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Author Topic: Why did all buses come with detroits?  (Read 2825 times)
NonHippieBus
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« on: May 18, 2013, 07:38:27 PM »

 Why did every major North American coach manufacturer I can think of offer their product exclusively with Detroit Diesel 2-strokes from the 1950s until the 1990s?  MCI, GM, Prevost, Eagle et al.

Are there exceptions to this? 

Lots of interest in repowers on this board.  But Cummins and Cats have been available to OEMs for many years, but as far as I know none were factory installed until the last 20 years.

What do you think?
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TomC
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« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2013, 10:11:25 PM »

Actually, the first Eagles had Cummins NH262 turbo's (if I remember correctly) in them before Detroits. The 6V-53, 4-71, 6-71, 6V-71, 6V-92TA, 8V-71, 8V-92TA, 12V-71 were all used at one time in a bus or two. The 12V-71 with 4 spd was the original engine in the MC-6.

With both Grayhound and Continental Trailways having Detroits, all other buses just followed suit. And back in the 40's, 50's, 60's, and 70's, there wasn't another engine as compact and as powerful as the 2 stroke Detroits. Plus, they are very forgiving considering all the buses had manuals (except transit buses) well into the 80's. Hence a small injector Detroit could put up with a lot of abuse from driver's that really didn't care how they drove (Cummins tried the VT903 with not very good results). Once the Allison transmissions came into play, then the engines started to increase in power since the driver's no longer could lug the engine. Also, with electronic controls and high pressure turbocharging, the 4 stroke engines took over-mainly since the 2 stroke engines are no longer available since they were stopped being produced for the public in 1998. A 60 year run with an engine that you could have bought it almost exactly like it was in 1938 as it was in 1998 when production was stopped. Example-the 1938 6-71 produced 165hp at 1800rpm. In 1998 you could still buy a non turbocharged 6-71 with a continuous horsepower rating of 180hp at 1800rpm. An unbelievable series of engines with almost unlimited versatility-of which we'll never see again. What other Diesel engine do you know that could be produced in a 1-71 putting out around 30hp all the way up to the 24V-71TTA at 1800hp at 2,300rpm? Good Luck, TomC
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Tom & Donna Christman. '77 AMGeneral 10240B; 8V-71TATAIC V730.
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« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2013, 12:41:34 AM »

TomC is correct and a funny for me, when I installed the 12V-71 in the MC7, it was very clear the install worked out very well for the 12V, it appeared the engine area was designed for the MC6 12V engine, fit like a glove.
Cummins supplied the V-555 to BlueBird school/transit types, even though they tried, the V-555 never was a favorite for anyone.
Like TomC mentioned, Detroit, made engines fit what ever you needed, staying with the 71 series, the  parts manuals for the inline 71 series is about 3' thick.
The DDC engines have been a favorite of mine for many years, oh yes, Cat & Cummins trained too, but I am happier with the old junk DDC stuff, they are so easy to make run nice.
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« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2013, 04:08:40 AM »

Lots of history on this. There were many coach companies back in the day. Gas and diesel was plentiful and relatively cheap. Alot of gas powered units were used. As buses got bigger and needed more power GM had all the knowledge and wherewithall including the manpower and assylines after the big war. Greyhound and GM went partners to the point of exclusive and many called foul. There was an anti-trust lawsuit filed and won. Most everybody wanted what the big dog ran and they bought them. Too bad we lost some cool coach companies. Not a real completre answer but its a large subject lol.   
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« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2013, 04:25:44 AM »

The detroit two cycle was the only engine that put out enough heat to heat the bus.
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« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2013, 05:20:32 AM »

Most was because of head room in the back, Eagles you always had a choice of engines but operators and Trailways valued the head room with a flat floor plus they were not a bad engine or GreyHound and Trailways would have changed, the old 2 strokes are 75 years old and still going strong  Roll Eyes Took the EPA and the state of Ca to make the bus lines stop using the 2 stroke,  

A pitful sight when you see a new MCI 4500 at F/J filling up with natural gas I saw that at Baytown TX F/J at Thomson Rd on Friday could not believe my eyes I guess it's the future Pilot/FJ are spending tons of cash betting on it 100+ of their truck stops are supposed to have natural gas refilling stations by years end + another 100 by the end of 2014
« Last Edit: May 19, 2013, 06:01:35 AM by luvrbus » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2013, 08:24:07 AM »

