By on December 11, 2010

This GM bus revolutionized the industry, and set the template for all over-the road buses to come: forward control, rear transverse diesel engine, the famous fluted aluminum “Silversides” cladding, semi-monocoque construction, high floor and underfloor luggage compartments. But its wildest feature was not replicated: a four-on-the-tree shifter and its mechanical linkage back to the non-synchronized gear box; something had to be left to improve. Let’s check it out and delve into the history and workings of its legendary Detroit Diesel 6-71 engine, which first made its appearance here.

First, let’s consider the setting into which it appeared: inter-city bus service once played a much more significant role than today, with numerous companies competing. And until the late thirties, buses were generally built like this; on heavy truck-type frames with the gasoline engine up front. Luggage rode on a roof-top rack.

That all changed with the 1936 Yellow Coach (owned by GM) Model 719 Super Coach, a groundbreaking design. It was conceived during that very creative mid-late thirties period, when traditional approaches to cars, buses trains and airplanes were all being tossed overboard. Yellow, encouraged and partly financed by Greyhound, decided to reinvent the bus. Dwight Austin, who had designed the remarkable but unsuccessful double-decker Pickwick Nitecoach, was hired by Yellow/GM to head up the effort.

Austin brought with him his patented angledrive system, which allowed the engine to sit transversely at the very rear of the bus for maximum space efficiency and accessibility. The new Model 719 also featured a semi-monococque (self-supporting) construction using aluminum to save weight, and large underfloor luggage compartments. The engine was a gasoline GMC 707 CID six, as GM’s new diesel engine wasn’t quite ready yet. But by 1938 it was, and in 1939 GM restyled the 719 with the then fashionable fluted polished aluminum “silverside” cladding.

The also groundbreaking Pioneer Zephyr of 1934 introduced the stainless steel fluted cladding, which came to typify streamlined trains and modern buses until just the last decade or two. Needless to say, it was also a mighty durable exterior finish. And the Zephyr also pioneered GM’s Elelectro-Motive Division two-stroke locomotive engine, which went on to revolutionize the train world.

Let’s swing open these beautiful louvered doors on the back, to expose that famous Detroit Diesel 6-71 engine.

GM’s two-stroke Detroit Diesel (“DD”) engine is one of America’s engineering marvels of the twentieth century. Designed under the direction of Charles Kettering at the GM Advanced Labs, the two-stroke principle was used in part because of the desire to have a compact and light engine for use in GM’s coaches, which dominated the industry, or would very soon. Many of you already know its operating principles, but for the uninitiated, they’re worth repeating again.

The DD is different from the typical loop-scavenged two-stroke engine, which has no valves and relies strictly on ports (openings) in the cylinder for the intake and exhaust, as well as crankcase pressure to help keep the gases flowing (typically, but not always). The DD two-stroke “Uniflow” has port openings in the cylinders for the intake air, but has two or four exhaust valves in each cylinder’s head. In order to fill the cylinder with fresh air since there’s no intake stroke, a blower is essential for its operation. Here’s a short video showing the DD two stroke cycle.

Conveniently exposed here to show one of its two overlapping lobed rotors, the 6-71 “Jimmy” Roots-type blowers soon found a new role as superchargers on dragsters and hot rods. In that application, they were overdriven to provide large amounts of boost; in the DD engine, they provide just enough of an increase above atmospheric pressure to evacuate and fill the cylinder with fresh air. Later versions also had turbochargers, which fed through the blower and increase power output. The blower couldn’t be eliminated though, because its boost is needed to start the engine and at idle.

The DD engine family was designed from scratch to be modular, to be built in many cylinder multiples. The “71″ indicates the cubic inch displacement per cylinder; therefor this 6-71 has 426 CID. Two, three and four cylinder versions were offered from the beginning for powering everything from smaller trucks, gen-sets, pumps, tractors, marine use, and a host of other applications where its small size and durability put it to great advantage. Later, larger multiples were also built, including V8, V12, V16 and according to one source, even a V24. The smaller 53 family soon joined, and in more recent years, a 92 family largely replaced the 71 series. But the 71 family lasted into the 1990′s, and millions of these engines are still at work in all manner of vehicles, boats and equipment. The same basic two stroke diesel design was also scaled up and used in diesel locomotives, where GM enjoyed a near monopoly for decades.

