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The venerable PD4106
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timecruncher



Age: 64
Joined: 23 Dec 2008
Posts: 452
Location: Louisville, Kentucky

PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:02 pm    Post subject: The venerable PD4106 Reply with quote

Back in my youth - relative to today - I worked part-time for a local charter outfit on my off days from Queen City Metro. I did it mostly for fun, since the pay was far less than stellar unless you managed to get a good tip out of a group.

At first it was an outfit called Price Hill Coach Lines, a small line-haul and charter company in Hamilton, OH that rose out of the ashes of The Ohio Bus Line after its demise. The fleet was entirely PD4106 models until he got the AAA tour contract in the mid-seventies and purchased a couple of new MC-8s for those trips.

I had never driven a manual transmission bus, although I understood the concept. The owner, a closet bus fan himself, basically told me to get in the driver's seat, shove in the clutch, put it in first gear and go. It took a short while for me to get the double-clutching 'timing' down, but there were no gear teeth or clutch parts on the pavement when I managed to get back to the yard. The next weekend, I was off to Bowling Green, Ohio with the Miami University hockey team.



Here is one of the half-dozen or so 06' in the fleet in 1980. He bought them from Hausman Bus Sales in Chicago, and all were ex-WGL units.

A couple of years later, the guy sold Price Hill to a couple of guys from Indiana, who proceeded to expand the service, subsequently selling it to Illini-Swallow interests.

Meanwhile, the guy who sold PHCL missed the bus business so much that he formed Jubilee Tours, took back many of the accounts he used to have, and picked up an MC8, a PD4905 and a couple of new MC9s. Finding that he didn't want to use the 40-foot buses for the then common beer charters, he found four PD4106 units out on the west coast and we took off on a road trip, flying out to LA, then driving to San Bernadino to pick up these four buses from Roesch Lines. Never used in line-haul work, these buses had spent most of their lives running group tours to Las Vegas from the southern California area.



These buses were almost 20 years old already, but except for some worn spots in the linoleum floor covering, were original -- no rust, original seat covers, pristine in every way! And all of them had working a/c and ran like scalded dogs!

He then proceeded to drive us like cattle for 3 days from San Berdoo to Hamilton, OH... It was fun, but somehow like a death march. Remember, in 1985 the speed limit was 55 everywhere. We never ran under 70 that I can recall.

The trip went like this:
San Bernadino, CA - Gallup, NM
Gallup, NM - Oklahoma City, OK
Oklahoma City, OK - Hamilton, OH (at 3:00am)

Here is a 'through the windshield' shot of the parade heading east on I-40 somewhere between Barstow and Needles.



The following morning, we grabbed a bite at a coffee shop on US 66 in Gallup, NM. Note the clean rears on those buses -- all were in top-notch condition and didn't slobber oil like is so common with Detroit-powered buses of their age!



Never got a chance to take any more pix on the trip, since we were either driving or sleeping for the remainder of the miles. The four buses ran flawlessly and proved to be useful additions to the fleet until the owner decided to retire a few years later, after discovering that his son did not wish to actually work for a living (running a small charter bus outfit is work, folks).

The PD4106 was, indeed, a workhorse bus. With the 8V-71 Detroit Diesel and Spicer 4-speed transmission, these machines could go anywhere and did so on a daily basis all over North America for over 30 years. The downside was the finicky nature of the a/c compressor drive (alignment and hydraulic clutch were both a bitch to maintain), a minor problem solved by aggressive maintenance. They were slippery on wet road surfaces too, a shortcoming that was cured with the introduction of radial-ply tires for highway coaches. The 4106 was fun and easy to drive, even without power steering.

It has been 25 years since this adventure, and I occasionally see one of these buses that was bought and converted into an RV by someone in southeastern Indiana. Good buses, indeed!

timecruncher
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Mr. Linsky
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Joined: 16 Apr 2007
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Location: BRENTWOOD, CA. - WOODMERE, N.Y.

PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not to dazzle you with my footwork, but here's a 'right hand drive' 4106 that may still be operating in Australia for Pioneer Tours.

Notice the special bug screen across the lower part of the windshield as well as the added red light fixture mounted on the door.

While the bus shows no fleet number for the camera, it was one of 34 (623 to 657) 4106's purchased between August 61 and April 64 by Ansett Pioneer Tours of Australia.

These coaches were built at Pontiac with the right hand drive option.

Enjoy!

