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Jon's Trailways History Corner Part-2

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Installment Thirty Two

MacKenzie Trailways

NOTE: This is the history of a company who was a member of Trailways twice, a carrier with a route stretching almost 900 miles from New England into the Maritime provinces of Canada and yet largely unknown and forgotten, even by the association. Thankfully, my friend Paul Leger from Halifax, Nova Scotia took the time to write down this history, not second hand knowledge, but because he knew the late Howard MacKenzie personally. So, I am indebted to Paul both for this account and the accompanying pictures.

In December 1920, Howard P. MacKenzie, a native of Nova Scotia, moved to the Boston area looking for work. In order for him to spend his summer vacation with his family back home, his employer gave him a month's vacation with pay. Other Nova Scotians living in the Boston area heard he was driving home, called to inquire if they could go with him, offering to pay a part of the trip's cost. After several years of doing this, the idea for a bus line, his own business, occurred to him.

His first regular trip from Boston to Sydney, Nova Scotia, 895 miles, was August 18, 1934, using a 1931, seven passenger Cadillac car. Two passengers accompanied him on his trip. The route was Boston, Portland, Bangor, St. Stephen, St. John, Moncton, and Truro to Sydney. In 1935, the Motor Carrier Act formed the Interstate Commerce Commission in the US, and MacKenzie applied to the ICC for his route under the "Grandfather Clause." This meant that a person or company doing business prior to the act would receive a certificate to operate.

The traveling public caught on to the service MacKenzie was operating. Each trip was filled to capacity during 1935 and 1936. MacKenzie soon acquired larger Pierce Arrow vehicles with extended bodies. The trade name MacKenzie Coach Lines was adopted.= The company was incorporated in Massachusetts December 20, 1937 as MacKenzie Coach Lines, Inc.. In 1938, the company applied for ICC authority to serve the intermediate points between Boston and the Canadian border. MacKenzie's application was opposed by a number of other carriers.

Also in 1938, the company was also approached by the young National Trailways Bus System to join and become a member. The company joined and became known as MacKenzie Trailways. Interline connections were made with Blue Way Trailways (later Trailways of New England) in Boston for all points in the US. Larger equipment was again purchased, this time three Flxible 20-CL-78's. Because MacKenzie lacked intermediate point rights, and the fact that their business was virtually entirely centered on the ex-patriot Nova Scotian community in the Boston area, Trailways membership provided little benefit for MacKenzie and the company dropped out after a short period of time. MacKenzie's route structure, clientele and passenger base closely paralleled another Trailways member, Brooks Bus Line who had a similar single line from Paducah to Detroit.

Business was increasing, making necessary 6 round trips per week in 1939, and in 1940, daily service was started. By this time, the Second World War was having a harmful effect on the line. Many Canadians were serving overseas in Great Britain and at home, Canadians were restricted from long distance travel. Additionally, in Canada, there were governmental war time currency restrictions. As a result, the line was carrying only passengers in the US, which was not a profitable situation. Tri-weekly service was started during 1941, but with the US now at war, travel was greatly curtailed. Canadian authorities would not permit the company to operate until the war ended and so with permission from the ICC, operations ceased for the duration of the war.

During the war years, MacKenzie buses were leased to Hill Transportation of Portsmouth, NH, a company holding contracts to operate to the Portsmouth Navy Yard and other war time plants. Following the end of the war, MacKenzie was ready to resume service. The officers of Hill Transportation, A. J. Bourque, G. R. Robinson, and P. D. Palombo became officers in MacKenzie, with Howard MacKenzie becoming Vice President. Service restarted June 18, 1945, with Flxibles, and several Fitzjohn Falcons and Yellow Coach 742's from the Hill fleet. New equipment, consisting of six GM PD-3302's and six Beck Mainliners were delivered and immediately pressed into service.

