By John Quilter
Two different model makers have recently introduced 1:50th scale models of historic Greyhound buses. The 50th scale is a common collector’s scale for commercial vehicles and buses. Corgi, based in the UK, have over the past decades made a number or American and English buses and coaches in this scale and a company known as Royal Coach http://www.royalcoachbuses.com/ also make and distribute a number of buses in this scale.
The subjects of this article are a pair of historic Greyhound buses. The earliest one is a 1931 Mack Parlor Coach which was commonly used by Greyhound during the 1930s. This is a front engine bus with a wheelbase of about 219 inches and an overall length of about 394 inches or just over 32 feet. One interesting feature of this bus is a grilled rear in the style of the rear of the observation vestibule of passenger rail cars of the era. While styled in the idiom there was no access from the inside of the bus and the space was often used simply to store a pair of spare tires.
The model has two rectangular signs one of which says, San Francisco New York Express. Above this rear feature is a ladder to the rear of the roof that served as baggage storage. This was long before the later development of underfloor baggage space. All the passenger windows have drapes. The passenger capacity appears to be 26 with mostly forward facing seats except for the rear most area where there are eight seats facing each other.
The model shows two large domed cylinder like features just in front of the radiator which are air shock absorbers that in smaller versions were also sometimes seen on passenger cars in this period. There are two large low mounted headlamps and a spot light on the driver’s side roof pillar. A pair of chrome horn and a pair of running lamps adorn the forward part of the roof. Long before the era of air-conditioning the roof has eight louvered vents for ventilation. The model has nicely printed signs some of which show a selection of cities that Greyhound served San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Omaha, Kansas City, St Louis, Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburg, Philadelphia and New York. And of course, there are multiple examples of the Greyhound symbol, the running dog. A transcontinental trip in one of these Parlor Coaches must have been quite a scenic adventure in the early 1930s. The undercarriage shows some detail of what appears to be standard truck based design with a front engine, half elliptic springs, a long propshaft and even longer exhaust system. The Greyhound maintains a restored version of this Mack bus in their museum fleet of historic buses, this being the earliest bus in their collection. The power plant on Greyhound’s Macks was a six cylinder gasoline (petrol) engine of 126 horsepower which Mack advertised as the most powerful bus in America. Reports also indicate that at least one experimental bus was tested with a Cummins diesel. During this era White, Faegol, Yellow Coach (a GM subsidiary), and ACF built intercity buses which all were of quite similar design. Because these, and the Mack, did not have underfloor baggage storage all were relatively low compared to later designs and the Mack used an innovative hypoid bevel drive differential that made it possible for the lower floor. Exterior and interior was aluminum paneling over white ash wood framing.
This attractive scale model is a product of Iconic Replicas www. IDDReplicas.com. Its design is done in the USA but the model is a product of China.
Now, jumping a more than a full decade to 1945 and an ACF Brill IC-41 bus which was produced from 1945 to 1950 during which time 1374 were built to supplement the Greyhound fleet that at the time was using many GM built Yellow 743 rear engine diesel buses and the later GM PD-3751 often known as the Silversides for its fluted aluminum flanks. Continuing with their earlier experience, the ACF Brill continued to use a gasoline Hall Scott six cylinder engine laying over on its side pancake style and mounted mid chassis under the floor for this 37 passenger coach. It was first offered with a 190-2 engine and later a 190-5 which also drove the optional air-conditioning system. Gearboxes were four speed Spicer units. Minor styling changes took place on these buses from an early 1946-47 version with a small upright “grill” in front to a wider horizontal barred grill to a still wider almost full width barred grill in 1948 to the 1951 model with no grill. Some buses had plain painted metal sides and others had the aluminum fluted sides. Finally in March 1952, a Cummins NHHB-600 four cycle diesel was made available. ACF Brilll owned Hall Scott so this was a deviation from their in-house engine. An interesting feature of his bus was the entry behind the right front wheel which allowed two seats in the very front opposite the driver which must have been quite desirable for those wanting the best view of the road ahead. Common users of these postwar Brills were Greyhound and Trailways but other operators were customers as well.
The model of this bus is a 1948 version, in Southeast Greyhound livery. Again in 1:50th scale this replica is a product of American Heritage Models at www.AmericanHeritageModels.com
This Chinese made replica features accurate but delicate photoetched windscreen wipers, chrome grill and bumpers, fluted aluminum sides with a white top. The running dog logo is now much larger and prominently displayed on the flanks. Undercarriage detail is minimal except for an exhaust pipe. The Southeastern livery comes with many different destination signs to cater to markets in cities such as, Memphis, Miami, Mobile, Nashville, New Orleans, Savannah, Tallahassee, Tampa and others. Pick your favourite city. Also offered are versions in two different Trailways liveries.
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