Mr. Linsky - Green Bus Lines, Inc., Jamaica, NY

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Q65A



Age: 57
Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 1354
Location: Central NJ

PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice recollections, Timecruncher!!!
As a build on this story, during the early-mid 1960's in Queens NY, I recall that Carey Transportation (which at that time operated regularly scheduled service between Manhattan's East Side Airlines Terminal near GCT and both LGA and JFK airports) had a fleet of old Flx Airporters pinated dark green supplemented by a fleet of PD4104's and PD4106's. I always preferred to watch the 4106's (although at that time I didn't know the model numbers of any of those Carey buses) as they made their way along GCP, LIE and Van Wyck Expwy.
As a sidebar, the 4106 had an ususual design feature that never was repeated thereafter by GM or by any other parlor bus builder: a rotary master dial switch. Used almost universally on most transit buses since making its debut with the earliest GM Fishbowls in 1959, the PD4106 also employed this device.
The later PD4107, 4108, 4903, 4905 and H8H649 reverted back to separate toggle or rocker switches for engine run (ignition) and engine start functions.
Thanks for those memories!
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Mr. Linsky
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bob,

This Bud's for you!

Mr. 'L'



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timecruncher



Age: 64
Joined: 23 Dec 2008
Posts: 452
Location: Louisville, Kentucky

PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, indeed. Common as grass [west] of Weehawken! When Jubilee quit, I slid on over and drove for Croswell Bus Line in Williamsburg, OH for about 14 years. Same deal, part-time on my offdays. Drove PD4104s and MCI coaches of all sizes before falling out with John Croswell and giving it up.

Croswell had four 4106 units, all ex-Carolina Coach, if I'm not mistaken. Two had no restrooms and were usually used on day charters with the commuter run before and after.

Here we see 45 as I got ready to leave on a charter to who knows where, sitting across the street beside the old Croswell garage:



I drove this bus everywhere, it seems...

timecruncher

Falling out, did I say? I drove two back-to-back 3-day charters with a bus full of 6th-graders from mid-Ohio to Washington, DC and return in two different MC9s with no a/c! I was hot as heck when I got back, after listening to passengers griping at me over two 1,200-mile trips. No tips, of course, just the meager pay we got per mile. Mr. Croswell took exception that I should be upset because he sent me with junk on trips that his customers had expected were to be enjoyable. His mechanic, who knew damn well neither bus had working air conditioning, sent me with the buses anyway. Of course, he never would let me get the buses fixed while away from his shop.

As a post-script, the bus line has gone through Chapter 11, and John's sister is running the show now.

Another Washington, DC-area shot on yet another schoolkid marathon charter. This was a 6-day trip, actually a nicely-planned trip with a busload of kids from Marysville, OH (where Honda builds Accords). The starter puked on this MC9 and the Virginia Bus Doctor was called to fix it. This guy was able to buy a new truck from Croswell invoices alone! Same trip, different day, the reverse solenoid went out on the bus. Got it fixed somewhere north of Norfolk at yet another charter outfit that had the nastiest garage I had ever seen!



This guy was amazing. He could do an in-frame engine overhaul out of the back of his truck!

Ahh, the memories. Confused
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Dieseljim
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Joined: 26 Jun 2008
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Location: Perry, NY

PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 3:55 am    Post subject: The PD4106s Reply with quote

I noticed that the PD4106s were also good in the hills of Wyoming County,NY, where Grand Island Transit used theirs on the Buffalo-Wellsville route,which ran on Saturdays only until dropped in 1981. There are good sized hills between East Aurora and Warsaw, Warsaw and Silver Springs. Southbound to Wellsville, basically it is mostly downhill . These buses certainly outperformed the 4104s in these hills.
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Mr. Linsky
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Location: BRENTWOOD, CA. - WOODMERE, N.Y.

PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let me tell you something;

The GM PD 4106 was good anywhere!

I truly believe that the 4106 was the best conceived and best built bus ever made and will ever be made hands down (nothing will ever touch it - and I'll fight on that point until the day they take me away!).

I talk from experience because I used to race the Carey jobs into what is now JFK and I was driving a really fast 5104 with a broken governor and I could't touch them.

It was the raw GM 8V-71 Diesel power pushing the six wheels on those 06's that left us all in the dust.

I'll never forget them!

Mr. Linsky - Green Bus Lines, Inc., Jamaica, NY
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Dieseljim
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 3:17 pm    Post subject: PD 4106's Performance Reply with quote

You won't get any argument from me. I would have loved to have been aboard your run during one of those races, lol. The 4104 was no slouch either, even though that bus had less power.
Mr. Linsky wrote:
Let me tell you something;

The GM PD 4106 was good anywhere!

I truly believe that the 4106 was the best conceived and best built bus ever made and will ever be made hands down (nothing will ever touch it - and I'll fight on that point until the day they take me away!).

I talk from experience because I used to race the Carey jobs into what is now JFK and I was driving a really fast 5104 with a broken governor and I could't touch them.