Great plans for MacKenzie's expansion both in the Maritimes and New England were envisioned by Bourque. These included a route between Montreal and St. John, along with another expansion that would have brought MacKenzie into Prince Edward Island. The company did commence service into Halifax, both via the Parrsboro Shore route and the Wentworth Valley from Amherst. The expansion plans were stopped by the untimely death of Bourque while in Dallas buying buses for the line. He was Succeeded by G. R. Robinson as President.

MacKenzie Coach Lines was sold to Israel and Joseph Winner of Lewiston, Maine, in 1948. The Winner Brothers operated Union Square Stages, Inc., a charter service And The White Line, a suburban line service in Lewiston. The GM 3302's were sold and in their place, six Fitzjohn Duraliners were put into service. These heavier buses were designed to cope with the severe operating conditions along MacKenzie's route through Northern New England and into Atlantic Canada and The Maritimes. In 1949, three larger Beck Mainliners were added to the MacKenzie fleet.

Under the Winner's ownership, the long fought MacKenzie Coach Lines' case for operating rights in the Province of New Brunswick was initiated. The application, submitted to the New Brunswick Motor Carrier Board, was for both International and interprovincial rights. The license was granted, but MacKenzie was restricted from picking up or discharging passengers in the Province of New Brunswick. This was due to the protest of S.M.T. (Eastern) Limited. The Winners protested the restriction to the New Brunswick Supreme Court who upheld the license as it was granted, with the restriction, by the Motor Carrier Board. The Winners weren't through, though, they appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, who eventually ruled in favor of MacKenzie, stating that MacKenzie's service was international, and the New Brunswick Motor Carrier Board could not restrict MacKenzie from carrying passengers to and from New Brunswick. The opponents' next recourse was to the Privy Council in London, England Canada was still governed by the Laws of England, not having received its independence at that time. Legal costs were taking a toll on the Winner's finances and the Brothers themselves. The Winners approached the Maine Central Transportation Co., Offering to sell the company. The offer was accepted and the Maine Central Transportation Co., Inc., became the owner of MacKenzie Coach Lines. In the U.S., the I.C.C..granted temporary authority for the purchase.

Close cooperation between the Maine Central, Boston & Maine and Canadian National Railroads, with respect to their rail operations, prompted Maine Central to approach the Canadian National with the idea of their purchasing and operating the Canadian portion of MacKenzie's operating rights. Authority was granted on March 29, 1951, by the Board of Management of Canadian National to operate the route with a three year option to purchase the buses, route authority and goodwill of the MacKenzie operation..

Service began June 15, 1951, with Maine Central and Boston & Maine buses operating through to the Maritimes in pool service. The MacKenzie operation was separated into three sections. The Boston-Portland portion of the authority was sold to the Boston & Maine' the Portland-St. Stephen section was retained and operated by the Maine Central, and the St. Stephan-Halifax and Sydney portion operated by the Canadian National. Originally, the service was daily, but due to low traffic volume, later on it went to tri-weekly.

A recommendation was made to Canadian National headquarters in Montreal in the Fall of 1951 to exercise their purchase option. This was approved and in 1952, full control of the Canadian portion of MacKenzie passed to the C.N. The purchase included the Fitzjohn Duraliners. The C.N. also purchased two brand new MCI Courier 95's for the service. The three Beck Mainliners stayed with Maine Central and were used on their lighter lines.

The I.C.C. would not approve the new operation to be known as MacKenzie Coach Lines. In order to retain the goodwill of the MacKenzie name, the three carriers decided that the U.S. portion of the line would be known as "MacKenzie Express." The trade name "MacKenzie Thru Line" was used in the Maritimes. Buses used both Canadian National stations and commission agencies. The Canadian operation was run by the newly formed Department of Road Transport of the C.N. in the Fall of 2953. Daily service was operated to Sydney and tri-weekly service connecting from the Sydney bus at Springhill to Halifax.

The Court challenge to the Privy Council in London was still underway as all these changes were taking place. The Canadian National Railway assumed the case, and applied for a decision on operating rights, both international and inter-provincial. The C.N. also went one step further and applied for intra-provincial service as well. The decision,, handed down in early 1954, stated that the Provincial government did not have the authority to regulate international or inter-provincial transport operations, that only the Canadian federal government could regulate these operations. The decision meant that the Provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia had no authority to control the MacKenzie operation.