What finally put it out of production was its slightly lower efficiency than the four stroke diesel. This was a small price worth paying in exchange for its compact dimensions and light weight. Higher fuel prices in recent years finally sealed its fate, but tightening emission standards would have likely been impossible to meet as well. BTW, these 6-71 powered coaches can get up to twelve miles per gallon.

Because of cheap fuel prices, diesel engines caught on slowly in the US. Initially, there were really just two common diesel engines for automotive (truck, etc) use in the US: the DD and the larger and heavier Cummins four stroke. And into the seventies and eighties, the two of them along with the Mack four stroke duked it out in the truck sector. But the DD was always  instantly recognizable by its distinct exhaust howl, which sounded like it was revving twice as fast or more than the grumbling four strokes. But then all two strokes sound like they’re running twice as fast, obviously because they have twice as many exhaust strokes at any given engine speed. If you’ve ever heard a DD without a muffler, its scream will haunt you forever.

If you haven’t, here’s a video of the DD V12 in the hot rod Peterbilt above. As the owner points out, it may sound like it’s running at 6000 rpm, but its actual redline is 2500 rpm.

The next trick was to get the 190 hp or so that the early 6-71 made to the wheels. It’s torque being substantially more brutal than the gasoline engines it replaced, initially there were experiments with a diesel-electric drive, and a torque converter. Complications and efficiency losses with both led to a mechanical drive, an unsynchronized four speed, shifted by what has to be the biggest and gnarliest column shifter ever.

This picture is spoiled by the heavy tinting on the window and the light coming in the other side, but there it is, the black knob on the end of the shifter. Just try to imagine the mechanical linkage going back thirty-five feet to the transmission. Because of the challenges of the linkage, reverse gear was engaged by a solenoid, which can be clearly seen on top of the transmission along with the ends of the linkage (below). And check out that awesome art-deco driver’s seat.

You’re looking at the output end of the transmission and the angle drive that now sends the power forward to the rear axle. The working ends of shift linkage is visible, as well as a solenoid that engages reverse gear. I drove big transit buses, but never had the pleasure of trying to shift one of these stick versions. But I assure you, if you rode in these old buses, the shifts were very slow in coming, and if the driver hadn’t mastered the art of double clutching, down shifts never did happen, which could be deadly on a long steep downgrade in the mountains.

Since I’m snapping away, might as well get the output end of the angle drive and the short drive shaft to the rear axle, which had an offset differential. Also very visible are the big leaf springs, which was the one old-tech artifact. The next generation of GM buses, the almost equally revolutionary 1953 PD-4104, pioneered air suspension. The difference is huge; we had one old leaf spring transit bus, and it rode like a cart compared to the floating air-rides.

These 35′ coaches came in 37 or 41 passenger configuration, depending on how much leg room was desired. This obviously is the deluxe service version. Even a few 2 + 1 seating luxury versions were made. On-board lavatories were still a couple of years away, but air conditioning was available, which required its own small diesel engine to run the compressor.

This series of buses was made exclusively for Greyhound, but GM also made variations of the theme for all the other operators who clamored for them. If you look carefully at our featured bus, the outline of the greyhound logo is still visible.  GM came to have an 80+% share of the bus market in the fifties, and was at risk of being broken up by the government, and GM made their engines and the later Allison automatic transmission available to the competition. That power train combination totally dominated the bus market until fairly recently.

Numerous problems with the Scenicruiser and other frustrations of dealing with a near-monopoly drove Greyhound to buy the Canadian bus builder MCI, and never looked back. Other builders eventually found their footing, and as GM’s market share plummeted in the seventies, they lost interest and pulled the plug in 1980.