It was the raw GM 8V-71 Diesel power pushing the six wheels on those 06's that left us all in the dust.

I'll never forget them!

Mr. Linsky - Green Bus Lines, Inc., Jamaica, NY
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Dieseljim
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Joined: 26 Jun 2008
Posts: 548
Location: Perry, NY

PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 3:20 pm    Post subject: Other 4106's I have ridden Reply with quote

Besides Grand Island Transit, other 4106s I have ridden included those of Empire Trailways, Greyhound, D&F Transit, and Lockport Bus Lines. Great buses all. The Lockport 4106, No.49 turned out to be the only really decent bus that that company had in its final days before the NFTA take over in 1975.
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HwyHaulier




Joined: 16 Dec 2007
Posts: 932
Location: Harford County, MD

PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mr 'L' -

Not all PD-4106 coaches were equal. I clearly recall there were the Eastern GL units, and then there were the Safeway Trailways (Continental)
counterparts. The latter by a bunch of guys, who must have had hot rod Lincolns, and drag racing for off the clock hobbies. American Graffiti
sort of stuff...

The Safeway coaches had Eaton Fuller Road Ranger (or equivalent). Greyhound did not opt for that fancy. Now, why Safeway, CTS alter ego,
held a belief they needed the marvelous gadget on an 8V-71 powered coach is another matter...

The whole matter seen when a pair of the competitors were coming off the starting line. The Trailways units were a great deal faster off
the line! I stll can't figure how Safeway ever calculated its own service territory needed coaches of this much capability!

....................Vern...............
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Dieseljim
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 3:06 pm    Post subject: Roadranger 4106s Reply with quote

Were the Roadranger trannies in the Safeway coaches the 10 speeds like you see today?
HwyHaulier wrote:
Mr 'L' -

Not all PD-4106 coaches were equal. I clearly recall there were the Eastern GL units, and then there were the Safeway Trailways (Continental)
counterparts. The latter by a bunch of guys, who must have had hot rod Lincolns, and drag racing for off the clock hobbies. American Graffiti
sort of stuff...

The Safeway coaches had Eaton Fuller Road Ranger (or equivalent). Greyhound did not opt for that fancy. Now, why Safeway, CTS alter ego,
held a belief they needed the marvelous gadget on an 8V-71 powered coach is another matter...

The whole matter seen when a pair of the competitors were coming off the starting line. The Trailways units were a great deal faster off
the line! I stll can't figure how Safeway ever calculated its own service territory needed coaches of this much capability!

....................Vern...............
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HwyHaulier




Joined: 16 Dec 2007
Posts: 932
Location: Harford County, MD

PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 8:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dieseljim -

I have never been clear on the point. I recall the older config., where there was a vertical, apparently two position switch, mounted alongside
and at top of shift lever. It had a red "button" the operator would work "up" or "down". I have been told the color of the button noted number
of gear ranges in a particular installation.

Recall, with coaches, we don't have a heavy empty weight, a fraction of that of a "freight side", five axle combination. I'm thinking the Safeway
coaches had seven (7) speeds...

....................Vern...............
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Dieseljim
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Joined: 26 Jun 2008
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Location: Perry, NY

PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 9:22 am    Post subject: Souped of 4106's Reply with quote

That sounds like the set up Greyhound's first Scenicruisers were delivered with and also similar to the hydrashift available for the 4104.
HwyHaulier wrote:
Dieseljim -

I have never been clear on the point. I recall the older config., where there was a vertical, apparently two position switch, mounted alongside
and at top of shift lever. It had a red "button" the operator would work "up" or "down". I have been told the color of the button noted number
of gear ranges in a particular installation.

Recall, with coaches, we don't have a heavy empty weight, a fraction of that of a "freight side", five axle combination. I'm thinking the Safeway
coaches had seven (7) speeds...

....................Vern...............
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Dieseljim
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Joined: 26 Jun 2008
Posts: 548
Location: Perry, NY

PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 7:49 am    Post subject: No Clutch Shifting on some 4106's Reply with quote

Was it possible to shift a 4106 with one of these fancier trannies without using the clutch, except for starting and stopping as with a Roadranger transmission on a truck?
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timecruncher



Age: 64
Joined: 23 Dec 2008
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Location: Louisville, Kentucky

PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't know about the truck transmissions. The Spicer transmission in the 4106 had a close shift pattern, and was reasonably easy to shift without the clutch once you got it going.

I would suspect that the v-drive setup of the GM coach might make it more difficult to shift a multi-speed transmission that way, but I could be wrong. Free Enterprise System here locally had a bunch of Eagle 10 coaches with 10-speed road rangers that appeared to shift nicely without the clutch -- but the Eagle had an inline engine/transmission setup.

timecruncher
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