Passenger traffic for 1954 was on a par with previous years and in addition, the company enjoyed some local traffic that normally would have been the exclusive passengers for Acadian Lines and S.M.T. Daily service was operated to both Sydney and Halifax, but traffic on the Halifax branch from Springhill was light, so it was reduced to tri-weekly, Friday, Saturday, Sunday service. In 1955 the Canadian Federal Government gave control of international operations back to the provinces . The P.U.C. in Nova Scotia ruled in

1955 that the company could no longer carry intra-provincial traffic but could continue with their inter-provincial and international passengers. New Brunswick didn't take advantage of the act in 1955, but in 1956 did do so in 1956.

By this time, the Maine Central, experiencing severe operating losses on their bus operations, became convinced that there was insufficient traffic to support two bus lines in Maine, New England Greyhound being the other carrier, however Greyhound had only interstate authority in Maine. Rumors had been circulating earlier in the year of a possible sale to Greyhound, and an agreement was reached on April 8, 1955, for Greyhound to acquire all the capital stock of Maine Central Transportation Co., Inc. A new division known as Maine Greyhound Lines, Inc. Was formed to assume the operations. Greyhound acquired the Boston to Portland route of the Boston & Maine Transportation Co. At the same time. The acquisitions effectively emasculated Trailways of New England, by cutting off all interline passenger traffic feeds from North of Boston.

The sale resulted in Canadian National buses having no traffic feed at St. Stephen. In June 1956, arrangements were made for Greyhound tp purchase the Canadian bus operations of the C.N. known as the "MacKenzie Thru Line." Greyhound had no desire to operate over the routes of their connecting carriers, so with this purchase, arrangements were made to transfer the New Brunswick portion to S.M.T. No effort was made for a similar arrangement with Acadian in Nova Scotia.

So, under the MacKenzie name, this little known bus company with the 900 mile long main line, carried the Trailways banner north from Boston to the Canada's Maritimes. The first time in 1938 and 39 using small Chevy powered Flxible's and from 1951 through 1955, using mostly Boston & Maine and Maine Central Trailways PD-4103's and 4104's with two Canadian National MCI Courier 95's.

Again, my special thanks to my friend Paul Leger in Halifax who wrote 99.9% of this rich and complete history.
The photo credit for the attachments is as follows.......  

All the pictures of the MacKenzie buses were taken by Paul Leger of Halifax.  Paul has been a consummate photographer of buses over the years and he sent so many shots of MacKenzie buses and autos that the decision of which ones to include was difficult.  

The Maine Central Trailways PD-4103 was taken by a young Bob Redden as it waited to get on a loading platform for the MacKenzie schedule to the Maritimes at the old 20 Park Square Terminal in Boston.  

For those who are curious how you tell the New England Trailways members' 4103's and 04's apart, the TNE buses are all numbered in the "200" series, B&M in the "800" series, and Maine Central in the "600" series.  

TNE under the Azelton Brothers' ownership didn't have any 4104's, despite the picture on their timetable which was a B&M car.  TNE's newest cars were 4103's.  All the 4104's running in New England, early on, were B&M and Maine Central Trailways' units.  It's a certainty that B&M 804 with this message saw the Maritimes as B&M's part of a MacKenzie turn.