This particular bus, like so many other old GM coaches, has been converted into a motorhome. It lost water heading back from Nevada, and damaged its engine, which is in the final stages of being replaced. With a freshly rebuilt 6-71, it should be good for another million miles or so.

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60 Comments on “Curbside Classic: 1947 GM PD-3751 “Silversides” Greyhound Bus – The First Modern Diesel Bus...”


  • avatar
    zbnutcase

    Love the old GM buses, keep ‘em coming Paul!

    • 0 avatar
      dartman

      For the uninitiated–This is the sound of American power, from tugboats, firetrucks, tanks, buses and on and on…I miss it.  As a young boy of 7 or 8 in the early 60′s (pre-A/C days)  I would lay in bed at night and listen to the big rigs on the highway 2 miles away run thru gears and put me sleep…

       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1YXx4kytNU&feature=related

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      I don’t know what the engine design was – diesel with turbos I do know – but every time the Navy ship I was stationed on left port you could find me out on the deck near the smokestacks listening to the engine and peering at the beach. Those engines throttling up gave me chills. A wonderful sound… LSD-48 USS Ashland. Probably locomotive engines. I was an electrician and an engine man.

    • 0 avatar

      Love my “THUNDER”
      She’s a GMC PD3751 6-71 retired Greyhound Bus she’s 66 yrs old & still goin strong ;)

      Always wonderful to find nice writings & info on these beautiful silverside ladies…. Thanks!

  • avatar
    caljn

    Who doesn’t love an old bus!  The modern versions can’t hold a candle.
    Here in L.A. we get to see those fabulous old yellow school buses that seem to be repainted every now and then and will run forever!  They make the most wonderful sounds to go with the plumes of blue smoke emanating from the enormous exhaust pipes.
    Just don’t get caught in traffic behind one…

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    Anybody who goes to school to learn to work on trucks and diesels start off in their first class with something like this bus. After this, things got WAY complicated and breakable.
    Every year I have to operate a DD 8v92-powered air compressor. The thing is built like a brick shhouse and their might as well be no mufflers on it at all. If you’ve ever seen the movie Maximum Overdrive, then you’ve heard the sound of these two-strokes. Sounds like they ran a normal diesel sound through an audio processor to get the demonic truck sound effect, but you would be wrong.

  • avatar
    tiredoldmechanic

    You don’t see many 2 stroke jimmys around anymore, but when I started out as a heavy equipment mechanic they were standard issue. If you understood how to set them up you could get a 6-71N with 65s to dyno at maybe 245 BHP and perhaps 600 ft lbs of torque. They were very common in tandem dump trucks grossing out at over 45000 lbs. Today people expect more from a 3/4 ton pickup but we did a lot of work with those old trucks. They were fun to tune up and there was a knack to getting maximum power, decent idle with no “roll” and good fuel economy. The last new truck with one would have been around 1990, once DDEC got the series 60 dialed in.
    They would never pass muster today from an emissions or noise standpoint, but they gave excellent service for many years. The 92 was another story……

  • avatar
    John Fritz

    “It lost water heading back from Nevada, and damaged its engine…”
     
    Didn’t these 6-71′s and their various cousins have a coolant overtemp fail-safe that shut down the engine when they got too hot? Or did that come on later versions Detroits?

    I know all the 6 and 8V’s I purchased parts for (as a purchasing agent) had this system. But I realize the 6/8V’s are different engines.

  • avatar
    Matthew Sullivan

    Great article! 

    Stuff like this keeps me coming back to TTAC,  even as I grow increasingly-weary of TTAC’s holier-than-thou attitude and Baruth’s endless bragging about his mad driving skillz.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      “even as I grow increasingly-weary of TTAC’s holier-than-thou attitude”
       
      And the “Fun cars are too risky. Buy this boring beige crossover” stance.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      TTAC is a big tent; you just have to find the sideshows that work best for you.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      *clicks ‘Delete’ on a post titled “How I Saved The World By Drifting A Prevost Coach Around Road America With A Stripper On My Lap”*

    • 0 avatar
      Matthew Sullivan

      Baruth:  Well, hey, when strippers are involved that’s totally different… :)

      Given the tracks you have access to you probably never make it down to Texas.  But if ever plan to get down here, let us know.  I’d love to meet you (sincerely) and my new Evo X needs its track cherry busted.

