I was perusing regular Cohort poster Curtis Perry’s photostream on Flickr, and ran across his shots from Goldfield, NV. My eyes opened wider when I saw this remarkable Fageol double decker bus from 1929. I don’t remember seeing that in Goldfield when we were there. He caught this back in 2008, and in 2013 it got shipped to Chattanooga, TN for a restoration (video below).
But let’s take in this rare beast, and try to imagine how it survived all these decades sitting out in the open. Chalk it up to the dry desert air.
I was able to find a bit of back-story to this bus. It was apparently built for Gray Line, but operated by Tanner Motor Tours in Los Angeles.
What’s very unusual is that it has a partially open upper roof; the center section over the aisle was designed to be open. Presumably it was a sightseeing bus, and the open center aisle would have allowed folks to stand up to see something in particular, as well as to walk the aisle without stooping since headroom on the upper level was quite limited, probably due to low clearance bridges and tunnels back then.
The original wicker seats have survived very well, at least on the lower level.
Here’s the video of this bus arriving in Chattanooga and being pushed into the shops. I have not seen anything that shows it completed.
Fageol (pronounced fadjl) is an extremely interesting company.
The Fageol Brothers were pioneers of the early automobile era, and after moving to California, began constructing highly innovative cars, trucks, and tractors, including America’s first supercar, the 125 hp Fageol 100, with an 825 cubic inch Hall-Scott OHC hemi six. Only a handful were built before the Hall-Scott plant was turned full-time to military use in WW1.
The 1922 Fageol “Safety Coach” was radical too, as it has a very low frame and resulting center of gravity, which along with its unusually wide track resulted in a vastly better handling bus. It too used an OHC aluminum Hall-Scott engine, as did the featured double-decker bus.
The forward end of the front leaf springs was attached to a sliding piston. The piston then traveled vertically actuating the “shock” air spring. They are Cleveland-Gruss pneumatic shock absorbers, also known as air springs. A Schrader valve on top allowed the air reservoir pressure to be maintained at the desired level. The featured double decker bus appears to have them too.
Fageol eventually split into several entities. The truck division ended up in the hands of Peterman, builder of Peterbilt trucks. The Fageols were particularly interested in buses, and formed the Twin-Coach firm, based on their patent of a twin-engined bus. They went on to design an almost endless string of very unique and advanced buses, trolleys and articulated units. If you’re interested, here’s a very in-depth description of those efforts and lots of fascinating pictures. I could really get lost in this kind of stuff, due to the high degree of creativity that went into them.
The truck division went on to build the unique Fageol Super Freighter self-propelled vans, which were written up at CC here.
Just “wow”. You’re not kidding about the high degree of creativity. Plenty of good reading here !
What a rabbit hole it is. Fascinating that they were making diesel-electric hybrid trolleybuses in the 1930’s.
I’ll correct myself. It’s not at all clear the buses had pantographs, so it might just be diesel-electric like a train loco. Still interesting set-up to have on a bus.
They were, in fact, gas/electrics and were used to great advantage as urban transit buses in the days before reliable heavy duty automatic transmissions were available. Drivers loved them because they eliminated any need for shifting gears in congested city traffic. Below is a Mack showing the inline electric motor in place of the mechanical transmission.
Make that “inline electric generator and motor”.
Side view of the same coach.
In later years, however, some manufacturers produced so-called “All Service” buses. These weren’t hybrids but had two complete and independent propulsion systems, one on gasoline and the other electricity drawn from overhead wires via conventional trolley poles. These didn’t last very long due to their initial high cost and the development of torque converter bus transmissions. This is a 1936 Yellow Coach….
Side view of the same coach. I guess we can’t edit or delete or comments here anymore?
And from the rear….
Ad for the same…
Thanks, Gene. The All Service one’s particularly interesting.
The article does refer to diesel-electric (and uses the word “hybrid”, probably just semantics), saying that New York operators bought over 300 of them before WW2.
I love old busses, and that old Fageol is one incredible looking old bus!
Great post, Paul.
Has anybody heard how the restoration started in ’13 has gone?
Are there more details of ol’ ’29 somewhere? Odd that the unit number is the same as the build year. Was this freshened up for a second round providing nostalgia tours, or so? The mirrors and tires seem to indicicate an upgrade.
In the 2013 video showing arrival at TN shop, there are some interesting “cans” visible on the front bumper. Maybe some original push/tow hardware?
If you Google “1929 Fageol double decker bus” :
a link to a facebook pages on updates comes up. I don’t do FB, so I couldn’t open it.
This bus it was apparently bought by a Hollywood movie props company, then at some point sold to Richie Clyne , co-owner of the Las Vegas Imperial Palace Auto Collections before it ended up in Goldfield. I assume the “1929” was painted on.
I thought I gave the hunt a thorough try before asking.
Lots of results pointing to the arrival at Honest Charley’s video, but that’s it, not a peep more.
I don’t FB either. Oh well. Shrug.
What a beauty! Sure hope someone makes the effort to restore it to its former glory. Jim.
P.S. Great find and a cool write up, Paul. Here’s a pic of a similar Fageol (open top version) in regular transit bus service in Los Angeles ca., 1930….
This bus was actually owned by Ralph Engelstad owner of the original Imperial Palace Antique & Classic Auto Collection.
We would be happy to provide inventory list verifying the ownership at one period by the original Auto Collection.
Also, we believe that the restoration was completed by the owner of Coker Tires.