Yes we have many natural gas buses running here including the MCI buses. The compressed natural gas tanks take up the rear most cargo compartment. I believe the capacity to be around 100gal diesel equivalent. Since there is currently only one engine approved for California, that would be the Cummins ISLg putting out a maximum of 320hp and 1,000lb/ft torque. The buses perform very well-that is when they are running. At Freightliner, we have many natural gas buses and trucks in the shop with blown engines. As usual, Cummins didn't do a complete job at converting the ISL Diesel to natural gas. The cast aluminum deep dish pistons (to lower compression) have a tendency to get holes punched in them, and just plainly melt down. The cylinder head gasket goes frequently. The main thing is the one piece exhaust manifold. Because of the high exhaust heat, as compared to the Diesel, the rear cylinder manifold cracks, then will take out the cylinder head also. Many times the turbo cracks also. Usually about a $7,000.00 repair bill.

Next Cummins is coming out with the ISX12g with power up to 400hp and 1450lb/ft torque-more suitable for truck use. Freightliner is designing this engine into the short hood Cascadia that can be a day cab, 48" mid top sleeper, 60" mid or high top sleeper, 72" mid or high top sleeper. With the sleepers there will be a 5 tank stack cabinet behind the cab plus two chassis mounted torpedo tanks. About a 180gal Diesel equivalent capacity. With the natural gas getting about 5mpg (compared to the Diesels getting 7-8mpg), the 90% usuable range will be about 800 miles. Enough for about a day and a half of single driver driving. The ISXg 12 will first be available only with the Allison 4000, then later with any of the manual or automated transmissions.

Personally-I'll stick with Diesels. There are still emissions on the natural gas that are not even regulated that Diesels don't produce. Good Luck, TomC
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Tom & Donna Christman. '77 AMGeneral 10240B; 8V-71TATAIC V730.
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« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2013, 08:34:55 AM »

My apologies to the OP for contributing to the thread drift but roughly how long does it take to fill those 7 tanks Tom?  I have a little experience with handling compressed gas and I think the fuel industry is headed for a tankfull of trouble on this one.  Temperature compensation, metering problems, slow pumpiing issues - I'll stick with diesel too.
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« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2013, 09:06:14 AM »

The 3 KW's I saw at Cole's dealership were 475 hp with 1750 ft lbs of torque 15L with just 2 side tanks they were Westport/Cummins they looked like a ISX to me and they were being delivered to FedX maybe no more overnight shipping lol
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« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2013, 09:37:30 AM »

I had experience with some old airport tugs converted to natural gas.  I think they were originally gasoline powered, but not really sure.  They had six or eight tanks mounted behind the driver with a section of railroad track welded to the front to keep the wheels on the ground.  Anyhow, they took 10 to 15 minutes to fuel each time.  I have no idea if better equipment could reduce that time now.  The bad part is all those tanks still had less capacity than the original gas tank.  We could go a full day on gasoline, but maybe 2/3 day on natural gas.

The good news is no more engine problems after converting to natural gas.

I would love a natural gas powered car, if there was any place to fuel it.  Right now I am aware of one public CNG pump in the entire Minneapolis metro area.
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« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2013, 03:04:40 PM »

This is a great natural gas thread now

 Huh
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HB of CJ
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« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2013, 03:56:04 PM »

Didn't Trailways try out the air cooled 4 stroke V8 Deutz diesel for their mountain routes?  If memory serves, (always suspect!) the repowers failed to deliver enough power, or overheated, or failed to properly heat the interior, or all three or something like that.  HB of CJ (old coot)
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« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2013, 04:30:20 PM »

We do drift  Undecided but to answer the question Eagles could have Man,M/B,Cat,Cummins or Detroit since the late 50's they even gave the Ford turbine engine a try in the 70's MCI offered different engines sometimes in 80's 

Buses were built for your 2 largest people mover Trailways and Greyhound I am sure if they wanted a different engine it would have happen as they controlled the market for the manufacturing   
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« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2013, 05:27:11 PM »

This is a great natural gas thread now

 Huh
Basic question was answered by TomC first out of the gate after your question.
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« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2013, 05:55:09 PM »

One important fact about our DDC engines, They are easy to start  and go to work, that has not been true with Cat nor Cummins 50 yrs ago. So they just became the standard.
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« Reply #15 on: May 19, 2013, 06:32:03 PM »