  • avatar
    Canucknucklehead

    Not only was this a great article with really interesting info, the link to Pickwick Nite Coach was fascinating! Thanks, Paul!
     
    PS Paul when I am down your way, can I join you on a Curbside Classic scouting mission? That would be so fun!

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Did you have to ask? Just let me know:
      curbsideclassics (insert the right symbol) gmail.com

    • 0 avatar
      fastback

      Paul’s reply made me chuckle as i got a visual of Paul w/ camera in hand leading a gaggle of TTAC readers around Eugene like a guide at a musuem…  pretty funny.

      This bus — at least the split rear window reminds me of the last scene of ‘The Graduate’. 

      Thanks for another great entry, Paul,

    • 0 avatar
      postjosh

      yes, i loved the link to the nite coach. after i watched sullivan’s travels a few months ago, i google forever trying to figure out what i could about the motor home they used. today, i got my answer. it was a nite coach! fascinating design. some very creative engineering was done in the 30′s. thanks paul, great article.
      to see the nite coach in action go to 4:30 in this clip:

  • avatar
    Birddog

    Man I forgot all about those DDs. Those were wild sounding machines.
    We had a Murphy Motor Freight depot a couple of blocks from the house when I was a kid and all day you’d hear those Generals and Bridadiers howling up and down the street. You could hear them for what seemed like miles..

  • avatar
    dastanley

    Paul, are there any old Silver Eagle buses hanging around Eugene?  I’d love a CC on the Silver Eagle.

  • avatar
    Nicodemus

    “Conveniently exposed here to show one of its two overlapping lobed rotors, the 6-71 “Jimmy” Rootes-type blowers soon found a new role as superchargers on dragsters and hot rods.”
    I think you mean a ‘Roots-type’.
    ‘Rootes’ were a UK car group, who as it happens used a Roots-type supercharger in their wonderful Commer ‘Knocker’ engines but other than this there no connection.

  • avatar
    amazon ray

    What were the problems with the Scenicruiser?
    I always thought those were some great looking buses. What a view! But I never got to ride in one.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      I’ll get into it in more detail when I find one, but originally the Scenicruiser had two separate 4-71 engines feeding into a hydraulic coupling, because the 8-71 engine wasn’t ready yet. That arrangement was quite problematic, and they all had to be re-engined with the 8-71 and a conventional 4 speed manual after a couple of years. Also, it suffered from structural problems. Both issues were eventually fixed, and they went on to have long lives.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      GM wasn;t the only company to try dual engines and had structural problems. Flxible built the bus features in the RV movie and I want one…
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twin_Coach
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fageol
      http://www.flxibleowners.org/aaf/aaf.htm
      I’d probably re-engine a Clipper with a large diesel pickup engine or buy a used school bus and strip the driveline out of it. We’d want to make an RV out of it. Simple oak plywood interior. Have seen one on the web done very tastefully and economically. Since I have mere mortal finances and children to raise and educate we’ll be stuck relying on our tent or our VW Westfalia… ;)

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Wow another window into the past. Thanks again, Paul!

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    What a cool article.  I love the style of the old bus.  To have one as a camper would be sweet.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Wasn’t an unusual sight to see a long-haul owner/operator trucker at the rear of the truck stop parking lot repairing is Detroit Diesel engine. Unsure if it was because they needed repairs more often or if the Detroit was more amenable to being repaired, or even rebuilt, in a non-shop setting.
    In general the Detroit WAS generally viewed as the engine for the trucker on a budget with Caterpillar engines viewed as the creme of the diesel crop.
     