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Installment Thirty Three

Kassbohrer Eagles

The original prototype Golden Eagle, Continental Bus System 800, later 1800, was hand built by Kässbohrer (pronounced "case-boar-er) for M. E. Moore at Continental in 1956. It had an M.A.N. V-8 diesel with a Z-F transmission and a type of hydraulic leveling system. Moore ran it between Dallas and Houston to evaluate it. Little information seems to be available about this period beyond the fact that on the initial press trip, the suspension system caught fire, a distraction that didn't keep the bus from completing the trip. Moore though, was obviously pleased with his new bus and sent it out on a promotional tour with Art Linkletter's House Party TV show and as a demonstration vehicle in many cities showing Continental's new fleet of Golden Eagle buses. In the mean time, he ordered a production run of 50 Golden Eagles, this time with torsion bar suspension like the Flxible Vistaliner had and with some modifications to the front upper windshield area. The original had glass directly over the driver's head without a driver's a/c unit and the driver burned up in the sun. The picture of Continental's 801 in front of 315 Continental Avenue in a promotional picture shows the first of the 50 production Golden Eagles which was delivered in 1957.

Before the Golden Eagles began arriving in 1957, Moore purchased 2 articulated buses which were 60 feet long. These were called "Academy Express" units and were assigned to Continental's D.C.S.P. Motorway operation in Denver as 8905 and 8906. One of the buses seated 58 and the other had an extra row of seats for a capacity of 62. They were originally painted green and cream which was how Moore painted his original 5-Stars using ACF IC-41's. Later, one was repainted red and cream. They were powered with a pancake M.A.N. diesel mounted under the floor. They also had no interior baggage racks, overhead "sightseeing" windows, no underfloor baggage room and were NOT air conditioned. They did have a rack on the trailing unit's roof to stow luggage outside. They were only slightly modified designs being produced by Kässbohrer in Europe and while Moore didn't order any additional units, he was obviously taken with the idea of high capacity coaches.

Forty-four Golden Eagles were delivered in 1957 and the production run was finished in early 1958 with the last six units, four for ABL and two for Continental Western.

While the Academy Express units operate from Denver to Colorado Springs and Pueblo, Moore had his new Golden Eagles spread all over his routes in the U.S.:

Dallas-Houston Los Angeles-St. Louis-New York City Seattle-Sacramento-Los Angeles San Francisco-Los Angeles Kansas City-Wichita Memphis-Dallas Memphis-New Orleans Memphis-Biloxi Atlanta-Birmingham-Memphis Los Angeles-Las Vegas

In 1958 the last of the original 50 bus order for Golden Eagles came off the line, four for ABL (6802-6805) and two for Western Lines (4813-4814).

Obviously pleased with whatever he was looking for with the Academy Express units, Moore ordered four special 60 foot articulated Super Golden Eagles. When delivered, these buses were assigned to DCSP as 8907-8910. Unlike previous Kässbohrer units, the Super Golden Eagles had a 275 hp, supercharged, Rolls Royce diesel engine, 6-speed ZF transmission, independently diesel powered air conditioning and all four seated 63 passengers. The engine was located in the forward unit with the a/c system located in the trailer. The galley on these buses was located in the accordion articulation turntable between the two sections like the Academy Express buses. In the very rear was a 9 passenger lounge with 2 card tables like the 40 foot Golden Eagles.

Five Star Service out of Denver was expanded and extended north to Cheyenne and south to Colorado Springs and Pueblo. Traffic on the Cheyenne schedules never justified the service and it was discontinued. Later on, all four of the Super Golden Eagles were transferred to Continental Western Lines where they operated between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

I've included two shots of the buses, the first a well known color view taken for a postcard when they were assigned to Western Lines and the second in from of Colorado Spring's bus station when they ran for DCSP. The driveway for the bus station there was a straight through tunnel like affair which ran across the inside of the back on the Stratton Hotel, the entrance door is visible in the picture. It exited with a hard right turn into a narrow alley. One of the failings of articulated buses is that they can't back up more than a few feet without the trailing section going either right or left. Disaster struck one day when a DCSP driver from the Denver extra board caught an SGE run without being told not to go in the driveway with these buses. When he tried to leave the driveway, he got the Super Golden Eagle wedged in the doorway. Getting it out took a number of hours, thus, you'll notice that the picture shows the Super Golden Eagle loading on the street in front of the terminal.

