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Author Topic: Buses in general  (Read 6573 times)
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« on: January 22, 2011, 03:55:24 PM »

  Being rather new digging into Buses, I have become more interested in some of the other makes, ones I really have no knowledge of. For example, I recently started looking more at Prevosts and Eagles, which are more of a foriegn made Bus, or at least started out that way. Then you have the Vanhools and Setras, etc......

  My first and primary interest is low cost and easy maintenence with good parts availability. While I dont have a clue about any of these other makes, I simply assume they would be more difficult to service and repair than would an MCI or GMC, but thats possibly not fair. My second interest, and for many its is more primary, is looks and style. Does it look modern, sharp, and the like.

  There is a newer thread about an older Eagle, a rare early model. It not only has a windshield that is unobtanium, the ZF gearbox may be as well. But beyond all that, how much different are they all from one another? Except for the GMC's, they are all metal skin over tube frame constuction, and repairs or reconstruction wouldnt vary a great deal from make to make. Most have Detroits, especially the older units, so the engines are more or less common to one another as well. But what about the running gear, such as brakes, hubs, air bags, steering components, steering gears, differentials etc., do they all use the same stuff? IOW, is a Prevost going to be anymore expensive or difficult to own than an MCI?
   
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« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2011, 05:07:05 PM »

Prevost buses are still in production and Prevost seems to have a pretty good parts selection for their older buses.  Prevost is the bus of choice these days for entertainer buses.  Prevost buses are made in Canada, but they have factory service centers in the USA.

Prevost buses are starting to show up a lot more in the passenger bus category.  Greyhound is buying some Prevost buses now after being an almost exclusive MCI customer for years.

You'll likely have no more issues getting parts or service for a Prevost than an MCI.  GMC parts are still somewhat plentiful, but they will get harder to find over time since production ended in the 70s.
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« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2011, 05:25:50 PM »

Talking about 'foreign' buses generally (and this applies to the Van Hools you mention for instance) - one of the principle differences between these and the domestic US makes is the fact that foreign buses often consist of a chassis from one manufacturer and a body from another. This is just the way the industry has traditionally operated in Europe, and means that even today chassis'd buses still form a significant portion of the marketplace here, unlike the States where monocoque construction has been the norm for decades. When looking for a bus to convert I personally was specifically looking for one with a separate chassis - but that's mostly because of the slide-outs I intended to install.

The other difference with foreign buses is of course the vastly greater choice of makes and models to choose from - it's this competition between makes which (dare I say it) has led to the vehicles often being superior than those available in the States. Having said that - although there are many competing makes here, they will frequently share the same Volvo / DAF / MAN / Scania etc chassis and running gear package - so there is probably much more mechanical commonality than you would imagine. This is true both between makes, and within markets - in other words, a VDL, a Bova and a Plaxton might all be built on a Volvo chassis and have Volvo/ZF mechanicals if being specified by a British customer, but those same three buses would have a Nissan or Mitsubishi chassis and running gear if they'd been ordered by a Japanese customer. And of course those few European bus builders who sell to the States will usually offer a Detroit / Allison mechanical package.

Then, as well as the body/chassis/mechanicals issue, just about every European bus is available in multiple lengths, multiple heights and multiple body styles, and also have a choice between rear or mid-engined layouts for instance....the permutations are many. My bus is a Plaxton Paramount - but that name covers everything from 8m-long single-deckers right up to 13m double-deckers - all available on many different chassis, with mid or rear engines, and two or three axles.

Jeremy

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« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2011, 09:08:42 PM »

"My second interest, and for many its is more primary, is looks and style." 

So you like the look of driving a shoe box, than forget about the old GMC's with their style.  You'll blend in with every other S&S if you stick with the newer look buses.
Owner of both a GMC 4905 and two Scenicruiser PD-4501's 
When travel by bus was something to get dressed up for.
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« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2011, 09:35:12 PM »

scenicruiser997:

I love your line " When travel by bus was something to get dressed up for " .
 Being a self employed guy that wears " don't give a crap " jeans and shirts 6 1/2 days a week cuz I'm either working or might need to and don't want to take the time to change,  I do make an effort to wear my Sunday morning close when we travel in the bus.  I take a lot of pride in our ride and don't wanna get off somewhere looking like a rag bag outfit.  I keep a set of clothes if I gotta get serious but my bus time is time I know I'm not going to work.
Abstract but caught my attention
thanks
Bill in KS
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« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2011, 09:36:16 PM »

I posted this on that thread for the Eagle, it is worth it to me just to cut and paste:

Interesting bus... Too rare?