    Only drove one Detroit Diesel equipped “large car” with the early 1980s OO-92 V8 engine, the 450 hp critter. Forget the torque rating but somewhere akin to a CV fleet aircraft carrier with 2 nuke plants (a wee bit less).
    Not as reliable from my limited experience with it as the Cummins or Cat engines but golly gosh, could that critter haul a load!!!!
    80,000 pounds, pert-near, climbing that last on-ramp to the Bay Bridge on the “Frisco” side with a load of Anchor Steam beer, a rather steep, short ramp, had me up to traffic speed velocity quick enough to make me quiver with delight as I easily convinced the pesky 4-wheelers to allow me to merge.
    Easier to do when the truck is owned by another.
    Vroooom!!!!!!!!!

    • 0 avatar
      tiredoldmechanic

      obbop,
                A well set up 8V92T with 00 injecters would be putting down maybe 1400 ft lbs @ 1700. That was a lot in it’s day, and nothing then available would accelerate a truck like the 92. Cummins and Cat held in against a sustained load a little better but they were dogs on acceleration by comparison. You had to keep the RPMs up, which got noisy and tiring after awhile but they sure did go for as long as they ran. I moonlighted and covered a few runs from Vancouver to Calgary for a friend in a Freightliner COE with a 475 horse job, and it was about an hour faster than a similiar rig with a 444 Cummins. Paid for it at the pump though, about a 20 gallon difference as I recall.
       It’s hard to believe that an engine design that was once so common is now almost extinct, but time marches on.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    “But then all two strokes sound like they’re running twice as fast, obviously because they have twice as many exhaust strokes at any given engine speed. If you’ve ever heard a DD without a muffler, its scream will haunt you forever.”

    I remember running IIRC DDA 3-54T and 4-54T in the Holset Turbo (ironically, by that time Holset was owned by Cummins, and the DDA organizaiton was on it’s last legs, just prior to Mr. Penske buying into and rebuilding the operation) dyno cells while doing turbo-matching tests … these motors made quite a noise too … and they leaked … and some exploded (threw rods) … and nobody was allowed to go into the cell when they were running…

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    I lived in HI for most of my first 3 decades, and whenever I resided on O’ahu, I became intimately familiar with the excellent bus service in operation there; to this day I have yet to come across any similar public bus transit service as comprehensive and affordable in the USA – but to be honest, I haven’t spent a lot of time in many of the other major cities where buses are in widespread use. It incidentally became a way to keep track of what was new in the field; the rounded Grummans which dominated my childhood morphed into the slab-sided Flxible which rapidly gave way to the Gillig Phantom. Throughout, the muted roar of Detroit Diesels punctuated the background buzz of Honolulu’s activity and was a periodic reminder in the more laid back locales around the island.

    The bus service was also a way to keep track of what wasn’t working out very well in the market; any model which disappeared rapidly or was relegated to the “circle isle” routes was clearly being given retirement, be it a well deserved or an early one. This was where you saw the Grummans in their final years, and where the Saabs were put after less than 2 years, an ignominious end to what had been touted as a “new generation of European bus” when they first appeared on the busy Waikiki routes.

  • avatar

    I’ve always hated riding the bus, they’re too much like airliners…..

    But the link to the Pierce-Arrow Pickwick Parlor-Buffet coach makes me realize I was born to late. I would pay pretty serious money to ride into the 1920s west in a bus with a STEAM TABLE!

    And a porter who alerts you to your stop and brushes your hat (you do have a hat? If not why you on the bus?) Awesome. Best CC ever. If gas gets to be 10 buck hell, maybe something like that will return.

  • avatar

    I always loved the DD sound.  I had a diesel mechanic explain to me the DD architecture, and he was a huge fan.  You can still hear them on cranes and cement trucks, where lots of power quick is needed.
    And this was a great article. Another example of why I go to this site every day.  Good work!

  • avatar
    obbop

    Is it an illusion of the optical type or is the pictured bus possessing headlights that are spaced farther apart on the driver’s side compared to the passenger (well…. non-driver) side?
     
