The Perfect Bus?
by Gwyn Lawrence
The purpose of an American school bus is to safely transport children between home and school. Depending on location (urban or rural) the average school bus travels about 75 miles a day. For half this distance the bus is empty. For only a small fraction of time is the bus full. Buses spend a lot of time waiting and idling. Typically a bus will be sold when it is 12-15 years old, with about 150,000 miles on the odometer.
I live in Antigua, Guatemala. American school buses form the backbone of the intra urban public transportation system. Here they travel full (or overfull) 16 hours a day. With the Andes mountain range dividing the country these buses work for a living. So I went to a Camioneta (Chicken Bus) factory and asked them how they made light duty buses into heavy duty buses.
This is their 'perfect bus'
- Chassis Ford or International
Size 10 (28 inch) windows
Engine DT 466 or Cat 3208
Tranny 6 speed manual
Rear axle Split with 4.7:1 ratio
They extend the seats to take 6 adults per row. Add a reinforced roof and roof rack. 2 ladders up the back. Sound system and a paint job. There you have it, from school bus to Chicken bus.
With the turbocharged and intercooled Cat engine, 325hp and 12 forward speeds gets you over the Andes, with 60 people and a full roof rack!