"If you are on a tight budget I would narrow the search to GM. There are lots of good GM conversions out there ready to go for some great prices. As with any conversion, just avoid the butcher jobs that would be more trouble to fix than it's worth. Some are saying parts will become a problem, but I am not seeing that being an issue anytime soon. GM buses are so inexpensive and plentiful now you can buy a complete running bus, and take the part you need off cheaper than you can buy just the part alone for some others makes. Even current manufactures, have in some cases, or will, discontinue support for parts on their vintage bus models as time goes on. The consumable parts that you will need for a GM (and others) are mostly generic stuff that can be found at any truck parts counter (If you need to worry about something, do it over the cost of fuel. That will park all of us sooner than the lack of bus parts. Also a common problem to all makes is finding a mechanic that has ever turned a wrench on a two stroke diesel). GM made the most over engineered bus ever. Just like vintage airplanes, they can be rebuilt forever, as long as you don't screw up the frame. The shear number of 4104s still running around is testament to that. I think that the SS Mci and Prevost buses are old enough to look dated now, so modern looks are no longer the deciding factor for buses of that era. I love all buses equally, but I own a GM mostly because I am also on a tight budget. I own a 4106 w/V730 because I like to go play where the big boys are not allowed to.  Grin  My $0.02 worth."
« Last Edit: January 22, 2011, 09:52:36 PM by Barn Owl » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2011, 09:46:12 PM »

Jeremy, when I was traveling around Mexico two years ago I was on a variety of buses, all of which seemed to have Mexican or Brazilian bodies with Volvo, Scania, Mercedes or MAN running gear.   I'm curious to know if these buses, bodied by Irizar, Marco Polo, Busscar and many other companies, are integral construction like most in USA and with front and rear axle/driveline subframes supplied by their running gear manufacturer, or are they instead more like the traditional British construction of a complete drivable chassis/axles/engine/transmission unit that has a separate non-load-bearing body attached to it locally?   Inside the luggage bays I could often see some longitudinal member, but I don't know if it was a full-length frame (like on my bus) or merely a covering for AC ducts or pipes/hoses/etc.   Maybe the folk here with Dinas can tell us if their buses are a frameless integral design or something different.

My impression of the Mexican bus system is overwhelmingly positive.   Their bus terminals, such as the ADO facilities in Quintana Roo and the four big terminals in Mexico City, are generally clean, well-patrolled by police and/or army, and the entire reservation system is slick and effective.   For example, from Cancun to Playa del Carmen the buses run every ten minutes, on the dot (like Swiss or Dutch trains), they are clean, comfortable, keep to the 95 KM/H law with an alarm that sounds if they go any faster, and ADO's buses even have seatbelts at every seat.   From Aguascalientes I took the Primera Plus service to Mexico City which was a brand-new Volvo 9700 that seated only about 30 passengers (lots of legroom);  it even had separate men's and women's loos, and a small galley for hot and cold drinks and snacks.   I hate to say it, but Grayhound has a looooong way to go before they can offer service like that!

I'm also fascinated by buses from around the world.   I've travelled in many Mercedes O302s through Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan, some clapped-out old American school bus (not a Crown, unfortunately!) across the Khyber Pass, old Bedfords in Pakistan, the ubiquitous Tatas in India and Nepal, and countless others elsewhere, and I love them all!   Apart from my bus, my favorite may be a Bristol FLF Lodekka with the wonderful 6-cylinder Gardner, or an old AEC Reliance doing almost 90 MPH down hill on a school trip to Brighton, or the magnificent Routemaster, or a Saurer towing a passenger trailer up the Grossglockner Pass in Austria, or countless other memorable trips short and long.   Yes, I love them all!

John
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« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2011, 09:49:08 PM »

A parking lot with oodles of high dollar machines with swishy paint jobs causes yawns. Pull your vintage bus in and a line forms wanting to see it, so help me it's a people magnet. Some of my family's longest trip delays have been from having to give tours of Wheezy Bus. If you want to blend in save your money and go with the new stuff, but the cool stuff is all vintage.  Cool
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« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2011, 10:46:18 PM »

A parking lot with oodles of high dollar machines with swishy paint jobs causes yawns. Pull your vintage bus in and a line forms wanting to see it, so help me it's a people magnet. Some of my family's longest trip delays have been from having to give tours of Wheezy Bus. If you want to blend in save your money and go with the new stuff, but the cool stuff is all vintage.  Cool



I think a lot like you! Classic gets attention no matter what your in bus, car or boat Wink
When I see a classic I look.
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« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2011, 11:06:08 PM »

This is one of the many reasons I like my AMGeneral (except for the windshield, again).  It uses all universal parts that I haven't had any problems getting.  It uses 12vdc, has all mechanical switches and solenoids, not one piece of electronics (except for the King Cruise), and I can work on most all the components.  It is a semi monocoque design with a small frame running the length.  Just choose which bus with which drive train you want to deal with.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2011, 02:52:11 AM »

Jeremy, when I was traveling around Mexico two years ago I was on a variety of buses, all of which seemed to have Mexican or Brazilian bodies with Volvo, Scania, Mercedes or MAN running gear.   I'm curious to know if these buses, bodied by Irizar, Marco Polo, Busscar and many other companies, are integral construction like most in USA and with front and rear axle/driveline subframes supplied by their running gear manufacturer, or are they instead more like the traditional British construction of a complete drivable chassis/axles/engine/transmission unit that has a separate non-load-bearing body attached to it locally?  
John