Moore wasn't finished with his experimenting and he next ordered 46 versions of the 40 foot buses except without the galley and rear lounge. He called these 46 passenger buses Silver Eagles. These buses were mechanically identical to the earlier Golden Eagles but were somewhat different body wise. I've reposted an earlier color picture of a Continental Dixie unit showing a right front view, the side window line indicating that the rest room was two seats forward of the rear and a left side view of a Continental Western car which shows a modified window pattern on the left side showing the lack of a galley. The Silver Eagles did away with the front "moustache" trim and replaced it with a front destination sign and the "Z bolt" on the side of the bus was slightly different. For some reason, the rear roof windows were retained even though the rear lounge was gone. It wouldn't be long before several of these windows would be removed and replaced with panels in an attempt to keep the area cool. Operation of the Silver Eagle version was confined to areas already running the Golden Eagles since the problem still existed with getting them maintained. The bulk of the buses went to Dixie, Western and Central, although ABL, Arkansas and Southern also received some. Compared to the introduction of the earlier Golden Eagles, Continental was quite quiet about these Silver Eagles. Visiting in Denver in the late 50's, I was surprised to discover them. They were running all the thru runs between Wichita and Denver although the schedules at the time carried no reference to the special new buses. Moore, however, must have liked what he saw. After the run of the 46 buses, and with the better part of two years operating experience, he asked Kässbohrer for a number of changes. The drive train was giving the most problems.

A scant ten years out of the end of World War II, Germany was still rebuilding and their industry was a curious blend of hand craftsmanship and mass production. The M.A.N. engines, while quiet and quick on level ground, were quite close to hand built and fitted. The Europeans had never envisioned their engine operating over 100K miles a year nor was the concept of continuous, high speed operation known there. As the German diesels began to build high mileage, the crankshafts began to go out of round, taking out valves and pistons and leaving the engine trashed a d ruined. Additionally, the ZF transmission were too susceptible to electrical problems. The transmission fix was easy, they turned to Spicer and a 4-speed manual gear box. The engine proved more difficult.

As a temporary fix, the Kässbohrer units were converted to big, turbo charged in-line sixes. With change in power, the buses would fly and the whistling turbo charger made them sound a bit like a jet, however, the 4-speed gear box lugged the engines and cost engine life in the long run, Continental was still looking. They finally decided that the newly introduced Detroit Diesel 8V71 was just the ticket. There was just one fly in the ointment, GM wouldn't sell them the engine!

Oh, GM would sell all of them anyone wanted to "repower" existing trucks or buses, but they wouldn't sell them for O.E.M. installation. Continental filed suit, with the DoJ looking over their shoulder. If GM had just produced the engines as GM power plants, they may have prevailed, but they also made the same engine under the Detroit Diesel brand, and that was their undoing. The legal term is called "restraint of trade," and Continental's victory opened the door for everyone else. Flxible and other manufacturers began offering their products powered with Detroit Diesels which is why 1960's Flxible Hi-Level or Clipper Eagle came factory equipped with a Detroit Diesel 671.

Because the front and rear of the bus were impossible to keep cool, the caps were redesigned. Interior changes were also made, the step down aisle became a flat floor dash and interior appointments were made more durable, and the lavatory was moved to the right rear corner. Kässbohrer engineered the changes and Moore ordered what would become the Model 01 Eagle... except... he wanted too many buses, Kässbohrer's existing facilities in Ulm didn't have the capacity and the family decided that they didn't want to expand based on a single customer.

The problem was solved by the Kässbohrer family selling the design rights and jigs to build the Eagle to Moore. Moore began a search in Europe for a location to build his buses. He settled on Brugge in Belgium and incorporated Bus & Car. Construction was begun on a brand new factory, but in the meantime, in 1960, a contract was give to La Brugeoise, located in Brugge to temporarily build the Model 01. The German jigs were moved to their plant and 85 Model 01's came off the La Brugeoise production line, all still carrying Kässbohrer's "Flying K" emblem and the SETRA name.