    There may be a rational reason for a difference, if one actually exists and it appears the spacing is different.
    Maybe as the vehicle approaches light-speed or when ascending/descending a gravity well the apparent spacing performs a function.
    Perhaps better minds than mine (a multitude, assuredly) can explain any differences or detect that aforementioned possibility of my being optically confused.
    Gracie

    • 0 avatar
      baabthesaab

      Because of the curved front of the bus body, the inboard headlamp is slightly forward of the outboard one, giving the “illusion of the optical type” which you are seeing.

  • avatar
    Nick

    Did that train actually ever hit the rails?  Now that would have looked fabulous whizzing past at a level crossing. 

    Begs the question…why is it that so many things that used to be built with an eye to design and visual appeal are now built to be merely functional and by extension butt ugly?  A few gorgeous locomotives like that would generate a lot of interest in train travel.

    I work in marketing, and generally try to persuade clients that making something look at least somewhat appealing, regardless of what it is, more than pays off in most cases.  And I think that extends to many ordinary things where people probably don’t expect to see anything resembling style.

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      I agree with you, Nick. There is no actual reason why a Honda Ridgeline grille has to look like part of a heat exchanger (unless to remind us of the day when the actual radiator rode up front with no grille covering it at all). By the same token, I would think that the Honda Element would have been just as successful if it hadn’t looked so much like a cheesebox. All the shapes and lines are just wrong on it, and the plastic cladding made it look even worse. I’m not just hatin’ on Honda here…the later Nissan pickups have the same visual disease. It’s like “we’re not even trying to style this stuff anymore.”
      I wonder how many people are driving vehicles thinking “I’m inside where I don’t have to look at this thing!”

    • 0 avatar
      baabthesaab

      So true, Nick. So true. This world would be a far more interesting place. People would likely pay up for things with style and grace.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Nick: that Pioneer Zephyr led to a revolution on the rails, and the most incredibly beautiful trains were built by GM and the train car builders. It was a golden age of design and aesthetics. Here are a couple of examples:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EMC_TA
      http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.consolidatedmarkets.com/SantaFE_Superchief.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.consolidatedmarkets.com/Railroad.html&usg=__bEkXylNA0eKvb7QFV6_krH6C1JY=&h=326&w=497&sz=29&hl=en&start=0&zoom=1&tbnid=0ntiLVeKmCl-9M:&tbnh=126&tbnw=168&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dsanta%2Bfe%2Bsuper%2Bchief%2Bstreamliner%26hl%3Den%26biw%3D1331%26bih%3D847%26gbv%3D2%26tbs%3Disch:1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=283&vpy=236&dur=858&hovh=182&hovw=277&tx=139&ty=117&ei=8iUFTYqZMoiosAOH04nBDQ&oei=3iUFTYmSJ4L6sAO4je2vDQ&esq=5&page=1&ndsp=38&ved=1t:429,r:9,s:0
      http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://en.wikivisual.com/images/f/fc/Pioneer_Zephyr_full.jpg&imgrefurl=http://en.wikivisual.com/index.php/Chicago,_Burlington_and_Quincy_Railroad&usg=__bhBlWf088GY_n_RiKZH4geK6SI4=&h=277&w=640&sz=21&hl=en&start=0&zoom=1&tbnid=Z0vOj8zaERV1CM:&tbnh=80&tbnw=185&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dburlington%2Bzephyr%26hl%3Den%26biw%3D1331%26bih%3D847%26gbv%3D2%26tbs%3Disch:1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=839&vpy=262&dur=388&hovh=86&hovw=199&tx=156&ty=80&ei=kSYFTY-pD4KosQO-orT7DA&oei=ICYFTd-IDIumsQOYgOWvDQ&esq=17&page=1&ndsp=25&ved=1t:429,r:4,s:0
      Shall we do Trackside Classics?
       

    • 0 avatar
      dastanley

      Did that train actually ever hit the rails?  Now that would have looked fabulous whizzing past at a level crossing. 

