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Steve 06-25-2004 10:31 AM

The Perfect Bus? by Gwyn Lawrence
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
    Body Bluebird
    Size 10 (28 inch) windows
    Engine DT 466 or Cat 3208
    Tranny 6 speed manual
    Rear axle Split with 4.7:1 ratio
    Brakes Air
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!

gealto 08-18-2004 03:40 PM

My "Perfect Bus"
I think that school buses were designed to take kids to school simply and cheaply until politicians with their hands in the til took over in the early 70's and forced flat nosed deisel pushers on everybody so that their cohorts could reap profits.

School buses are copies of rural road buses from the 30's and 40's in the states. I saw an old movie last night "The Thin Man", made in the mid 1930's, and there was a road bus that looked identical to a dog nosed school bus. Amazing. School buses are dinosaurs that still live.

The perfect school bus is a dog nosed pre-1971 66 passenger model with large gas engine and no air brakes. These buses are getting harder and harder to find. The "heavy duty buses" used for passenger hauling in Guatemala are the exact opposites of the ideal bus for skoolie conversion.

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