Finally, in 1961, with the Kässbohrer German jigs moved again, Model 01 Eagles began to roll off the newly completed Bus & Car production line. Use of these jigs continued at the Bus & Car plant in Brugge until 1976 when Bus & Car went into bankruptcy liquidation in the Belgian courts.

The Kässbohrer jigs laid unused until in 1982 when Jim Kerrigan from Trailways, Inc. decided to set up a second Eagle production line at Harlingen Airport in Texas. The new operation was called Trailways Manufacturing and the original Kässbohrer Eagle jigs were purchased from the Bus & Car bankruptcy trustee in Belgium. The German jigs from Kässbohrer had three advantages over the American built jigs in use at the Brownsville plant.

First, the German jigs remained constantly true, whereas the American jigs had to be re-trued every six months, shutting down production at Brownsville while this was done.

Secondly, the German jigs had the ability to build right hand drive buses, the American jigs couldn't. This meant that Eagle's Model 10 could again be sold to Greyhound Australia. The Penfold family promptly ordered buses along with Lever Coach Lines and several others down under.

Thirdly, the German jigs could build both 96," 1-2" (remember the Model 07's from 1969, and Australia's 98½" width, used on their initial Eagle order for Model 05's in 1975. Later on, when the Harlingen plant proved unfeasible from a financial standpoint, the Kässbohrer jigs were moved again, this time to the Brownsville plant where they made possible the Model 15 Eagle introduced in 1985.

As the epitaph of this final remnant of the Kässbohrer Eagles from 1957, ownership of Eagle passed from Trailways, Inc. to Fred Currey's Greyhound in 1987 and then, with Greyhound's bankruptcy, Eagle was sold again, this time to Mexico's Moto Diesel. Just prior to Moto Diesel's demise, the Kässbohrer jigs were moved again into Mexico, most likely to Aguascalientes. Where they are exactly now, or if they still exist seems to be a question no one can answer.

Finally, Kässbohrer as a bus builder is gone, the SETRA name and bus is now built by Daimler Chrysler. The Kässbohrer name remains building, among other things, Pisten Bully snow grooming machines used by ski resorts worldwide.


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Installment Thirty Four

Canadian-American Coaches

One of the earliest pioneers in Ontario motor bus service was a gentleman named F. Cyril Cooper, who formed Windsor-Chatham Coaches in 1925 and extended service to London (as Windsor-Chatham-London Coaches) shortly thereafter. Other routes started by Cooper were Windsor-Belle River and Sarnia-Wallaceburg-Chatham. A new company, Canadian-American Coaches was started by Cooper in 1930 to operate between Detroit and Buffalo via London, Brantford and Hamilton. Upon the formation of the National Trailways association in 1936, Canadian-American became one of the very earliest members and even changed its corporate name to Canadian-American Trailways, Ltd. For many years, this was the only Canadian company to ever join Trailways, until Vancouver-Seattle Buslines Ltd. joined in the 1960's.

Also, in 1936, Canadian-American became one of the first Canadian bus operators to experiment with diesel buses, doing so by converting an ACF bus to Leyland diesel power. The company was also an early user of Gar Wood buses and later bought five Reo Flying Cloud models.

Greyhound remained the stronger Ontario carrier, however, and in January 1940, Toronto Greyhound Lines, owned by Gray Coach from Toronto, purchased Canadian-American Trailways along with Windsor-Chatham-London Coaches for $140,000.


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Installment Thirty Five

Some Notes On Flxibles's , Astraliner & Dual Level Busus

I thought I might take a moment and comment on the Flxible Astraliner. The Product Miniatures toy plastic toy bus produced about 50 years ago, was, after all, based on fact and did not spring from a toy-maker's imagination.

The idea of dual level intercity buses, despite many popular notions, did not originate with the Greyhound Scenicruiser, but first appeared in the 1920's and 30's. ACF was in the fore front of the design, but it was also produced by Kenworth as illustrated by this model operated by Washington's North Coast Transportation in the mid-1930's. Besides providing an elevated area for passenger enjoyment, it had the added benefit of providing storage space under the upper deck for passenger's luggage instead of it having to be carried on the roof in the rear of the bus.

