,

My thoughts too. Only my guess was that Like Arthur's suspicions, I'm thinking it was Ward's attempt to get into the high end market, but failed.  It is a very nice coach despite being run-down, it's quarks, rust, and age.  I like it, but I may pass in favor of an MCI-9. Or else I'll see if someone around here has an Allison auto hanging around.

If nothing else, it confirmed my idea of an extended 2-room layout is on target. The Significant Other still can't understand why I want two bedrooms-one being an optional study/office. I think she prefers 1 bedroom, large bath, large kitchen (I think she LIKES the comfort of cooking odors and coffee wafting through the house.) and of course seated/living area. Simple and elegant. I may loose here. I like to eat.

Thanks guys.

Doug
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« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2009, 09:38:14 AM »


 Well if you are really up for some abuse Smiley

  You might have a good canidate for slide outs with those frame rails to work with

  good luck remember like any big game hunter the fun is in the hunting. After the purchase (shot)
 the real work begins  Grin

  Skip
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« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2009, 04:09:01 PM »

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...If nothing else, it confirmed my idea of an extended 2-room layout is on target. The Significant Other still can't understand why I want two bedrooms-one being an optional study/office. I think she prefers 1 bedroom, large bath, large kitchen (I think she LIKES the comfort of cooking odors and coffee wafting through the house.) and of course seated/living area. Simple and elegant. I may loose here. I like to eat.

Thanks guys.

Doug

Not sure why you would want a second bedroom.  Deleting the office enclosure allows for the fixtures to be dual purposed.  The printer enclosure in the main space will likely be used for an occasional table when not enclosed in a too small office.

If the appointments and engine are good I vote for the unusual over the usual.  Good luck on whatever you choose.

Mike
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« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2009, 09:34:06 PM »

This is one (in Francophone Canada) made by Wayne, also a school bus manufacturer:
http://wwww.busfanplace.com/view.php?pict=picken.jpg

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« Last Edit: June 24, 2009, 09:37:43 PM by Iceni John » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2009, 06:49:25 AM »

Doug, the second bedroom makes a lot of sense.  We're converting our second bedroom to a sitting/bedroom area, sort of a lounge that we can also use as a bedroom.  On our first trip, we took my mother-in-law, enough said about the need for a second bedroom.  If you might ever bring others, (family, friends, kids) they'll need a place to sleep - away from the common areas.

Side story.  We picked the coach up in New Hampshire, then took my mother-in-law from Massachusetts to eastern New Brunswick.  The first night out, we put up in Houlton, Maine.  She had the second bedroom.  The next morning, Phyllis and I got up, no M-I-L.  M-I-L normally wakes early, so by 8AM or so I was starting to wonder whether Houlton has a 9-1-1 system, and how we get the body back to Massachusetts.  Of course, I didn't mention any of this to Phyllis.  A little after 8, either the M-I-L woke, or Phyllis woke her.  She commented that she hadn't slept so soundly, or so late, in a long time. 

The first question I'd suggest, though, is whether a body-on-chassis (glorified schoolbus), transit, or highway coach meets your own goals.  From what I've read, if you're going back-country, the higher ground clearance of a schoolbus may be helpful. 

Transits and coaches are air ride, while most(all?) schoolbuses are spring ride.  Look into the suspension of the Ward.  It may be air ride, but I think it's more likely to be spring ride.  If you're going to do a fair amount of travelling, air ride (transit/coach) is better.  Transits are generally geared lower, so coaches are better for highway travelling.

When schoolbus manufacturers got into the transit/coach business, their marketing position was the "bus" appearance at a lower price.  Since I'm in transit, I think in terms of Federal Transit Administration useful life -- 3, 7, 10, 12 years.  The body on chassis vehicles are on the lower end of that spectrum, while monococque construction, purpose built, is on the higher end.

I just completed a 4-month analysis/decision process for a new car.  Beyond my basic absolutes, many other things were trade-offs.  Ride quality and durability were two of the factors.

So, possibly, an analysis of how you intend to use the vehicle, and a decision tree of trade-offs might be the first step.

