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.