John:

I understand exactly what you mean about 'subframes', but I've never seen such things being offered by the manufacturers. If you go to the chassis builder's websites all they seem to offer are full chassis - however as you can see from the photos below, the bus body certainly can't be thought of as 'non-load bearing' with any of these:

Scania: (Notice the temporary stiffening - obviously it does rely on the body for most of it's stiffness - I'm sure that's true of most of them in fact)




MAN:




Mercedes: (looks really flimsy - essentially just two subframes held together for convenience)



Volvo: (looks much more beefy than the others, but that's just because it's mid-engined I think)




Jeremy
« Last Edit: January 23, 2011, 02:57:49 AM by Jeremy » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2011, 05:39:59 AM »

I noticed that in the discussion of buses in general here the eagle seemed to come off badly here because it was represented as a rare model with an unusual parts availability, I know nothing but according to cody, (correct as needed) the model that was discussed was a model 07, a model 10, 15, or 20 would have a no worse availability of parts than any other bus make, I think the eagle is viable in the market place as any other bus brand and might even have advantages over others, the torslastic suspension doesn't require airing up, won't blow an air bag or sag unless the adjustment is gone or wrong, the idea of rust will crop up but like any other bus can be an issue, check with Busted Knuckle, he has an MCI with a rusted out engine cradle.  For many years the eagle was the choice of entertainers as their personal ride, now prevost has taken over that role but we've often been asked at the gate of many of the music fests we've been to who we had onboard that is famous, cody usually just tells them it's teh Swedish Bikini Team. Another thing to keep in mind is the metal on the outside of the eagle isn't critical to the strenght of the unit, you can actually drive one down the road with the skin off the bus, most other brands would fold if you attempted that.  Eagle should be conciced as a viable choice but like any other bus examine any bus carefully to make sure it's what you want.
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« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2011, 07:19:52 AM »

I love the style of a really old bus, pre-1960, but I would shy away due to my fear of chassis problems related to the amount of maintenance that would have had to have been done on it after it's commercial life.  I bought my bus, a 1980, with the knowledge that if nothing else it had been maintained in commercial service for 20 plus years, and spend 8 years with one guy who frankly hadn't had the time to screw it up, since most of the time he had it was spent installing RV systems and plywood walls and such...  He put less than 30K miles on it.

I find my MC-5C really very handsome, but not pretty.  I find a 1957 Flxible Starliner to be pretty, cute, some bordering on beautiful!  I find a later model Prevost to be impressive and elegant.  I find Eagles, a bus that I have never seen except as a conversion, to be imposing but (and I'm probably wrong) I don't find it's construction methodology to be impressive, and I can't imagine owning one (sorry, just my thought).  I find the newer buses, the post-1995's, so have such a similar, ubiquitous look that I can hardly tell them apart on the road.  I don't find them calling out to me.  I spent a couple of weeks in England last year and I found the diversity of city and OTR buses just fascinating.  Watching a Volvo, Setra, Mercedes navigate the center of London or the B-roads in the heart of furthest Cornwall was awe-inspiring and the buses had a unique look to them.

I had to buy, for my purposes and goals, a bus that was in good mechanical nick, usable almost as is, licensed as an RV in Ontario, with good parts availability, and 35' or less.  That meant a converted late model MC-5C MCI, although I didn't know it at the time, and that's what I have.  I'm sure that if I had come across a similar setup in some other model I'd be as thrilled with it as I am with my bus.  Bonus - my wife loves it!

Brian
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« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2011, 08:33:46 AM »

Artvonne,

your first criteria for a bus is "low cost". Running a bus is not "low cost". You may buy one cheap, but fixing it and maintaining it and putting fuel in it isn't going to be cheap. I suppose everyone's definition of low cost is different, but running a bus is definitely higher cost than say a VW van. Wether we have a 50 year old rusty antique, or a million dollar Prevost, it is a pleasurable luxury that isn't necessary. Of course full timing in a bus is more justifiable. When we were kids, our parents put the tent and a Coleman stove in the trunk of the car, and we had just as much fun, in a different way. I am not condemning our hobby, I love it myself.

The way you do your maintenance and repairs will greatly affect the cost of ownership. I hope you can do most of it yourself to keep it "low cost".

JC
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« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2011, 09:28:50 AM »

I'm just glad that my MCI 7 was an Arizona bus. I am sure that any make of bus that lived in the more northern climates has corrosion issues. As far as air suspension goes, when I converted mine over to the rolling lobe bags I saw several tell tale clues that led me to believe that half of the bags on my 38 year old bus were originals. I do not ever expect to replace the ones I have now. I also like the normal T drive position of my MCI and others versus drop boxes, reverse rotation, and various other systems employed in some other makes and the fact that it is a mui 8v-71. If I had my druthers I would more than likely look more along the lines of a Prevost just because I like their looks and the possibilites of slides being incorporated into it. But this is what I purchased because of it's proximity to me, it's cost and it's condition.
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