Hi All, there was a PBS special, they talked about Wash DC, Congress was about ready to break up GM, they decided to ask American Motors to build a city buss for DC, but they couldn't come up with engines that didn't break down frequently, it was the predessor of american general when they added gm power trains, I have a CNG, compressed natural gas dedicated, F250 (meaning it only uses CNG, not a bifuel), GGE, Gas Gallon Equivalent, is roughly the same, nat gas to gasoline, roughly the same time to fill up, faster at 3600psi than 3000psi, mine is a great truck if it wasn't for the Ford 5.4 ltr engine that spits out spark plugs, lvmci...
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« Reply #16 on: May 19, 2013, 07:02:51 PM »

Clifford, you said, "Pilot/FJ are spending tons of cash betting on it 100+ of their truck stops are supposed to have natural gas refilling stations by years end + another 100 by the end of 2014"!
Pilot/Flying J seems to be in a heap 'O' trouble with the feds, their offices were raided April 15th by the FBI  and IRS. Supposedly they were not paying rebates like they were supposed to. I suspect the real reason is that they have probably run afoul of the anti-trust provisions of the Pilot and Flying J merger. Just my guess!
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« Reply #17 on: May 19, 2013, 08:05:20 PM »

You have to also remember the massive manufacturing capability that GM had for decades.  With the hound and Trailways ordering hundreds of buses,  General Motors Diesel Div., (later Detroit Diesel div.) had the capacity to produce the engines above all others.
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« Reply #18 on: May 19, 2013, 08:19:58 PM »

Could it be that the 2 cycle D.D. was invented for WWII tanks. I read that it was designed so that you could get maximum power in the smallest possible space and use less the flameable diesel, instead of gasoline. Then after the war, there was a surplus of these engines and all of the manufacturing capability was there.  So, the market at the time was long haul buses, such as Greyhound. 

Has anyone more info on this ?  Harry Gilbow
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« Reply #19 on: May 19, 2013, 08:48:34 PM »

I do not know if the Detroit 671 was specifically designed for WW2 Tanks or not, (too small) but it did seem to power just about everything a horrible World War needed in stuff that needed to be powered....all the way from dinky hand held pavement polisher/smoothers, (still big) all the way to twin quad, (later quad quad?) 671 DDs powering a very large, very slow ocean going LST (landing ship..tank)

Cummins had a pancake 743 and earlier smaller models that was used in lots of the smaller, less known coach manufactures like Crown Supercoach, Mack, White, Gillig and others.  The mill was just laided 70-80 degress on its left side.  Very flat, thus the nickname "pancake motor".  My old Crown Supercoach had one.

White had a flat 12.  Hall Scott and International also had many "flat" gas engines designed to fit under a bus floor.  Years ago I got to drive all three with the Kern High School District in CA starting in the year 1969 or sooss.  Rumour had it DD designed their pancake mill for a large school district to use in their Crown fleet instead of using the excellent pancake Cummins.

Actually, I think DD had a pancake version before the CA school bus rumour, as well as weird applications like the engine upside down, up on one end, or with clutches on both ends.  Our Fire apparatus had two starters on the DDs for some unknown reason.

Seems lots of different mills were tried in coaches.  DD was probably the major player because, like Cummins, they had all that huge WW2 manufacturing capacity left over from WW2...and that the DD was, (is still?) a very compact adaptable design still working worldwide.  DDs are soooss cool.  HB of CJ (old coot) Smiley Smiley Smiley  Sorry abouts speeeling

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« Reply #20 on: May 19, 2013, 09:25:27 PM »

Cummins makes a pancake engine based on their KTA block (1150cu/in) and putting out 750hp. Made for self powered railroad passenger cars-typically two to each.

Yes Cummins makes a dual fuel ISX15 that actually works quite well. But-in California, CARB (California Air Resource Board) doesn't recognize the dual fuel engine as a true natural gas engine since it can run on 100% Diesel if it runs out of natural gas. Dual fuel engines have been around for many years. Sewage pumping plants used them using the methane from the waste to run the engines (90% methane 10% Diesel to fire it). Good Luck, TomC
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Tom & Donna Christman. '77 AMGeneral 10240B; 8V-71TATAIC V730.
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« Reply #21 on: May 20, 2013, 07:05:43 AM »

We don't thread drift at all here...ever. So anyone know how to fix my headlight? It's burnt out.  Huh   Ok, no really, I must say, as we travel and tour, we meet a lot of older gents who fondly recall the "screamin jimmys". Just talked to one this past weekend. Something about the simplicity of these two strokes, the abuse they'll take, and the way they sound evokes some pretty soft feelings from a lot of guys. I love our bus, but I do also know that better, more efficient, and in some cases more reliable powerplants are available today and I hope someday to be in a 4 stroke.
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« Reply #22 on: May 20, 2013, 08:19:38 AM »