      Nick, the Zephyr 9900 Streamliner was used by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy railroad from 1934 to 1960.  It was a real train, but locomotive and cars were all connected as a unit, not as individual cars that could be attached and rearranged at will.  So if the locomotive or any of the cars needed maintenance, the entire train unit from front to back was taken out of service.  I believe there were two complete train sets – identical.  It was the first practical diesel-electric train set.  There were in fact individual local switchers that were either diesel-electric or gas-electric out first, but the Zephyr was the first long distance train to use the technology.  The Zephyr was used specifically to get depression era travelers back on board and buy tickets. 

      EMC – Electro-Motive Corp. was bought by GM in the early 30s and went on to produce perhaps the most famous diesel-electric design ever, the infamous E and F series locomotives.  These shovel nose locomotives were produced from 1937 until 1963 and were copied (in appearance anyway) by ALCO, Baldwin, and GE.  The F series were used mostly in freight and the E units (with steam generators for car heat) were mostly used for passenger trains.  Yes, I’m a train lover. Looks like Paul beat me on this.

    • 0 avatar
      Mark out West

      The most beautiful locomotive ever produced (the last half is the best):

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fS6JtiPoPdU

      When you look back on GM you really get a feel how much they blew it.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick

      ‘Shall we do Trackside Classics?’
      Hell yes.
      BTW, a photographer friend of mind from South America (Brazil I think) said that down there somewhere is a boneyard like this for locomotives going back to the steam era.  They are all sitting there, rusting away.  I will have to touch base with him again to see if he has taken any recent photographs.  I know he had been there quite some years ago for a session.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      The Science and Industry museum in Chicago has a whole train like that. We got to walk through it. Neat but diminutive compared to other trains. Low doorways and narrow walkways. It did indeed do alot of miles in it’s day.
      http://www.msichicago.org/whats-here/
      The museum is well worth the trip. I’m not sure that we even saw it all when we were there but my boys are still talking about it years later and the youngest was only three at the time!
      Next time I’m touring the submarine. It sort of left me speechless to stand next to something so historically important. I spent many hours as a kid thumbing through the Time-Life WWII picture books and then here I was an adult standing next to a real U-boat.

  • avatar
    probert

    very nice

  • avatar
    dastanley

    There is no actual reason why a Honda Ridgeline grille has to look like part of a heat exchanger

    Totally agree!  I mean the automotive industry in the last 10+ years have been about trucks/SUVs with cars treated as sort of an afterthought.  Consequently, the designs have been all about making trucks/SUVs look macho and tough with abrupt, square, angular lines and massive amounts of chrome – the “in your face” look.  Anything to look intimidating to other drivers.  And anything to avoid looking graceful, pretty, and stylish.  That would be considered effiminate and “gay”, and lord knows we can’t have that.  And the truck styles have rubbed off on cars.  And any style when taken to an extreme starts to look ridiculous, like the huge chrome square angular look that’s so prevalent today.  I agree it’s hard on the eyes, but I hope that trend will change, and soon.  My 2 cents.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      EXACTLY. You are SO right. We’ll be looking at a Euro-wagon next time since nobody domestic makes them. The Caddy wagon looks nice but costs the moon. Our 1st gen CR-V is still the right size length and width for our needs, but we’d rather have the nicer highway manners of a car. The ‘V will be relegated to 2nd car status but still get well cared for. No need for a big SUV or truck or minivan but we do still need to occasionally carry stuff.
      I wonder if there is a coming trend of people tiring of the in-you-face styling that the car manufacturers will have a hard time adjusting to quickly?
      Frankly the 80s Volvos, BMWs and Wagoneers are looking alot better these days. Sat in a very nice Jetta Sportwagon TDI yesterday. It’s at the top of our list now. The CR-V we sat in was very nice but I can’t appreciate the fat lower lip front end. Not a deal breaker though.