World War II interrupted any thoughts of future bus designs in favor of war production, but after the War, while M. E. Moore was just beginning to form what would become Continental Trailways, Greyhound's management began plans for a new type of intercity bus whose design would be only theirs. Their first attempt was the GX-1, with dual air cooled engines, and rudimentary air suspension on a double deck design. While it was an operating prototype, it never actually carried a revenue passenger and many of their forward thinking design elements proved unworkable. They weren't discouraged though, and in 1949 followed it with the GX-2, a dual level design which developed into the eventual production bus in 1954. This was built in Greyhound's Chicago Shop by Greyhound Motors & Supply on a basic platform for a 35 foot Silversides car supplied by GM. It was powered by the standard 671 diesel which wasn't quite as bad as it would seem because it had a separate pony motor for the a/c, saving at least that power drain. The hand built prototype also had steel springs, a rear lounge area with card tables and a lavatory.

Beyond being a proving ground for the basic design, it also had another most important function, it toured the country lobbying state legislatures to amend their motor vehicle laws to allow the operation of 40 foot buses. Indeed, even when the Scenicruiser went into service in 1954, there still remained a number of states which did not allow its operation because of length restrictions.

M. E. Moore at his new Continental Bus System was not asleep at the switch in the late 40's. A careful man financially, he was quite happy to allow Greyhound to plow the ground necessary to operate 40 foot cars. Although he lacked the resources to have his own bus designed, in 1950 he talked ACF Brill into modifying a production IC-41 as a prototype dual level coach. It was a snappy looking car, lavatory and galley equipped, added luggage space under the top deck, and radio equipped. Later in 1950, ACF turned it over to Continental who toured it around the system as a PR piece, and also operated it in revenue service for an extended period between New Orleans and Shreveport.

However, in the late 40's, Moore's Continental units had begun taking delivery of GM's diesel PDA-4101's and PDA-4102's. He liked GM's diesel power and the additional baggage and express room, and while the dual level ACF was a real looker, it still had that gas-hog Hall-Scott underfloor engine whose mileage was made even worse on the prototype by the increased body weight. Additionally, ACF's air conditioning system, marginal on the IC-41, proved less than up to the task on the prototype. Moore continued looking for his new us.

For reasons lost to history, Moore did not consider C. D. Beck. Certainly Beck would have produced a custom design for Moore and without an order in the hundreds on Continental' s part. My take is the fact that Beck was primarily known as a light duty builder of shorter cars. Their reputation in the industry was not one of exceptional durability body-wise, a draw back that would be a real negative to Moore.

So M. E. Moore turned to Hugo Young's Flxible Co. in Ohio. Flxible had begun in 1914 as the Flxible Side-Car Co., making motorcycle side-cars with a flexible coupling mounting it to the motorcycle. The name "Flxible" without the "e" came when they found out they couldn't copyright the word flexible as their corporate name. They progressed into body-on-chassis buses and found their mark as a bus builder with a durable small bus popularly known as the Flxible Clipper, for years powered by Buick's Straight-8 gas engine.

After WWII, passenger traffic was soaring, and Flxible customers were flush with cash from the war traffic. Loyal customers of Flxible's little Clippers, like Pacific Trailways among others, began to pressure Flxible to produce a 35 foot bus model. Flxible tried a redesign of the Clipper in the late-40's with their Model C-1, a 37-passenger coach powered with two Chevrolet gas engines coupled through a transfer case. While a decent looking car, the C-1 was a complete disaster and only 8 were ever produced. Flxible licked their wounds and went back to make 29 passenger Clippers which is where they were when Moore came calling.

Moore was a believer that Greyhound would be able to push through their desire for increased bus length to 40 feet. If legislators were at first reluctant, they warmed to the idea when Greyhound's exec's pointed out how disastrous it would be politically if people in other states could ride this exciting new bus design but not their state's travelers. Moore told Hugo Young at Flxible he wanted a 40 foot bus similar to Greyhound's GX-2 which he would be willing to buy from Flxible.