Arthur   
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Arthur Gaudet    Carrollton (Dallas area) Texas 
1968 PD-4107

Working in the bus industry provides us a great opportunity - to be of service to others
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« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2009, 07:03:31 AM »

They had a photo of that unit on the wall at the Arkansas plant when I toured it several ago  I was told they made 3 units from their own design and fabrication and dropped it because of a deal with BlueBird .

good luck
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PADoug
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« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2009, 09:03:46 AM »

Clifford,

THAT was the info I was looking for. Many thanks!  Cheesy Now the question is, does that qualify it as some sort of one-of-a-kind worth saving, or scrapping. I spoke to Mike M earlier, he had seen the bus. He liked it and says it's worth saving. Very nice, but by his estimates 4mpg highway tops (Very heavy, 8v71) It might be a bit expensive to run (I'm thinking in comparison MCI/Prevost at 5.5-6.5 mpg with standard gearing). However, Mike's estimates may be conservative. If it will run to the governor at 70+mpg, then perhaps fuel consumption will be better, and easier on the engine, which is the bigger cost/consideration IMNSHO. Oh, and yes, it has air everything on it, including an air clutch, which "the owner" admits could be a bit tricky to DTS at times. If I can master a backwards 4-speed stick; then I'm sure I'd do fine with an air clutch. Gonna go look at it again soon, perhaps late next week. Thanks guys!

Modified: Mike never mentioned the air clutch to me, the owner did. I put the correction in quotes.  Many thanks!
« Last Edit: June 27, 2009, 10:19:49 AM by PADoug » Logged

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Charles in SC
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« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2009, 07:01:49 PM »

I have a GMC New Look (Fishbowl) some very similar units were made by Flexible in Canada that had a windshield like the one you have pictured here. Could Ward have been a converter that converted a Flexible? I am just thinking out loud.
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« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2009, 09:02:29 AM »

A couple of folks - here and elsewhere - have mentioned Flxible, which does make sense if you look at the flat windshield glass.  Charles, that's a good eye.  However, there is danger in thinking that because it looks like something else, parts from the something else will fit.  To my eye, many cars from different manufacturers look alike, but the parts from a Nissan won't fit a Toyota.    

The photos do show some Fishbowl, or New Look styling points, so perhaps a little Fishbowl history may help.    

General Motors designed and built the Fishbowl (or New Look), built from 1959 to 1976 in Pontiac, Michigan, with production continuing in London, Ontario and St. Eustache, Quebec - into the early 80's - when the St. Eustache plant transitioned to the "Classic".  I bought a small fleet of Fishbowls in the late 70's, they came from Ontario.

As a result of an antitrust case/consent decree, GM designs (Detroit engines, transverse mounting, angle drive transmission, etc.) were made available to competitors - who then developed competing buses.

Flxible developed its Fishbowl in 1961.  Built in Loudonville, Ohio (old Twin Coach plant) and Delaware, Ohio, these were the main competitors to the GM Fishbowl.

Western Flyer also built it's version of a "New Look", as did Mack, Canadian Car, AM General, and others.

Visually, the Flxible most resembled the GM.  To the casual viewer/passenger, many would not know the difference.

All these vehicles are monocoque construction - think the "integral body" autos of previous decades.  They don't have a frame as such.  That's why, in other threads, people suggest not cutting a hole in the roof - if not done right, the engine may fall out.

Why did I go into all this?   The Ward we're talking about was another effort, by another company.  Ward was a schoolbus manufacturer.  Although I'm not familiar with the specific vehicle, schoolbuses (exclude Crown and Gillig) are body on chassis vehicles.  Buy someone's (GM, Ford, International, Dodge) chassis, and plunk a body down on it.

So, despite its resemblance to a Flxible, or perhaps anything else, it's probably a very unique vehicle.  

You may gain commonality if they used a common chassis.  Axle parts, suspension parts, Detroit Diesel, maybe even lights - possibly from NAPA or the Schoolbus suppliers.  It might even be possible to plunk the body down on a new chassis - as some fire departments do with pickup-truck based ambulances.
    
However, if you need to replace a dented, curved body panel, you'd want to know a good metal fabricator.  You wouldn't be able to go the bus junkyard and salvage one (like I'm trying to do with the radiator cover for the 4107).

If, indeed, the glass is flat, that may be a benefit (my 4107 windshields are on backorder, but they're still available.  I daresay you wouldn't be able to get a windshield for a Mack New Look.

Clifford says they built only three of these.  That uniqueness could be a blessing or a curse.  You'd be the only kid on your block to have one.  The first two buses that Neoplan built at it's Colorado plant went to Lynchburg, Virginial - and each one was unique (even though they were supposed to be identical).  Think of these three as prototypes - so I'd suspect each one is/was different.

To conclude the New Look history, in the late 1970's the Feds sponsored a competition for the Advanced Design Bus.  GM, Rohr/Flxible, and AM General each built 2 - their versions of the "Transbus".  The program was unsuccessful, but led to the GM RTS, and the Flxible 870 (later Metro).    

Arthur
« Last Edit: June 27, 2009, 09:18:50 AM by Runcutter » Logged

Arthur Gaudet    Carrollton (Dallas area) Texas 
1968 PD-4107

Working in the bus industry provides us a great opportunity - to be of service to others
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