The thing is, if Detroit up graded the 2 strokes to modern day electronic common rail fuel injection (the engines would loose that wonderful compression sound), the 2 strokes could be viable. Modifying a 4 stroke is just a lot easier. Plus the fuel mileage is just plainly better with a 4 stroke. Mileage estimates are as follows:
Using a mechanical 2 stroke as the basis:
-Upgrade to either a DDEC 2 stroke or a mechanical 4 stroke will get about 1 more mpg.
-Upgrade to an early electronic 4 stroke get another 1 mpg more.
-Upgrade to a 2010 or newer 4 stroke engine using DEF, get another 1mpg more.
So a bus getting 6mpg with a mechanical Detroit could get up to 9 or 10 mpg with a new designed 4 stroke. Good Luck, TomC
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Tom & Donna Christman. '77 AMGeneral 10240B; 8V-71TATAIC V730.
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« Reply #23 on: May 20, 2013, 11:08:11 AM »

Don Fairchild, (Clean Cam Technology Systems in Bakersfield, CA), modifies the 2 stroke DDs to comply to California emissions standards. Look it up.

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« Reply #24 on: May 20, 2013, 11:40:50 AM »

Something is wrong here TomC the Prevost with the DDEC 8v92 with a 755 transmissions got around 5 and 6 mpg the newer ones with the 14L smog engines get 5 and 6 mpg with the 6 speed World transmission they were around 7 + before the EGR engines I love the Prevost guys they tell it like it is

Hemphill tells me the way the entertainers buses are pushed at 75mph they are are 5 mpg tops with series 60 or the D13 Volvo engine
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« Reply #25 on: May 20, 2013, 12:23:16 PM »

I talked with Don Fairchild about this once and threw off the comment that four strokes get better fuel mileage.  He was quick to correct me and said that a two stroke could do as well or better, pound for pound and hp for hp.  I think the reason so many buses came with the DD series two stroke is they made good power for the weight, they were economical to buy and run, they were very reliable, they could be rebuilt easily and quickly be back in service.  Exactly the same reasons anyone would spec out and buy an engine today.  They were in all the buses because they were the best choice for the time.

Brian
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« Reply #26 on: May 20, 2013, 01:00:56 PM »

You have to remember that when GM built buses, they never offered CUMMINS or others and why should they, they owned DETROIT DIESEL at the time and until the 1970's(I think) they were just GM not DETROIT. So when operators bought buses built by GM's competitors, they wanted the same engines especially if they had GM buses and they wouldn't have to get used to a new engine. But as others said, they were good. Even when GM was long out of the bus building business, DETROIT had most of the market in part because CUMMINS didn't have a good bus engine yet. But that all began to change in the 1980's when CUMMINS started becoming available in transit buses and over the road buses in the 1990's and surpassed the grand old DETROIT 71 and 92 engines. The final nail in the coffin came when DETROIT rolled out the SERIES 60 & 50 engines so one could see that when even DETROIT would move away from the 2 cycle, you know the end was coming. They came out with an 8.2L V8 for GM and FORD trucks and various school bus builders in 1980 that was 4 cycle so even then they were moving away from 2 stroke. The EPA was a factor as well. But since most diesels were 4 cycle anyway, DETROIT figured just join them.
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« Reply #27 on: May 20, 2013, 01:13:28 PM »

Hard to believe how fast time goes. At least around here, there are virtually no buses in service with the old 71 or 92 engines so no unique sound. There are a few fire apparatus in the area from the 1990's that still have those. Some of them you can hear over the siren. Smiley Now with this new clean technology, they are almost quieter than the family sedan.
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« Reply #28 on: May 20, 2013, 01:19:14 PM »

As to mileage differences-I'm talking about fuel mileage for our useage. Not commercial buses that sit and fast idle for sometimes hours at a time.

Yes Don Fairchilds off road engines come up to Tier 2-which is like a 2002 certification. Don would need to go with a Diesel Particulate Filter to get up to 2007 standards. And for 2010 to go with DEF with no more then .02grms for nitrous Oxides. International was at .05, which is clean, but was still 2.5 times more dirty then the new engines. Don has entertained Bendix, Bosch and others to work with him to create a common rail fuel injection system-but no one wants to do it. Good Luck, TomC
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