  • avatar
    shiney2

    Great post! one of the best CCs yet -

  • avatar
    Kosher Polack

    This. Was. Awesome.  Thanks for providing articles like this, it totally made my morning.  Also, I can’t believe I never figured out how the rear end of these buses worked – the Angledrive information is great!
    I only wish that (A) I hadn’t read it so fast and (B) both TTAC and Ate Up With Motor updated EVERY HOUR so I could get through a long boring day.  But I suppose that’s a bit selfish.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    You know, this article really struck a nerve with me. These machines and conveyances (the trains, mainly) was the world standard. I rode a couple of the classic streamliners and a few of the classic buses. For example, for a brief time I was able to ride the California Zephyr from Marysville, Ca (right outsde my old base, Beale AFB) to Sacramento on a Saturday morning and return on Greyhound that afternoon or evening and thumb a ride back to my barracks. This was before Amtrak, namely, winter, 1970. When the train was cancelled (re-routed later thru Amtrak), I relied on the bus until I bought my avatar. I was able to ride on an original Scenicruiser, and for a bus, it was pretty cool, but couldn’t compare to the train. My wife worked for (Continental) Trailways and one of her co-workers was a hostess on the Golden Eagle cross-country routes. My wife was also familiar with the “Air-riders”, as she referred to them. They were quite attractive as buses go. The Trailways “Eagles” were pretty magnificient machines as well, as I rode on several of these (the Silver, not Golden eagles). To this day, I regard the streamlined, art-deco style, whether in transportation, appliance or structure as my favorite, for it projects a forward-thinking, optimistic mind-set, beautiful industrial design as well as functionality.

    Yes, Paul, I would appreciate articles covering other forms of transport, too. Do you, by chance, have a spare Lockheed Constellation sitting in one of those local junkyards?

  • avatar
    TR4

    “What finally put it out of production was its slightly lower efficiency than the four stroke diesel. ”

    Not so sure about this.  The Wartsila-Sulzer (google it) is a two stroke diesel and claims the be “the most efficient prime mover.”  Quite a different category from a bus engine though…

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      I’m aware of that, and wondered the same thing myself. Then why did the two stroke diesel disappear from the truck/bus/etc. market? From what I picked up over the years, the four strokes were somewhat more efficient. DD designed the very successful four stroke Series 60 engine to replace the Series 92.
      Emissions may also play a big part. The ships don’t (yet) have those kind of standards to meet.

  • avatar
    V572625694

    Anybody know if that fluting on the sides of buses and trains was it to keep the big sheets of stainless from rattling, as they might if they were flat? And was it purely decorative, or a stressed-skin part of the monocoque?
    When I read about 300-MPH passenger trains in China, it’s good to remember when the US led the world, or at least was highly competitive, in technical innovation.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      It depends. On the railroad cars that Budd built, the fluting was done to stiffen the side sheets as they were a structural member. Other builders just used them as decorative trim pieces (which eventually fell off after they trapped water and rusted the normal steel underneath).

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      The Budd Company that built and was famous for many of the early streamliners, and for Amtrak’s “Amfleet I & II” passenger cars as well as the original Metroliners developed the shotweld process for welding stainless steel. Yes, the fluting was structural.

  • avatar
    UrsusSiara

    Hey guess I’ll bump an old post.
    Hi All! I stumbled across this site while searching for info on an absolutely awesome bus I came across a couple of weeks ago. Great article and site btw. All I know of the bus is that is a GM. I didn’t have my camera with me both times I went to look at it. It is parked in front of an older house in an old neighborhood, which I noticed last time through had a number of classic rides sprinkled about it. I wanted to find out more info about the “beast” before bothering the owner as I would like to see if it might be for sale.
    I’ll update when I have some pictures and more info. For now I just wanted to say thanks and HI!

    Ursus.

  • avatar
    skagit

    Great memories! Worked part time and drove ski charters for an operator that had two old silversides. He always cautioned me to take it easy between second and third and never slop the gate or risk hanging up the linkage. I never did and I got to be expert and powershifting from fourth down to third climbing hills. The four on the tree was actually a nice transmission. The steering was the other part “Armstrong steering”! Silverside was a great coach, though. So comfortable and quiet on the inside compared to the PD4104 traveler.


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