Young was between a rock and a hard place. He had just died trying to expand his market into bigger intercity buses and although Moore had dramatically increased his company from the nucleus of Bowen Motor Coaches to a system now spanning the US from Birmingham and Chicago on the east to Los Angeles on the west and Seattle in the North, he was still a relatively small company in relation to Greyhound. He also knew that Greyhound's bus was going to be produced by GM and the only market for a 40 foot coach would be to Moore and his fellow National Trailways members, most of whom had standardized on GM diesels.

Never-the-less, Young's designers came up with drawings for a 40 foot "idea" bus which Flxible called "The Astraliner." Moore's folks in Dallas liked the design, suggested changes in styling, and the result is what you were talking about with that plastic toy. The driving force for this was being generated at 315 Continental Avenue in Dallas, and when they told Flxible they wanted them to proceed with the refined design to produce a running prototype prior to production, Flxible put the brakes on, slammed it in reverse and laid down the ground rules. They agreed to produce the bus, but Continental had to pay for the design expenses and production costs for the tooling.

Now it was Moore's turn to fish or cut bait in Dallas. His basic problem was that he had just spent a huge amount of money in 1948 to purchase the Santa Fe Railroad's very substantial bus operations. This ended with the AT&SF RR holding upwards of 40% of his entire company and he was using every spare dollar to pay them off. He'd also been buying new equipment from both ACF and GM to replace war-weary units. He didn't have the money available to bankroll Flxible to produce his 40 foot bus.

Flxible wasn't eager to see the possibility of his business being lost, and in a sop to Moore, did agree to build a 35 foot car loosely based on the Astraliner design. This bus became known as the Vistaliner 100, introduced in 1954 and with deliveries in 1955 and '56. The similarities with the Astraliner are quite apparent and, in fact, the toy is most often referred to as a 40 foot Vistaliner.

Moore, however, still had an itch for a 40 foot car for Continental and was interested when General Motors came calling with the PDX-4901 in 1954. Nick-named the "Golden Chariot," it was a 47 passenger, high level version of Greyhound's Scenicruiser. GM promised different styling on the production model and Moore, still hungry for his niche car, wrote a deposit check and signed the order. GM, however, then went back to Greyhound, and using the potential of sales to Continental to intimidate The Dog, asked if they weren't interested in buying too. Greyhound had already tried the car and had given it back with a "no thanks," and the second time their answer was the same. GM gave Moore his deposit check back. If Greyhound wouldn't buy it, then they wouldn't build it for anyone else either.

So, that forced Moore to restart his quest, and in desperation he went to Germany's Karl Kässbohrer & Son in the City of Ulm in Bavaria. Kässbohrer agreed to build a prototype concept coach at their own expense in the hopes of securing a future bus order. Granted there were some large teething and design problems with the early Kässbohrer units, but at long last, Moore had the spring-board for his company's future fleet of buses.

I've included some photos which illustrate this, and I especially want to thank our TBD member Dave Dearstyne for the use of the excellent scan of his Product Miniatures model of the Trailways Flxible Astraliner concept coach. Continental had a series of depot window decals which featured the car looking just like this. Unfortunately, Bob Redden "borrowed" the photo of the decal I made and forgot to return it as did most of my historical information and pictures he borrowed. That's life you see.


Click Here For Photo(1935 Kanworth Truck Co Deck. North Coast Transportation Co. #50

Click Here For Photo(1949 Greyhound Motors GX-2 Prototype. The Greyhound Corporation

Click Here For Photo(1950 ACF Brill Cox-001 Prototype Transcontinental Trailways

Click Here For Photo(Fixble Co. Astraliner Concept Bus

Click Here For Photo(1950's Trailways Flxible Toy from Dave Dearstyne Model Collection

Click Here For Photo(CBS GMPDX_4901

Click Here For PhotoCbs-800 Kass GE-Factory

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